News Releases

Lawrence Memorial/Regis College Nursing Program redesignated Center of Excellence in Nursing Education

The National League for Nursing (NLN) recognized Lawrence Memorial/Regis College Nursing Program within the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Regis College as one of 35 schools of nursing throughout the country, representing programs across the academic spectrum of higher education, chosen as NLN Centers of Excellence™. The honor distinguishes organizations that demonstrate sustained, evidence-based and substantive innovation in nursing education.

This is Lawrence Memorial/Regis College Nursing Program’s third consecutive designation as a Center of Excellence in Nursing by the NLN. Lawrence Memorial/Regis College is one of only 12 schools to receive the designation three or more times. The program was also the first school of nursing in New England to earn the designation in 2008 and has continued to pursue and sustain excellence. The program received the designation in the category of Creating Environments that Enhance Student Learning and Professional Development.

“I am extremely proud of the work of the faculty and staff to make ours a true program of excellence,” said Nancy Bittner, PhD, CNS, RN, vice president for education and professor of nursing at Lawrence Memorial/Regis College Nursing Program. “These recognitions do not happen by accident. They happen because we are truly focused on the student and on providing an excellent education that will provide our graduates with the skills to become the finest and best prepared nursing professionals.”

“The 2015 COE designees’ visionary leadership and dedication to creating environments of inclusive excellence nurture the creation of a strong and diverse nursing workforce to advance the health of the nation and the global community,” said NLN CEO Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN.

Lawrence Memorial/Regis College Nursing Program, along with the other centers of excellence, was formally recognized at the NLN’s 2015 Education Summit in Las Vegas. The four-day event draws a capacity crowd of nurse faculty, deans, administrators and professionals from allied health organizations.

The NLN looks to its centers of excellence to serve as exemplars of the NLN’s core values: excellence, integrity, diversity and caring. COE faculty bear a responsibility to share their experiences, knowledge and wisdom for the benefit of everyone in nursing education. They are expected to provide guidance and be available as sounding boards to other nursing programs that aim to achieve COE status.

Every year since 2004, the NLN has invited nursing schools to apply for COE status, based on their abilities to demonstrate in concrete, measurable terms sustained excellence in faculty development, nursing education research, or student learning and professional development. Since 2012, health care organizations have been included within the category Creating Workplace Environments that Promote Academic Progression of Nurses. Schools and health care organizations must also have a proven commitment to continuous quality improvement.

Melrose Girl Skates in Rink of Dreams

Rachel Aveni of Melrose was one of more than 60 youth hockey players chosen to participate in an on-ice hockey clinic with Boston Bruins alumni players recently at TD Garden.

The Boston Bruins Rink of Dreams clinic, presented by Hallmark Health System, featured an hour-long drill session lead by Bruins alumni Bob Beers, Andy Brickley, Tommy Songin, and Bob Sweeney, followed by an autograph signing. Each player also received a custom Boston Bruins and Hallmark Health jersey.

Rachel, a 12-year old 7th grader at the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School, plays defense for her team in Melrose Youth Hockey. Her favorite Bruins player is Zdeno Chara.

“It was a great experience to be able to learn from and skate with Bruins legends,” said Rachel.

Hallmark Health is the official healthcare partner of the Boston Bruins.

Hallmark Health Cancer Program Earns National Accreditation from the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons


The Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons (ACoS) has granted Three-Year Accreditation to the cancer program at Hallmark Health System. To earn voluntary CoC accreditation, a cancer program must meet 34 CoC quality care standards, be evaluated every three years through a survey process, and maintain levels of excellence in the delivery of comprehensive patient-centered care.

Because it is a CoC-accredited cancer center, Hallmark Health takes a multidisciplinary approach to treating cancer as a complex group of diseases that requires consultation among surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists, and other cancer specialists. This multidisciplinary partnership results in improved patient care.

“We are pleased and honored to have been acknowledged by the Commission on Cancer for our comprehensive cancer services,” said Steven Sbardella, MD, vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer at Hallmark Health. “CoC accreditation is the result of our commitment to providing high-quality, technologically-advanced compassionate care to our patients.”

The CoC Accreditation Program provides the framework for Hallmark Health to improve its quality of patient care through various cancer-related programs that focus on the full spectrum of cancer care including prevention, early diagnosis, cancer staging, optimal treatment, rehabilitation, life-long followup for recurrent disease, and end-of-life care. When patients receive care at a CoC facility, they also have access to information on clinical trials and new treatments, genetic counseling, and patient centered services including psycho-social support, a patient navigation process, and a survivorship care plan that documents the care each patient receives and seeks to improve cancer survivors’ quality of life.

