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‘Health – Continuity of Care’

Funerals with a softer, gentler approach

By Michael Clark, SDLV project manager


Kraft-Sussman Funeral Services

Corporate America makes its presence felt throughout nearly every aspect of our lives, so it should come as no surprise that this has happened in the funeral industry. Not all corporations are equal, of course. Some do respond to customers’ needs better than others. But there is legitimate concern that corporations often work to satisfy the stock market’s desire for increased revenues and profits, usually at the customers’ expense.

It is comforting to know that here in Las Vegas, two Jewish mothers own a local funeral home.

Why did they choose this vocation?

“They felt obligated,” reported Danielle Nadler in her RJ View profile on how Laura Sussman and Wendy Kraft got to where they are. Nadler concluded that the gals chose willingly “a venture few feel called to.” She’s right, of course. Burying the dead is sacred, holy work.

“Our philosophy is to treat our clients as family and to provide an alternative to corporate-owned funeral homes,” the article reported. “We call it concierge funeral service.” Wendy Kraft explained.

According to a Vegas Seven (April 2011) article Kraft-Sussman Funeral Services is the only company in Southern Nevada certified by the Green Burial Council. Its goal is to reduce the number of toxins and waste in the funeral industry. It also encourages ethical and environmentally sound burial practices.


Wendy Kraft and Laura Sussman.

It makes sense that Wendy and Laura heard the calling.

“So I try to make myself as available as I can, whether that means meeting during off-hours or visiting a family’s home,” Laura Sussman was quoted in the magazine American Funeral Director (May 2012). “I understand the emotional toll illness and death can take on a family.”

These ladies are well known and respected. This reporter met them through their goal to help medical professionals understand the importance of the continuity of care from illness to death. (Other continuing care articles can be found in the Health Section at

Laura studied psychology, religious traditions, insurance, state laws, finances and all other background needed to run a funeral home before she took the certification exam for her Nevada funeral director license, Nadler reported.

Laura explained it this way, “we don’t have a lot of administrative layers and overhead so we’re able to keep prices low.”

And green.

“As people discover the alternative, they get interested. The national trend is quickly moving to green awareness. Plus, it costs less than a traditional funeral.

It’s pretty tough to put a smiley face on funeral decisions, but my Kraft-Sussman can make it more sacred, and perhaps take away some of the sting.

The Road to Healthcare Recovery Often Needs Continuing Care

A SDLV Health Report

Betty knew immediately that something was wrong. She told her husband to call for an ambulance. The emergency staff determined that Betty had suffered a stroke. She was admitted to the hospital where she stayed for several days.

When it came time for Betty to be discharged, the hospital staff knew she required continued care to recover completely. They developed a care plan for Betty to ensure her medical needs would be met, so she could make the quickest transition from the traditional hospital to home. This care plan introduced Betty to the healthcare continuum, a concept long advocated but only recently achieved.

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Betty’s plan of care determined that the most appropriate setting after her hospital stay was the Transitional Care Center in Kindred Hospital Las Vegas – Flamingo. The healthcare providers at Kindred offer the variety of nursing and rehabilitative services required to assist her in recovery from her stroke.

“Our goal is to help patients achieve positive outcomes, regain function and safely return home as quickly as their recovery allows, “ explained Esteban Duran-Ballen, Executive Director. “Our services include physical, occupational and speech-language therapy as well as skilled nursing and specialized short-term rehabilitative programs.”

“The transition-to-home plan begins upon admission,” Duran-Ballen stated. The typical stay at Kindred’s Transitional Care Center can last from several days to several weeks, depending on a patient’s specific needs.

Kindred’s Transitional Care Centers provide care for many clinically complex patients across the country. In addition to post-stroke recovery, treatment is offered for a variety of medical conditions including congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or pneumonia episodes, neurological illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, cardiac conditions, wound care, uncontrolled diabetes and hip, knee or joint repair/replacement.

