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Gym open to the public

Years ago, Rachael Keller was referred to the PVH Independent Gym program by her physician, Dr. Carl Alessi. Rachael has enjoyed the gym experience so much that she has returned three days a week for 13 years and claims, “This gym has kept me going!”

In the past, the gym program was only open to people who had a medical referral from their doctor, but now PVH is pleased to announce that the Community Fitness Center has opened to the public! The facility is located at the Penobscot Valley Hospital Rehabilitation & Wellness Center on 37 Main Street in Lincoln.

The Community Fitness Center is an air-conditioned, well-maintained space where participants can feel safely monitored throughout their exercise program. This is a welcoming, easy-going gym experience available for teenagers and adults. The Community Fitness Center is a place to become healthy and happy.
a. Equipment includes:
· Full spectrum of cardio exercise equipment
· Universal free weight machines
· Free weights
· Stability and therapy balls
· Space dedicated for floor stretches and core strengthening
· Showers and changing rooms
b. Availability:
· Full access to all areas Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 4-8pm, currently closed Thursday evenings. During this time, you may access the PT Gym and can utilize special machines that target trouble spots that are often only available during physical therapy sessions.
· Fitness Room available Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 7am-8pm and Thursdays 7am to 5:30pm. Cardio, core and weight equipment are available in this room.
The most important benefit of the Community Fitness Center is staying active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. There is no better way to spend $25 a month than on your own health.
Long time gym member Diane Edes states, “I enjoy the social interaction and have access to a variety of exercise equipment here.”

Keller adds, “It’s a wonderful place to have in our community. It is a very well run facility where you can improve your health and socialize at the same time.”
The public is invited to a free open house on Thursday, April 16 from 4-6pm with light refreshments, giveaways and tours at the Community Fitness Center. Staff can be reached at (207) 794-7228 or view the website for more information at www.pvhme.org/gym

Rachael Keller demonstrates the use of parallel bars to assist with squats and Diane Edes performs a lumbar alternating arm and leg lift on an exercise ball at the PVH Community Fitness Center. The space is now open to the public for gym

memberships.

C. difficile infects many in U.S.

Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) caused almost half a million infections among patients in the United States in a single year, according to a study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Approximately 29,000 patients died within 30 days of the initial diagnosis of C. difficile. Of those, about 15,000 deaths were estimated to be directly attributable to C. difficile infections, making C. difficile a very important cause of infectious disease death in the United States. More than 80 percent of the deaths associated with C. difficile occurred among Americans aged 65 years or older. C. difficile causes an inflammation of the colon and deadly diarrhea.

Previous studies indicate that C. difficile has become the most common microbial cause of healthcare-associated infections in U.S. hospitals and costs up to $4.8 billion each year in excess health care costs for acute care facilities alone. The new study found that 1 out of every 5 patients with a healthcare-associated C. difficile infection experienced a recurrence of the infection and 1 out of every 9 patients aged 65 or older with a healthcare-associated C. difficile infection died within 30 days of diagnosis.

“C. difficile infections cause immense suffering and death for thousands of Americans each year,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “These infections can be prevented by improving antibiotic prescribing and by improving infection control in the health care system. CDC hopes to ramp up prevention of this deadly infection by supporting State Antibiotic Resistance Prevention Programs in all 50 states.”

Patients at Highest Risk

Patients who take antibiotics are most at risk for developing C. difficile infections. More than half of all hospitalized patients will get an antibiotic at some point during their hospital stay, but studies have shown that 30 percent to 50 percent of antibiotics prescribed in hospitals are unnecessary or incorrect. When a person takes broad-spectrum antibiotics, beneficial bacteria that are normally present in the human gut and protect against infection can be suppressed for several weeks to months. During this time, patients can get sick from C. difficile picked up from contaminated surfaces or spread person to person. Unnecessary antibiotic use and poor infection control may increase the spread of C. difficile within a facility and from facility to facility when infected patients transfer, such as from a hospital to a nursing home.

