Issue XIII - September 25, 2023
Fall Issue
Dear Members, Families, and Friends,
We hope that you have all enjoyed your summer, whether you went on holiday, attended a retreat, or simply relaxed at home. This summer, Southern Tier Connect celebrated its five-year anniversary. To celebrate, we went to Good Nature Brewery in Hamilton, where staff enjoyed games on the lawn and food. There, CCM Crystal Baldwin was presented with the first annual C.A.R.E. Award. We share more news and photos from the event below!
At STC, we care about our members' rights as belonging to an inclusive and diverse society and want to share important information regarding these rights. Look for the latest Your Rights in Ten video near the bottom of this newsletter. We also care about you as a proactive member of STC and your care management, and have provided you with a how-to on filing a grievance. We have also provided information on adaptive Halloween costumes, added links to upcoming (and past) webinars, and more!

As always, we bring you a monthly story about compassionate care management and a few items you may have missed. We hope you find this newsletter insightful and informative.
Jess and Carey
Jessica Colon
Executive Director 
Carey Peters
Director of Care Management
& Compliance 
News from Around STC
Southern Tier Connect
Celebrated its Fifth Anniversary!
Southern Tier Connect celebrated its five-year anniversary on Friday, August 18th, at the Good Nature Farm Brewery in Hamilton, New York. Care managers, administrative staff, and members of the board of directors spent the afternoon outdoors on Good Nature's beautiful and spacious grounds. Everyone enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and lunch and shared conversations around the picnic tables or played a few rounds of corn hole on the lawn.
Check out more photos from the event on our Facebook page at the link below!
The First Annual C.A.R.E Award
Presented to Crystal Baldwin
This year, STC presented its first annual C.A.R.E. Award to Care Coordination Manager Crystal Baldwin. This award was presented at the 5-year anniversary event held at Good Nature Farm Brewery in Hamilton, New York. The C.A.R.E. Award is given to an STC employee with extraordinary dedication to C.A.R.E.: Compassion, Advocacy, Respect, and Empowerment. Crystal accepted the award, presented by Seth Haight, vice president of the STC board of directors, and Executive Director Jessica Colon. Laurie Goodspeed, a care coordination manager supervisor, spoke on behalf of Crystal and shared many of the great memories she has of Crystal going above and beyond to assist those she supports, including a time when she brought Thanksgiving dinner to a family she supported. Congratulations, Crystal!
STC Chalks the Walk for
Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
The STC office in Binghamton chalked the sidewalk with messages of support for Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. STC staff members wrote encouraging messages of support for all.

If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, we offer a short guide in the Health and Safety News section of this newsletter that gives you signs to look for and ways that you can help yourself or someone you love.

You can also visit the 988 crisis line at 988 Lifeline, where you can get free, confidential support for your emotional health from a trained crisis worker.

If you're concerned about your mental health, reach out to your care manager today!
Where Small Is a Promise:
A Care Manager Story
Transitioning into a new care arrangement can evoke apprehension for people needing support. The shift to a different care coordination manager (CCM), however, can induce even greater unease for the member seeking care and the care manager providing it. Yet, in the realm of human services, Southern Tier Connect stands out by ensuring that every transition is seamless. This commitment was recently exemplified when a dedicated care manager, Carrie Berton, took over the care management for Rick after his previous CCM resigned from their position.

The transition process was remarkably easy for Rick and Carrie, though it was just the beginning of their journey together. Several factors contributed to this success, including Carrie's innate qualities as a considerate and empathetic care manager, and Rick's disposition—described as "wonderful" by Carrie—and his engaging sense of humor. Their introduction took place while Rick was residing in a nursing home, which, unfortunately, Carrie's predecessor was unable to facilitate. This situation was somewhat intimidating for Carrie, as she was tasked with building a connection with someone new while lacking prior insight into their needs.
While Carrie had previously worked in residential settings with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), venturing into the domain of case management for this population was relatively new to her. Despite initially feeling overwhelmed and anxious about ensuring the continuity of Rick's services without interruption, Carey Peters temporarily assumed the responsibility of overseeing Rick's care. At the time, he told Carey, “I needed someone who has a good personality and someone who likes working with people.”

The rapport between Carrie and Rick quickly blossomed, a testament to the effectiveness of their dynamic. As Rick sought out activities and events, he turned to Carrie for guidance, cementing a connection built on trust. Today, Carrie and Rick regularly share upcoming events with one another. Beyond mere camaraderie, Carrie has played a pivotal role in ensuring Rick’s autonomy. By facilitating his participation in outings within his community, she has enabled him to enjoy his independence to the fullest extent.

For Rick, he found just the person he was looking for: “I was not expecting to have someone like Carrie Berton. Someone who cares about my needs and someone for whom this work is not just a job. It’s a career. I am very lucky to have Carrie on my team.” 

Thank you, Carrie and Rick, for sharing your story with us! If you have a story you'd like to share, get in touch with us at the link below.
Have a story you wish to share?

Send an email to [email protected]. If you're a care manager who wishes to be featured in our next issue, contact us by email to set up a time for us to interview you. Tell us about your success in care management, your goals, or just something fun you've been up to. Your stories are important to us!
Member and Family Support
What are you going to be this Halloween? Today, adaptive Halloween costumes make it easy to dress up as your favorite character, villain, historical figure, or almost anything you could possibly imagine. Below, we share a few links to companies, and a non-profit, making adaptive costumes. So, if you're looking for a great costume this year, look no further than the links below!

