Why I Love My Work – Ken Eckstein, Director of the Gordon Square Campus

Meet one of our Centers team members who has spent nearly 15 years working everyday to help members of our community to live a better life.  Ken Eckstein is the Director of our Gordon Square Campus who leads daily operations to make sure our team and clients get the support they need. It’s no small undertaking. Ken is pretty extraordinary. Take a moment to get to know him here and learn more about how you can become a member of our team and/or donate to The Centers so that we can continue to help people to be healthy and successful, one person at a time.

How would you describe what you do to improve the lives of those we serve?

My role as a Director is to help our staff help our clients. This involves a lot of problem solving, in the moment clinical decision-making, managing crises and helping staff prioritize and figure out what the next step is. Sometimes it’s identifying resource information and concerns about barriers they’re running into in the community. In general, I help them do their job in meeting their clients’ needs.

How many people’s lives have you touched in this time?

I’ve been at the agency for 14 years and I have worked at all 4 of the Health and Wellness offices. I would say I’ve worked with directly with several hundred over all of these years.

What is the best thing about your job?

When you hear of a client who has benefited from our services; counseling, case-management, psychiatry, pharmacy and primary care. I’ve seen many clients who came to us with very little hope and when they come to our judgement-free place, they realize that someone is here to help with their life issues, and I can see that the work we’re doing is making a huge difference in their life.

Who are your greatest inspirations in life?

I’m really lucky to have the parents I have. They’re so supportive and encouraging to me to grow. I see a lot of value with my connection with them.

If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be and why?

Barack and Michelle Obama. They are very inspiring to me regarding their role in history and how smart and down to earth they are.

Fill in the blank: “If we are going to solve the poverty issue in our community, we need to find opportunities to help people move forward in their education.  I have only been able to get to where I am through the opportunities for education I have had.

Here’s the artwork and quote that hangs in his office and inspires Ken, and this is why he painted it: “It represents a team effort. We support each other. You can’t underestimate the power of connection. It takes each one of us here to help one person.”

What is your favorite movie/book? Why?

Movie: Big Eden. Because it’s about celebrating diversity. It’s about a man who went back to a rural town and his family, and the townspeople rallied around him with unconditional love and acceptance.

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Thank you, Ken for the vitally  important work you do with individuals, families and children here in our Northeast Ohio community. We are so happy to have you on our team!

Join us!  We’re people who care about people. And that’s who we want to hire. Visit NowHiringHeart.org for available healthcare and education positions. #togetherforall

Next Generation Pharmacy Leaders are Ready to Serve

Yesterday, we celebrated the graduation of the third class of our Community Pharmacy Residency program. Congratulations to pharmacists DeAndrea Abney, John Ahlborg, Allyson Beechum, Nicole Kepner, Jesse McDonald
and Christina Finn!

The Centers’ Community Pharmacy Residency develops a pipeline of pharmacy professionals prepared to serve individuals living with severe and persistent mental illness and able to provide clinical services beyond dispensing medication. Our Community Pharmacy Residency program is competitive and attracts applicants from around the country (and now world) to spend one year with our team to complete their training.

Over the past year, our residents helped to improve the client/patient experience by working closely with members of our integrated health care teams and also conducting home visits in the community.

This talented group will bring the knowledge and experience gained over the past year of training to enhance pharmacy services in a variety of settings (and states!) as they continue their careers.

Go forth and serve Class of 2018! We are so proud of you.

Why I Love My Work – Marissa Wood, Mental Health Specialist at The Centers for Families and Children

We are all thinking about the families and children that are frightened and living apart from each other at U.S. border. We know the first 2,000 Days of a child’s life are the most important, and that the experiences they have during these formative days and years last a lifetime. The children at the U.S. border are experiencing trauma and it is distressing to witness. We also know that mental health problems in children are real, common and treatable. Although one in five children in the U.S. has a diagnosable mental health problem, nearly two-thirds of them get little or no help.

Meet one of our Centers team members who works right here in our Northeast Ohio community with children who have experienced trauma and/or live with a mental health challenge. Marissa Wood is a Mental Health Specialist who works with families enrolled in our early learning program. She is on-call at our early learning program locations. She receives requests for help from parents, The Centers’ teachers and on some days, sees for herself where she needs to spend focused time with a child.

