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October 2015

Dear Members,

CHILD ABUSE CE CREDITS Funeral Directors that are renewing their license are required to complete 2 CE's in Child Abuse Reporting and Recognition. If Renewing Funeral Directors take a Child Abuse Course that provides more than the required 2 CE's, they can use any additional credits towards the overall required 6 CE's needed to renew their license.

PENNSYLVANIA ELECTRONIC DEATH REGISTRATION SYSTEM(EDRS) Due to the ongoing budget constraints, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) is modifying the schedule for implementing the Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS). PA DOH will begin contacting funeral directors, coroners, and health care facilities in Dauphin County with instructions on how to download the training modules and sign up for webinars. They anticipate that webinars will begin on/about October 21 and will run through November 2015. If budget constraints continue after November, then they will move to complete EDRS roll out in Cumberland County. EDRS is an exciting new tool that will improve so many aspects of how deaths are registered in the Commonwealth and report timely and accurate mortality data to PA DOH partners at the State and Federal levels. PA DOH is available to answer any of your questions. Please e-mail them at RA-DHDeathSupport@pa.gov. For continued updates, you can also visit the EDRS website: http://www.health.pa.gov/MyRecords/Certificates/DeathCertificates/Pages/EDRS-Training-Info.aspx#.VfMWZZjD-Uk

FUNERAL SERVICE INTERN SIGNATURES ON DEATH CERTIFICATES The Division of Vital Records does not accept the signature of a funeral service intern as an authorized funeral service licensee. If an intern signs a Death Certificate, Vital Records will require a replacement Certificate signed by a licensed funeral director. Anyone with questions can email Vital Records at

PIMS HOLDS 151sth COMMENCEMENT EXERCISE Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science (PIMS) held its One Hundred Fifty-first Commencement exercise on Friday, September 11, 2015 at the Calvary Episcopal Church. The commencement address was delivered by Mr. Patrick J. Konieczny who delivered an inspirational address entitled "Reflections." Mr. Konieczny, a PIMS alumnus, is current president of the Allegheny County Funeral Directors Association. Ten percent of the graduates received the MU SIGMA ALPHA AWARD which is the honorary society established by the National Association of Colleges of Mortuary Science and gives recognition to those students who have displayed outstanding merit in scholarship and who have conducted themselves as good citizens of the schools they attended. The recipients of the Mu Sigma Alpha Award were: Nicole Clow, Jesse McElroy, Judith McComas, Brigitte Morgan and Angela Rogers.

EMAIL SCAM FUNERAL DIRECTORS BEWARE A member funeral home received several emails from the email address mattpatino002@gmail.com requesting information on Keepsake Pendants. The individual placed an order for 3 pendants, provided a credit card for payment and asked that the order be processed as soon as possible. The funeral home attempted to run two different credit cards provided by the purchaser and both cards declined.

CONTINUING EDUCATION WRAP-UP SESSIONS PFDA will be hosting three wrap-up sessions offering 4 CE's in December. Also, there will be two separate Child Abuse continuing education seminars in December offering 2 CE's. Please see the enclosed flyer for details and locations.

HOW DO FAMILIES FEEL ABOUT FUNERALS? Recently funeralOne conducted a survey to better understand how much value families place on funeral services. Shockingly only half of those surveyed felt funerals are important and part of tradition, but the rest of those surveyed felt funerals weren't necessary and "a rip off." Funeral professionals can start putting the value back into funerals by truly understanding what families are looking for in a funeral. Based on the survey results, here are some tips on what families want out of a funeral service: A. Everyone that attends the funeral needs to feel connected to the memories and stories shared during the service. One way this can be done, is by asking friends and families to share their stories with everyone in attendance; B. Funerals need to be less dark and gloomy. Funerals need to focus on celebrating and honoring the person's life rather than just on the passing of the individual, allowing people to feel emotionally fulfilled; and C. Families are looking for ways to share stories and support each other right away. Your funeral home website and social media are two sources that can be used to make this happen. By letting people share memories, pictures, videos, etc. of their friend or family members on your website, people from all over, who might not be able to attend the services, can share in the experience of remembering their loved one.
Source: CDFuneralNews September 15, 2015

SERVPA–STATE EMERGENCY REGISTRY OF VOLUNTEERS IN PENNSYLVANIA This month marked the 14th anniversary of September 11. That day of tragedy taught us so much, including the importance of volunteers and the vital service they provide during times of emergency. Here in Pennsylvania, we have a great way to come together and volunteer: SERVPA (the State Emergency Registry of Volunteers.) Individuals of all backgrounds, professions, and levels of expertise can help their community during future emergencies by signing up ahead of time as a volunteer through SERVPA. There aren't any training, educational, or professional requirements, and volunteers are not obligated to participate when they have competing priorities. Coordinated through the Pennsylvania Department of Health, SERVPA is a statewide, secure database of pre-credentialed health care professionals and others who are interested in volunteering their services in the event of a disaster or public health emergency. For more information, terms of service, and online registration, visit https://www.serv.pa.gov.

