- Created on Tuesday, June 02 2015 12:50
Following a particularly difficult New England winter, many people are welcoming the warm weather with open arms. Outdoor activity brings many benefits, but it also brings the potential for attracting unwanted guests – ticks.
“Once the temperatures start to rise in May and June, we need to be aware of ticks and some of the illnesses they can bring,” said Edward Butler, MD, chief academic officer and hospital epidemiologist at Hallmark Health and chairman of the Department of Medicine at Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford. “There are some simple steps that we can all take to protect ourselves and prevent tick-borne diseases.”
Dr. Butler suggested that the number of ticks has grown in recent years caused in part by an increase in animal hosts. “In New England the deer ticks that are known to transmit Lyme disease are more prevalent on mice and deer. In fact, the average white-footed mouse, a backyard companion, may host 50 or more deer ticks (Ixodes) during the summer months.”
“Prevention is the best medicine with tick-borne illnesses,” said Dr. Butler. “It is important to know how to keep ticks off of you and how to get them off quickly.”
To keep ticks from attaching to your skin, follow these tips:
• Wear long pants and long sleeves when walking in the woods or other tick-friendly areas.
• Use a long acting DEET-based repellant on both clothing and skin.
• Bathe or shower within two hours after coming indoors.
• Check your body thoroughly. Use a mirror to check warm, moist locations such as behind the knees, under the arms, between the legs, on the ears, in the belly button and in the hair.
• Be sure to examine pets and gear, such as backpacks.
• If you live close to the woods, use tick tubes in your yard
Lyme disease is the most widely talked about and the most frequently contracted of the tick-borne diseases in New England. It is spread when an infected deer tick bites and attaches itself to the skin. “In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours before it transmits the bacteria that cause Lyme disease,” added Dr. Butler. “During that window there is time to remove the tick safely.”
If you find a tick attached to your skin, use a pair of fine tweezers to grab the tick’s body, and using steady, constant pressure, pull the tick away from the skin. “The bacteria that cause illnesses are located in the tick’s gut,” said Dr. Butler. “So while it is best to remove the entire tick, if some of the head remains attached, you should be okay.”
The typical symptoms of Lyme disease include headache, fever, fatigue, joint pain and the characteristic circular “bulls-eye” skin rash. Most cases are treated successfully with two to three weeks of antibiotic treatment. If left untreated, some extreme cases may need to be treated in the hospital.
“If you have been exposed to a tick and start to experience some of the symptoms, it is always the safest bet to get checked out by a clinician,” added Dr. Butler.
- Created on Wednesday, May 27 2015 17:21
Undeterred by recent blizzards and with a commitment to care, the best home health workers in the state and the most innovative home health agencies were recently honored at the 2015 Home Care Innovations Showcase & Star Awards ceremony hosted by the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts at the Revere Hotel in Boston.
Among those honored was Cara Chevalier, MD, a family medicine physician at Hallmark Health and medical director at Hallmark Health Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice, as the 2015 Home Care “Physician of the Year” by the Home Care Alliance, which represents 200 home health and home care agencies and nearly 30,000 workers across Massachusetts.
“This year, especially, home health agencies and their employees deserve recognition for their dedication to ensuring their patients and clients are healthy and safe at home,” said Home Care Alliance Executive Director Patricia Kelleher. “This event is a chance to say ‘thank you’ to all home care agencies and workers across the state and shine a spotlight on all that the home care industry is doing to respond to the elder demographic boom and health system reform in Massachusetts.”
The Physician of the Year award is award is presented each year to a physician or nurse practitioner who has demonstrated active involvement in the home health field and outspoken support for health care delivered in the home.
Dr. Chevalier practices at Hallmark Health Medical Associates Family Health Center located at 178 Savin Street in Malden. She graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine and completed her medical internship and residency at Tufts Family Medicine.
“Dr. Chevalier is a strong advocate and believer of keeping patients at home and understands the need for quality medical care at home,” said Diane Farraher-Smith, Hallmark Health System vice president and president of the Hallmark Health Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice. “She readily makes home visits for complex medical and psychosocial needs of the patients and the families and she has built up a significant medical home based practice.”
Hallmark Health Hospitals Earned ‘Straight A’s’ for Patient Safety from Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Score
- Created on Friday, May 01 2015 15:04
Both Hallmark Health System hospitals (Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford and Melrose-Wakefield Hospital) have been recognized for their dedication to patient safety by being awarded A grades in the Spring 2015 Hospital Safety Score, which rates how well hospitals protect patients from preventable medical errors, injuries and infections within the hospital. The hospitals are also being recognized as “Straight A’s” hospitals, as they have never received a grade lower than an A from the Hospital Safety Score since the Score first launched in June 2012.
An A grade is one of the most meaningful honors a hospital can achieve, and one of the most valuable indicators for patients looking for a safe place to receive care. The Hospital Safety Score is the gold standard rating for patient safety, compiled under the guidance of the nation’s leading patient safety experts and administered by The Leapfrog Group, a national, nonprofit hospital safety watchdog. The first and only hospital safety rating to be peer-reviewed in the Journal of Patient Safety, the Score is free to the public and designed to give consumers information they can use to protect themselves and their families when facing a hospital stay.
