Planning a Micro Wedding During COVID-19

Micro weddings are intimate events with no more than 50 attendees. The time-honored wedding traditions still take place, just on a smaller scale. With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting global celebrations, there’s another option for those still interested in socially-distanced weddings. Moreover, if you and your partner have joked about eloping but can’t wholly forgo all traditions, a micro wedding might be the perfect option!

Location: with a smaller guest list, your chances of scoring the more expensive venue or a unique photo-op with the wedding party will be higher. Some examples include libraries, rooftops, childhood park, cafes, galleries, restaurants, etc. Chances are, they will have their own furniture and sleek décor so that you can save on costs there as well.

Amenities: great food, music, and drinks are a must for any wedding. Since the guest list will be smaller than a typical (non-pandemic) wedding, you can splurge a little when it comes to these details. Now is the time to hire the coveted string quartet you’ve been eyeing or the chef you were considering but couldn’t afford for a large number of guests.

Suit up: it is a wedding, after all, and no matter how big or small, getting dressed up in special attire is definitely necessary. It doesn’t have to be a big poufy gown or a neon colored tuxedo, but the better you look, the better you feel. Plus, you will be able to reflect on the photos for years to come, so you might as well look as best as possible.

Strike a pose: ensuring your special day is well-documented is a no-brainer, but many brides on a budget choose to take the “selfie” route instead. With the smaller guest list, your budget will free up some funds, and those should go to a professional photographer and videographer. You don’t need to have all the bells and whistles of a 10-hour package and extra cameramen, but talk to your photographer about creating a custom package considering the circumstances.

Plan, plan, plan: big or small, weddings still require countless details to be checked off of your list, and the best person to do that is a wedding event planner. Linens, cakes, flowers, color schemes, and so many other details are easily overlooked without a professional to guide you through the process. Moreover, wedding coordinators have the best connections with people within the industry and will often pass along those service deals to their clients.

To read more ideas about micro weddings, read the full article from BRIDES. For all your wedding, bridal, and event-planning needs, contact the experts at Event Planning DC today.

Event Planning DC offers precise planning and captivating event design inspired by your unique vision, exclusive style, and the things that matter to you most. We provide comprehensive event planning of all types within the DC, MD, and VA area. Call us at 301-742-6322 or email michele@eventplanningdc.com to start planning your future…today.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Hackers Target Hundreds of Hospitals With Ransomware

According to security researchers, a hacking group is targeting U.S. hospital systems with Ryuk ransomware. Several federal agencies warned hospitals and cyber-researchers about “credible” information “of an increased and imminent cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers.” The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released an advisory outlining the situation and warned that the ransomware might be used “for financial gain.”

Ransomware is a computer virus that locks computers until payment is waged for a decryption key. It works by infecting a computer, encrypting all the files, and victims have to pay the hackers (usually in Bitcoin) to release the data; otherwise the files are deleted permanently. When doctors are conducting emergency surgery and seeing patients, these attacks can potentially cause real-world harm.

The cybersecurity company FireEye Inc. reported that multiple hospitals across the U.S. had been hit by a “coordinated” ransomware attack. The computer virus warning comes as the coronavirus pandemic surges across the country with increased cases and hospitalizations.

A financially-motivated cybercrime group (dubbed UNC1878 by security researchers) carried out the attack, according to FireEye’s Chief Technology Officer of Strategic Services, Charles Carmakal. Multiple hospitals have been hit over the past several weeks, and the cybercrime group intends to deploy ransomware to hundreds of other hospitals in the near future.

“We are experiencing the most significant cybersecurity threat we’ve ever seen in the United States. UNC1878, an Eastern European financially-motivated threat actor, is deliberately targeting and disrupting U.S. hospitals, forcing them to divert patients to other healthcare providers,” Carmakal said.

Hospitals are not the only victims of these virus attacks, however. Retirement communities and other medical centers have been targeted as well. UNC1878 surpasses computer security by sending phishing e-mails to victims. The messages appear to be featuring a real Google Docs file, when in actuality, they are links to a malicious payload. In some cases, these e-mails seem even more realistic as they contain the recipient’s name, employer, and even corporate logos.

For more information about the ransomware attacks, read the full article on TIME’s website. To protect your home or office from ransomware attacks, contact Creative Programs and Systems today. We specialize in managed IT for healthcare and can help thwart these attacks.

