Friday, August 31, 2012

Medical worker sentenced to year in jail, $472k in insurance fraud case

Here's a press release we issued a few minutes ago:

A medical worker who pretended to be a doctor and submitted millions of dollars in bogus bills to insurance companies has been sentenced to a year in jail and $472,458 in restitution.

Kenneth R. Welling, 45, of Lake Forest Park, was sentenced Aug. 24 in King County Superior Court. He pleaded guilty to seven felony counts of theft in June.

“We found numerous cases in which Welling billed for surgeries that never happened,” said state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. Kreidler’s office was tipped off to the scam when a patient complained, saying that Welling had tried to bill her insurer $89,000 for six surgeries that never took place.

Welling is a registered surgical technologist and sole proprietor of Shoreline, Wash.-based Alpine Surgical Services. His license allows him to perform tasks like preparing supplies and instruments, passing them to the surgeon and preparing basic sterile packs and trays. But after patients had procedures done, he would often submit large bills with codes listing himself as a doctor or physician’s assistant. He is neither. Sometimes he would include post-operative reports, listing himself as the surgeon.

No evidence was found to indicate that Welling was playing an improper role in actual medical care. The fraud involved billing.

“As far as we could tell, the only time he pretended to be a doctor was when he submitted bills,” said Kreidler.

In one woman’s case, Welling billed $140,323 as assisting surgeon for nine surgeries that never took place. Over a five-year period, he billed another woman’s insurer 107 times for 51 different surgeries, listing himself as the primary doctor. Hospital records show she’d only had surgery twice.

From 2004 through 2011, according to medical records obtained by Kreidler’s Special Investigations Unit, Welling billed five insurance companies at least $4.1 million for services he did not provide. He was paid $461,000.

“Part of the reason he got away with this for so long is that he’d rarely challenge an insurer who paid little or nothing,” said Kreidler. “He’d just send them the bills and hope they’d pay.”

Interesting story about how the Apollo 11 astronauts got life insurance

NPR has posted an interesting story about how the Apollo 11 astronauts sort of self-insured their lives when they headed for the moon.

Rather than try to get conventional life insurance, the three astronauts spent their spare moments during their month of pre-launch quarantine signing autographed envelopes, according to NPR's Chana Joffe-Walt. That way, if they died on their lunar adventure, their families could sell the autographs, which today command up to $30,000 at auction.

To make the autographs more valuable, each was on an envelope that a friend would have postmarked on key days, like the launch date and the date they landed on the moon. Writes Joffe-Walt:
It was life insurance in the form of autographs.
"If they did not return from the moon, their families could sell them — to not just fund their day-to-day lives, but also fund their kids' college education and other life needs," (space historian Robert) Pearlman said.
The life insurance autographs were not needed. Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon and came home safely. They signed probably tens of thousands more autographs for free.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Does Calorie Restriction Extend Lifespan in Mammals?

Until about two years ago, the story went something like this: calorie restriction extends lifespan in yeast, worms, flies, and rodents.  Lifespan extension by calorie restriction appears to be biologically universal, therefore it's probably only a matter of time until it's demonstrated in humans as well.  More than 20 years ago, independent teams of researchers set out to demonstrate the phenomenon in macaque monkeys, a primate model closer to humans than any lifespan model previously tested.

Recent findings have caused me to seriously question this narrative.  One of the first challenges was the finding that genetically wild mice (as opposed to inbred laboratory strains) do not live longer when their calorie intake is restricted, despite showing hormonal changes associated with longevity in other strains, although the restricted animals do develop less cancer (1).  One of the biggest blows came in 2009, when researchers published the results of a study that analyzed the effect of calorie restriction on lifespan in 41 different strains of mice, both male and female (2).  They found that calorie restriction extends lifespan in a subset of strains, but actually shortens lifespan in an even larger subset.  Below is a graph of the effect of calorie restriction on lifespan in the 41 strains.  Positive numbers indicate that calorie restriction extended life, while negative numbers indicate that it shortened life:

Read more »

Sept. 13 hearing set re: Sagicor Life's acquisition of PEMCO Life

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has scheduled a hearing for Sept. 13 at 10 a.m. at his Tumwater, Wash. office to consider approval of Sagicor Life Insurance Company's request to acquire Washington-based PEMCO Life Insurance Company.

