- Written by Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP)
Scams related to the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, are rapidly increasing as the public health emergency develops. Scammers are targeting older adults and those with serious long-term health conditions who appear to have a higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19.
Fraudsters are attempting to bill Medicare for sham tests or treatments related to the coronavirus and are targeting individuals to illegally obtain money or Medicare numbers.
What Can You Do to Stop COVID-19 Fraud?
• Do not give out your Medicare number to anyone other than your doctor or other health care
• Protect your Medicare number and treat your Medicare card like a credit card.
• Never provide your Medicare number to anyone who contacts you through unsolicited calls,
texts, or emails.
• Be cautious of anyone who comes to your door offering free coronavirus testing, treatment, or
• Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know, which could put your computer or device at
risk. Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer are up to date.
• Be cautious when purchasing medical supplies from unverified sources, including online
advertisements and email/phone solicitations.
• Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention products or cures for
COVID-19, they are most likely a scam.
• Do your homework before making a donation to a charity or crowdfunding site due to a public
health emergency. Be particularly wary of any charities requesting donations by cash, by gift
card, or wire transfer.
• Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is
warning people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products
or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19 and that the
stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.
What Does Medicare Cover in Relation to COVID-19?
• Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers COVID-19 tests when ordered by your doctor or
health care provider on or after February 4, 2020.
• Medicare covers all medically necessary hospitalizations, including extra days in the hospital
for patients who had to stay longer under COVID-19 quarantine.
• There is no vaccine for COVID-19 at this time; however, if one becomes available, Medicare will
• Medicare also recently expanded coverage of telehealth services to enable beneficiaries to
access a wider range of services from their providers without having to travel to a facility.
o This includes access to doctors, nurse practitioners,
clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers.
o During this emergency, there are also more options for
the ways your providers can talk with you under this
For Medicare coverage questions, contact your local State Health Insurance Assistance
Program (SHIP) at SHIPTAcenter.org or 1-877-839-2675.
Other COVID-19 Resources:
How Your Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) Can Help
Your local SMP is ready to provide you with the information you need to PROTECT yourself from
Medicare fraud, errors, and abuse; DETECT potential fraud, errors, and abuse; and REPORT your
concerns. SMPs and their trained volunteers help educate and empower Medicare beneficiaries in the fight against health care fraud. Your SMP can help you with your questions, concerns, or complaints about potential fraud and abuse issues. It also can provide information and educational presentations.
To locate your state Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP):
Visit www.smpresource.org or call 1-877-808-2468.
Supported by a grant (No. 90MPRC0001) from the Administration for Community Living (ACL),
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
- Written by Janis Merrell
When LifePath put out a call for Personal Protective Equipment (including masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer) to be used in our programs where we are in contact with elders and persons with disabilities, the overwhelming response was heartwarming. One of the many people who contacted us was Amanda Barrow, who offered to make 20 masks for us from her late mother’s fabric supply. Along with donating the masks, Amanda agreed to answer a few questions for The Good Life.
1. What motivated you/gave you the idea to make masks?
When the COVID-19 event began to be a real thing for me in mid-February, I decided that I wanted to get involved with helping helpers. I knew that I couldn't actually manufacture N-95 masks, the type that doctors use in the hospital, etc. I wanted to make something more simple, for the everyday person, something that I could just sort of ''bang out'' quickly, to put it bluntly. I'm a pretty good seamstress. I saw a post from my friend Noe Kidder on Facebook, and she is sewing face masks in Brooklyn, NY. Then I saw a more local group on Facebook, and hooked up with them, DIY MASKS OF WESTERN MASS.* I remember my mom talking about ''Bundles for Britain'' that she was involved with in the 1940's. She made handknit hats and mittens for the soldiers that were shipped to Britain, and I wanted to do something similar for my community, but only with masks.
2. What made you use your mother's fabric?
My mother passed away almost 25 years ago, and she was an obsessive quilter and knitter; she made beautiful and intricate hand-stitched items. Her ''craft room'' was filled with unused quilt fabric after she died. My siblings and I split up the fabric, and I've been moving it from place to place for 25 years, using it in my artwork, and also giving it away. When I read that very tightly woven fabric should be used in the fabrication of these face masks, I instantly thought of my mom's quilting fabric. I had so much I gave some to my friend Pamela Matsuda-Dunn, who is also sewing masks for caregivers, pharmacists, friends, family, etc. I thought it would be a wonderful thing to share mom's fabric, which has been in plastic bags-release her loving fabric out into the world as little protection devices. She would've loved this project!
