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New Managers Focus on Quality Care at PVH

Penobscot Valley Hospital is pleased to announce new managers: Heidi Huntington, Sue Johnstone and Helen McReavy. The trio has many years of dedication to PVH and our community, and have already been making great strides to enhance the patient experience at our hospital.

Heidi Huntington RN, BSN, CEN, AEMT
Emergency Services Nursing Director

I started my career as a Registered Nurse in 1998 and came to Penobscot Valley Hospital Emergency Room in 1999, working here for over 17 years. During that time, I became an Emergency Medical Technician, received my Certification in Emergency Nursing and continued to develop as a nurse. I took the position as Director of Emergency Services this year and eagerly embrace the role. I am excited to continue to be a part of this outstanding healthcare team. Our community hospital has a strong commitment to providing excellent care in a safe and compassionate environment.

We pride ourselves in short ED wait times as compared to state averages, and are currently looking at ways to decrease your wait even further during high volumes. We are continually striving to enhance your experience at PVH, from registration to discharge. Please feel free to contact me if you have any ideas on how we can continue to improve. Thank you for allowing PVH to be your hospital of choice.

Sue Johnstone, RN, CNOR
Surgical Services Nursing Director

I have supported PVH since the start of my nursing career in 1998. While there have been many changes over the past 18 years at PVH, our dedication to our community has always remained.

The Surgical Services department at PVH is committed to providing excellent, quality care to our patients and community. We will be focusing on improving efficiencies in scheduling to better serve our patients. I am both pleased and privileged to be a part of it and look forward to seeing PVH flourish and meet the needs of this community.

Helen McReavy
Laboratory Director

I have worked as a laboratory technician for 40 years, 25 of those here at PVH. In my new role, maintaining quality patient care will be a top priority. For the past 20 years, our lab has received flawless inspections (no deficiencies) from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services who regulates all U.S. human laboratory testing (except research) through the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments and we will work hard every day to keep quality as a top priority in all that we do.

The staff work very well together and consider each other family, working to perform duties to meet the needs of our patients. We will coordinate efforts with other departments to improve efficiencies. The PVH lab also provides services to local nursing homes (Colonial Acres, Cummings Health Care) and Residential Care facilities (Lakeview Terrace, Care Ridge Estates), completing weekly visits to the local nursing homes and visiting the residential care facilities when the need arises. The lab participates in training CNA and RMA students at Region III, instructing students in the art of phlebotomy. We pride ourselves in the quality of work that we provide. Our team is always ready to go the extra mile to improve processes. The PVH lab strives to remain the lab of choice for patients to complete all their blood work and testing.

Sue Johnstone, Helen McReavy and Heidi Huntington look to make PVH your first choice for all of our community’s emergency, laboratory and surgical needs.  

Patricia Nobel, MD Looks to Promote Good Medical Care While Serving on Hospital Board

The Board of Directors at Penobscot Valley Hospital is pleased to welcome Patricia Nobel, M.D. as their newest member. Dr. Nobel recently retired from Penobscot Valley Primary Care after a career of nearly 40 years in pediatrics.

“After spending 39 years, 24 in Lincoln, providing pediatric care to babies, children, and young people, I am very concerned about the medical health of our community,” states Dr. Patricia Nobel. “In my retirement I want to continue to promote good medical care for everyone in our community. To this end I have decided to join the Penobscot Valley Hospital Board of Directors.”

A native of Seattle, Washington, she received her B.A. and M.A. degrees from Stanford University. Her pediatric training took place at the University of New Mexico Medical Center and Hurley Medical Center; following this, she received her M.D. Degree from Mt. Sinai Hospital of City University of New York. She was Board Certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

An avid reader, Dr. Nobel has long been active in the Lincoln library and serves on the book selection committee with the statewide Raising Readers program providing books to children at well-child checkups.

Board chairman Phil Dawson adds, “The Board looks forward to the medical expertise that Dr. Patricia Nobel will bring to the table. She is well known, well respected, and will keep the community in mind as we work to improve the health and well-being of those we serve.”

