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Meet Michelle Hruska, NE LAP Counselor

Michelle recently completed her first six months as the LAP Counselor in September 2010.  She is a Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner and a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Arts in Human Services degree from the College of St. Mary in Omaha and her Master of Counseling degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Michelle has 10 years of experience in the substance abuse field working with children, adolescents and adults in dual-diagnosis treatment settings ranging from outpatient to residential treatment centers.  She has provided alcohol/drug assessments and alcohol and drug counseling for individuals, families and groups.

According to Michelle, coming to the NE LAP has been a change from her previous position. “I’m used to being the counselor working with clients in long-term treatment to provide the necessary information to establish and maintain a healthy recovery.  In addition, I worked with many families involved in the juvenile justice system that were mandated to attend treatment.  All too often, the last place my clients wanted to be was sitting in the chair across from me.  I tried to make it the best possible experience it could be for them by listening to what they were thinking, how they were feeling and how I could best help them at this time.  I can apply this same approach to working with professionals in the NE LAP.”

“My experience thus far is that many of the professionals feel a great deal of shame for decisions they have made.  They have worked hard in their chosen profession and cannot understand or accept what they have done.  For many, I feel this is a starting point.  When they attend the alcohol/drug assessment, it gives them an opportunity to tell their story.  My hope is that they are able to move away from the guilt, shame and possible denial and gain some understanding and hope for the future.”

“I recently had the pleasure of running into a previous client who was an adolescent when I worked with him.  He thanked me for all the work I did with him and for putting up with him on his bad days.  I reminded him he did all the work, I just supported him when I could and challenged him when he needed it.  I believe I am here to help support the professionals in the NE LAP program and challenge them when they need it so they can move on just as he did.  The greatest feeling I experience as a counselor is when someone says ‘I get it’ and moves forward in their recovery and on with a healthy life.”

“I feel fortunate to have this opportunity to work with the NE LAP.  I feel the program is a stepping stone for professionals that are seeking a better life for themselves and their families through an increased understanding of their addiction and their recovery.”

If you are a licensed health service professional wanting more information about alcohol/drug abuse or addiction treatment or would like to schedule an educational presentation on alcohol/drug addiction and the health service professional, contact the NE LAP at (800) 851-2336 or (402) 354-8055 or visit our Web site at .

Nebraska LAP September 2010 Newsletter

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Husker Harvest Days 2010 ‘a success’

This year we had another great opportunity to promote COPD awareness and education at Husker Harvest Days, held Sept. 14-16 in Grand Island.  We hosted the DRIVE4COPD campaign in our attempt to contribute towards the AARC’s goal of 500,000 screened in 2010.  We completed 250 screeners and had that many and more opportunities to educate people about lung disease and the role that respiratory therapists have in the diagnosis and treatment of lung diseases.
The NSRC would like to thank the many volunteers who took time out of their busy schedules to make this event a success: Sheri Trindle, Monica Eder, Rachel Stubbs, Stacy Cabela, Sofronia Jackson, Bill Bonner, Megan Mescher, Stacie Hoeman, Paula Hunke-Davis and Jenny Bush. We’d also like to thank Chris Hamilton for encouraging her respiratory students to participate in community education events: Christin Nott, Alicia Peters and Megan Wiseman.

Kathy Geier-Craft
NSRC Public Relations Chair

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PACT 2010 meetings seek support for bills

The Nebraska Society for Respiratory Care representatives at the PACT Meetings on Capitol Hill this year were Darcy O’Brien-Genrich, Omaha, Linda Nelson, Imperial, and Nancy Nathenson, Lincoln.

Their goal was to garner co-sponsorship of S 342 and HR1077 from our state senators Ben Nelson and Mike Johanns and our Congressmen Adrien Smith, Jeff Fortenberry and Lee Terry. Passage of these bills would provide access to respiratory therapy services for the Medicare pulmonary patient outside of the hospital setting in such sites covered under Medicare Part B including rural health clinics, physician offices, skilled nursing facilities, hospices and outpatient departments.

They also requested support for legislation that would authorize the Chronic Disease Division at CDC to establish a permanent COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) program.

The AARC placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in a solemn ceremony attended by AARC members from across the nation.

With Senator Johanns.
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AARC, Joint Commission Issue Warning on Deceptive Promotion

June 14, 2010

The AARC and the Joint Commission (TJC) are warning health care providers to beware of a promotion from a company that makes antibacterial nasal cannulas. Specifically, Ford Health International, located in Humble, TX, has been communicating information to providers suggesting that TJC has standards mandating these devices.

AARC was also implicated as supportive of these devices in the promotion. We have issued a letter demanding that the company cease and desist this claim.

According to a notice in the June 9 edition of Joint Commission Online, TJC has no such standards, nor does it have any relationship with or knowledge of the company trying to sell the products. Neither does the AARC have a relationship with this company.

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A nurse’s personal story of recovery

We all have our own story to tell and this is mine.  I admit that I had to look at my past mistakes in order to learn from them and to ensure I did not make the same ones again.  I have moved on with my life.

As a healthcare professional, I know that the substance “alcohol” is a depressant, but it was not for me, or so I thought in the beginning.  Alcohol made me feel happy, confident and relaxed.  It was my “magic.”  However, unknowingly to me, after a period of time, “it” stopped working.  I wanted to return to that magic feeling again.  Instead, I became more and more depressed.

On the outside, I always tried to portray a happy appearance while on the inside I was miserable.  I was no longer living but existing.  Truly, I wished I would not wake up in the morning.  My life, even my job, revolved around my alcohol.  I was preoccupied with when I could have my next drink.  I was secretly hiding my drinking from my family and friends.  My drinking consumed my life and I could see no way out!

My drinking had taken over my life.  I was depressed and in despair.  I could not even cry.  I asked myself, “Who am I?”  In hindsight, I believe the worst part of my life and the best part of my life occurred at the same time.  At my lowest point, I felt I was discovered when I became involved with the Nebraska Licensee Assistance Program (LAP).  I initially believed the LAP was punitive, my punishment.  However, in reality, it was my “savior” and my best advocate in my time of need.  The LAP “saved my life and my career!”

Today I continue in my 12-Step recovery activities.  I have found it to be a “fantastic” way of life.  I am alive and so happy.  I found out I do not need substances and medications to get through my days.  I wake up each morning smiling and looking forward to starting a new day.  I am the happiest I have been my entire life.  I have contentment and joy inside.  This is the way “I” now choose to live my life.  I am happy and I have hope.

I try each day to do something kind for someone else to make their day and life better.  I have discovered that an addiction does not have to be a dead end.  We can choose our own destiny and I have chosen to be “free and sober.”  I was in a “black hole” with a bottle of alcohol and with the assistance of my 12-Step recovery program and the LAP, I was able to climb out of that hole and bury the bottle.

I believe acceptance of your addiction is the first step to getting into recovery along with being totally honest with yourself.  I wanted recovery for myself because I discovered I was worth it.  Today, I am engaged in living a happy and healthy life.  As a result of my sobriety, I choose my actions and feelings each and every day “One Day At A Time.”

If you have further questions about the Nebraska Licensee Assistance Program, or feel that you may benefit from the alcohol/drug assistance services of the NE LAP, please contact the NE LAP Coordinator, Judi Leibrock, at (800) 851-2336 or (402) 354-8055.  You may also go to our web site

Published in the Nebraska LAP newsletter, March 2010

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