Sagicor Life is proposing to acquire all outstanding stock of PEMCO Life Insurance Company, and is also proposing to merge PEMCO Life with and into Sagicor Life at a later date after receiving approval of the acquisition.

PEMCO Life Insurance Company, which has been a Washington-based insurer since 1963, provides life and disability products to approximately 15 thousand Washington individual and group policyholders, and is wholly owned by its parent company, PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company. PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company is a mutual property and casualty insurer located in Seattle, WA and is licensed in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

Sagicor Life is a Texas-based insurer licensed in Texas to offer accident, health and life insurance and has been authorized to conduct life and disability insurance in Washington since 1961. Sagicor Life operates primarily in the US and is wholly-owned by Sagicor Financial Corporation. Sagicor Financial Corp. is a Barbados corporation which operates internationally in various European and Caribbean countries, and is publicly traded on the Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and London Stock Exchanges. Sagicor Financial Corp. had $142.6 million in US revenue in 2011, $1.35 billion in total revenue (both US and international) and 632,123 individual life policies in-force overall. As of December 31, 2011, Sagicor Financial Corp.’s consolidated stockholders’ equity was $797.5 million.

For more information, including how to submit letters of support or objection, please see the hearing notice.

Insurance tips: What to know before renting your home/boat/etc.

We get a number of calls from folks who rent out their homes, vacation cabins, vacant lakefront sites, boats, RVs, motorcycles, etc. to others every once in a while. They want to know if that affects their insurance.

It very well could. Here's why: When property is rented, that's considered a business activity. And that can affect any existing coverage for property damage and liability protection.

There may also be coverage limitations or exclusions built into the policy that activated by your renting the property.

We recommend that you talk to your agent or the insurer before you rent, so you're not left personally responsible for property damage costs or legal costs in a lawsuit stemming from renting the property.

Be the Calm Before, During and After the Storm

By Lorna Tempest, LPC, LMFT

People respond in a wide variety of ways in the face of natural disasters, major acts of violence or public health emergencies. Children and adolescents tend to experience and exhibit trauma differently from adults. Developing an awareness of common reactions to trauma is the first step to providing “psychological first aid”. Sometimes normal responses progress into prolonged and problematic symptoms and behaviors. Recognizing when this shift occurs can assist caregivers in seeking out appropriate professional help. Equipped with the right information and access to resources, people are able to not only recover from trauma, but also develop increased resilience.

 Depending on the nature of the disaster, families and communities may be able to implement preparatory strategies. Caregivers can help their children and adolescents by:
  •  Talking about the potential disaster and the damage a disaster might create
  • Deciding which number to call and on a place to meet in case of a disaster
  • Putting supplies together for an emergency preparedness kit
  • Safeguarding personal possessions and storing them where they are protected
  • Emphasize the preparations and safety plans rather than the potential disaster to increase likelihood of reassurance and reduce the likelihood of simply increasing anxiety and worry.

 To provide appropriate support during and after a disaster has struck, it is essential to know the physical, emotional and psychological ways that children and adolescents respond to stress based on their developmental level.

