UPICares Serves Dinner at HER Shelter

By Jessica Lay
Nov. 16, 2018

Earlier this month, five members of the UPICares team served dinner to 12 women and nine children seeking refuge at the Help and Emergency Response (HER) Shelter. HER Shelter provides basic assistance and aims to promote healing and empowerment to those affected by domestic violence. The dinner was the first out of our Norfolk, Va., office and marked the beginning of 2018’s Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

Team members Nikita, Amina, Jessica B., and Ana ready to serve dinner to shelter clients.

According to the Salvation Army, six percent of homelessness cases in the U.S. are caused by domestic violence. The National Alliance to End Homelessness reported that on a single night in January 2017, 16 percent of the overall homeless population (87,329 people) had experienced domestic violence. Survivors often need to leave home very quickly, sometimes with children or pets. This means that they must go without simple necessities like a change of clothes, food, or money.

According to the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence (NCDSV), the cycle of abuse starts with mounting tension, then a violent incident, and ends with a calm stage when the abuser might apologize profusely or even deny they did anything wrong at all. But not all abuse is physically violent. Abusers find many ways to control their partners.

Defining Domestic Violence
Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence (IPV), can manifest in several ways, such as controlling behavior, physical or sexual violence, withholding or hiding money and resources, emotional or verbal abuse, stalking, and isolation. Signs of domestic abuse can include:

  • Fear of your partner or feeling threatened
  • Feeling like you walk on eggshells or anxiety over potential reactions from your partner
  • Feeling belittled or humiliated
  • Having your possessions withheld or destroyed
  • Having limited access to the phone, car, or finances

Abuse can happen to people of all ages, gender identities, and socioeconomic status. NCADV reports one in three women and one in four men have been victims of domestic violence at some point. IPV disproportionately affects those in the LGBTQ community, who might experience barriers accessing resources.

And children are often the hidden victims of domestic violence.

Chatting with clients in the food line.

Facts from the Childhood Domestic Violence Association(CDV):

  • In the U.S., five million children witness domestic violence each year.
  • Children from violent or abusive homes are much more likely to experience significant psychological problems, short and long-term.
  • Those who grow up with domestic violence are six times more likely to commit suicide and 50 percent more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.

Organizations like the HER Shelter provide warm meals, a safe place to stay, and are often the first step to survivors on their path to healing by improving economic security and overall well-being. This makes HER Shelter a perfect partner for UPIC Health, which strives to empower women every day.

“We believe we can inspire others to reach their ultimate potential, to establish a better life for themselves and their children.”  -HER Shelter

UPICares volunteers arrived at the shelter with healthy food and drinks prepared ahead of time. We did not see every face while at the shelter. Some of the clients work nights and some are still healing and prefer to keep to themselves. Upon leaving the shelter, the UPICares team received many words of appreciation. One client even expressed that she wished we could cook for them every night.

The experience at the shelter inspired employees in Norfolk to launch a winter clothing drive. We hope to provide warm coats and clothing to the women, children, and teens at the shelter.  If you would like to donate to HER Shelter, please contact erika@hershelter.com or call 757-485-1073.

Our meal consisted of lasagna, salad, cheese ravioli and tomato sauce, and fruit with whipped cream for dessert.

No one deserves to be mistreated. If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence or domestic abuse, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224.

You can also visit their website at https://www.thehotline.org/

Author Jessica Lay is UPIC’s Program Lead for UPICares, the organization’s philanthropic initiative.  She spends half of her time assisting patients through UPIC’s contact center and recently completed a degree in Aging Services Management. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @UPICHealth.

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Growing Out Of Bad Relationship Cycles

By Juli Briskman
December 4, 2018

This is the second in a series of blogs about domestic violence experienced by UPIC employees and their families. #WeAreWhoWeServe

Something remarkable happened when UPIC encouraged employees to wear purple in honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness month in October.  The day set was Oct. 30 and as employees shared their photos from the offices and from home, many came with snippets and stories attached.

We have turned those stories into a blog series called #WeAreWhoWeServe.  This is the first expanded story from one of our coworkers who did not want to reveal her name.  We will call her Natalie.

