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PTs offer advice on posture

by Martine LeGassey, Doctor of Physical Therapy

Did you know that posture affects more than just your spine?

Good posture plays an important role in breathing, digestion, cognition and an overall sense of well-being. Faulty posture can cause back and/or neck pain, headaches, TMJ (jaw) dysfunction, respiratory problems, constipation, decreased memory and fatigue.

As you probably already know, there are many factors that contribute to poor posture, including:
Prolonged sitting, especially in a non-ergonomic chair or workstation (Also, men should not sit with a wallet in your back pocket!)
Prolonged standing
Awkward sleep positions and low quality mattress or pillow
Carrying a heavy load, including: backpacks on one shoulder, heavy briefcases or purses
A good general rule is that your load should not exceed 10% of your body weight.
Restrictive clothing (tight/wide belts, jeans worn low over the hips, non-supportive footwear)
Diseases such as obesity, osteoporosis, arthritis, also poor nutrition
Accidents and injuries
Low self-confidence or self-esteem

So what can you do to keep your posture as healthy as possible? Becoming aware of your positional faults is the first step to improving your posture. Behavioral modifications, workplace ergonomic assessments, investing in the proper footwear, clothing and mattress/pillows can help tremendously.

Frequent exercise, including daily stretching and strengthening is also important for keeping your physique in perfect balance.

During the month of October, the team at the PVH Rehab & Wellness Center in downtown Lincoln is celebrating National Physical Therapy Month and would like to remind the community about their Independent Gym Program. With approval from your doctor, you can become a member of our gym for just $25 per month which includes a quarterly check-in with one of the PVH physical therapists to monitor progress on your workout routine. Call the PVH Rehab & Wellness Center at (207) 794-7228 for more information on the Independent Gym Program or visit  

How Physical Therapy Helps You Recover

by Katie Neal, Physical Therapist

(Lincoln, ME) October is National Physical Therapy Month and staff at Penobscot Valley Hospital would like to remind you that we offer physical therapy services from highly educated and state licensed physical therapists.
Who are physical therapists and what do they do?
We are healthcare professionals who love to help people reduce the limitations they may be having. These limitations may include pain or decrease of mobility or strength at one or more areas of the body. Physical therapy (PT) services are designed to help people recover more effectively from acute trauma, surgery, recent or congenital illness, work or sports-related musculoskeletal injuries, motor vehicle accidents, chronic pain and disease. Research is supporting the use of physical therapy to avoid expensive surgery and reducing the need for long-term use of medications.
We are teachers working one-on-one with our patients to manage and prevent problems. Each physical therapy patient will have an evaluation and assessment followed by a plan to address the areas of pain, decreased mobility, or strength. We work with patients to transition to a more active, independent lifestyle as their conditions improve.

The physical therapists who are employed by Penobscot Valley Hospital work on Main Street in the Mini Mall seeing outpatients as well as at the hospital, treating the acute and skilled care inpatients who stay over night. Staff at the PVH Rehabilitation & Wellness Center use several different tools and techniques to diagnose and treat your injuries. These tools range from several hands-on techniques to more advanced medical equipment. The center has special machinery to help with your recovery, including a universal gym, aerobic equipment, NUSTEP, treadmill, and pediatric equipment.
Our staff serves all ages from pediatrics to the geriatric population. We are committed to helping our patients regain the independence they desire. We believe the comfort and convenience of these services, performed close to home with family, are vital for patients to reach optimal rehabilitation.

Meet our team

Margie Butterly, PT graduated from the University of Colorado with a Bachelor’s Degree in PT. She specializes in manual therapy and particularly enjoys treating orthopedic and elderly patients.

Kristina Clark, PT, DPT, GCS received a Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree from SUNY Upstate Medical University. She enjoys working with people of all ages, especially older adults.

Martine LeGassey, PT, DPT received a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, both from Husson University. She enjoys helping athletes recover from injury and working with older adults to manage their gait or balance disorders.

