Coos County Family Health Services receives quality award

BERLIN — In recognition of the quality of care provided by its staff during the past year, Coos County Family Health Services has received grant awards totaling $101,033 from the Health Resources Services Administration.

The awards recognize health centers that provide high quality, comprehensive care. CCFHS will use these funds to further improve the delivery of primary care services, and to enhance the quality of the care it provides.

“These awards reflect the commitment of everyone on staff to provide our patients with care of the highest quality,” said Ken Gordon, chief executive officer.

CCFHS received these awards for high levels of performance in the categories of clinical outcome quality, use of an electronic health record, chronic disease management, preventative care and perinatal / prenatal care.

“We are very pleased to receive these awards. These funds will allow CCFHS to continue to deliver high quality health care to our patients,” said Patty Couture, Chief Operating Officer.

For more information about the services offered by Family Health, or to learn more about becoming a patient, call (603) 752-2040 or (603) 466-2741.

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Riverfire 5k Run/Walk to benefit Response

BERLIN — Organizers are pleased to announce that the third Annual RiverFire 5K Run/Walk will take place on Saturday, Oct. 17, once again in conjunction with Berlin’s annual RiverFire Celebration. The event follows a flat and fast, picturesque course along the Androscoggin River beginning and ending at Northern Forest Heritage Park where other RiverFire events are centered.

Runners and walkers of all ages and ability levels are encouraged to participate either individually or as part of teams. Handcrafted awards will be presented to the fastest overall male and female finishers with $50 incentive bonuses offered to the first male and female to break the course records of 16:36 for men set by Brian Beegle and 19:38 set by Amanda Dubs in last year’s race. Commemorative medals will also be awarded to the top three male and female finishers in the several ages categories.

Groups of three or more family, friends or co-workers are also being encouraged to join together and participate as teams. Though awards will be awarded to the fastest three teams (times of 3 fastest runners added together) there is also an award for the team with the “most original theme” as reflected by the team’s name and appearance. This award may be presented to teams of either runners, walkers or a combination of both.

Registration for the third annual RiverFire 5K Run/Walk is $20 until Oct. 8 and includes a T-shirt. After Oct. 8, registration increases to $25 and a T-shirt is not guaranteed.

Participants may register online through or in person at any of the Coos Country Family Health Services offices in either Berlin or Gorham. A paper registration may also be downloaded from or and mailed in.

All proceed from the third annual RiverFire 5K Run/Walk will benefit Response, a non profit organization which provides services to those affected by domestic or sexual violence here in the North Country.

Lab Technologist celebrates 50 years at Weeks Medical Center

LANCASTER — For Mona Riendeau, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!” That’s the philosophy Riendeau has lived by throughout her life and during her 50-year career working in the laboratory at Weeks Medical Center. It has served her well.

There was no great plan in Riendeau's career path. It began simply by looking for a good job to support herself and her family. She found that job on Oct. 12, 1965, after walking into Weeks and saying, “I want to work here.” She immediately liked the welcoming, relaxed atmosphere of the hospital. Today, Riendeau looks back on her 50 years at Weeks with great pride.

“Weeks means family to me,” Riendeau says wiping a teary eye. “I’m honored to have served four generations within the community.“

When Riendeau started at Weeks she really didn’t know what she wanted to do, or realize it would lead to a lifelong career. “I started by drawing phlebotomy in the lab and doing whatever was required of me,” she says. “It’s a miracle that it all happened.”

Riendeau did have the plan to become a medical secretary. She took classes at Becker Junior College, but she “hated them.” It was the few classes having to do with lab work that really interested her. When she later learned about a program to train lab technicians run by Dr. Robert Christie, she decided to sign up. Later, to further her education, she attended night classes twice a week. She did this while working full time at Weeks and part time at Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin.

“I would work at Weeks from 6 a.m. till 2:30 p.m., go home for a short rest, then be at AVH from 4 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Then back to Weeks at 6 a.m.,” Mona says. “I traveled throughout the North Country for classes to get ahead. I eventually got my medical technician degree and then my medical technologist degree. Where there’s a will ...”

Riendeau worked full time at Weeks and part time at AVH for 26 years. While she’s since left AVH behind, she still draws labs for Country Village Healthcare Center/Holton Point twice a week. She’s being doing lab work there for 35 years.

Even with all her freelancing, Riendeau has always been committed to Weeks. “I’ve had a lot of fun while working at Weeks,” she says. “We had many laughs along the way. I’ve worked with some great people in and out of the lab, and some terrific physicians, through the years. I’m still good friends with my first lab supervisor, Ruth Ann Bernier.

