New Clinical Care Manager in Arizona

ImageShannon joined the AdvisaCare team January 1st of this year and is responsible for overseeing patient care at our Phoenix, Arizona branch. She brings with her 7.5 years of rehabilitation experience from her work at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado and is currently enlisted in the Army Reserves.  She has a strong background in spinal cord injury rehabilitation and disability care.  It is our privilege to introduce Shannon King, AdvisaCare newest Clinical Manager.

Tell us a little about you…

I started at Craig when I was only 18 years old. I worked there as a CNA for 2 years on the less acute Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) floor (3 East) while I completed my RN. Once I completed my RN, I transferred over to the acute SCI floor (3 West) and worked there for 5 ½ years. I was also a night shift charge nurse and the hospital IV expert which meant that if there was ever a code no matter where I was, I got paged overhead.

What an amazing experience! I learned so much from simply talking to my patients while listening to and asking questions of the other nurses, CNAs and respiratory therapist all over the hospital.

Philosophy on rehabilitationShannon and patient

I always joke that psych nurses ask you how you feel and a rehab nurses tell you, “you can do this yourself”. The best rehab nurses are the combination of the two. You have got to know when to push and when to pull. This means being able to read your client’s needs and encourage them from where they now are in order to get them to where they want to be.

I truly believe that I was born to be a rehab nurse. This means advocating for my patients but most importantly teaching them to advocate for themselves. Knowledge is power and the more a patient knows about their disability and their own bodies the better they can direct their care. And of course that is the ultimate goal, complete independence. I think sometimes people think that independence means being able to do everything yourself, but, post SCI independence is being able to be responsible for all aspects of you life, even if you have to direct/delegate a task.

So from the bottom of my heart, with all the support and encouragement I can muster, you CAN do this yourself!

What does Craig hospital mean to you

Craig was my home and my family for so long. I will always remember it like the house I grew up in, with the same fondness and pleasant memories. The things that I learned there shaped my vision for my own future and taught me, as Craig says, “The Strength of Family”.  It is this knowledge and spirit that I bring with me as I transition to AdvisaCare.


I am a wife and mother as well as a nurse. My son is the most adorable, most intelligent, 7 month old I have ever met. (Could I be biased by the fact that I am his mother?)

ArmyMy husband is the most supportive, kindest man I have ever met. It is with his support that I completed my Bachelors in Nursing, my Masters in Nursing, obtained my certification as a rehabilitation nurse and now he is supporting me as I apply for Doctoral programs. Did I mention that he also supports me as I serve as a nurse in the Army Reserves…Huah!

What an amazing man that will support me in everything that I do and what an amazing man who will stay home with our son and take care of everything at home. I am so blessed!

Your goals for AdvisaCare

My goal is to optimize quality of life for all of our clients. This includes providing superior care, educating the public and other health care professionals as well as partnering with advocacy groups to make sure that each client’s holistic needs are met to the best of our abilities. I would love to be able to use my passion and knowledge to serve people with disabilities. AdvisaCare and its CEO, Kris Skogen, have an amazing vision that I share!

What does a Clinical Care Manager do?

I ensure that AdvisaCare, Arizona provides excellent care. I provide oversight and supervision to all services we provide throughout the State of Arizona. I personally meet with clients and families to discuss the whole picture (health, support, employment, education, home disposition, supply, Doctors and Specialists). I truly enjoy getting to meet patients in their home because that is the best way to learn their story and assess their personal needs from self care to transfers, showers, home modifications, and case management.  I learn about different organizations available in the community like the Arizona Spinal Cord Injury Association and Raising Special Kids and recommend these resources to ensure a sense of community and support. At AdvisaCare, our mission is to help our clients maintain optimum health and independence.

Wheelin’ Team 457 brings deer hunting to the disabled sportsman

Meet Don McLaughlin (center).  He is a resident of Evergreen Grove in Otter Lake, Michigan, an avid sportsman and retired Marine.  As Director of Sports and Recreation for Wheelin’ Team 457, Don is dedicated to the idea that all people should be able to pursue the activities they love.  He works to connect people with resources and adapted sporting events that enable them to participate despite physical barriers.  The goal of Wheelin’ Team, Don says, is to “get people off their butts and active!”

