Written by Jesse Kawa
Tuesday, 03 January 2012 14:57
Melrose Free Press
Jan. 2, 2011
By Christopher Hurley
Three Boston Bruin hockey players rang in the New Year with a trip to the hospital.
But don’t fret Bruins fans, this was purely a social call.
Fresh off the ice following a morning practice session in Wilmington, Bruin players Johnny Boychuk, Benoit Pouliot and Zach Hamill, dropped by the Melrose-Wakefield Hospital in Melrose, Jan. 2. The trio had a guided tour of the hospital, meeting members of the staff, as well as visiting a number of patients in different wards, before signing autographs for roughly 300 fans.
For players like Boychuk, giving back to the community has become second nature.
“I’m having fun,” Boychuk said. “We’re visiting some people who need their spirits lifted. We’re more than happy to do it, especially when you see their smiles and how much it means to them, just to stop in for a couple minutes to talk to them.”
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.
Monday’s two-hour visit began with a special trip to the maternity ward. The players got to meet several future Bruins, before greeting a half dozen patients on several other floors.
“It’s a nice thing to do and we enjoy it a lot,” Pouliot said. “Just seeing the kids and the older people, it’s always nice to talk to them. It makes their day and it makes our day.”
“It’s good,” Hamill said. “We always have time to do this kind of stuff, and we do as much as we can to give back.”
The 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.
They were happy to continue that championship legacy.
“Sometimes you don’t realize what kind of following you have, because you don’t get to meet every Bruins fan that watches the game, and notice how knowledgeable they are about the game,” Boychuk said. “But it’s nice to see that they know about the sport and every player too.”
“It’s (a tribute to) that era,” Pouliot said. “You always hear about them, especially Bobby Orr, John Bucyk, and all those guys. Their legends and everyone really followed them back in the day. It’s nice that they acknowledge them. They’re still watching us and I’m pretty sure they know who we are too.”
A five-year NHL veteran, Boychuk is entering his fourth season with the Bruins, after coming over in a trade with Colorado in 2008. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound defenseman was a key cog in the team’s Stanley Cup run last season, chipping in nine playoff points, including a goal in the decisive gave seven against the Montreal Canadiens in the Conference Quarterfinals.
One of the team’s big off-season free agent signings, Pouliot has proven to be a steady contributor as of late on the team’s checking line. The 6-foot-3, 199-pound winger is no stranger to playing in hockey hotbeds, with stints in Minnesota and Montreal.
He’s been enjoying his new hockey home.
“It’s been nice, I can’t complain at all. Everything’s been so positive. We’re winning a lot of games and obviously there’s some difference from up there [in Montreal] than down here [in Boston], but it’s much better here.”
One of the Bruins young guns, Hamill is starting to show the skills that made him a first round draft pick in 2007. The 5-foot-11, 173-pound winger is looking to increase his playing time with the parent club, after getting recalled from the AHL team in Providence last month.
He's done the job so far and plans to stick around.
“Obviously hockey is such a huge sport up here,” Hamill said. “The fans are very knowledgeable. It’s a big sports town and hockey’s a big part of it. I’m glad to be part of it also.”
Written by Jesse Kawa
Monday, 05 December 2011 12:07
Melrose Free Press
Dec 3, 2011
By Jessica Sacco
There may be a new type of medicine out there, and it’s known as man’s best friend.
Standing at about a foot tall, covered in long, fluffy, golden hair is Cooper, a 2-and-a half-year-old terrier mix that visits Melrose-Wakefield Hospital every week
as part of a new pet therapy program.
The hospital works with the Pets and People Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in 1985 that brings pet-assisted therapy to patients in facilities such as nursing homes, halfway houses and hospitals in eastern Massachusetts.
According to Jodi Dwyer, a medical social worker for Hallmark Health, studies have shown that pet therapy can decrease anxiety and blood pressure in patients along with improving their mood.
“Overall it’s a morale builder,” she said. “[When Cooper is here] families come out of their rooms, nurses come over [and] it’s nice to be able to walk down the hall and see everyone’s smiling faces.”
Dwyer began developing an animal-assisted therapy program for Melrose-Wakefield Hospital last fall, after hearing about its success at other hospitals in the area.
Cooper and his owner, Annette Bush, a teacher at Wilmington Middle School, got involved with Pets and People in September after Bush learned about the organization at a dog festival in Somerville.
“I’ve always wanted to do some volunteer work,” she said. “And I love animals, so this was a perfect match.”
Before the duo became official volunteers with Pets and People, an experienced dog trainer from the foundation screened Cooper to see if he would be suitable for the program (including looking at health certificates and testing overall friendliness and ability to interact with others). Bush shadowed an experienced volunteer to get an idea of what the program entails.
Cooper is also trained in basic obedience skills and has a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate, which the American Kennel Club awards to dogs for good manners and behavior after a 10-step test.
“Most therapy organizations want you to have [a CGC certificate] because not every dog can pass it,” said Bush.
Thursday, Dec. 8, will mark Cooper’s fifth visit to the fifth floor of the hospital. Once there, he and his owner stay for about an hour and visit with three to five patients.
Last week, Alfred Martello saw Cooper walking down the hallway and asked if the dog could spend time with his wife, Claire Martello, a Melrose resident who was a patient at the time of Cooper’s visit.
Cooper quickly made himself comfortable, hopping up next to Claire Martello and resting while she petted him and chatted with Bush.
“I think he’s adorable,” said Claire Martello.
The couple’s son, Vincent Martello, said he thinks pet therapy is a great way to liven up everyone’s day in the hospital and is something his mother definitely enjoyed.
“She loves it,” he said. “Look at her, she’s got the dog on the bed and she doesn’t even like dogs,” he joked while pointing to his mother and Cooper.
Dorothy Halloran, from Malden, met with Cooper for the second time last week. Cooper sat in a chair next to Halloran’s bed, excitedly barking at his company.
Those occasional barks are Halloran’s favorite part about his visit — she considers the noise as an example of his happiness.
“He likes to do marvelous things,” she said. “Cooper is the greatest animal God put on earth other than a human being. If I could have [a dog] that’s the baby I would have.”
After a visit with Cooper, patients fill out a survey, indicating whether they felt relaxed and comforted by Cooper and if they would recommend the experience to others.
So far, Dwyer said the program has received positive responses from those who participated. Feedback will be given to the hospital administration to show the effectiveness of the program and the need for it to continue.
“There is plenty of research out there showing pet therapy works but it’s nice to do it on a smaller level in our community to see the impact it can have on our patients,” said Dwyer.
Patients are not the only ones who enjoy Cooper’s visits, as the staff looks forward to Thursday evening every week, according to Nicole Bates, a clinical leader for medical 5 (floor five).
“For nurses on the floor, this profession is very stressful and [seeing Cooper] relieves [that] stress,” said Bates, a Melrose resident.
Even if they are busy working, Bates said the staff members congregate around Cooper to pet and talk to him for a few moments.
“We don’t stop for too many things so that’s a special moment in the day,” Bates said.
Bush said that she and Cooper will to continue volunteering, as they both enjoy the experience.
“[Cooper] is getting more and more comfortable,” she said. “Every time we come his tail is wagging and he’s looking at people. Hopefully [the program] will get popular enough that they’ll want another dog.”
Written by Jesse Kawa
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 13:23
Melrose Free Press
Oct. 25, 2011
By Jessica Sacco
Monday marked a day full of pink for the Halo Studio in downtown Melrose. Pink balloons, ribbons and streamers decorated various surfaces inside the salon. Chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with pink frosting sat on the waiting room table. Hairdressers, dressed in pink aprons, busied themselves with clients.
The customers were at Halo Studio to donate their hair to Pink Heart Funds, a non-profit that provides prosthetic hairpieces to people who have lost their hair to illness or chemotherapy treatment.
Jodi Dwyer, a medical social worker for Hallmark Health, began to plan the hair donation event over the summer when she decided she wanted to donate her own hair to a good cause. She brought the idea for “Cutting for a Cure” to Halo Studio owner Jennifer Malenchini, who immediately showed interest.
