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.

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.

Stoneham Sun

May 3, 2012

By Matthew Reid

The newest breast health center in the area will open sometime this spring at the Hallmark Health System Stoneham outpatient campus, located at 41 Montvale Ave., offering patients a bevy of services at one centralized location.

“We feel this center will set us apart in terms of what we offer and the ease of treatment,” said John Seccareccio, RT, system director of imaging services for Hallmark Health.

The Hallmark Health Comprehensive Breast Center will offer patients access to the latest technological advances in prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of breast disease. Through a collaborative approach and modern diagnostic and therapeutic services, patients will receive accurate diagnosis and immediate care, with an emphasis on compassion.

An open house for Hallmark employees was held last month at the center, which is located on the fourth floor of Hallmark’s existing Stoneham facility, and the early impressions were highly favorable.

“We were really amazed and excited at the turnout,” said Elisa Scher, RN, MSN, system director of oncology services for Hallmark. “The feedback we received was very positive.”

Some of the same doctors who will be working at the center, as well as some of the same patients who will be receiving treatment there, also had a hand in designing the facility. Scher said Hallmark sought information from focus groups and the design of the center slowly took shape.

She said it ended up being a collaborative process that went very smoothly.

“We couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out,” she said.

One of the biggest draws to the new center will be the first-class equipment that will be used there.

“It should make us stand out among facilities in the area,” Seccareccio said. “A lot of the faculty input we received during the design process led to the equipment we now have. It’s truly state of the art.”

Another draw of the facility is the addition of a nurse navigator, a specially-trained employee who will coordinate care by working with radiologists and surgeons who specialize in breast disease to provide a full range of services to meet patients’ breast health needs.

The nurse navigator is with the patient every step of the way managing care for the patient, working closely with an inter-disciplinary treatment team, assuring timely access of scheduled appointments and providing emotional support to patients and families.

The nurse navigator will also educate patients about individual breast disease diagnoses and treatment options, help patients make informed decisions about treatment and care, advocate for patients throughout treatment and assist with recovery and rehabilitation plans.

Seccareccio said the position will dovetail into the center’s all-encompassing approach.

“It’s really about balancing the preventative side and the treatment side,” he said. “Now we can do it all right here.”

And that brings it back to what Seccareccio and Scher agree is the biggest draw of all at the center, that being that all services will be centrally located.

“Bringing our system’s technology and expertise together in one building will allow us to better serve our patients by making their care more efficient and convenient,” said Olga Efimova, MD, PhD, director of breast imaging at Hallmark Health. “Women in the area can take pride and confidence in knowing they have a world class, comprehensive breast center close by.”

Services at the Hallmark Breast Care Center include:
· Diagnostic digital mammography
· Breast ultrasound
· Stereotactic and ultrasound guided biopsies
· Breast cyst and fine needle aspirations
· Galactography
· Nurse navigator
· Surgery consults
· Lymphedema specialist
· Social worker

For more information on the new Hallmark Health Breast Care Center, call 781-224-5806.  For more information about Hallmark Health, visit or follow on Twitter @hallmarkhealth.

Medford Transcript

March 15, 2012

By Christopher Hurley

Hallmark Health and the Boston Bruins are teaming up, in an effort to give young athletes a head start when it comes to combating sports concussions.

As the official healthcare partner of the Boston Bruins, Hallmark Health have joined forces with the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions to educate more than 1,000 student-athletes, parents, coaches and athletic trainers on the signs, symptoms and management of concussions.
Over the past two years, Hallmark’s Young Athlete seminars have covered how concussions occur, what happens in the brain, symptoms, prevention, treatment, management, return to play protocols and short and long term effects.

In addition, the program recently received an added financial boost thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Boston Bruins Foundation. The funding will help Hallmark Health offer advanced concussion education and testing throughout the Greater Boston area.

“The Boston Bruins Foundation have been so supportive,” said Jessica Harney, Director of Rehabilitation Services for Hallmark Health. “Without their support we wouldn’t have made the strides that we have so far.”

