All posts by Chad Beyler

Being a Part of Something Special

I was recently part of helping with the community commitment grants review committee for the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois (CFECI).

It all started through joining an effort with CFECI for the Aspiring Philanthropists Giving Circle. They asked if I would be interested in supporting the community commitment grant review. I was honored. This meant I had the privilege to review multiple applications from many important not-for-profits that serve central Illinois.

I got to go out into the community and visit with some of the organizations that applied for grants to see the work they do and learn more about their needs. These organizations serve the community in very different ways, which makes the review process that much harder.

I was familiar with some of the organizations through my outreach work for Health Alliance. We drive out to the communities we serve to build relationships there.

That’s our local commitment. We’re not just all about health insurance but rather, how to keep a community viable and sustainable so people who live there feel good about where they live. It’s very important for us to engage and participate in these communities by serving in capacities like I do with the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois.

But let me get back to sharing my experience with the grant reviews.

There’s so much value in getting to spend time with individuals who are so passionate about the work they do. Did you know that Rantoul, IL, has the Rantoul Historical Society Museum? I really enjoyed meeting with Jim and learning more about its mission. It also preserves the brown and white mustang horse that used to be at the Ben Franklin dime store, which brought back so many memories of riding that horse when I was younger.   

I also got to spend time meeting with Patrice from the Peace Meal Senior Nutrition Program, working by the Community Service Center of Northern Champaign County in Rantoul, Marcie from the Survivor Resource Center in Danville, and Beth from the Hoopeston Multi-Agency Service Center. It was such a pleasure to meet all of them and hear about the important needs their organizations have.

They all demonstrate passion for serving their communities, working on very limited resources and budgets while staying positive so the clients they serve have the best experience.

The volunteers who serve in these organizations exhibit the same passion and commitment to showing up every day to make a difference. Each one of them lit up when they were describing their programs and services and how they impact people’s lives.

That meant a lot to me during the grant review process. When you go in thinking about how you’re going to support this important financial decision you need to know that the people behind it are also just as committed to using dollars wisely and creating successful outcomes.

This is one of the many reasons I love working for Health Alliance. We’re committed to helping care for those in the communities we serve.

If you get an opportunity to participate on a committee or board in the nonprofit space, it’s very fulfilling. A great place to start is with joining programs like Aspiring Philanthropists or projects the United Way supports. Or if you feel compelled, donate. 

If you have questions on where to turn, don’t hesitate to reach out. We may not have all the answers, but we know who in the community does and are happy to connect you!

Terra Mullins leads the Community Outreach Team at Health Alliance.  She is a wife, a mother, and has two really cute Mal-Shi pups! She loves nature and learning new things.

Like this article? Feel free to respond to Longview@HealthAlliance.org. Thanks for reading!

Get Moving on Beating Stress

Stress – it affects everyone. It can even be a good thing in small doses. Normal everyday stress can give us that rush of energy when we need it most. But our bodies aren’t made to be in high-alert mode constantly. When stress is intense or long-lasting, it harms us mentally and physically. Chronic stress can cause digestive issues, headaches, sleeplessness, depression, anxiety – and even heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

April is National Stress Awareness Month, and we have a helpful tip: get moving. Exercise is one of the most powerful weapons against stress.

According to the American Heart Association, exercise lowers tension, improves mood, increases energy and improves sleep. It reduces the levels of your body’s stress hormones and boosts the production of endorphins – your brain’s natural mood-lifters and painkillers. These endorphins are responsible for what’s commonly called the ‘runner’s high.’ Exercise also lets you concentrate on your body’s physical motions, helping you forget the day’s struggles that otherwise flood your mind.

What type of exercise do doctors recommend? Anything. Basketball, yoga, brisk walks. Virtually all physical activity helps you fight stress. Pick something you enjoy. Need ideas? Ask your doctor, consult one of our health coaches or ask friends what they do. The possibilities are endless.

If you still feel like you’re constantly overwhelmed or having trouble relaxing, schedule a visit with your medical provider.

Exercise is just one of many tools to fight stress. Visit the links below for more information and resources on stress management.

