Kedrick “K.D.” LaMont Daniel
Doris Kurtz Mesenbrink
Patricia A. (Severson) Saunders
A person who is homeless and diabetic might have BadgerCare to help him obtain insulin, but without a stable home, he might not have a cold place to store it.
HealthNet of Rock County tries to help those people—and others—when possible, but until Monday, state law made it difficult for free charitable clinics to help the homeless, HealthNet CEO Ian Hedges said.
However, the state Legislature on Monday passed two bills that Hedges said will help HealthNet offer care to more people and recruit more practitioners.
One bill will allow doctors, nurses, dentists and other health care providers to be covered by the state’s malpractice insurance when they are serving the homeless at charitable clinics.
That opens the door for more homeless people to obtain services through HealthNet, Hedges said.
Without malpractice insurance, providers were limited in how they could treat homeless patients. In the future, such patients will be able to go to HealthNet for insulin storage and maybe get a checkup or screening while they’re at it.
The second bill makes health care providers who work for charitable clinics eligible for the state’s health care provider loan assistance program.
That program helps doctors and dentists pay off student loans up to a certain amount. Before the bill was passed, doctors at charitable clinics could not participate.
Because of the demand for low-cost health care, HealthNet can no longer rely solely on volunteer doctors. Hiring doctors is difficult for charitable clinics because they can’t pay nearly as much as hospitals or other facilities, Hedges said.
“We constantly struggle trying to hire dentists and other health care providers,” he said. “This allows us a little bit of a boost to recruit quality dentists to come into this area and provide top-notch care.”
Staff at HealthNet asked local legislators to support the bill and received positive feedback from both sides of the political aisle, Hedges said.
Hedges also spoke at the Assembly hearings for both bills in July.
Changes won’t happen immediately because HealthNet staff is working with the state on guidelines for the new laws, Hedges said.
HealthNet hopes to use the loan assistance legislation as a recruiting tool when the nonprofit brings on a new dentist in July, he said.
Homelessness and the lack of affordable housing have been hot topics in Janesville and Rock County this year.
One of HealthNet’s most significant initiatives to help the homeless is the creation of a behavioral health services department, which is slated for 2021, Hedges said.
Access to behavioral health services is limited, especially for people who have no insurance or are underinsured. HealthNet has created a task force to determine which behavioral health services are most needed in the area, Hedges said.
The behavioral health department will be added after HealthNet moves into a new facility on Kennedy Road in 2021. Blackhawk Community Credit Union announced in February it intends to donate the building to the nonprofit.
With the new building will come more rooms, behavioral health services, expanded dental services and a dental office tailored to help people with special needs, Hedges said.
Heavy snow and wind shut down highways Tuesday in Colorado and Wyoming, closed schools in Nebraska and forced more than 1,000 travelers to sleep overnight in Denver’s airport after hundreds of flights were canceled just as Thanksgiving travel moved into high gear.
The storm was heading to South Dakota, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Meanwhile, a “bomb cyclone” weather phenomenon began toppling trees, knocking out power and dumping snow as it barreled into California and Oregon—making for a double whammy of early wintry weather.
The National Weather Service in Northern California urged people to wait to travel for the holiday until the weather improves.
At Denver International Airport, about 10 inches of snow mixed with winds that limited visibility prompted the cancellation of about 30% of the airport’s average daily 1,600 flights.
The storm dumped nearly 3 feet of snow in parts of northern Colorado and closed long stretches of highways there and in Wyoming. One person was killed and two others were injured when a tractor-trailer jackknifed and was hit by two other trucks on Interstate 70 near the Colorado ski town of Vail.
The system moved east, allowing the Denver airport to begin returning to normal.
Southwest Airlines canceled about 200 flights. Spokesman Brad Hawkins said it would take “a couple of days” to get stranded passengers on other flights because there are few during the pre-Thanksgiving travel crush. That makes it hard for airlines to rebook passengers.
About 1,100 people spent the night at the airport, including many cadets from the Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs who either missed flights or wanted to get to the airport before road conditions deteriorated, airport spokeswoman Alex Renteria said.
Among them was cadet Sadie Luhman, whose trip to the airport took three hours—twice the normal driving time. She got to the airport at 1 a.m., 10 hours before her scheduled flight to Chicago for Thanksgiving.
“I just wanted to beat the storm. We kind of left in the middle of it so it kind of didn’t work, but we got here,” she told Denver news station KCNC-TV.
Airport workers handed out blankets, diapers, baby formula, toothbrushes and toothpaste to passengers who camped out on floors and in chairs.
Many government offices closed in the Denver area and Cheyenne, Wyoming, along with colleges and schools not already on holiday break. In Nebraska, several school districts canceled classes Wednesday, and the southwestern city of Sidney had received about 8 inches of snow.
It wasn’t a snow day for everybody. Carli Webber cleared snow off her car and braced herself for her commute to a call center near Denver’s Union Station.
“I am not like a lot of people and cannot work from home, so I have no choice but to go,” she said.
Blizzard and wintry weather warnings extended into the Great Lakes states with the storm expected to bring high winds and snow to Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin later Tuesday and a chance of snow over the weekend for parts of New England, said Alex Lamers, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
“That could be a coast-to-coast storm,” he said.