Older Americans are especially vulnerable to this deadly diarrheal infection. The CDC study released today found that 1 out of every 3 C. difficile infections occurs in patients 65 years or older and 2 out of every 3 healthcare-associated C. difficile infections occur in patients 65 years or older. More than 100,000 C. difficile infections develop among residents of U.S. nursing homes each year. Women and Caucasian people are at increased risk of C. difficile infection.

Approximately two-thirds of the C. difficile infections were found to be associated with an inpatient stay in a health care facility, but only 24 percent of the total cases occurred among patients while they were hospitalized. Almost as many cases occurred in nursing homes as in hospitals, and the remainder of the healthcare-associated cases occurred among patients who were recently discharged from a health care facility.

Improving Antibiotic Use Critical for Preventing C. difficile

Although more than 150,000 of the half a million infections in the new study were community-associated and thus had no documented inpatient health care exposure, a separate recent CDC study found that 82 percent of patients with community-associated C. difficile infections reported exposure to outpatient health care settings such as doctor’s or dentist’s offices in the 12 weeks before their diagnosis; this finding underscores the need for improved antibiotic use and infection control in these settings as well. It is estimated that more than 50 percent of antibiotics are prescribed unnecessarily in outpatient settings for upper respiratory infections like cough and cold illness, most of which are caused by viruses.

Another recent CDC study showed that a 30 percent decrease in the use of antibiotics linked to C. difficile infections in hospitals could reduce the deadly infections by more than 25 percent in hospitalized and recently discharged patients. A new retrospective study from a Canadian hospital found that a 10 percent decrease in overall antibiotic use across different wards was associated with a 34 percent decrease in C. difficile infections. A third CDC study among patients without a recent hospitalization or nursing home stay (i.e., community-associated cases) found that a 10 percent reduction in the use of all antibiotics in outpatient settings could reduce C. difficile infections by 16 percent. In England in recent years, the number of C. difficile infections has been reduced by well over 60 percent, largely due to improvements in antibiotic prescribing.

To help hospitals develop antibiotic prescribing improvement programs (also called “antibiotic stewardship” programs), CDC has developed several tools, including a list of Core Elements of Hospital Antibiotic Stewardship Programs and an accompanying checklist. CDC is also working with states to improve outpatient prescribing and implement stewardship across the continuum of care and has provided a variety of resources through the Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work and Get Smart for Healthcare campaigns.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has developed a toolkit to help hospitals implement antibiotic stewardship programs to reduce C. difficile infections. This toolkit was created as part of AHRQ’s Healthcare-Associated Infections Program, which conducts research and implementation projects to prevent HAIs. Preventing all forms of HAIs contributes to reducing C. difficile infections by reducing the need for antibiotic use.

“AHRQ’s HAI Program funds projects that generate new scientific knowledge and, like the work on C. difficile, make this knowledge practical and approachable so clinicians on the front lines of care can prevent infections and make care safer for their patients,” said AHRQ Director Richard Kronick, Ph.D.

Preventing C. difficile Is a National Priority

Based on the National Action Plan to Prevent Health Care-Associated Infections: Road Map to Elimination, new 2020 national reduction targets are being established for C. difficile, and all hospitals participating in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program have been reporting C. difficile infection data to CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network since 2013. Those baseline data will allow continued surveillance for C. difficile infections to monitor progress in prevention.

“CMS invests in structured learning and improvement opportunities for hospitals and communities through Quality Improvement Organizations,” said CMS Acting Principal Deputy Director Patrick Conway, M.D. “The Quality Innovation Networks systematically support clinicians in the sharing of best practices in antibiotic stewardship and prevention of C. difficile.”