Pre-School Age Children
  •  Bed wetting, loss of age appropriate verbal skills and motor function, and/or other regressive symptoms may intensify in some younger children, or reappear in children who had previously outgrown them 
  • Complaining of stomach cramps or headaches
  • Crying and clinging to caregivers or fear of being separated from caregivers
  • Startle response to sudden and loud noises, sudden immobility of the body, heightened arousal, cognitive confusion, and sleep problems
  • Repeated play or re-enacting of the disaster/trauma event

Grade-School Age Children
  •  Preoccupation with the details of the disaster and with safety and danger
  • Desire to continually talk about the event
  • Fear that the disaster will occur again
  • Closely observing caregiver(s) anxiety
  • Sleep problems, loss of interest in usual activities
  • Anger and aggression

  •  Trying to down-play their worries
  • Concentration problems, school performance and attendance problems
  • Depression, sleep problems, thoughts or plans of suicide/suicide pacts.
  • Behavior that includes life-threatening re-enactment of the trauma/disaster.
  • Engaging in self destructive behavior (e.g., sexual risk taking, substance abuse)
  • Action oriented/wanting revenge
  • Self focused behavior (e.g., inability to think about others)
  • Have shortened sense of the future and changes in plans for the future(e.g., not going to college)

What to Do and How to Help
Caregivers may find implementing the following strategies helpful during and after the disaster:

Tips for Structuring the Environment
  • Create an environment that is safe and provide reassurance
  • Limit TV time- where the disaster/trauma event is reported on, monitor children’s media exposure to the event and information they receive on the internet
  • Create routines (for work, play, meals, and rest); this increases feelings of predictability and stability which can be shaken by a disaster.
  •  If possible, maintain the same pre-disaster routines
  • Involve children/adolescents by giving them chores to make them feel that they are helping to restore their family and community; increasing feelings of usefulness, helpfulness to others, and having some control/effect on the environment are very helpful 
  • Spend extra time with children at bed time, consider staying until the child falls asleep in order to make him or her feel protected
  • Work with the school,. Since short term memory and concentration might be impacted by a disaster, test taking, studying, and completion of assignments may be more challenging
  • Encourage participation in developing/revising a family disaster plan

Tips for Communicating
  •  Answer all questions and provide loving comfort and care
  • Provide age-appropriate information about the disaster event calmly and factually
  • Provide opportunities to talk about the disaster, but do not pressure the child/adolescent
  • False reassurance is not helpful. Don’t say “tragedies will never affect your family again;” children will know this isn’t true. Instead, say “You’re safe now and I’ll always try to protect you” or “Adults are working very hard to make things safe.” Remind children that tragedies are very rare.

Tips for Addressing Emotions and Behaviors
  •  Get a better understanding of a child’s feelings about the disaster: engage in gentle, reflective, and “normalizing”, not pushy or intrusive, questions and statements, e.g., “this was pretty scary” or “you look angry” or “people often worry when something like this happens”.
  • Discuss the disaster with them and find out each child’s particular fears and concerns (see the suggestion above)
  • Encourage children to express their feelings through talking, drawing or playing; allowing them to do so, and then talking about it, gives you the chance to "re-tell" the ending of the game or the story they have expressed in pictures with an emphasis on personal safety
  • You can work to structure children’s play so that it remains constructive, serving as an outlet for them to express fear or anger
  • Be understanding of the child/adolescent’s need to mourn his/her own loss
  • Do not punish the child for regressive behavior (know that this is only temporary)
  • Praise and recognize responsible and age-appropriate behavior

 Some symptoms may require immediate attention. Contact a behavioral health professional if these symptoms occur:
  •  Flashbacks
  • Racing heart and sweating
  • Being easily startled
  • Being emotionally numb
  • Being very sad or depressed
  • Suicidal thoughts, plans, or behavior
If after a month in a safe environment, the child/adolescent is:
  • Refusing to go places that remind them of the event
  • Seems numb emotionally
  • Shows little reaction to the event
  • Behaves dangerously, threatening to harm self or others
  • Unable to perform normal routines


Lorna Tempest is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist working at Colonial Behavioral Health’s Outpatient Child and Adolescent Program. She completed her graduate studies at the College of William and Mary and has been with CBH since 2005. Lorna has received specialized training in trauma-related issues. She was also a Disaster Mental Health Volunteer for the American Red Cross, aiding in the recovery of Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans area.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cruise offers couples groundbreaking workshop and whole lot more

