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

July 18, 2013

By Jessica Sacco

There’s a new Joslin Diabetes Affiliate Center at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital — Hallmark Health System’s second location to open in the area.

Joslin Diabetes Center is considered the world’s top diabetes research and clinical care organization. It’s dedicated to ensuring people with diabetes have long, healthy lives while working toward finding a cure.

“Hallmark really wanted to do something to provide the best quality of care, [so] we went to the best,” said Melissa Roberto, Hallmark Health’s director of ambulatory services, of partnering with Joslin.

The new center opened at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital in April, with a ribbon-cutting event on June 28.

It offers the latest advances for treating diabetes as well as patient education and support services for adults 18 and older.

These include diabetes screenings, care and management, prevention and treatment, nutritional counseling, medication management and more.

A board-certified endocrinologist, diabetes nurse educators, registered dietitians and other medical professionals are readily available at the center for patients in need of their services.

This is the second diabetes center location for Hallmark Health. They opened their first Joslin affiliate at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Medford in 2011.

Roberto said the organization wanted to partner with Joslin Diabetes given the number of people affected by Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

She told the Free Press that in Hallmark Health’s service area alone, there are an estimated 20,000-plus people with diabetes. That doesn’t take into account those who are living with the disease but haven’t been diagnosed.

“It truly is an epidemic,” Roberto said.

 She added that since opening the diabetes center in Medford, the hospital has seen a significant increase in the number of patients staff are able to treat.

“We’ve been growing and we realized we needed to have a second location with additional physicians,” Roberto said.

Hallmark Health’s Dr. Sunita Schurgin said having this diabetes center at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital will give patients access to other resources — like a kidney specialist, cardiologist and educators.

The affiliate provides these services at a single nearby location, for a one-stop shopping experience.

“Because it is a chronic disease that requires repeated visits, it’s hard for patients to go into [Boston],” Schurgin said. “Even though it’s not far by miles, it’s a hassle. By being in the community, people feel much more comfortable coming out and having their regular checks. So, that’s a huge advantage that we’re local.”

Roberto added that this team-like approach to treatment is essential in assisting diabetes patients in their journey with the disease.

“When someone is diagnosed with diabetes it’s life-altering,” she said. “It’s a lot of behavioral changes. They not only need medical support, they need education, emotional support. Diabetes and Joslin go hand-in-hand, and you don’t have to go to Boston anymore.”

Malden Observer

May 17, 2013

By Nathan Lamb

There’s a popular new food truck in Malden — and it’s bringing healthy groceries to those who might otherwise have gone hungry.

The Mobile Food Market was in town May 11, providing bread, produce and frozen meat for more than 460 people in need of food.

In practice, registered patrons choose from a selection of eight to 10 food items, with the average family taking away roughly 30 pounds of groceries.

“It’s meant to be very much like a farmer’s market,” said Hallmark Health Director of Community Services Eileen Dern. “It’s really a very warm and welcoming environment.”

The monthly program came to Malden last August and has quickly caught on, becoming one of the largest mobile markets in the state. The Mobile Food Market is operated by the Greater Boston Food Bank, which forms local partnerships to bring the service to communities across eastern Massachusetts.

The Malden Food Market is done in collaboration with local WIC (Women, Infants, Children) program, which provides nutrition information and healthy food to eligible families.

The WIC program at 239 Commercial St. is administered by Hallmark Health, and Dern said the mobile market was another great way to promote well being.

“As a hospital, we often find that food and health are so tied together so it was really important for us to look….at how we could serve the greater community,” she said.

The two programs are also connected by Kendra Bird, who formerly worked at the Malden WIC site, but is now director of distribution services and nutrition for the Greater Boston Food Bank. While the Mobile Food Market is open to the general public, she said it helps reach a key demographic.

“Given that WIC is such an excellent program and serves children ages 0-5, we felt that it would be a nice complement to bring additional services to the families by assisting them with their food needs for the entire family and especially providing them with fresh produce,” she said.

Explaining how the partnership works, Bird said the food bank brings the truck and food, while the local partners handle distribution logistics, such as taking registrations.