I thought it would be a wonderful thing to share mom's fabric, which has been in plastic bags-release her loving fabric out into the world as little protection devices.
3. What was your mom's name and tell me a little about her.
My mom's name was Josephine, and she was a very smart and down-to-earth woman. She was born in Indiana and pretty much stayed there all of her life. In the mid-sixties, she divorced my father and went back to school to get her MSW (Masters in Social Work). She had four kids to raise, and needed to work. After graduating from graduate school, she got a job at a childrens' hospital in Indianapolis, and worked with kids and adults for I believe 28 years. She was an excellent seamstress, knitter, quilter, etc. She was the type of person who could pick up textile-related skills very easily. She passed those skills onto my sister, me, AND one of my brothers (he knits and sews too!). She had three cancers, and the last one got her (breast, Hodgkin's lymphoma, and leukemia). She died at age 66. She was a sweetie!
4. How many masks have you made so far? How many did you end up making for LifePath?
I've made around 55 masks so far. I finally got my elastic today so I can make more, but I also have a life. LifePath will be the recipient of 20 masks. LifePath will get some funny ones . . . I found some kitty fabric that my mom had. She loved cats! So I hope someone ends up with a kitty mask and gets a few laughs from it. I also found some gorgeous blue fabric with some nice block printing . . . that's a nice mask too!
5. Tell us a little about yourself and your art.
I'm a visual artist and live in Easthampton, MA with my musician-husband Carl Clements who is a saxophone performer/composer; he teaches at Amherst College and Springfield College presently. My studio is located in Easthampton, where I teach printmaking classes, and also maintain a painting studio. I teach around the world (India, Germany, Iceland), and am hoping that the three classes I have scheduled for Germany in early June will happen, as well as my workshop in Iceland on October 10! But who knows . . .
I have a sponsor, Speedball Art/Akua Inks, and I teach monotype printmaking with sustainable products and inks that clean up with warm soapy water. In my paintings, I use some of my mom's fabrics to create ''collage paintings.'' I incorporate fabric on top of cheesecloth, silk, and linen to create work that hopefully suggests to the viewer ideas of the past, future, and present moment. I've been an artist most of my 60 years on the planet. My family was very supportive of my gifts and talent, and I'm blessed to have a great clan. My next show is with the Affordable Art Fair/NYC September 23-27.
These masks are not only functional but also ornamental as well. One can't speak very well when one wears a mask, and I'm actually starting to think of them as art pieces. These days, I see human rights issues going down the toilet in this country, and in a way, the mask is the perfect object or vehicle to be used as a metaphor in that context. The idea of the mask is starting to infiltrate my creative process . . . who knows what I'll come up with in my studio at this point, now that I've been touched by COVID-19. You are welcome to sign up for my newsletter to find out about my workshops and open studio events, and gallery exhibitions, at my website.
6. How did you hear about LifePath?
My friend Mona Shiber, who is an artist in my building at One Cottage Street in Easthampton, forwarded me an email that LifePath was looking for masks. She was my connection.
7. How long does it take you to make each mask/what is your general process?
Now that I have the process down, I guess it's taking me about 15 minutes per mask. I use a method from the Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, IN. They put a call out for masks, and gave instructions online. It's the most simple pattern I could find.
8. What else do you feel it's important for people to know?
These masks are used by everyone. I wear mine when I shop at the market, go to the Post Office, CVS, etc. I saw a guy wearing one the other day while riding his bike!
*If you are a seamster or seamstress, or have fabric, 1/4'' elastic, an old sewing machine that works, or anything like that to donate, please get in touch with DIY MASKS OF WESTERN MASS on Facebook. Thank you!
- Written by Carol Foote, Development Director, LifePath, 413-773-5555 Ext. 2225, email@example.com
With the decision to host LifePath’s 28th annual Walkathon as a virtual event, we weren’t sure how our supporters might respond. I’d like to introduce you to one supporter who is operating full steam ahead.
