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Auxiliary Fundraiser brings laughs and love for hospital

The Penobscot Valley Hospital Auxiliary hosted their sixth annual fall fundraiser “Out of the Woods” on Saturday, October 22. The event netted over $10,000 and included live entertainment from the area musical group StrumDingers, a delicious dinner catered by the Knights of Columbus Wives and wicked good stories by retired game warden, John Ford, Sr., and retired state trooper, Mark Nickerson.

The Auxiliary would like to thank the following sponsors: Platinum $2500 Modern Woodmen of America and $750 Machias Savings Bank; Silver $250 Dead River Company, F.A. Peabody Company, Hannaford, H. Joseph Thibodeau, DMD, Key Bank, Lincoln Maine Federal Credit Union, Thornton Brothers and Whitney's Outfitters; Bronze $100, DeLaite Trucking Inc., Dr. Durwin Y. Libby DMD, H.C. Haynes, Inc., Lincoln Color Center, Rick Burpee State Farm, S.W. Collins Co. Inc. and Whitetail Inn; and Friends $50 Bangor Savings Bank, Gillmor's Restaurant & Beef 'n Ale Lounge, Jeffrey M. Kyes, DMD, Lincoln Power Sports/Access Auto, Possibilities, Treeline Inc., Whitney Energy Inc. and Wireless Zone of Lincoln - Verizon Premium Retailer.

As the crowd settled in with full stomachs and smiling faces, they enjoyed a special pie auction by guest auctioneer Dale Tudor, silent auction, 50/50 and raffle prize giveaways. Over $10,000 in auction and raffle prizes were given away, many thanks to Ann Deyo who collected many of the items from businesses across the country. The Auxiliary also drew the winner of a boat donated by Fred & Pat Beck.

Proceeds from this year’s event will go toward the hospital’s goal to raise $46,000 for new equipment that will:
• enhance employee safety,
• increase patient comfort and safety, and
• aid in patient recovery.

Specific equipment includes a new cardiac treadmill to enhance heart and lung testing, a high/low exam table to increase safety at therapy appointments, parallel bars allowing therapy patients the ability to learn to walk again, two stretchers for the emergency room that increase comfort for patients and decrease lifting responsibilities of staff, and a new therapy system to provide laser therapy to relieve pain and speed recovery.

Hospital CEO Gary Poquette adds, “Thank you to all of the Auxiliary volunteers and staff who have made the fundraising event successful, fun and entertaining. We especially would like to thank the long list of local businesses who have sponsored the event. Participation from our community is a powerful indication of your appreciation of Penobscot Valley Hospital.”

Mark Nickerson and John Ford, Sr. entertain the crowd at the Out of the Woods fundraiser on October 22, taking jabs at each others’ professions as they tell humorous stories of their time in the field (or in Mark’s case, on tar roads). The Auxiliary net over $10,000 for new equipment at Penobscot Valley Hospital.  

Healthcare across Maine

July 18- Earlier this year, Penobscot Valley Hospital published an article titled Meeting Our Challenges that focused on improvements being made at our facility to reposition us for the future of healthcare in the midst of national, state and local challenges. You may recall the high unemployment rates for our service area being nearly double that of the national average and per capita income nearly half that of the national average. Add into that the state not expanding Medicaid which translates into approximately $500,000 in losses each year for PVH and the loss of our area’s largest employer, leaving hundreds without health insurance. All of which lead the PVH Board of Directors to institute a financial remediation plan which has been proving successful.

In May, the Maine Hospital Association published its 2016 Hospital Overview, echoing many of the challenges at PVH are being encountered across the state.

Statewide, many hospitals struggle with negative operating margins and cuts to reimbursements. In 2015, 17 of the 36 Maine hospitals operated at a loss. In a typical year, about one third of all Maine hospitals will lose money. 

Items contributing to these losses are lower utilization of hospital services, cuts to MaineCare, increases in the hospital tax, federal cuts to hospital reimbursement rates, and increases in bad debt and charity care. Since 2007, uncompensated care has increased from $255 million to $554 million at Maine hospitals.

One reason for the increase in bad debt can be attributed to high deductible health plans, leaving many Mainers unable to afford their large deductibles after receiving healthcare, and in turn the hospital must write off the balance as a loss. For every dollar in care provided at PVH, we only receive $0.62!

Fewer patients are being admitted to Maine hospitals. Since the early 1980s, the total number of hospital beds has declined as demand for inpatient care decreases. Efforts made by Maine hospitals to reduce readmissions, improve hospital quality and patient experience have been so successful that they in turn mean fewer patients being admitted. In the last five years, Maine Medicare admissions have dropped by over 5% and our Maine hospitals have absorbed $300 million of new Medicare cuts since 2010.

With roughly one-third of a hospital’s revenue coming from Medicare, any further cuts to Medicare reimbursement “would be unsustainable and would harm Medicare patients” according to the Maine Hospital Association.

