Employee Spotlight: Roxane Hearn motivates Homeland’s staff to be their best


3 success stories

Roxane Hearn motivates Homeland’s staff to be their best!

Homeland Center CNA Symira McNeely was motivated to improve her health and appearance, but on the way to losing 45 pounds, her apparent lack of progress could get discouraging. That’s when Homeland Health and Wellness Director Roxane Hearn would draw from her arsenal of motivational tools.

“Roxane told me that it’s not always about what the scale says,” McNeely recalls now. “The scale may not be moving, but you might be healthier. She wants you to be happy. Happy and healthy.”

At Homeland Center, employee wellness is a linchpin in assuring that the staff caring for residents are vigorous, capable, and contented. Its unique approach calls on Hearn, a highly qualified coach with a Ph.D. in health psychology, to deliver programs and services that inspire Homeland staff to not only reshape their bodies but also manage the daily demands of staying healthy.

“Change is not easy,” says Hearn. “Working as a health coach, I take the employees through that process and support them and coach them. I guide them along the way when they relapse and keep them on track when they’re maintaining.”

With employees busy work days, Hearn can turn a few hallway moments into a personalized health consultation. Plus, none of her wellness initiatives are cookie-cutter. She loves Homeland because “they trust me and give me top-down support. I’ll pitch ideas. They give their ideas, and we come up with something that fits the employees.”

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Hearn’s customized initiatives include:

• Weight loss and wellness: Weight loss contests and cash awards for taking wellness actions provide encouragement year-round.
• Healthy eating: Healthy soup cook-offs and “employee farmers market,” when staffers bring fruit and veggie snacks for all to share, encourage recipe-sharing and better eating.
• Individualized wellness consultations and regular screenings: Hearn helps employees make doctor’s appointments, advocates for changes when medications are ineffective, and reviews lab reports one-on-one. She shares the results of her screenings with physicians’ offices and monitors staffers to make sure their medications are effective. It’s all meant to assure that important health tasks, like making a doctor’s appointment or changing ineffective medications, don’t get lost in the daily rush of work and home responsibilities.
• Fitness: Hearn conducts personal training consultations, meets employees in gyms, leads workout walks in parks, and runs fitness boot camps. McNeely learned from Hearn about the discount, all-access fitness-center memberships offered through Homeland’s health insurance, and now she’s a gym devotee, doing Tai Bo, Zumba, and just about anything else at gyms throughout the area.
• Leveraging technology: Texting is Hearn’s “priceless tool of engagement,” allowing her to share photos of healthy food and send messages of encouragement – no matter how crazy the recipient’s schedule. She also conducts health coaching by phone and email with employees who work offsite, and she uses social media engagement to build relationships and understand staffers’ goals.

hearn brown defreitas McNeely loves working at Homeland, where workplace “is like a family.” She knows that her healthier lifestyle has improved her job performance.

“Residents definitely noticed when I was going through the changes,” she says. “My energy level is through the sky. They say, ‘You’re not tired yet?’”

McNeely once never drank water, but now she leads the way in encouraging coworkers to drink their water. That’s what Hearn is striving for — to empower Homeland staff to take charge of wellness among themselves. It’s all in pursuit of sustaining excellent care provided by healthy, happy staff.

“The residents love the employees,” Hearn says. “They like to see them cheery and happy. It’s hard to be that all the time, but in this particular line of business, you have to be. We are working in their home. If I can teach employees to cope with stress and how to park it at the door, it means a safer environment and happier residents.”

Homeland’s Easter egg hunt brings together residents, families and friends


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Geoff Davenport calls himself “the best Easter egg hunter in the world” and readily admits to a fondness for hard-boiled eggs.

During Homeland Center’s Easter egg hunt, however, he was content to watch young children skitter around the room searching for plastic eggs filled to stuffing with candy. He was ready to offer advice, though.

“Look everywhere, just keep looking,” he said.

Lorraine Englander said she came down from her room “just to watch the little ones” although she told Davenport, “I might get one for you.” Englander lives in the skilled care unit but came to spend time with her husband, Don, in the personal care section.

“I like to watch the children, they’re cute,” she said. “A lot are children of employees, and I like to see their families.”

Ashley Bryan, Homeland’s director of skilled and personal care activities, said staff and volunteers had stuffed candy into about 600 plastic eggs to prepare and hid them in all four units. Later that day, residents could participate in “Bunny Bingo” for the chance to win stuffed rabbits donated by Homeland volunteer Susan Anthony.

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“It’s a nice treat for residents to do with their families,” Bryan said.

Among the young searchers were Spencer and Olivia Schell, who were visiting their great-grandmother, Fern Sucec.

“It was a big surprise; I didn’t know they were coming,” Sucec said as the children pried open their eggs around her feet. “It was a good, big surprise. I love living here because they take good care of you.”

Doris Coyne, who has been a resident for three and a half years, said it was “the best Easter egg hunt I’ve ever seen.”

Daniel Moore, 3, came with his one-year-old brother Nathaniel and his grandmother, Bernadette Crosson. Crosson has been a caregiver for a Homeland resident for the past seven years. She includes the resident in many of her family’s activities, and brings her grandchildren to special events at Homeland, including Easter egg hunts and Halloween trick-or-treat days. “The kids have a ball,” she said.

David and Debra Bias came to Homeland to visit a friend and former neighbor who lives on the second floor and brought their children Austin, 2 and Lydianna, 4.