Founded in 1994, Creative Programs and Systems provides professional results for all computer needs. We design, create, and code an array of custom software programs and websites; implement internet marketing strategies for enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) results; repair and provide support for computers of both residential and professional nature; build custom systems and servers, and offer secure data backups. Need assistance or want to learn more? Call us at 810-224-5252 or e-mail info@cpsmi.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Government Grants Being Paid to MI Schools to Reduce Lead in Drinking Water

The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act was signed into law in 2016. Funding under this act included reducing lead in school drinking water across the nation. The EPA recently announced the first-ever selections under the WIIN Act’s reduction in Lead Exposure via Drinking Water. These monies will support needy communities and schools in the removal of lead from drinking water.

Two cities in Michigan will receive funds: Benton Harbor ($5.6 million) and Grand Rapids ($5.1 million) to replace lead service lines. Other states include Indiana, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, Virginia, and Massachusetts.

Various states have conducted a one-time transfer (from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund [CWSRF]) to other states (under the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund [DWSRF]) to cover costs related to remediating lead in the water supply. This is all accomplished under the Water Infrastructure Fund Transfer Act (WIFTA) and has totaled nearly $50 million to support efforts thus far.

The WIIN Act was founded in 2016 to identify, remediate, and maintain America’s drinking water infrastructure. Three drinking water acts are under the umbrella of the WIIN Act; these promote public health and protect the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made more than $69 million available to support the Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water grant programs. Moreover, an additional $42.8 million has been allocated to assist public water systems in underserved, small, and disadvantaged communities unable to meet the Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.

To read more about the grant, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. For the freshest, purest tasting water free from chemicals and other contaminants, contact the experts at Reynolds Water Conditioning today.

Reynolds Water Conditioning was established in 1931 and is Michigan’s oldest water conditioning treatment company. Still owned and operated by the Reynolds family, we take pride in providing the highest quality products at a cost-effective price. If your tap water lacks the quality you deserve, contact us today at www.reynoldswater.com or call 800-572-9575.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Computer Vision Syndrome Signs and Remedies

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to work from home or remotely. As a direct result, the use of computers, tablets, phones, and other electronic devices has risen dramatically. A condition called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) can be caused by excessive screen time. Also known as digital/computer eye strain, this phenomenon occurs when the eyes aim towards a screen for lengthy periods. Even without the pandemic, monitors, screens, smartphones, and the like can contribute to computer eye strain.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) suggests following the 20-20-20 rule: take a 20-second break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away. This strategy will help curb CVS symptoms, which include eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain. Factors contributing to CVS are poor lighting, screen glare, improper viewing distances, poor seated posture, uncorrected vision issues, or a combination of these.

A comprehensive ocular exam will diagnose CVS. Treatment options vary; glasses, for example, are a good option for those suffering from CVS. Some lenses now come equipped with unique technology that blocks out blue light, which is thought to be emitted from digital screens. Glasses might need to be prescribed to meet the unique digital demands of computer viewing for individuals who do not otherwise have them. Eye focusing or coordination issues cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. Vision therapy, a structured program of visual activities, is prescribed in those cases. The eye exercises train the eyes and brain to work together more effectively by strengthening rapid eye movement, focusing, eye teaming, and reinforcing the eye-brain connection.

Other factors, such as proper body positioning, come in to play when trying to correct CVS. Screens should be lower than eye level and be without glare (reduce lighting in the area to accomplish this or purchase an anti-glare screen.) Chairs should be comfortably padded, and feet are recommended to stay on the floor. Take frequent eye rest breaks (20-20-20 rule) and remember to blink frequently, which keeps the front surface of the eye moist.

To prevent CVS, ensure your glasses or contacts are the proper prescriptions. Minimize your exposure to blue light by purchasing blue-light blocking lenses. Adjust your work area for ultimate comfort, and take multiple breaks throughout the day. Anything that needs to be referenced from the computer screen should be placed as near as possible and at the same height.

For further information, read the original article by The AOA.

Rohr Eye & Laser Center offers the most advanced technology available to provide personalized and extraordinary care to our patients. Whether your goal is to maintain or improve your natural vision, we are here to help you. Call us at 877-579-0202 or visit https://www.michiganlasik.com/ to schedule an appointment today.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Pandemic Pool Remodeling Is All the Rage

The sharp decrease in travel to exotic places with beaches or pools has caused many Americans to look elsewhere instead: their back yards.

Searches for pool and spa professionals are up three times from what they were a year ago. Sheltering-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic have influenced the high demand for home improvements and remodeling.

More than three-quarters of all U.S. homeowners have done some sort of home improvement project during the pandemic, according to a report. A majority of those homeowners who responded said they plan on starting a new project in the upcoming 12 months. They attributed the motivation to an increase in spare time, adding value to their home, and making the house more comfortable. Pools increase property values and are clean, fun spaces for the family.

