Media Coverage

Welcome to Hallmark Health System's (HHS) Media Coverage section. This section is designed to assist patients and journalists seeking information about our current news and to introduce our healthcare experts. We are also available to assist you by providing information about HHS and its members, including Lawrence Memorial of Medford and Melrose-Wakefield Hospitals.

To arrange an interview or photo shoot, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Director, Media Relations and Social Media, at 781-338-7234. We also maintain a 24-hour media on-call system. If you are on deadline after normal business hours, call the HHS operator at 781-979-3000 and ask them to page the media relations team member on-call.

By Joshua Stockbridge

If Hallmark Health System has its way, more local women will become aware of the dangers of heart disease – and fewer women will be dying from it.

To that end, Hallmark will be holding its seventh annual heart disease seminar next Saturday, Feb. 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Stoneham’s Montvale Plaza in recognition of National Red Dress Day.

The purpose of the event is to raise awareness of heart disease among women. It is the number one cause of death for women in the United States and is responsible for taking more lives on a yearly basis then all cancers combined.

According to Danielle Patturelli, an RN and community outreach coordinator at Hallmark’s Cardiac & Endovascular Center at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital, many women do not experience the same types of “classic” symptoms as their male counterparts do while suffering from a heart attack or stroke. Their symptoms, if left unchecked, can result in an inaccurate diagnosis and lead to numerous other health issues.

The key, according to Patturelli, is to first correctly identify the problem so that it can be addressed properly.

“Most women tend to not recognize the symptoms of heart disease as accurately as men do,” Patturelli said. “Women think breast cancer when it comes to their health, but they need to realize that they are more likely to suffer from heart disease as opposed to cancer.”

Patturelli went on to say that the biggest misconception is that heart disease is more of a male issue. She also said that because the majority of people think of men when it comes to having a heart attack, in many cases women often don’t even realize they are suffering from a heart related issue and are not as quick to go see a specialist.

“Sometimes the symptoms are not as classic in women as they are in men,” Patturelli said. “[Women] need to recognize that it could be as simple as fatigue, or in some cases back pain, but because they don’t realize what is happening they just think they pulled a muscle. They don’t show up at the ER as much as men either, which is a big concern, and typically they are not as quick to dial 911 when feeling discomfort.”

In a recent study, 79 percent of women said they would call 911 immediately if they thought someone else was suffering from a heart attack, but only 53 percent said they would call if they thought that they were experiencing chest pains. Up to 40 percent of women do not experience chest pains as a part of their heart attack systems, again leading to misdiagnosis and ultimately additional health issues.

As a part of Hallmark’s seminar next weekend, attendees will be given a one-hour screening if they so choose; they will also have the opportunity to hear a number of cardiologists speak to some of the risk factors/warning signs that women need to look out for, as well as healthy heart initiatives such a proper diet and exercise programs and stress relief strategies.

The event will also include a free luncheon, raffles and additional information to help women stay healthy, which will also include blood pressure and body mass index screenings and informational sessions with the pharmacist.

One of the speakers at the event will be Dr. Erica Brooks, a cardiologist on the Hallmark Health System medical staff. Brooks said that the main goal of the event is to increase awareness of cardiovascular disease in all people and to provide as much information as possible.

“Women really need to identify the symptoms,” said Brooks. “They need to be aware of neck discomfort, any discomfort in the jaw, or something in the arms. It doesn’t have to be chest pain. And they need to call 911 or go to the ER as soon as they think they are having a heart related issue.”

Brooks said that the problem for most women is that they spend the majority of their time running around taking care of their families and are not as aware of their own health issues as they should be.

She went on to say that women don’t “personalize” heart related issues as much as men do and that they need to realize that it is a lifelong disease and must be monitored very closely.

“I recommend an annual physical for both men and women,” Brooks said. “The focus is starting to switch to prevention, which is great, and an overall understanding of the risks of cardio vascular disease ... people must make sure to continually get their cholesterol checked, their blood pressure, blood sugar if they are diabetic, because we really don’t talk about these health concerns as much as we should.

“People have to make sure that they talk to their doctors about these types of issues,” said Brooks. “They have to continually ask questions and get as proactive in their own health as they can be.”

In a follow up to the heart disease seminar, Hallmark Health will be offering their Healthy Heart Series this spring. The series will consist of lectures as it relates to preventing heart disease, healthy nutrition guides and managing stress techniques. It is a three-part series that will be held in April, May and June of this year.

