Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Linda Hatch, 42, has mild developmental disabilities and bipolar disorder. She was placed at a local nursing home due to several suicide attempts. A heavy drinker and drug abuser, she was unstable throughout her stay at the nursing home, fighting with other residents and constantly requiring hospital stays.
In December 2002, she came to Human Support Services, a United Way-funded agency since 1985. Her adjustment there was also difficult. She had many breakdowns, a suicide attempt and wanted approval from everyone.

“She complained that she wanted to go home with her mother where she would not have to cook or clean,” said Bobbi Walters, residence site manager. “So we met with her and her mother to establish a behavior plan.”

The staff worked hard to convince her that she was a good person and that no one was going to hurt her. They also worked with her on daily living skills and assured her that she had many abilities and could become independent with the needed skills. Nurses at Human Support Services met with her daily due to her medical issues. She was on a number of medications because her psychiatric issues had manifested as physical complaints.

Linda was eventually able to attend the Human Support Services workshop. This workshop provides clients with job training as well as other social skills needed to help them succeed in the community. At first she cried a lot and complained about the jobs. She soon learned vocational skills, as well as social and relationship skills with the support of workshop staff.

In 2005, she transitioned to the supported employment program and began working at a local nursing home helping patients set up their trays for meals and filling their drinks. Thanks to this job and her Human Support Services financial case manager; she was able to pay off the thousands of dollars in medical bills which were not covered by Medicaid.

Able to start saving some income, Linda moved into a supervised apartment with a roommate. In November 2007, she was able to move into her own apartment with no supervision. She has been learning to get around using the public transportation system and hopes to be able to drive soon. Although she now lives on her own, Linda still has a case manager to ensure that she has the necessary access to meet her medical, social and financial needs.

“Linda is happy to tell anyone that will listen how hard she has worked and how far she has come,” says Bobbi. She tells Human Support Services staff that while she has come a long way, nothing will stop her from reaching her dream of complete independence.

United Way funds several Human Support Services programs in addition to Outpatient Mental Health Services of which Linda was a part.

Human Support Services would not be able to adequately work with patients like Linda without United Way funding.

“She wouldn’t receive the services she has,” said Deb West, Director of Residential and Day Services. It is with this funding that they are able to work with Linda to help her strive toward her dreams of success and independence.


Twenty years ago, when HSS was a much smaller organization, about $1.5 million, in a less demanding regulatory environment we had about 8.5 support staff in areas like accounting, reception, billing and secretarial support.  Today we are a roughly $5 million organization in a much more demanding regulatory environment but we still have only 8.5 support staff.  This has been possible because we have used computerized systems as much as possible to extend the productivity of our support staff. 

Recognizing the importance of using computer systems to improve productivity, we have continued to add enhancements to our computer systems as new needs arrive and as new technology becomes available.  One improvement we added this year is desktop network scanning capabilities.  Desktop scanning has allowed us to take clinical and administrative files that were on paper and scan them into digital records.  This not only eliminates the need to store paper records, but it makes the information stored more available to staff throughout our agency.  We also have added E-prescribing for our psychiatrist.  E-prescribing is an enhancement that allows our psychiatrist to complete an electric prescription and automatically send it to the client’s pharmacy.  This eliminates the need for paper prescriptions.  It also allows for automatic checking of prescription against the client’s health insurance drug formulary and E-prescribing automatically checks for drug incompatibilities. 



Human Support Services was visited by a team of reviewers from the Council on Accreditation COA) in May of this year as we underwent a re-accreditation audit.  Agencies such as HSS are required to have their programs reviewed by a national accreditation agency that measures their operations against established industry standards.  This lengthy process required many months of preparation for the on-site audit that covered all of our clinical programs, our administrative services and even the operation of the agency’s Board of Directors.  Two COA reviewers were here for three days and reviewed documentation, observed programs in operation and spoke with clients, staff and Board members and community members. 


We are proud to say that results from this intensive review were positive and we were awarded full re-accreditation for four more years. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


We successfully closed on the purchase of two home lots in Hecker on March 21.  They are lots 7 and 8 on Hilgard Street and are in the Freedom Village subdivision.  They are near St. Augustine Catholic Church and a small park.  Hecker is located east of Waterloo where IL Route 159 and IL Route 156 intersect.  The Village of Hecker has 481 residents and was incorporated in 1895.  Up to that point the town was named Freedom but when it was incorporated as a village the US Post Office forced them to rename since there already was a Freedom, Illinois.  They chose Hecker because Col.  Friedrich Hecker lived close by and they wanted to honor him.  The original land in Hecker was owned by Theodore Hilgard for whom Hilgard Street is named.  


In September HSS opened a new Community Building to improve our support of 20 adults with developmental disabilities that live at our Main Street and Waterloo apartment buildings. Residents at these two sites have comfortable apartments but the two buildings have lacked any space for group activities. Also, the only laundry facilities were in the basement, down some steep steps that were hard to maneuver with laundry baskets. The new handicapped accessible building remedies these deficits. It features a large laundry room that will allow residents and staff to easily access washers and dryers. The building also has a large activity room, an adjacent fully appointed kitchen and a lounge area. Residents can now socialize with friends and family. Staff are able to work with groups of residents on activities that enhance daily living skills. An early favorite activity is bowling on the Wii, using the large screen TV. Gifts from the community helped equip the new building.