The Zonta Club is of Malden is another local partner, with its members regularly volunteering to help run the market.

Bird stressed registration for the program is important, saying that’s what’s used to determine how much food is brought to Malden. She added it’s fairly simple: patrons can call to register, and are only required to tell the demographic makeup of their homes (number of adults, children and seniors), along with the last four digits of their phone number. She said it’s kept basic for a reason.

“The assumption is that if somebody is coming to a food pantry, they are in need,” she said.

Organizers for the mobile market say it’s also intended to help those who are falling through the cracks on other aid programs. The clientele includes the working poor, the disabled and families on government assistance.

Bird said middle class families are increasingly using such services, given both the economy and high cost of living in the greater Boston area.

Dern cited food bank research indicating 37 percent food bank patrons are force to chose between paying for food or medicine, saying the mobile market fills a vital niche.

“Food is so important to health,” she said. “Giving [children] that good start in life really has been shown to improve the overall health of the community as well.”

In general, Bird said the food bank is putting a greater focus on providing healthy food, adding they’ve gotten away from providing things like canned vegetable, which are high in sodium.

“We focus on fresh items as it is important to serve clients high quality, nutritious items,” she said. “Depending on the clientele of each mobile market, we try to tailor the products that we provide.  For the WIC Market we will add items such as baby food, when available, given that there are so many children served by this particular market.”

The Mobile Food Market visits the Malden WIC office the second Saturday of each month.

For more information about the Mobile Food Market, call 781-338-7568.

Melrose Free Press

May 9, 2013

By Jessica Sacco

Ever since I was young, I’ve had an idea (based solely on what I’ve seen on TV and in the movies) about what’s like to have a baby.

We all know there are times when it’s not pretty. There’s the nine months of weight gain, hours of intense labor pains and then it comes time to push.

But there’s also the magic of bringing new life into the world, which has to be one of the main reasons the practice continues. Right?

I recently got a more in-depth look at pregnancy, delivery and being a mom by spending an afternoon in Melrose-Wakefield Hospital’s maternity ward.

It’s a crisp afternoon on Friday, May 3 when I greet Jesse Kawa, communications specialist for Hallmark Health System, in the lobby of the hospital.

We head up to the sixth floor — Maternal-Newborn Services — where moms go once they’ve had their babies.

There we meet Carol Downes, director of Maternal-Newborn Services, who asks me what I’d like to experience while at the hospital.

I’d like to see a baby being born, but Carol tells me it’s unlikely anyone will deliver while I’m here. Instead, we decide our first stop will be on the second floor, to meet a soon-to-be mom.

The waiting game

As we’re heading downstairs, we pass by the nursery and I’m shocked to see it’s empty. I expected to see rows of tiny cribs lined up and on display for passersby to fawn over, but the space is vacant.

I learn this is an old practice no longer in use, and make note to find out more information later.

Jesse then tells me about one of the hospital’s long-standing traditions: Playing a lullaby over the intercoms, throughout the building, after a mom delivers.

“It’s a nice, fun way to celebrate a new baby being born,” she says.

There are seven delivery rooms in the hospital and Carol tells me more than 1,000 babies are born each year here.

Before we head in to room 5 to meet Vanessa and Chris Surette, I’m introduced to Jane Flaherty, clinical leader for the Maternity and Special Care Nursery, who’ll also join us to help answer questions.

Once inside the room, I see Vanessa in bed, hooked up to the baby monitor. She looks calm in her blue-patterned hospital smock, with her dark curly hair pulled into a bun.

I ask if they know what they’re having. They tell me it’s a girl.

“Do you have a name yet?” I wonder.

“I have several picked out,” Vanessa says, but adds she’s going to wait until the baby is born before she chooses. “It’s hard to make a decision. I just have to see her.”

Chris and Vanessa came in at 7:45 a.m. to be induced. Vanessa tells me she has hypertension (high blood pressure), so the baby needs to come out.

“The only cure is to deliver,” explains Catherine McClellan, Vanessa’s labor and delivery registered nurse (RN).

