May 22, 2019
In this edition of our employee spotlight, we would like to introduce our two case managers: Teresa Lonkard and Breanna Burton. Teresa and Breanna focus on advocacy for each individual they work with and ensure teamwork and continuity of quality of care for everyone on their caseloads. Their passion for helping others shines through in their work every day, as they assist others to achieve their goals and dreams. Here is what their journey has meant to them in their own words:
My best friend, Sean, has a rare form of Cerebral Palsy wherein he is primarily wheelchair bound, but has no cognitive symptoms. We met in college and he now does computer security for a large insurance company. Throughout college and afterwards people would often assume I was his girlfriend or care provider and direct questions towards me. They were usually surprised when Sean responded or when they found out I was just a friend. Though being friends with him, and his twin brother, who has a mild intellectual disability, I learned a lot about a population I rarely interacted with and started seeing individuals as more than just their appearance. After about two years of being friends with Sean, I didn’t see or think about his disability. I once turned around to tell him to hurry up when I was going up some steps because I forgot he wasn’t able to follow me and had to wait for the elevator. He told me it was both hilarious and one of the biggest compliments he could ever receive.
I’ve been working in the human services field for almost 4 years (since June 2015). I started by working as a Mental Health technician at Our Lady of Peace. It could be a tough job, but without working there, I don’t think I would love or be as successful as a case manager. I love advocating for my clients, solving problems and finding ways to maximize services. It means a lot to me that I’m just one person, but can start a chain reaction of improvements in someone’s life.
Seeing a client, who developed anorexia, for the first time after he started receiving behavior supports, has been the most memorable moment I’ve had since being in their field. This client has recently been hospitalized due to how much weight he had lost. After working with his behaviorist for a few weeks, he was already began to change his habits. He looked much healthier, happier and said he felt better than he had in the past few months.
Through this line of work, I’ve learned to see what people are capable of, not just what they are currently doing. Since many clients struggle with effective communication I’ve become more observant of body language and am a better communicator. I always try to ensure I understand specifically what a client wants/thinks along with the rest of the team through re-phrasing statements and questions. This has also helped me in my everyday life, as I can often find a way to explain something in a way everyone can understand regardless of his or her level of functioning. I’ve also gained knowledge of the Medicaid and Social Security systems and benefits, which I’ve been able to utilize when I speak with my friends or family members who have disabilities or are unsure for what benefits they qualify. I’ve been able to assist individuals outside of work with locating information and providing resources/guidance concerning benefits.
To me, being a service provider is a big deal. It’s about meeting people’s needs and promoting overall quality of life for the people you work with. No matter what population you’re working with, being a service provider means devoting your days to helping people who need support. To be a service provider means you need to have passion and it should not be taken lightly. I’ve been working in the human service field for the past four years and it has been the most rewarding four years of my life.
I have so many favorite moments since being in the human service field but the most memorable would have to be when one of the consumers I was providing community living support services for texted me months after I stopped working with him to show me that he passed his drivers’ permit test. I had been working with him for a year and we spent a lot of time together studying for his drivers’ permit test. He took it a few times and kept failing by one or two points. When I saw that he finally passed, I was so happy for him and it warmed my heart knowing that he made it a point to share his good news with me although we hadn’t talked or seen one another in a few months.
Everyone’s life is different. Everyone has a story. Each person’s life events, from the day they were born to the age they are now, has shaped them into the person they are today. Show compassion and be intentional about your everyday interactions with others. You never know how much impact you can make on someone’s life.
January 23, 2019
In 2008, the face of the global economy changed forever. America was in the height of the 2008 Recession. Investment banks, the secondary credit market, and an unregulated financial market disappeared. The housing market collapsed. Central banks around the world propped up the financial system. In September of that year, America came very close to total economic collapse. New inventions still made a difference! 2008 saw a camera for the blind, electric cars, instant replay for baseball, No Country for Old Men won Critic’s Choice Best Film and Alex Sholtz and Jim Bratcher rolled up their sleeves and started the work to establish the very successful Path Forward of Kentucky!
The first service to be offered by PFK was Supported Employment. This service assists consumers in navigating the State’s Vocational Rehabilitation program and puts them on a path of employment, out in their communities, by providing job coaches. Today, the coaches guide consumers thru the entire employment process, from resumes to interviewing and finally on-the-job support for over 94 job placements in 2018.
Case Management services followed Supported Employment and today works with 34 consumers to put together a full menu of waiver services. Community Living Supports, Personal Care and Respite services were then added and exponentially grew the company, by hiring and training Direct Support Professionals throughout the Louisville Metro Region. These services help consumers become as independent as possible, in all aspects of their life, as well as provide their guardians with essential breaks from 24/7 care.
Acquired Brain Injury Waivers joined the list not long after, followed by residential services in the form of Family Home Providers. By 2012, Path Forward of KY had grown around Kentucky to include Supported Employment services in the Bowling Green Region and created the Bluegrass Region, serving 10 counties in central KY for both Michelle P and Supports for Community Living waiver services.
After getting the company up and running, like a well-oiled machine, the Executive Director position was handed down in 2013 from Alex to Brittany Knoth, our current ED. Brittany has led the way in professional development and team building while establishing the name of Path Forward as a respected leader in the field of Medicaid Services. In 2018, Brittany was honored by being selected to serve on the Centralized Quality Management Advisory Subpanel for the Medicaid Waivers Redesign. Today, Brittany excels in both management style and substance, leading growth and rock solid teamwork!
Over this past decade, PFK has grown to be financially sound by using a common sense approach while keeping quality and compassion top of mind. As chief motivator, Jim Bratcher, likes to say, “The main thing is and always will be the main thing at PFK; the folks we serve. That will always be our focus!”
Touching the lives of more than 200 consumers and guardians, closing in on half a million hours of service, PFK has a well-earned reputation of fine service driven by teamwork. We can’t wait to see what the next decade holds in store for us.