Peerstar, LLC

February 2016 Newsletter

Valentine's Day: Love it or Leave it?

It's February and for a few weeks now we have watched store shelves grow with red and pink colored trinkets, cards, and stuffed animals. Some of you may be anxiously awaiting a Valentine surprise while others may be anxiously awaiting for the day to pass. Whether you love it or wish to leave it, we can't avoid that February 14th will continue to show on our calendars and many of those that we support, along with ourselves, may need a little extra encouragement and support as the holiday of love comes upon us.

One of the first things you can do to help get through February 14th, is decide whether you want to celebrate it or not. By simply deciding on how you are going to choose to see Valentine's day, you are one step towards improving how you will experience the day. Maybe you will decide to celebrate with all of the Hallmark-inspired bells and whistles (aka candy and flowers), maybe you will choose to help others celebrate by helping them deliver something special or helping them make a Valentine surprise, or maybe you will decide to follow your normal routine, and continue with your regular Sunday expectations.

Valentine's Day can be especially difficult if you are single. The expectation of receiving a special Valentine can set our entire day up for disappointment. But just because you are single, doesn't mean that the day has to be dreaded. eHarmony provides these tips for surviving February 14th if you are single:

  • Practice Random Acts of Kindness: Just because your single doesn't mean that you can't help spread some Valentine Cheer! Visit a nursing home and take Valentine inspired cupcakes or cookies or send family and friends "Just thinking of you" cards. You may just make someone else's day, and yours as well!
  • Spend the day with your friends or family: Even if you are not in a romantic relationship, all of your relationships deserve attention. Spend the day with those that make you smile!
  • Celebrate your single status: Set Valentine's Day aside to do something for yourself. Take a class, treat yourself to something sweet, or go visit some where new. Rather than waiting for a love-letter, write one to yourself! What I mean is, write in a journal, make a list of all of your great qualities and celebrate how awesome you are!

Huffington Post Blogger Debbie Robins gives some more tips on Surviving Valentine's Day with love in your heart. Some of my favorite tips she gives are:

  • Forget your expectations! By expecting that someone else should love us a certain way, or should by us a certain gift we are paving ourselves a road to disappointment and unnecessary heartache. Remember that we only have control of our own actions, so try not to expect others to do what you wish they would.
  • Focus on giving! Just like above, we only have control of what we give, not what we get. So focus your energy on what you are giving to others, rather than on what you are getting, if you choose to celebrate.
  • Focus on the little ones! If you have children in your life, focus your energy on helping them to enjoy the holiday. Help them make Valentine's for their friends or classmates. Help them send cards to family members, or spend the day playing their favorite games!

These are just a few ideas, and as always, if you have some ideas on how to enjoy February 14th, don't hesitate to share it with me! Send me your thoughts to

Big image


No Simultaneous Billing, what does it mean?

Simultaneous billing...a topic that is brought up at orientation and throughout your time working as a Certified Peer Specialists. We wanted to take a moment and remind everyone of the benefits of collaborating with other professionals as well as remind everyone of Peerstar's policy on doing so.

When we talk about simultaneous billing, we talk about it because we are not permitted to do it. It is the term we use for when a Certified Peer Specialist is going to support a peer as they link to and work with another provider of medical/mental health services. Simultaneous billing means that two providers of services are working with the same individual at the exact same time. Simultaneous billing would insinuate that both providers would bill Medical Assistance for that time, something that we are not allowed to do. Even though we are not allowed to provide billable services at the same time of another provider of medical/mental health services, Peerstar does recognize that there are times where it is beneficial for a Certified Peer Specialist to support a peer during these interactions. See below for Peerstar's policy on providing this type of support, which can also be found in your Peerstar CPS or CPSS orientation manual.

Supporting Peers While Seeing Other Providers—No Simultaneous Billing

Peer Support can include CPS supporting peers while accompanying them on appointments and visits to receive services from other providers and practitioners such as case managers, physicians (both physical and mental health), psychologists, therapists, outpatient clinics and partial hospitalization facilities.

  • In order to attend an appointment with a Peer, the CPS must first ensure there is a valid release of information on file.
  • In addition, the Peer must be requesting and have a need for the CPS to attend the appointment such as supporting the Peer in discussing medication /diagnosis concerns, discussing treatment options, observing the meeting to discuss with the peer at a later time, etc.
  • There must be a reason for the CPS to attend the meeting and this should be communicated to the other provider.
  • The CPS is not permitted to disrupt the appointment by texting, talking on the phone, etc.
  • When supporting a Peer at an appointment, the first and foremost responsibility is to assist the Peer in some way. However, the CPS must also maintain a positive relationship with the other provider.

