Illinois Drivers License

On May 17, 2016, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced a significant change in the issuance of new driver’s licenses and renewals of existing licenses and State ID cards. The changes are being made to better identify and prevent fraud and identity theft and to meet the requirements of REAL ID mandated by the Department of Homeland Security.

If a driver goes to a Driver’s License Examining Facility to obtain a new driver’s license/State ID or to renew an existing license, he will no longer receive his permanent driver’s license/State ID at the end of the application process. Instead, he will be given a temporary secure paper driver’s license/State ID. This paper document is valid for 45 days. The old driver’s license/State ID card will be given back to the applicant with a hole punched in the driver’s license/State ID.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has stated that it will accept the paper document along with the old driver’s license/State ID to board an airplane until the individual receives his new driver’s license card/State ID.

The information for the new driver’s licenses/State IDs will be sent to a central location in Illinois. Fraud checks will be conducted to ensure the applicant’s identity. Then a higher quality, more secure driver’s license/State ID will be printed and mailed to the applicant’s address within 15 business days.

The transition to central issuance will take place in phases. Beginning May 17, 2016, Safe Driver Renewal applicants will receive by mail their new driver’s licenses with the upgraded security features. Beginning in late June 2016, Driver’s License Examining Stations throughout the state will implement a gradual rollout of the new central issuance with the new card design. All driver service facilities will have transitioned to central issuance by the end of July 2016.

For more information, go to

-By Karen Centowski


Cash Cow

Since the Illinois Secretary of State stopped sending vehicle license plate sticker renewal reminders in October of 2015, many motorists missed the deadline for renewing their vehicle license plate stickers. has reported that Illinois motorists paid $1.7 million in late vehicle registration fines for the month of March, 2016. The total Illinois late vehicle registration fines paid in 2016 are up to $6.5 million.

By comparison, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office collected $2.2 million in late vehicle renewal fees during the first three months of 2015. Over 247,000 motorists in Illinois received fines for late vehicle registration renewal in the first three months of 2016, compared with 111,000 motorists in January, February, and March of 2015.

The Illinois Secretary of State’s office had stopped sending reminder notices to save $450,000 a month during the budget stalemate in Springfield. However, the result has proved very unpopular with Illinois motorists who see this as a cash cow, something which makes a lot of money for the State of Illinois at the expense of the residents. Illinois legislators have responded to the cries of their constituents by introducing a bill to provide relief.

On April 12, 2016, the Illinois House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 4334, which prohibits the Secretary of State from charging fees to vehicle owners who renew their vehicle registration late due to the Secretary of State’s suspension of mailed renewal notices. In addition, the bill provides that a vehicle owner who receives a ticket for expired vehicle license plates within one month of the expiration date does not have to pay the fine if the plates expired during the period in which the Secretary of State had suspended mailed vehicle registration reminder notices.
House Bill 4334 is now before the Illinois Senate. The bill would take effect upon becoming law. However, it is not retroactive to October of 2015 when the Illinois Secretary of State stopped sending vehicle registration reminder notices.

Meanwhile, set up some system to remind yourself of the time to renew your vehicle sticker. Select a date a month or two in advance of the renewal deadline. Then write this on your calendar, enter it into your Smartphone, put a sticky note on your refrigerator, or tie a string around your finger. Do something to avoid this trap!

—By Karen Centowski

Easy Home Made Refried Beans Done in a Crock Pot

Refried Beans in Crock Pot

Main Ingredients:

  1. Dry (bagged) Pinto Beans
    Note: Rinse beans and soak in hot water for about 20 minutes.

Other Ingredients:

Put the following in the crockpot:

  1. About 1 —1½tbsp olive oil
  2. Diced onions
  3. Mince Garlic
  4. Cilantro


  1. Put the beans in the crockpot with all the other ingredients, add water until it’s about an inch above the beans.
  2. Cook on low for about 6-8 hours.
  3. Once they are done, drain most of the water, then smoosh the beans using a potato smasher.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to your preference.

Note: If you don’t have a crockpot, you can purchase a can of Pinto Beans, while warming it on the stove (with the liquid it comes in), you can still add the olive oil, onion, garlic and cilantro. Once it’s warm,  smoosh the beans.


Penny Saved

How can you stretch your money? How can you get more for your dollars? Here’s a bright idea. Save electricity by changing from incandescent light bulbs to LED bulbs.