When Betty had rehabilitated enough to safely go home, her care team determined that it would be best to continue with nursing care and therapy in the home–with Kindred at Home services, and her plan of care went with her.

“Our expertise across the post-acute spectrum allows us to help people like Betty recover to her fullest extent by providing the right care at the right time,” Duran-Ballen stated.

Kindred offers services and points of care that span the post-acute care continuum through transitional care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, sub-acute units, nursing and rehabilitation centers, assisted living facilities and homecare and hospice. Kindred’s expertise in the post-acute spectrum allows helps patients recover to the fullest extent by providing care in the proper setting.

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For additional information, visit these web sites: for more stories  for more information on Continuing the Care

National Healthcare Decisions Day

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January 30th: Guardianship and Dementia – A Southern Nevada Region Alzheimer’s Conference


Significant Increase to Medicaid Caseload Volume

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Carson City, NV – Mike Willden, Nevada Health and Human Services Director, announced today caseload activity after the October 1, 2013 launch of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is higher than initially projected. Medicaid caseload has increased by 10,483 cases from 330,623 at the end of September to 341,106 at the end of December 2013. Original estimates placed Medicaid caseload at 336,195 by end of 2013.

The increase is due in large part to the individual mandate of ACA which requires all US Citizens to have health insurance coverage in 2014. This requirement has spurred low income Nevadans, who may have always qualified but never applied, to seek coverage from Medicaid. “The significant aspect of this increase is that it does not include the newly eligible individuals, those low-income adults aged 19 to 64 who do not qualify for either TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) or Medicare, whose eligibility for Nevada Medicaid began January 1, 2014,” Willden said. “We will not see the numbers that include the newly eligible population until the January statistics are compiled.”

In anticipation of the increased caseload volume and workload associated with ACA, the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services (DWSS) requested and received approval from the 2013 Legislature to hire 248 additional staff by the end of February 2014, and an additional 162 by December 2014. To date, DWSS has hired 244 new staff and continues to fill vacancies to process and manage the increased volume of Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) applications.

“Although we anticipated increased growth, the activity has been more vigorous than we initially projected,” said Willden. “The effective communication campaign by Nevada Health Link encouraged Nevadans to take action and seek health insurance coverage.”

Historically, DWSS processes approximately 12,000 applications each month for both Medicaid and the state’s children’s health insurance, Nevada Check Up. However, in December the number of applications tripled and there are now over 38,000 applications in the queue for staff to process.

“It’s true we have a high workload but we also have planned to ramp up for increasing volume by hiring additional staff and streamlining processes to have all hands on deck focused on this priority,” Willden said. Medicaid/Check Up applications generally take 30 to 45 business days to process but the increased volume has caused some to take longer. However, the increased staff and streamlined processes are making a difference. For instance, in September 2013 only 30 percent of Medicaid applications were processed within 15 days, compared to November 2013, when nearly 50 percent of Medicaid applications were processed within 15 days.

Many delays are due to incomplete applications. “We’ve learned many people thought their applications were complete, when in reality, they still needed to enter more information,” Willden said. It is important people complete their applications. “We are appreciative of the assistance provided by several community partners to help individuals apply for Medicaid. This really is a community wide effort to make sure Nevadans are insured,” Willden said.

Prior to the launch of ACA, there were approximately 600,000 Nevadans without health insurance coverage. Nevada had the second highest rate of uninsured at 22 percent of its population compared to a National average of 16 percent. Implementing the ACA, and the decision to expand Medicaid coverage for the first time in Nevada to include low-income adults 19 to 65 with no dependent children, is expected to decrease the uninsured population in Nevada to 10 percent by the end of 2015.

HealthSouth Acute Rehabilitation Hospitals help keep people Independent


Rehabilitation may be right for you or a loved one.

“We make house calls.”
An SDLV Health Report

Your grandfather would not recognize today’s hospital system. That is because health care delivery has come a long way in the past 25 years.  Consider that in 1987 the term “continuity of care” was mostly just a concept. Today it is nexus around which health care is provided.

