Business Community Culture

The BFFRI Networking Group at Java Madness

Networking Group on a Mission for South County Kids

I thought I’d share a press release I recently submitted and was picked up by the local papers and PROJO. It’s one of the largest projects I’ve taken on in my career, and it felt awesome to have caught all the balls that I had in the air on this one. A special thanks to my family and friends for their support!

On August 16, 2016, the local networking group BFFRI (Business From Fellowship) led by Leslie Bannister-Pierini of Edward Jones, 231 Old Tower Hill Road, Wakefield, participated in the SK Kids in Need (SKKIN) School Supply Donation Drive, which ultimately delivered seventy backpacks filled with school supplies to area elementary schools within the town of South Kingstown.

Stephanie Healy, owner of Charlestown-based Aztec Design Services, LLC, BFFRI member, and Marketing Manager for the Edward Jones branch led by Pierini, organized the School Supplies Drive in an effort to bridge business and community, with a focus on area children in need. Says Healy “Pierini and I were both looking for a way to impact the community and I’ve always been passionate about youth. We both have children in the district and knew it could be challenging, but it felt right.”

The items were donated by local business members of BFFRI and residents, and were collected at Pierini’s branch over a period of two weeks, with a large outpouring of support. Supplies included pencils, erasers, crayons, rulers, colored pencils, notebooks, folders, glue sticks, tissues, hand sanitizer, and more. The supplies benefited the schools in need: Matunuck, Peace Dale, West Kingston, and Compass elementary schools.

“We asked South Kingstown residents and BFFRI businesses to go “The Extra Mile” and donate school supplies or volunteer their time,” Pierini said. “These donations can add huge value, as one more students will be provided with the appropriate tools to begin or continue his or her learning and development.”

Kim Mather, principal of West Kingston Elementary School enthused, “This is unbelievably fantastic! The children will be so excited to have something of their very own; these are items that will help them be successful, and I’ll be hand-delivering them to kids as soon as I can!”

What’s next on the agenda for Pierini’s Wakefield branch and the networkers of BFFRI? “We’re planning on walking “The Extra Mile” in early October for another, local, non-profit that centers their attention on children. We’ll be announcing the date and organization soon, so stay tuned!” says Healy.

Special thanks to the BFFRI businesses and residents who donated both their time and supplies: Jeff Kreyssig, co-founder of BFFRI and owner of Padgett Business Services, Wakefield Books, Alisa Mahoney – a Stylist with W by Worth, Lauren Peters of Keller Williams Realty in Middletown, Janine Bellandese of Santander, Java Madness Waterfront Coffeehouse and Pick Pockets – both of Wakefield, Sean Lennon of Nationwide Insurance, Attorney K. Erik Wallin of Richmond, and Albert, Maryann, and Alena Ferraro – Pierini’s Office Manager – of Narragansett, RI.

The Tough Love Job of Patient Advocacy

Jeff and Steph Healy are Team Aztec Design Services, LLC

Tough Love & Patient Advocacy

I’m hoping (and praying) that I’m finished with a very tough job. No, it’s not setting up a Google Campaign, or brainstorming a logo design with a new client. What’s the job? It’s not what you’d expect. It’s the full-time job of advocating for my husband, who was hospitalized twice in six weeks. After not feeling well on and off for about a month, I came home to find Jeff writhing with stomach pain, a pain that would take days of morphine drips to get under control. It’s taken me a few weeks to sit down and write this; admittedly, I took better care of my family than I did myself during the ordeal. But it’s important that I share this with you, in the hopes of preventing future frustrations for my friends, family and clients.

Our first visit to Westerly Hospital was in the early evening hours, and getting information from the staff was like pulling teeth. I found myself asking over and over “Where are you taking him?”, “What’s next?” and “Any results yet?”. Not a single bit of information came freely, and answers would come in days, not hours. The doctors seemed like ghosts to me; my visits in the ensuing days came too early or, more often then not, I had “just missed” them. I made some critical errors though: I was trying to take care of Maia as much as I could, trying to keep things normal for her. But there was nothing normal about this situation; I should have relied a lot more on my family. I desperately wanted to be part of what was going on with and around Jeff, but I was stubborn. I’d learn my lessons the hard way and spent more than a few nights awake, alone and frustrated.

Procrastination is not in my vocabulary, and my clients and family will attest to that. I want results and I want them fast, and I do whatever it takes to get them. I’m not very good at relying on others to give me the information I need. The question of what was causing the stomach pain was answered quickly: Pancreatitis. The reason behind it was much slower to come. After CT Scans, Ultra Sounds, an MRI and finally an Endoscopy, the culprit was revealed three full days later: The Gall Bladder. It was uneventfully removed a few days later.