Mexican cruise gives chance to understand, repair and strengthen relationships
with groundbreaking, highly effective programme
Couples always feel they need a getaway -- somewhere romantic, relaxing and rejuvenating with time to rekindle and reconnect. The reality, however, is that they go home to the same problems and conflicts. Getting away from relationship issues is not the same as learning concrete tools to be able to deal with them.
Relationship experts have teamed with Princess Cruises to offer the Hold Me Tight Couples Workshop aboard the Sapphire Princess.
The Hold Me Tight Relationship Enhancement Program is based on the best-selling book Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson, founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). The groundbreaking program successfully helps couples create stronger, more secure relationships.
The 7-day family friendly cruise to Mexico gives couples the chance to reconnect and work on their relationship while enjoying all the fun of a great cruise. Fun and engaging children’s programs keep the kids happy while parents can focus on their relationship. There is plenty of family time as well.
The cruise departs from Los Angeles on March 23, 2013, and stops include Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.
The couples’ workshop will be led by clinical psychologists Lisa Blum and Silvina Irwin who run the EFT Resource Center, a source for information, events and workshops for couples in the greater Los Angeles area.
Participants in the workshop experience the power of the workshop to fundamentally change the way they interact with each other. As one couple said, “I felt like it helped me and my partner understand what was happening between us in rough moments and give us a map for how to find out way out…It is so nice to have such a clear model of how to communicate. We are truly grateful."
“Combining this workshop with a luxurious cruise is the ultimate way to reconnect with your partner in an intentional way. We offer couples a map to help enhance and deepen their bond, and to help heal injuries and rebuild trust. The benefits of this workshop will stay long after the cruise is over. This sets it apart from the usual vacation where the connection gained while away can fade once couples plug back into the routine of their lives at home.”

How Massage Helps With Stress

As school starts, there are a lot of changes taking place. If you’re wondering how to stay stress-free so that you can perform well academically, call Health and Wellness Services. One of the best stress-reducing resources we provide to students is a free one-hour massage, given by licensed, professional massage therapists with years of experience.

Massage improves circulation of blood flow, which oxygenates the body. This improves organ function, regulates blood pressure, boosts immunity function, soothes muscle aches and tension, and eliminates harmful toxins from the body. All of this will help you stay healthy, which helps with the physical responses to stress. Massage also helps improve sleep quality, which reduces the amount of fatigue you feel, increases energy, and can improve your concentration.

Along with a massage, there are many things to do to keep stress at bay, such as drinking water, eating healthy, having a sense of humor, prioritizing, and not worrying over the things you can’t control. Bottom line: take care of yourself.

Getting a massage is one of the most beneficial things you can do to help keep yourself healthy and stress-free. Call and reserve your appointment today!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Are you ready? Time for Spring 2013!

I owe you guys big time.

My posting as of late has been nothing short of pitiful. 

We went to the beach... 
{Exhibit A}

 I moved to a new office...
{Exhibit B}

Applied for Coterie...and was accepted!! NYC here we come!
{Exhibit C }
Booth 2152 in Contemporary for any potential retailers reading this!

AND most importantly, have been furiously working on the Spring 2013 Collection...{Exhibit D!} 
Without further ado, here you go! 

And one of my FAVORITE shots from the group photo shoot...

This is just a small snippet of Spring 2013 - you can view more in the look book here!

Any fun local boutiques that we would be a great fit for? Tell us in the comment section below, including the location please, and we will reach out to them! Or, forward this on to them directly if you like. They can also email for line sheets and more information.