Across Michigan and in parts of Ohio, he coordinates competitive activities for athletes including adaptive equipment and enough volunteers to keep events competitive yet open to a spectrum of abilities.

Wheelin Team 457

He and the Team participated in a 4-day adapted hunt last October that included athletes from all over the State.  The hunt was sponsored by Ray C’s Extreme Sports and AdvisaCare Home Health Care and had  23 hunters with conditions such as spinal cord injury, amputation, multiple sclerosis, and muscular dystrophy using adaptive equipment such as sip-n-puff trigger pulls and stands to operate shot-guns and bows and arrows. They rode with volunteers on ATVs and maneuvered 4-wheel-drive wheelchairs at various hunting sites throughout lower Michigan.  It was a successful hunt that harvested a total of 8 deer- 3 bucks and 5 does- and yielded many more great stories.  At the end of the 4-days, there was a dinner reception at the Lions Club Bear Lake Camp in Lapeer, MI. including an awards ceremony where every hunter gladly shared their tales.

This was an opportunity to take part in the traditional hunting season that makes up Michigan’s heritage and was just one of the many programs athletes (and the casual sportsman) can access in order to get out there and be active.  For more information and to get in touch with Don and Wheelin’ Team 457, visit the website at or call (810) 210-6910.

AdvisaCare is a proud sponsor and supporter of Wheelin’ Team 457

Mental health and speech services now available in Saginaw

A representative of the Saginaw branch of AdvisaCare just announced the addition of speech and behavioral health therapy to their local home health care services.  Among the ten employees hired recently, including branch director, Peggy Fritz RN, a speech pathologist and a nurse certified in behavioral health will soon be working with patients requiring behavioral health/speech services.  “These are exciting additions because we will be able to help homebound patients who could really benefit from these services.” says Fritz.

In their research of the needs of the Tri-City area, Peggy and the outreach team discovered a gap in behavioral health services.  “There are not many nurses (certified in behavioral health) working in home health, or many home health agencies in this area that provide these services.”   Quickly the team stepped in to help and made sure that the services would be available to all private pay and homebound Medicare patients.   Behavioral health and speech therapy as well as select home health services are also covered by most health insurances.

What does this mean for the Tri-City area? Families with loved ones needing behavioral health and speech services will now have more options available to them. They will not have to worry about the safety and security of their homebound loved one because they can now receive care in the privacy of their own home, under the care of an MD or Psychiatrist.

Why is speech and cognitive therapy important?

Peggy- “Speech therapy is a part of recovery programs for many illnesses and may be used to help manage conditions that affect speech, language, eating or swallowing. For many adults, a medical issue such as stroke or the onset of conditions like Parkinson’s Disease or Multiple Sclerosis can affect motor skills necessary for communication. Brain injury and accidents that cause damage to the throat, jaw, or facial structure can also impair speaking ability. People may require adult speech therapy due to mental difficulties which affect comprehension of language or the ability to speak intelligibly. Communication is essential to independence and such therapy helps people gain greater control over speaking and language skills.”

Why is psych therapy important?  

Peggy- “If we approach the care of a patient with a mental illness from a holistic perspective, within his/her chosen environment, we will be successful in preventing frequent hospitalizations, thereby, making psychiatric home health care the most cost-effective treatment available for this patient population. Research has shown that each time a psychiatric patient is hospitalized, the overall impact on the lifetime management of his/her disease is compounded in a negative way, affecting the ability to obtain and maintain a stable, independent and desirable quality of life.”

To learn more about home health care services in you area, visit our website or call our office!  Care assessments area available at no cost.  For more information on brain injury, please subscribe to our blog, For Caregivers.

Flying with Angels

By Ashleigh Justice

Sunday, February 17

Today, I flew with Angels. Not the kind of angels with halos or harps, but the kind that remove barriers and make you feel like you can take on the world. Today, I was a Captain of a myTEAM TRIUMPH team. I got to feel speed and the wind in my face, the cheers from passerbys. Only a handful of times in my life have I been able to leave my wheelchair behind and feel like I wasn’t stuck without it. For those who can walk, riding in a racing chair probably doesn’t carry the same impact but for those who are “trapped in a broken body” that racing chair becomes wings. “When I was in that chair, I felt like my disability disappeared,” said Rick Hoyt after his father pushed him through their first race. Mr. Hoyt, no one could have said it better!

myTEAM TRIUMPH became a part of my life in November of 2011 when Kris Skogen, my boss and CEO of AdvisaCare, asked me to help start the Phoenix chapter.  He had seen the kind of impact the organization was already having in Michigan and wanted to help the organization expand to other parts of the States.  Little did I realized that this assignment or the individuals I would meet would become such a special pert of my life.