Medford Transcript

Nov. 7, 2012

By Nicholas Iovino

Visitors packed into a newly designed facility at Lawrence Memorial Hospital (LMH) in Medford last week to get their first peak at Hallmark Health’s latest brainchild, a new urgent care center.

“This is the new brainchild of the organization to meet the needs of the population and to offer more efficient care,” said Deb Cronin-Waelde, system director of emergency services at Hallmark Health, which manages LMH.

The new urgent care center aims to provide walk-in patients a quicker and cheaper alternative to the more costly emergency room visit. The facility offers treatment and evaluation for minor injuries, common illnesses, immunizations and other non-life-threatening medical needs.

Hallmark Health includes Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford, Melrose-Wakefield Hospital, and the Hematology and Oncology Center and CHEM Center for Radiation Oncology/MRI of Stoneham.

Associate Chief Nursing Officer and LMH Site Administrator Lori Stevens said a study recently found more than half of emergency room visits across the state were for people coming in with minor injuries or illnesses.

“We knew there was a need,” said Stevens.

The center, which opened to the public Nov. 1, will remain open 365 days a year with weekday hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and weekend hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Co-payments for the new center are on par with primary doctor visits, which cost about $20 to $40 for most insurance plans.

 “This is going to be a great resource for the entire region,” said Hallmark Health President and CEO Michael V. Sack.

The company president and CEO said the new center would also provide one-stop shopping for patients, including x-ray and lab testing resources.

State Rep. Paul Donato joined Sack and other Hallmark Health employees in cutting the ribbon to celebrate the center’s grand opening on Wednesday, Oct. 31.

“Lawrence Memorial Hospital is moving forward in a progressive way to show we want to take care of patients as quickly as possible,” said Donato.

Donato joked he would likely end up the new care facility’s first patient.

A growing trend

Eastern Massachusetts has experienced a recent growth in new urgent care centers. The boom has emerged in the wake of health insurance companies relaxing policies that once required patients get referrals from their primary doctors before treatment could be covered.

In June, the national company Doctors Express launched a new urgent care facility in Saugus, one of 19 the company said it plans to open across the region. However, Cronin-Waelde said the new center at LMH offers something a bit different than other care centers.

“The piece we have that’s a little different is a majority board-certified nursing staff and a Patient Access Navigator,” said Cronin-Waelde.

The Patient Access Navigator, or PAN, coordinates care for patients by sending information to primary physicians, handling referrals to specialists and generally following up with the patients.

“When people come in, they’ll feel like their whole person is cared for, not just the small issue they came here for,” said Nancy Gaden, chief nursing officer for Hallmark Health and vice president of Patient Care Services.

Gaden said for patients within the Hallmark Health System, their records will be instantly updated and shared within the system. For those outside the system, their information will also be transferred to their primary doctor.

Gaden called the strategy, “transitions of care.”

“It’s a continuous flow of information to primary care physicians, which is huge as we move toward more national medical records,” said Gaden.

Saugus Advertiser

Oct. 24, 2012

By Michael Gaffney

At the Hallmark Health System Comprehensive Breast Center the focus is on providing patients quality care with an emphasis on compassion — attributes that have helped the Stoneham-based facility thrive in a competitive health care industry since opening in June.

Sprawled across the fourth floor of the Stoneham Outpatient Campus at 41 Montvale Ave., the Comprehensive Breast Center offers patients access to the latest technological advances in the prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of breast disease.

Hallmark Health spent $1.5 million to build the Comprehensive Breast Center, relocating staff and equipment previously headquartered at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital and Lawrence Memorial Hospital so they could work at one centralized location.

As part of the transition Hallmark Health also purchased state-of-the-art equipment that makes the facility stand out. One example is the Siemens MammoTest, a fully digital prone table biopsy system that uses a three-dimensional computerized image to view abnormal areas of the breast in detail and allows patients increased comfort when they undergo a breast biopsy.

John Seccareccio, director of imaging services and co-director of the Hallmark Health System Comprehensive Breast Center, said the intent was to make care more efficient and convenient for patients.

“We provide all the services streamlined under one roof,” Seccareccio said.

The dedicated staff is another area where administrators stressed the center excels. Six surgeons operate out of the facility, including two who specialize in breast surgery.

The latest doctor to join the breast center surgical ranks is Diana Caragacianu, who recently completed several years of advanced education and medical training in surgical oncology with a specialty in cancer-related breast surgery, endocrine malignancies and melanoma.