Katie Neal, PT, OCS has been a physical therapist at PVH since 1997. She is a graduate of the University of New England and enjoys working with all different ages and all types of patients.

Linda Osborne, PT, DPT received a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Husson University. She has been working at PVH since 2004 and enjoys patients of all ages.

The physical therapists at the PVH Rehab & Wellness Center will be collaborating on an informative article each week through the month of October, offering you a snapshot into the PT world. Each of us would like to help you maintain your optimum health and movement abilities. Let us know what we can do to help you by calling (207) 794-7228! You may also check out or for the latest information as we celebrate National Physical Therapy Month. 

Staff at the Penobscot Valley Hospital Rehab & Wellness Center are celebrating National Physical Therapy Month and plan to publish weekly articles in the paper so you can learn more about posture, body mechanics and staying healthy. (l to r) Physical therapists Katie Neal, Kristina Clark, Martine LeGassey, Margie Butterly; Director of Rehab Services Mike Butterfield; and Secretary Kelly Wakefield; (absent) Linda Osborne.  

Cases of Whooping Cough on the Rise

September 22  - According to the Maine Centers for Disease Control, there have been over 250 cases of pertussis (whooping cough) reported in Maine this year and Penobscot County is one of seven Maine counties reporting a high prevalence of this disease. The majority of cases are occurring in children from infancy to young adulthood. 

Pertussis is a highly communicable, vaccine-preventable disease that can last for many weeks. It is spread from person to person through the air. Classic pertussis symptoms are similar to a cold (sneezing, runny nose, low-grade fever, and a cough). After one or two weeks, the cough often gets worse. For example:
The cough occurs in sudden, uncontrollable bursts where one cough follows the next without a break for breath.
Many children will make a high-pitched whooping sound when breathing in after a coughing episode. Whooping is less common in infants and adults.
After a coughing spell, the person may vomit.
The person may look blue in the face and have difficulty breathing.
The cough is often worse at night.
Between coughing spells, the person seems well, but the illness is exhausting over time.
Over time, coughing spells become less frequent, but may continue for several weeks or months.

Pertussis can cause serious illness and can even be life-threatening, especially in infants. Early treatment of pertussis is very important and may lessen symptoms. More than half of infants less than 1 year of age with pertussis require hospitalization.

PVH Infection Prevention Practitioner, Sherry McCafferty, RN states “The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated. Ask your doctor if you are up to date on your pertussis vaccination which is DTaP for infants and children and Tdap for pre-teens through adults.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that protection from childhood pertussis vaccines still appears to be excellent during the first few years after vaccination. In general, DTaP vaccination is effective for up to 8 or 9 out of 10 children who receive it, but protection fades over time. Outbreaks and epidemics being seen around the country are consistent with what is seen as vaccine protection wears off. It is most likely that the change in pertussis vaccines (from whole cell to acellular in the 1990s) along with better diagnostics and increased reporting are driving the resurgence of pertussis throughout the United States.

Penobscot Valley Hospital encourages all employees to become vaccinated against pertussis to help prevent the spread of disease. To date, 88% of all employees at PVH have received their Tdap vaccine. Parents, grandparents, teachers, daycare providers and others in close contact with children should also receive the vaccine from their doctors.

For more information on pertussis or to hear an audio clip of a child with whooping cough, visit our Facebook page at or



New Service in Town: Audiology

Penobscot Valley Hospital is pleased to welcome Audiologist Chris Clukey to the downtown Rehab & Wellness Center on Fridays starting September 19, 2014. Mr. Clukey will be providing complete hearing evaluations and hearing aids for adults, as well as hearing aid cleanings on all models, battery sales, and hearing aid trade-in discounts.

Chris is a Maine native who graduated with the outstanding student award from one of the top Audiology programs in the nation at The University of Memphis. With 15 years of experience in the industry, Chris has seen many advancements in technology and now offers iPhone-compatible hearing devices. Many of the hearing aids he sells are very affordable with prices ranging from $400 to $2,800. Working people might also be eligible for free hearing aids through the Maine Rehab Services program.

