People and Places - March 2012

 

Anne Henry among Hennepin County Bar award winners

Anne L. Henry, a longtime disability advocate and expert on Minnesota disability law, is among the winners of this year’s Hennepin County Bar Association (HCBA) Pro Bono Publica awards. She and the other winners were honored at the 2012 awards banquet on March 8. Henry is one of three attorneys recognized for making a significant contribution through pro bono service. The Pro Bono Publica awards are presented in recognition of the time, knowledge and devotion given utilizing legal skills for the good of the community. 

The recipients were honored at the 32nd annual Bar Benefit, where family, friends and colleagues gathered to celebrate, honor, and support the high ideals represented by these individuals. Three distinct award categories honor the dedication of volunteer services.

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes an individual for career-long volunteer work on behalf of the community and the two Excellence Awards recognize current or recent excellence in service by individuals– one from the private sector and one from the public/judicial sector.

Henry, recipient of The Distinguished Service Award, works for Mid Minnesota Legal Aid. For more than 30 years, Henry has been a leader in advocating for the rights of individuals with disabilities in Minnesota. In 1978, she joined Legal Aid’s litigation team in the federal class action Welsch v. Likins. She played a key role in that landmark case, which challenged conditions in state hospitals and put Minnesota in the national vanguard of disability rights. Henry is widely acknowledged as one of the top experts in the state on health care issues affecting people with disabilities and as a highly skilled policy advocate. She has trained thousands of attorneys, individuals with disabilities, family members and disability advocates on health care funding, disability services, and the legal rights of individuals with disabilities. Henry is also a past recipient of the Charlie Smith Award, given annually by Access Press to recognize outstanding service to Minnesota’s disability community.

Kate DeVries Smith was recognized with the Private Sector Pro Bono Excellence Award. DeVries Smith, of Pauly, DeVries Smith, and Deffner, began volunteering for Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN) in 1998. Since then she has volunteered regularly at their Housing Court Project Clinic, providing representation to low-income clients dealing with serious housing issues, in danger of being homeless, or living in unsafe conditions. DeVries Smith has donated more than 600 hours in this time period and represented almost 100 clients.

Drew P. Schaffer received the Public/Judicial Sector Pro Bono Excellence Award. Schaffer has been a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis since 2005 specializing in tenant rights. After a tornado ripped through North Minneapolis in May 2011, Schaffer assumed the role of coordinator for the development and distribution of legal education materials designed to meet tornado victims’ needs. Representation and service was provided to 110 storm-affected households; Schaffer himself represented ten of these households in eviction cases in housing courts, where each was expunged after a favorable result of dismissal or settlement.


Hockey summit promotes safety

Representatives from some of the nation’s most influential bodies in hockey met in St. Paul March 8 for a Player Safety Summit on how to make their game as safe as possible while being true to the game. The summit was held in the wake of injuries to two prep hockey players.

“Our goal is not to change the game, but rather to enhance it by creating a safer environment,” said John McClellan, executive director of Herb Brooks Foundation, which hosted the event at the Xcel Energy Center. The event coincided with the boys’ state hockey tournaments being played that weekend.

While player safety at all levels has been an ongoing concern, including in recent years in the prevention of concussions, the paralyzing check put on teenager Jack Jablonski during a junior varsity hockey game on Dec. 30 has intensified interest in keeping the players as healthy as possible while they pursue the game they love.

“Bringing all these hockey entities together to try and shape a vision that improves hockey for players is the essence my father stood for,” said Dan Brooks, the son of 1980 “Miracle” coach Herb Brooks, who died in 2003.

Mike Jablonski, Jack’s father; Gov. Mark Dayton and representatives of Minnesota Hockey, the Minnesota State High School League, Western Conference Hockey Association, Minnesota Gophers, USU Hockey and event sponsor Sanford Orthopedics Health & Sports Medicine are among the participants.


