Health

Sometimes the Best First Aid is You

 

GORHAM — University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension Youth & Family Field Specialists Thom Linehan, Ed.D., and Gail Kennedy, MSW, are presenting a free Youth Mental Health Training program at the North Country Education Services offices on Gorham Hill Road in Gorham.

You are more likely to encounter someone — friend, family member, student or neighbor — in an emotional or mental crisis than someone having a heart attack.

Youth Mental Health First Aid, a National Council for Behavioral Health program, teaches a five-step action plan to offer initial help to young people showing signs of a mental illness or are in a crisis, and connect them with the appropriate professional, peer, social or self-help care. Anyone can take the eight-hour course, but it is ideally designed for adults who work with young people, ages 12-18.

The training program will occur on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the North Country Education Services office in Gorham. (The snow date will be Feb. 15). Although it is free, preregistration is required by Jan. 22. Go to bit.ly/TRREJan2018 or call the UNH Cooperative Extension office in Lancaster at (603) 788-4961.

 

FILLER: Memorial Hospital adopts unification with MaineHealth

By Terry Leavitt

Conway Daily Sun

CONWAY — Memorial Hospital's board of trustees voted Wednesday in favor of “unification” with MaineHealth, changing the governance of the non-profit corporation to bring all member hospitals and medical service providers under one board and one budget.

MaineHealth includes North Conway's Memorial Hospital, along with Maine Medical Center in Portland and several smaller critical-access hospitals in rural Maine, which currently operate with separate budgets and are governed by 10 separate boards.

All 10 boards are slated to vote on the proposed unification before Dec. 7.

If eight of the 10 approve the plan, MaineHealth will go forward with it over the next year, working out details and getting regulatory approvals in Maine and New Hampshire, with the goal of coming under one board in January 2019.

Memorial Hospital and other MaineHealth members have been working on the proposal over the past year. During that time, the board and administration held a series of meetings with hospital staff, as well as hiring legal and financial specialists to consider the proposal and alternatives.

The hospital presented the plan to the public at a well-attended forum on Oct. 11.

The proposal has generated controversy in the community, with people expressing concern over loss of control and fear of losing doctors and services in the long run.

Board of trustees chair Laura Jawitz said Thursday that in addition to the comments expressed at the Oct. 11 meeting, the board received a smattering of additional letters and calls from people voicing concerns. She said there was an equal number of people writing to give their support for the plan.

None of those new comments brought any surprises, she said.

“All of the concerns were things the board has been doing due diligence on for a year,” Jawitz said. “There is nothing we hadn’t thought of or discussed.”

“I think the concerns and goals of the community are our concerns and goals," she said. "We consider ourselves to be part of the community.

“We all want to ensure that we have a hospital that serves the community with quality and as close to home as possible into the future. We want to ensure that the hospital will be here for years to come.”

Jawitz said the vote was taken by written ballot and received a two-thirds majority of the board, with 11 members voting.

According to a press release issued Thursday by Memorial Hospital announcing the vote, the new governance plan will help smaller hospitals by allowing resources to flow more freely across the system.

“Currently, each MaineHealth member must financially stand on its own, generating the revenue necessary to pay for the services in that particular local community," it said.

"In recent years, however, community hospitals like Memorial have come under mounting financial pressure. This has been caused in part by the migration of more complex procedures to major medical centers, which are able to leverage new technologies employed by highly specialized providers.

“Across the MaineHealth system, this has created uneven financial performance among member hospitals, threatening the ability of some community hospitals to continue to deliver needed care. Meanwhile, Maine Medical Center in Portland, the system’s tertiary care hospital, has seen growth in volume and in its bottom line as complex procedures have migrated there.

“A unified governance model would allow resources to flow across the system, better supporting the delivery of care in local communities.”

The press release, however, did acknowledge that the change does mean ceding many aspects of local control to a single board of trustees, and that concern generated a good deal of discussion in the valley and other communities served by MaineHealth members.

“We had a number of concerns that had to be addressed before we were willing to adopt this change,” said Jawitz. “We wanted to make sure the system board couldn’t take away services arbitrarily, and we wanted to know that, as a small New Hampshire hospital that is part of a Maine-based system, we would continue to have a voice.”

There are details of the proposal still to be worked out, and the release noted that the Memorial board plans to craft and vote on certain provisions before the matter is submitted to the state attorney general for review.

Jawitz characterized the provisions as “contingency negotiations that we are working on with MaineHealth,” but said she cannot discuss the details of the items under negotiation.

The unification proposal is also subject to a due diligence review by MaineHealth and its member organizations.

The proposal must also be reviewed and approved by the Charitable Trust Unit of New Hampshire’s Attorney General’s office.

According to the hospital press release, as part of that process, the Attorney General may hold its own hearing on the proposal in the community.

Jawitz said she supports the decision of the board and is confident the board has carried out a thorough due diligence process in reviewing the proposal.