The Pennsylvania Department of Welfare prohibits Medical Assistance (MA) providers from billing for more than one service provided to the same patient/peer at the same time.

Therefore, when CPS accompany peers on appointments to see other MA providers such as case managers, physicians, psychologists, therapists, outpatient clinics and partial hospitalization facilities, the CPS must stop billing during the time that the other provider is providing services to the peer.

(Example: A CPS accompanies a peer to a doctor’s office for an appointment. The CPS supports the peer on the way to the doctor’s office and while in the waiting room while waiting for the appointment. The peer is finally called in to see the doctor and asks the CPS to accompany her to see the doctor. The appointment with the doctor lasts for 30 minutes. The CPS supports the peer on the way home from the doctor’s office. The CPS can bill for his/her time up to the moment that the peer is called in to see the doctor, and then again after the appointment with the doctor ends. However, the CPS cannot bill for his/her time during the 30 minutes that the peer was actually seeing the doctor, even though the CPS was in the room supporting the peer, a nonbillable note for the time in with the doctor should be completed.)

**In the event that you are going to provide support to a peer during another MA funded appointment (which is non-billable and you must clock out) contact your Regional or Program Director IN ADVANCE to request Other Time.

Big image

The Drop-in Center: How do you provide Peer Support at a Drop-in Center?

Drop-in Centers are a great place to provide Peer Support Services, however, they are also a great place to confuse what is a billable peer support service and what is not. Here are some clarifications to help you understand what you can do at a drop-in center.

A "Drop-In Center" should be viewed as a location.

What this means is that the drop-in center is a great "location" for you to work on a goal that has been identified. You should view the drop-in center in the same manner you view someone's living room, or front-porch, or kitchen table. It's a place that you can go to provide one-on-one face-to-face billable activities. "Drop-in Center" was made an approved location in the Appendix D, as many Drop-in Center have multiple rooms, including a kitchen area, a lounge area, a recreation area, an education area, etc...

To be able to use the drop-in center for providing billable peer support services, you must:

  • be able to find a quiet location within the drop-in center to provide your services. If you cannot find a quiet place where you can provide one-on-one services in a confidential manner, then you should not be using that specific drop-in center as your "location" of services.
  • be able to dedicate your time to the peer that you are working with, and you are acting in the role of a certified peer specialist, not an attendee of the drop-in center.

Drop-in Centers often provide beneficial activities that promote wellness and recovery. These are great resources, but are also often "questionable" as a Peer Support billable service. You should always get clarification from your Regional Director if you wish to attend an "activity" at a Drop-in Center as part of a peer's IRP goals.

Things you can not do at a Drop-in Center

  • You are not permitted to volunteer at a Drop-in center or participate in a Drop-in Center Activity at the same time you are billing services with a peer. This means that you must choose what role you are taking on that day. Are you going to the Drop-in to help volunteer? If so, you are not able to bill with a peer. Are you going to the Drop-in Center that day as a regular attendee, excited about an activity that you are interested in doing? If so, than you are choosing to go as a regular attender and are not able to bill with a peer. Lastly, are you attending the Drop-in Center to support your peer in trying a new activity that they are interested in and to support the peer in meeting new people? If so, than the "five-time" rule of providing billable peer support services is to be implemented.
  • You are not permitted to work with multiple peers at a Drop-in center. Just a reminder that Peer Support is a "one-on-one service".
  • You are not permitted to break confidentiality. While visiting a Drop-in Center, you are not to identify yourself as someone's Peer Specialist. You should always be aware of confidentiality.

As I mentioned, Drop-in Centers are an amazing resource that we support fully. We just have to remember that not all activities or circumstances found at each individual Drop-in Center are appropriate for providing Peer Support Services. If at any time you have questions about the services that you can provide at a Drop-in Center, please contact your Regional Director.

A more specific explanation of common situations that occur at drop-in centers will be provided via email.

Updates from the Intake Department

Some happenings and reminders from the Intake Department!

  • The Intake Department welcomes back Trisha Ruggiero to Region B while we wish Kelli O'Connor best wishes as she re-locates to the Pittsburgh area to start a new chapter in her story. Welcome back Trish.

  • If you have entered the Altoona office lately, you will notice that a new door has been installed in the intake department. Due to the sensitive nature of many of the tasks the Intake Department handles as well as to ensure the highest level of confidentiality, this door will remain closed at all times. The intake staff can be reached by asking Ashley Guenot at the front-desk area. Thank you for your understanding.