The run was the final event of the first National Conference of myTEAM TRIUMPH in Phoenix, Arizona. We ran alongside Tempe Town Lake, an entourage of red and white among the crowd. It was during the conference that I realized that what we are doing is more than helping people with disabilities cross the finish line, we were giving them the experience of accomplishment, of having fun, and of genuinely mattering to the team. For me, a person with a disability, being able to forget about my paralysis for even just one race is more than a break from reality, its a flight with angels

I was joined by Connor, another Captain who had already been in two races with our chapter. Captain Connor has cerebral palsy and is non-verbal and blind and doesn’t communicate much but when we arrived at our landing spot, he had a smile that could not be denied. His mom asked him, “Connor, did you have fun?” Connor rocked and smiled and made excited noises. “Want to go again?” And with another smile, he and his Angel were off again.

It’s incredible experiences like these that mark every race we run in. It doesn’t matter the challenge, you see the beauty of humanity and feel that higher power that moves us all. To everyone involved, it’s more than just a race, it’s triumph!

The mission of myTEAM triumph is to provide the ultimate racing experience for individuals with disabilities.  To get involved, check out their website. You can find various chapters on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

myTEAM TRIUMPH is proudly sponsored by AdvisaCare

Featured AdvisaCarian: Tracy Montgomery

Congratulations to Tracy Montgomery, West Michigan Regional Manager, on her appointment to the Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo Board of the Case Management Society of America, a national organization dedicated to advocating for patient well-being and improved care.  As Secretary, she will have greater local and national visibility, assisting the President in her duties, keeping records of meetings, and networking with key individuals in the practice of case management.  When asked what this new role means for her, Tracy answered,

I can now be an influential voice on the Board and in the field of case management. I have the opportunity to really make a difference, not just for my self, but for my company as well.

Tracy joined the AdvisaCare team about 13 and a half years ago.  A staff nursing hopeful, Tracy had many years of experience in the health care delivery field, managing an office of a 6-division company and then working as an LPN and MDS Coordinator.  Although she was looking for a part-time position, her experience in management and health care delivery meant that she would become Branch Manager of our Kalamazoo office.  With her knowledge and patient, proactive nature, she grew into her new role of West Michigan Regional Manager and has helped open a number of AdvisaCare branches across the country.  She has worked to expand the scope of care to brain injuries and spinal cord injuries.

Tracy is a Certified Brain Injury Specialist, the first in the company to complete the nationally recognized CBIS program.  “The CBIS program is important for case managers,” she explains, “because it prepares you for working with families of brain injured patients, among other things.  The administration of care is more involved than one might think: families often go through more stages of grief and coping than the usual individuals recovering from trauma.  Being able to understand the stage an individual or family member is at helps to provide better communication and empathy.”

CBIS training also arms care providers against the behavioral challenges that accompany brain injury.  Without CBIS training, care providers can feel frustrated and underprepared and may be apt to blame the person for his or her behavior instead of the brain injury.  The training and experience from working with brain injured patients has helped Tracy be an effective mentor and go-to person for our caregivers and has enabled her to be an advocate for clients.

The mission of the Grand Rapids/ Kalamazoo CMSA is to advance the practice of Case Management and support the evolving needs of the individual Case Managers in West Michigan through education, networking and the promotion of practice standards.

This is her 3rd year as a member and she is very excited by her new appointment.  We are proud of Tracy’s accomplishments and look forward to seeing what opportunities arise for her in 2012.  To send her a shout-out, leave a comment below or on our Facebook page!

Wings of Phoenix takes Flight!

12Ks of Christmas

How do you capture love?  You can feel it in the hug of a child, see it in the smile of a parent, hear it in the laughter of a friend.  Yes, you can capture love in many different ways but last Saturday we captured love in a whole new way: Through the power of teamwork!

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At the 12Ks of Christmas in Gilbert, Arizona, the Wings of Phoenix and Southern Arizona chapters of myTEAM Triumph captured love in it’s essence.  They brought together 24 would-be strangers, empowering 3 families with children with developmental disabilities, and inspiring more people  than we could count.

