Meet Julie Zeh, RN BSN

Julie Zeh, RN BSN training Good Neighbor direct support staff on medication aid.

Julie Zeh, RN BSN training Good Neighbor direct support staff on medication aid.

Julie Zeh, RN BSN joins the Good Neighbor team as Clinical Nurse Manager.

From training staff, to caring directly for individuals, to monitoring medical care, Julie never stops.

When she’s home, she’s raising two boys (8 and 5 years old) along with her husband, Justin.

She’s really into fitness, eating healthy, urban farming (potatoes and green peppers mostly), and takes ballet lessons.

Julie is also actively involved in her community. (You may have seen her earlier this year on CBS.)

With a BS in psychology in 2001 and her BSN in 2009, both from Virginia Commonwealth University, Julie has worked as a hospital floor nurse at MCV and Saint Mary’s, in pediatric home health, and as a traveling health coach nurse.

Given all this, it makes one wonder if Julie Zeh is a real-life Diana Prince.

There honestly couldn’t be a person more perfect for this position and we’re excited to have her on our team.

5 technologies transforming group homes

Technology can help us better connect with one another, and often can save someone’s life.

Here are 5 technologies we've come across that improve communication in a group home, and can ultimately help create a safer environment as well as one that fosters human connection.

1. Electronic, cordless floor mat

Designed to help reduce falls, the mat is pressure sensitive and alerts staff when an individual steps out of bed. It’s cordless, which means it doesn’t use any kind of intrusive alarm. Instead it lets staff outside know to check if an individual needs assistance.

2. iPad facilitated communication

This technology is inspiring as it often gives a voice to individuals who might not otherwise be able to communicate. Watch this video from Apple to see how it helped Dillan who has autism.

3. Vibrating smoke alarm

This particular smoke alarm, SafeAwake, vibrates when it senses smoke, alerting individuals who may not be able to hear other alarms. Individuals are trained in how to respond to it, in addition to fire drills twice a month.

4. Light-up, wireless doorbell


Allows individuals who are deaf to communicate using a doorbell that lights up when pressed. For example, it can light up a common area when the front doorbell rings or be useful in a shared bathroom.

5. Touch screen EMR

An EMR (electronic medical record) helps keep track of any and all important data and stores it on a secure server. With a touch screen interface, it's intuitive and easy to use, allowing staff to update information throughout the day. It also allows staff to know whenever there may be a possible problem so that they can quickly make informed decisions to solve any issues.

All of these improve human connection, reduce the number of incidents, and help keep individuals and staff safer and healthier. And these are just a few. As technology continues to exponentially grow, there will no doubt be many more to come.

If you think of any other interesting advancements that we didn't mention, let us know below.

Crisis intervention

In 1988, the first Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) formed in Memphis, TN in the wake of a tragedy: a police officer fatally shot a man with a history of mental illness.

Across the country, CIT programs today bring together local law enforcement, first responders, mental health providers, and advocates to increase safety for everyone involved in a behavioral health crisis.

These teams also collaborate to redirect individuals with mental illnesses and other mental health needs from the criminal justice system to the health care system when appropriate.

Through intense 40-hour trainings, law enforcement officers and first responders receive the tools and resources they need to recognize and de-escalate a crisis situation.

Additionally, assessment sites are created that aren’t jails or other criminal justice settings. These sites serve as a place for individuals in crisis to receive treatment and access to health care services.

Left to right: Crystal Lipford, Garnett Bradberry, Ivan Alzuro, and Heath Pond

Left to right: Crystal Lipford, Garnett Bradberry, Ivan Alzuro, and Heath Pond

There are currently 32 assessment sites across the Commonwealth and 9,842 individuals have completed the 40-hour training. According to the DBHDS, 117 of Virginia’s 133 localities have active CIT programs.

When 10 percent of all police encounters in the US involve individuals with severe mental illnesses, these CIT programs are a crucial step in reducing inappropriate incarcerations and keeping officers and individuals safe.

This is why we are grateful for the recent opportunity to participate in a CIT training video for local law enforcement. Crystal Lipford, Garnett Bradberry, and Heath Pond of Good Neighbor Homes assisted Ivan Alzuro, producer at Richmond Corporate Video, earlier this month in creating the video as part of their 40-hour training curriculum.

We appreciate the CIT officers in our area and will continue to advocate for CIT programs across the state.



Holiday decorating contest

The week before Christmas, we went out to judge the holiday decorating chops of the individuals and staff in our homes. Each of the five regions (including the Northern Virginia, Petersburg, and Richmond areas) selected a house and teamed up to decorate.

Perhaps the hardest part was picking a winner. Each house was unique and lit up the block. The creativity and dedication shone brightly with each bulb and inflatable Santa Claus. But brighter still were the smiles on the individuals’ faces.

Thanks to all of our staff and individuals for their hard work decorating the houses! We’re looking forward to next year!

New home in Arlington

On November 1st, a Good Neighbor home in Arlington, Virginia opened up (pictured above). This is our fourth home in the Northern Virginia area and it came after 35 days of hard work and many trips back and forth from Richmond.

We sat down with Heath Pond, Administrative Residential Director at Good Neighbor, to discuss what it was like to open a home so quickly and what made it all worth it in the end.

We also discussed the “before and after”, as much of the house was gutted and remodeled to be a perfect fit for the individuals who now call it home.

Watch Heath talk about the new home in the video below: