News Releases

Richard Olans, MD, Discusses Enterovirus D68

As the respiratory illness known as enterovirus D68 continues to spread among children and young adults throughout the country, we asked Richard Olans, MD, chief of Infectious Diseases at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital and member of Hallmark Health Medical Associates, to give us a basic understanding of enterovirus D68.

As Dr. Olans explains, there are many enteroviruses (hundreds). They live in the gut, but can infect numerous other organ systems. He points out that enteroviruses have been known for several decades, causing summer rash and respiratory illnesses and even viral meningitis, but new technologies have made their detection easier. This particular
enterovirus we are currently seeing (D68) primarily affects the lungs and airways.

Those who are most commonly being affected by D68 are children and young adults, typically between the ages of 2-18.

Mild symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough and body and muscle aches. Most of the children who got very ill in the Midwest had difficulty breathing and some had wheezing. Many of these children had an underlying respiratory disease, such as asthma.

Dr. Olans is an advocate for "common sense precautions" when it comes to prevention. "Cover your cough, cough into your sleeve, and use old fashioned hand washing techniques," he says. "Viruses that come from the gut, like enteroviruses, are not killed with alcohol-based hand sanitizers, so everyone should get in the habit of washing their hands with soap and water for 30-60 seconds."

Dr. Olans says that there are no specific treatments or "magic bullet" antiviral medicines for people with enterovirus D68, so many of the over-the-counter cold and flu medications can help with the symptoms. Those with severe respiratory illness may need to be hospitalized.

"Parents of kids with asthma or other reactive airway disease should update their asthma action plan with their primary care doctor, and be aware of the development of any worsening symptoms," says Dr. Olans. "Children should have their reliever medications with them at all times, and teachers and school nurses should be aware of any respiratory conditions."

For more information about enterovirus D68, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at http://www.cdc.gov/

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Hallmark Health Medical Associates patients can now easily schedule appointments online

Hallmark Health Medical Associates (HHMA) has introduced a new service to its patients, offering easy online access to appointments with select physicians. At launch, the service provides patients with online appointment scheduling with primary care and OB/GYN providers. Additional doctors, specialties, and appointment times will be added in coming months.

This service is powered by ZocDoc – a company with a mission of improving health care access, which is made possible through strategic partnerships with organizations like HHMA. To use the free service, patients visit the HHMA website (https://www.hhma.org).

Existing patients can search for available appointment times with their physicians. New patients looking for a physician can also see appointment availability of participating physicians, along with qualifications, patient reviews, photos, and more tools to help patients choose the practitioner who best fits their needs. Patients simply select a timeslot and complete a brief registration process to schedule an appointment. Patients will also receive email and text message appointment reminders for added convenience. The service eliminates the need for phone calls and allows patients to search for and schedule appointments with HHMA doctors anytime at patients' convenience, even when the doctor's office is closed.

Hallmark Health donates school supplies to Medford Public Schools

Hallmark Health's Team Medford (staff who volunteer in the City of Medford) held their 7th annual school supplies drive to benefit Medford Public Schools. This year's drive was another great success with items donated adding up to a retail value of nearly $20,000!

The items will be distributed to students throughout Medford Public Schools. The drive was also supported by major sponsor Staples, as well as Armstrong Ambulance, Medford Kiwanis, and the Medford High School PTO.

Hallmark Health Named 2014 Most Wired

For the third consecutive year, Hallmark Health has been recognized as a Most Wired hospital/system, through the 16th annual Health Care’s Most Wired Survey conducted by Hospitals & Health Networks.

As the nation’s health care system transitions to more integrated and patient-centered care, hospitals are utilizing information technology to better connect disparate care providers, according to the survey. Most Wired hospitals, those that meet a set of rigorous criteria across four operational categories, have made tremendous gains by using IT to reduce the likelihood of medical errors.

Health Care’s Most Wired Survey, conducted between Jan. 15 and March 15, asked hospitals and health systems nationwide to answer questions regarding their IT initiatives. Respondents completed 680 surveys, representing 1,900 hospitals, or more than 30 percent of all U.S. hospitals.

“Hallmark Health is proud to be named to the Most Wired list once again,” said Carol Dresser, vice president of information services at Hallmark Health. “Our entire staff - from the information services team to clinicians to support staff - play important roles in using technology to support the efficient delivery of high-quality patient care.”

“The Most Wired data show that shared health information allows clinicians and patients to have the information they need to promote health and make the most informed decisions about treatments,” says Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association. “Hospitals, their clinicians and their communities are doing tremendous work to enhance their IT systems in ways that support care and delivery improvement, and patient engagement goals.”

The July H&HN cover story detailing results is available at www.hhnmag.com.

 

Hallmark Health System President and CEO to chair Massachusetts Hospital Association Board of Trustees

Michael V. Sack, FACHE, president and chief executive officer of Hallmark Health System was named the 74th chair of the Massachusetts Hospital Association (MHA) Board of Trustees at MHA's Annual Meeting on June 12. He succeeds Patrick Muldoon, FACHE, president and CEO of UMass Memorial Medical Center, who held the one-year post from June 2013.

In his inaugural speech, Sack called for the hospital community to focus on the health care excellence provided by the hospital and health system community, which, he said, “inspires bright young people to travel from around the country to be educated at Massachusetts medical schools and hospitals, and people to travel from around the globe to be treated here.
 
“But of course, merely resting on your laurels ensures that that the success we have achieved will wither away,” Sack continued. “That’s why we’re constantly reforming our system, improving, and polishing it.  And that’s not easy to do. It takes innovation, creative leadership and – somewhat ironically in an era of intense competition – a sense of unity that this association provides.”

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