Even Wall Street investors are taking note of the soaring pool industry. Poolcorp, an international distributor of swimming pool supplies, parts, and outdoor living products hit an all-time high recently, and is up over 54 percent from last year. POOL stock is on its way to have its best year since 2003.

Pool remodeling projects are expected to climb during the fall and winter months, as these are typically the busier seasons; read one of our previous blog posts to find out why.

Are you looking to remodel or redesign your pool before next season? The time is now! Contact the professionals at Pound Pool Plastering to schedule an appointment today. To read more about the pool remodeling sensation sweeping the nation, read the original article by CNBC.

Pound Pool Plastering offers free estimates and complete pool renovations. Dale Pound, owner, personally oversees each pool project to ensure the highest quality is delivered. We offer Diamond Brite, Sunstone, Hydrazzo, Marcite, Pebble finishes, Bead Crete, tile choices, coping stones, etc. We are pool renovation experts – contact us today at 248-476-4544 or poundpool@sbcglobal.net.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Four Things to Ascertain About Your Retiree Insurance Coverage

If you have Medicare and a group health plan (retiree coverage from a former employer), Medicare will generally pay your healthcare bills first, and your group health plan coverage pays second. Below are some questions you can ask yourself to help navigate your retiree insurance coverage versus Medicare coverage.

  1. Following your retirement, will your employer coverage continue? When you have retiree coverage from an employer or union, they generally control it. Employers are not required to provide retiree coverage; they can modify benefits, premiums, or cancel coverage.
  2. Do you know the cost and specific coverage? Employers or unions might offer retiree coverage for you and/or your spouse but under certain limits and restrictions. It might only provide “stop loss” coverage, which begins paying your out-of-pocket costs once they reach a certain amount.
  3. When you are eligible for Medicare, what happens to your retiree coverage? If you were eligible for Medicare but didn’t sign up for it during any period of time, retiree coverage might not pay your medical costs. When you become eligible for Medicare, it is imperative that you enroll in both Part A and Part B to get full benefits from your retiree coverage.
  4. How does your retiree coverage work with Medicare? Obtain a copy of your plan’s benefit booklet and check out the summary plan description. Your employer or union usually provides this. You can also call your employer’s benefits administrator if unable to locate this information in the booklet.

If your former employer goes bankrupt or closes the business, Federal COBRA rules might protect you if any other company within the same corporate organization continues to offer a group health plan to its employees. That specific plan is required to provide you with COBRA continuation coverage. If COBRA continuation coverage is unavailable to you, purchasing a Medigap policy is possible, even if you are no longer in your Medigap open enrollment period. 

Your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) can advise whether to purchase a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy. Your retiree coverage is probably similar to coverage under Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) since Medicare pays first after you retire. Retiree coverage isn’t the same thing as a Medigap policy, however, they both usually offer benefits that fill in some of Medicare’s gaps in coverage (coinsurance and deductibles.)  Sometimes retiree coverage provides extra benefits such as coverage for additional hospitalizations.

For more information regarding Medicare or retiree coverage, contact the experts at Senior Health Medicare today. We strive to provide answers with quality customer service, satisfaction, and care.

Senior Health Medicare is a superior resource for Medicare guidance, information, and ongoing client support. Selecting a Medicare plan is not a decision to take carelessly. It requires annual revisiting and re-evaluating in order for the client to stay in the most cost-effective coverage. Senior Health Medicare is here to serve as your resource through all the years to come. Contact us today at 888-404-5049 or visit us on the web at www.seniorhealthmedicare.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Five Essential Business-To-Business Marketing Strategies

Business-to-business (B2B) marketing strategies are generally accomplished using direct and outbound techniques, but there are other ways to reach clients. The goal is to have the audience respond and engage with your services based on your compelling and persuasive efforts. B2B has expanded, and the behavior of professional service buyers has shifted. In our technology age, buyers are now much more likely to do a quick Google search than check personal references.