Going back to the focus on compassionate care, Nurse Navigator Shelly Beckley is there to coordinate care for the patient every step of the way.

A nurse practitioner, Beckley works closely with an inter-disciplinary treatment team to assure timely access of scheduled appointments and to provide emotional support to patients and their families.

Elisa Scher, system director of oncology services and co-director of the Hallmark Health System Comprehensive Breast Center, explained that the addition of the nurse navigator is the first position of that kind for Hallmark.

Scher said Beckley plays a vital role educating patients about their breast disease diagnoses and available treatment options so they make informed decisions.

“Whether it’s a benign test or cancer, having a nurse practitioner in this capacity who can be there for patients is critical,” Scher said.

A team effort

With the Boston area home to so many world-class cancer centers, why should patients opt to seek their treatment at the Comprehensive Breast Center?

Caragacianu, who arrived at the breast center in August, said the doctors and nurses at the facility are extremely invested in the health of their patients.

Whether patients come in with breast cancer or another serious breast disease, Caragacianu said the breast center has the resources available to provide patients the care they need.

Some of the services at the center include diagnostic digital mammography, breast ultrasound, stereotactic and ultrasound guided biopsies, breast cyst and fine needle aspirations, galactography, surgery consults, a Lymphedema specialist and access to social workers.

Should a tumor turn out to be cancerous, medical oncology and chemotherapy are located in the same Stoneham Outpatient Campus building as the breast center, with the radiation department across the street.

One aspect that Caragacianu said is particularly special about the breast center is the empathy shown to patients.

Caragacianu said the large cancer centers in Boston are terrific, but because of the sheer size and volume of patients coming through the doors they don’t have the same personal touch as the Comprehensive Breast Center.

“We treat our patients like our family here,” Caragacianu said.

Timeliness of care is another advantage at the center, according to Caragacianu. Concerned patients can come in and be seen by a doctor without an appointment, while they might have to wait a few days to receive the same service at Dana Farber or Mass General Hospital.

“I’m there to discuss all the possibilities of what an abnormality means, and to go over whether a patient needs a biopsy,” Caragacianu said, adding that pathology results are available within 24-48 hours.

With so many resources centralized, Scher said the goal is for patients to walk out of the breast center with answers to any questions regarding their disease and treatment options.

“We’re off to a great start here, we’re very proud of what our team has accomplished so far,” Caragacianu said.

Reading Advocate

Oct. 18, 2012

By Steven Ryan

Even the most aware have their blind spots. And sometimes lost in the sea of pink in October is that male breast cancer, while “relatively uncommon,” is not “rare.”

“It’s a pretty unlucky thing to get,” said Rich Adams, who was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago. “I never thought it was something I had.”

Adams, president of United Industries Inc. in Everett and a former Saugus resident, hopes to raise awareness among men that breast cancer should be on their radars as well. He is now in remission after completing “hard treatment” for the cancer in August 2011.

“Probably the first of this year I started to feel like myself again,” Adams said. “I still don’t have 100 percent of my energy, but I go to the gym every day now over a year out.”

Adams, 66, was at the gym when he first noticed tenderness when he lowered a barbell onto his chest while on the bench press.

“I tapped myself with the barbell and thought, ‘Oh that really hurt,’” Adams said. “I am never sick. And I never gave a second thought to something negative.”

But two weeks later, while stepping out of the shower, his wife noticed his chest was swollen, prompting him to go to the hospital. There, they found a tumor “the size of a peanut M&M” in his breast tissue. Shortly after, he began his treatment, which was identical to how doctors treat women with breast cancer.

“When I went to get a mammogram, it was all women there,” Adams said. “I suppose they expected me to leave with one of them. But when I was asked to come in, it was like, ‘Wow!’”…They don’t have a specific way to treat men. You are treated the same way as a woman.”

Adams underwent a mastectomy at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital, went in for four sessions of chemotherapy and faced 30 sessions of radiation treatment. He currently lives in New Hampshire, near Lake Winnipesaukee, and would go to most of his doctor appointments in Stoneham, through Hallmark Health, after commuting to the Boston area for work.

This wasn’t Adams’ first brush with cancer. Ten years earlier, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer but said it was “easy” compared to battling breast cancer.