Marissa, tell us about what you do for the Centers team.

As a Mental Health Specialist, I provide clinical support to our early learning children and families. Once I receive word that a child is exhibiting a concerning behavior, I initially meet with the child in the classroom to begin to establishing trust through play. You can learn a great deal from how a child approaches you and engages in play. Once a trusting foundation is established, we will meet outside of the classroom one-on-one to work on social-emotional development and to assist in processing, history of trauma, attachment issues, self-regulation, and behavior concerns through play therapy and art interventions. Play therapy includes a 30-to-60 minute session depending on age, interests, and capabilities. The sessions are child-driven meaning they lead the way with my guidance. Through play the children can utilize animals or dolls to personify their emotions and act out what they may not be able to articulate, giving me an opportunity to model or role play problem solving strategies or relaxation skills. Through art interventions children can utilize different mediums to express their emotions which at times shows more than what they can verbalize.

I routinely meet with the teachers to assist in their professional development by teaching them skills and interventions to support the child in the classroom. I also meet with the family in their home to provide family therapy to address any concerns the child may be having outside of school. We have found that connecting school to home has been extremely helpful.

What is the best thing about your job? Why do you love what you do?

The best thing about my job is the children. Through the time I get to spend with them I have a window into their world which enables me to see the way they process their world.  I value collaboration and the relationships I have with the Early Learning team, children and families. I love what I do because I get to build connections and teach necessary skills  to build resiliency for these children and work to empower their support systems so that a child is safe, loved, and well cared for.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your work?

One of the most challenging aspects of my work is not being able to be everywhere at once. I will be in one classroom or working with a child and another child might be having a difficult day and I am unable to meet their needs or assist the teachers at that time. I do my best to follow up with the child and consult with the teachers to explore possible triggers and additional interventions to support the child in the future.

Who is/are your greatest inspirations in life?

This is a tricky question for me! My grandfather who I call “Poppyseed” has inspired me in ways I did not realize until after his passing and believe he has instilled values that have allowed me to be successful in this line of work. But to date, my greatest inspiration is my son, Henry J, who is only nine months old and carries on my Poppyseed’s legacy through his middle name. Since his birth, I have felt love and joy like nothing before, he inspires me to love and care for the children I work with as if they were my own.


Poppyseed and Marissa on right, along with her sister Lindsey.


Henry J and Marissa.

Fill in the blank: “If we are going to solve the poverty issue in our community, we need to… support and protect our children. Our childhood plays an instrumental role in who we become in life. If we can protect our children from trauma, teach self-help skills, provide social-emotional development, etc. I feel we will have a healthier society and in return decrease poverty.

What is a favorite movie? Why?

Little Miss Sunshine. It is a comical depiction of a family that an average person would think of as “dysfunctional” but their support for each other and strengths outweigh the barriers they face and in the end, they have each other. This movie melts my heart while making me laugh! There are always strengths-even within those who face the most difficult barriers.

Thank you, Marissa for the vitally  important work you do with children here in our Northeast Ohio community. We are so happy to have you on our team!

Join us!  We’re people who care about people. And that’s who we want to hire. Visit NowHiringHeart.org for available healthcare and education positions. #togetherforall

The Centers + Circle Health to Host 24 FREE Fresh Produce Markets

Together for the first time this summer, The Centers and Circle Health will host 24 FREE fresh produce markets – The Centered Market – in neighborhoods throughout Northeast Ohio. The market season kicked-off on Tuesday, June 5th at the Centers’ Gordon Square campus located at 5209 Detroit Avenue.

Set up like traditional farmer’s markets, the fresh produce giveaways will feature white and sweet potatoes, onions, apples, carrots and more. Each bag of fresh food will include easy summer recipes for meals to prepare for families. All that is requested, is to bring a form of identification: for example a state-issued driver’s license or identification card.

In partnership with the Greater Cleveland Foodbank, The Centered Market is volunteer-driven with generous support from organizations and corporations including PNC, KeyBank, HumanArc and Principal. If your company would like to be involved, please contact Julia DiBaggio, Development Associate at (216) 302-3341.

