November 2021 Newsletter: Director’s Corner
I am proud to announce that on September 16, 2021, the board of directors approved a Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Accessibility (DIEA) Statement for LIFTT. Although DIEA has always been a priority of our team members and consumers, the events of 2020 inspired LIFTT to revisit these themes and remember why we exist. This statement symbolizes a renewal of LIFTT’s commitment to advance DIEA in its service area, among its team members and consumers, according to its mission and vision.
LIFTT provides independent living services in 18 counties located in the Southeast part of Montana. Its highly diverse and equitable team is prepared to meet and relate to the diversity of the population of the service area, allowing them to have equal access to the possibilities and opportunities of the 21st century.
Based on its new DIEA Statement, LIFTT is seeking new ways to engage and enhance the DIEA experience of its team members and consumers. LIFTT wants to create more equity and create equal opportunity in Southeast Montana around gender, generation, nationality and ethnicity, LGBTQ+, and not only disabilities.
For the time being, I will be both LIFTT’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO). Please take time to review LIFTT’s DIEA statement and do not hesitate to contact me directly if you have any comments and suggestions related to LIFTT’s DIEA Statement .
I wish our consumers, partners, and team members happy holidays.
LIFTT Executive Director
November 2021 Newsletter: LIFTT praises Billings Clinic for response to hearing impaired patients
The outbreak of the Coronavirus has dramatically affected peoples’ lives and relationships. Along with countless tragedies, there have been many stories on unexpected positive aspects. The story below is just one example of the positive experiences fostered by Covid-19.
Imagine being unable to communicate painful symptoms and crippling fears while you are in the throes of Covid-19 infection. That happened to Carlos Ramalho, 60, a robust and energetic executive director of the Billings nonprofit organization Living Independently for Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT), which serves Montanans living with disabilities in eighteen counties in the southeastern portion of the state.
Carlos lost his hearing and became deaf in 2006. Even though he uses hearing aids, Carlos relies on lip-reading and facial expressions to communicate. He is fluent in lip-reading and is so skilled at communicating with people that many are shocked to learn of his deafness.
In November 2020, what Carlos thought was just a cold exploded into a full-blown respiratory attack that showed symptoms of Covid-19. He reluctantly followed his doctor’s order to get to the Billings Clinic emergency department ASAP.
To his dismay, per hospital safety precautions regarding potential Covid-19 cases, the ED staff were unable to remove their masks to communicate with Carlos. “It was impossible to describe what I was going through, he said. “It was frightening and frustrating. “Carlos added the inability to communicate was far worse than coping with Covid -19.
Eventually, one of the nurses pulled out a pen and pad and wrote out her triage questions, allowing Carlos to fully describe his symptoms. Carlos tested positive, and he spent two weeks recuperating at home. He said recovery was eased thanks to the online care via the What’s App platform from Dr. Pedro M Quintana Diez, an epidemiologist he met while living in Europe.
In 2021, now fully vaccinated, Carlos was in the Emergency Department again seeking treatment for a different health issue. To his surprise, after he disclosed his deafness at check-in, all ED staff members were wearing full clear protective shields, allowing him to effortlessly communicate with hospital staff.
“I was so happy I could see their faces, read their lips, and understand what they were saying,” he said, “The shields eliminated the barrier that was preventing us from communicating and helped me focus on receiving the health care I needed, instead of grappling with the frustration I felt for being deaf.”
It’s wonderful to know that Carlos is doing well,” said Brad Von Bergen, Billings Clinic Emergency Department Manager.
“The Emergency Department is an incredible learning environment and communication is critical. We have had to learn new ways to do this because of this pandemic to ensure our patients continue to get the care they need. Carlos’ experience provided the opportunity to gain experience how we could continue to improve communication for all of our patients.”
April 2021 Newsletter: Director’s Corner
At LIFTT, we tell consumers that when we deal with difficult moments, it is important to keep fighting and remembering that any challenge can be overcome if we do not give up!
It feels good to defeat challenges such as sickness, distress, sadness, and disabilities, by moving forward. We have seen it happen at LIFTT. I have personally faced many challenges. including illness, distress, sadness, and disabilities.
However, I persevered, moved forward, and did not allow my disabilities to prevent me from living, getting up in the morning to go to work, drive, and communicate.
All of us at LIFTT understand the importance of perseverance.
Recently, I was infected with COVID-19 and suffered complications from the virus.
It was a difficult recovery. My life was at risk because of underlying health issues. However, after a few weeks, I recovered, returned to work, and succeeded in preventing COVID-19 from breaking me.
What helped my recovery was remembering what we tell LIFTT’s consumers:” If we fall, we have to get back up, keep walking, and moving forward, one step at a time.” This is how we successfully reach our destination. LIFTT is here to get back up and keep walking with anyone who is dealing with any types of disabilities.
Our compassionate team of highly qualified specialists, facilitators, and peers will share with you their experiences, and inspire you to overcome challenges, sickness, distress, sadness, and disabilities.
Give us a chance to help you find a new direction for your future.
Carlos Ramalho, Executive Director
April 2021 LIFTT Connection Newsletter Now AvailableLIFTT-Connection-04.2021
In this Issue:
- LIFTT partners with SPIRIT Club to offer FREE online health and wellness classes
- Team Member Profile: Larry Ketchem, I & R specialist
- Director’s Corner
- Home Modifications for Independent Living
- Keep up with the Montana Legislature with MTCIL Action Alerts
You can request that we mail you a paper copy by sending your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org