Like all CoC-accredited facilities, Hallmark Health maintains a cancer registry and contributes data to the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB), a joint program of the CoC and American Cancer Society (ACS). This nationwide oncology outcomes database is the largest clinical disease registry in the world. Data on all types of cancer are tracked and analyzed through the NCDB and used to explore trends in cancer care. CoC-accredited cancer centers, in turn, have access to information derived from this type of data analysis, which is used to create national, regional, and state benchmark reports. These reports help CoC facilities with their quality improvement efforts.

ACS estimates that more than 1.6 million cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2013. There are currently more than 1,500 CoC-accredited cancer programs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, representing 30 percent of all hospitals. CoC-accredited facilities diagnose and/or treat more than 70 percent of all newly diagnosed cancer patients. When cancer patients choose to seek care locally at a CoC-accredited cancer center, they are gaining access to comprehensive, state-of-the-art cancer care close to home. The CoC provides the public with information on the resources, services, and cancer treatment experience for each CoC-accredited cancer program through the CoC Hospital Locator at

Hallmark Health Facebook Page Earns Gold

Hallmark Health System recently received a Gold Lamplighter award at the 2015 New England Society for Healthcare Communications (NESHCo) spring conference.

Hallmark Health’s Facebook hashtag campaign, #EverydayAtHallmarkHealth, earned top prize in the Social Media Campaign category. #EverydayAtHallmarkHealth uses engaging photographs along with the stories of patients, employees and community members to highlight the many different aspects of caring that happen both within and outside of Hallmark Health’s physical walls.

Hallmark Health has an active social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

The awards were given at NESHCo’s 25th Annual Lamplighter Awards held this year in Boston, which honored 68 hospitals, health care facilities, and marketing and advertising agencies for excellence in marketing, public relations and communications.

The Lamplighters were established to showcase and honor health care communications excellence in the New England region. The 2015 competition included 328 entries from throughout the region. Entries were judged by the Georgia Society for Healthcare Marketing and Public Relations and the Mississippi Society for Healthcare Marketing and Public Relations.

“Hospitals, health care facilities, and marketing and advertising agencies are submitting works of excellence to the Lamplighter Awards in record numbers,” said Jill McDonald Halsey, NESHCo president. “Being recognized by the New England Society of Healthcare Communications has taken on its own stature as an acknowledgement of excellence in marketing, communications, advertising and overall strategy. We are proud that our association has created this level of recognition for New England professionals who excel in their work.”

The Buzz on Mosquitos

It’s mosquito season in eastern Massachusetts. The little nuisances are buzzing in our ears and causing those itchy bites. Most mosquito bites are more annoying than dangerous and can be treated with over-the-counter topical steroids, antihistamines and anti-inflammatories. But some bites can result in serious and sometimes deadly illnesses. Mosquitos can carry West Nile Virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Transmission of these infections to humans is rare, but knowing what to watch for and how to protect yourself and your family is an important part of summer safety.

West Nile Virus
There were five human cases of West Nile Virus reported in Middlesex County last year, and in 2015, the first instance of an infected mosquito was recently detected in western Massachusetts.

Twenty percent of people who are infected with West Nile Virus will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile Virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.

Less than one percent of infected people will develop a serious neurologic illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis, that presents with headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures or paralysis.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends reporting dead birds to local public health officials as this can be a sign that West Nile Virus is circulating in your area.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)
People over age 50 and under age 15 seem to be at highest risk for developing severe disease when infected with EEE.

Signs and symptoms in encephalitic patients are fever, headache, irritability, restlessness, drowsiness, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, turning blue, convulsions and coma.

If you suspect yourself or a loved one to be developing symptoms of West Nile Virus or EEE seek medical attention immediately.

Prevention is the key to keeping mosquitos away
Here are some tips to keep mosquitos away:

  • Wear mosquito repellent with DEET when outdoors.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants when weather permits.
  • Keep screen doors and window screens in good repair.
  • Mosquitos are most active from dusk to dawn, so limit your time outdoors once it gets dark.
  • Mosquitoes can lay eggs even in small amounts of standing water. Get rid of mosquito-breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets, barrels and tires. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Empty children's wading pools and store on their side after use.

--Angelo Pucillo, PA-C, is the assistant chief physician assistant in the emergency department at Hallmark Health System.

This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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The National League for Nursing (NLN) recognized Lawrence Memorial/Regis College Nursing Program...


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