Natalie, 34, is originally from Richmond, Va., and the eldest of six children. When we asked UPIC employees to wear purple in October, she wrote that she did not grow up in an abusive household but remembers her grandmother telling her to keep her smart mouth shut or a man would “beat her butt.”

Natalie says she did not grow up “abused.” But her mother was shot in the head and died when she was 12 and her grandmother, who raised her, was verbally abusive toward her own boyfriend while Natalie was in her custody.

This is where Natalie believes she learned to be a fighter and to have strong opinions that may have led to the rough relationships she experienced during her college years.  She says it was always about controlling her.

“As I got older I was in some relationships like that as well. I always considered myself a fighter.  It was like a mutual thing,” she said. She was in two abusive relationships while attending Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. and shortly after. And they each ended when the boyfriend was jailed on unrelated charges.  “I eventually realized that’s not the relationship I wanted.”

In the first relationship, Natalie said her boyfriend went from being a ‘9-to-5 guy’ to some kind of street guy.”  He later told her that he changed to prove he was strong and to control her. They would verbally battle, grab each other and tussle.  “We broke a lot of things.”

This boyfriend was jailed for shooting a college basketball player.

“He came in my apartment and said ‘hey babe cut on the TV look what I did.’  He thought I was the kind of female that wanted a street guy. In his crazy mind he thought that was what I wanted,” she said.  “I always wonder if my demeanor pushed him to be that way. He later said that he needed to do that to control me.”

It’s difficult for Natalie to label her relationships as violent and she finds ways to blame herself.  “Every time it was me saying something to them and it was something that just made them snap.”

She’s not atypical.  Many victims blame themselves. And according to LoveIsRespect.org, college students are not equipped to deal with dating abuse as 57% say it’s hard to identify.  On the whole, 43% of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors.

But while she feels she’s “grown out of” accepting violent relationships, it’s clear Natalie had some hurdles to break a cycle that accepts verbal and physical abuse as the norm.  She grew up in a neighborhood with “a bunch of gang bangers and drug dealers.” Her mother suffered from crack addiction that eventually led to her death.  And her grandmother came from an abusive relationship that Natalie eventually realized led to her comments about getting her butt beat. She is the only one of her siblings to attend college.

The Second Relationship

In her second college-age relationship, things got more physical:  “It was way more on him. It was way more that he had to control me and I wouldn’t allow it.  I didn’t really want to fight. I can’t really remember what we fought about.”

Twice he tried to choke her.  The first time they were in a car.  “I was driving. I said something smart to him and he choked me.”  She remembers waking up and the car was still moving.

The second time it occurred at his uncle’s house while the boyfriend was drinking.  She remembers calling for help, nobody was coming and thinking that she may actually die that night.

 “I was screaming telling them to come to get him and they were like completely ignoring me.  And I remember being on the floor and he was choking me and I remember thinking he was going to kill me.”  The second abuser was also put in jail and right around the same time, Natalie got a job and an apartment.

Natalie changed the type of men she dates and is in a relationship now.  But she finds the tools for control have just changed.

She decided if she dated guys that make money she would not have to deal with physical abuse. But:  “Guys with money try to control me as well.”  

No one deserves to be mistreated. If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence or domestic abuse, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224.   You can also visit:  www.thehotline.org.

Juli Briskman is Chief Marketing Officer for UPIC Health, LLC.  UPIC outsources patient contact center, revenue cycle management, and telebehavioral health services.  To learn more, visit the Who We Are page on our website. Follow us @UPICHealth.

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UPICares Leads Program at D.C. Women’s Shelter

By Jessica Lay
Oct. 25, 2018

This week will mark the beginning of UPICares’ workforce development program with N Street Village, a community of empowerment and recovery for women in Washington, D.C. Clients who participate in the eight-week educational series will learn and practice skills such as professional communication, organization, and self-care.

View of N St Village, where it sits on corner of N and 14th St

We couldn’t think of a better time to start this next level of engagement with our partner N Street as October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.   One in three women has reported to N Street that violence and/or abuse are contributing factors to their unstable housing situation. Domestic abuse can range from name calling to physical or sexual assault. Controlling behaviors, such as withholding funds and intimidation, can keep women from leaving abusive partners.

