Health

Almost $64,000 will be raised to help finish the fight against Breast Cancer

NORTH CONWAY — About 339 area residents from New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts came together on Oct. 18, at Whitaker Woods Home Site in North Conway Village for the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, and to raise almost $64,000 to help finish the fight.

“This Mount Washington Valley volunteer driven event is a moving example of passion in action,” said Pamela Ritchie, American Cancer Society community manager. “An amazing volunteer planning committee created a wonderful experience in a very short time. Many participants expressed the desire to help the event grow in future years. Our Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk unites the community together with a shared determination to help finish the fight. Making Strides participants can be proud that their fundraising efforts are helping to save more lives from breast cancer. Dollars they raise enable the American Cancer Society to invest in ground breaking research including right here at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire provide free, comprehensive information and support to people affected by the disease; and help people take steps to reduce their breast cancer risk or find it early when it’s most treatable.”

While significant progress in the fight against breast cancer has been made, more needs to be done. Excluding cancers of the skin, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women and is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women. According to the American Cancer Society Cancer Facts and Figures 2015, an estimated 231,840 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,290 will die from the disease this year.

It’s not too late to make a donation to the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in North Conway. Visit makingstrideswalk.org/northconwaynh to help the Society continue saving lives. For free breast cancer information and resources, visit the American Cancer Society’s website at cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345 anytime, day or night.

Medicare Open Enrollment: Five things you need to do

Routines help keep people focused, organized and even healthy. However, if your health routine doesn’t include preparing for Medicare’s Open Enrollment, now’s the time to kick start a new healthy habit.

If you have a Medicare health or prescription drug plan, Open Enrollment runs Oct. 15 through Dec. 7 and is the time you can make changes to your plan. Even if you’re happy with your current coverage, you might find something that’s a better fit for your budget or your health needs. If you miss an Open Enrollment deadline, you’ll most likely have to wait a full year before you can make changes to your plan.

Here are five important things every Medicare beneficiary can do to get in the Medicare Open Enrollment routine:

1. Review your plan notice. Be sure to read any notices from your Medicare plan about changes for next year, especially your “Annual Notice of Change” letter. Look at your plan’s information to make sure your drugs are still covered and your doctors are still in network.

2. Think about what matters most to you. Medicare health and drug plans change each year and so can your health needs. Do you need a new primary care doctor? Does your network include the specialist you want for an upcoming surgery? Is your new medication covered by your current plan? Does another plan offer the same value at a lower cost? Take stock of your health status and determine if you need to make a change.

3. Find out if you qualify for help paying for your Medicare. Learn about programs in your state to help with the costs of Medicare premiums, your Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductibles, coinsurance and copayments and Medicare prescription drug coverage costs. You can do this by visiting Medicare.gov or making an appointment with a local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselor.

4. Shop for plans that meet your needs and fit your budget. Starting in October, you can use Medicare’s plan finder tool at Medicare.gov/find-a-plan to see what other plans are offered in your area. A new plan may:

a. Cost less

b. Cover your drugs

c. Let you go to the providers you want, like your doctor or pharmacy

If you find that your current coverage still meets your needs, then you’re done. Remember, during Medicare Open Enrollment, you can decide to stay in Original Medicare or join a Medicare Advantage Plan. If you’re already in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch back to Original Medicare.

5. Check your plan’s star rating before you enroll. The Medicare Plan Finder has been updated with the 2016 Star Ratings for Medicare health and prescription drug plans. Plans are given an overall quality rating on a 1 to 5 star scale, with 1 star representing poor performance and 5 stars representing excellent performance. Use the Star Ratings to compare the quality of health and drug plans being offered.

These are a few easy ways to get a jump start on your Medicare Open Enrollment. For more information you can, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), and say “Agent.” TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048. Help is available 24 hours a day, including weekends. If you need help in a language other than English or Spanish, let the customer service representative know the language. You can also visit a local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselor! SHIP counselors provide free, one-on-one, non-biased Medicare assistance. Get free personalized health insurance counseling by calling your SHIP. To get the phone number, visit Medicare.gov/contacts, or call 1-800-MEDICARE.

Focus groups and survey help the Morrison plan for the future

WHITEFIELD — Every five years, The Morrison conducts a “Community Benefits” survey to help ensure, as a nonprofit organization, that it continues to provide a benefit to the community. This process also helps the Board of Trustees and staff to create a strategic plan that will serve as a blueprint for the future. Experience has shown that involving the community has made a positive contribution to The Morrison’s development and planning processes.

