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.

Reading Advocate

Sept. 29, 2011

By Steven Ryan

Even in a tough economy, one thing remains constant: People will spend money to look and feel good.

Hallmark Health hopes it can help people look good and feel confident with its new Cosmetic & Laser Center, which opened at its Readings offices on New Crossing Road this past June.

“When the recession was happening, people still went to nail salons and beauty parlors,” said Melissa Roberto, director of ambulatory services for Hallmark Health. “Even when people have difficulties, looking good, feeling good is important to people. When you feel good, your self-esteem is increased and it is projected in everything you do.”

The center was developed after the folks at Hallmark Health brainstormed uses for open space at its Reading building and developed the idea for the center. Unlike many places specializing in cosmetic and laser surgery, Hallmark believes having a registered nurse perform the procedures makes it a safer and more desirable option.

“Having Hallmark behind the venture, we can have the safety and quality behind it,” Roberto said.

Services at the center include laser hair removal, brown spot removal, spider vein removal and a skin -tightening alternative to Botox using the laser to stimulate the collagen in the skin. The center does also Botox for those who prefer it, along with Juvederm and Radiesse.
Roberto said laser hair removal is the center’s most popular service followed by spider vein removal and brown spot removal. The center sees a wide range of people, typically folks between 35 and 65. And not all the patients are women, with Roberto describing men as an area that “continues to grow.”

“You have people around 35 getting older and they don’t want to age and do a lot to prevent that,” Roberto said, noting the skin products the center sells as particularly popular among that group.
She touted the medical-grade, research-driven Obagi skin care products the center offers which is “anything Macy’s has and bumping it up a level.”

“You also have baby boomers who don’t want to age,” Roberto said. “They feel young and active and when they look in the mirror, they don’t like what they might see.”

In the future, the center hopes to purchase a second laser and perform procedures such as “Smartlipo,” which is a less invasive form of liposuction using the laser, tattoo removal, fungus removal, “lunchtime peals” and various other services.

“We built it out to expand,” Roberto said. “We are here to stay.”

Roberto pointed out the center works in coordination with the rest of the Hallmark Health system. It also active in promoting healthy lifestyle choices that would minimize the need for cosmetic treatments, promoting healthy habits such as applying sunscreen.

At the same time, the center is seeking to raise awareness of its services, first in Reading but eventually to surrounding communities, by offering discounts through local businesses and hoping for a word-of-mouth buzz, which Roberto said has already paid some dividends. She said she believes the center’s prices are competitive, while providing quality treatments.

Roberto did note the center does not accept insurance since the treatments offered at the center are not usually covered since they are cosmetic. But Jannique Holland, the center’s office coordinator, noted it doesn’t mean the services offered aren’t important.

“It’s not just fluff and buff,” she said. “It gets to the heart of one’s confidence and sense of well being. It feels good helping people get that confidence back.”

Lydia Pelletier, of Reading, went to the center for laser hair removal and she chose to go to the Hallmark center because it had a registered nurse.

“The number one reason why I decided to go there was because it was a medical facility,” she said, noting she belongs to the Hallmark Health group. “If something happened, I was in a medical network.”

Pelletier said she would recommend the center to others based on her experience.

“They do things wonderfully in there,” she said. “I wasn’t surprised [about the center opening]; I was really excited.”

As for the importance of such services, Pelletier said the reasons for seeking such treatments depends “person-by-person,” while noting she did not seek out the treatment for cosmetic purposes. But based on the results, she would have sought the treatment anyways.

“There are benefits in the long run,” she said. “I don’t have to shave.”

Medford Transcript

Sept. 7, 2011

By Nicholas Iovino

It’s no secret that women often rank taking care of others above taking care of themselves. The health of those caregivers, however, could not be more important for the children, husbands and older relatives who depend on them.

That’s one reason why Hallmark Health, which includes Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford and Melrose-Wakefield Hospital, has organized a series of dinner seminars this fall inviting women to learn more about their health and how to avoid the pitfalls that accompany stress, aging and cancer risk.

“Women really are the caregivers,” said Judy Sadacca, outreach manager for imaging and endovascular services at Hallmark Health. “If you look at that, then caregivers have to take care of themselves, too. We tend to look at ourselves last.”

Hallmark experts will give presentations on different topics, including breast health, coping skills for the stresses of life, and the importance of early detection to minimize the risks associated with cancer. The series of dinners will take place at the Montvale Plaza, 54 Montvale Ave., Stoneham, on Sept. 21, Oct. 19 and Nov. 3.