In fact, three in five women arrive at N St with no independent source of income. This means finding gainful employment is paramount to leading a healthy and independent lifestyle.

Knocking on N St’s door is the first step to ensuring a warm meal and a safe place for the night for a woman struggling to make ends meet. However, N Street goes beyond providing basic necessities. Clients of the Village can also take advantage of wellness services, from dental care to mental health care, provided at the center.  Thus, UPIC believes that work and communications skills are a natural extension of this support to help get women on the path to independence.

At UPIC we really believe “It Takes a Village.”  And we are excited  for this deepened relationship with N Street as we all work together to empower women.  To learn more about our past work with N Street, visit the UPIC news page.

Author Jessica Lay is UPIC’s Program Lead for UPICares, the organization’s philanthropic initiative.  She spends half of her time assisting patients through UPIC’s contact center and recently completed a degree in Aging Services Management. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @UPICHealth.

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UPIC Attends N Street Night at Nationals Park

By Jessica Lay
Sept. 28, 2018

N St Village Members accepting a Spirit Award on Nats Field

UPICares volunteers had a blast at N Street Village’s Night at Nationals Park last week. Although our local team lost 2-4 against the New York Mets, the ‘friendraiser’ was a home-run for the women’s shelter that supports nearly 2,000 women a year.

UPIC employees that made in-kind donations to N St were entered into a raffle for a pair of tickets to the game. We made sure to take into consideration their most needed items at the moment: travel sized toothpaste (supplies were recently exhausted) and deodorant.

Nat fans intently watching the game.

N Street allocated great seats for the game and each ticket included a $10 concession credit and $5 donation to the Village.

To add to the excitement, the Washington Nationals honored local charities and organizations with Spirit Awards during the pre-game ceremonies. Before the first pitch, N Street employees were invited onto the ball field to accept a Spirit Award.

N Street’s mission was featured on the big screen twice, along with the logo that features a D.C. skyline.

N Street provides basic needs such as beds and warm meals for those in need. And daytime services include dental care, shelter, and wellness services, such as yoga, and much, much more. N Street’s mission is to empower homeless and low-income women in Washington D.C. to claim their highest quality of life. The Village serves about 208,000 meals and facilitates more than 5,000 showers per year.

Each woman comes to the village with her own unique set of circumstances. The Village works to meet those needs and empowers clients to overcome challenges, heal, and restore a sense of dignity and self-worth. N Street clients’ diverse challenges include:

  • Disability, mental illness, addiction, 64%
  • Self-reported HIV, 6%
  • Lack of income, 50%
  • Older population, 51% are over 50
  •  Discrimination, 81% percent are women of color.

“Every day at least one woman comes to N Street Village for the first time, and I know that – but for a few circumstances of fortune and timing – ‘she’ could be me.” -Schroeder Stribling, CEO of N St Village

UPICares volunteers had a blast at the game!

UPICares also is partnering with N Street in a workforce development program that clients of the Village can participate in. The program will help clients develop communications skills and prepare to get back into the workforce.

N Street is gearing up for Fall with some notable events:

Author Jessica Lay is UPIC’s Program Lead for UPICares, the organization’s philanthropic initiative.  She spends half of her time assisting patients through UPIC’s contact center and recently completed a degree in Aging Services Management. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @UPICHealth.

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UPIC Hires Veteran Healthcare Operations Director

Contact: Juli Briskman
Phone: 703 772-1148
Email: juli@UPICHealth.com
Twitter: @UPICHealth

Rick Stetten

Rick Sletten joins UPIC Health as Operations Director in Norfolk, Va.

NORFOLK, VA (Sept. 26, 2018) —  UPIC Health, LLC recently hired Rick Sletten as Operations Director to lead the growing organization’s ongoing effort to improve and centralize healthcare delivery by aligning technology and resources to better serve UPIC clients and their patients.

“I chose to join UPIC because the organization’s pioneering strategy is the way forward in healthcare to maximize revenue and increase access,” Sletten said.

Sletten has more than 10 years of experience leading large health care operations most recently with Optum, a wellness company that serves more than 74 million customers as part of the UnitedHealth Group family of companies.

