Written by Jesse Kawa
Friday, 16 March 2012 08:40
March 15, 2012
By Christopher Hurley
Hallmark Health and the Boston Bruins are teaming up, in an effort to give young athletes a head start when it comes to combating sports concussions.
As the official healthcare partner of the Boston Bruins, Hallmark Health have joined forces with the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions to educate more than 1,000 student-athletes, parents, coaches and athletic trainers on the signs, symptoms and management of concussions.
Over the past two years, Hallmark’s Young Athlete seminars have covered how concussions occur, what happens in the brain, symptoms, prevention, treatment, management, return to play protocols and short and long term effects.
In addition, the program recently received an added financial boost thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Boston Bruins Foundation. The funding will help Hallmark Health offer advanced concussion education and testing throughout the Greater Boston area.
“The Boston Bruins Foundation have been so supportive,” said Jessica Harney, Director of Rehabilitation Services for Hallmark Health. “Without their support we wouldn’t have made the strides that we have so far.”
Hallmark Health System recently purchased the ImPACT program (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing). It is considered the most widely used computer-based neurocognitive testing program in the world. Administered by trained healthcare professionals, ImPACT assists in determining an athlete’s ability to return to play after suffering a concussion.
Baseline testing is a valuable tool in concussion management, as it establishes the brain’s normal level of functioning. Hallmark Health offers this testing for individuals at its medical offices on Main Street in Medford, or at local high schools to test entire teams. Hallmark Health’s specially trained athletic trainers and physical therapists administer the testing for a nominal fee.
But it doesn’t end there. In addition, Hallmark Health continues caring for patients post-concussion with ongoing physical therapy. The multi-phase program addresses cardiovascular, strength, balance training as well as sports-specific movements to increase exercise tolerance without provoking concussive symptoms. Hallmark Health physical therapists work closely with the patient’s athletic trainer and physician to ensure steady progress towards a safe return to play.
Tackling the problem head on
According to Harney, the origins of this project can be traced back to 2010, when the state of Massachusetts was going through a process of enacting a new policy and law regarding head injuries and concussions for high school athletes.
Hallmark Health, which service five-area high schools (Malden, Wakefield, Northeast Regional Vocational, Pope John and Arlington Catholic) with athletic training contracts, opted to get involved implementing an education program on concussions and head injuries at their area hospitals.
The program drew plenty of interest, including former Boston Bruin Bob Sweeney, who is now the current Director of Development for the Boston Bruins Foundation. The former Acton-Boxboro and Boston College star played a key role in getting the program off the ground.
“As a former hockey player and having kids of his own and now coaching, Bob Sweeney was really was taken back by our efforts to reach out to the community and educate as many people as possible with our program,” Harney said. “He started helping us out, going on tour with us, if you will. He came to a lot of our education programs, spoke to athletes, coaches and really gave us a lot of support through the Boston Bruins Foundation.”
A year later, Sweeney awarded Hallmark Health with the grant that it used to purchased the ImPACT program, for high school athletes who needed base line testing.
In addition to the five-area high schools with full-time athletic training contracts, Hallmark Health is certainly not limited to its reach across the area. Harney notes that Melrose, Reading, Winthrop and Everett High School, have also expressed interest in adopting the program.
Since baseline testing began Feb. 1 2012, the program has garnered positive reviews.
“We’ve had outstanding response from the community,” Harney said. “People are calling to have their athletes baseline tested to protect them in the future should they suffer a concussion. We now have something to compare with concussion evaluations. Parents are really stepping up and caring for their kids with this.”
Crunching the numbers
According to Hallmark Health research, some 3.8 million sports and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year. A concussion is a brain injury caused by a bump or blow to the head that can change the way your brain normally works. Those who play school or recreational sports, ranging from football, basketball, hockey and lacrosse to cheerleading or gymnastics are susceptible.
Steven Sbardella, MD, chairman of emergency medicine for Hallmark Health System, urges student athletes, parents and coaches to take concussions very seriously.
Symptoms of a concussion include confusion, loss of short-term memory, headaches, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting. Dr. Sbardella said treatment for concussion includes an evaluation in the hospital’s Emergency Department followed by a CAT scan and a follow-up appointment with a neurologist.
“Concussions are potentially very serious,” he stressed. “Anyone who has symptoms of a concussion should be taken out of the game immediately and be evaluated by a physician.”
According to Harney, baseline testing is the primary focus for Hallmark Health as they head into the summer months
“We have a lot of schools that are coming to us and have their entire school baseline tested,’ she said. “That’s going to be a huge undertaking for us this summer.”
“We’ll also continue to develop our concussion program, working with our physicians as well as our emergency room to develop a prompt care program for athletes who need to be evaluated post concussion, within the first 24-72 hours playing their sport.”
For more information on advanced concussion education and testing, call 781-395-7750.
Written by Jesse Kawa
Thursday, 01 March 2012 09:02
Melrose Free Press
March 1, 2012
By Jessica Sacco
Patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital received a little more than candy this Valentine’s Day.
On Feb. 14, Hallmark Health System finalized its electronic ICU (eICU) system, making Melrose-Wakefield Hospital one of only 10 hospitals in Massachusetts to offer the service.
Through a partnership with UMass Memorial Health Care in Worcester, Hallmark Health brought the advanced critical care software program to Melrose-Wakefield Hospital (MWH), which provides physicians and nurses with a constant feed of data on ICU patients.
This allows for round-the-clock monitoring on patients’ blood pressure, oxygen saturation, heart rate, test results, nursing notes and other important information over secure transmission lines.
The technology also supplies a method of consultation between the two hospitals and an extra level of expert care for MWH’s most critical patients.
“We’re really proud of being one of the first community hospitals to be able to offer this,” said Nancy Gaden, assistant vice president for patient care services and chief nursing officer for HHS. “We think this is really fantastic for our community.”
Each of the seven ICU rooms at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital is equipped with a two-way video monitor that connects to the command center at the UMass Memorial Health Care System.
UMass physicians, as well as nurses specially trained in ICU medicine, are able to observe the Melrose patients electronically through voice, data and video monitoring 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Individuals admitted to the intensive care unit at MWH will still have an attending physician who writes orders, reviews labs, develops a plan of care and is available for questions.
However, Gaden said, if a patient’s doctor is not on hand during the day or has gone home for the night, someone can be available at the Worcester center in a matter of minutes.
The physician who answers will be able to immediately assist the MWH patient, as all ICU doctors at UMass will have each individual’s information readily available.
“There is a verbal handoff to UMass physicians saying what the plan of care would be overnight for the patient or during the day,” said registered nurse Kellie Smith, director of critical care and Medical 3 at MWH.
Family members are also welcome and able to use the system if they have any questions or concerns they need addressed. A monitor is set up in the ICU family waiting room for those who wish to speak with a doctor outside of their loved one’s room.
“If nurses … patients, doctors, family members have a question, or lab results change, they can connect with eICU doctors [in Worcester] all the time and they can make quick decisions,” said Gaden. “The eICU provides a second level of safety and also allows the attending physician [at MWH] to sign off to an ICU doctor [at UMass Memorial Health Care].”
Along with having constant care for ICU patients, whether from MWH staff or through the Worcester center, eICU’s critical care software system can pick up a change in a patient’s status 15 minutes before it would be noticeable to nurses or doctors.
“It’s very sophisticated in terms of being able to predict patient changes before they happen,” said Gaden. “That, in and of itself, is probably the most phenomenal part of the system.”
The system is based on certain algorithms that are designed to detect small differences in lab data or physiological functions (heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, etc).
When a patient’s condition indicates immediate attention is needed, Gaden said yellow alarms alert doctors that action needs to be taken.
“Physicians can immediately respond to prevent a problem for the patient,” she said.
Those who are treated using the eICU system will face no additional cost for the services and although funding for the program comes out of the hospital’s budget, Gaden said it is not as expensive as some may think.
“It’s a modest amount of money,” she said. “Everyone thinks it’s expensive, but it’s not as expensive as adding a physician, and we’d have to add more than one if we wanted to have 24-hour care for all our [ICU] patients.”
Gaden said that using eICU may also save money for community hospitals in general, as patients will not have to be transferred from their local hospital to tertiary hospitals (like Mass. General or Brigham and Women’s) and may have a shortened stay in the ICU.
“In other hospitals with eICU, the savings come from increased revenue and slightly shortened ICU length of stay because you’re able to move through the patient’s plan of care all 24 hours of the day,” she said.
Both Smith and Gaden said families can take comfort in the fact that ICU patients at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital will remain close to home, while still receiving the treatment they need.
“This is better because the family can know that the patient is getting 24-hour expert care … even though they’re still in their own community hospital,” she said.
The eICU system has been running smoothly since Feb. 14. Gaden said that if Melrose-Wakefield Hospital can meet the needs of more and more patients through the program, expanding it could be a possibility in the future.
Written by Jesse Kawa
Tuesday, 14 February 2012 09:45
Feb. 10, 2012
By Christopher Hurley
After suffering a disappointing 6-0 road loss to the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday night, a pair of Boston Bruin hockey players made their way to the hospital.
But fret not Bruins fans, this was strictly a social call.
Fresh off the ice following a morning practice session in Wilmington, Bruin players Adam McQuaid and Jordan Caron dropped by the Lawrence-Memorial Hospital in Medford, Feb. 9. The pair had a guided tour of the hospital, met several members of the staff and visited a dozen patients in different wards, before signing autographs for roughly 250 fans in the main lobby.