Hegland Joins DHS advisory council

Minneapolis resident Lance Hegland joined the Minnesota Department of Human Services Health Services Advisory Council (HSAC) as the public/consumer member of HSAC.

His role is to represent consumers, families, and citizens throughout Minnesota. The 13-member council, made up of physicians, other health care providers, and a public representative, provides leadership to design health care benefit and coverage policies for Minnesota’s public health care programs. A particular focus of HSAC is evidence-based coverage policy, in which decisions regarding health care services paid for by public programs are made using the best available research on their effectiveness.

At 18 months of age, Hegland was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic neuromuscular disease that causes significant muscle weakness that slowly worsens over time. He relies on assistance from direct support professionals for help with daily activities. He is a longtime community activist, starting in 2001 when he was a resident at the Cuyuna Regional Care Center in Crosby.

He holds a master’s degree in business administration program from the University of St. Thomas, focused on healthcare and nonprofit leadership. He has worked in marketing, including work at Access Press, and recently has been exploring new models and tools for delivering better direct support services. One of his recent projects is Independence Partners. Independence Partners will bring individuals with disabilities, families, professionals, community leaders, and entrepreneurs together to build new independent-living tools. The first tool they are working on is DSP Match. DSP Match offers quick, safe, and individualized job matching and relationship-building tools for direct support consumers, families, and high-quality professionals. The tool includes web-based job board and self-help resources

For the past several years, Hegland has been a patient advisor with Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC). In December 2011, he joined the HCMC Healthcare Reform Steering Team along with another patient advisor and senior leaders. The team is explore ways to empower healthcare reform at HCMC and surrounding communities.

He also has served since 2010 as a member of the Citizens League Health and Medical Advancement Group. The group spent seven months researching health care reform occurring at the national and state level. Group members have been sharing ideas to raise public understanding of health insurance exchanges.

Hegland received the Direct Support Professional (DSP) Advocate of the Year Award from the Direct Support Professional Association of Minnesota (DSPAM) during its annual celebration in September 2011 to honor Minnesota’s DSPs. He earned the award for his work with individuals and families impacted by chronic illness, disability, and aging in addition to professionals directly providing independent-living assistance.


Kitty Care benefits cats, caregivers

Confetti, an affectionate tortoiseshell cat, snuggles contentedly in the crook of Jesse Bromaghim’s arm emitting a lawn-mower loud purr. “This is a cute kitty,” said Bromaghim, a Lifeworks client participating in the Kitty Care program at Petco.

Who benefits most from the project, Confetti or Bromaghim—or the bigger question, the cats or the clients—is impossible to determine. Teams of four people with disabilities travel from Lifeworks in North Mankato to Petco twice a week to clean the six cages housing cats up for adoption. The cats are from three local animal rescues. The Mankato Free Press ran a feature recently about the project.

Kitty Care started almost a year ago when Emily Britz, service facilitator, noticed a flier at Petco requesting volunteers to clean cat cages. This is a project that Britz realized fit Lifeworks’ goal: to help people with disabilities live fuller, more meaningful lives by integrating them into the flow of community experience. Britz had no problem finding clients to volunteer.

Terry Aspelund, manager of Petco’s dog and cat department, said the store is very grateful for Lifeworks. “It helps to socialize the cats by being handled,” she said. “They love the attention.” The Petco job is divided into four stations: bag holder, scooper, cage cleaner and cat lover. In addition to scooping out litter, the volunteers clean each cage, wipe down the walls and shelf, change the kitty blankets and refill the food and water dishes.

“They get an understanding of what kind of work and responsibility it is to have and take care of a pet,” Britz said

“We laugh and remind each other to breathe through our mouths during the scooping part!” joked Maude Luskey, a Lifeworks service facilitator.