When it came to the second visit just five short weeks later, I felt like a pro. The two visits were like night and day, literally and figuratively. Jeff was again admitted to Westerly Hospital, this time in the morning. The nurse in the ER was on top of things and I knew what was going on every step of the way. I was allowed to stay with Jeff during the tests because this time, I asked. I knew where the warm blankets were when Jeff got cold, I knew where I could (and couldn’t) get the best cell phone signal, and I called on family to help out with Maia so I could concentrate on taking care of Jeff.

To be continued…

The Tough Love Job of Patient Advocacy

Image of Jeff Healy at Grapefield Beach, Aruba

Tough-Love Job

I’m hoping (and praying) that I’m finished with a very tough job. No, it’s not setting up a Google Campaign, or brainstorming a logo design with a new client. What’s the job, you ask? It’s not what you’d expect. It’s the full-time job of advocating for my husband, who was hospitalized twice in six weeks. After not feeling well on and off for about a month, I came home to find Jeff writhing with stomach pain, a pain that would take days of morphine drips to get under control. It’s taken me a few weeks to sit down and write this; admittedly, I took better care of my family than I did myself during the ordeal. But it’s important that I share this with you, in the hopes of preventing future frustrations for my friends, family and clients.

Our first visit to Westerly Hospital was in the early evening hours, and getting information from the staff was like pulling teeth. I found myself asking over and over “Where are you taking him?”, “What’s next?” and “Any results yet?”. Not a single bit of information came freely, and answers would come in days, not hours. The doctors seemed like ghosts to me; my visits in the ensuing days came too early or, more often then not, I had “just missed” them. I made some critical errors though: I was trying to take care of Maia as much as I could, trying to keep things normal for her. But there was nothing normal about this situation; I should have relied a lot more on my family. I desperately wanted to be part of what was going on with and around Jeff, but I was stubborn. I’d learn my lessons the hard way and spent more than a few nights awake, alone and frustrated.

Procrastination is not in my vocabulary, and my clients and family will attest to that. I want results and I want them fast, and I do whatever it takes to get them. I’m not very good at relying on others to give me the information I need. The question of what was causing the stomach pain was answered quickly: Pancreatitis. The reason behind it was much slower to come. After CT Scans, Ultra Sounds, an MRI and finally an Endoscopy, the culprit was revealed three full days later: The Gall Bladder. It was uneventfully removed a few days later.

When it came to the second visit just five short weeks later, I felt like a pro. The two visits were like night and day, literally and figuratively. Jeff was again admitted to Westerly Hospital, this time in the morning. The nurse in the ER was on top of things and I knew what was going on every step of the way. I was allowed to stay with Jeff during the tests because this time, I asked. I knew where the warm blankets were when Jeff got cold, I knew where I could (and couldn’t) get the best cell phone signal, and I called on family to help out with Maia so I could concentrate on taking care of Jeff.

To be continued…

The Tough Love Job of Patient Advocacy Part 2

Tough Love Too

Due to the heavy pain medication Jeff was on, it would be two full days before my husband spoke more than a few words to me since that visit. But I was getting answers this time around, doctors came and went and with every visit, I had another piece to the puzzle because I spoke up. I was relieved to find out that there was a good chance that this was an isolated case. The doctors believed that his pancreas was traumatized too soon after the surgery; an assertion that was validated by Jeff telling us that the dog had jumped on him the night before and he felt a “pop”.

While Jeff still struggles with some digestion issues and I suspect a bit of exhaustion every night he arrives home from work, he is on the mend. He’s also one not to complain. And I’ve stopped complaining about that first hospital stay. I’ve finally figured out that there is only one person who was truly in charge of Jeff’s well-being: Me. If he needed something, I tried my best to make it happen. I realized that advocacy is not about taking a back seat, it’s all about firmly taking the wheel.

My advice to you:

  • Know the names of every person in charge of your loved ones care.
  • Ask questions, over and over if needed.
  • Don’t be afraid to step on a few toes if you have to.
  • Do whatever “it” takes.
  • Be strong, and ask for help from family and friends so that you are able to assist in the hospital or home care.
  • Remember: YOU are the customer in every way, shape and form. YOU are paying for the hospital stay and their doctors’ salaries, in the form of insurance premiums. YOU are paying for every test, and all medications.
  • Finally, take care of YOURSELF, so that you have the energy and power to care for your loved one both in the hospital and when they arrive back home. It’s the best gift you can give yourself and your family.

It took some time, but I realized that advocating for Jeff was not much different from running my business: Asking the right questions of the right people, having the right answers to probing doctors, keeping constant, open communication, and knowing when to call in reinforcements. Relying on others is the hardest part for me, combined with not knowing something that I knew somebody, somewhere already had an answer to.

I’ve modified my hopes and prayers some as I complete this post. While they still include the continued recovery and health of my husband and family, they are also geared towards you. That YOU learn how to advocate for others, especially family when facing a health crisis. That you learn from my mistakes, as well as from my successes. And finally, that you never have to worry about becoming an advocate for a loved one. But if you do, it’ll be a tough job, with big results.