“Common signs of hearing deterioration include listening to the television too loudly, asking others to constantly repeat themselves, and not participating in conversation as much as they used to,” states Clukey. “If you notice these signs of hearing loss with your loved one, it might be time for a hearing evaluation.”

Hearing evaluations are conducted in a spacious new hearing booth recently installed in the PVH Rehab & Wellness Center. Clukey recommends people receive a hearing evaluation every two years. Those with hearing aids should visit every six months for hearing aid adjustments.

Those interested in more information about hearing evaluations or hearing aids may call the Rehab Center at 794-7228 to set up an appointment or walk-in’s are accepted on Fridays from 9am to 4pm beginning September 19. Evening hours are also available by appointment. The PVH Rehab & Wellness Center is located across from Marden’s at 37 Main Street in Lincoln. Visit to learn more. 

Chris Clukey will begin providing hearing exams and hearing aid services for the Lincoln region on Fridays at the PVH Rehab & Wellness Center on Main Street starting September 19.

Lyme disease

Ticks are shown larger than actual size.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease (LD) is an infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a type of bacterium called a spirochete (pronounced spy-ro-keet) that is carried by deer ticks. An infected tick can transmit the spirochete to the humans and animals it bites. Untreated, the bacterium travels through the bloodstream, establishes itself in various body tissues, and can cause a number of symptoms, some of which are severe.

LD manifests itself as a multisystem inflammatory disease that affects the skin in its early, localized stage, and spreads to the joints, nervous system and, to a lesser extent, other organ systems in its later,
disseminated stages. If diagnosed and treated early with antibiotics, LD is almost always readily cured. Generally, LD in its later stages can also be treated effectively, but because the rate of disease progression and individual response to treatment varies from one patient to the next, some patients may have symptoms that linger for months or even years following treatment. In rare instances, LD causes permanent damage.

Although LD is now the most common arthropod-borne illness in the U.S. (more than 150,000 cases have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] since 1982), its diagnosis and treatment can be challenging for clinicians due to its diverse manifestations and the limitations of currently available serological (blood) tests.

The prevalence of LD in the northeast and upper mid-west is due to the presence of large numbers of the deer tick's preferred hosts - white-footed mice and deer - and their proximity to humans. White-footed mice serve as the principal "reservoirs of infection" on which many larval and nymphal (juvenile) ticks feed and become infected with the LD spirochete. An infected tick can then transmit infection the next time it feeds on another host (e.g., an unsuspecting human).

Borrelia burgdorferi
The LD spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, infects other species of ticks but is known to be transmitted to humans and other animals only by the deer tick (also known as the black-legged tick) and the related Western black-legged tick. Studies have shown that an infected tick normally cannot begin transmitting the spirochete until it has been attached to its host about 36-48 hours; the best line of defense against LD, therefore, is to examine yourself at least once daily and remove any ticks before they become engorged (swollen) with blood.

Generally, if you discover a deer tick attached to your skin that has not yet become engorged, it has not been there long enough to transmit the LD spirochete. Nevertheless, it is advisable to be alert in case any symptoms do appear; a red rash (especially surrounding the tick bite), flu-like symptoms, or joint pains in the first month following any deer tick bite could signal the onset of LD.

Manifestations of what we now call Lyme disease were first reported in medical literature in Europe in 1883. Over the years, various clinical signs of this illness have been noted as separate medical conditions: acrodermatitis, chronica atrophicans (ACA), lymphadenosis benigna cutis (LABC), erythema migrans (EM), and lymphocytic meningradiculitis (Bannwarth's syndrome). However, these diverse manifestations were not recognized as indicators of a single infectious illness until 1975, when LD was described following an outbreak of apparent juvenile arthritis, preceded by a rash, among residents of Lyme, Connecticut.

Where is Lyme Disease Prevalent?