TELEPHONE CUSTOMER SERVICE TIPS FOR FUNERAL HOMES As the owner/operator of your funeral home, when is the last time you called and asked for yourself? If this is something you haven't done, you should. According to Nancy Friedman, customer service expert, calling and asking for yourself allows you to see how your employees or answering service are treating customers. Here are some tips that all funeral directors should be following when they answer the phone: Always use the callers' name throughout the conversation; Words like "maybe", "possibly", and "think" are weak words. Instead use words like "yes", "definitely", and "know". Smiling is critical on the phone because it sets the tone of the conversation. Don't use one word answers, speak in full sentences. Replace "I" with we, people want to hear about themselves not you. Don't use the same words like "OK" or "good" over and over again and always get the callers' details like a phone number, email address, address, etc., even if they think the person they are calling for has all the information.
Source: Funeral Service Insider March 30, 2015

TOP 10 FUNERAL RULE COMPLIANCE ISSUES Based on a recent NFDA FTC Funeral Rule Teleconference, T. Scott Gilligan, NFDA General Counsel put together 10 tips to help Funeral Directors stay compliant with the Funeral Rule. The 10 Tips are: Combine price lists; Use care with package pricings; Be careful where funeral arrangements are made; Point out the GPL in funeral home packets; Avoid laminating the GPL; Update price lists; Shopping Myth #1 - A funeral home within 100 miles of a FTC office is more likely to be shopped then those further away; and Shopping Myth # 2 - A funeral home under new ownership is more likely to be shopped.
Source: KFDA, June 2015

FUNERAL DIRECTORS AND HOSPICE CAREGIVERS Both funeral directors and hospice caregivers have a common goal of serving their families every day with a high level of quality and integrity. With almost 50 percent of deaths in America taking place under hospice care and hospice caregivers spending almost 70 days with each patient/family in their homes or place of residence, great relationships and bonds are formed. There are many conversations about death and dying, along with patients expressing their wishes and desires. The caregiver is now the voice of the family, and in many cases, contacting funeral homes on the family's behalf. Due to the relationship Hospice caregivers have with their patient's families, they can help identify for Funeral Directors clients that may need their services. A strong relationship between the Hospice Caregivers and Funeral Directors will only help you better meet clients' needs and grow your business.
Source: The Director February 2015

POSITIVE WORDS FUNERAL DIRECTORS SHOULD USE FOR SUCCESS The words you use are very powerful and influence every situation you are in. When you speak with positive and powerful words, your actions and attitude start to reflect your words. When speaking with families, you should eliminate words like I can't, if, I don't have time, and it's impossible. These words should be replaced with I can, I will, I will make the time, and I do believe. You build a positive connection and commitment to your families when you use these positive words.

HOW TO BETTER ENGAGE YOUR FUNERAL HOME STAFF It's important for funeral homes to have engaging team members and a good working environment in order to better serve your clients. There are some fundamental standards that should be followed so that your expectations and your staffs' expectations can be met. Have specific, measurable, achievable, and relevant standards for your staff to follow; Continually train new and long-term staff members on the standards; You can measure whether your expectations are being met through clients surveys and sales achievements; Meet with each staff member on a regular basis to discuss how they are doing and to also address any of their concerns; and reward those who have meet or exceeded the standard requirements by creating a bonus program or giving them some type of monetary recognition. By engaging your staff, you are providing them with the tools and skills they need to succeed.
Source: The Bulletin January/February 2015


Losing a Spouse The death of a spouse can be earth shattering, often leaving the survivor feeling incomplete and alone. A person may feel like they've lost their identity after losing a spouse, and the world can suddenly seem to be a chaotic and insurmountable place. While men and women process their grief differently, both widows and widowers experience similar feelings of fear, anxiety and anger after losing their spouse. Grieving has no definite timeline. Some may grieve for months, others for years. In all cases, expressing inner feelings and thoughts is critical. It has been proven that mortality rates are higher in people who did not express their grief. In a society where social norms discourage men from sharing their feelings, the rate of men who die within one year of their spouse is higher than women. Redefining an identity is imperative in the healing process and can be achieved through support groups, clubs, social outings and other activities. In any case, it is important that everyone grieves in their own way and in ways that make them feel comfortable and safe.
The Tender Scar: Life After the Death of a Spouse by Richard L. Mabry (available on Amazon.com) may help your clients as they grieve the death of a spouse.
Source: http://www.griefjourney.com/wp/what-we-offer/for-the-grieving-person/articles-for-the-grieving-person/loss-of-a-spouse

FEDERATED RISK MANAGEMENT FOR YOUR DRIVERS WEBINARS Federated Insurance is sponsoring two different webinars that will address driver selection, distracted driving, and resources available for training for anyone insured by Federated. Each presentation will be 30 minutes with an additional 15 minutes for questions. There is no cost for insured members to attend either webinar. For those insured members in Eastern and Central PA, the webinar dates and times are as follows: Wednesday, October 7 at 9am or Thursday, October 15 at 10:30am. You should contact your Federated Consultant to sign up. The webinar dates and times for insured members in Western PA are October 8 at 9am or October 23 at 9am, and you should contact your Federated Consultant to sign up.

In Memoriam

Serena J. Stevens, Altoona, died on August 29, 2015. She was the Aftercare Coordinator for The Stevens Mortuary, Inc and Stevens Family Funeral Homes. She is survived by her her husband, Joseph J. Stevens, her son, Joseph J. Stevens III, and nephews Dave Mason and Matthew J. McConville, all licensed funeral directors working in the family business.

Richard H. Piatt, Washington, died on September 1, 2015, in Kindred Hospital, Oakdale. He was the prior owner/operator of Piatt and Barnhill Funeral Directors Inc. Washington. He is survived by his son Charles R. Piatt, a licensed funeral director working in the family business.

David B. Shaffer, Houtzdale, died on September 19, 2015, in UPMC Altoona. He was a licensed funeral director at the Jon C. Russin Funeral Home, Inc., Bellwood. David is survived by his cousin, Jon "Jack" Russin, Supervisor/Funeral Director at Jon C. Russin Funeral Home Inc., Bellwood.

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