Following a visit to her alma mater Stanford University and Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Dr. Patricia Nobel looks to improve the health of the community as she joins the Board of Directors at Penobscot Valley Hospital. 

Safety improvements lead to award at PVH

Penobscot Valley Hospital has recently been awarded Synernet Inc.’s “Most Improved Award” in recognition for its work place safety improvement initiatives.

Highlights of these initiatives include:
enriched facility rounding program,
improved snow and ice removal procedures,
emphasis on safe lifting and handling procedures,
advancements in medical waste management, and
adoption of a “needle-less” environment in our patient care areas.

Lee J. Cyr, director of insurance services at Synernet, Inc. stated, “Penobscot Valley Hospital was awarded the ‘Most Improved Member’ by the Synernet Workers’ Compensation Fund at its annual meeting in Rockland on September 22nd. Since 2012, Penobscot Valley Hospital has reduced the cost of its workers’ compensation injuries by over 90%. This recognition came from Penobscot Valley Hospital’s peers in the Fund, which consists of 12 hospitals throughout the State of Maine, and is a testament to the entire organization’s commitment to improve safety.”

PVH has been fortunate to benefit from grant money and annual fund donations over the past several years which have been utilized to purchase ceiling lifts for patient care areas, Hoyer lifts, and other pieces of equipment which ensure the safety of our patients as well as our staff. Penobscot Valley Hospital wishes to recognize and thank all employees and donors who have positively contributed to their safety program.

Karen Marquis, C.N.A. has been instrumental in training all new clinical staff at Penobscot Valley Hospital on the use of safe patient handling equipment, including the bed lift pictured with C.N.A. Stephanie Schick. Hospital-wide efforts were recognized last month by Synernet, Inc. as PVH leads their group in safety. 

PVH adds new service - pediatric dentistry in the operating room

Penobscot Valley Hospital is pleased to welcome dentists Terrin M. Porter, DDS and Marcus A. Wilkerson, DDS who will be providing pediatric dentistry care in the operating room one to two days each month.

“It is common for children to face anxiety when visiting a dentist. Sometimes children may have special needs that require sedation to perform oral care,” states Dr. Porter.

“Which is why utilizing the operating room including our trained staff and nurse anesthetists will be a value-added addition to our service line and enhances accessibility to specialized pediatric dentistry services that are in high demand across the state,” adds PVH chief executive officer Gary Poquette.

The PVH operating room provides a centralized location for many current patients who travel from Presque Isle to Waterville and Eastport to Jackman for their specialized dental care. Most notably, Drs. Porter and Wilkerson are some of the only dentists in the state who accept MaineCare.
The two attended dental school at University of Missouri with Dr. Porter completing his pediatric dental residency in NYU Lutheran Dental Medicine in Anchorage, Alaska and Dr. Wilkerson completing dental residency with NYU Lutheran Dental Medicine at Penobscot Community Health Center in Bangor. In 2015, the duo opened their own practice, Bangor Children’s Dentistry, and also see patients locally at Health Access Network providing routine dental care in Lincoln.

In Penobscot Valley Hospital’s operating room, the dentists will provide care to:
Children with early childhood dental needs (i.e. bottle or nursing decay)
Children with extensive and/or rampant dental decay
Children and patients with special needs
“We make it our personal mission to take the time necessary to create a personalized treatment plan for each of our young patients to send them home with a bright, beautiful and healthy smile,” adds Dr. Wilkerson.

Drs. Porter and Wilkerson will accept referrals from primary care physicians and other dentists. Please join us in welcoming Drs. Porter and Wilkerson to the PVH family and ask your healthcare provider to refer your child for local, quality care at Penobscot Valley Hospital.   

Dentists Marcus Wilkerson, DDS (left) and Terrin Porter, DDS (right) are welcomed to the Penobscot Valley Hospital operating room by director Sue Johnstone, RN. The dentists will be providing specialized pediatric care and accepting MaineCare as well as other forms of payment.

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 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?

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.

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. 

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