The State Antibiotic Resistance Prevention Programs that would be supported by the funding proposed in CDC’s FY 16 budget would work with health care facilities in all 50 states to detect and prevent both C. difficile infections and antibiotic-resistant organisms. The FY 16 budget would also accelerate efforts to improve antibiotic stewardship in inpatient and outpatient settings. During the next five years, CDC’s efforts to combat C. difficile infections and antibiotic resistance under the National Strategy to Combat Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria will enhance national capabilities for antibiotic stewardship, outbreak surveillance, and antibiotic resistance prevention. These efforts hold the potential to cut the incidence of C. difficile infections in half.

Note: The data reported are from 2011 and represent the largest, longitudinal, U.S. population-based surveillance for C. difficile infection to date, including laboratory-based surveillance across diverse U.S. geographic locations. 

Lee Academy students learn chemistry first hand (2)

On Thursday, March 19, eight students from Lee Academy visited Penobscot Valley Hospital to tour the laboratory and emergency rooms. During their field trip, students discussed healthcare in their home countries of China, Serbia, Taiwan, and Vietnam and how their healthcare systems compare to the United States. They were very impressed with all of the specialties provided here and how quickly services can be obtained.
 
In the PVH Laboratory, medical technologist Luann McPhail demonstrated blood draws and the different tubes used for various tests. The group continued from the phlebotomy room into the Lab with medical technologist Nicole Piche where she explained the inside workings of the Dimension analyzer which tests liver and kidney functions, thyroid levels and lipids. Students saw the equipment in action and watched different chemicals and reagents combine to perform blood testing.
 
Fourth year Lee Academy student Cookie Chen helped translate equipment names and processes to her fellow students, including information about tele-medicine in the emergency department and how we can consult with specialists electronically. The students said tele-medicine services are available mostly in the larger hospitals in China, and they were very impressed that smaller facilities in the U.S. use these services for patient care.
 
“Everyone here has a big smile on their face,” said Lee Academy student, Qingyun Tang, from China. “They not only cure patient’s body, they also care about patient’s mind.”
 
Lin Phan from Vietnam added, “This was very helpful to me to broaden my knowledge about American life.”
 
While none of the students felt a career as nurse or surgeon was for them, they did leave with a greater understanding of American healthcare and what to expect if they need services from our facility. Staff at PVH thoroughly enjoyed discussions with the group and remind the community that tours are available for students and can be scheduled by calling the Marketing Department at (207) 794-7324. On Thursday, March 19, eight students from Lee Academy visited Penobscot Valley Hospital to tour the laboratory and emergency rooms. During their field trip, students discussed healthcare in their home countries of China, Serbia, Taiwan, and Vietnam and how their healthcare systems compare to the United States. They were very impressed with all of the specialties provided here and how quickly services can be obtained.
In the PVH Laboratory, medical technologist Luann McPhail demonstrated blood draws and the different tubes used for various tests. The group continued from the phlebotomy room into the Lab with medical technologist Nicole Piche where she explained the inside workings of the Dimension analyzer which tests liver and kidney functions, thyroid levels and lipids. Students saw the equipment in action and watched different chemicals and reagents combine to perform blood testing.
Fourth year Lee Academy student Cookie Chen helped translate equipment names and processes to her fellow students, including information about tele-medicine in the emergency department and how we can consult with specialists electronically. The students said tele-medicine services are available mostly in the larger hospitals in China, and they were very impressed that smaller facilities in the U.S. use these services for patient care.
“Everyone here has a big smile on their face,” said Lee Academy student, Qingyun Tang, from China. “They not only cure patient’s body, they also care about patient’s mind.”
Lin Phan from Vietnam added, “This was very helpful to me to broaden my knowledge about American life.”
While none of the students felt a career as nurse or surgeon was for them, they did leave with a greater understanding of American healthcare and what to expect if they need services from our facility. Staff at PVH thoroughly enjoyed discussions with the group and remind the community that tours are available for students and can be scheduled by calling the Marketing Department at (207) 794-7324.