  • Research: The foundation of modern marketing efforts, these detailed studies will help you make more informed decisions. You will discover an objective basis for your marketing and gain valuable baselines to measure results. Knowing your client’s better – results in better service. Moreover, you will gain insight into how your processes are performing. Studies show the impact of research improves client base by triple- to tenfold, and are almost two times more profitable than companies that don’t pursue research.
  • High-performance website: Today’s technology space has placed websites at the forefront of marketing experience, making it a crucial asset. Successful websites are hubs of a firm’s online presence; an information-rich projection of its expertise. Essential in building visibility, websites enable you to demonstrate your businesses’ knowledge and become well-known in the industry. Eighty percent of people browse a website when checking out service providers. Overall design is also crucial, as it can influence your audience’s perceptions, aid recall, and intuitively differentiate a business. Lastly, ensure your website has a responsive design, which allows it to adapt across a range of devices such as computer screens, smartphones, and tablets.
  • Advertising: Industry publications, websites, social media, Search Engine Optimization/Marketing, and retargeting strategies all play a significant role in increasing downloads, expertise, and visibility. Certain social media platforms have a higher rate of success in B2B arenas. It’s imperative to select the best advertising type based on budgets, ad purposes, targeting, and industry niches.
  • Marketing: Different types of marketing including referrals, automation, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and e-mail campaigns are all critical to B2B success. Be sure to choose the proper marketing automation tool for your business by ensuring the size, complexity, and prospective scalability is an appropriate fit for your needs. CRM tracks and organizes client information along with potential opportunities. It serves as a database for information collected which can then be stored and assessed by employees across the company.  
  • Analytics: Results need to be weighed and measured to be effectively understood. Site traffic, SEO results, and detailed social media analytics all work together to help you fully comprehend what strategies are working and which ones need improvement.

To learn more about B2B strategies for credit unions and other associations, contact the experts at Omega benefit strategies today. We can provide you with the tools you need to connect with your senior members.

Omega Benefit Strategies provides senior members an educational resource for Medicare. Our turnkey marketing package seamlessly integrates with existing market strategies. We can help businesses increase new member acquisitions, bolster retention, cross-sell opportunities via our “scorecard” system, and even earn an ancillary revenue stream. Accommodating any size membership, we maintain exemplary member service and offer top-notch products. Contact us today by going to www.omegabenefitstrategies.com or call 888-404-5049.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Michiganders Unite on Common Mission to Safely Reopen Our State

All Michiganders share the same goal: we all want to safely reopen Michigan.

No matter how we have been individually affected by COVID-19, we all want to get Michigan back to work, our economy fully reopened, and the joys of life the virus took from us returned.

To safely reopen and stay open, Michiganders must unite on a common mission to contain the virus – by taking three simple actions to reduce the spread and protect each other from getting sick or worse.

“There is hope to be found everywhere, and there is an end in sight if we all unite and work together to safely open businesses and keep them going, we can resume doing the things we all love here in Michigan.” said Mary Price of J&P Electrical Company LLC.

“Spread Hope, Not COVID”

At the request of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, J&P Electrical Company LLC is supporting a new statewide public education campaign called “Spread Hope, Not COVID.” The goal of the campaign is to unite all Michiganders to take three simple actions that will contain the spread of the virus at levels that will enable the state to fully reopen — and stay open. Michiganders must:

  1. Wear a mask or face covering over your mouth and nose to reduce the spread.
    1. While masks alone may not always prevent the spread of the disease, scientists, doctors and health experts agree that cloth masks and face coverings can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by about 70%.
    1. Masks do not have to be worn all the time. Michiganders are required to wear a face covering whenever you are in indoor public spaces and crowded outdoor spaces where you may be in close contact with people outside of your household, or people you do know but have not been with or near recently.
  2. Practice physical distancing by staying at least 6 feet from people outside of your household.
    1. COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact.
    1. A mild illness for one person, could be life-threatening for someone else.
  3. Wash and sanitize your hands frequently.
    1. Don’t touch your face, nose, mouth and eyes with unwashed hands.
    1. This routine practice also prevents the spread of many other viruses and illnesses.

In addition, testing and contract tracing continue to be vitally important towards reopening Michigan. To get tested, call the COVID Hotline at 888-535-6136 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, or visit Michigan.gov/CoronavirusTest, to find testing locations near you and schedule an appointment. If you test positive, help prevent further spread by participating in case investigations and contact tracing with local or state health officials.

J&P Electrical Company LLC’s representative said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused undeniable economic and personal suffering for millions of Michiganders.

“Our gathering places, communities, schools, places of worship, places of business, and our homes: everywhere and everyone in Michigan has been touched by the impact of the virus,” Price said.

“If all Michiganders unite, we can fully reopen our state and stay open,” Price said. “The last thing any of us want is to reopen our state only to have it close again from another wave of infections and deaths. Reopening before it is safe puts our health care system and economy once at risk – a risk we cannot afford.”

The “Spread Hope, Not COVID” campaign is aimed at communicating with all Michigan residents through TV, radio, outdoor, digital, social, earned media, and direct communications. The campaign also includes content customized for specific audiences of Michiganders. The campaign’s content is based on extensive research with 2,047 Michigan residents. The campaign is made possible by funding approved by Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress.