“One of the important things we hope to come out of this is to empower women to speak to physicians about their breast health,” said Eileen Dern, director for community services for Hallmark Health. “I think that’s a really important part of this. Women have to feel empowered about talking to their health care providers and feel free to ask those questions.”

The first dinner seminar on Sept. 21 focuses on women’s breast health, genetic testing and mammography. Attendees will hear presentations from Patricia Sereno, MD, family physician and Boston medical director for Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure; Rebecca Eisenberg, MD, medical director, Hallmark Health Hematology and Oncology Center and Olga Efimova, MD, PhD and radiologist.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, other than skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. The latest statistics show that one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

The American Cancer Society estimates about 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed for women in 2011.

“We really want to dispel the myths about mammography and breast imaging,” said Dern.

In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concluded that women in their 40s should stop having annual mammograms and older women should cut back to one exam every other year. Hallmark experts and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure refute that study, saying it’s more important than ever for women to conduct monthly self breast exams and for women 40 and older to schedule an annual mammogram.

Breastfeeding is another practice health experts are pushing women to adopt post-pregnancy. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin released a “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding” in January of this year.

“Aside from benefiting the baby, it’s also helpful for women,” said Dern. “They are less likely to develop breast cancer.”

The second dinner seminar on Oct. 19 is called “Finding the Wise Woman Inside of You, the Wise Women’s Health Club.” Paula Kelly from the Huggins Center for Alternative Therapy and Paula Richards of Spirit Rising Studio will give presentations on alternative therapies like yoga and reiki and talk about how to listen to your body.

“It’s about coping with the stressors of daily life,” Dern said. “Women will hear about healthy ways to cope rather than overeating.”

Screenings and health information will also be provided. Attendees will have a chance to get their blood pressure tested, screen for osteoporosis and register for a mammogram in the future.

The third dinner seminar, scheduled for Nov. 3, is titled “A Wealth of Knowledge Awaits You — Cancer Talks for Women.”  Experts from Hallmark’s Health Hematology and Oncology Center will discuss ways women can reduce their risk for developing cancer and detect it early using age appropriate screenings.

“Our specialists are going to be talking that evening about the health screenings they can do, some cancers that are more specific to women than men, and cancers that women don’t think about like lung cancer or head and neck cancer,” Sadacca said.

The series of dinner seminars is free and open to everyone, but participants must register in advance either by going to the events calendar at or by calling 1-800-540-9191.

Funding for the series was provided by the Hallmark Health Hematology and Oncology Center, Hallmark Health Women’s Catalyst Fund and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Massachusetts Affiliate.
An annual women’s golf tournament held in May also helped provide funds for the series.

“We’re tying the pieces together so they can really see the connection,” Dern said. “You don’t’ have to attend all three [seminars]. We expect that women will be interested in different topics and expect to get a wide range of people from their 20s through their elder years.”


Melrose Free Press

Aug. 17, 2011

By Rob Barry

It’s a problem that parents everywhere will face at one time or another: shopping with a toddler. You never know how long their attention span will last or what they’re likely to get into. It can be a lot for a parent to handle.

In an ongoing series of events called “Shopping with Tots,” Hallmark Health is trying to make a difference.

“It’s important to get the kids involved,” said Kim Talbot, nutrition manager at Hallmark, “We always say you’re looking for 3 grams of dietary fiber. Give them that box and have them compare it to Cheerios to get them to see the difference.”

Challenges are everywhere in the supermarket, Talbot said, most of the sugary foods kids see advertised during their cartoons are not what they should ideally be eating, yet they’re all on shelves at toddler eye level.

To get parents thinking about fun strategies to get their tots involved in shopping, Talbot has helped to organize a series of scavenger hunts at the Shaw’s Supermarket on Essex Street.

“For the program we have them do a rainbow scavenger hunt,” said Talbot. “So they try to find something of every color.”

The idea, Talbot said, is to try to use kids’ developmental stages to your (an their) advantage. Older kids who are starting to read can make a game out of reading labels and looking for certain ingredients. Or they can work on counting by looking for the number of grams of healthy ingredients like fiber.

The scavenger hunts are designed to last under 30 minutes, which Talbot says is about as long an attention span as you can hope from a 2-to-5-year-old. The organizers tell the kids that each color of vegetable has different benefits to the body and they go off searching.

Talbot said some of them had a tougher time finding blue or purple produce.