Does your job leave you stressed, perhaps to an unhealthy level? Learn about stress and the workplace in this month’s episode of Allied and Well, our new podcast focused on health and wellness. Listen here.

Stress Management Resources

Additional Stress Management Resources
Stress Awareness
Tips to Beat Stress

Perception vs. Perspective

We are almost a quarter of the way through the new year! Can you believe that?

While some of you were probably ready for the first part to be over due to cold climates, season of sickness, and maybe failed New Year’s goals (let’s hope not), others, like me, may be sad to see how quickly time is passing. Whether you spent it doing something you love with family or your fur-babies, or you put your time into your job, a volunteer project, mission trip, or something else that drives your soul, there is a key difference in what we allow to steer our lives.

Our perception could be that something is meaningless, hopeless, or down-right negative, but if we change our perspective to see the beauty in this life, enjoy the time we have here, and make the most of it, we can allow our minds to change our perception to see more meaning and purpose.

It’s all in how we perceive things in everyday life while allowing our perspectives to stay positive and purposeful. If we allow everyday occurrences to beat us up and not see the joy or positive in even the miniscule things, our perception can be very skewed and negative. Those around us would perceive us to be pessimistic rather than cheerful and with a good perspective.

I challenge you all to see the beauty and keep a positive perspective. In turn, this will cause an infectious nature about you. People are drawn to those with a positive perspective about things, and that alone could help brighten someone’s day.

With spring in sight, we can look to the flowers of the fields. You can almost see a perspective-versus-perception outlook.

The perception while we look at the field is that everything is dead and there is no growth happening at the surface level. But all we must do is be patient, and in time, we will see the most beautiful outlook. Internal growth will eventually turn into external development.

Flowers don’t think about what they are supposed to do, but there is an order to their life cycle through every season. They can be seen as a very simple organism that has only one task in life, but even though it seems simple, they teach a valuable lesson: Stay the course and allow the small growth from seemingly meaningless everyday tasks to eventually lead to a positive change in perspective and perception that is truly meaningful.

While spring is just around the corner and you may be itching to get out and see those beautiful flowers, our local Parks Department Floral and Greenhouse Division is putting on its first-ever fall/winter series about landscaping and beautification. This is a great way to better your skills or learn a new one. Maybe that was a goal for 2020!

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

Beyond Colonoscopies – 3 Tests to Catch Colorectal Cancer

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 150,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with this disease each year. It is one of the most common cancers – but also highly curable when caught early.

It has never been easier to screen for colorectal cancer. In fact, there are three different tests readily available – including two non-invasive tests. A fear of tubes, scopes or fasting is no longer an excuse to avoid a potentially life-saving screening. Be smart – here are a look at your three options:

  • Fecal immunochemical testing (FIT) uses antibodies to detect blood in the stool.It’s done once a year and doesn’t require fasting or restricting your diet. You receive a test kit from your healthcare provider, and – from the convenience of your own home – you use a stick or brush to obtain a small amount of stool. You then mail the test kit to the lab (they provide a pre-addressed mailer), where the stool sample is checked for the presence of blood.

  • FIT-DNA testing combines FIT with a test that detects altered DNA in the stool. For this home test, you collect stool and send it to a lab in a prepackaged container. This test requires zero prep and no dietary or drug restrictions. It is done once every three years.

  • Screening colonoscopies are visual exams of the entire colon, using a thin and flexible lighted tube to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon. During the test, the doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers. You only need one every 10 years.

Which Screening Test is Right for Me?

There is no single “best test” for any person. Each test has advantages and disadvantages. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of each, and how often to be tested. Picking the right test depends on:

•             your preferences

•             your medical condition

•             the likelihood you will get the test

•             the resources available for testing and follow-up

Most of our plans cover all three of these tests once you turn 50, and there are even multiple types of colonoscopies to choose from. Talk to your doctor, and log into YourHealthAlliance.org for your most current list of covered benefits. You can also call the number on the back of your ID card. If the screening is considered preventive, most of our plans cover 100 percent of the costs.*

Colorectal cancer is an enemy you can fight. Let us be your ally in detecting early warning signs – talk to your doctor and set up a screening today.