LD is spreading slowly along and inland from the upper east coast, as well as in the upper midwest. The mode of spread is not entirely clear and is probably due to a number of factors such as bird migration, mobility of deer and other large mammals, and infected ticks dropping off of pets as people travel around the country. It is also prevalent in northern California and Oregon coast, but there is little evidence of spread.

In order to assess LD risk you should know whether infected deer ticks are active in your area or in places you may visit. The population density and percentage of infected ticks that may transmit LD vary markedly from one region of the country to another. There is even great variation from county to county within a state and from area to area within a county. For example, less than 5% of adult ticks south of Maryland are infected with B. burgdorferi, while up to 50% are infected in hyperendemic areas (areas with a high tick infection rate) of the northeast. The tick infection rate in Pacific coastal states is between 2% and 4%.

U.S. Range Maps and Statistics

To view U.S. Range Maps and Statistics for Lyme disease, click here.


The spirochetal agent of Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdoferi, is transmitted to humans through a bite of a nymphal stage deer tick Ixodes scapularis (or Ixodes pacificus on the West Coast). The duration of tick attachment and feeding is a key factor in transmission. Proper identification of tick species and feeding duration aids in determining the probability of infection and the risk of developing Lyme disease.

Spirochete transmission poster: how long has that tick been feeding on you?

The early symptoms of LD can be mild and easily overlooked. People who are aware of the risk of LD in their communities and who do not ignore the sometimes subtle early symptoms are most likely to seek medical attention and treatment early enough to be assured of a full recovery.

The first symptom is usually an expanding rash (called erythema migrans, or EM, in medical terms) which is thought to occur in 80% to 90% of all LD cases. An EM rash generally has the following characteristics:
Usually (but not always) radiates from the site of the tickbite
Appears either as a solid red expanding rash or blotch, OR a central spot surrounded by clear skin that is in turn ringed by an expanding red rash (looks like a bull's-eye)
Appears an average of 1 to 2 weeks (range = 3 to 30 days) after disease transmission
Has an average diameter of 5 to 6 inches
(range = 2 inches to 2 feet)
Persists for about 3 to 5 weeks
May or may not be warm to the touch
Is usually not painful or itchy
EM rashes appearing on brown-skinned or sun-tanned patients may be more difficult to identify because of decreased contrast between light-skinned tones and the red rash. A dark, bruise-like appearance is more common on dark-skinned patients.

Ticks will attach anywhere on the body, but prefer body creases such as the armpit, groin, back of the knee, and nape of the neck; rashes will therefore often appear in (but are not restricted to) these areas. Please note that multiple rashes may, in some cases, appear elsewhere on the body some time after the initial rash, or, in a few cases, in the absence of an initial rash.

Around the time the rash appears, other symptoms such as joint pains, chills, fever, and fatigue are common, but they may not seem serious enough to require medical attention. These symptoms may be brief, only to recur as a broader spectrum of symptoms as the disease progresses.

As the LD spirochete continues spreading through the body, a number of other symptoms including severe fatigue, a stiff, aching neck, and peripheral nervous system (PNS) involvement such as tingling or numbness in the extremities or facial palsy (paralysis) can occur.

The more severe, potentially debilitating symptoms of later-stage LD may occur weeks, months, or, in a few cases, years after a tick bite. These can include severe headaches, painful arthritis and swelling of joints, cardiac abnormalities, and central nervous system (CNS) involvement leading to cognitive (mental) disorders.