With the hope in my head that I might be able to see the process, I ask when she thinks it will be time push.

“In this field, you never know when the baby is going to come,” says Catherine. “Everybody is different. It could be a couple hours. It could be a few days. It’s not uncommon for a patient to be here for three days.”

I stare back in terror. Three days is a long time to wait.

I turn to Chris. “So, Dad, what was your reaction when you found out she was pregnant?” I ask.

“I was pretty shocked,” he says with a laugh. “I just said, ‘you’re not pregnant.’ She was.”

Despite their nerves, Vanessa and Chris say they’re ready to meet their daughter.

“We’re really excited, we’ve been together 10 years,” says Vanessa. “For some reason we thought it was going to be a boy, but we’re really excited it’s a girl.”

I ask Catherine if there’s any truth behind the notion that if a woman carries higher it’s a girl, and lower, a boy.

“I don’t really think so,” she says. “There’s no proven fact that happens.”

We say goodbye to Vanessa and Chris, wish them luck and decide to head back upstairs to meet a couple moms who’ve recently delivered.

In with the new, out with the old

We’re in front of the empty nursery again. I go inside to talk to Sharon Julien, an RN who is a certified lactation consultant.

We get comfortable in two rocking chairs and I tell Sharon I’m kind of disappointed there aren’t a bunch of babies lined up in the nursery.

She explains that nurseries were designed to allow moms to rest after delivery and to prevent any cross-infection from sick patients.

“We thought if they were in a clean, sterile environment, they wouldn’t get sick,” Sharon says. “That wasn’t even evidence-based.”

Now, as part of the hospital’s Baby-Friendly certification — a recognition they received last year by Baby-Friendly USA, which encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies — moms and newborns are rarely separated.

“They really aren’t in the nursery, unless the mom feels she needs a break,” Jane adds.

Before we go in to meet some of the moms on the floor I ask Jane another question.

“So, does the whole process of slapping a baby after it’s born still happen?”

She tells me, “no,” so I continue, “they just start breathing on their own?”

“Yeah,” she says. “They have biological cues to start breathing.”

A blue-eyed blessing

We then proceed down the hall and peer into one of the rooms, where Revere resident Susan Lightbody is curled up in bed with her daughter, Brooklyn Rose Lightbody.

“How are you doing?” I ask, tiptoeing over to her bedside to get a better look at the baby.

“I’m doing good,” she says.

I sit down in a chair beside her bed and ask how everything went today. Susan tells me Brooklyn was born that morning at 7:57 a.m. through a Caesarean section.

Curious, I ask what prompted the c-section, and Susan explains she had one with her first daughter, Jessica Rose.

“I started labor with my daughter and it ended up in a c-section, so my doctor did it this way,” she says about Brooklyn.

Jesse and I comment that both children have Rose as their middle name.

“My family’s name is LaRosa, so, just the Rose, we liked the way it sounded anyway, but it had meaning,” Susan says.

I peer over to Susan’s husband, David who is lying in the spare bed.

“We had to leave the house 4:30 this morning,” he tells me.

“How’d everything go for you?” I ask him.

“It’s been good. Everything went exactly as planned,” he says. “As far as the second baby, I’m excited to see how she is.”

I move to Susan’s bed to look at Brooklyn again. She’s wearing a pink hat with blue stripes, a perfect complement to her piercing blue eyes, which sleepily open and close.

She has blue eyes,” I say.

“For now,” Susan responds.

“Jess was born with blue eyes and then they turned brown,” David says.

I make note to ask about this, and as we leave the room and head back over to the nurses’ station, I ask Jane if all babies born with blue eyes.

“All babies are born with grayish/blue eyes and over the first few months of their lives, they switch over to what color they’re going to be,” she tells me. “And that’s all the genetic mix.”

I’ve also heard babies are colorblind when they’re born, so I ask Jane if that’s true.

She tells me newborns, in fact, do not see color, but can distinguish between black and white.

“That’s why they’re interested in your face,” she says. “They look at the contrast from your eyes, your hair, your skin. You could surmise that’s God’s or nature’s way of bonding.”