While at Optum, Sletten honed his revenue cycle management skills and created industry-leading processes governing front-end revenue operations including patient access and registration, charge entry & coding, service authorizations, time-of-service collections, scheduling.  He is looking forward to advancing and modernizing these processes for UPIC clients.

“Rick’s experience has given him a national view into the intricacies of the revenue cycle process. He can identify the bottlenecks that hinder timely payments and remove them permanently,” said UPIC Health CEO, Mary Tucker.  “We are thrilled to have Rick on board to shape the future of UPIC’s model for meaningful engagement in care. He will build on an already great foundation of service delivery as we continue to grow our services in the United States and globally.”  

Sletten is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and the Healthcare Financial Management Association.  He lives in Norfolk, Va. with his wife and toddler.  To learn more about his experience in healthcare, visit his LinkedIn profile.

About UPIC
UPIC Health is a mid-size, privately-held company with operations in Chantilly and Norfolk, Va.  A business process outsourcer, UPIC offers patient contact center, revenue cycle management, and telebehavioral health services to clients across the country, all practicing under the value-based reimbursement concept.  UPIC is a 2018 Velocity Growth Award Winner and Growth Story of the Year. To learn more, visit our website at www.upichealth.com or email Chief Marketing Officer, Juli Briskman at juli@upichealth.com. Follow us @UPICHealth.



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UPICares and Kennedy & Co. Partner to Help Women

By Jessica Lay
Aug. 29, 2018

UPICares team in front of event space in Georgetown

UPICares and Kennedy and Co. recently co-hosted a happy hour fundraiser for BRAWS, a local organization that provides feminine care products, bras, and underwear to women, children, and students who cannot make the items a budgetary priority.

Those who attended the event in the swanky Georgetown district of Washington, D.C., contributed $560, 10 bras, three pairs of adult underwear, and 26 pairs of children’s underwear.  Nineteen boxes of tampons and 10 boxes of pads were also collected, making for a total of 1,034 menstrual hygiene products!

Menstrual inequity effects many populations including (but not limited to) incarcerated women, those that are homeless or living under the poverty line, survivors of domestic abuse, people that are transgender or non-conforming, and youth in schools.

Although the law recently changed in Virginia, women in prisons often do not have access to menstrual supplies and often cannot afford to buy those in the commissary. Those within the prison system or those that are homeless/low-income tend to resort to making their own menstrual devices from low-quality supplies. Forced non-hygienic practices can lead to infection and sometimes serious health implications.

BRAWS Founder Holly Seibold with Madeline Middlebrook and Kathleen Kennedy of Kennedy & Co. speaking to event attendees on menstrual equity.

According to United Way, 30% of our region’s residents are liquid asset poor. That means that many families in D.C. do not have the means to cover basic necessities if faced with job loss for three or more months. Often, this can mean that access to basic necessities like menstrual supplies and underwear is impossible. Some low-income people resort to selling their SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, forgoing meals in order to buy menstrual supplies.

Those fleeing domestic violence circumstances have the potential to lose access to supplies and resources in the process. Due to demand, shelters for survivors of domestic violence often are ill-equipped to provide necessities on a month-to-month basis. Absence of these basics can hinder the survivor’s ability to find gainful employment, continue their education, or re-enter the community with confindence.

Complications to access of menstrual products is heightened for transgender or gender non-conforming students and adults who are forced to use ill-stocked non-gender neutral bathrooms. From fearing for personal safety while opening a pad or tampon inside a male-designated bathroom, to the wage gap that trans and non-binary people experience in the workforce, basic dignities go to the wayside.

Donations table with info. on UPIC and BRAWS

For many children in public schools, the absence of menstrual supplies can lead to missing up to a week of classes every month.

Legislation surrounding menstrual equity in schools has been largely non-existent. According to the BRAWS Report on Menstrual Inequity.  However, California, Connecticut, the D.C., Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, Michigan, New York City and State, South Carolina, and Tennessee have passed legislation in order to provide menstrual products free of charge to students in school. These jurisdictions are expecting an increase in attendance directly related to their efforts.  Jurisdictions report 2.4% increase in student attendance after implementation of these programs.