The following is a checklist of common symptoms seen in various stages of LD:

Localized Early (Acute) Stage:

Solid red or bull's-eye rash, usually at site of bite
Swelling of lymph glands near tick bite
Generalized achiness
Early Disseminated Stage:

Two or more rashes not at site of bite
Migrating pains in joints/tendons
Stiff, aching neck
Facial palsy (facial paralysis similar to Bell's palsy)
Tingling or numbness in extremities
Multiple enlarged lymph glands
Abnormal pulse
Sore throat
Changes in vision
Fever of 100 to 102 F
Severe fatigue
Late Stage:

Arthritis (pain/swelling) of one or two large joints
Disabling neurological disorders (disorientation; confusion; dizziness; short-term memory loss; inability to concentrate, finish sentences or follow conversations; mental "fog")
Numbness in arms/hands or legs/feet

If you think you have LD symptoms you should see your physician immediately. The EM rash, which may occur in up to 90% of the reported cases, is a specific feature of LD, and treatment should begin immediately.

Even in the absence of an EM rash, diagnosis of early LD should be made on the basis of symptoms and evidence of a tick bite, not blood tests, which can often give false results if performed in the first month after initial infection (later on, the tests are more reliable). If you live in an endemic area, have symptoms consistent with early LD and suspect recent exposure to a tick, present your suspicion to your doctor so that he or she may make a more informed diagnosis.

If early symptoms are undetected or ignored, you may develop more severe symptoms weeks, months or perhaps years after you were infected. In this case, the CDC recommends using the ELISA and Western-blot blood tests to determine whether you are infected. These tests, as noted above, are considered more reliable and accurate when performed at least a month after initial infection, although no test is 100% accurate.

If you have neurological symptoms or swollen joints your doctor may, in addition, recommend a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test via a spinal tap or withdrawal of synovial fluid from an affected joint. This test amplifies the DNA of the spirochete and will usually indicate its presence.


Recommended courses and duration of treatment for both early and late Lyme symptoms are shown in our Table of Recommended Antibiotics and Dosages (see also table footnotes).

Early treatment of LD (within the first few weeks after initial infection) is straightforward and almost always results in a full cure. Treatment begun after the first three weeks will also likely provide a cure, but the cure rate decreases the longer treatment is delayed.

Doxycycline, amoxicillin and ceftin are the three oral antibiotics most highly recommended for treatment of all but a few symptoms of LD. A recent study of Lyme arthritis in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that a four-week course of oral doxycycline is just as effective in treating late LD, and much less expensive, than a similar course of intravenous Ceftriaxone (Rocephin) unless neurological or severe cardiac abnormalities are present. If these symptoms are present, the study recommends immediate intravenous (IV) treatment.

Treatment of late-Lyme patients can be more complicated. Usually LD in its later stages can be treated effectively, but individual variation in the rate of disease progression and response to treatment may, in some cases, render standard antibiotic treatment regimens ineffective. In a small percentage of late-Lyme patients, the disease may persist for many months or even years. These patients will experience slow improvement and resolution of their persisting symptoms following oral or IV treatment that eliminated the infection.

Although treatment approaches for patients with late-stage LD have become a matter of considerable debate, many physicians and the Infectious Disease Society of America recognize that, in some cases, several courses of either oral or IV (depending on the symptoms presented) antibiotic treatment may be indicated. However, long-term IV treatment courses (longer than the recommended 4-6 weeks) are not usually advised due to adverse side effects. While there is some speculation that long-term courses may be more effective than the recommended 4-6 weeks, there is currently no scientific evidence to support this assertion. Click here for an article from the New England Journal of Medicine which presents clinical recommendations in the treatment and prevention of early Lyme disease.

Prevention & Control

Larval and nymphal deer ticks often hide in shady, moist ground litter, but adults can often be found above the ground clinging to tall grass, brush, and shrubs. They also inhabit lawns and gardens, especially at the edges of woodlands and around old stone walls where deer and white-footed mice, the ticks' preferred hosts, thrive. Within the endemic range of B. burgdorferi (the spirochete that infects the deer tick and causes LD), no natural, vegetated area can be considered completely free of infected ticks.

Deer ticks cannot jump or fly, and do not drop from above onto a passing animal. Potential hosts (which include all wild birds and mammals, domestic animals, and humans) acquire ticks only by direct contact with them. Once a tick latches onto human skin it generally climbs upward until it reaches a protected or creased area, often the back of the knee, groin, navel, armpit, ears, or nape of the neck. It then begins the process of inserting its mouthparts into the skin until it reaches the blood supply.

