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Hallmark Health System today announced that it has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Hospital Accreditation by demonstrating continuous compliance with its performance standards. The Gold Seal of Approval® is a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to providing safe and effective patient care.

Hallmark Health underwent a rigorous, unannounced on-site survey in December 2015. During the review, a team of Joint Commission expert surveyors evaluated compliance with hospital standards related to several areas, including emergency management, environment of care, infection prevention and control, leadership, and medication management. Surveyors also conducted on-site observations and interviews.

The Joint Commission has accredited hospitals for more than 60 years. More than 4,000 general, children’s, long-term acute, psychiatric, rehabilitation and specialty hospitals currently maintain accreditation from The Joint Commission, awarded for a three-year period. In addition, approximately 360 critical access hospitals maintain accreditation through a separate program.

“Joint Commission accreditation provides hospitals with the processes needed to improve in a variety of areas from the enhancement of staff education to the improvement of daily business operations,” said Mark G. Pelletier, RN, M.S., chief operating officer, Division of Accreditation and Certification Operations, The Joint Commission. “In addition, our accreditation helps hospitals enhance their risk management and risk reduction strategies. We commend Hallmark Health for its efforts to become a quality improvement organization.”

“Hallmark Health is pleased to receive accreditation from The Joint Commission, the premier health care quality improvement and accrediting body in the nation,” added William Doherty, MD, chief operating officer at Hallmark Health. “Staff from across the organization continue to work together to develop and implement approaches that improve care for the patients in our community.”

The Joint Commission’s hospital standards are developed in consultation with health care experts and providers, measurement experts, and patients. The standards are informed by scientific literature and expert consensus to help hospitals measure, assess and improve performance.

Do you or a family member suffer from chronic insomnia, chronic fatigue, headaches upon waking, restless leg syndrome, excessive snoring? You may be among the millions of Americans who suffer from some form of sleep disorder.

“The signs and symptoms of sleep disorders vary greatly, and for many, their sleep-related problems go undiagnosed and untreated,” said Meena Mehta, MD, medical director of the Hallmark Health Sleep Medicine Center at Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford. “Awareness of how quality sleep can impact a person’s overall health and well-being has dramatically increased in recent years.”

The signs and symptoms of sleep disorders include excessive daytime sleepiness, headache and confusion upon waking, trouble falling and staying asleep, falling asleep at inappropriate times, chronic fatigue, leg cramps, snoring, and irregular heartbeat during the night, among others. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most commonly known sleep disorder and can be associated with a number of health risks including hypertension, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The new Hallmark Health Sleep Medicine Center at Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford offers complete care and services by a team of sleep medicine providers highly trained in the diagnosis, treatment and management of sleep disorders including sleep apnea, excessive snoring, narcolepsy, chronic insomnia, circadian rhythm abnormalities, and more. With proper diagnosis and management of sleep disorders, patients can experience significant improvement in symptoms, quality of life and associated health risks.

The Sleep Medicine Center is in newly designed space on the third floor at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and provides both hospital overnight and at-home studies. The build out of the space was done in conjunction with the newly renovated location for the Center for Weight Management and Weight Loss Surgery at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. There are strong ties between sleep apnea and obesity and by offering sleep medicine services right on-site for bariatric surgery patients we are able to provide our patients with a comprehensive program in one location.

For more information about the sleep center, call 781-306-6366.

During American Diabetes Month®, Hallmark Health System wants to remind people with diabetes that they are at a higher risk for non-healing foot wounds – and therefore amputations – than most Americans and that a wound healing center can provide guidance for prevention and treatment.

For most Americans, a blister or cut on the foot is a small inconvenience that a Band-Aid™ and time will heal. But that’s not the case for the 29.1 million Americans who have diabetes. Some of the complications of diabetes make feet vulnerable to non-healing foot ulcers that can result in infections and even amputations. Sixty to seventy percent of people with diabetes have limited or no feeling in their feet—their early warning systems have been altered or completely shut down by nerve damage. If you notice any skin changes or red patches on your feet and you have diabetes, the Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine at Hallmark Health, located at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital urges you to see your doctor or call the center immediately for an evaluation. The center is here to educate, prevent and provide treatment when necessary.

“It’s much easier to treat a minor foot problem before it becomes serious,” said Alfonso Serrano, MD, a board-certified general and vascular surgeon with decades of experience who serves as medical director for the Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital. “Many patients we see have a diabetic foot ulcer. This type of non-healing wound is the leading cause of hospitalization and amputation for people with diabetes.” A person with diabetes has impaired immunity and often reduced blood flow to the legs and feet. Both can hamper healing, cause infections and cause damage to underlying structures and bones. In some cases, the damage can lead to a toe, foot or leg amputation.

The World Health Organization estimates that 85 percent of all diabetic amputations are preventable. The Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine at Hallmark Health will provide the best treatment to help your wound heal. However, in order to prevent a foot ulcer from starting, it is vital that patients with diabetes check their feet daily and get regular foot care from their doctor.

According to the American Diabetes Association, one adult is diagnosed in the United States every 19 seconds. That’s 1.7 million more people each year at risk for non-healing wounds and other complications. What’s more, one in four people who have diabetes today are undiagnosed and don’t know they’re at risk.

The Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine at Hallmark Health’s highly trained multidisciplinary team combines evidence-based best practices and advanced therapies with individualized treatment plans for faster healing to get their patients back to health and enjoying what they care about most.

For more information on the Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine at Hallmark Health visit

Nine physicians from the medical staff of Hallmark Health System, which includes Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford and Melrose-Wakefield Hospital, have been named Top Doctors in the Boston Area according to Boston Magazine. The magazine lists local physicians practicing in more than 50 specialty fields most frequently recommended in a survey of other doctors.

For more than two decades, Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., America's trusted source for identifying Top Doctors, has based its selection process on the foundation of peer nominations. All licensed physicians, MDs and DOs (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) are invited to participate in this online process. This involves contacting directly more than 50,000 physicians and hospital and healthcare executives, a nationwide distribution of nomination notifications via various media channels.

Physicians can nominate those other doctors whom they feel are the most outstanding in their medical specialties, in any area of medicine and in any part of the country, indicating also whether they believe that the physician is among the best in their region or among the very best in the nation. Also, already-selected Castle Connolly Top Doctors® are actively encouraged through various communications to participate in this process as well. A physician cannot nominate him/herself.

Physicians from the Hallmark Health System medical staff on this year’s Boston Magazine list are:
Dennis Begos, MD – Colon & Rectal Surgery
David Gendelman,MD – Ophthalmology
Phillip Gendelman, MD – Ophthalmology
Leanne Lee, MD – Family Medicine
Jose Marcal, MD – Gastroenterology
Sunita Schurgin, MD – Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism
Patricia Sereno, MD, MPH, FAAFP – Family Medicine
Jeffrey Sobell,MD – Dermatology
Peter Tiffany, MD – Urology

During fall and winter, I see many patients with a stuffy and runny nose, a cough, chest congestion and frequent throat clearing. These are symptoms of several different conditions. Patients could have simple colds or allergies or other illnesses such as a sinus infection, acute bronchitis, acid reflux, or asthma. Your doctor is trained to sort out your symptoms and examine you to form the right diagnosis and the right treatment plan. If you have any of these symptoms, see your primary care physician.

Here are some of the things I look for when patients have these common cold-weather symptoms:

Colds are viral upper respiratory tract infections that are well known to all of us. It’s common to have two to three colds per year. We tend to get more colds during the winter months because we are more likely to be exposed to large groups or gatherings such as holiday events or children at school. Colds are characterized by these symptoms:
• cough
• nasal congestion
• a watery clear discharge
• low-grade headaches
• ear aches


Colds usually last no more than five to seven days and require little treatment other than some over-the-counter cough and cold medications and a large box of tissues.


Seasonal allergies can occur year-round or seasonally. These illnesses are related to an allergic response to a variety of airborne (or food-related) proteins. The body responds with these reactions:
• cough
• chest congestion
• wheezing
• hives
• itchy or watery eyes
• fatigue
• headaches
• no fever

Severe exposure to allergens can cause a fever, such as in response to a dirty humidifier, wet basement, or many workplace allergy triggers (foods, dusts, chemicals). Fungal exposure in those settings can cause severe reactions that also affect the lungs and cause long-term lung damage. Allergies tend to be worse in the fall, due to exposure to dust from heating systems (especially forced hot air systems), and in the spring, due to molds from decaying leaves and damp basements. Exposures can be reduced by using a HEPA (high-energy particulate) filter or other type of fan.


Usually allergies can be easily treated with antihistamines. If symptoms are severe or persistent, you may consider receiving allergy shots from an allergist.

Other conditions

There are a number of other conditions that have similar symptoms to colds and allergies.
•Acute sinusitis, or a sinus infection, is characterized by cough, nasal congestion, low-grade fever, and headaches over the cheeks or forehead. The infection often follows a common cold after three to five days of nasal congestion, a runny nose and sore throat. Usually the cold appears to get better after a few days, but then symptoms worsen including the fever and headaches. Nasal discharge can become discolored (green, yellow, or brown) and need to be frequently cleared with tissues or even a salt water solution with a neti pot. Sinus infections are typically treated with antibiotics for 10 days.
•Acute bronchitis is an illness of the bronchi – the tubes below the windpipe leading to the lungs. Symptoms include a cough, low-grade fever and discolored phlegm (similar to sinusitis). This illness requires similar antibiotic treatment if it persists beyond five to seven days.
•Acid reflux (GERD or gastro-esophageal reflux) can also cause chronic cough and throat clearing, but there are usually no symptoms of nasal congestion, fever, headaches or phlegm. The illness is treated with medications and lifestyle changes.
•Asthma is an illness of the bronchi characterized by cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, phlegm, and in about half of cases, underlying allergies as well. This is a common illness, affecting approximately 5 percent of the population. There are a number of effective medications and treatment options for asthma.

So if you’re experiencing any of these common symptoms, see your doctor. With a few tests, a stethoscope, a chest or sinus X-ray, or allergy tests, he or she can give you an effective treatment plan to help you feel better. Specialists such as allergists, otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat doctors), and pulmonologists are also available to guide you through symptoms and treatments.

Michael Bader, MD, is on the medical staff of Hallmark Health System. He is board certified in internal medicine and pulmonary medicine.

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