Health care planners now understand that long hospital stays are not good patient care. There was a time when patients stayed in the hospital because the support needed to be discharged back home did not exist. Now a comprehensive array of health services give patients levels of independence that past generations could only hope for.

Rehabilitation hospitals, home health care, palliative care and other community-based services are commonplace today.

Over the years medical professionals have come to understand that optimum health can best be achieved through shorter hospital stays and more support outside the traditional hospital setting.

To meet that goal, HealthSouth’s home evaluation program provides a no-cost in-home consultation by an experienced rehabilitation liaison, helping individuals determine whether they would benefit from rehabilitation therapy.

Rehabilitation may be right for you. Do you or a loved one answer yes to any of the following?

  • Weakness or a difficult recovery following a stroke, injury, surgery or other illness or hospitalization
  • Shortness of breath
  • Problems with walking, dressing, bathing or swallowing
  • Lack of energy
  • Family unable to meet the demands of in-home care

HealthSouth Desert Canyon Rehabilitation Hospital is located at 9175 W Oquendo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89148.


“We often receive phone calls from various Home Health companies requesting that we come out and perform an in-home assessment,” explained Florisa Pascual-Garcia, Desert Canyon’s Senior Rehab Liaison. “They notice one of their patients has a decline in function and not getting better.”  That is when the Healthsouth rehab teams get into gear by sending a liaison to do an evaluation on the patient to determine if acute rehabilitation will help.

The main referral sources are from physician offices, urgent care clinics, home health, assisted living facilities and group homes.

Once the liaison has completed an in-home assessment, patients are assessed by the hospital medical director, a case manager and a team of rehabilitation specialists.  If accepted, Medicare patients are admitted right away, however patients with commercial insurance must get prior insurance authorization.

When the team determines that a rehabilitation admission is necessary, therapies can be scheduled right away. “We can usually get someone started on therapies the next day,” noted Jovy Campbell, a Desert Canyon rehab liaison.

“We provide no-cost transportation,” added Bernice Padua, also a member of the HealthSouth Las Vegas rehab liaison team.

“HealthSouth’s home evaluation program is unique,” says Dijana Sudarevic, HealthSouth’s Marketing Community Liaison.  As the program continues to succeed in helping patients reach maximum functional independence, this model may become common practice.

For further information or questions please contact any of the three HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospitals.

HealthSouth Desert Canyon – Phone: 702-795-5820
HealthSouth Henderson – Phone: 702-939-9422
HealthSouth Las Vegas – Phone: 702-259-3590

New Adult Day Care Center Opens on West Sahara

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A new adult day care center opened its doors this week. Ray of Sunshine Adult Day Care Center’s objective is to produce a life-enhancing environment where folks can “enjoy each other’s company while (they) have fun and learn,” explained Carole Frye, the day care center’s director.

Located at 7720 West Sahara Suite 104, Ray of Sunshine can accommodate 20 seniors. “We provide support for families and their senior loved ones,” Carole Frye stated. “We aim to provide programs and activities to help edify and motivate our guests.”

Ray of Sunshine provides discussion groups, gentle exercise and arts and crafts, among their activities. “Our goal is to give seniors a chance to get out of the house and experience both mental and social stimulation,” the director noted.

Families will find an amazing group of caregivers who provide loving care and exciting learning activities.

Good candidates for adult day care are seniors who can benefit from the friendship and functional assistance the center offers. “We cater to folks who may be physically or cognitively challenged but do not require 24-hour supervision,” she said. Guests need to be mobile and continent.

If your family has a loved one who could use Ray of Sunshine, Carole asks that you call her at 702-357-7796. You may also click on

State of Nevada offers FREE Assistance for Health Concerns


It comes as no surprise that the landscape of health care is changing both nationally and at the state and local level . It now seems certain  that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will affect the delivery of health care for everyone.