“I think it’s such a great thing to do as a hairdresser,” said Malenchini. “We always say ‘when we look good we feel good,’ and if we can help someone feel better, that’s something I feel very strongly about.”
The two soon began collaborating and planned the event to coincide with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“We always had October in mind,” said Dwyer.
Pink Heart Funds has supplied hundreds of wigs free of charge to those in need, including children and adults, since its launch in 2005. But, as the organization’s name suggests, many of the recipients are breast cancer patients. Pink Heart Funds provides other services as well, such as supplying women with free breast prosthetics after cancer surgery.
Twenty women from Melrose and surrounding communities made their way to the salon on Monday, ready to make the cut. Participants donated at least eight inches of their hair, the minimum amount needed to contribute to the fund. Halo Studio provided a free cut, style and blow-dry afterward to complete each woman’s new look.
Melrose resident Tina Thomas Smith fell in love with her short ’do. As a breast cancer survivor, she knew immediately she wanted to be a part of the event. She said that after everything she went through with her diagnosis, she found donating her hair to be a very peaceful experience.
“This is a kind of way to give back and show gratitude for my good fortune,” she said.
A veteran to the cause, Joana Amaral-Cuevas of Malden, completed her fifth hair donation shortly after 10 a.m., cutting off nearly a foot of her brown wavy locks.
Although Amaral-Cuevas does not personally know anyone affected by breast cancer, she said she donates her hair every year because she thinks it’s a good cause.
“[Breast cancer] is a disease that just keeps growing,” she said. “The more you can donate, the better.”
Dwyer, while organizing and promoting the event, also spent her time recruiting members of the surrounding hospitals to get involved.
Kathleen Uzdanovich from the Intensive Care Unit at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital donated about 10 inches to the cause.
Uzdanovich said “Cutting for a Cure” is a great idea and was happy to see the collaboration between the hospital, Halo Studio and local residents.
“It’s nice that the hospital has such a strong connection with the community,” she said. “Then to partner with a local business, it speaks volumes of the community, that everyone is connected.”
Dwyer herself contributed to Pink Heart Funds, saying, “I think it’s an easy thing to do. Hair grows back.”
Overall, Malenchini said the day went well and the participants were excited to be involved.
“Some might have been a little scared,” she said, “but everyone left loving their hair.”
Both Dwyer and Malenchini hope to continue with the cause and are already planning to organize “Cutting for a Cure” again next year.
Written by Jesse Kawa
Thursday, 13 October 2011 08:55
Melrose Free Press
Oct. 13, 2011
By Jessica Sacco
“Meet, Mingle, Mammogram” is an opportunity for women who are due for their first mammogram to attend an event that aims to give them a pleasant and relaxing first-time experience.
“There are an awful lot of woman who have a fear of having a mammogram,” said Judy Sadacca, outreach manager for Imaging and Cardiac-Endovascular services at Hallmark Health. “We wanted to have a spa kind of evening so they feel comfortable and schedule an annual for the following year.”
Sponsored by Hallmark Health and the Massachusetts Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the program was developed to eliminate the fear associated with having a mammogram. Women are treated to a spa-like evening, with chair and hand massages, makeup demonstrations and manicures. Refreshments and hors d’oeuvres are served and guests walk away with a free “swag bag” filled with goodies like soaps, skin products a first aid kit and more.
Mammographers and breast health educators are also present at the event to provide the opportunity for woman to ask questions about the procedure and learn about breast exams, nutrition and exercise.
Who is eligible to participate?
Women who wish to attend must be ages 40 or older and never had a mammogram (or never had one through Hallmark Health, which operates Melrose-Wakefield Hospital and Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Medford, among other facilities).
Who needs screening?
The American College of Radiology and the American Cancer Society recommend annual screening mammograms for all women 40 years and older.
John Seccareccio, operations manager of Imagining Services at Hallmark Health, said early detection is the key for breast cancer. The longer one waits, the lower the percentage becomes for early detection.