Transportation assistance to cancer treatments

by Terri Coolong, leader of the PVH Cancer Support Group

 With all the emotional problems that come with a cancer diagnosis, there are also logistical problems to work through as well. We are fortunate to have a renowned cancer center only an hour from here, in Bangor, but even that distance can be a huge obstacle. Traveling down for weekly or biweekly chemotherapy appointments is bad enough, but what if you are scheduled for daily radiation? You may feel well enough to drive yourself, but many people don’t. Even with a great support group of family and friends, you might have difficulty getting a ride to your treatments.

There is help available. If you have had a cancer diagnosis and live in Penobscot or Piscataquis Counties, the Lynx Ride to Health can help ease some of the burden and stress. With funding provided by the Maine Cancer Foundation, Penquis/The Lynx can provide transportation assistance for medical treatment of cancer including chemotherapy, radiation, support groups and more. This service can pick you up at your home and bring you to treatment, or any service that is part of your treatment. Eligibility for this program is NOT based on income. For more information, call 973-3695 or 1-866-853-5969 and ask about the Ride to Health. You will need to call to schedule a ride at least 3 days prior to your appointment.

There are also low income transportation services available through Penquis. This requires an application be filled out before any services can be received. This program allows you to have a ride from a family member or friend and they will be reimbursed mileage. For more information about this service, call 973-3609.

If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, another program called the Ride to Wellness can help. Susan G. Komen for the Cure sponsors these rides and helps defray the cost, along with Penquis and CancerCare of Maine. You can get either transportation services or mileage reimbursement for medical treatment of breast cancer, including diagnostic services, chemotherapy, support groups, radiation and more. Lynx volunteer drivers can pick you up at your home, or your family or friends can be reimbursed 21 cents per mile. You are also eligible to the 21 cent reimbursement if you are able to drive yourself to treatment. Again, there is NO income requirement. FMI, call the Lynx at 973-3695 or 1-866-853-5969 and mention the Ride to Wellness.

So don’t add transportation woes to add to the stress of your cancer diagnosis. Research has proven that maintaining as stress-free an environment as possible leads to a better prognosis.

Our Cancer Support Group meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, from 6 to 7:15 pm, in Conference Room B at PVH. The group is open to cancer patients, survivors and their caregivers. We often have guest speakers or planned topics but always allow time to address your particular concerns. Just remember, almost any problem you are having is one that others have had before, and the tips and tricks from those who are walking slightly ahead of you can make your journey more tolerable. If you have questions about the PVH Cancer Support Group, call 794-7149 and leave a message. Someone will call you back!

February is Heart Month

February 10- February is recognized as American Heart Month and staff at Penobscot Valley Hospital are working to spread awareness about heart disease. On Friday, February 6, staff participated in the national Wear Red Day where we sported our favorite fashions in the power color. Also during the day, PVH physical therapist Margie Butterly offered exercise sessions, teaching staff proper use of exercise bands and some simple exercises that can be done right at your desk any time of day. PVH is also featuring a display in the main lobby of materials from WomenHeart and the American Heart Association, so stop by for a visit and pick up a packet of heart health information.

We all know somebody who has been affected by heart disease and it seems more and more we are hearing about younger people, healthy individuals and even women suffering from a cardiovascular incident. We think, “how can that be, she was the picture of good health?”

Let’s set the record straight and debunk some common myths with information from the American Heart Association:

“I’m too young to worry about heart disease.” How you live now affects your risk for cardiovascular diseases later in life. As early as childhood and adolescence, plaque can start accumulating in the arteries and later lead to clogged arteries. One in three Americans has cardiovascular disease, but not all of them are senior citizens. Even young and middle-aged people can develop heart problems – especially now that obesity, type 2 diabetes and other risk factors are becoming more common at a younger age.

“I’d know if I had high blood pressure because there would be warning signs.” High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because you don’t usually know you have it. You may never experience symptoms, so don’t wait for your body to alert you that there’s a problem. The way to know if you have high blood pressure is to check your numbers with a simple blood pressure test. Early treatment of high blood pressure is critical because, if left untreated, it can cause heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other serious health problems. Learn how high blood pressure is diagnosed.