Brain Tumor Visibility Doubled with New MRI Technique

When compared to existing visualization methods, a new 3D technique with MRI scans doubles the visibility of brain tumors. Since a large number of tumors are discernable, the new process has the potential to make it easier to treat them earlier and at smaller, more manageable stages.

Robert Edelman, M.D., is an inventor, lead author, and clinical professor of radiology. His work was shared in the Science Advances journal. He said, “Our goal is for the new technique – T1RESS – to help thousands of patients by allowing malignant tumors to be detected at an earlier, more curable stage.”

According to the American Brain Tumor Association, 700,000 Americans are living with brain tumors and 16,000 will die this year. The new MRI technique can catch the tiny malignant tumors that often escape notice, potentially saving lives and improving outcomes. 

The hope is that those patients undergoing surgery or radiotherapy will receive better clinical outcomes by making the tumor margins on contrast-enhanced scans more visible.

Edelman and his colleagues studied brain tumors in 54 patients to determine how well T1RESS works. He applied magnetic fields and radio waves used to generate MRI signals differently from existing imaging techniques. The new technique uniquely manipulates brain tissue signals to produce images that offer significantly improved tumor visibility. This application makes T1RESS highly sensitive to the T1 shortening effects of paramagnetic contrast agents, but it also reduces the signal intensity of non-enhancing background issues, both improve tumor visualization.

Experimental results showed that the new technique provided a two-fold improvement over existing MRI methods in regards to the contrast between tumors and normal brain tissue. Edelman compared the visualization to seeing more stars: “There just isn’t enough contrast between the stars and the sunlit sky to make them visible. In the case of brain tumors, T1RESS doubles the contrast between tumors and normal brain, so the tumors are more easily detected. It’s like looking at the stars on a dark night instead of a sunny day,” Edelman said. 

A larger, multi-site trial will need to be performed in order to confirm the findings, but the plan is to apply this technique to both prostate and breast cancers as well. If the benefits are confirmed, widespread use will be as simple as the installation of a specialized software package.

Visit the Science Advances website to read the full journal article. For more information about CT Scanners, Linear Accelerators, and the like, contact Acceletronics today.
 

Acceletronics is an industry leader in delivering the best equipment performance and service reliability from CT Scanners and Linear Accelerators across all major brands and models. Call 610-524-3300 or visit our website: https://www.acceletronics.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Tips for Navigating Medicare Open Enrollment

Open enrollment for Medicare runs now through December 7th, with changes taking effect on January 1st, 2021. If no action is taken, 2020 coverage continues next year. However, now is the time to verify whether there’s a more cost-effective option to suit your circumstances. The annual fall enrollment period is for adding or changing coverage related to an Advantage Plan (Medicare Part C) and prescription drugs (Part D), meaning you can switch, add, or drop those parts.

About 62.7 million people are enrolled in Medicare; most are 65 or older. A third of beneficiaries are enrolled in Advantage Plans, and the remainder are enrolled in Part A (in-patient coverage) and Part B (outpatient care) plans. Part D, a standalone/supplemental plan, is also offered by private insurance companies.

By September 30th, Advantage Plans or prescription drug plans should alert beneficiaries about whether their coverage is changing for the upcoming year. Specific options vary significantly from year-to-year despite being federally regulated. Check your notice to see whether any changes will be taking place. Prescription coverage, deductible costs, and in-network doctors are some examples of adjustments that could change.

If you wanted to drop your Advantage Plan instead of switching to another, you’d be left with original Medicare (Parts A and B) and would need to get a standalone Part D prescription drug plan if you wanted that coverage. Medigap (supplemental Medicare policies) help cover cost-sharing aspects of original Medicare, which is Part A and Part B outpatient coverage, including copays and insurance.

When initially enrolling for Plan B to purchase Medigap, beneficiaries receive a six-month window without having to answer health questions and be penalized for pre-existing conditions. One exception is that if the beneficiary had an Advantage Plan for less than a year or it is their initial enrollment. In that case, a unique enrollment window of 12 months is allotted for a Medigap policy.  

For further reading, check out the original article. For Medicare questions or concerns, contact the experts at Senior Health Medicare who are available to guide you through the process of open enrollment.

Senior Health Medicare is a superior resource for Medicare guidance, information, and ongoing client support. Selecting a Medicare plan is not a flippant decision. It requires annual revisiting and re-evaluating in order for the client to stay in the most cost-effective coverage. Senior Health Medicare is here to serve as your resource through all the years to come. Contact us today at 888-404-5049 or visit us on the web at www.seniorhealthmedicare.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.