“Given the alternatives, I do believe that it is a good choice. I really feel there are a lot of positives and opportunities,” she said, including the opportunity to fully leverage the scale and expertise of MaineHealth while keeping a strong local board to oversee the care in the valley.

Under unification, Memorial Hospital would continue to have a board with responsibilities to include formulating budgets and strategic plans, the credentialing of physicians and other providers as well as oversight of care quality, but budgets would have to be approved by the MaineHealth board.

The proposal also guarantees Memorial a representative on the system board for the first five years.

The press release noted that board makeup was a topic of extensive discussion among MaineHealth members, as leaders wrestled with the fact that providing that representation across the system creates a very large board that over time could prove unwieldy.

The five-year guarantee, along with a commitment to ongoing geographic diversity on the board after that time, was a compromise reached as part of the discussion among MaineHealth members.

Jawitz conceded that at this time that commitment to geographic diversity does not include a guaranteed spot on the board for a New Hampshire member (Memorial Hospital is the only New Hampshire member of MaineHealth).

“In the end, this came down to whether we wanted to build on the progress we’ve made,” Jawitz said. “MaineHealth has been a good partner since we joined the system three years ago. Joining with the other members gives us an opportunity to provide great care here in the valley in partnership with an excellent health-care system.”

FILLER: Former N.H. chief justice shines light on mental illness

 

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — Former Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court John Broderick believes he’s found his calling in life.

After more than four decades in the judicial system, Broderick, 70, has for the past year and a half served as an ambassador for Change Direction New Hampshire, a national initiative to change the culture of mental health in America.

“It’s the most rewarding work I've done in my professional life and may be the most important work I have ever done,” Broderick said during a phone interview Wednesday.

Broderick, who served as associate justice of the court from 1995-2004 and chief justice from 2004-10, will be keynote speaker this morning at the 104th annual N.H. PTA Convention, which kicked off Friday at the Red Jacket Mountain View resort in North Conway.

Broderick is also past president of the University of New Hampshire Law School.

According to Dan Ryan, director of public affairs at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and a 1990 Kennett High graduate, “Justice Broderick, now senior director of public affairs at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, has been speaking to high school and college students as part of Change Direction New Hampshire since 2016, bringing awareness to the 5 Signs.

As part of that effort, he said, "Dartmouth-Hitchcock and the Department of Education are starting the conversation in schools with REACT — an awareness initiative that details ways to respond when students recognize the five signs of mental illness.”

The signs, according to Broderick, are personality change, agitation, withdrawal, poor self-esteem and hopelessness.

Broderick said that a stigma is still associated with mental illness. While walls have come down around diseases such as AIDS and diabetes, mental health problems exist in the shadows.

“If someone had diabetes, you wouldn’t say, ‘Snap out of it.’" Likewise, he said mental illness "isn’t a choice, it’s a condition. No. 1, they didn’t ask for it, and No. 2, they don’t deserve it. What I’m trying to do is increase awareness.”

Change Direction has turned into a national campaign, with Broderick among the driving forces behind the movement.

“It started in May 2016 as a non-partisan, non-political awareness campaign,” said Broderick explained.

While the initiative was set to be unveiled in the New Hampshire State House, "the House wasn’t in session, and my fear is we’d get maybe 10 people,” he said. “I had no idea how people would react.

"Incredibly, 425 people showed up, including the Catholic bishop. It was the most impressive room I’d ever been in in my four decades in public service."

There were attorneys, mayors, business leaders, political figures and families.

“What stunned me that day was when Barbara Van Dahlen (clinical psychologist, named one of Time Magazine's most influential people) asked if anyone in the chamber who had not been touched by mental illness would raise their hand. Not one hand went up. I asked her how often she gets that response. She said all the time.”

Broderick noted that half of all mental illness in Americans arises by the age of 14. Two-thirds appears by age 23.

“Last year,” he said, “more people died from suicide than by car accident.”

Broderick has had mental illness affect him personally. In 2002, at the age of 30, his son, John Christian, assaulted him while he was asleep in their Manchester home, beating him with a guitar.

“I went to Elliot Hospital, he went to the Valley Street Jail,” Broderick recalled.

A trial ensued with John Christian aentenced to 3 1/2 years in state prison.

“My son had depression,” Broderick said. “I wouldn’t talk about this if not for John Christian and our family saying we need to.”

Broderick said the family tried “tough love” when his son was drinking and self-medicating. They weren’t aware of the signs of anxiety, panic attacks and depression. It was in prison that John Christian’s life began to turn around. He entered a mental treatment program.

Broderick noticed a difference in his son and that “led to good thing.”

“My son married in prison, and I performed the wedding,” he said. 

Broderick now has a 9-year-old granddaughter he obviously dotes on.

"I know what hopelessness looks like, and I know what hope looks like," he said. "I was ignorant (in 2002). I’m not ignorant anymore. We came through it.”