“I worked most of the time,” Adams said. “But [while being treated] it was really the first time I had to ask for help with things. I live on a lake and needed help with things like docking the boat, and I was in good shape when they found out about the cancer…It also does a job on your memory. For a while, I was beginning to wonder [if that would get better].”

Now, Adams’ only treatment is a pill he must take for about five years to help keep the cancer in remission. While acknowledging some self-consciousness about the side effects of radiation treatment, chemotherapy and the mastectomy — which includes losing hair and the removal of breast tissue — Adams feels they likely pale in comparison to the challenges of women being treated for breast cancer.

“I didn’t like losing hair, but I couldn’t imagine how it would be for a woman, how devastating it would be,” he said. “For a year, I didn’t like taking my shirt off at the gym. But I now take my shirt off at the pool and learn to live with it. It is what it is.”

One of his sisters, who used to work with him and now lives in New Mexico, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. He hopes his experience with breast cancer can help her face the obstacles ahead. He also notes he has another sister, a daughter and three granddaughters who now get tested more frequently.

As for men, Adams reminds them to get tested too.

“Men should be aware of the fact it can happen to them,” he said. “If there are any indications, even if you don’t know of a family history, err on the side of being safe. Too often, men err on the side of not going to the doctor.”

Breast cancer awareness week

Recently, the state Legislature recognized the third week of October as Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week.

State Rep. Lou Kafka, D-Stoughton, was a main proponent for the designation after a constituent contacted him and told him her husband was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I had no idea it was a possibility,” Kafka said. “It came as a shock and a surprise. After talking to doctors, I learned it’s not common but not completely uncommon. Men should be made aware of the possibility.”

State Rep. Paul Donato, D-Medford, as the acting speaker when the proposal was made, helped shepherd the legislation through the House of Representatives.

“The genesis was because we are completely aware of the major impact of breast cancer on women, but men, when it comes to breast cancer, have also been affected by it, even though not to the same degree,” Donato said.

State Sen. Katherine Clark, D-Melrose, also emphasized the importance of raising male breast cancer awareness.

“Breast cancer is a devastating disease that affects many women in our communities. But too often overlooked is the fact that it strikes men as well,” she said. “This designation of Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week is a good reminder that we all must know the risk factors and signs of breast cancer, discuss any symptoms with our doctors, and work together to support more research for better treatments and a cure.”

 What doctors say

Dr. Joseph Pennacchio from the Hallmark Health System Hematology and Oncology Center in Stoneham said his center usually sees at least one case of male breast cancer each year.

“It’s not that uncommon,” he said. “Doctors and patients need to be aware that it could happen.”

Pennacchio said male breast cancer is easier to treat since there is less breast tissue to remove.

“In a man, we usually do a mastectomy, even if it is only 50/50 if there is cancer,” he said. “It doesn’t involve a big surgery. If there is cancer, we approach it the same way as with a woman.”

But Pennacchio noted male breast cancer is a potentially aggressive disease. The hope is that men are able to detect any lumps in their breasts sooner than a woman since there is less breast tissue. Despite this, the male breast cancer cases the center usually sees are at a more advanced stage than in female cases.

“We probably see this because women are more likely to go in for mammograms,” he said. “I don’t like to make a general statement, but there is some truth to men [putting going to the doctor] on the backburner.”

Pennacchio does not anticipate the treatment of male breast cancer to change much in coming years, at least in comparison with how women are treated. But he noted the evolution of more personalized treatment for patients in general.

“There are tests done to look at 20 to 30 pieces of information at the center,” he said. “It might guide us more specifically on what to recommend for one patient and spare them treatments that may have more side effects.”

Melrose Free Press

Oct. 2, 2012

By Jessica Sacco

Hallmark Health is changing the face of mammograms. In an effort to reduce the fear women have about their first mammogram, Medford’s Main Street Medical Center recently transformed into a spa, offering hand and chair massages, refreshments and hors d’oeuvres for “Meet. Mingle. Mammogram.”

The event is in its second year and is part of a $40,000 grant from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Massachusetts Affiliate awarded to Hallmark Health this year.

“Breast health is really overall health,” said Judy Sadacca, outreach manager for imaging and endovascular services. “It’s really not about just having a mammogram. It’s about how to take care of yourself.”

Hallmark hopes to encourage women who have never had a mammogram to come in for the procedure by offering them a relaxing atmosphere before and after the process.

Each “Meet. Mingle. Mammogram.” event is designed to target a specific ethnicity. On Sept. 27, a variety of women gathered at the medical center for a night directed at the Latina population.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m., women dined on a variety of empanadas, munched on vegetable sticks with dip and treated themselves to an assortment of cookies and chocolate.