The full market schedule is listed below. Please note: the food distributions are rain or shine, but may be subject to change, please check thecentersohio.org for updates.

Circle Health Services
12201 Euclid Avenue Cleveland 44104
Tuesday, June 19th 3PM
Tuesday, July 24th 1PM
Tuesday, August 21st 1PM

McMillan Early Learning Center
1941 S. Taylor Road, Cleveland Hts., OH 44118
Tuesday, June 12th 1PM
Tuesday, July 17th 3PM
Tuesday, August 14th 1PM

Bingham Early Learning Center
2421 Central Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115
Thursday, June 21st 12PM
Thursday, July 26th 12PM
Thursday, August 23rd 12PM

Clifton Early Learning Center
13889 Clifton Blvd., Lakewood, OH 44107
Thursday, June 14th 1PM
Thursday, July 19th 1PM
Thursday, August 16th 1PM

East Health and Wellness Center
4400 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44103
Tuesday, June 26th 3PM
Tuesday, July 31st 1PM
Tuesday, August 28th 1PM

West Health and Wellness Center
3929 Rocky River Drive, Cleveland, OH 44111
Thursday, June 7th 1PM
Thursday, July 12th 1PM
Thursday, August 9th 1PM

Gordon Square Early Learning Center
5209 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44102
Tuesday, June 5th 1PM
Tuesday, July 10th 1PM
Tuesday, August 7th 1PM
Thursday, August 30th 1PM

Debra Ann November Early Learning Center
5225 Library Lane, Maple Heights, OH 44103
Thursday, June 28th 1PM
Thursday, August 2nd 1PM

Why I Love My Work – Natalie Jernigan, LPCC-S, ATR

Today, Natalie Jernigan, Counseling Director for The Centers for Families and Children and Circle Health Services received the Helping Hands award from the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County at their 2018 Annual Meeting. Natalie was recognized for her exemplary work with Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) with thousands of people across our Northeast Ohio community. DBT helps people learn and use new skills to develop a life that they experience as worth living. DBT skills include mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance and interpersonal effectiveness. Take a moment to get to know Natalie, here!

How would you describe what you do to improve the lives of the people The Centers and Circle Health serves?

I like to remain “present with the mission” by maintaining a manageable amount of work with a few individual clients and a therapy group. I also work to enhance the therapeutic development of counselors and counselors in training. This “train the teacher” model allows us to serve more clients with high-quality care.

How many lives have you impacted? (A rough estimate is great.)

I’ve worked for the Centers (and the West Side Ecumenical Ministry before the merger) for 18 years, and shelter care for six years. I would estimate that through individual counseling services, early learning classroom observations, having a transitory group of clients in and out of shelter care and groups of various sizes – I have directly served thousands of people. If I factor in indirect influence and count each staff I have supervised and their clinical caseloads, the number will be much larger.

 What is the best thing about your job? What is an example?

In my position as Director of Counseling Services, I have the pleasure of getting to know the supervisors and the counseling teams at other health and wellness locations throughout The Centers and Circle Health Services. I have the privilege of meeting really talented clinicians and am gaining a greater perspective of growth opportunities. It has been enlightening as I witness innovation daily in our work.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your work? An example?

I have a finite amount of energy to dedicate to client care and other responsibilities. I have a desire to be on 100 percent of my waking hours and often spend time outside of work solving problems in my mind. When working with people with severe behavior reactivity that could be life threatening, the balance of “just being” verses “doing” is an ever-present work in process. Though I possess effective boundaries, I also want to be available to meet the needs of clients and staff whenever a mental health crisis arises.

Who is/are your greatest inspirations in life?

I admire the wisdom that Buddhist principles teach and reference the Dali Lama as a means to get grounded and find balance in my life.

If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be and why?

I’d like to meet Mahatma Ghandi. He influenced the direction of my spiritual development by demonstrating that compassion and peace can be a means of getting things accomplished.

