Serenity Steps open house Oct. 9

BERLIN — Serenity Steps, a peer support center located at 567 Main St. in Berlin is hosting an Open House on Friday, Oct. 9. This is open to the public, and will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Light refreshments will be served all day. The members of Serenity Steps have invited the community to come to their center, enjoy a nibble or two, and learn what a peer support looks like and what it has to offer. For more information, call (603) 752-8111
A peer support center, like Serenity Steps, is a place for people who have, or had mental health challenges will find a safe place to learn and grow together. The mission of Serenity steps is “to provide a sanctuary where people 18 years old and older learn to create a personal vision leading to their own recovery. This journey toward recovery occurs in a compassionate atmosphere through education, peer support, sharing of common experiences and utilizing individual as well as community resources".
“The center is sort of like a plant pot,” states Ellen Tavino, the Team Leader, “we provide a protected place for their plants to grow.” This means the person is allowed to decide what their recovery—or journey to wellness—will look like. No one at Serenity Steps is an expert on another’s experience, nor does anyone there dictate what another’s life should be.
Approximately one in five families is impacted by some form of mental illness. But, there is hope. People can, and do move forward from such challenges. Serenity Steps is a place where that can happen.

Cutline: Children at the Gorham Learning Center learn Tai Chi

kandsSue Martin from K & S Fitness came to the Gorham Community Learning Center to teach the children Tai Chi. She incorporated animals into the session to go along with the GCLC’s newly adopted Zoo Phonics curriculum. The GCLC serves children from ages 18 months to 12 years old with high quality childcare and education. If you would like any information or would like to inquire about enrollment please call, (603) 466-5766, or stop by 123 Main Street, Gorham.

Veteran stories to become part of medical record at White River Junction VA hospital

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. — The White River Junction VA Medical Center has joined six other VA hospitals in a program that interviews veterans about their life stories and makes the transcribed oral histories part of the patients’ medical record.
The program, called My Life, My Story, was started by the VA Hospital in Madison, Wis., in 2013 and is expanding to six other VA hospitals around the country beginning in March. The new sites, in addition to White River Junction, are Asheville, N.C.; Bronx, N.Y.; Iowa City, Iowa; Reno, Nev.; and Topeka, Kan. Initial funding for the White River Junction VA program was through the VHA Office of Patient-Centered Care and Cultural Transformation and ran through the end of FY2015. The Veterans Education and Research Association of Northern New England Recently received a $75K grant from The Byrne Foundation that will allow WRJ VA to extend the program for at least a full year.
Madison VA therapist and My Life, My Story coordinator Thor Ringler has been with the project since it began.
“I think it’s about people having a voice,” Ringler said. “The story is really a way to connect providers with Veterans and have them connect over something that’s real and meaningful. I think there’s something missing in health care and this project is just one way to bring the spark back and remind us why we’re here — who we’re here for.”
Marine Corps veteran Michael Gundlach was recently interviewed at the Madison VA.
“Being able to talk about my experience was a morale builder, first of all, for the acknowledgement of [my] service,” Gundlach said. “And second of all — and more long-term — it gave me the chance to review my life. The way the interview was conducted felt very stress-free. I think the program is absolutely something that should be expanded.”
After conducting an interview, which typically takes about one hour, project staff and volunteers write up a story about the veteran’s life. They then review it with the veteran and, with veteran approval, add the story to the veteran’s medical record. They also alert the veteran’s primary care and inpatient care providers when the story is added.
Polly Boynton is a nurse practitioner at the Madison VA who consults the stories frequently.
“I have taken the time to read each “My Story” I have encountered in my patients’ charts and am grateful to have the additional dimension and background,” Boynton said. “It is a true pleasure to read these stories; I feel I gain such valuable insight into the humanity of my patients.”
Until recently, the Madison VA was the only facility offering this service to veterans. A grant from the VA Office of Patient Centered Care allowed the project to expand to the six new sites.
Gundlach knows that for many veterans, it is not an easy thing to tell your story, but he encourages their participation.
“I would highly recommend this to any veteran who is at a point in his emotional status where he can talk about it,” Gundlach said. “If you think that you don’t want to talk to people — say your friends and family — this is another way to release and talk about something that is so important. There’s absolutely no downside to participating in this.”
The program in Wisconsin has interviewed more than 500 veterans and trained more than 25 community and student volunteers to gather their stories since it began in 2013. White River Junction VA has launched the My Life My Story program and has begun collecting veterans’ stories to be included in their patient records. As the program grows it will be a great resource for providers and veterans alike.