In tick-infested areas, the best precaution against LD is to avoid contact with soil, leaf litter and vegetation as much as possible. However, if you garden, hike, camp, hunt, work outdoors or otherwise spend time in woods, brush or overgrown fields, you should use a combination of precautions to dramatically reduce your chances of getting Lyme disease:

First, using color and size as indicators, learn how to distinguish between:

Deer tick larva, nymph and adultDeer tick larva (top),
nymph (right) and adult (left).
deer tick* nymphs and adults
deer ticks and two other common tick species - dog ticks and Lone Star ticks (neither of which is known to transmit Lyme disease)

*Deer ticks are found east of the Rockies; their look-alike close relatives, the western black-legged ticks, are found and can transmit Lyme disease west of the Rockies.
dog tick.
Dog tick. lone star tick.
Lone star tick.
Then, when spending time outdoors, make these easy precautions part of your routine:

Wear enclosed shoes and light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily
Scan clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors
Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails
Use insect repellant containing DEET (Diethyl-meta-toluamide) on skin or clothes if you intend to go off-trail or into overgrown areas
Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls (havens for ticks and their hosts)
Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening
Do a final, full-body tick-check at the end of the day (also check children and pets)
When taking the above precautions, consider these important facts:

If you tuck long pants into socks and shirts into pants, be aware that ticks that contact your clothes will climb upward in search of exposed skin. This means they may climb to hidden areas of the head and neck if not intercepted first; spot-check clothes frequently.
Clothes can be sprayed with either DEET or Permethrin. Only DEET can be used on exposed skin, but never in high concentrations; follow the manufacturer's directions.
Upon returning home, clothes can be spun in the dryer for 20 minutes to kill any unseen ticks
A shower and shampoo may help to remove crawling ticks, but will not remove attached ticks. Inspect yourself and your children carefully after a shower. Keep in mind that nymphal deer ticks are the size of poppy seeds; adult deer ticks are the size of apple seeds.
Any contact with vegetation, even playing in the yard, can result in exposure to ticks, so careful daily self-inspection is necessary whenever you engage in outdoor activities and the temperature exceeds 45° F (the temperature above which deer ticks are active). Frequent tick checks should be followed by a systematic, whole-body examination each night before going to bed. Performed consistently, this ritual is perhaps the single most effective current method for prevention of Lyme disease.

If you DO find a tick attached to your skin, there is no need to panic. Not all ticks are infected, and studies of infected deer ticks have shown that they begin transmitting Lyme disease an average of 36 to 48 hours after attachment.Therefore, your chances of contracting LD are greatly reduced if you remove a tick within the first 48 hours. Remember, too, that nearly all of early diagnosed Lyme disease cases are easily treated and cured.

To remove a tick, follow these steps:

Using a pair of pointed precision* tweezers, grasp the tick by the head or mouthparts right where they enter the skin. DO NOT grasp the tick by the body.
Without jerking, pull firmly and steadily directly outward. DO NOT twist the tick out or apply petroleum jelly, a hot match, alcohol or any other irritant to the tick in an attempt to get it to back out.
Place the tick in a vial or jar of alcohol to kill it.
Clean the bite wound with disinfectant.

*Keep in mind that certain types of fine-pointed tweezers, especially those that are etched, or rasped, at the tips, may not be effective in removing nymphal deer ticks. Choose unrasped fine-pointed tweezers whose tips align tightly when pressed firmly together.
Then, monitor the site of the bite for the appearance of a rash beginning 3 to 30 days after the bite. At the same time, learn about the other early symptoms of Lyme disease and watch to see if they appear in about the same timeframe. If a rash or other early symptoms develop, see a physician immediately.