Fill in the blank: “If we are going to solve the poverty issue in our community, we need to…

… find tolerance for the socioeconomic differences among people and understand the causes. Training and educational opportunities to build a life worth living, to me, include enhancing work skills that fit a person’s innate talents and interest. We can provide childcare, transportation, an incentives such as enhanced medical access when a person contributes in a work setting as opposed to the current system of a person losing benefits should they reach a certain income bracket.

What is a favorite book? Why? 

My coffee table currently has Dialectics in Action written by my DBT skills trainer Charlie Swenson and Turtles all the way Down by John Green. I enjoy reading clinical text books to remain up-to-date on evidence based treatment practices specifically those related to DBT. I also find humor and irreverence in the writing of John Green who has a brilliant writing style that captures the adolescent mind in ways that highlight real world situations such as bereavement and social anxiety. He does it in a way that is non-threatening and interwoven with humorous statements even with events that may otherwise cause emotions of sadness.

Natalie’s educational background

Natalie attended Auburn University and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Art. She received her Master’s Degree in Art Therapy from Ursuline College and completed requirements to gain a counseling license. Natalie holds the LPCC-S (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with Supervisor designation) and ATR (Registered Art Therapist). Natalie was intensively trained in DBT and has had advanced DBT training with an emphasis in eating disorders. Natalie was intensively trained in Cognitive Behavior Therapy for psychosis.

Natalie is an amazing champion for our friends, family, and neighbors living with a mental health challenge in our Northeast Ohio community. We are so proud to have her on our team! 

 

Centered on Nutrition at the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference

Our team has been working hard to continue to bring access and education around healthy food to the Northeast Ohio community – and beyond.

Congratulations to Diana Rosa, Chief Operating Officer and Kerry Riter, Director of Food Services, along with our partners from Pennsylvania State University Better Kid Care Program and the Vitamix Foundation.

Last week the team presented our groundbreaking Healthy Teachers Initiative at the National Farm to Cafeteria annual conference. The National Farm to School Network nourishes kids and communities by restoring the connection between children, food, community and land.

The Healthy Teachers Initiative is a pilot effort to increase nutrition knowledge and awareness among our early learning educators to enable them to model healthy behavior for the children and families we serve. We are in the pilot phase of this initiative but hope this effort will become the basis for national replication.

The Healthy Teachers Initiative is another component of our strategic plan to promote the integration of nutrition education and access to healthy food within our services. In addition to Diana and Kerry in this photo, you will also see Carolyn Hightower, former Centers Board member and now Director of the Vitamix Foundation and Jill Cox from Better Kid Care at Penn State.

Kerry and the team also presented at the National Child Nutrition Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Also last week, Centers and Circle Health Services Board Member John Corlett, President and Executive Director of the Center for Community Solutions, issued a new report “Hungry for Policy: Searching for solutions to food insecurity in Ohio Medicaid” that suggests connecting healthy food access to healthcare will increase successful outcomes for patients and the industry, including a decrease in overall healthcare spending. We are grateful to John for raising awareness on our new initiative and how it fits within the overall landscape of efforts to improve access to healthy food across the community. WEWS Channel 5 ran a story during the 5:30 PM newscast about the report’s findings and highlights our food pharmacy and partnership with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. Watch the segment here: Food as Medicine: prescriptions for hope to fuel the Cleveland community.

The Judy Peters Basic Needs Resource Center continues to take shape. Aysha Wilburn, Director of Service Integration continues to lead the rollout of our nutrition strategy across the organization with a focus on the BNRC and Food Pharmacy. Manoj Joseph, Organizational Inventory Manager and his team have been working hard to handle the logistics behind this exciting operation. The BNRC and Food Pharmacy are available to our clients now through a pilot period, but will open officially this summer.

Your donation today helps provide life-changing care and support for residents of our Northeast Ohio community trying to live a better life. You can make a positive difference in the quality of life for an individual, a family and our entire community by donating now. Let’s make Northeast Ohio a better place to live, one person at a time.

T.J. Grimm is Named Vice President of the Ohio Pharmacists Association

The Ohio Pharmacists Association (OPA) announced that The Centers and Circle Health Director of Pharmacy Operations Tod (T.J.) Grimm, RPh., MBA, of Cleveland was installed as Vice President at its 140th Annual Conference held April 20-22 in Columbus.