For the Bruins making these kind of special trips in the community has become second nature.
“It’s always nice to visit people who are maybe going through a rough time and need a pick me up,” McQuaid said. “When people say they appreciate you coming out, that what makes it all worthwhile.”
Arriving back in Boston at one in the morning, followed by a grueling practice session later that day in Wilmington, it would have been very easy for both Bruins to take the rest of the day off. However standing up their loyal fans was never an option.
“To go through a situation where you have a tough loss, like we did [Wednesday] night [in Buffalo], to come here today and see people going through an even harder time and then just to be able to take a few minutes to talk to them and lifts their spirits, it makes you feel pretty good,” McQuaid said. “It gives you a different outlook on things.”
According to Caron, dropping by the hospital was the least they could do.
“It’s always fun to come visit some people that don’t always have the chance to get out to see us,” Caron said. “It’s always nice to come by, say hi and put a smile on their face. It’s very important when it comes to those fans. We have the chance to play in front of big crowds, so its always fun to give back.”
Hallmark Health, a major league provider of quality and advanced community healthcare, joined forces with the hockey stars last season, as the official Healthcare Partner of the Boston Bruins.
The partnership is a natural fit for both Hallmark Health and the team. The local healthcare provider’s orthopedic surgeons and premier Bone and Joint Program provide advanced care, treating orthopedic injuries and disease in people of all ages, including those suffering from sports-related injuries.
A big bruising defenseman, Adam McQuaid, 25, is currently in his second season with the Bruins, helping lead the team to the Stanley Cup his rookie year. The 6-foot-4, 197-pound blue-liner also sported an impressive +30 rating last season, third overall in the NHL and the best among all rookies.
McQuaid has continued to stabilize the Bruins defense in his sophomore season, playing a highly physical brand of hockey that has made him an instant fan favorite. He loves playing in Boston.
“It’s been amazing,” said McQuaid. “I’ve loved every second of it. I’ve had some pretty memorable moments while I’ve been here and I think the fans are amazing people. They’re very loyal to the team, they want to see us do well and in return you want to put a good product on the ice for them.”
Boston’s first pick (25th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Caron was recently called up to Bruins from its American Hockey League affiliate in Providence, Feb. 4. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound rookie right-winger netted nine points in 12 AHL games before his recall, and is looking to expand on his NHL resume.
Thursday’s two-hour visit began with a special tour as the players got to meet a dozen patients on several floors. For patients like Anthony Lombardo, meeting the Bruins was a pleasant surprise.
“I was just looking forward to going home,” Lombardo said. “But after being told that they were coming down it actually delayed me leaving, because I definitely wanted to see them.”
Lombardo met both Bruins, who signed autographs and posed with pictures with him and his family. It easily made the Medford native and Everett resident’s day.
“This is excellent,” Lombardo said. “It’s a dream seeing the guys that you watched win the Stanley Cup coming in to see you.”
Both players also got to talk some hockey with several elderly patients, many of whom still have vivid memories about the team’s glory years including the Stanley Cup championship teams of 1970 and 1972.
“We were talking to an older gentleman who was reminiscing of the Orr, Esposito, Bucyk era, those days,” McQuaid said. “I think that’s what’s great about playing on an original six team. There’s so much history and people who have been fans for their whole life, and it’s passed down from generation to generation, where people are fans because their parents were fans. It’s pretty to neat to be a part of that.”
McQuaid and Caron are only happy to continue that championship legacy, but know there is plenty of work to be done this season.
“Obviously right now, we have some cleaning up to do in certain areas,” McQuaid said. “We had a bit of a rough start, but then we were able to get things back on track, going on a nice little run. We’re working toward getting back to that and just getting back to playing our game.”
“When we play the way we’re capable of playing, we give ourselves a good opportunity to win every night,” he added. “It’s a long season and you’re not going to win every game, but when we play the way we’re capable of we give ourselves a good chance.”
And that’s certainly something all Bruins fans can agree on.
Written by Jesse Kawa
Wednesday, 01 February 2012 11:30
Melrose Free Press
Jan. 31, 2012
By Jessica Sacco
February is officially in full swing and with New Year’s resolutions made more than a month ago, many people are reevaluating their progress on those midnight promises.
For those who pledged to eat healthier, lose weight or join a gym, and are now questioning why the thought ever seemed liked a good idea, help is here.
Three experts from the Hallmark Health System — Liz Dias, licensed dietitian nutritionist, Jen Sturtevant, licensed and certified athletic trainer and Dr. Parra Tomkins, a primary care physician — offered some simple ways get over the resolution hump and stay on track. (Click here to read about the increase in post-New Year's gym enrollment.)
To start off, Dias, Sturtevant and Tomkins all recommend setting realistic goals when making a New Year’s resolution. This means making little changes to one’s lifestyle, so the process becomes less overwhelming and more manageable.