As hospitals across the nation charge head on to meet these challenges in the healthcare industry, the Board of Directors and administrators at PVH are meticulously working to provide the right mix of high quality services in a manner that is financially sustainable.

PVH continues to strengthen processes for financial viability and is proud to report the opening of an orthopedic clinic offering in Lincoln by Dr. Nilesh K. Patil who began seeing patients in the PVH Specialty Clinic and Operating Room this July. A new podiatrist, Dr. Maria Galimidi, has also recently started work at Health Access Network and performs operations in our surgical suite. We continue to pursue options for additional service offerings including gynecology.

The value of having access to healthcare services from a local, non-profit organization is substantial. This year’s 2015 PVH Community Benefit Report depicts the economic impact of PVH output in the local and state economy to be over $47 million each year. PVH is a pillar in our community, recruiting new people to the area while employing over 200 people in good paying jobs and another 17 medical providers.

The hospital supports countless efforts to educate the community on their own health and wellness, even offering free health screenings throughout the year, a free lifestyle educational program called Healthy Me, a head injury prevention program at area schools, substance abuse prevention and education through Save-a-Life, leadership on the Lincoln Economic Development Committee and Lincoln Lakes Chamber of Commerce, and later this month PVH will host a healthcare summer camp for students interested in healthcare careers.

PVH volunteers, staff and medical providers remain committed to providing quality healthcare services to the greater Lincoln area. Utilizing our services is the best possible way to support our local hospital and ensure that we will be here when you need healthcare services in the future. Take a few moments to review the services listed on our website www.pvhme.org and speak with your primary care physician about having your healthcare testing and specialty care completed locally. As a community, we can only get better by resolutely supporting one another.  

PVH Now Offering Orthopedic Care

Penobscot Valley Hospital is pleased to welcome orthopedic surgeon Nilesh K. Patil, M.D. to the Lincoln area. Dr. Patil will begin seeing patients in the PVH Specialty Clinic on July 15, 2016 and will begin performing orthopedic surgery in our operating room starting in August.

Controlling diabetes at work

As part of National Safety Month, staff in the Penobscot Valley Hospital emergency department would like to remind the community to learn more about diabetes in the workplace. Knowing how to spot signs of low blood glucose in yourself or your co-workers can be an invaluable skill to learn. Portions of this article were reprinted from the National Safety Council.

Diabetes has been called an epidemic in America. A 2014 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 29.1 million people in the United States – almost 10 percent of the population – have the disorder. Of those, 8.1 million are undiagnosed.

Diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, vision problems and lower limb amputation if not controlled. So what are the implications for worker safety?

Concerns
The blood of a person with diabetes has too much glucose, resulting in possible health issues. In people with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas makes little or no insulin, which is needed to turn sugar and other food into energy. With type 2 diabetes – the most common type – the body improperly uses insulin, leading to abnormal blood glucose levels.

Concerns about worker safety focus mainly on hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose. Symptoms of hypoglycemia range from hunger and dizziness to confusion and unconsciousness. In contrast, hyperglycemia occurs when blood glucose is high because the body has too little insulin or is improperly using insulin, resulting in symptoms such as hunger, thirst and frequent urination. Left untreated, hyperglycemia can lead to diabetic coma.

“When sugar gets very high, it can affect their cognitive abilities, it can affect vision,” said Dr. Daniel Samo, member of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine board of directors and medical director of health promotion, and corporate services and public safety medicine divisions, at Northwestern Medical Group in Chicago.

Control
Experts say that, regardless of type, an individual with diabetes can work safely as long as he or she can effectively control the disorder and perform the job’s essential functions. “It’s very dependent on the person’s job duties,” said Wendy Strobel Gower, director of the Ithaca, NY-based Northeast Americans with Disabilities Act Center. “Diabetes can be very mild and it can be very significant. It really depends on how you experience it and how you manage it.”

Employers and employees
By law, in most cases, workers with diabetes do not have to disclose the condition to their employer. Strobel Gower says, “If you need to do something differently on your job, because of your diabetes to do your job effectively, you should probably say something so you can ask for what you need, but it’s a personal choice.”

Workers who have diabetes may choose to disclose their condition to request “reasonable accommodations.” The employer may then require proof of disability and need for accommodations, the American Diabetes Association states. According to law, an employer cannot retaliate against a worker for requesting such accommodations.

Reasonable accommodations may include breaks to eat, take medicine and test blood sugar levels; and larger computer screens.

Safety-sensitive work
For safety-sensitive jobs – such as those involving a firearm or heavy machinery – concern has revolved around whether the worker will become disoriented or incapacitated, according to the American Diabetes Association.