“We’re not talking about rocket ships; we’re talking about sanitary pads. Yet they both have the same effect. They take you places.” -Diana Sierra, Founder BeGirl2

Donations from last weeks event will be handed out at United Way’s Project Homeless Connect event on September 20th at the DC Armory. BRAWS is expecting 400 or more homeless women and girls to attend in search of supplies. If you or your company would be interested in volunteering at this event, please contact a BRAWS volunteer coordinator at info@BRAWS.org.

BRAWS, UPICares, and Kennedy & Co. formed a great partnership to provide hope, dignity, and resources to those in need. A full report on Menstrual Inequity can be read here.

Author Jessica Lay is UPIC’s Program Lead for UPICares, the organization’s philanthropic initiative.  She spends half of her time assisting patients through UPIC’s contact center and recently completed a degree in Aging Services Management. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @UPICHealth.

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Kennedy & Co Says Bring Your BRAWS to Our Home

Contact: Madeline Middlebrook
Phone: (703) 772-1136
Email: mmiddlebrook@kennedynco.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 10, 2018) – Kennedy & Co., a woman owned and operated, boutique real estate agency based in Georgetown, D.C. is partnering with UPIC Health in a “Sip & Support” happy hour event to support a local organization that collects and distributes supplies to D.C. metro-area women in need.

The Aug. 24 event is the first non-profit night of this kind hosted by Kennedy & Co. at its 1231 Potomac St. NW location. The Sip and Support happy hour aims to collect donations in the form of cash, boxes of unopened feminine hygiene products, and new bras and underwear with tags that will be distributed by BRAWS, which “believes all women and girls should have access to tampons and pads in public restrooms, schools, shelters and jails.”

“This happy hour event is a way for our company to show support for women looking to rebuild their lives.  We are so proud to be working hand-in-hand with UPIC and BRAWS, as both are as committed to serving our local community’s needs as we are,” says Kennedy & Co. Realtor Madeline Middlebrook.

Kennedy & Co and UPIC Health will provide drinks and light food, as well as information on BRAWS and continued opportunities to support women in need. Cocktail attire is advised and a method for cash donations will be provided.

Co-host, UPIC Health is 100% female owned and operated, serving the women’s reproductive health community for the last four years and partnering closely with non-profits, such as BRAWS, N Street Village in D.C. and H.E.R. Shelter in Hampton Roads, Va.

“Our organization is based on empathy and we cannot see a better way to live out that value than to support our partners,” said UPIC CEO, Mary Tucker. “We are thrilled that Kennedy & Co. has offered their space for this exciting event.”

BRAWS is a local non-profit whose mission is to bring dignity and empowerment to women and girls living in shelters by providing new personally fitted undergarments and menstrual products.

Kennedy&Co is a woman-owned, luxury boutique, small business located in Georgetown, D.C. that handles residential, commercial and land transactions.  If you would like more information on this event and its hosts, please call real estate sales agent Madeline Middlebrook at (703) 772-1136 or email mmiddlebrook@kenendynco.com

UPIC Health is a mid-size, women-owned and operated, private organization with operations in Chantilly and Norfolk, Va.  A business process outsourcer, UPIC offers patient contact center, revenue cycle management, and telebehavioral health services to clients across the country, all practicing under the value-based reimbursement concept.  UPIC is a 2018 Velocity Growth Award Winner and Growth Story of the Year recipient.  To learn more, visit https://www.upichealth.com or email Chief Marketing Officer, Juli Briskman at juli@upichealth.com. Follow us @UPICHealth.

Madeline Middlebrook
Real Estate Agent
Licensed in VA

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UPIC Designated Top 10 Patient Engagement Solutions Provider

By Juli Briskman
Aug. 14,  2018

UPIC Health is honored to be designated one of the Top 10 Patient Engagement Solution Providers for 2018.  Each year Healthcare Tech Outlook publishes the Top 10 List based on reader feedback and editorial research of the industry.

“We are so pleased that an organization based on empathy is being recognized for outstanding service,”  said UPIC CEO, Mary Tucker. “Empathy, Engagement, and Efficiency are what we believe in and we combine the three of them to ensure patients get the best possible care.”