“Those little changes start to increase as you get used to them, they become your daily routine,” said Sturtevant.
When people approach Dias for assistance, she asks her clients to think about a change they can do forever and recommends avoiding the “all or nothing” mentality, like swearing off sweets or a certain food group through fad diets.
“You don’t want to make an unrealistic change, because then you tend to follow it for a little while [but] as soon as you go off it, it takes you awhile to get back on it,” she said.
According to Tomkins, it takes 30 days to make something a habit. Instead of constantly looking toward the future when setting resolutions, Tomkins said to stay in the present, which will help keep incentive up.
“When we focus on the future, it’s too far away of a goal to keep you motivated,” she said. “Rather than taking a weight loss goal, I have people think in the short term, what you can do right now and not the actual weight loss as a measure of success. If people use weight as the only form of success, they lose motivation quickly.”
A round of applause goes out to those who can wake up at 6 a.m. every day to hit the gym, exercise at home or run 10 miles before work.
For those who want to sleep in, hate running and the gym, but still want to keep up with their healthier living resolution, these simple alternatives are for you.
Tomkins said for a healthy, long life, people should exercise between 30 to 45 minutes three to four days a week. She said by doing this, you’ll feel better about yourself, you’ll have more energy and will even sleep better at night.
Now, here comes the tricky part. How can people achieve that goal on top of everything else in their (probably busy) schedule?
Sturtevant said keeping up with exercise is about making changes to one’s daily routine. Some obvious ones include parking far away from your building and, if there is an elevator, taking the stairs instead.
Becoming more active can also be accomplished by breaking up your day into small increments, the experts said. Take a 10- to 15-minute walk when you have the time or do sit-ups on the floor during TV commercials.
If you have kids, and don’t have the alone time to focus on exercise, she said to incorporate them into the exercise. Take them on a walk or play outside — anything that involves being active together.
These small changes, Sturtevant said, can be just as beneficial as doing a half hour straight of exercise.
For those who started going to the gym on a regular basis, Dias, Sturtevant and Tomkins again stressed the importance of not setting unrealistic goals.
Dias said it takes time and effort to lose weight. Many people have impractical expectations, so when a goal is not met, oftentimes they give up.
“People need to be satisfied with smaller changes,” she said. “It takes a lot of time and effort to lose weight. It’s not going to happen overnight, you have to stick with it.”
Also, Sturtevant said mixing up the type of exercise one does will help keep people motivated, and also give the body a good workout every time.
“If you join a class, or are going to the gym, changing up your workout from day to day or week to week will keep you entertained,” she said.
Sturtevant added that the body responds better to varied workouts, which will keep weight loss up, instead of tapering off. Doing different exercises or extending the period of time working out helps one’s body work harder and in turn, receive a better workout.
“Your body will respond better if you change it up. People get to a point where they’re not losing weight and they get frustrated with that,” she said.
There are some known tricks when trying to eat healthy. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated (at least 64 ounces, according to Sturtevant) stay on the perimeter of the grocery store when shopping, as that’s where the healthiest items lie, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables … the list goes on.
However, sometimes you can’t help wanting a piece of chocolate cake after a long day at work. So, how do you have the sweet and stay on track?
The simple answer is, if you don’t want to give up your after-dinner desert, don’t. Dias said instead of eliminating something you love, try cutting the portion size in half.
“It’s not as drastic, so it’s something you can stick with,” Dias said.
Also, if you eat something unhealthy during the day, don’t skip a meal to try and counteract the “damage.”
Sturtevant said eating one to two meals a day slows down the metabolism because the body goes into starvation, or hibernation mode. This means when a person does intake food, the body absorbs not only the nutritious elements, but also the unhealthy ones.
“It absorbs all the bad stuff instead of weeding it out and getting rid of it because the body is tricked into thinking it’s not going to get more ‘food’ anytime soon,” she said.
Instead of cutting out meals, she recommended eating smaller ones throughout the day, as it is more beneficial to the body.
If you hate water and are trying to stay on a budget while shopping, Tomkins recommended some alternatives that can help.
Try squeezing an orange or lemon into water to add a little flavor and make it more interesting.
Frozen foods are also a good replacement for fresh fruits, which are often pricey at the store. However, if you don’t want to go frozen, Tompkins said try to buy seasonal (right now, it’s oranges and grapefruit) as you can purchase more for less.
“Rather than sticking with a fruit you love, that is wildly expensive, learn to morph to fruits that are in season, because they’re cheap in bulk,” she said.
Another trick Dias recommended is keeping a food journal to track your daily food intake. Whether on padded paper or through one of the many smart phone applications, Dias said this is an effective and easy way to monitor your day-to-day progress.
“You can see the pitfalls you get into,” she said. “It helps you know yourself.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 February 2012 11:35