“Early detection is the best protection,” added Sadacca.
According to Hallmark Health, annual mammograms are covered by insurance if scheduled 12 full months and one day apart. No referral or physician order is necessary.
Building the program
As part of a $40,000 grant from the Massachusetts Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Hallmark Health has planned four “Meet, Mingle, Mammogram” events.
Last year, the organization put on its first event in May, with 21 women attending. Both Sadacca and Seccareccio were pleased with the outcome and reactions from the women.
“The feedback has been really fabulous,” said Seccareccio. “The whole atmosphere just took away from the exam and helped [the woman] with the experience.”
This year, Hallmark Health officials decided to aim their efforts at specific groups within the community.
“We’re targeting diverse populations because they tend to have a harder time connecting with a caregiver,” said Sadacca.
In August, the first of these targeted sessions was held, focused on connecting with Portuguese woman. Hallmark Health partnered with the YWCA of Malden and the Mass Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS) and the 19 ladies who attended were treated to Portuguese cuisine and music.
Although Hallmark health is reaching out to specific populations for some of the sessions, they are all open to all women.
In November, Hallmark Health and Susan G. Komen for the Cure will offer a session aimed at Spanish speakers, and there will be sessions this winter focusing on Haitian and Asian woman. Although Hallmark health is reaching out to specific populations for some of the sessions, they are all open to all women.
All “Meet, Mingle, Mammogram” sessions will take place at a mammography site on 101 Main St. in Medford.
For more information, call 800-540-9191 or check back at the calendar at hallmarkhealth.org to see when the next session is announced.
Written by Jesse Kawa
Thursday, 29 September 2011 12:34
Sept. 29, 2011
By Jonathan Pickering
The route for this year’s Hallmark Health Stride for Health Walk has changed — and so have some of the participants.
For it’s fourth year, Hallmark has teamed up with the Boston Bruins to support community education efforts for cardiovascular health. In past years, the walk has rounded Spot Pond, but this year will take place from the TD Bank Garden in Boston.
The 3K walk will begin at 8 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2 at the 100 Legends Way location and continue through Boston’s North End, looping back to the Garden, where a family-oriented barbecue, complete with activities and games, will be topped off with a free raffle for walkers, giving away two B’s tickets.
“There will also be a few surprises for fans,” said Joanne Schamberg, chairman of the volunteer organization coordinating the event. “We already have over 250 pre-registered walkers. The Bruins mascot, Blades, will be there, along with the Ice Girls.”
Danielle Patturelli, a nurse at the Cardiovascular Center, said the funds raised will go towards CPR training.
“We want to stress the community benefits of this event,” said Patturelli, who is also coordinator of community education for Hallmark. “All the money raised for the event goes towards CPR training we provide to students, who in turn make a pledge to train their friends and family concerning CPR and what to do if someone is choking. Each individual student receives their own kit and we teach on-site.”
Patturelli said that during the past three years, Hallmark has trained more than 1,000 students annually, targeting Medford, Malden and Melrose in the past. She added Hallmark is expanding to Wakefield and Reading high schools with this year’s walk.
“The training gets implemented into the student’s curriculum, through health or gym class,” Patturelli said. “We basically stress how fortunate, as a community, we are to be able to provide this training.
It’s training like this we practice at Hallmark that has made our response time to heart attack victims from when the enter the center to treatment, under 90 minutes.”
Shamberg added Boston isn’t the only place for patients to receive quality cardiovascular care.
“Surrounding communities like Melrose, Medford, Wakefield and others can offer the same kind of great health care,” she said.
For those interested in joining the walk, there are a number of different ways to get involved. You can sign-up to participate in the walk itself, make a donation, sponsor a walker, or become a virtual walker.
“We know it’s a busy time of year, so not everyone can walk in person,” said Schamberg. “So we set up an online tracking system where sponsors can still make a donation and be part of the action even if they can't make the walk.”
Signing up for the Stride For Health Walk can be done through Hallmark’s website at www.hallmarkhealth.org/stride-for-health-2011.html or you can pick up the phone and call the Development Office at 781-979-6100.