  • Target also carries everyday adaptive clothing for adults and children

  • A fit and price point for everyone

  • Go as your favorite Disney character this Halloween

  • The non-profit Walkin' & Rollin' creates adaptive costumes free of charge!
Getting ready to complete your last year of high school and move beyond it can fill you with excitement and fear. We’ve created a checklist to help highlight key areas to consider while preparing for this significant life change. Whether you are college-bound, employment-focused, or just looking toward your next step in independence, this guide will help get you started!

For those of you not quite ready to graduate, remember to discuss your options during IEP meetings at least two years before your anticipated graduation date. If you plan to attend college or enter the workforce, be sure to involve ACCES-VR (Adult Career & Continuing Ed Services) in your planning discussions.
If you are work-bound, plan on attending day services, or are a concerned parent, click the link below to access your helpful guides to help you plan before exiting school!

And always remember… your Southern Tier Connect care manager is here to support you through all your life transitions!
Filing a Grievance
When it comes to your health information, wherever your information is handled, you have certain rights. As a member whose services are provided by Southern Tier Connect, you have the following rights during your care management:

  • Be treated with dignity and respect;
  • Be treated in a way that acknowledges and respects your unique cultural identity;
  • Freedom from any abuse and mistreatment;
  • An individualized plan of care and full explanation of the services provided;
  • Be informed of and to participate in all phases of your treatment, assessment, and care planning sessions;
  • Discuss any dissatisfaction with your Care Manager and/or services you receive, and to pursue complaints through the grievance procedures stated below;
  • Privacy and confidentiality of your information and identification;
  • Request access to your clinical records;
  • For services to be rendered and handled in a confidential, skillful, and safe manner within a reasonable time frame;
  • Request and include family, and other natural supports if applicable, in all phases of your planning and treatment.
Additional rights you have as a member at STC and other providers, including your family doctor, include access to an electronic or paper copy of your clinical record. This also includes corrections to your clinical record. You may request confidential communications and to limit what we use or share. You may obtain a list of those with whom we’ve shared information. You may choose someone to act for you and file a complaint if, at any time, you feel your rights are violated.

If you feel we have violated your rights please contact the Corporate Compliance Officer by sending a letter to: Southern Tier Connect, 438 Main Street, Oneonta, NY 13820; or by calling 607-376-7526 ext 199

You can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights by sending a letter to: 200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C., 20201; or by calling 1-877-696-6775; or by visiting
Your rights should be reviewed with you upon intake and every year around the time of your Life Plan. You can also ask your care manager at any time for more information about your rights. 

For your reference, we have attached a copy of the Grievance Process or Compliance Complaint Flowchart at the link below. 
Health and Safety News
The 988 National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides 24/7, free, and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States.
Suicide is a serious public health problem that can have harmful, lasting effects on individuals, families, and communities. You can take crucial, preventative measures in helping someone you know who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide when you know what warning signs to be aware of, how to address them, and how to give or get help. 
What are some warning signs of suicide?

Recognizing warning signs will help you realize if a loved one may be at risk for suicide, especially if their behavior has changed, if a particular behavior has increased, or seems related to a painful event.
  • Talking about wanting to die or harm themselves
  • Looking for a way to harm themselves, like searching online or buying a weapon
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
Click the link below to read this article in its entirety. We share more warning signs and risks for depression and suicide, what you can do to help someone you love who may be at risk for suicide, and what you can do if you are feeling depressed or are having thoughts of suicide.

If you or someone you love is struggling with their mental health, please call or text 988 or reach out to your care manager for resources and support! 
Are You Ready for Flu Season?
According to the CDC, influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Some people, such as people 65 years and older, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at higher risk of serious flu complications.

The CDC recommends all people receive flu vaccines by the end of November. Most commercial pharmacies, including Walgreens and CVS, offer free flu shots by appointment.

December 4-8 is National Influenza Vaccination Week. Remind your friends and family members about the importance of receiving a flu vaccine. You can mitigate some of the symptoms (if you do contract the flu virus) when you get your flu shot! Some symptoms may include the following:

  • fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue (tiredness)
  • some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
The influenza A and B viruses that routinely spread in people (human influenza viruses) are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year. So get your flu vaccination today!
Your RIGHTS in 10
Our new video series, Your Rights in 10, which is all about YOUR rights, continues with Your Right to Vote. You can watch the latest video below or follow the link at the button to access the latest videos in the Your Rights in 10 series.
We are looking for someone like you to share your voice for our Your Rights in 10 series. If you are interested in reading for an episode in this series, please emails us at: [email protected]
Coming Up...
Pariva Health Partnership with the Lego Foundation

Join us on Wednesday, October 4th, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to learn more about the Pariva and their partnership with the Lego Foundation. Their Family Support Program is a customized play-based program that empowers and enables families to engage intelligently with their child in the ease of their home using the right tools and techniques to enhance and speed up therapeutic support. 
In Case You Missed It...
Presence Developmental Services

Presence Developmental Services and Presence Counseling Services are clinician-owned and operated companies developed to provide physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, behavioral therapy, and social work services to people with developmental disabilities in the home, office, and other community locations.
Supporting Individuals with Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders

This webinar is presented by Region 2 Crisis Services for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (CSIDD), YAI. CSIDD is a short-term rehabilitative service targeted for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD) who have significant behavioral or mental health needs.
We hope you enjoyed this edition of The Connection e-newsletter. Did you know that you can now read all of our past newsletters archived on our website? Please be aware that we are currently updating our archive. Stay tuned for more!
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