In these uncertain times, it’s good to know that the State of Nevada can help. The Governor’s Office for Consumer Health (GovCHA) has been a trusted partner since its inception in 1999. When Nevadans need help researching or resolving issues with their health plan, GovCHA is there. Concerns may be in many areas, such as eligibility (for benefits), billing, grievances, or claim denials. “We assist the Consumer by helping them understand their rights and responsibilities regarding health insurance” explained Janise Holmes, LSW MPA, Interim Governor’s Consumer Health Advocate.

“We provide information to Nevadans seeking health care, insurance coverage or prescription drug assistance,” Ms. Holmes added. One example of GovCHA assistance is helping to explain complicated hospital bills. “We also help people understand the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and how the law may (or may not) benefit them.

The Governor’s Office vision is to be Nevada’s premier resource for Consumer Advocacy and health care information, Holmes explained.

You can contact GovCHA for more information by calling 702-486-3587 or by using their toll-free number 1-888-333-1957.

Aging and Disability Services Conference‏ Sept. 25-26th

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Collaboration, Innovation among Key Topics at Upcoming
Aging and Disability Services Conference

2-day conference to be held Sept. 25-26 at Tuscany Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS  – The State of Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division (ADSD) will host a statewide conference Sept. 25-26, 2013 at the Tuscany Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to bring leaders in the field of aging and disability services together for two days of presentations and discussion.

The conference is intended for professionals who work with aged populations and/or individuals with disabilities across the lifespan to identify innovative and sustainable solutions to ensure the needs of vulnerable Nevadans are met, today and in the future.

The conference’s theme, Mission Possible: Partners Building the Community of Tomorrow, exemplifies the importance ADSD places on facilitating collaboration and partnership among organizations and sharing strategies to better serve our community.

David Ishida, a regional administrator for the Administration for Community Living (ACL), and Mike Willden, director of the State of Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) are scheduled to give keynote addresses at the conference.

Dr. Jeffrey Cummings, a leading researcher in the mechanisms of Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases, and the director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, is scheduled to present on the conference’s second day.

ADSD’s new administrator, Jane Gruner, will provide the opening address.

More than 20 workshops will be offered during the course of the two-day event. Sessions fall under four categories: Partnerships & Collaboration, Community Living, Innovation & Sustainability, and Healthy Living.

Registration for the conference is $90 (plus an online processing fee), and includes two days of conference sessions, materials, and breakfast and lunch on both days. Attendance is limited. ADSD is encouraging those hoping to attend to register by Sept. 1.

To register for the conference or for more information, visit or contact Paul Gully at or (702) 486-2438.


About the Aging and Disability Services Division (ADSD)
The  State of Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division is the division within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that represents, assists and advocates for Nevadans aged 60 and older, and adults and children with disabilities or special health care needs. In July 2013, Nevada Early Intervention Services (NEIS) and Developmental Services (DS) were integrated into ADSD.

A prescription for savings….

costcoI want to write a brief note about a savings tip you may find beneficial. If a serious part of your budget is going towards prescription medicines–and if you are a senior it often is, you may thank me for this heads-up! It is to check the cost of your meds if you switch to having your prescription filled at Costco. Here is just one sample of the savings we recently found on one medication. My wife needs a supply of Metforim every month to control her diabetes, at Walgreens the cost of a month’s supplies $31 without her health insurance–with insurance it costs $25. At Costco the same prescription is $6.99. A three month supply of Metforim at Walgreens costs $75 (without insurance it runs $93,) at Costco the price is $9.99. Quite a savings for the identical medication, at Costco your yearly savings on just this one RX would be $288.

How about that yearly membership at Costco? It doesn’t apply for their pharmacy, just walk right in and go to the pharmacy section. If you have a regular series of meds that you purchase, why not go in and check with them what your savings would be. You may wonder what this has to do with my position of entertainment editor of Easy, with all these savings you might want to buy one of there giant flat screen TVs that they stock. In my next post I will give you some tips on how to ‘Cut the Cable’ and save a ton of money every month on your cable bill, while suffering no loss to your viewing experience.