Meet Nicole. Her dedication to LifePath is evidenced in how she supports our agency as a member of LifePath’s Citizens Advisory Board (CAB) and that she chooses LifePath as her charity of choice, singing her support loud and clear during Walkathon season.
“I am an elder. I am able-bodied. I can help. I feel it is my responsibility to participate and do what I can to support LifePath. I may need the services in the future,” explains Nicole.
When she retired in 2012, embracing her age and a new chapter in her life, she began getting involved with the South County Senior Center. It was at that time that she was introduced to LifePath’s good work, and was happy to join the senior center’s walkathon team. She has been integral in the team having a winning streak in the “Most Money Raised by a Senior Center” and “Most Money Raised Overall.” Last year, though she had surgery scheduled for the same week as the event, she fundraised and had “stand-ins” walking for her on event day.
I asked Nicole to share some of her “pro tips” for Walkathon fundraising. Here’s her strategic recipe for success:
- Write your own message and include information about your personal experience and appreciation for LifePath. For instance, this year, Nicole has shared on her team page how she received Meals on Wheels for a time after she returned from the hospital after surgery.
- Cast a wide net. Nicole sends her message to everyone in her contacts because, she says, “You just never know who will respond.” She explains that LifePath is the only cause she asks for and only during Walkathon season.
- Follow up. About three weeks after her initial contact she sends a reminder, just in case her contacts intended to donate but it slipped their mind. One last nudge happens close to the date of the Walkathon, only to those who donated before but who haven’t done so yet.
- Get personal. As soon as she is notified by LifePath of a donation she sends her own thank you email or note.
- Report out. After the Walkathon, she sends an email reporting on the event and the total amount raised.
For new or returning fundraisers, we’d be happy to set up a personalized fundraising link so that you may ask friends and family for online donations. Once set up, the link may be shared through social media, email, or text. Donors give directly online and, because it's your personal or team link, your tally will increase before your very eyes!
Nicole’s plan on how to participate in the virtual event? “I am going to walk around my place. I am training now and people I meet (6 feet apart) ask me why I walk so much everyday. I tell them about the LifePath Walkathon.”
Nicole is aware of the many programs and services provided by LifePath and notes they are all important. She is a true cheerleader for LifePath because she identifies with our mission. “I am an elder. I am able-bodied. I can help. I feel it is my responsibility to participate and do what I can to support LifePath. I may need the services in the future,” explains Nicole.
- Written by Barbara Bodzin, Executive Director
The local impact of COVID-19 has caused us all to assess and fortify our preparedness to care for ourselves and our loved ones, to prevent further spread, and mitigate the risk to the most vulnerable populations, which are those served through LifePath. We take our responsibility seriously to do everything possible to protect the health and wellbeing of the elders and individuals with disabilities within our communities. That means planning, advocating, and providing support and services as best we can, through our own infrastructure, reaching out to professional partners and to the community at large.
Our focus is on responding to the changing needs of those we serve, offering services to new consumers, staying current on any COVID-19 related developments, communicating up to date and accurate information, being a resource for callers, and securing whatever support is needed to continue to do our work.
Training staff and volunteers to keep themselves and those with whom they interact healthy and safe is essential. We have moved most of our administrative functions off site with staff fully equipped and capable to work remote from home. Assessments are occurring telephonically and through the use of video connections to reduce contact with consumers. Our focus is on responding to the changing needs of those we serve, offering services to new consumers, staying current on any COVID-19 related developments, communicating up to date and accurate information, being a resource for callers, and securing whatever support is needed to continue to do our work.
In the face of heightened concern and a growing number of COVID-19 cases in our community, we are having to address real life concerns faced by consumers and those providing support. Volunteers have needed to step away from their duties in an effort to protect themselves and others. Some Meals on Wheels recipients are refusing meal delivery out of fear of having the virus passed over their threshold. There are those who participate in our Personal Care Attendant (PCA) program who are impaired physically to the extent of needing someone they trust to prepare daily meals, help with bathing, and make sure they move safely about their home. Consumers are voicing their concerns about how they will continue to live independently if they find themselves or those who support them needing to be quarantined.