I have put so much into the collection this year and I truly hope you love it as much as I do. Can't wait to hear your thoughts! Everyone have an awesome week :)

Wow, what a week! by blogger of the month David Weltman

Wow, what a week! 
First off, we finished up our CPR course and Hebrew Ulpan this week, each ending with a party and lovely chocolate selection. I don’t think I ate that much chocolate in my life (but it made for a great breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack). We just completed our test today, combining a 1.5 hour written examination with curing dummies of choking and hemorrhages, as well as taking patient history and analyzing ailments. It was a rigorous exam, but somewhat fun, too—we came a long way!

Outside of the classroom, I was privileged to spend my birthday here among my new MSIH friends this past Wednesday. We began the evening with a festive meal, going to Casa do Brasil and enjoying delicious meat (and for three of us who went all out, unlimited meat—prime rib, lamb chops, mallard duck, you name it!), and my friends surprised me by ordering dessert—which came with sparklers, flashing lights, singing, and dancing. After that, those who braved it and those who couldn’t make it to dinner joined me at Manga, a local bar, for some shots and good conversation. The hours flew by—it was awesome!

After a week of medicine and celebration, we now look forward to what our semester will bring. Who knows what we’ll find? But one thing’s for certain—you can look to our next bloggers of the month for more details!!! - David Weltman, blogger of the month

Do I have "minimal essential" insurance coverage?

As part of health care reform, starting in January 2014 most Americans will need to have “minimum essential” health insurance coverage or face a tax penalty.

We've gotten a number of calls from consumers wondering if their current health coverage qualifies. (In particular, a number of people who get their medical care through the Veterans Administration have called to check.)

In many cases, the answer is yes. Many existing plans qualify as minimal essential health insurance coverage. Here are some examples:
• Medicare Part A

• Health programs administered by Washington state (such as Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program)

• TriCare

• Coverage through the Veteran’s Administration

• Coverage from an employer, regardless of whether the employer is a government agency, a private-sector employer, or an Indian tribe.

• A individual plan (i.e. a plan that you buy on your own directly from a health insurance company).

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ever Heard of ADF?

Ever heard of ADF?

Amanda Thomas for UK Health Radio

The other day I saw a documentary on TV featuring a doctor who was looking into longevity.  I was only half watching it when suddenly something caught my attention.  The doctor was being shown a couple of quite cute looking mice.  Mother and baby I assumed, judging by their size.   No, the serious looking scientist in charge of the rodents explained.   The little mouse had simply made better food choices; or rather had them made for him, and had eaten less than his bigger brother.   The expectation was that the small one would live one third longer than the large one.

The programme went on to look at the latest thinking on eating less and living longer. It explained the benefits of fasting and the different ways of doing it. The benefits of fasting do not only include weight loss, but also supply a further benefit of restricting our production of growth factor (IGF1).  This is where it got really interesting.   It seems that fasting triggers the body to begin to repair cells instead of rapidly replacing them, as is the case when HGF1 is in control. I like things that have a scientific argument to back them up that I can relate to.  I can see the advantage of cells being repaired rather than added to. There will be less to go wrong in the decay/development process.

Done properly, fasting can help prevent many of the diseases of middle and old age, including the development of type two diabetes, dementia, heart disease and strokes. I was very impressed by the evidence presented by this programme.  There were three main options although I am sure that this is something that could be tailored to fit lifestyle.  First there was a three day fast.  Nothing except black tea, water and a low calorie soup here and there.   This, I quickly decided, in the interest of my sanity and everyone else’s, would not be for me.   The second method was ADF (Alternate day fasting) This appealed to me more as it involved eating whatever you wanted on the day you were not fasting and then sticking to 400 - 500 calories for women and 500 - 600 for men on fast days.   There is also the 5/2 fasting regime. This is 5 days normal eating and 2 days of restricted calories in the same amounts as with the ADF.
I have started the ADF myself and although with a busy social life it may not always be easy to stick to the ADF timetable, I will not be too rigid over it, just make sure that I get in the fast days where I can.   And being able to eat what you want the next day has not had the effect you might think it would.  I thought that I might be so hungry I would scoff everything in sight.  But no, in fact although I had good meals I did not overeat and I think the fasting also makes you eat less.  So I will see how it all works out and let you know.  If you think you might like to try this, don’t forget to check with your doctor first.