The incandescent light bulb was invented by Thomas Alva Edison in 1879 in Menlo Park, New Jersey. Edison, a prolific inventor, also invented the motion picture camera and the phonograph. He held 1,093 U.S. patents in his name.

Incandescent light bulbs have been the standard light bulbs in our homes for years. They were cheap and reliable. Com Ed even distributed free light bulbs to customers. The typical life of an incandescent bulb was 1,200 hours. The free bulbs were available in 40 watt, 60 watt, and 75 watt sizes. Maybe you remember picking up a bunch of them at a drugstore.

Then in 2007 the federal government passed a law to phase out the use of incandescent light bulbs for general lighting purposes in favor of more energy efficient lighting alternatives. The law was to take effect in 2014. Two types of bulbs were approved, Compact Fluorescents (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Some consumers tried to understand the pros and cons of the two alternatives. Others revolted and hoarded boxes of incandescent bulbs.

The Compact Fluorescents (CFLs) had some appeal to the consumers. They had an average life span of 8,000 hours compared to the 1,200 hours for the incandescent light bulbs. The annual operating cost for thirty bulbs was $76.65 compared to $328.59 for the incandescent bulbs. However, the cost per bulb was high, often $1.50 or more per bulb. The “squiggly” appearance was a problem. The bulb took time to heat up. By 2016, some stores such as ACE Hardware discontinued carrying CFL bulbs in their stores.

By comparison, the Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) had an average life span of 50,000 hours. Some last twenty years or more. The annual operating cost for thirty bulbs was $32.85 compared to the $328.59 for the incandescent light bulbs. The LED bulbs come in a variety of shapes including A-line, decorative candle, flame, flood light, spot light, globe, and linear. The bulbs do not require time to heat up before producing light.

The cost of the bulbs is still high compared to the incandescent bulbs. For example, a box of four Phillips 60 Watt Equivalent Soft White A19 LED Light Bulbs is $9.97 online at Home Depot. A box of four Phillips 60 Watt Equivalent Daylight A19 LED Light Bulbs is $10.97 at Home Depot. Home Depot will ship your order to your home for free if the order is $45.00 or more.

The new LED light bulbs are available at Home Depot, WalMart, Target, Lowe’s, Sam’s Club, ACE, and many other stores. Watch the sale flyers for special deals.

—By Karen Centowski

In Illinois… A health care “surrogate” may be chosen for you if…

End of Life

A health care “surrogate” may be chosen for you if you cannot make health-care decisions for yourself and do not have an advance directive.

  • True
  • False

Under Illinois law, a health care “surrogate” may be chosen for you if you cannot make health-care decisions for yourself and do not have an advance directive.

Documentation Made Easy


The Basics

Right Chart: Check that you have the correct chart before writing.

Penmanship: All your documentation is to be legible so anyone can read it. If you have poor penmanship, begin to print. Your printing will make it easier to read your notes. Now that your nursing notes are legible, let’s talk about the basics. Use permanent black ink pen. Other colors do not copy well.

Date and Time: Date and time every entry. The date should include the year; the time should indicate am or pm or be in military time. Don’t chart in blocks of time such as 0700 to 1500. This makes it hard to determine when specific events occurred.

Client’s history (including unhealthy conditions or risky heath habits such as scalp lice, smoking, failure to take prescribed medication, specific non-compliance issues and events, etc.) A client’s history is usually reflective of trends and may offer valuable hints about what to expect in the future.

Subjective Information: It is important that you chart any subjective information. Document what you hear, what the client says, what the caregivers say, comments to you about how they feel, feelings of anxiety or depression, etc. Use direct quotes and place quotation marks around the quote. Chart a client’s refusal to allow a treatment or take a medication. Be sure to report this to your immediate supervisor and the client’s physician and document your calls.

Objective Information: Chart your observations, what do you see, vital signs, hard data such as any and all assessment information. It is especially important to document changes in health status such as the emergence of a productive cough, difficulty in breathing or changes in vital signs from their baseline. Did you address: mental status, functional status, mobility, cognitive ability, speech? Oftentimes when you are in the home every day you forget that the people reading your notes do not know the client so you need to show them on paper.

Interventions: Document any actions that you did in response to any of your observations and the client’s response to your actions. These responses to your interventions are commonly called client outcomes. Chart the time you gave a medication, the route you gave it and the client’s response. If a medication is a PRN, chart the reason it was given and the client’s response to the medication (did it give the desired effect). Chart precautions, preventive measures used as well as any safety measures enacted, such as bed rails.

