Blood Pressure Check: First Step for Every HomeHealth Visit



nurse measuring a resident's blood pressureIn the United States, nearly 68 million people have hypertension, which is commonly called high blood pressure. If not treated, high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure and kidney disease. With one in three people impacted by this disease, understanding its causes and treatment is critical to personal wellness.

May is designated as high blood pressure education month to bring awareness to this treatable illness, which can be controlled through diet, exercise and reduction in alcohol consumption.

For the team at Homeland HomeHealth, monitoring and treating high blood pressure is an important part of their work. Homeland HomeHealth includes medical professionals who provide knowledge and expertise in wound care, cardiac care, palliative care, fall prevention, rehabilitation services, intravenous therapy and more.

“Checking a patient’s blood pressure is the first step of every visit,” says Debra L. Weigel, BSN, RN, CHHCM for Homeland HomeHealth. “Each reading reveals critical information about an individual’s wellness.”

For those struggling with high blood pressure, regular readings show if the patient is taking medications as prescribed, adhering to a healthy diet and exercising. Timely alterations can be made to ensure an individual’s blood pressure doesn’t get out of control and cause further illness.

digital health services available at homelandHomeland also offers telehealth. Patients are educated to take their own vitals to include their weight, blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels in their blood using a pulse oximeter. The information is transmitted to Homeland for daily review. This step provides current information about a patient’s wellness in-between visits.

For most of us, understanding how to manage a healthy lifestyle regardless of age can prevent high blood pressure or reverse the effects of it in our lives.

“Diet and exercise are critical to managing blood pressure,” Debra says. “Even small changes can make a big difference.”

Homeland’s dietician helps educate high blood pressure patients about the importance of a healthy diet through meal plans and important tips to empower individuals to make smart choices.

For Debra, sharing the message of healthy eating and exercise is more than a part of her job; it’s personal. Debra’s brother battled high blood pressure for many years and was on several medications to treat the disease. Her brother took control of his diet and is now off all medications.

“My brother is proof that change is possible,” Debra adds, “I’m proud of his progress and believe the same transformation is achievable for many of our patients.”

Homeland HomeHealth is certified by Medicare and accredited by Community Health Accreditation Partner (CHAP). To learn more about Homeland HomeHealth, call (717) 412-0166.

For more information on the treatment of high blood pressure, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Compassionate Bereavement Support During COVID-19



We all need human connections, especially during the journey of grief. A smile or caring embrace from individuals in our support network can provide us courage to share our most intimate feelings of loss, and give us the strength to believe in a better tomorrow. The impact of social distancing because of COVID-19 has compounded the grieving process for individuals and families.

Immediately following the announcement of stay-at-home orders, Homeland Hospice’s bereavement support program shifted from in-person meetings to phone sessions. Homeland chose to connect to members via phone calls instead of virtual visits because of gaps in comfort levels in using technology, as well as access to specific online products and privacy concerns.

Homeland’s bereavement programs are available to the bereaved of Homeland’s patients as well as anyone in the community who is experiencing grief. Bereavement support group meetings also are held on a rotating schedule throughout the year. Homeland Hospice is a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

“I’m grateful to Brian Medkeff-Rose and Noelle Valentine, Homeland Hospice’s bereavement counselors,” says Mary Peters, MSW, LSW, Assistant Director of Social Services at Homeland Hospice. “They immediately adapted to phone sessions to offer support and guidance to all of our clients.”

At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, anxiety levels were very high for individuals and families as there were so many unknown factors about the impact and spread of the virus. Social-distancing further increased levels of worry as people were unable to personally connect with friends, loved ones and their hospice support team.

“In the beginning, our calls with individuals were longer and more frequent as stress levels were very high,” Noelle says. “It was important for clients to be heard and validated for their emotions.”

In many cases, Noelle and Brian helped members develop new coping mechanisms that align with social distancing restrictions. For one of her clients who enjoys attending painting events with friends, Noelle encouraged her to find time for art and creativity at home. This activity provides a sense of normalcy and peace during this uncertain time.

With each client, comes a personal journey of grief. Not everyone is on the same path based on when a loved one died and individual adjustments to loss. For some people, the grief is very new and raw. Other individuals may be facing the first anniversary of the death of a loved one or experiencing mourning based on loneliness.

“For members of our bereavement groups, I’ve encouraged them to call each other,” Noelle adds. “Through these connections, our clients are forming a unique community of support.”

More recently, Noelle and Brian have been working with individuals who lost loved ones during COVID-19 and we’re unable to be present at the end. This important time called “bedside holiness” includes heart-filled conversations about love, forgiveness, gratitude and saying goodbye. We hold on to these memories as we grieve and remember our loved one. Often, it’s these moments that bring us the greatest comfort.

“It’s extremely difficult for families losing loved ones at this time,” Brian says. “It will complicate the grieving process in ways we’ve never experienced before.”

Through this experience, Noelle and Brian are overwhelmed by the resilience of the human spirit and the compassion clients have for each other.

“We can’t take away grief, but we can be there during the journey,” Noelle says. “Amidst the darkness there is light for all of us.”

To learn more, please contact Brian Medkeff-Rose, M.Div., M.A., or Noelle Valentine, MSW, LSW, at (717) 221-7890.

Remembering Veterans This Memorial Day and Beyond



The last Monday in May is recognized as Memorial Day, a special time to remember soldiers lost in wars and conflicts. Small towns hold parades and families come together for picnics. As a country, the president or vice president lays a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider.

While social distancing from COVID-19 will prevent picnics and parades this year, one thing will remain the same. The American flag will fly on front porches, community centers, and in cemeteries coast to coast reminding us of the bravery of our veterans.

For Homeland Hospice, honoring veterans is part of the organization’s core values. For more than eight years, Homeland has been part of the We Honor Veterans program, created by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Homeland Hospice is a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

Through the We Honor Veterans program, hospice volunteers who served in the military meet with veterans during their end of life journey. Patients are given a special pin, which represents their branch of service, as well as a small flag and certificate. The ceremony ends with a salute, veteran to veteran. In this special moment of time, the patient can experience the proud memory of his/her first salute and the love and respect of an entire country.

“It’s a pleasure to see the glow on the faces of veterans,” says Andy Lank, a volunteer with Homeland Hospice. “I’m proud to be part of this amazing program.”

Andy served in the United States Navy for four years, including one tour in Vietnam. Through his military experience, Andy understands the circumstances many patients faced and enjoys hearing about their military service.

“It can be quite emotional for patients and their families,” Andy adds. “Overall, the experience brings everyone peace.”

John Good, chaplain for Homeland Hospice is part of the program. While not a veteran himself, John holds a special place in his heart for those who have served our country.

“I’m humbled to help our distinguished veterans,” John says. “It’s an honor to help them find comfort after their sacrifice for us all.”

To honor and remember those on Memorial Day, you can join fellow Americans at 3 p.m., in a moment of silence.

For more information about the We Honor Veterans program visit

To learn more about Homeland’s work with this program, call Homeland Hospice at (717) 221-7890.