Finally, prevention is not limited to personal precautions. Those who enjoy spending time in their yards can reduce the tick population around the home by:

keeping lawns mowed and edges trimmed
clearing brush, leaf litter and tall grass around houses and at the edges of gardens and open stone walls
stacking woodpiles neatly in a dry location and preferably off the ground
clearing all leaf litter (including the remains of perennials) out of the garden in the fall
having a licensed professional spray the residential environment (only the areas frequented by humans) with an insecticide in late May (to control nymphs) and optionally in September (to control adults). 

Penobscot Valley Hospital announces new Comfort Care Suite

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July 24 - Today a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at Penobscot Valley Hospital to celebrate the opening of the new Comfort Care Suite. During 2012, the Hospital collected contributions from members the community, staff, board of directors, and local businesses to create a new Comfort Care Suite. The Suite is designed to better accommodate extended families who want to accompany their loved one throughout their last treasured days of life. Over $30,000 was raised in 2012, and since then, many renovations have taken place including relocating offices, fully remodeling the suite’s two bathrooms, new flooring, lift equipment, electronics, artwork and comfortable seating.

The Comfort Care Suite was designed around an employee suggestion from Dolly Dill of the hospital's nursing department, who wanted to see better accommodations for families and friends to more privately share the last few days with their loved one in a comfortable environment that didn’t feel like a typical hospital room.

In addition to the family room, adjoining patient room and other accommodations, the hospital hopes to provide many other conveniences to help alleviate the stress, including shower facilities, free courtesy carts with beverages and snacks, special reading materials, games to help pass the time, and a sleeping cot if a family member wants to stay overnight.

Penobscot Valley Hospital Announces New CEO

In other PVH news, the Board of Directors at Penobscot Valley Hospital is pleased to announce the appointment of Gary Poquette as Chief Executive Officer.

Mr. Poquette most recently served as Chief Executive Officer for Wyoming Medical Center/Niobrara Health & Life Center in Lusk, Wyoming. He has also served as Chief Executive Officer for The Memorial Hospital in North Conway, New Hampshire.  

For nearly 40 years, Poquette has been in healthcare administration in a wide variety of capacities. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Creighton University, his Master of Business Administration from Middle Tennessee State University and his Master of Health Administration from the St. Louis University.

QHR worked closely with the Board, medical staff, employees and community leaders to find a CEO that meets the needs of the hospital and community.  

“Our goal was to work closely with the Board to find the right candidate for Penobscot Valley Hospital and for the Lincoln community,” explained QHR Vice President Chip Holmes. "I am confident that PVH will benefit beyond measure by having Mr. Poquette at the helm of its hospital.”

PVH Board Chair Fred Woodman added, “The Board of Directors is very excited to have a person of the caliber of Mr. Poquette as our new CEO. He brings a wealth of experience and other strengths that will help PVH continue to move forward in these challenging times for Critical Access Hospitals. As a Board, we look forward to working with Gary starting in early September and serving the healthcare needs of our community.”   


Low vitamin D levels linked to premature death

The debate over vitamin D continues, and the latest research has found a link between low levels of the fat-soluble vitamin and premature death, Medical News Today reported.

In a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers from the University of California-San Diego conducted a review of 32 studies that analyzed participants’ blood levels of vitamin D and mortality rates. The studies included 566,583 participants from 14 countries, who had an average age of 55.

Researchers found that participants with lower levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D— the main form of vitamin D found in human blood— were twice as likely to have a premature death, compared to those with higher blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D.

Furthermore, researchers found that approximately half of the participants who were at risk for early death had a vitamin D blood level of 30 ng/ml. An estimated two-thirds of the U.S. population has a blood vitamin D level below 30 ng/ml.

The National Institutes of Health recommends children and adults ages 1 to 70 should consume 600 IU of vitamin D per day. But researchers believe this amount should be increased.

“This study should give the medical community and public substantial reassurance that vitamin D is safe when used in appropriate doses up to 4,000 International Units (IU) per day,” said Heather Hofflich, a professor in the UC San Diego School of Medicine’s Department of Medicine.