Women’s Health at Memorial Hospital celebrates National Midwifery Week

NORTH CONWAY — During the week of Oct. 4 through 10, the American College for Nurse-Midwives is seeking a greater understanding by the public of the role midwives can play in women’s healthcare. Their theme, “With women, for a lifetime,” reinforces the fact that midwifery services offer more than just prenatal and childbirth care – they apply their philosophy of care in all settings and with women across their lifespan.

“Most people connect the idea of a midwife with birth,” says Julie Bosak, CNM MSN, one of three certified nurse midwives at Memorial Hospital’s Women’s Health practice. “It’s a national misconception because we do provide care to women throughout their life cycle, from puberty to pregnancy, birth through menopause.”

Bosak, along with midwives Erin Tullock, CNM MSN and Kathleen Mulkern, CNM MPH, work together with OB/Gyn physicians Marni Madnick, MD and Lauren Frye, DO. Together, they offer a wide range of well-woman care for all ages at one of the largest onsite all-female women’s health practices in New Hampshire.

It’s true that many women do make their first connection with a midwife during pregnancy. The ACNM points out that the growing number of births attended by certified nurse midwives has helped to reduce the rate of Cesarean sections across the country. At Memorial’s Family Birthing Center, the majority of births are attended by the midwives.

“A midwifery approach can offer the best of both worlds,” Bosak explained. “We focus on education and support, but we also partner with you to give you the birth experience you want. That might include your choice of an epidural or use of nitrous oxide. We also work in close collaboration with Dr. Madnick and Dr. Frye if their services become necessary.”

While many of the country’s midwives provide prenatal care, about a third of them work in primary care settings. According to the ACNM, 95% of nurse midwives are working in hospital settings today.

“We see a number of teenage girls in our practice,” Bosak said. “It’s an important time for us to develop a partnership with these young women, providing education on a variety of subjects. We’re there for them to talk about birth control, STD screenings, and how to take care of their overall health.”

The Memorial Hospital Women’s Health midwives offer well-woman health care, annual gynecologic exams and screenings, and birth control counseling. Along with the physicians in the practice, they also provide specialized services for menopause, infertility counseling, and VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean).

For more information about their services or to make an appointment, call (603) 356-4949, Ext. 2167.

memorialmidwivesMemorial Hospital's nurse midwives (from left to right) Julie Bosak, CNM, BS, MSN, APRN, Erin Tullock, CNM, MSN, APRN and Kathleen Mulkern, CNM, MPH.

Eversource offers emergency preparedness tips

Over the past few years, New Englanders have seen firsthand how destructive Mother Nature can be. While Eversource is doing its part to ensure the electric system is ready to handle any severe weather, it is crucial that customers also prepare.

Eversource is encouraging families and businesses to develop their own plans of action in case of significant storms and long-duration outages.

"Emergencies can happen at any time, that's why we're reminding customers about the importance of advanced planning and letting them know what they can do to be prepared," said Peter Clarke, Eversource senior vice president of emergency preparedness. "For us, emergency readiness is a year-round focus, and includes participating in statewide emergency drills, regularly working with community leaders to reinforce our storm and safety response protocols and using multiple communication channels to get important information to our customers."

Using its website, social media channels and bill inserts, the company communicates important safety and storm information to customers before, during and after storms. The company also offers the following tips on its website to help customers prepare for emergencies:

Before a Storm

Build an emergency storm kit: Water, non-perishable food, first aid materials, prescriptions, flashlights, batteries and a battery-powered radio are some of the main staples that are critical to a storm kit.
Charge up: Make sure all wireless communications devices are fully-charged in advance of severe weather and be sure to have a car charger available in case there's along-duration power outage.

During a Storm

Stay connected: Customers can get outage updates and learn key safety information by following the company on Twitter

Sign up: Eversource storm text updates provide the latest information on restoration efforts in a particular service territory and even in a customer's specific hometown.

After a Storm

Stay alert: If you have to drive right after a storm, watch out for trees and downed wires in the roadway. Never drive across a downed power line. Treat all non-working traffic lights as stop signs and proceed cautiously at intersections.

Power up slowly: Plug in/turn on your appliances one at a time to avoid a power surge.

Additional preparedness tips may be found at

In addition, Eversource encourages customers who depend on electricity for critical medical needs to sign up for a special notification program by calling 1 (844) 273-7760. For information on statewide response, visit ReadyNH New Hampshire's emergency preparedness website.