Hallmark Health System recently purchased the ImPACT program (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing). It is considered the most widely used computer-based neurocognitive testing program in the world. Administered by trained healthcare professionals, ImPACT assists in determining an athlete’s ability to return to play after suffering a concussion.

Baseline testing is a valuable tool in concussion management, as it establishes the brain’s normal level of functioning. Hallmark Health offers this testing for individuals at its medical offices on Main Street in Medford, or at local high schools to test entire teams. Hallmark Health’s specially trained athletic trainers and physical therapists administer the testing for a nominal fee.

But it doesn’t end there. In addition, Hallmark Health continues caring for patients post-concussion with ongoing physical therapy. The multi-phase program addresses cardiovascular, strength, balance training as well as sports-specific movements to increase exercise tolerance without provoking concussive symptoms. Hallmark Health physical therapists work closely with the patient’s athletic trainer and physician to ensure steady progress towards a safe return to play.

Tackling the problem head on
According to Harney, the origins of this project can be traced back to 2010, when the state of Massachusetts was going through a process of enacting a new policy and law regarding head injuries and concussions for high school athletes.

Hallmark Health, which service five-area high schools (Malden, Wakefield, Northeast Regional Vocational, Pope John and Arlington Catholic) with athletic training contracts, opted to get involved implementing an education program on concussions and head injuries at their area hospitals.

The program drew plenty of interest, including former Boston Bruin Bob Sweeney, who is now the current Director of Development for the Boston Bruins Foundation. The former Acton-Boxboro and Boston College star played a key role in getting the program off the ground.

“As a former hockey player and having kids of his own and now coaching, Bob Sweeney was really was taken back by our efforts to reach out to the community and educate as many people as possible with our program,” Harney said. “He started helping us out, going on tour with us, if you will. He came to a lot of our education programs, spoke to athletes, coaches and really gave us a lot of support through the Boston Bruins Foundation.”

A year later, Sweeney awarded Hallmark Health with the grant that it used to purchased the ImPACT program, for high school athletes who needed base line testing.

In addition to the five-area high schools with full-time athletic training contracts, Hallmark Health is certainly not limited to its reach across the area. Harney notes that Melrose, Reading, Winthrop and Everett High School, have also expressed interest in adopting the program.

Since baseline testing began Feb. 1 2012, the program has garnered positive reviews.

“We’ve had outstanding response from the community,” Harney said. “People are calling to have their athletes baseline tested to protect them in the future should they suffer a concussion. We now have something to compare with concussion evaluations. Parents are really stepping up and caring for their kids with this.”

Crunching the numbers
According to Hallmark Health research, some 3.8 million sports and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year. A concussion is a brain injury caused by a bump or blow to the head that can change the way your brain normally works. Those who play school or recreational sports, ranging from football, basketball, hockey and lacrosse to cheerleading or gymnastics are susceptible.

Steven Sbardella, MD, chairman of emergency medicine for Hallmark Health System, urges student athletes, parents and coaches to take concussions very seriously.

Symptoms of a concussion include confusion, loss of short-term memory, headaches, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting. Dr. Sbardella said treatment for concussion includes an evaluation in the hospital’s Emergency Department followed by a CAT scan and a follow-up appointment with a neurologist.

“Concussions are potentially very serious,” he stressed. “Anyone who has symptoms of a concussion should be taken out of the game immediately and be evaluated by a physician.”

According to Harney, baseline testing is the primary focus for Hallmark Health as they head into the summer months

“We have a lot of schools that are coming to us and have their entire school baseline tested,’ she said. “That’s going to be a huge undertaking for us this summer.”

“We’ll also continue to develop our concussion program, working with our physicians as well as our emergency room to develop a prompt care program for athletes who need to be evaluated post concussion, within the first 24-72 hours playing their sport.”

For more information on advanced concussion education and testing, call 781-395-7750.

Melrose Free Press

March 1, 2012

By Jessica Sacco

Patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital received a little more than candy this Valentine’s Day.

On Feb. 14, Hallmark Health System finalized its electronic ICU (eICU) system, making Melrose-Wakefield Hospital one of only 10 hospitals in Massachusetts to offer the service.