This event kicked off a brand new chapter of myTEAM Triumph, Wings of Phoenix. Sponsored by AdvisaCare and fueled by the Team Hoyt mantra “I Can,” myTEAM Triumph gives individuals with disabilities the opportunity to participate in endurance races by teaming them up with runners, swimmers, and cyclists.  By working together, the teams have finished 10Ks, marathons, and triathlons nationwide!

For more information on myTEAM Triumph and to get involved, visit

mTT Chapter Pres. gives friend Wings!

Meet President Chirstian Jensen

Christian Jensen, mTT-Wisconsin chapter president and Mary's Angel

Christian Jensen is the President/Executive Director of myTEAM TRIUMPH – Wisconsin Chapter.

Professionally, Christian is a Business Growth and Development Specialist for Bellin Health in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Christian started with Bellin Health in 2008 as a Personal Trainer focused on Performance Enhancement.

In 2008 Christian began training a woman with muscular dystrophy named Mary Cox.  At 60 years old, Mary was totally dependent on people for mobility challenges.  One day in training, Mary told Christian she has always wanted to run “the Bellin” (the fourth largest 10K in the U.S.), but because of her muscular dystrophy, she never could.

Later that year, Christian and his wife, Tiffany granted Mary her wish by pushing her in a child’s running stroller!  In 2009, Mary, Christian and Tiffany took their journey to the next level and participated in the Green Bay Marathon.  The true spark for staring a chapter in Wisconsin came after the Marathon when Mary told Christian and Tiffany: “I really wish other people could experience this!”

In 2010, with an incredibly dedicated Board and Staff and through the generous support of the Wisconsin Community, myTEAM TRIUMPH fielded Captains in 16 endurance events and provided 54 racing opportunities for 20 Captains, 215 Angels and 50 Volunteers.

Christian is very dedicated to the long-term vision of myTEAM TRIUMPH in Wisconsin and throughout the Country.

“I am so incredibly honored to be connected to all of you in our mutual vision to share the courage of our Captains with the world.  I am so excited to see what God will do with us in this organization!”

To learn more about myTEAM Triumph and to sign up to be in a road race, visit your local chapter at

Attention Nursing Students: Nursing grants available through RWJF

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, known for their mission in advancing health and health care in the US, is now accepting applications for grants in nursing for baccalaureate and master’s degree students.  Deadline is January 11, 2012 for application!

Click Here to learn more!

Run, Run, Rudolf!

Run in a sea of SANTAS!

 myTEAM Triumph Wings of Phoenix will be participating in it’s first race on December 10, The 12Ks of Christmas. Please join us, cheer on our teams (or be a part of one!). Here’s the info:

12Ks of Christmas

12Ks of Christmas

Saturday, December 10, 2011 10am
Freestone District Park, Gilbert Arizona

We need Angels, Captains, and Volunteers!

Check out the flyer below and visit our website

Bowling for Brain ’11 is HUGE success for BIAAZ!

The Brain Injury Association of Arizona is one of those special organizations that knows how to help a family overcome the unimaginable affects of TBI, educate decision makers to change safety policies, and provide awareness and unwavering support to the community, all at the same time.  Every day, they inspire hope, strength, and the power of teamwork!

Last weekend, the BIAAZ held their 2nd Annual Bowl for Brain Injury event at four Brunswick bowling alleys across Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.  Over 100 teams registered to bowl and collect sponsorships- many with a goal of over $1,000!

We (AdvisaCare) had a team in both Phoenix and Tucson this year and raised about $4,500 for the BIAAZ.  In Tucson, our team included a doctor and her son, PBA Hall-of-Famer Paul Colwell, a father and son, and Robert McQuoid, AdvisaCare Arizona Regional Manager.  In Phoenix, our team included our CEO, Kris Skogen and family, Tony Paul and family, and yours truly, Ashleigh Justice.

By the end of the day, the Brain Injury Association of Arizona was able to raise over $100k in gross sponsorships for valuable programs & services and for their annual camp, Kamp Kan Do.  We are very proud to be a part of such a great cause and we thank the BIAAZ for their continuing support of the TBI community!

For more information about the Brain Injury Association of Arizona, please visit their website: