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Mental health adapts during the pandemic | News, Sports, Jobs



YOUNGSTOWN — Amid continuing concerns spurred by the spread of COVID-19, most people are electing to stay at home and self-isolate — and behavioral health care, like many other services, has had to adapt.

In response to the virus, state and federal governments have lifted restrictions that made teletherapy, or therapy by phone, difficult for counselors to perform and bill. Now, people are getting the care they need by phone or video chat.

“The response to teletherapy has been really incredible,” said Joseph Caruso, president and CEO of COMPASS Family and Community Services. “I believe people have been feeling really comfortable.”

Caruso said COMPASS contracts through Google Meets to provide video counseling that is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant. Within the last week, the organization has also been able to provide counseling services over the phone.

“Yes, this is something that is new, but I believe in these critical times, it is even more important to have this tool available,” Caruso said.

He said though behavioral health is an essential service and COMPASS can keep its doors open, walk-in traffic in the waiting room makes recommended social distancing difficult and can lead to more anxiety for clients.


Neil Kennedy Recovery Center in Youngstown has switched its intensive outpatient sessions to teletherapy, said Executive Director Carolyn Givens.

Givens said a 12-person group usually meets in person with a therapist, but because of COVID-19 concerns, the group has been meeting over video chat.

“That’s been going well,” Givens said. She said some groups have been smaller than normal, but have still had an attendance of about eight people.

The recovery center’s detox program, located on the sixth floor of St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, is still operating in person, as is the inpatient center. The program has not been changed much despite COVID-19, Givens said.

Joe Shorokey, CEO of Alta Care Group, said his staff has adapted to using teletherapy in the last week — as have the families Alta Care services.

“The staff was surprised by how welcoming and appreciative the families are,” Shorokey said.

Alta is an outpatient community behavioral health provider focused on behavioral health services for ages 1 to 24.

Shorokey said providing counseling over the phone or online has allowed counselors during sessions to share links, resources and documents in realtime.

He said the non-profit has been fortunate so far that most families have been willing to make the change, which has proved an adjustment for everyone.

“I think it’s a slight decrease in terms of the amount of people that we’re seeing. The more significant decrease is in the time we’re spending with them. What would have been an hour face-to-face is often turning into a half-hour or 45 minutes,” Shorokey said. “Maybe it may always be that way, or maybe it will be a learning curve for our family and staff.”


Jody Klase, director of Valley Counseling, said “loosened” state rules for providing remote therapy have been “very key” to helping the organization maintain clients.

“We actually have experienced an increase in clients,” Klase said. “There are so many barriers that prevent people from coming into the office. This way, it’s easier for them to stay connected.”

She said she’s hoping teletherapy will become a permanent option after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

Teletherapy also extends past what behavioral health organizations are offering, according to Duane Piccirilli, executive director for the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board.

“It isn’t just the official telehealth people are receiving. I think a lot of the peers are reaching out, a lot of the smaller agencies are reaching out, and support groups are reaching out by telephone and online,” Piccirilli said. “Everyone is really finding a new way to reach out and provide support.”

Piccirilli said as the community comes together through telehealth, even friends and neighbors can do their part to assure that everyone in the community has the support they need.

“I think what’s really important is that people need to be reaching out to their neighbors. Telehealth can be much more than what we do as mental health agencies,” Piccirilli said. “This is a much bigger issue than any agency can handle.”

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Indonesia’s Pandemic Response: A Law to Create Millions of Jobs | Voice of America




TAIPEI, TAIWAN – A landmark law passed this month in Indonesia will open the populous, impoverished country to labor-intensive industry like many of its Southeast Asian neighbors despite a hit to worker rights, people on the ground say. 

The 905-page Omnibus Bill on Job Creation bill will give millions of young people chances to work, including in formal jobs that can be hard to find because older Indonesian laws discouraged foreign investors from setting up factories, analysts believe. 

Indonesians are struggling to earn income during an unrelenting COVID-19 outbreak that prompted shutdowns from April. The nation with nearly 400,000 infections reported a sharp drop in retail sales from April through August and a fall in exports over the three months ending in September.   

“With this new law, it is expected that the investment would come not only to the Indonesian economy, but also come to the labor-intensive part, and by getting more investment in that area it is expected that more jobs will be created, and those jobs are more of the quality jobs, not only informal jobs,” said Yose Rizal Damuri, economics department head with the Center for Strategic and International Studies research organization in Jakarta.   

Indonesia’s government and House of Representatives passed the bill ahead of schedule on October 5, the Jakarta Post reported. The bill aims to cut bureaucracy and make it easier for investors to create jobs, said Richard Borsuk, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies adjunct senior fellow in Singapore.

Protest against the government’s proposed labor reforms in Sukabumi, West Java, Oct. 7, 2020.

President Joko Widodo’s government sees this bill as part of his “legacy” to stimulate the 270 million-person country’s economy, Rizal said. Minerals, oil and farming make up much of Indonesia’s $1 trillion-plus GDP today. “Labor-intensive” industry players find Indonesia too expensive now, Rizal said, explaining why that sub-sector makes up just 2% of the country’s total investment. 

Foreign manufacturers of garments, shoes and textiles normally pick other low-cost Southeast Asian countries, such as Vietnam, over the past decade because of stiff pro-labor laws, economists say. Foreign investment eventually raises the living standards, as witnessed in China and eventually Vietnam

“It’s probably something that will be a long-term benefit, if this does go through,” said Rajiv Biswas, senior regional economist with IHS Markit, a London-based analysis firm. 

“It creates a better environment for foreign multinationals to hire, because from the perspective of foreign multinationals, it’s very restrictive labor laws there,” Biswas said. “They’re worried about hiring because it’s very hard to reduce the workforce later on.”   

Foreign investors will consider the law a “step in the right” direction for making Indonesia friendlier, forecast Song Seng Wun, an economist in the private banking unit of Malaysian bank CIMB.

“This Omnibus Bill is part of something that Jokowi [was] looking to see how they can help sort of improve the investment landscape to make it a little bit more attractive in Indonesia, just to make sure Indonesia doesn’t get pushed down the investible list of countries,” Song said, using the Indonesian president’s nickname. 

But the law sparked staunch opposition. Some governors have asked Widodo to revoke the law and other people protested in the streets over three days, sometimes violently, Borsuk’s study says. 

The law effectively eliminates the power of labor unions, said Paramita Supamijoto, an international relations lecturer at Bina Nusantara University in greater Jakarta. 

The October bill would roll back legal support for fair wages, safe working conditions and excessive overtime, U.S.-headquartered human rights advocacy group Amnesty International said in a statement in August. It called the bill’s preparation process “opaque.”   

Severance pay for laid-off workers will also slip, Damuri said. 

For workers, the law means that “whatever you do, your life will be determined by your employers,” Supamijoto said.

But the law could stoke enough investment to stop people from migrating overseas in search of work, she said. “Under our current president’s administration, they prefer to invite the investors rather than sending workers abroad, so it’s better to invite you to come here to spend money, to invest your money, then to help us to build the infrastructure,” she said. 

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Cindy Knier | News, Sports, Jobs




Cindy Knier (nee McCarty) slipped off to be with Jesus on Oct. 24, 2020, at 58 years of age. As much as she loved staying home with her family in Muncy, she was ready to be with the Lord and to rest in His everlasting peace after bravely battling that insidious beast, cancer.

She will be lovingly remembered and missed by her husband of 39 years, Rodney Knier; children: Michael (Jenny) and Katie Artley (Jade); grandson Samuel Artley; siblings Geri Schnure (Ed), Jeannie Bontomase (Dale), Melinda McCarty, Joyce McCarty, Lisa McCarty, John McCarty (Lourie), and last but not least, Jacque McCarty; and a vast number of cousins, nieces and nephews.

The favorite daughter of Lewis and Lola McCarty of Muncy, Cindy was a hometown girl who served as the editor of the local newspaper, The Luminary. Recent students of Muncy High School had the delight of knowing her as their school librarian. Cindy loved taking pictures (even when it got on her friends’ nerves), listening to and singing along with the oldies, sipping Lipton tea and spending time with family and friends. She was a fiercely devoted mother and a proud new grandmother. She hated the sound of chewing, so please chew quietly to honor her memory.

Cindy was famous for her beautiful laughter. Forevermore, heaven will ring with its glorious sound and earth will be the poorer.

A celebration of Cindy’s life is being planned for a later date. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a charitable donation to The Son Light House of Muncy or Camp Victory.

Rod Knier

ministrare quam ministrari

to serve rather than to be served

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Amazon to hire 100,000 for new seasonal jobs




(NEXSTAR) — Amazon announced Tuesday that it’s creating an additional 100,000 seasonal jobs.

Last month, the retail giant said it was hiring 100,000 full- and part-time workers across the U.S. and Canada.

The company said the newest crop of positions will allow people to earn money during the holiday season, and many of the job locations will include bonus holiday incentives.

“With more than 12 million Americans out of work according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics these new seasonal roles in several locations across the US and Canada will complement its regular full- and part-time positions,” Amazon said in a statement. “Amazon offers jobs for people of all backgrounds and skill levels, and these 100,000 new, seasonal jobs offer opportunities for pay incentives, benefits, and a path to a longer-term career, or can simply provide extra income and flexibility during the holiday season.”

The retail giant also said it has promoted more than 35,000 employees in 2020, and 30,000 workers have participated in its Career Choice program, which is designed to help “upskill” people seeking a future in a “high-demand field” by offering courses in 20 career paths.

The company said half of the program’s participants are from underrepresented minority groups.

“Career Choice is one way we help people think big about their careers, and we offer training across a wide variety of skills needed for high-demand fields,” Darcie Henry, VP of Global HR for Amazon Operations, said in a statement.

The company said the jobs could lead to a more long-term opportunity.

“A job with Amazon can be the start of a future, long-term career inside or outside of the company,” the retailer said.

Anyone interested in applying for the positions can visit

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