“We are pleased to have Tod Grimm on our Association’s Board of Trustees. He has been a valued member of the organization and the pharmacy community for many years, and we look forward to working with him in his new leadership position,” said Ernest Boyd, OPA Executive Director.

OPA, established in 1879, represents more than 4,000 pharmacists, pharmacy educators, and pharmacy students throughout the state. It is OPA’s mission to unite the profession of pharmacy and encourage interprofessional relations, while promoting public health through education, discussion, and legislation.

Grimm is the Director of Pharmacy Operations at The Centers for Families and Children and Circle Health Services.  Grimm started the organization’s pharmacy program that has expanded to four six locations, and serves as the program director of one of the largest national community residencies. In addition, Grimm launched an outreach vaccine/wellness program and is actively involved on OPA’s Legal & Regulatory, Pharmacy Economics, Public & Professional Relations committees, and Independent Special Interest Group. Grimm is a 1994 graduate of Ohio Northern University Raabe College of Pharmacy. He continued his education at Cleveland State University, where he received his Master’s in Business Administration in 1997.

2018 Transformation Challenge: Lighter, More Clear-headed and Ready to Serve

What is a great way to motivate a team, get to know each other better and improve your overall health and wellness all while having fun? That’s the question our Chief Operating Officer Diana Rosa posed to an interdepartmental team here at The Centers and Circle Health Services. Their collective answer – the Transformation Challenge – accomplished all of these goals and so much more.

For eight weeks, 12 teams made up of 124 employees made a commitment to eat healthy, exercise and weigh in at the end of each week. The focus was all about learning together by sharing interesting online health and wellness articles, taking quizzes and supporting one another in our fitness and weight loss goals.

At the end of the two-month period, we were more successful than we could have imagined. We lost a total of more than 600 pounds, had more energy and created a renewed sense of teamwork that will serve to jumpstart our busy summer season. Plus, we developed a number of healthy habits that will help us to make better food and meal-related choices .

We are looking forward to summer 2018!

We are hiring! Join the team. Click here to see a list of the latest positions available for some of the most meaningful work you can do in our Northeast Ohio community. Life-changing, innovative solutions happen here.

Kevin Love Gives Us Another Reason to Cheer

On March 6, Cleveland Cavaliers’ Forward Kevin Love published a think-piece in The Player’s Tribune called “Everybody’s Going Through Something” about his mental health journey. As a public figure and professional athlete, Love’s willingness to speak openly about his own struggles with mental health helps to fight the stigma that prevents so many from seeking support and care. While other athletes have added their voices to the conversation about mental health, it’s always great to see one of Cleveland’s own Cavs raising awareness on this important issue.

Elizabeth wrote a Letter to the Editor that ran in The Plain Dealer commending Kevin on sharing his story.  You can find our letter here: Kevin Love gave us another reason to cheer

You can read Love’s essay here: Everyone One is Going Through Something.

The Centers and Circle Health Services work with thousands of people right here in our Northeast Ohio community who live with mental health issues. To learn more and to donate, click here. We can reach more people and create a thriving community for all with your help.

Dr. Lisa Zapotocky Visits Radio One for Heart Health Month

In honor of heart health month Dr. Lisa Zapotocky or “Dr. Z” as her Circle Health patients call her visited Radio One to talk about the importance of heart health, getting a primary care doctor and developing a relationship over time with your doctor. Radio One personality Sam Prewitt joined her for the morning of interviews.

Signs of a heart attack include:

  • A heart attack occurs when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked, most often by a build-up of fat, cholesterol and other substances, which form a plaque in the arteries that feed the heart (coronary arteries). The interrupted blood flow can damage or destroy part of the heart muscle.
  • A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, can be fatal, but treatment has improved dramatically over the years. It’s crucial to call 911 or emergency medical help if you think you might be having a heart attack.
  • Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back.
  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness

For women the symptoms can be different:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest.
  • It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  • As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

Make an appointment annually with your primary care doctor! To make an appointment with Circle Health today, call (216) 721-4010.