This year has brought several accolades to UPIC, which has grown six-fold mainly through referrals since launching four years ago. UPIC received the 2018 Velocity Growth Award from CEO Report Baltimore and CEO Washington, D.C. Earlier this year, Tucker was featured on What’s Working Washington and was named to the SheSource database by the Women’s Media Center as an expert in Healthcare.

“This is no time to rest on our laurels,” Tucker says.  “We are expanding into mental health counseling with our video social work application and continue to grow our outsourcing business in contact centers and revenue cycle management.  2019 is poised to be our best year yet.”

UPIC Health is a mid-size, women-owned and operated, private organization with operations in Chantilly and Norfolk, Va.  A business process outsourcer, UPIC offers patient contact center, revenue cycle management, and telebehavioral health services to clients across the country, all practicing under the value-based reimbursement concept.  UPIC is a 2018 Velocity Growth Award Winner and Growth Story of the Year recipient.  To learn more, visit our website or email Chief Marketing Officer, Juli Briskman at juli@upichealth.com. Follow us @UPICHealth.

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UPICares Partners with H.E.R. Shelter in Norfolk

By Jessica Bisch
Aug. 3, 2018

Expanding the UPICares initiative, UPIC Health is working with a new partner, H.E.R (Help and Emergency Response) Inc., a non-profit shelter that assists victims of domestic and relationship violence, stalking, and human trafficking.  The partnership will be organized out of UPIC’s Norfolk, Va. center as H.E.R. operates two facilities in Portsmouth and Chesapeake, Va.

As UPIC has learned through processing more than 120,000 patient calls per month, those in need of reproductive health support often are victims of the very issues plaguing H.E.R. Shelter clients.  Thus, in an effort to engender empathy and understanding among our employees, UPIC partners with several non-profits in this arena.

“We believe all adults and children are entitled to a violence-free life in a stable environment.”
H.E.R. Shelter, Inc.

Donations collected by UPIC for children in the H.E.R. Shelter Program

UPICares kicked off the partnership with H.E.R. by collecting for the annual Christmas in July Donation Campaign. Donations included toys, hygiene items, school and art supplies, among others things — all to be donated to the H.E.R. Shelter Children’s Program.

“Showing love and support to these children when circumstances such as domestic abuse arise, provides a sense of community for these mothers and families,” said Nikita Crawford, UPIC Senior Lead of Operations in the Norfolk Center. “Participating in this donation drive is UPIC’s way of saying we care about our communities and sometimes it takes a village to raise healthy, happy children.”

H.E.R. is certified by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance and participates in a 24-hour emergency hotline, shelter, and other programs to empower individuals, break the cycle of abuse, and help clients sustain healthy and productive lives.

The CDC  reports that one in four women and one in nine men have experienced intimate partner violence; which can include physical, sexual, or stalking incidents resulting in a negative impact on their health and lives.  Women experiencing abuse also can have higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.

Almost three-quarters of all murder-suicides are intimate partner related, and 94% of these victims are female according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).  Up to 50% of  transgender people will experience will experience intimate partner violence at some point in their lives.

The team participated in an ugly Christmas sweater contest to show their support for the drive.

The Christmas in July Donation Drive culminated in an event at the Greenbrier Country Club in Chesapeake, Va., on July 25. It included a guest speaker who is a survivor of domestic violence, as well as a meet and greet with local businesses in the Hampton Roads area.

Dinner and cupcakes were provided by Sweet Haven Bakery, a workforce program developed by H.E.R. Workforce participants are expected to attend all employment and life skills classes and complete a certain number of kitchen hours to receive a food handler’s license. They also learn about interviewing, resume writing and receive references for future job applications.  Finding gainful employment often is the first step to empowerment for disenfranchised and abused women.

The Cycle of Abuse
In conjunction with the H.E.R. partnership, UPIC launched its quarterly Guest Speaker Series with H.E.R.’s Erika Compliment who discussed the cycle of abuse many clients are trying to break.

According to the Blue Campaign, which provides a free victim support phone line, intimate partner violence is often experienced in three stages. The first being increasing anger and blaming, followed by a verbal or physical attack, and finally, the calm stage when the abuser minimizes, apologizes, or denies that they did anything wrong.