Hand and chair massages were stationed throughout the room for guests to experience before and after their mammogram, which many women eagerly indulged in.

The ladies present were invited to talk with the breast health educator, Linda Leis, to learn about self-breast exams, diet, nutrition and were even offered a set of healthy recipes.

At the end of the night, all the women walked away with a free swag bag, full of information about breast health, a first aid kit, emery boards and hand cream, chocolate and more.

Women tell all

The 20 ladies who attended last Wednesday evening’s mammogram event seemed at ease as they sat and talked with friends and family. In fact, Sadacca said many stayed to socialize and be pampered well into the evening.

“They don’t leave after they have a mammogram,” she said. “They sit around and they chat. They want to interact with other women. So it really is a girl’s night out for them. “

Best friends since kindergarten, Kim Doherty and Rose Bamford, both Malden residents, decided come to the medical center for their first mammogram.

“We just turned 40 so we’re getting mammograms together,” said Doherty. “It’s going to be our birthday ritual.”

Both Bamford and Doherty agreed the procedure was not what they had originally expected.

“It wasn’t what I thought it would be,” said Doherty. “I thought they would squish it until milk came out.”

Bamford added it was good to have someone to go with for the initial mammogram, as she had more fear in her mind about the procedure, than it actually happening.

“The hardest part was holding my breath,” she joked. “I was like ‘I have to breathe!’”

Chelsea resident Windy Rodriguez came after hearing someone she knew was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“She just came out of chemotherapy,” she said. “It’s a scary thought.”

After completing her first mammogram, Rodriguez was confident she would return annually.

“I will come back every year and do it,” she said. “Everything was so nice, they make you feel really comfortable.”

Sisters and Medford residents Joan Banks and Luzelbia Rodriguez also spent the evening at the health center, munching on appetizers, receiving massages and having their mammograms.

This is Banks’ second time coming to “Meet. Mingle. Mammogram.” and as a woman who’s had several mammograms throughout the years, she said the procedure is something you get used to after a few times.

“It helps you know that if anything is wrong, they can catch it early enough,” she added “You want to know early and not sit there and have something that isn’t curable.”

Rodriguez, like many of the other women at the center, expected the procedure to be painful, but with encouragement from her sister, decided to receive her first mammogram.

“I’d rather be safe than sorry,” she said. “I have four kids.”

Behind the procedure

Women are recommended to get baseline mammogram at 35 years old, and then annually once they’ve reached 40. Those with immediate family history (mother, sister) should have a mammogram 10 year’s before the relative’s diagnosis.

During a mammogram, a mammographer completes four images, two for each breast (one from the top and one from the side).

One at a time, a woman’s breast is compressed in an x-ray machine for eight to 10 seconds.

The process, mammographer Audrey Murphy said, is quick and not as uncomfortable in years pass, due to the digital machine, which almost instantly displays the results.

“I would say, 95 percent of women end up leaving and saying, ‘Wow, that wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be,’” she said. “It’s well worth having. You can check it off your list and move on.”

Every participant of a “Meet. Mingle. Mammogram.” event will receive either a letter stating no follow up is needed or a call for a return visit, after the x-rays are examined by a radiologist.

Yearly mammograms are important, Murphy added, because it allows doctors to address any changes that may have arisen. However, she said women’s breasts are altering all the time, and the differences are not necessarily problematic.

“We are looking for changes,” Murphy explained. “For something that may be abnormal. Not every change is a bad thing, but every change warrants an investigation.”

Murphy stressed annual mammograms increase the possibility of catching cancer before it becomes unmanageable.

“You can’t bury your head in the sand,” she said. “You need to come in and have your mammogram so if there is something wrong, we can increase your odds of survival.”

Also, Murphy said, mammograms don’t pick up 10 percent of breast cancers, meaning women need to be proactive about noticing changes in their breasts.

“Mammograms are wonderful, they’re saving lives,” she said. “But they’re not the end all. You need to do breast exams yourself, you need to see your doctor. You have to be aggressive as a patient to make sure you get some of those things done.”

Hallmark Health System will hold two Meet Mingle Mammogram events in the coming months in Medford at 101 Main St. on the following dates: Nov. 7 for Haitian women and Jan. 23 for Asian women. Others are welcome to attend, however. Registration is required by calling 800-540-9191.

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