Falls 4 All gets grant

PEOPLE FOR PARKS has announced that it has received a $5,000 Quality of Life grant from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. The award was one of 76 grants totaling almost $450,000 awarded by the Reeve Foundation to nonprofit organizations nationwide that aid in providing more opportunities, access, and daily quality of life for individuals living with paralysis, their families, and caregivers. Since the program was developed in 1999 by the late Dana Reeve, almost 2,000 grants have been awarded, totaling over $15.2 million. This grant was made to the People for Parks with the “enthusiastic recommendation of the merit External Review Panel and the Reeve Foundation Quality of Life Committee.” PEOPLE FOR PARKS will use the grant for a Universal Access playground where children and adults, with or without disabilities, can challenge themselves to explore, interact and play on universally accessible playground facilities with independence and dignity. The playground is planned for Wabun Picnic area, east of Minnehaha Regional Park. A universal playground is a playground that incorporates special features to make it accessible to people with disabilities, while also supporting the activities of people without disabilities.

“We’re honored to receive this national grant and grateful to the Reeve Foundation for their support,” said Peggy Halvorson, Falls 4 All committee chair.


Limb loss prevention a focus

 Approximately 507 amputations occur in the U.S. per day and this number can be significantly reduced. Healthcare leaders from across the nation met in Potomac, Md. Feb. 9-11 at the Amputee Coalition Limb Loss Summit to review the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) System of Care Preservation Amputation Care and Treatment program (PACT), which has shown compelling outcomes in limb loss prevention. This group of distinguished physicians, nurses, psychologists, prosthetists and healthcare policy leaders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Veterans Administration, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research and civilian hospitals and healthcare systems examined elements of the VA program to develop a plan for limb loss prevention for the private sector healthcare system.

The VA’s initiative, which began in 1992, has demonstrated a dramatic reduction in rates of foot ulcers from diabetes and peripheral vascular disease, which are the leading causes of amputation. For example, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Nashville has demonstrated a 40 percent decrease in the number of lower-limb amputations over the past five years, a reduction in the cost of pharmaceuticals by 48 percent, lab studies by 32 percent and inpatient bed days by 44 percent. The potential for savings in our private healthcare system is significant, given the fact that the projected lifetime healthcare costs for a person with an amputation exceed $500,000.

“We agree that the VA system offers much promise if translated to the private sector healthcare system,” said Terrence Sheehan MD, Amputee Coalition medical director and chief medical officer at Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital in Rockville, Maryland. “The next step is to create a demonstration project to test these limb-saving and cost-saving measures. If we can save one person from having an amputation, that is a savings of $500,000—imagine the savings to our healthcare system if we could achieve the approximately 50 percent reduction that the VA has realized.

The impact of saving a single limb of someone at risk is immeasurable from a quality of life standpoint.” Among the many organizations represented at the meeting were Allina Health System and University of Minnesota School of Medicine and the Amputee Coalition, which is based in Tennessee and Minnesota.


South Metro making a move  

South Metro Human Services will be relocating its 16-bed transitional housing program from St. Paul’s to Maplewood. The nonprofit agency wants to redevelop a long-vacant Ethan Allen furniture store into a showcase facility for private mental health treatment. The agency is in the midst of a $2.8 million capital campaign and hopes to relocate toward the end of the year.

The program recently received grant funding from Ramsey County and assistance from the Federal Home Loan Bank cooperative, to help with the move. South Metro provides a wide range of human service programs. The St. Paul facility it will replace is an intensive residential treatment facility for adults with serious mental illnesses. Many clients also suffer from substance addiction. Clients stay for up to 90 days while they prepare to move into more stable housing.

While telling the Pioneer Press that he would love to have stayed in St. Paul, South Metro President Tom Paul said a move is needed. South Metro has been in its St. Paul Capital heights facility for 25 years.

Paul expects the new Maplewood facility at 1111 E. Viking Drive to be fully handicapped accessible and to offer elevator service, lounges and other amenities in a suburban environment. Paul said because of public perception of mental illness, relocating treatment facilities can be a challenge. 

But a series of public meetings in Maplewood went relatively smoothly and the city issued the nonprofit a conditional use permit in July 2011. Construction could begin in the spring.

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