“The kids ran from room to room shouting ‘Mom, there’s more! Mom, there’s more!’” Debra Bias said. “They had them in the dining room, the social room, everywhere. And the residents throughout could see the kids.”

Art of Lilly Knopic brings nature indoors to Homeland Center


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On a cold, rainy morning, the Homeland Center sunroom was bursting with light. The walls sparkled in jewel tones of red, orange, green, and blue. In some spots, it appeared as if stained glass windows had been installed — and that, it turned out, was the intent of Homeland’s featured artist for spring 2017.

The works of Art Association of Harrisburg members rotate quarterly in Homeland’s art gallery, and on this morning, artist Lilly Knopic was hanging her nature-inspired works. Many depicted forests and woods that Knopic has hiked in, but in fantastical shades and shadows.

“Beautiful,” Homeland resident Geoffrey Davenport told Knopic as she hung her oil paintings. “Why do you like to paint trees?”

Good question, she said.

“I grew up in the woods, in northeastern Ohio,” she said. “I try to capture light and shadow and the shapes they can make when you’re in the forest.”

Homeland is the only nursing facility participating in the Art Association’s exhibit program. The initiative gives exposure to local artists while brightening up unexpected spaces like businesses where people regularly traverse. At Homeland, works hang in the naturally lit, well-traveled hallway gallery created through the generosity of a benefactor.

Knopic’s brightest paintings belonged to her Forest Cathedral Series, based on her photos from Cathedral Forest, part of Cook Forest State Park in western Pennsylvania. The tall canopy of trees inspired the forest’s name, and Knopic started thinking about another key element of cathedrals – stained glass windows.

“I thought that was an interesting play on words, because shadows and light create that stained-glass effect,” she explained.

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Knopic is an art educator who has taught at the Art Association of Harrisburg. Professionally, she is a mental health counselor who uses art in her work with children, not just because it allows a creative release but because it presents challenges for children to overcome.

“Art teaches coping skills,” she said. “I think we have the misconception that art is easy and relaxing, but for a lot of our kids, cutting, painting, and using a different material can be very frustrating. It teaches them to ask for help, how to problem solve, and how to use creative thinking because a lot of them aren’t flexible thinkers.”

Homeland and the Art Association choose artists likely to appeal to residents, but as they say, “To each his own.” Resident MJ Muro stopped to view the impressionist-style works. She always appreciates the exhibits, she said, but might need some time to get the gist of this one.

“They’re different,” she said. “I guess you have to let it grow on you. Everybody has a different idea.”

Homeland housekeeper Cherie Moore was trundling a cart through the hall when the vibrant artwork brought her up short.

“I like this because it has a lot of colors,” she said. “Everybody comes by here just to see the art. They always put the most interesting artwork up.”

She especially appreciated the work’s surreal, impressionist style.

“I like when you don’t follow the rules,” she said.

Resident Spotlight: Miriam Mackert celebrates her 100th birthday with family


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Miriam Mackert celebrates her 100th birthday with family!

When Miriam Mackert was married to a Pennsylvania State Trooper and raising her children, she worked hard and always put family first. On a Saturday in April, 2017, her loved ones put her first with a 100th birthday celebration at Homeland Center that, unbeknownst to the birthday girl, brought together the whole family.

“I just wanted to try and make her happy,” said her daughter, Karen Jackson. “She didn’t know the kids would be coming. She only thought it was going to be cake.”

What Miriam believed would be a small get-together was actually a party for about 20 family members and fellow Homeland Center residents. A performance by barbershop quartet Gents Nite Out helped revive memories of her 50th anniversary party, when she and her late husband, Howard, thoroughly enjoyed an appearance by that same group.

Shortly before the party, Jackson did tip off her mom about the extent of the guest list, but Miriam was still thrilled.

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“It’s terrific,” she said of the turnout. “A little surprising. My daughter, she talked to everybody. I’m so glad she got everyone together here.”

Dressed in a bright coral-colored sweater, Miriam said she feels pretty well on many days.

Miriam’s son, Jack Mackert, found it “pretty amazing” that his mother was celebrating a century of living. “She’s a good woman,” he said. It was time for a party because “how many people get to be 100? It’s pretty special.”

Jack’s wife, Susan Mackert, calls her mother-in-law “the Energizer Bunny.”

“She’s an amazing lady,” she said. “She has a young attitude. She’s always thinking about other people. She puts other people first.”

The Gents Nite Out performance was the highlight of the afternoon. They sang classic barbershop quartet fare, such as “My Old Kentucky Home,” spiced up with jazzy versions of “Georgia on My Mind” and “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” plus a moving rendition of the World War II standard “I’ll Be Seeing You.”

Jackson invited Homeland employees and residents to the party and the quartet’s performance to demonstrate the family’s gratitude for Homeland’s excellent care.

“I’ve been very pleased with her care and with the kindness of the nursing staff,” she said. “They can make her smile and make her laugh. To me, that’s important.”

Miriam grew up in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, and got to know her husband, of nearby Lewisburg, at local dances. She supported her son’s school sports pursuits, and she remains a big football fan, sometimes questioning the referees’ calls.

When Miriam was raising her two children, there were home-cooked meals every night, said Jackson, of West Hanover Twp. Miriam’s husband retired from Pennsylvania State Police as a sergeant, and throughout his career, she supported him through transfers around barracks statewide. Together, the couple constantly working as they cared for their home and family property in Lewisburg.

“She has given all of herself,” said Jackson. “It was always about us. Always. She did without for a lot of years. We didn’t live an extravagant life. She was all about the family. That was her world.”