“The Hallmark Health family prides itself on providing safe, high-quality care in all that we do,” said Alan Macdonald, president and CEO of Hallmark Health. “Our history of earning these outstanding grades is a reflection of the dedication and commitment of our staff to protecting patients.”
“Hallmark Health’s achievement of Straight As validates its achievement in preventing harm within the hospital, and we are proud to recognize the efforts of the care providers and staff,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, which administers the Hospital Safety Score. “Patient safety requires constant vigilance, and we encourage Hallmark Health and all other A hospitals to continue demonstrating unrelenting commitment to patients by consistently working to provide a safe environment for care.”
Developed under the guidance of Leapfrog’s Blue Ribbon Expert Panel, the Hospital Safety Score uses 28 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to produce a single A, B, C, D, or F score, representing a hospital’s overall capacity to keep patients safe from preventable harm. More than 2,500 U.S. general hospitals were assigned scores in April 2015, with about 31-percent receiving an A grade. The Hospital Safety Score is fully transparent, offering a full analysis of the data and methodology used in determining grades on the website. Now, for the first time, patients can also review their hospital’s past safety performance alongside its current grade on the Hospital Safety Score site, allowing them to determine which local hospitals have the best track record in patient safety and which have demonstrated consistent improvement.
To see Hallmark Health’s full score, and to access consumer-friendly tips for patients and loved ones visiting the hospital, visit www.hospitalsafetyscore.org or follow The Hospital Safety Score on Twitter or Facebook. Consumers can also download the free Hospital Safety Score mobile app for Apple and Android devices.
- Created on Monday, April 27 2015 14:30
Hallmark Health System has been awarded a $15,000 Staples Foundation grant for the pharmacy technician certification (PTC) program. The grant will provide scholarships to high school graduates who are high achieving participants of Hallmark Health System community service programs, including the Healthy Families and North Suburban WIC programs, to enroll in the PTC training program.
The innovative PTC program trains local participants for careers as pharmacy technicians. Under the supervision of licensed pharmacists, pharmacy technicians assist with the preparation and delivery of medications to patient units or treatment areas.
The (PTC) program is a combined classroom-based and hands-on certificate program aimed at providing the key skills to train tomorrow’s pharmacy technicians. The PTC is a joint effort of the pharmacy department at Hallmark Health System and the Lawrence Memorial Continuing Studies Certificate Program.
For more information about the pharmacy technician certificate program, please call 781-306-6600 or visit http://lmregis.org/continuing-studies/pharmacy-technician-certificate-program/
Hallmark Health, with Community Partners, Ranks Third in the US in Pilot to Reduce Hospital Readmission Rates
- Created on Wednesday, April 22 2015 12:30
Hallmark Health System, in collaboration with Cambridge Health Alliance, Mystic Valley Elder Services and Somerville Cambridge Elder Services, is among the top performers in an innovative national pilot program aimed at reducing hospital readmission rates.
The four organizations, known collectively as the Mystic Valley Community-Based Organization, joined 47 other community-based organizations (CBOs) across the US in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)-commissioned Community Care Transitions Project (CCTP) in 2012. According to early findings by the CCTP, over a two-year period the Mystic Valley group reduced 30-day readmission rates in certain high-risk patient populations by 3.74 percent – the third best results in the national CCTP project. Their results were shared as a best practice at a national conference in Baltimore, MD in November 2014.
The goals of the CCTP are to improve transitions of patients from the inpatient hospital setting to other care settings, to improve quality of care, to reduce readmissions for high-risk patients and to document measurable savings to the Medicare program.
Thirty-day hospital readmission rates for certain high-risk patients have increased over recent years and CMS has initiated steep fines for hospitals whose patients return to the hospital within 30 days of discharge.
The Mystic Valley CBO has shown very promising results and was awarded an additional one-year extension based on their performance. The group has reduced 30-day readmission rates for a test group of complex medical/surgical patients over the age of 65 with a length of stay of three days or longer, and also of all heart failure patients, by 3.74%.
The CCTP incorporates a new service delivery model, using transition facilitators who meet with patients while they are still in the hospital and then meet with them again within three days of discharge. The transition facilitators’ role is similar to that of a health coach.
Additionally, hospital nurse practitioners visit with the newly-discharged patients in the home or other care settings such as a nursing home or rehabilitation facility. Nurse practitioners can write prescriptions and adjust medications and treatment plans in collaboration with the patients’ primary care providers.
“Between the transition facilitators and the nurse practitioners we are able to identify indicators that could eventually lead to a readmission and take immediate corrective action,” said Cheryl Warren, MS, RN, chief clinical integration officer at Hallmark Health. “The new teams can assess social and physical triggers and make adjustments to medications and treatments in real time in the patients’ home or care facility, keeping patients home, healthy and well cared for.”
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Thursday, August 27 2015 12:41