Please note that all information and content on UK Health Radio and this blog are provided by the authors, producers and companies themselves and is only intended as additional information to your general knowledge and does not substitute professional medical advice or treatment. So please do not delay or disregard any medical advice received due to information gathered on the UK Health Radio.
UK Health Radio – the health radio station for the United Kingdom, Europe and beyond at – is kindly sponsored by

Thursday, August 23, 2012

“Hole-in-Won” Golf tournament insurer charged with felonies after not paying up

OLYMPIA, Wash. _ A Connecticut businessman who specializes in insurance for golf tournament hole-in-one prizes has been charged with multiple felonies after repeatedly failing to pay up.

Kevin Kolenda, of Norwalk, Conn., was charged Wednesday in King County Superior Court with five counts of transacting insurance without a license, a class B felony. His arraignment is slated for Sept. 5.

Kolenda, 54, ignored a previous cease-and-desist order and a $125,000 fine from state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.

“We’ve been warning the public about Mr. Kolenda’s scam for years,” said Kreidler, whose Special Investigations Unit did the investigation that led to the charges. “He has a long history of selling illegal insurance, refusing to pay prize winners, and thumbing his nose at regulators.”

In some cases, charities have had to come up with the prize money. In others, the prize winners agreed to forego a prize.

Kolenda in 1995 started a business called Golf Marketing, working out of a home his parents owned in Norwalk. Since then, the business’ name has changed several times, including: Golf Marketing Worldwide LLC, Golf Marketing Inc.,, and currently Worldwide. The company also has a regional office in Rye, N.Y.

Kolenda has repeatedly failed to pay winning golfers in Washington. Among them:

• In 2003, Kolenda illegally sold insurance for a tournament in Bremerton. But when a golfer got a hole in one and tried to claim the $10,000 prize, Kolenda wouldn’t pay.
• In 2004, Kolenda sold insurance for a Vancouver tournament. Again, a golfer got a hole in one. Kolenda refused to pay the $50,000 prize. After a hearing at which Kolenda failed to appear, he was ordered in 2008 to pay a $125,000 fine. He never did.
• In 2010, Kolenda sold coverage to pay $25,000 for a hole in one during a golf tournament in Snohomish. A player got a hole in one. His golf partners signed notarized forms attesting to the hole in one. The prize remains unpaid, despite numerous calls and emails from the partners and tournament officials.
Similar allegations have been made against Mr. Kolenda and/or his business in numerous other states, including Montana, Ohio, Georgia, California, New York, Hawaii, Alabama, Massachusetts, Florida, Connecticut and North Carolina.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

AHS11 Talk Posted

After a one-year delay, my talk from the 2011 Ancestral Health Symposium is online with slides synched.  The talk is titled "Obesity: Old Solutions for a New Problem", and it's an overview of some of the research linking food reward to food intake and body fatness.  This is the talk that introduced a fundamentally new idea to the ancestral community: not only does the chemical composition of food matter, but also its sensory qualities-- in fact, the sensory qualities of food are among the primary determinants of food intake.  I didn't come up with the idea of course, I simply translated the research for a more general audience and put my own evolutionary spin on it.

The talk would be a bit different if I were to give it today, as my understanding of the subject has expanded, and my speaking skills have improved.  However, the central message remains as true today as it was a year ago.  You can find the talk here.

The slide synching was done by an extremely generous man named Ben Fury.  As you can see in the video, he did an excellent job.  Without Ben, this video would have remained in internet limbo forever.

Below, I've published a message from Ben explaining the interesting work that he does.  Please contact him if you think it's interesting.

A Message from Ben Fury

I was writing a book on health, fitness and diet in 2009 when my house burned down in the Station Fire, along with 165,000 acres of my beloved Angeles National Forest. Since then, I've had a series of people needing help come through my life, that have upgraded and morphed my talents...