Hofflich advised patients to have their 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood levels checked annually and to consult their doctor before changing their vitamin D intake.

Vitamin D helps the body regulate absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the bones, aids cell communication and strengthens the immune system. Vitamin D deficiency has long been associated with poor bone health, but in the past few years research has linked deficiencies in the vitamin to brain damage and increased preeclampsia risk for pregnant women. Other studies have suggested a lack of clear evidence for vitamin D’s health benefits.


I Wish I Hadn’t Waited So Long

by Lisa French, RN, Senior Director of Quality Improvement
May 13— Just like many of us, I got so involved with life and mundane tasks that I continuously put off my annual mammogram screening. One year turned into two, two into four. I figured, “Hey, I’m still young. What’s another year, right?” At the end of April, I had finally run out of excuses for not having my screening and I made my scheduled appointment at the Penobscot Valley Hospital Imaging department. But, the results shook my world.

Within 24-hours of my mammography screening, I received a call from my primary care physician. There were some unusual calcifications detected and I’d need to go in for a higher level, diagnostic mammogram.

“For a screening mammogram, we take four views (two views of each breast) and as long as they are good quality, we let the patient leave. The radiologist will read it that day,” states Heather Hines, Director of Imaging at PVH. “For a diagnostic exam, we schedule it at a time when the radiologist is on site. We take any additional images that the radiologist requested like magnification views of the calcifications or “spot compressions” or views at different angles. We may also do an ultrasound if the radiologist feels it is necessary. The radiologist checks the images before the patient leaves. Sometimes, if the diagnostic views make the abnormality go away or if it is clearly benign, we are able to tell the patient before they leave that everything is okay.”

The PVH Imaging department was able to get me in for the follow-up exam two days later and determined I would need a biopsy. This minimally invasive procedure was scheduled three days later at Eastern Maine Medical Center and I received the results just a few days after that.

It took a team of nearly a dozen people to coordinate scheduling, orders, interpretation, communication and procedures at PVH and Health Access Network. I couldn’t have imagined the compassion, timeliness and thoughtfulness of all those included in my care team. My family and I are so grateful.

Luckily my biopsy was benign. My healthcare team did an amazing job coordinating my care, shortening the length of time I was waiting and wondering. From my initial screening to the final benign results, it was amazingly only a week and a half!

It is so important to have routine screenings for breast exams and all of your recommended testing. Whatever your reason for putting off testing whether it is financial, fear of the unknown, or timing, your healthcare team can assist you. There are resources out there to help you pay for screening mammograms, fast processes to alleviate undue stress, and schedulers to help you coordinate care.

Now that I know I am cancer free, I would never, ever wait to have my mammogram or any other preventative care tests performed. The stress I was carrying around every day weighed on me more than I knew. I can now attend my daughter’s college graduation with a piece of mind and a big weight lifted off my chest. To all you ladies out there putting off your screenings, talk with your physician and get them scheduled; you will feel so much better just knowing. And if the results are scary, there are some wonderful people in our local healthcare community that will put you first and get the quality care you need.

For more information on mammograms, contact the PVH Imaging department at 794-7271 or visit Their department will be hosting a fundraiser for the PVH Cancer Support Group on Friday, May 16 from 10am to 2pm in the main lobby. Stop by and learn more about mammography, get a pink manicure, chair massage, buy some pink Help Whip Cancer products from The Pampered Chef, and enjoy some tasty baked goods. Proceeds from the event help fund transportation, education and other costs for area cancer patients. Please show your support of this great cause. 

Staff members Melissa Grant, Jeni Ward and Heather Hines from the Penobscot Valley Hospital imaging department are hosting a Breast Cancer Awareness Day on Friday, May 16 from 10am to 2pm in the main lobby. The event is a fundraiser for the PVH Cancer Support Group, so stop by, learn more about the importance of annual mammography screenings, and help a great cause. 

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