Client outcomes: Chart the client’s response to your interventions, including those that are deviations from what you expected. For example: if a client is in pain, observe and document how that pain is experienced both objectively (what you see) and subjectively (what you hear). Record where the pain is and the level of intensity or severity (use a pain scale to do that). Record the medication and the backrub you give to relieve the pain and whether or not those actions were effective, i.e., did the pain persist, recur, or go away?

Document the client, family member or significant other’s actual response (verbal or non-verbal) to any aspect of care provided even if you were not the one providing it. Doing so indicates that you have evaluated the results of care. It is perfectly acceptable to chart the client’s verbal responses in the record as long as you use quotation (“) marks. Non-verbal responses should be described in as much detail as possible.

Make sure your documentation reflects the nursing process and your professional capabilities. Chart completely, concisely and accurately (“Tell it like it is.”). Write clear sentences that get right to the point. Use simple, precise words. Don’t be afraid to use the word “I.”

Be sure to record your full name, credentials and job title in the required section on documentation forms. Some forms will ask you to record your initials as well. Your signature must be in cursive writing so a word of final caution: do take the time to sign your name legibly.

Beyond The Basics

Client Education and Instruction: Other information that needs to be recorded in the medical record includes any education or instructions you give to the client, his family or significant other. Anytime there is a new medication or treatment the client, family member and other personnel must be educated and informed. Documentation of these actions is required. Include the fact that you informed the client/caregiver of the new order; chart the education of dosage, actions, side effects and schedule; chart that you made changes on the medication administration record or task sheets (if applicable); chart how you were able to communicate the new orders to other nursing personnel responsible for the client’s care, document your communications regarding the new orders to the office.

Check Off Sheets: In some instances a preprinted, standardized check off form may be used where all you have to do is check off or initial what you have done. The only time you may have to write any notes is when something is specific or unique to this particular client, something that can’t be included on a standardized check off form. Remember: if you do not check off items, it means that legally the care was not done.

Phone Calls: We don’t often think about phone calls, but they can contain certain information for which we have obligations such as advice that we may give to a client or a phone order that we may take from a doctor. To protect yourself in these kinds of phone conversations, a detailed summary of your conversations is charted in the client record.

Details of each call should include:

  1.  Date and time of the call
  2. Caller’s name, position or credentials, call back phone number and address
  3. Reason for the call, request, complaint
  4. Your response to the call, advice you gave, protocol you followed (if applicable)
  5. Others that you notified as a result of the call
  6. Your name and credentials
  7. If taking doctor’s orders, transcription of the orders word for word and documentation that you read the orders back for verification.

More Do’s to Make Charting Successful

  • Chart as soon as possible after giving care; don’t wait to chart until the end of your work day. Chart often enough to tell the whole story.
  • If you remember an important point after you’ve completed your documentation, chart the information with a notation that it’s a “late entry.” Include the date and time of the late entry.
  • Chart all of the details relating to visits by physicians or other members of the health care team such as the teacher, therapist, case worker, dietician, social worker, etc. Describe the purpose of the visit, the name of the visitor, the time spent with the client and the outcome of the visit.
  • If you don’t give a medication, circle the time and document the reason for the omission.
  • If information on a form such as a flow sheet doesn’t apply to your client, write NA (not applicable) in the space provided.
  • Use only commonly used or approved abbreviations and symbols. Refer to the procedure manual for a list of approved abbreviations. When in doubt spell out the words. Remember many medications have similar names but very different actions.
  • When documentation continues from one page to the next, sign the bottom of the first page. At the top of the next page, write the date, time and “continued from previous page.” Make sure each page contains the client’s identifying information, date and year.
  • Re-read your documentation. You need to paint a picture of the client. Pretend you know nothing about the client. Then read your notes and see if your notes are capable of making you see the client as he/she really is.

-By Janet Fulfs, President

Note: First published on American Home Health's news, October 2011.

Three Bean Salad


Thee Bean Salad


  • 1 can green string beans
  • 1 can yellow wax beans
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • ½ cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped (½ cup)


  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ⅔ cup cider vinegar
  • ⅓ cup salad oil


Pour dark red kidney beans into a large bowl.  Rinse with cold water.  Drain water off of kidney beans.  Drain green string beans and yellow wax beans.  Dump into bowl.  Add celery, onion, and green pepper.

Make dressing by combining remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  Pour over vegetables.  Toss well.  Chill at least 30 minutes or, better, overnight.

—by Karen Centowski