Since May of 2016, Broderick has spoken at 160 venues across New Hampshire.

“I have not invited myself to a single place,” he said. “I’ll go wherever I’m asked. I really appreciate any invitation from a high school. I’ve spoken at 50 high schools in the past year. One of the first was at Pembroke Academy (in Concord).

"I spoke to 840 students at 9 a.m. in their gym while they sat on the hard bleachers. I tell stories for about 35 minutes, but I wondered towards the end if they had heard what I was saying. I stopped. A second or a minute went by, and 840 kids stood up and applauded for almost a minute. They were applauding the message.”

Broderick said many students came up to him afterward with tears in their eyes.

“They thanked me for coming and talking,” he said. “One girl from Dublin asked, 'Can I ask for a favor? Can I give you a hug?'” he said.

Broderick appreciates today’s teens.

“I say to kids, my generation failed on mental health. Your generation is the least judgmental. If I could speak at a different school every day I would. I want to start a conversation. Young people will change (the stigma) — older people need to facilitate the change.”

It’s important to offer a helping hand, he said, if you see a sign.

“We’ve been taught (with mental illness) to leave the person alone,” Broderick said, “but if we saw a person limping at the mall, we’d go over and say something. Let’s stop marginalizing mental illness.”

To learn more about the Change Direction initiative, go to changedirection.org.

 

New Administrator at St. Vincent de Paul Rehabilitation and Nursing Center

Catholic Charities N.H. announced Jeffrey A. Lacroix is the new administrator at St. Vincent de Paul Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Berlin.

Lacroix brings seven years of experience in skilled nursing and long-term health care, including five years as an administrator in central Maine. Lacroix most recently served as system director of long-term care at Central Maine Healthcare in Rumford, Maine. Prior to that, he was multi-level administrator at the Rumford Community Home where he was responsible for finance, operations and regulatory compliance.

Lacroix said he is impressed with Catholic Charities’ “person-centered” approach to care and the high priority it places on meeting the individual needs of patients and residents.

“They won’t put their bottom line before individual care,” Lacroix stated.

A graduate of Hudson College in Bangor, Maine, Lacroix said he was drawn to long-term health care in part because of his close relationship with his grandparents.

“I just have a natural affinity for the older generation,” he explained. Lacroix and his family are in the process of moving from central Maine to the Berlin area.

St. Vincent de Paul Rehabilitation and Nursing Center is one of seven centers that Catholic Charities N.H. owns and operates throughout New Hampshire. In addition to skilled nursing and long-term care, the 80-bed facility also offers care for those who struggle with memory impairment and hospice care.

Jeff LaCroix St. Vincent administratorJeff LaCroix is the new administrator at St. Vincent de Paul Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. (COURTESY PHOTO)

 

 

 

Drums Alive continues at St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts

 

Drums Alive"Drums Alive" returns to St. Kieran Art Center. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Drums Alive is one of the latest innovations in fitness and wellness, a unique and different workout than you’ve ever tried before. It captures the essence of movement and rhythm combined with fun to deliver real fitness results. The choreographies are designed to burn fat, improve physical and mental fitness and above all, allow you to have some fun while doing it. If you’ve been meaning to do something for yourself and haven’t joined us yet, feel free to jump in as certified instructor Denise Doucette continues to share this amazingly fun fitness program at St. Kieran Arts Center.

Doucette is offering two session times: Wednesdays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. The next six-week session starts on Nov. 29-30 and goes through the holidays. Both sessions will meet in the main hall of the arts center while the community room gets a face lift. For $60, Denise will provide the drum sticks, the exercise balls, music and guided instruction. Save $10 when you pre-register with full payment by the first class. Participants are required to sign a release of liability prior to participation.

Space is limited to 20 participants. Can’t make all six classes? Feel free to join in on the days that you can for $10 per class. The goal of the program is to improve lives through a unique sensory-motor drumming program involving drum sticks, an exercise ball and music. The primary goal of the Drums Alive program is creating a "whole mind, whole body" experience for all participating. Drums Alive will improve the quality of life for a wide variety of audiences including: mentally and physically challenged children, gifted and talented children, fit and healthy children and adults, children and adults with aggression issues, senior citizens, and patients with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and other life-altering conditions.

Improvements will come through the use of principles from movement therapy, music and sound therapy, physical education/fitness and rhythmic education. The program provides a platform for socialization and a sense of belonging to a group, which has shown to improve motivation and fitness adherence. It allows for individual and creative expression through both verbal and non-verbal communication, provides a healthy way to release aggression and decrease stress, focusing on acceptance, respect and understanding of different cultural movements, rhythms and music.

As with any exercise program, check with your health care professional before making the commitment. For more information about Drums Alive, to purchase a membership or loyalty card or to make a donation to the annual or capital improvement funds, contact the arts center at (603) 752-1028.