As the New Year begins, Hallmark Health System (HHS), which includes Lawrence Memorial Hospital (LMH) of Medford and Melrose-Wakefield Hospital (MWH), is looking back on 2013 and highlights from each month.

Like hospitals throughout the state, LMH and MWH responded to unusually high flu rates. Deb Cronin-Waelde, system director of emergency services for HHS, told local newspapers, “We had about a 40 percent increase in patients presenting with flu or flu-like illnesses. In-patient volumes are running at 100 percent. We’re running at full capacity.” HHS was also featured on the WHDH Channel 7 news on the subject.

Nemo! HHS weathered the blockbuster storm thanks to dedicated employees who stayed overnight in patient rooms that were available, slept on cots and some on the floors in conference rooms on Friday night, the first night of the storm, to assure that there was adequate staffing on Saturday morning when many roads were impassable.

Boston Bruins players visited both HHS hospitals. During their visit, they greeted patients, employees and signed autographs.

Data released by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services showed at the Emergency Departments at LMH and MWH the average time patients spent in the ED before being seen by a health care professional was 29 minutes, which is better than the state average of 40 minutes and the national average of 30 minutes. In fact, HHS ED times were superior to any hospital ED in the region.

The Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at HHS opened a second location at MWH this month. HHS is one of 40 national and two international Affiliate locations and the only Joslin Affiliate in Boston's northern suburbs. HHS also operates an Affiliate at LMH, which opened in 2011.

The HHS Anticoagulation Management Service was named an Anticoagulation Center of Excellence by the Anticoagulation Forum, a multi-disciplinary non-profit organization that works to improve the quality of care for patients taking antithrombotic medications. This recognition illustrates HHS’s strong commitment to providing the highest level of care to these patients.

HHS earned the The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for accreditation by demonstrating compliance with The Joint Commission’s national standards for health care quality and safety in hospitals. The accreditation award recognizes the organization’s dedication to continuous compliance with The Joint Commission’s state-of-the-art standards. HHS underwent a rigorous unannounced on-site survey. A team of Joint Commission expert surveyors evaluated HHS for compliance with standards of care specific to the needs of patients, including infection prevention and control, leadership and medication management.

The HHS Comprehensive Breast Center was designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology (ACR). The Center, located at the Stoneham Outpatient Campus, 41 Montvale Ave. in Stoneham, offers patients access to the latest advances in prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of breast disease.

LMH and MWH were granted a three-year term of accreditation in nuclear cardiology by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC). Early detection of life threatening heart disorders and other diseases is possible through the use of nuclear cardiology procedures. Accreditation by the IAC means that both hospitals have undergone a thorough review of its operational and technical components by a panel of experts. IAC accreditation is a “seal of approval” that patients can rely on as an indication that the facility has been carefully critiqued on all aspects of its operations considered relevant by medical experts in the field of nuclear cardiology.

HHS announced its plan to affiliate with Partners HealthCare. The two organizations are proposing a new partnership that brings together the resources of four community hospital campuses and offers patients north of Boston better, more coordinated and cost effective health care.

HHS opened an Urgent Care Center at Hallmark Health Medical Center in Reading. No appointment is needed at the modern Center. Walk right in and you will be seen by a team of emergency medicine providers who are committed to providing you with prompt, personalized care. The Center treats adults and children with minor injuries and medical problems like bumps and bruises, aches and pains 365 days a year, from morning to night.

HHS introduces the Center for Healthy Minds at LMH, which provides comprehensive assessment and treatment service for older adults living in the community who are facing difficult challenges such as depression and sadness, memory loss, confusion, difficulty coping with illness or loss of independence. The team of geriatric health professionals at the Center help identify and treat problems that interfere with the healthy aging process.

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Hallmark Health System is the premier, charitable provider of vital health services to Boston's northern communities. The system includes Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford; Melrose Wakefield Hospital, Melrose; Hallmark Health Hematology and Oncology Center, Stoneham; The CHEM Center for MRI, Stoneham; Hallmark Health Medical Center, Reading; Hallmark Health VNA and Hospice; Lawrence Memorial/Regis College Nursing and Radiography Programs, Medford and Hallmark Health Medical Associates, Inc. Hallmark Health is affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital for cardiology and Tufts Medical Center for neonatology and the Joslin Diabetes Center for diabetes care.

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