“The community’s input is so important,” says The Morrison’s Chief Executive Officer Roxie Severance. “We want to know what community members think. Are we meeting community needs? Where do we excel? Where could we improve? What kinds of
services would you like to see in the future? The Morrison has spent more than 100 years providing quality health care for community members. We want to know if we’re on track for the next hundred.”

Community members are invited to take part in the planning process in two ways. The first is to fill out the Community Benefits survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/communityneedssurvey2015. A printed version is also available. Pick one up at The Morrison, at local libraries, or by calling (603) 837-2541 to receive one in the mail. The survey takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.

The second way in which to be involved is to participate in one of three focus groups that will be held in Lancaster and Whitefield in late October and early November. To sign up for one of the focus groups, please contact Administrative Assistant Shannon Lynch at (603) 837-2541.

Oct. 28, 2 p.m., Weeks Memorial Library conference room, 128 Main Street, Lancaster.

Nov. 2, 2 p.m. at The Morrison, 6 Terrace Street, Whitefield.

Nov. 4, 5:30 p.m. at The Morrison, 6 Terrace Street, Whitefield.

Anyone needing additional information may contact Shannon Lynch at (603) 837-2541.

The Morrison is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that has been providing quality health care to residents of the North Country since 1903. The Morrison provides skilled nursing, rehabilitation, respite care, long-term care and assisted living services to 80+ residents. To learn more, call (603) 837-2541 or click on www.morrisonnh.org.

Screening of 'The Anonymous People' followed by discussion, Oct. 15

Please join North County Serenity Center and its host The Colonial Theater and sponsor Hope for N.H. Recovery for a screening of the documentary: The Anonymous People with a panel discussion to follow immediately after the screening. On Oct. 15, at 6:30 p.m. at The Colonial Theater 2050 Main St. (Route 302), Bethlehem. There is a requested donation of $10 per person. All proceeds will support the mission of the North Country Serenity Centers efforts.

Breast and Cervical Cancer screening program offered at Memorial Hospital

NORTH CONWAY — Even though October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Memorial Hospital wants to remind women that their breast health is important every month of the year. Ashlee Chaine, who serves as the hospital’s Breast Health Patient Navigator, is hoping to get that message out — especially to women who are 50 and older who have never had a screening mammogram.

The Breast Health Patient Navigator Program was originally funded through a Susan G. Komen Foundation grant. It purpose was to improve women’s access to breast health services. The Komen grant established the program and now Memorial has committed to sustain it, but they are always seeking ways to increase services and resources for patients through new grants, and donations from community members.

“Since we received the grant, we had doubled the number of women who accessed the various free or low cost screening services that are available,” Chaine said. “Most women are unaware of the funding that is available for resources to pay for services. We help them select the appropriate programs, arrange the necessary screenings, and continue to support those who have a positive diagnosis,” she said.

Chaine helps identify resources for women who need a mammogram. “There are multiple options available to assist local women with their mammography needs,” she said. “Through the Affordable Care Act, women’s preventive health care services such as mammograms and screenings for cervical cancer, are already covered with no cost sharing by some health plans.”

For those without insurance, the hospital participates in New Hampshire’s “Let No Woman Be Overlooked” Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program.

Susan Ruka, RN PhD is Memorial’s Director of Population Health and sees the patient navigation program as an important component in improving care. “The breast and cervical cancer screening project has been available for many years,” she said, “but the problem was what to do once there was a positive diagnosis. The issues grow more complex as you are confronted with navigating through multiple systems – where do you go for care, how are you going to get to treatment, how does your family cope.”

For many women, the program has been a lifesaver. Ruka and Chaine agree that the Patient Navigation Program is really about helping women find the care they need and the resources to obtain it. “Women can receive most of their diagnostic, surgical, oncology and support services right here in the community,” Ruka said. Memorial offers nationally accredited digital mammography and ultrasound, low surgical infection rates compared to its peers, and oncology care.

Chaine says most women are unaware of the funding that is available, and is making a special appeal to women not to forget about it once the October focus on breast cancer is gone. She says her message is a simple one, “Don’t wait. Don’t delay. We’re here to help.”

Information about breast health and the patient navigator program is available online at the hospital website, www.MemorialHospitalNH.org. To find out more about enrolling in the program, call Ashlee Chaine at (603) 356-5461, X2120. To learn how to make a donation to support Memorial Hospital’s Breast Health Navigator program, call (603) 356-5461 ext. 2264.