The storm is expected to dump snow on the airport in Minneapolis, where Delta Air Lines is the major carrier, but most is expected to fall overnight when few flights are scheduled.
Delta prepared by filling de-icing tanks, calling in extra flight dispatchers and operations employees, and having some of its 20 in-house meteorologists focus on the Minneapolis forecast.
“The timing is very helpful,” said Erik Snell, a Delta senior vice president who oversees operations. “It gives the airport time to clear the runways, although we’ll have to watch the residual snowfall in the morning.”
The storm system could mean disappointment for fans of the larger-than-life balloons flown at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.
Organizers were preparing for the possibility of grounding the iconic balloon characters because of 40-50 mph gusts in the forecast. Rules put in place after several people were injured by a balloon years ago require lower altitudes or full removal if sustained winds exceed 23 mph and gusts exceed 34 mph. The decision will be made on parade day.
The second storm developing in the Pacific Ocean was expected to slam the West Coast of the U.S. on Tuesday evening, bringing snow to the mountains of California and wind and rain along the coasts of California and Oregon.
The bomb cyclone—a rapid drop in air pressure—could bring waves of up to 35 feet, wind gusts of up to 75 mph and heavy snow in the mountains.
Snow shut down Interstate 80 north of Lake Tahoe and west of the Nevada-California line.
Angela Smith said the Oceanfront Lodge, a hotel she manages in Crescent City in far Northern California, lost power briefly during rain and strong winds. She said the hotel is ready to withstand heavy downpours.
“It’s blowing pretty good outside but because we’re right on the coast, everything was built to ensure the safety of people,” Smith said.
Forecasters warned of “difficult to impossible travel conditions” across much of northern Arizona later this week as that storm dumps about 2 feet of snow. The approaching storm accelerated the annual winter closure of the highway leading to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon by five days.
Either children are getting more mature or families are happier.
A recent survey of local 5-, 7- and 8-year-olds revealed that all of them are grateful for their families. This, of course, is the correct thing to say when a grown-up asks you what you are thankful for.
Despite our cynicism on this subject—it’s inherent to the profession—we believe that these children are genuinely thankful. But we were determined to dig deeper, so we asked respondents what else they were thankful for and what their plans were for Thanksgiving.
In Stacy Glowacki’s kindergarten class at Washington Elementary School, children drew pictures and wrote about their blessings.
Alexis was thankful for Mrs. Glowacki. She drew a picture of her teacher wearing a lime-green dress with a matching yellow face that sported Mrs. Glowacki’s trademark smile.
Blaine, on the other hand, is thankful for everything, and his drawing reflected that. It contained more than 15 things, including the sun, his friend Colton and pudding.
Miah’s picture featured Washington Elementary, Miah outside of the school and her dog, Mojo. Unfortunately, Miah’s family had to give Mojo away because their new house can’t have pets.
Regardless, Miah is still excited about Thanksgiving. When she talked about eating turkey, she got so worked up that she drummed her feet on the floor.
Annabelle expressed thanks for her cat, Oreo, and her dog, who “doesn’t have to be on a leash.” She’ll spend Thanksgiving at her Uncle Gene’s house, where everyone will get two pieces of cake.
Jonylah was so thankful for her family that she drew a picture of them: Mom, Dad, herself and her sister. She said she likes to help out with the meal, but usually her mom and dad make it. She also likes pumpkin pie.
Liam is thankful for houses. He drew a picture of his house, Mycah’s house, Maya’s house and Jonylah’s house. When asked why he liked houses, Liam launched into a discussion with Jonylah about house colors, sizes and locations.
So we’re still not sure what the deal is with Liam and houses.
Liam doesn’t care for pie. However, he does like turkey, which is made by “putting vegetables in it.”
Jax drew airplane racecars. When asked why he was thankful for them, Jax veered a bit off topic and explained what was going on in his picture and why some cars had their tires off. He confessed that he does not yet have his driver’s license, but he does have cars at his mom’s house for himself and his sister.
Gavin likes to cook with his grandmother, and his drawing showed the different foods he likes.
When asked how he helps his grandmother make pie, he said, “We have a recipe book, and then we find the blueberry pie page, and then we make it, and then there’s ingredients.”
Niles also helps with the Thanksgiving meal. In particular, he helps put the turkey in the oven.
“Last year, it was my first time, like, touching meat,” Niles recalled, calling the raw turkey “gross.”
We also stopped at Van Buren Elementary School to talk to second-graders about their Thanksgiving blessings.
That morning, they had learned about the Wampanoag Indians, who showed the Puritans how to cultivate corn. They were currently in the midst of making Indian corn necklaces.
These children couldn’t be shaken. They were most thankful for their families, period.
Nolan planned to spend the holiday playing with his cousins.
Sophie informed us that she planned to help with the mashed potatoes and “set up the table.”
Evan expressed gratitude for his high-school-age older brother, who is “mostly nice, but sometimes we fight.”
As for their teacher, Tiffany Redieske, she was grateful for her two girls and time spent with family.
“I know it might sound corny, but I’m thankful for all my kids in my classroom,” Redieske said. “I do love and care for them. We become like a family.”