“When I first started in the lab, we were still using frogs to test for pregnancy by injecting them with the woman’s urine. The doctors would play jokes on us all the time by putting a frog in a coffee cup so it would jump out when anyone took a sip. I still say laughter is the best medicine,” Riendeau says.

The biggest challenge she faced was being on call for the hospital. “Being called in always seemed to happen at the strangest times. Once I was out at a fancy ‘shin ding’ wearing a fancy black gown. The patient was really surprised to see me all dressed up to draw blood,” Riendeau says. “Another time I had to rush in to draw labs with curlers in my hair.” Despite the bad timing, “I never questioned the need to be called in. It was all in the best interest of the patients.”

Riendeau dedicated service has even influenced her grandchildren. All three grandchildren chose healthcare for their careers. “Dagan is a certified orthopedic physician assistant, Adam is an interventional radiology technician, and Katelyn is a doctor of physical therapy. All three graduated with honors and I am very proud of them,” she says.

During her 50 years at Weeks, Riendeau has also seen numerous changes and improvements. “The lab staff works very hard,” she says. “When I first started everything was done manually. We didn’t have the technology we have today. We could not keep up with today’s volume if we were still processing tests like we did when I first started. The computer also has helped a lot. No more paper logs. It also has cut down on time as well as alerting the lab and providers to critical results.”

The lab itself also has been transformed. “In the past we used to drink, eat, and smoke in the lab. That’s not allowed today. The coffee pot used to be next to where they tested urine. The blood draw chair, which was an old-fashioned school desk, used to be right in the middle of the lab. Things have definitely changed for the better,” she says.

Riendeau doesn’t see herself retiring, although she may cut down to three days a week next year. “I still have a big house to take care of,” she says. In her spare time, she likes to work in her flower garden and visit the Oxford Casino. “I won $6000 one time. And it’s fun to get out of town,” she says. And Riendeau loves to have fun.

As to her 50-year legacy at Weeks, Riendeau says: “I’m proud of my phlebotomy skills and that I’m frequently requested by patients. I’d like to be remembered for always being here.”

MonaMedical technologist Mona Riendeau will celebrate 50 years working in the laboratory at Weeks Medical Center on Oct. 12.

Scholarships offered by National Federation of the Blind of NH

The National Federation of the Blind of New Hampshire offers two scholarships each year in memory of former members who generously gave money to further the education of blind and visually impaired students of New Hampshire.

The Floyd M. Callward $1,000 Memorial Scholarship is open to any legally-blind resident of New Hampshire or a legally-blind non-resident who is currently or who will be studying in New Hampshire at the post-secondary level next fall. No restrictions apply to field of study.

The Theresa C. Herron $500 Memorial Scholarship is open to legally-blind New Hampshire school students to pay for extra services or devices for successful study and achievement. Preference is given to students in grades K-12 as per Ms. Herron’s wishes, but post-secondary students may also apply. Callward applicants wil automatically be considered.

Further information and application will be posted on our website when available. ( Or contact NFB New Hampshire Scholarship committee members via e-mail (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Tele. Andrew Harmon at (603) 992-4053.

Critical need for CASA volunteers in the North Country

The end of summer and the start of a new school year is an exciting time for most children. But for some, the beginning of school could reveal a dark secret when signs of abuse and neglect these children have suffered over the summer are noticed by teachers, staff and other parents.

“Because children are subject to less adult supervision over the summer, it’s not uncommon for reports of suspected abuse and neglect to spike at the start of the school year,” said Jen Buteau from CASA of N.H.

Many of the children who are confirmed as victims are removed from their homes and placed into foster care; often far from their friends, families and schools. CASA volunteer advocates are specially screened, trained and supported to speak up for abused and neglected children who through no fault of their own end up in the child welfare system.

“Being uprooted from their homes, families and everything they know is terrifying for a child. At CASA of N.H. we want to make sure that they do not get lost in the shuffle,” Buteau said. “For that reason, we need more people in our community to speak up and make sure children’s best interests are represented. We want to help ensure that they are in a safe, loving, permanent home as quickly as possible so they can begin to heal.”

“Too many children are forced to go through the chaos of moving through the child protection system alone,” Buteau added. “Every child going through this difficult and somewhat unimaginable time deserves a caring adult who really wants to get to know them, have hope for them and will advocate on their behalf until they are in a safe and permanent home.”

If you would like more information on becoming a volunteer advocate or in other ways you can get involved, call Jen Buteau at (603) 752-9670. More advocates are needed throughout New Hampshire, but there is currently a critical need for volunteers in the North Country.