This may be changing in some industries. FMCSA’s recent proposal to ease exemption requirements states that commercial motor vehicle drivers with insulin-treated diabetes mellitus “are as safe as other drivers when their condition is well-controlled.” Drivers with ITDM would be allowed to operate CMVs if they are cleared yearly by a medical examiner listed in the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.

“It’s really great progress,” Paul said. “There’s still plenty of protections. You have to have the treating health care provider provide his or her opinion about qualification. There’s a registry of doctors who have to be certified to provide the Department of Transportation exams. Those are at least two separate medical providers that have to weigh in on the qualification issue or safety issue.”

Similarly, opportunities have expanded for law enforcement officers with diabetes. ACOEM’s National Consensus Guidance for the Medical Evaluation of Law Enforcement Officers states that “blanket bans” of people with diabetes are illegal and inconsistent with medical information. And for firefighters, any disqualification due to diabetes or insulin use must be made on an individual basis.

“The concept is a well-controlled, well-educated, well-motivated diabetic can pretty much do anything,” Samo said. 

Hospital board elects new governing members

Bonnie Gray

Patty Houghton

May 24 - Penobscot Valley Hospital announces two new members to the board of directors. Bonnie Gray, retired employee of PVH, and Patty Houghton, business manager at Lee Academy, assumed their posts on the governing board at the April annual meeting. They join other board members in taking on leadership responsibilities of PVH including planning and policy development, community and organizational development, and fundraising and support development.

Bonnie Gray provides many years of healthcare experience to the board as she was an employee of Penobscot Valley Hospital for 41 years, retiring in 2014. She is an active member in our community, including the Lincoln Historical Society, and she also currently serves as the president of the PVH Auxiliary.

“I am looking forward to serving with the present Board of Directors and adding my knowledge of the hospital to their varied expertise,” states Gray. “The hospital is facing many challenges, but it is still (as quoted in the newspaper 43 years ago) ‘a hospital built by the people for the people’.”

Patty Houghton has worked for Lee Academy for over 25 years serving as assistant treasurer and business manager. She brings financial expertise to the board in budgeting, accounts payable and receivable, and endowment reporting. She has served as secretary on the Lee Academy board of directors and a member of the Maine Association of Independent Schools health insurance committee.

“I live by the Winston Churchill quote: We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give,” states Houghton. “I was honored to be asked to serve Penobscot Valley Hospital, and look forward to collaborating with fellow board members and hospital personnel as we champion the needs of our rural, hometown communities.”

The board also elected a new executive committee including:
· Phillip Dawson, Jr., President
Retired Fire Chief
Board member since 1984
· Richard Wyman
Vice President
Retired - United States Department of Defense
Board member since 2009
· Gilberte Mayo
Treasurer
Clerk, United States Postal Service
Board member since 2002   

Win a Free 1-Year Membership to PVH Gym

May 17- Penobscot Valley Hospital has over twenty participants in our new weight loss program called Healthy Me. Participants have been working directly with PVH staff to make lifestyle changes and reach weight loss goals. Healthy Me group leaders Jen Cowing, physical therapist, and Mark Robinson, registered dietitian, are thrilled with the interest in the program and wanted to extend a fun challenge to the group and community as a whole.

Through June 2, PVH is hosting a community-wide challenge for everyone to walk 10,000 steps per day.

The community is encouraged to track your steps each day. On the evening of June 2, at the end of the Healthy Me weight loss program, one person participating in the 10,000 steps per day walking challenge will win a free one-year membership to the PVH Community Fitness Center.

Increasing your physical activity levels not only reduces your risk of developing a chronic disease, it also decreases your likelihood of disability and premature death, and helps keep your healthcare costs down. Walking is a great way to increase your physical activity.

Our local Healthy Maine Partnership, Partnership for a Healthy Northern Penobscot, is providing free pedometers for the community to join in the 10,000 step per day challenge. Tracking charts and pedometers are available at the PVH Rehab & Wellness Center, 37 Main Street, Lincoln, while supplies last. Those wishing to take part in the challenge simply need to log their steps each day and report back to the Rehab & Wellness Center staff. Final tracking charts should be turned in by noon on June 2 to be eligible to win the one-year membership to the PVH Community Fitness Center.

Throughout the month, PVH staff are posting physical activity tips and healthy recipes on the PVH Rehab & Wellness Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/PVHRehabWellness

Scholarship Opportunity for Non-Traditional Healthcare Students

March 29  -  The Penobscot Valley Hospital Auxiliary will be awarding a scholarship to a non-traditional student pursuing a healthcare-related degree. Any student who has been out of high school for more than one year and is returning to pursue a degree is considered a non-traditional student. The PVH Auxiliary Scholarship provides college tuition assistance for adults who may not have access to other scholarships. Applications may be found at the PVH website, www.pvhme.org, then click on the scholarship article under the “What’s New” section. You may also pick up an application at the PVH Patient Registration desk in Lincoln. Hurry, the deadline to apply is May 15, 2016.

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