“I’ll know when I’m having a heart attack because I’ll have chest pain.” Not necessarily. Although it’s common to have chest pain or discomfort, a heart attack may cause subtle symptoms. These can include shortness of breath, nausea, feeling lightheaded, and pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the jaw, neck or back. Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately.

“Diabetes won’t threaten my heart as long as I take my medication.” Treating diabetes can help reduce your risk for or delay the development of cardiovascular diseases. But even when blood sugar levels are under control, you’re still at increased risk for heart disease and stroke. That’s because the risk factors that contribute to diabetes onset also make you more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. These overlapping risk factors include high blood pressure, overweight and obesity, physical inactivity and smoking.

“Heart disease runs in my family, so there’s nothing I can do to prevent it.” Although people with a family history of heart disease are at higher risk, you can take steps to dramatically reduce your risk. Create an action plan to keep your heart healthy by tackling these to-do’s: get active; control cholesterol; eat better; manage blood pressure; maintain a healthy weight; control blood sugar; and stop smoking.

“I don’t need to have my cholesterol checked until I’m middle-aged.” The American Heart Association recommends you start getting your cholesterol checked at age 20. It’s a good idea to start having cholesterol tested even earlier if your family has a history of heart disease. Children in these families can have high cholesterol levels, putting them at increased risk for developing heart disease as adults. You can help yourself and your family by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

“Heart failure means the heart stops beating.” The heart suddenly stops beating during cardiac arrest, not heart failure. With heart failure, the heart keeps working, but it doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. It can cause shortness of breath, swelling in the feet and ankles or persistent coughing and wheezing. During cardiac arrest, a person loses consciousness and stops normal breathing.

“This pain in my legs must be a sign of aging. I’m sure it has nothing to do with my heart.” Leg pain felt in the muscles could be a sign of a condition called peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD results from blocked arteries in the legs caused by plaque buildup. The risk for heart attack or stroke increases five-fold for people with PAD.

“My heart is beating really fast. I must be having a heart attack.” Some variation in your heart rate is normal. Your heart rate speeds up during exercise or when you get excited, and slows down when you’re sleeping. Most of the time, a change in your heartbeat is nothing to worry about. But sometimes, it can be a sign of arrhythmia, an abnormal or irregular heartbeat. Most arrhythmias are harmless, but some can last long enough to impact how well the heart works and require treatment.

“I should avoid exercise after having a heart attack.” Not true! As soon as possible, get moving with a plan approved for you! Research shows that heart attack survivors who are regularly physically active and make other heart-healthy changes live longer than those who don’t. People with chronic conditions typically find that moderate-intensity activity is safe and beneficial. The American Heart Association recommends at least two and a half hours of moderate intensity physical activity each week. Find the help you need by joining the PVH Rehab & Wellness gym, a cardiac rehabilitation program, or consult your healthcare provider for advice on developing a physical activity plan tailored to your needs.
The American Heart Association reports that a whopping 80 percent of cardiac events could have been prevented with education and lifestyle changes! Think about making small steps toward healthy lifestyle choices. What can you do now to improve your eating habits, exercise routines or other actions like quitting smoking? A few small steps now can have a big impact down the road!

“It is very important for people to know their blood pressure, cholesterol levels and risk of developing diabetes. Speak with your primary care physician to learn what these numbers mean to you,” states PVH family practice physician Carl Alessi, MD.

Remember to stop by PVH during the month of February to pick up your cardiovascular health materials including some great recipe ideas. For more information, visit GoRedForWomen.org or the Penobscot Valley Hospital website at www.pvhme.org.

PVH staff members sported red fashions on national Wear Red Day to help increase awareness about heart disease among women. Pictured are (l to r) Monica Vanadestine, chief nursing officer and Christine Weymouth, administrative assistant. 