  • The Intake Department will be holding a "February Fit Day" on February 26th. All staff members are encouraged to share a healthy recipe, activity, or other idea that promotes health and wellness. If you are interested in learning more about the healthy happenings, please contact Intake Specialist Maria Berardinelli at

What's going on in Region B? By Christine Butterbaugh

Greetings from Region B

After the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, January has been a quiet month in Region B. As we gear up for spring there are several exciting upcoming events, which are in the planning stages, in our area.

The Blair County NAMI Conference will be held in the Blair County Convention Center on April 21, 2015. The theme of this years’ conference is “Advocate, Educate and Empower”. The guest speaker is Kelly Ann Strouse. There will also be vendor tables which will allow the opportunity to get to know some local mental health services in our area. Watch out for more information about this great event coming soon.

May is Mental Health is partnering with Networking Day this year for one big event in Blair County. The event titled "Engaging Strategies for Families" will take place at the Jaffa Mosque on May 12, 2015. It will feature many of the local agencies and will be a great opportunities for both CPS's and peers to learn more about the resources available in our community. The speaker will be David Loveland, who is the Senior Director of Drug and Alcohol Services at CCBH. Stop and visit the PeerStar table at this event. There will be more information about this event in the resource room as we get closer to the date.

Franklin and Fulton County Community Support Program will be hosting an art show, "Reflections in Recovery" at the Chambersburg Mall, May 20 to May 22, 2015. Consider showing off your talents by being part of the art show or encouraging your peers to participate. Submission deadline is May 13, 2015.

The Franklin Fulton County Community Support Program is also having a logo contest. They are trying to develop a new logo for their program and need your help. This is a great way for you or your peers to become more involved in the community

Somerset County is also trying to get a new Community Support Program started. CSP is a great way to get more involved in your community and also a great way to get peers more involved in the community.

Here is a listing of CSP meetings in Region B:

Cambria: Held the 3rd Thursday of every month at Peer Empowerment in Johnstown

Franklin: Fourth Monday of every month at 10:30 Franklin County Annex Building

Fulton: First Tuesday of every month at 10:30 at the Alumni Building in McConnellsburg

Somerset: Third Tuesday of every month at 1:00 at the Somerset Hospital

Bedford: Second Friday of every month at 3:00 at Drop In in Bedford

One of our Certified Peer Specialists/Supervisor’s, Wanda Williams, celebrated her 7th anniversary with Peerstar in January. Wanda was one of the first employees at Peerstar. She has seen numerous changes within Peerstar over the years. One of the most significant changes has been the growth of the company. When Wanda started with the company, she was one of only a few employees. We thank Wanda for her years of service, dedication and hard work during her time at Peerstar and we look forward to continuing to work with Wanda! Congratulations Wanda!

Big image

IT Issues? Contact Beth Hinson

Just a reminder that if you are experiencing any problems with your email or equipment, please contact Beth Hinson directly.

HMJ Healing Connections Suicide Task Force Meeting

Tuesday, Feb. 9th, 3pm

JC Blair Education Center, Bryan Street, Huntindon

You can attend this meeting at either the JC Blair Education Center on Bryan Street in Huntingdon, or you can attend at the Juniata Valley Behavioral and Developmental Services, 399 Green Avenue Ext. Suite 100, Lewistown.

This group meets the second Tuesday of every month at both locations.

Youth Mental Health First Aid 8 hour Course

Wednesday, Feb. 10th, 9am

1800 East Park Avenue

State College, PA

February 10, 2016, 9:00am – 5:45pm Mount Nittany Medical Center Please enter through the Glen & Nancy Dreibelbis Auditorium entrance 1800 East Park Avenue State College, PA 16803 REGISTRATION To register, please email the information below to Marisa Vicere at If you do not have access to email, please mail this completed form to: Jana Marie Foundation attn: Marisa Vicere PO Box 651 Pine Grove Mills, PA 16868

Cambria County CSP

Thursday, Feb. 18th, 1pm

514 Somerset Street

Johnstown, PA

Monthly CSP meeting is held at the PEN Drop-in Center

Cambria County Grief Support Group

Thursday, Feb. 25th, 4pm

514 Somerset Street

Johnstown, PA

CCBH Centre, Huntingdon, Mifflin, & Juniata Conties Adult Member Advisory Meeting

Wednesday, March 2nd, 1pm

518 South Juniata Street

Lewistown, PA

Adult Member Advisory Meeting can be attended by an adult Community Care Member, or family members of a community care adult member. Eligible members that attend will receive free refreshments, $25 for attending the meeting, and mileage reimbursement for traveling to the meeting. Those wishing to attend must register one week in advance by calling 1.866.483.3765