Through a partnership with UMass Memorial Health Care in Worcester, Hallmark Health brought the advanced critical care software program to Melrose-Wakefield Hospital (MWH), which provides physicians and nurses with a constant feed of data on ICU patients.

This allows for round-the-clock monitoring on patients’ blood pressure, oxygen saturation, heart rate, test results, nursing notes and other important information over secure transmission lines.
The technology also supplies a method of consultation between the two hospitals and an extra level of expert care for MWH’s most critical patients.

“We’re really proud of being one of the first community hospitals to be able to offer this,” said Nancy Gaden, assistant vice president for patient care services and chief nursing officer for HHS. “We think this is really fantastic for our community.”

Each of the seven ICU rooms at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital is equipped with a two-way video monitor that connects to the command center at the UMass Memorial Health Care System.
UMass physicians, as well as nurses specially trained in ICU medicine, are able to observe the Melrose patients electronically through voice, data and video monitoring 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Individuals admitted to the intensive care unit at MWH will still have an attending physician who writes orders, reviews labs, develops a plan of care and is available for questions.

However, Gaden said, if a patient’s doctor is not on hand during the day or has gone home for the night, someone can be available at the Worcester center in a matter of minutes.

The physician who answers will be able to immediately assist the MWH patient, as all ICU doctors at UMass will have each individual’s information readily available.

“There is a verbal handoff to UMass physicians saying what the plan of care would be overnight for the patient or during the day,” said registered nurse Kellie Smith, director of critical care and Medical 3 at MWH.

Family members are also welcome and able to use the system if they have any questions or concerns they need addressed. A monitor is set up in the ICU family waiting room for those who wish to speak with a doctor outside of their loved one’s room.

“If nurses … patients, doctors, family members have a question, or lab results change, they can connect with eICU doctors [in Worcester] all the time and they can make quick decisions,” said Gaden. “The eICU provides a second level of safety and also allows the attending physician [at MWH] to sign off to an ICU doctor [at UMass Memorial Health Care].”

Along with having constant care for ICU patients, whether from MWH staff or through the Worcester center, eICU’s critical care software system can pick up a change in a patient’s status 15 minutes before it would be noticeable to nurses or doctors.

“It’s very sophisticated in terms of being able to predict patient changes before they happen,” said Gaden. “That, in and of itself, is probably the most phenomenal part of the system.”

The system is based on certain algorithms that are designed to detect small differences in lab data or physiological functions (heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, etc).

When a patient’s condition indicates immediate attention is needed, Gaden said yellow alarms alert doctors that action needs to be taken.

“Physicians can immediately respond to prevent a problem for the patient,” she said.

Those who are treated using the eICU system will face no additional cost for the services and although funding for the program comes out of the hospital’s budget, Gaden said it is not as expensive as some may think.

“It’s a modest amount of money,” she said. “Everyone thinks it’s expensive, but it’s not as expensive as adding a physician, and we’d have to add more than one if we wanted to have 24-hour care for all our [ICU] patients.”

Gaden said that using eICU may also save money for community hospitals in general, as patients will not have to be transferred from their local hospital to tertiary hospitals (like Mass. General or Brigham and Women’s) and may have a shortened stay in the ICU.
“In other hospitals with eICU, the savings come from increased revenue and slightly shortened ICU length of stay because you’re able to move through the patient’s plan of care all 24 hours of the day,” she said.

Both Smith and Gaden said families can take comfort in the fact that ICU patients at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital will remain close to home, while still receiving the treatment they need.

“This is better because the family can know that the patient is getting 24-hour expert care … even though they’re still in their own community hospital,” she said.

The eICU system has been running smoothly since Feb. 14. Gaden said that if Melrose-Wakefield Hospital can meet the needs of more and more patients through the program, expanding it could be a possibility in the future.

Medford Transcript

Feb. 10, 2012

By Christopher Hurley

After suffering a disappointing 6-0 road loss to the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday night, a pair of Boston Bruin hockey players made their way to the hospital.

But fret not Bruins fans, this was strictly a social call.

Fresh off the ice following a morning practice session in Wilmington, Bruin players Adam McQuaid and Jordan Caron dropped by the Lawrence-Memorial Hospital in Medford, Feb. 9. The pair had a guided tour of the hospital, met several members of the staff and visited a dozen patients in different wards, before signing autographs for roughly 250 fans in the main lobby.