PVH Cancer Support Group

February 3 - According to statistics from the State of Maine and the American Cancer Society, Maine has the dubious distinction of having the highest incidence of cancer of all the states. Additionally, mortality from all types of cancer is significantly higher than the rest of the country, and lung, esophageal and bladder cancers specifically are much higher than the norm. Cancer deaths have now surpassed heart disease to become Maine’s number one killer.

By county, Penobscot ranks fourth in the state, with Hancock and Washington having the highest incidences of cancer, based on information from the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Aroostook County has a much higher incidence of colorectal cancer than the rest of the state. Penobscot County has significantly higher lung cancer. Washington County has significantly higher rates overall. These incidence statistics are from 2011, and mortality statistics are from 2010, the latest that are available in published form.

The top 4 cancers resulting in mortality in Maine are lung, breast, prostate and colorectal cancers.

What explains the high incidence of cancer in Maine? Unfortunately, Mainers as a whole are leading unhealthy lifestyles that contribute strongly to cancer. Approximately 75-85% of cancers are thought to come from preventable risk factors.

Following are some of the areas where we could do better:
• Obesity: 30% of people in Maine are obese. Obesity has been implicated in esophageal, pancreatic, colon, kidney, endometrial and breast cancers. Losing just 5% of your current weight reduces the risk of developing cancer. Eating more fruits and vegetables and whole grains, while reducing intake of red meat and processed foods like lunch meat and bacon contributes to overall health. Additionally, our sedentary lifestyle contributes to obesity. Taking a walk every evening before sitting down in front of the TV will not only offer some prevention for cancer, but also for heart disease.
• Smoking: Approximately 20% of Mainers are regular smokers, and a shocking 52% have smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetimes. This is the third highest rate nationally. Everyone knows that lung cancer can result from smoking, but did you know that throat, oral, esophageal, stomach, pancreatic, kidney, bladder and some types of leukemia are also tied to tobacco use? Obviously, quitting smoking and avoiding second hand smoke will reduce your risk of developing many types of cancer.
• Sun-worshipping: Skin cancer rates are skyrocketing, especially among younger women, who are more likely to tan than any other age group. Skin cancer deaths are rising as well. Avoiding tanning beds, using sunscreen and covering with hats and long sleeves during midday all help reduce the chance that you will develop skin cancer.
• Age: Only seven states have average ages over 40 years. Maine is the oldest state in the nation, with an overage age of about 43 years. Obviously, there isn’t much we can do about this one. Cancer rates rise with age, as the cells in our bodies break down and are not replaced as quickly as when we are younger.

So is there any good news? Yes! Part of the high incidence of cancer diagnoses might be explained by the fact that Maine is the third highest in the nation in having colonoscopies and tenth for mammograms. Although we have risky behaviors, we are also trying to take care of ourselves.

Overall, cancer rates have been dropping in both males and females since 2001. Colon and prostate cancer rates are dropping, and breast and cervical cancers are holding steady. Prostate cancer rates are lower than the national average.

Even if you are diagnosed with cancer, you have a better chance of surviving. Mortality rates in Maine have been dropping since 1993, except for lung cancer in women, which has been rising steadily since 1983. We are fortunate to have access to a cutting edge cancer center, Cancer Care of Maine, which is helping the statistics in Penobscot County. For more information on cancer statistics, visit www.maine.gov and search for the Maine CDC.

The PVH Cancer Support Group meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month from 6:00 to 7:15pm in Conference Room B at the hospital. This group is open to both patients and caregivers. We have a Facebook page on which we try to post news of interest at www.Facebook.com/PVHCancerSupportGroup. Meetings this month will be February 10 and 24, but remember, if school is canceled due to weather, we are too!

 

New opportunities ahead for Dr. David Dumont

January 13 - Penobscot Valley Hospital chief medical officer and chief of emergency medicine Dr. David Dumont announced plans to resign effective April 2015 and will relocate to the Brunswick area.