It’s not lost on consumers that without the support provided though LifePath, they will need to relinquish some, if not all, of the independence they’ve come to, well, depend on. Conversely, by letting caregivers and support staff inside their home who may carry the virus unknowingly, consumers are literally risking their lives to survive. There is no truer conundrum than to be acutely aware of the risks and to embrace the potential reality of not being cared for.
At the forefront of our concerns is the impending loss of front-line workers, primarily home health aides, personal care attendants, homemakers and volunteer meals drivers, and the direct impact on those who rely upon their support. These workers and volunteers are some of the most dedicated, hard working, and proud employees in the workforce. It is essential that these care providers who cannot always maintain the 6’ of distance from those receiving care have the proper personal protective equipment, known as PPE, to maintain their safety, as well as protecting those receiving care. We must also consider the vulnerability of the informal caregiving provided by family, friends, and neighbors and how fragile these systems are today.
The silver lining of this pandemic is the generosity of spirit manifesting within our communities. The activation and creation of community-based systems is happening throughout our region with offers of many to step up to care for those in need. This blossoming of community is what will sustain us through these uncertain times and carry us to a better place where barriers are diminished and support is flowing to one another in a more sustainable manner.
We need to consider creative ways to address the inevitable loss of support of family caregivers and direct service workers unable to continue to provide care. It is time to think outside the box and look to nursing schools, to students who have completed training in providing personal care, workers who have stepped away from the field, or simply to a willing neighbor aware of someone who relies upon others for care. Another idea is the creation of a neighborhood watch of sorts to look out for those neighbors who have lost caregivers or whose family members cannot visit because they are quarantined. Though social distancing is a best practice, is there someone you can be responsible to check on within your neighborhood? Or might you be willing to take on volunteer duties with LifePath to serve those who don’t have anyone?
Reach out to your Council on Aging, your local village neighbor group, or to LifePath. We are going strong, and we are here more than ever to support elders, persons with disabilities, and caregivers. Call us with your needs and call us with your offerings. Here is what we need:
- Volunteers - To deliver meals, grocery shop, provide transportation, make wellness calls. You can sign up as a back-up volunteer.
- Personal Protective Equipment - we need hand sanitizer, face masks and gloves
- Donations - Funding is a balancing act at LifePath. As a private, not for profit organization, the gaps we experience, especially in uncertain times, are particularly real as we look to expand the types of support we provide to the community. Revenue streams are at risk of being disrupted and in order to keep our systems going, we need your support more than ever.
- Written by Janis Merrell
LifePath has expanded their Personal Care Attendant (PCA) program further east into Worcester County. This expansion is in response to Montachusett Home Care opting to terminate their PCA Program this year, along with MassHealth not awarding contracts to five other Personal Care Management Agencies (PCMs) during the recent contract procurement process.
3,915 PCA consumers across the state were affected by these changes and needed to be transferred to new PCMs. LifePath is now the Personal Care Management agency for approximately 600 of them. These new consumers are primarily located in Worcester County, including towns like Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster, Lunenburg, and many others.
LifePath is now the Personal Care Management agency for approximately 600 new consumers in Worcester County.
The PCA program fosters independence in individuals with disabilities by supporting them in the management of their own home-based services. To qualify for the PCA Program, an individual must require physical assistance with two activities of daily living, such as help with mobility and transfers, medication assistance, bathing and grooming, dressing and undressing, toileting, and feeding. Consumers find and hire their own Personal Care Attendants and pay them with funding from MassHealth. PCAs can include family members and friends, although spouses are not yet eligible (legislators are working to change this).
Sometimes consumers need help managing the employment of PCAs. These consumers utilize volunteer surrogates who can help hire, train, and supervise their PCAs. Surrogates can be family members, friends or volunteers. As of January 2020, consumers can also utilize Administrative Proxies to assist with certain functions of PCA management. An Administrative Proxy can be the member's legal guardian, a family member, or any other person who is responsible for performing certain administrative functions related to PCA management that the consumer is unable or unwilling to perform.
LifePath PCA Skills Trainers help individuals gain approval from MassHealth for PCA services, provide training to consumers to become employers of Personal Care Attendants, and provide ongoing support.
If you are interested in becoming a PCA, you can register on the statewide PCA Directory at www.masspcadirectory.org or call 1-888-MASSPCA.