“This last one we had a little boy come who was wearing big rain boots and binoculars,” Talbot said. “He was looking down the aisles. I think his mother had gotten him excited before the scavenger hunt.”

The final Shopping with Tots scavenger hunt will take place on Oct. 11 at 9:30 a.m. at the Shaw’s on Essex Street.

For some general tips, Talbot said it’s good to teach kids what numbers to look for where. For instance, on any juice product, you can teach kids to look for “100 percent juice.”

“And don’t make your kid be a member of the clean plate club” Talbot said. “Kids eat until they feel filled up. Don’t make food a reward or penalty.”

Medford Transcript

July 28, 2011

By Nicholas Iovino

A relentless wave of heat and humidity, which caused more than 30 deaths as it moseyed its way through the Midwest and Northeast of the country last week, finally broke for North Shore residents over the weekend.

Temperatures dipped nearly 20 degrees between Friday, July 22, and Sunday, July 24. But the summer isn’t over yet, and it’s imperative that people recognize heat-related illness symptoms and how to prevent such ailments from occurring for the remainder of the summer, say experts.
Despite the break in high temperatures, Hallmark Health Hospitals in Medford and Melrose reported seeing about 15 more patients than usual suffering from dehydration and heat related illnesses last weekend.

“There are all different stages of a response for people who are having a bad reaction to the heat,” said Steven Sbardella, MD, chairman of emergency medicine for Hallmark Health System, which includes Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford and Melrose-Wakefield Hospital. “They’re almost all related to some degree of dehydration.”

Sbardella said symptoms can range from vague indicators like nausea, headaches, light-headedness and vomiting to the far extreme of unresponsiveness, comas and, at worst, death.

Seniors are the highest at-risk group for heat-related illnesses. Sbardella said the increased risk often results because many elderly people take certain medications that can make the body more susceptible to heat and dehydration. A lack of awareness or sensitivity to the minor symptoms that would typically trigger most people to address the situation also adds to the increased risk for seniors.

Sbardella recommends older citizens move slower, stay cool and drink a lot more than they’re used to when dealing with extreme heat.  Taking breaks and putting off projects is sometimes necessary to ensure safety in sweltering conditions.

“If you’re feeling the effects of the heat, then you’re already behind the eight-ball,” Sbardella said. “You’ve got to pretty much call it a day.”

Another class of patients Sbardella often sees in the Emergency Department on hot days consists of younger people overexerting themselves in the heat and not properly hydrating.
“The ideal situation is if you know you’re going to go outside on a day like today, you start hydrating the day before,” Sbardella said.

In order to beat the heat, the doctor suggests multiplying the amount you would usually drink by 1.5 and avoiding diuretics like coffee and alcohol. Getting to a cool place is also crucial because the body won’t get ride of heat unless the temperature outside is cooler than one’s own body temperature.

“If you start to feel the effects, stop, slow down, and get yourself to a cool place,” Sbardella warned.

If the effects of heat and dehydration persist more than several hours, the doctor insists people come to the Emergency Room where patients can be rapidly rehydrated intravenously.

Medford Transcript

June 16, 2011

By Rob Barry

Area residents enjoyed bruschetta, fried ravioli and one-on-one chats with Hallmark Health physicians at Pizzeria Regina last month when the company hosted its third Match.doc event, a service designed to allow those seeking a new primary care doctor to meet a few local physicians in a relaxed, conversational manner.

With three doctors in attendance, people came with questions and several left with appointments already set up.

The more conventional method of seeking primary care often involves much trial and error, said Dr. Albert Fine, MD, a physician with Hallmark Health.

“You have no idea in advance as to how you’re going to relate to the practitioner as a patient,” said Fine. “This kind of event gives a patient an opportunity to meet with multiple personality types and find a match.”

The Match.doc event creates a relaxed atmosphere for potential patients, said Fine, which takes the edge off what can otherwise be a less comfortable process.

“You can find a doctor online, but you don’t get to interact with them before an appointment,” said Tom Anderson, Hallmark Health physician liaison and event organizer. “Match.doc is a kind of speed dating approach to finding a doctor.”

It can also be difficult to find primary care doctors that accept Mass Health insurance, which tends to offer lower reimbursements for physicians.

After the first two events in Somerville and Malden, more than 20 patients were matched to doctors, said Jesse Kawa, a communications specialist with Hallmark Health.

The idea for Match.doc came about when one of the committee members saw a similar event held by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), said Kawa. Hallmark quickly pursued the idea with great enthusiasm.

“We want to do these every couple of months in different communities,” said Kawa.

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