Dr. Dumont has accepted a hospitalist position at Mid Coast Hospital, a 110-bed facility including a 12-bed intensive care unit serving approximately 100,000 residents in the mid coast area.

“Ultimately, the decision to move is tied directly to family. Melanie and I look forward to being in closer proximity and spending more time with them,” states Dumont. “I have thoroughly enjoyed working with and providing healthcare for the people in Lincoln, and plan to support Penobscot Valley Hospital even after I leave.”

Dr. Dumont started his career in Lincoln as a family practice physician over 25 years ago, also acting in various roles at PVH including emergency medicine, chief of medical staff, chief medical officer. He transitioned from primary care to the facility’s first hospitalist in 2006, and most recently successfully recruited a full team of PVH employed physicians to staff roles in the emergency department and hospitalist program.

“I leave Penobscot Valley Hospital knowing the facility is in a good place,” adds Dumont. “There is a great leadership team who is enthusiastic about implementing change for the better and a strong group of physicians who truly care about the community. The area is lucky to employ so many skilled healthcare workers which allows me to leave with peace of mind.”

“Dr. Dumont has been a pillar in our community and the Board regrets seeing him go,” states PVH board chairman Fred Woodman. “Dumont’s resignation is one of a handful of leadership transitions currently taking place at PVH but we assure you that the hospital is in a good state. The Board and staff remain unified in our commitment to quality, safety and serving the healthcare needs of our community.”

PVH chief executive officer Gary Poquette added, “The Board of Directors, medical staff and employees of Penobscot Valley Hospital are extremely appreciative of all Dr. Dumont has done to improve the health of our community. We wish the entire Dumont family well in their future endeavors.”



David Dumont, M.D. plans to leave the Lincoln community in April to be closer to his family. 

 

Flu Vaccine Still Recommended for All

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that influenza is on the rise in some parts of the country. They are seeing predominantly influenza A strains which have historically lead to more hospitalizations and higher mortality. 

 

 

During the week ending November 22, 1,123 (91.4%) of the 1,228 influenza-positive tests reported to CDC were influenza A viruses and 105 (8.6%) were influenza B viruses.

The CDC is also reporting that this year’s influenza vaccine is “like” 48% of the viral characteristics being seen in those infected with influenza A. This means over 50% of those infected with the predominant strain of flu has drifted from that covered in the influenza vaccine.

“An annual flu vaccine is still the single best way to prevent serious illness,” states Infection Prevention Practitioner at PVH Sherry McCafferty. “Historically when a virus has “drifted”, the flu vaccination has still been found to provide some protection inreducing the likelihood of severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death. Vaccines also offer protection against circulating influenza strains that have not undergone significant antigenic drift from the vaccine viruses.”

The influenza vaccine being given out at PVH contains four influenza viruses—an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and two influenza B viruses. Therefore, even if vaccine effectiveness is reduced against drifted circulating viruses, thevaccine will protect against non-drifted circulating vaccine viruses. Further, there is evidence to suggest that vaccination may make illness milder and prevent influenza-related complications. This occurs when antibodies created through vaccination will often“cross-protect” against different but related strains of influenza viruses.

McCafferty adds, “In addition to getting vaccinated, you can take everyday preventative steps like staying away from sick people and washing your hands often to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with the flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading the virus to others.”
Anyone with influenza-like illness who might be at high risk for complications should seek care promptly to determine if treatment with influenza antiviral medications is warranted. People at high risk for flu complications may include pregnant women, people with asthma, diabetes or heart disease, people who are morbidly obese and people older than 65 or children younger than 5 years, but especially those younger than 2 years.

The flu vaccine usually takes two weeks to fully develop antibodies once administered, so clinicians recommend getting yours early. Contact your primary care provider or local pharmacist for more information on scheduling an appointment to receive your vaccine. More information on the flu is available at www.pvhme.org/flu

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