For the Bruins making these kind of special trips in the community has become second nature.

“It’s always nice to visit people who are maybe going through a rough time and need a pick me up,” McQuaid said. “When people say they appreciate you coming out, that what makes it all worthwhile.”

Arriving back in Boston at one in the morning, followed by a grueling practice session later that day in Wilmington, it would have been very easy for both Bruins to take the rest of the day off. However standing up their loyal fans was never an option.

“To go through a situation where you have a tough loss, like we did [Wednesday] night [in Buffalo], to come here today and see people going through an even harder time and then just to be able to take a few minutes to talk to them and lifts their spirits, it makes you feel pretty good,” McQuaid said. “It gives you a different outlook on things.”

According to Caron, dropping by the hospital was the least they could do.

“It’s always fun to come visit some people that don’t always have the chance to get out to see us,” Caron said. “It’s always nice to come by, say hi and put a smile on their face. It’s very important when it comes to those fans. We have the chance to play in front of big crowds, so its always fun to give back.”

Hallmark Health, a major league provider of quality and advanced community healthcare, joined forces with the hockey stars last season, as the official Healthcare Partner of the Boston Bruins.
The partnership is a natural fit for both Hallmark Health and the team. The local healthcare provider’s orthopedic surgeons and premier Bone and Joint Program provide advanced care, treating orthopedic injuries and disease in people of all ages, including those suffering from sports-related injuries.

A big bruising defenseman, Adam McQuaid, 25, is currently in his second season with the Bruins, helping lead the team to the Stanley Cup his rookie year. The 6-foot-4, 197-pound blue-liner also sported an impressive +30 rating last season, third overall in the NHL and the best among all rookies.
McQuaid has continued to stabilize the Bruins defense in his sophomore season, playing a highly physical brand of hockey that has made him an instant fan favorite. He loves playing in Boston.

“It’s been amazing,” said McQuaid. “I’ve loved every second of it. I’ve had some pretty memorable moments while I’ve been here and I think the fans are amazing people. They’re very loyal to the team, they want to see us do well and in return you want to put a good product on the ice for them.”

Boston’s first pick (25th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Caron was recently called up to Bruins from its American Hockey League affiliate in Providence, Feb. 4.  The 6-foot-2, 202-pound rookie right-winger netted nine points in 12 AHL games before his recall, and is looking to expand on his NHL resume.

Thursday’s two-hour visit began with a special tour as the players got to meet a dozen patients on several floors. For patients like Anthony Lombardo, meeting the Bruins was a pleasant surprise.

“I was just looking forward to going home,” Lombardo said. “But after being told that they were coming down it actually delayed me leaving, because I definitely wanted to see them.”
Lombardo met both Bruins, who signed autographs and posed with pictures with him and his family. It easily made the Medford native and Everett resident’s day.

“This is excellent,” Lombardo said. “It’s a dream seeing the guys that you watched win the Stanley Cup coming in to see you.”

Both players also got to talk some hockey with several elderly patients, many of whom still have vivid memories about the team’s glory years including the Stanley Cup championship teams of 1970 and 1972.

“We were talking to an older gentleman who was reminiscing of the Orr, Esposito, Bucyk era, those days,” McQuaid said. “I think that’s what’s great about playing on an original six team. There’s so much history and people who have been fans for their whole life, and it’s passed down from generation to generation, where people are fans because their parents were fans. It’s pretty to neat to be a part of that.”

McQuaid and Caron are only happy to continue that championship legacy, but know there is plenty of work to be done this season.

“Obviously right now, we have some cleaning up to do in certain areas,” McQuaid said. “We had a bit of a rough start, but then we were able to get things back on track, going on a nice little run. We’re working toward getting back to that and just getting back to playing our game.”

“When we play the way we’re capable of playing, we give ourselves a good opportunity to win every night,” he added. “It’s a long season and you’re not going to win every game, but when we play the way we’re capable of we give ourselves a good chance.”

And that’s certainly something all Bruins fans can agree on.

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