Want answers to your top questions about colon health? Click here to view a short video with Dr. Robert Good, DO, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at Health Alliance and CMO for Population Health at Carle.

  • Want to learn more about health, wellness, preventive services and disease management? Visit HealthAlliance.org/Health.
  • What habits should you follow to keep your colon healthy? Read this article from Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System’s blog.
  • Read more about the importance of colorectal cancer screenings on Memorial Health System’s blog.

*Diagnostic services or additional testing may be subject to coinsurance, copays or deductible based on your plan’s benefits. These additional benefits may not be included in short-term, limited-duration policies. See your plan materials for complete details.

Annual Wellness Visit, What’s It All About?

Medicare beneficiaries are probably hearing about the importance of the annual wellness visit.

We have all been told we need to see our primary care provider at least once a year. We have all heard it throughout our lives, and we make sure we get a complete physical. Our primary care provider does a hands-on examination.

The provider makes sure to measure our vital signs, including heart rate and blood pressure, and they check our skin, abdomen, etc. More than likely, everything is fine, and we don’t have to come back for another year.

We are now hearing about a different type of visit, “the annual wellness visit.” So what is the difference between an annual wellness visit and a complete physical?

The annual wellness visit is covered at no charge to Medicare beneficiaries. This is an opportunity to discuss your health, health risks, and end-of-life preferences with your provider. This visit will encourage prevention rather than intervention as well as creating a plan that will help address chronic issues.

The annual wellness visit is scripted and standardized to assure quality and uniformity between all of the providers. This is a great way to have consistency between all of our providers and make sure they are addressing the issues that impact aging and longevity.

These visits impact future health and aging. This is a way to get a game plan for the coming year. It helps address and schedule prevention screenings, like testing for memory issues, risks, breast cancer, and colon cancer to name a few.

When it comes to the complete physical, traditional Medicare will not pay for visit. Another thing to keep in mind is that every provider will do the complete physical slightly differently because it’s not standardized like the annual wellness visit.

The complete physical tends to focus on your current health issues rather than the whole person, and studies have shown this visit is not as cost-effective for long-term health improvement as the annual wellness visit is. [MOU1] 

Now, that we know the difference between the annual wellness visit and a complete physical and the importance of this visit, we can all advocate for the annual wellness visit.

Jessica Arroyo is a community liaison for Health Alliance Northwest, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. Born and raised in the Wenatchee Valley, during her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and her two very busy kids.

Like this article? Feel free to respond to VantagePoint@healthalliance.org. Thanks for reading!


The Power of Pets

My mother received a puppy as a gift. My father-in-law found this little chocolate Labrador lost in the woods where they live in rural Mississippi. She named him Cocoa. She sent me a photo and called me with such joy and happiness. She was holding him all wrapped up in a blanket like a baby.

Cocoa gave my mother such needed companionship. She is usually at home all day by herself while her husband is at work. She has her household chores and hobbies, like sewing, to keep her busy throughout the day. Despite those activities, she has often stated that she experienced boredom before Cocoa came into her life.

Studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can reduce loneliness and bring happiness to their owners. Nothing compares to the joy a pet companion brings.

Their unconditional love can actually do more than keep someone company. Human-animal interactions can be therapeutic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pets may also decrease stress, improve heart health, and even help children with their emotional and social skills. Pets can increase opportunities to exercise, get outside, and socialize.

I recently learned during my visit to an assisted lifestyle community that even though some buildings’ policies don’t permit pets, there are exceptions. Pets that are service or support pets may be permitted. At this particular place, a support pet may be permitted under certain conditions.

  1. A note from the resident’s doctor must be obtained stating that the pet is needed for emotional support.
  • The resident must take the pet to the veterinarian and show proof that the pet has received their appropriate shots and medicines.
  • The resident must sign an agreement that they will take care of the pet.

To learn more about adopting a pet and pet wellness, visit JustAnimals.org and PetFinder.com.

When it comes to health, I hope that every human-animal interaction is “PAWSitive!”

Sherry Gordon-Harris is a community liaison at Health Alliance. She is a wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys traveling, collecting dolls, and hosting princess parties and pageants.

Like this article? Feel free to respond to Longview@healthalliance.org. Thanks for reading!