Seniors with chronic pain, falls, brittle bones, and stiff shrunken muscles.
Diabetics with out of control blood sugars, going blind, and having limbs lopped off.
Neurologically challenged people with spastic limbs and foggy brains.
Fat, listless, unhappy people with no idea how they got that way, seeing no way out of the darkness.
Each of them needing help in different ways, but all with an underlying theme of what works to help heal our conditions:
  •     Remove flour, sugar, beans, and heavily processed oils from our diet. Eat real food.
  •     Get strong.
  •     Get flexible.
  •     Stop ceding health responsibility to outside forces, and take charge of our own wellness.
  •     Only use truly evidence based medicine. Don't just pop the latest pill or get the latest surgery all the other people are doing. Be wary of the disease mongers in both the conventional and alternative camps.
  •     Find our "happy thoughts." Use the simple restoratives of sleep, play, and reflection, to let go of pain, find inner peace, and let in joy and purposeful outer direction.
The methods to accomplish these goals are varied, and I have both non-profit and for-profit ventures to share them.
Their websites are currently in development.
The for-profit is
The non-profit is , whose mission statement is:

To move beyond pain management...
and learn to live pain free.

Feel free to write to me  at:
 ben [at] benfury dot com

"Auto accidents have decreased. Why did my insurance rates go up?"

Q: I read that auto accidents in Washington state have decreased, as have accident-related deaths. But my insurance premium just went up 15 percent. What's going on?

A: As Washington state's insurance regulator, we do our best to hold down insurance costs. But there are things other than accident rates that can affect your auto insurance premiums. Theft rates, auto glass costs, health care costs (for injuries in a crash) can all play a role. So can the fact that modern vehicles, with more airbags, high-strength steel and sophisticated safety features can be more expensive to repair.

Rates are driven by insurers' actual claim payments, administration costs and the company's cost and loss projections for the near future.

Disaster Mental Health Overview

By Rob Yin, Manager, Disaster Mental Health, American Red Cross

The mission of the Red Cross’ Disaster Mental Health (DMH) program is to respond to the psychosocial needs of people affected by disaster, including disaster responders, across the continuum of disaster preparedness, response and recovery. DMH’s work can be both challenging and stressful, but most DMH volunteers will tell you that it is extremely rewarding to provide mental health support to people in their time of greatest need.

DMH workers provide basic care, support and comfort to those experiencing disaster-related stress in addition to approved mental health interventions such as triage, crisis intervention, mental health surveillance, enhanced psychological first aid, secondary assessment, community resilience support, casualty support, advocacy, psychoeducation and referral services.*(Note: please see definitions at the end of this article).

The DMH program is built around a cadre of over 4,000 mental health professionals (with a master’s degree or higher) acting within the scope of their state, independent-level license. These services are designed to supplement, not replace, the community’s mental health services capacity.

There are important differences between day-to-day work as a mental health professional and the delivery of mental health services during a disaster:

If the information about DMH work above sounds interesting…that’s because it is! Become a Red Cross DMH volunteer and be part of the largest, most-highly credentialed DMH response force in the nation. For more information, contact your local Red Cross office (Colonial Virginia Chapter, Williamsburg, VA, 757-253-0228, ) or contact the Red Cross’ Psychological First Aid Training and/or Foundations of Disaster Mental Health (DMH) Trainings by contacting our region’s Disaster Services Coordinator who serves the lower peninsula, Lisa Mike, at 757-323-4788 or

*Mental Health Intervention Definitions

Individual Psychological Triage:

To identify high risk clients, to prioritize interventions, to make rapid referrals

Mental Health Surveillance for Incident Management:

To deploy to areas with higher ratios of high risk clients, focus on exposure in addition to symptoms, inform state and local mental health agencies of client needs, and monitor worker exposure

Crisis intervention:

To offer immediate, short-term help to individuals who experience an event that produces emotional, mental, physical, and behavioral distress or problems.