Instances of violent physical and sexual abuse also can be coupled with factors such as coercion, threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, minimization, denial, blaming, weaponizing children, economic abuse, and misogyny. These factors of abuse are less easily defined, but add to the severity and length of the overall pattern of abuse, Compliment said.

“92% of women discuss abuse as one of their top mental health concerns, even if they have never been abused,” says Erika Compliment of H.E.R.

Guest Speaker Erika Compliment from H.E.R. with UPIC team members Jessica Bisch and Nikita Crawford.

Given the unique nature of every survivor’s story, Compliment put a personal spin on her speech.  Several UPIC employees also come from a background of abuse, making our work and partnerships with organizations such as H.E.R., that much more important and meaningful to us.  The discussion with Compliment was fulfilling and educational for all who attended.

Participating in the donation drive and speaker series allows UPIC to align with our partners in the common goal of supporting and empowering women.

Abuse happens across the board and does not depend on factors such as socioeconomic status or gender identity.  If you or a loved one find themselves in an emergency, call the police. If safe, reach out to the H.E.R., Inc. Hotline for assistance: 757-251-0144 or the National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1−800−799−7233.  Among the statistics and information shared, Erika offered several resources including a phone number to call should you suspect human trafficking; 1-866-347-2423, and one for victim support: 1-888-373-7888, complimentary of the Blue Campaign.

Author Jessica Bish is a Patient Care Coordinator at UPIC Health. Jessica is involved in many of the volunteer endeavors pursued by UPICares and enjoys participating in our monthly spirit weeks. Nikita Crawford contributed to this story. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @UPICHealth.

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UPIC Celebrates House Bill 83 With BRAWS at Friends of Guest House

Va. Del. Dana Roem with Holly Seibold (founder of BRAWS) and Kari Galloway (executive director of FOGH)

UPICares and partner BRAWS, celebrated the passing of Virginia House Bill 83 last week, which requires the state to provide free feminine hygiene products to incarcerated women.  The event honoring legislators and advocates who worked tirelessly to pass what we would call a “dignity act,” was held at Friends of Guest House in Alexandria, Va. (FOGH).

While the bill requires the state to provide the products for free in jails and prisons, the State Board of Corrections still could limit access to the products, according to a recent article on the topic.  And another bill that would have eliminated the “pink taxes” on such products did not pass this session.

Shortly after a similar federal Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act was introduced by several U.S. Senators last year, the Federal Bureau of Prisons issued a memo making tampons and pads available free of charge to all incarcerated women in federal prison.

So, while the tides are turning, much more work needs to be done.

Imprisoned women’s have been instrumental in bringing the need for on-demand feminine products to the forefront of the legislative agenda.  And balancing the political parties of the Virginia House in 2017 definitely helped as well.  The bill was introduced by Del. Kaye Kory and supported by Northern Virginia representatives Del. Dana Roem, Del. Mark Keam, and Sen. Barbara Favola, among others.

Friends of Guest House
FOGH, which helps women transition out of prison and into society, has all sorts of real examples and data on the positive effects of treating women with dignity.  The organization has helped more than 3,000 women re-enter the community since its founding in 1974.

FOGH reports that 70 percent of female offenders will re-enter the prison system if they do not have services such as those provided by the Guest House.  And in fact, less than 10 percent of FOGH clients re-offend.  As nearly 80 percent of the women in jail are mothers, the positive effects of FOGH services are compounded and pass through generations.

Friends of Guest House

By helping women, we have also impacted the lives of more than 4,000 children and countless families across our community,” says FOGH.

When viewing prison through the lens of reform, there should be no doubt that prisoners deserve safety, security, and basic human rights (such as pads and tampons). Providing these essentials will ensure incarcerated females can focus on what matters: healing and rehabilitation.

Thus, House Bill 83, signed by Governor Ralph Northam and effective as of July 1, is a huge step in paving the way for dignity, empathy, and healing for females in the Virginia prison system.

Author Jessica Lay is UPIC’s Program Lead for UPICares, the organization’s philanthropic initiative.  She spends half of her time assisting patients through UPIC’s contact center and recently completed a degree in Aging Services Management. Follow us on Twitter @UPICHealth.

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