Enhanced Psychological First Aid:

To provide basic care, comfort and support to people who are experiencing disaster-related stress

To recognize the signs of stress in clients, co-workers and themselves

Secondary Assessment:

to identify those who are actually demonstrating signs of psychological trauma and to make more informed crisis intervention treatment decisions

Community Resilience Support:

To know who your community is and being able to help and support each other in the face of a common crisis. Community resilience training includes the Neighbor to Neighbor “Coping in Today’s World” curriculum.

Casualty support:

Offered during the immediate aftermath and recovery phase of a disaster when death and serious injuries have occurred


includes providing brochures and information regarding expected stress reactions.

Public health messaging and consultation:

DMH may be asked to work with public affairs to craft messaging that addresses the emotional implications of the disaster and may be called upon to

consult with community agencies and/or disaster responders regarding strategies to address the community’s psychological needs in order to promote resilience and positive coping.

Rob Yin directs the Disaster Mental Health (DMH) program at Red Cross National Headquarters and provides technical and programmatic oversight to more than 4,000 DMH volunteers. Since first joining the Red Cross as a volunteer in 2001, Yin has led DMH teams on 22 national disaster relief operations. Yin is the co-editor of the new Red Cross curriculum, “Coping in Today’s World: Psychological First Aid and Resilience for Families, Friends and Neighbors” and is the co-author of “Self Care for Disaster Mental Health Workers: Force Health Protection Strategies.” He can be contacted at

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Olympic Inspiration

With the London Olympic Games hailed a success it seems that people all over the UK are gaining an interest in sports that they have barely heard of before! And I, previously sports sceptic, am one of them.  The superb performances by sports men and women honed to the peak of physical perfection have encouraging many.  With the Paralympics following hot on the heels of the Olympics there is no doubt that the inspiration that the games has provided in spades is going to be increased as we marvel at the determination and achievements of the para- Olympians.  

There have been many stories of inspiration and of how sport has changed lives .I have been humbled by the punishing training schedules that these elite athletes have to subject themselves to  - hardly surprising when my idea of a training schedule is probably taking the dog on a whistle stop lamppost tour of the immediate neighbourhood.   And I have to admit that I, who never imagined I would give a fig, gasped in horror when, after all that work, Victoria Pendleton and Jessica Varnish were disqualified from the women’s team sprint race on a day of high drama for Team GB in the Olympic velodrome. In contrast, the pure ecstasy on the faces of the medal winners as tears flowed freely down their faces is something we will surely ever forget, and yes I did shed the odd tear too.  

So if this magnificent display of physical endeavour has inspired you, if you know you are in a rut, and that you don’t do enough exercise or you just want to be more active, where do you start?  Come to that where do I start?  Should I buy gym membership? Trot out to the local pool before work?  Take to walking the dog further than just down to the pub and back?  Well all of these would be a good start but the secret is, I believe, not to be too ambitious.  Rushing out to buy a javelin might seem like a good idea but you are going to get some very funny looks in the park!  

There is no doubt that regular exercise is important for our health.  It is recommended that to maintain good health, adults need to do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise and youngsters need to do about 60 minute a day. 

I work from home but if I did go to an office I might think of getting off the bus or tube a few stops early to walk the rest of the way.  Maybe leave enough time to ditch the car altogether and make journeys to local shops and even all the way to work, entirely on foot or on a bicycle.  It wont be long till you feel the physical benefit. 

The NHS have a very useful section on their website to help you find the sport or activity that is right for you. Take a look at their interactive tool for matching your ability and interest to a specific sport at:

So long after the last athlete has gone home, lets hope that the inspiration of the 2012 Olympics will continue and leave a legacy that will see us all improving our fitness and our health!  Oh, and I'll be the one plodding determinedly around a park near you.  But next year, well - just watch this space!

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Amanda Thomas