Learning the truth

Just then, Lauren Nolfo-Clements, a Wakefield resident with long brown curly hair cascading down her back, waddles out of her room in a green dress.

The hospital staff asked her if she’d be interested in talking to me about her pregnancy and since her son, Griffin Clements, just drifted off to sleep, she’s ready for her interview.

“I’m walking around barefoot because my feet don’t fit in shoes,” she says, approaching us.

We head back into the nursery and sit down in the rocking chairs. At the same time, the Free Press photographer, Nicole Goodhue Boyd, arrives and heads in to photograph Susan and the baby.

I ask Lauren about her delivery, which ended in a c-section on May 1.

“What happened with Griffin is my water broke,” she says. “I started dilating, but he didn’t descend to my pelvis. If he never goes to the pelvis, you can’t push him out. After waiting four hours fully dilated, the doctor said he’s not going to come out.”

Three years ago Lauren gave birth to her first daughter, Holly Clements.

“When I had her, I was in labor for four days and I had to push for three hours,” she says. “I was hell-bent on delivering her naturally.”

And although Lauren wanted to do the same with Griffin, she tells me the c-section wasn’t what she expected.

“It wasn’t so bad,” she says. “It’s the most bizarre thing. You can’t feel any pain, but you can feel the kid coming out.”

Lauren then starts explaining some of the differences between a vaginal delivery and a c-section. (Warning, if gory details aren’t your thing, skip over the next few paragraphs.)

“When you have a vaginal delivery, there’s stuff that happens to your vagina — you have a lot of trouble sitting,” she says.

With a c-section, although there’s lower abdominal pain, it’s treatable with an over-the-counter pain reliever, she continues.

“I can sit all I want,” she jokes.

She also tells me that with vaginal deliveries there’s more blood that needs to be flushed out of the body, resulting in heavy bleeding for four to six weeks.

“They say to you, ‘only call if you pass anything larger than a grapefruit,’ and you say,’ a grapefruit?’ and they mean it.”

Completely horrified at this point, I’m unsure why I asked her to continue with the horrors of pregnancy.

“‘The horrors,’” she laughs. “I lucked out, I was fine.”

After some more chitchat, in which Lauren tells me Griffin looks like her, as opposed to Holly, who “came out and it was my husband, but a girl,” we walk back to her room so Nicole can get some pictures.

I hear wailing as we exit the nursery. “Oh, he’s crying!”

“It’s because the doctor is checking him out,” Lauren says.

Inside, pediatrician Elena Gorlovsky is doing just that. She is using a portable ophthalmoscope to examine Griffin’s eyes and he is not enjoying it.

“He doesn’t like to be —”Lauren pauses.

“Manhandled?” Nicole interjects.

“Yeah,” she says.

“One more second…” Elena says as Griffin continues to cry and squirm.

“Griff! Griff! Griff! It’s OK,” Lauren coos. “We need to see your pretty eyes.”

Once Elena finishes and Griffin begins to settle down, we excuse ourselves so Lauren and her son can have some alone time.

Bye, bye babies

As my time draws to a close at the hospital I stand with Jane and Jesse, wracking my brain for last questions I may have.

“Do you any crazy baby stories?” I ask.

“There’s always crazy stories,” says Jane. “Every day in labor and delivery is an adventure.”

Medford Transcript

March 14, 2013

By Christopher Hurley

Tuukka Rask was recently rushed to the hospital, but relax Bruins fans. It was purely a social call.

Fresh off a morning practice following an extensive five-game, two-week road trip, which included stops in Buffalo, Winnipeg, Florida and Long Island, Rask, along with defenseman Aaron Johnson, took time out to visit Lawrence Memorial Hospital Feb. 27. The pair had a guided tour, meeting several members of the staff as well as visiting a number of patients.

“It’s really important to give back to the community, this is one of the best ways to do that,” said Rask. “Its always fun for us as well as the fans.”

Johnson agreed.

“Anytime you can put smiles on people’s faces and support the people that work here at the hospital, its nice,” said Johnson.

A little over a week later, Bruins winger Lane MacDermid and goaltender Anton Khudobin took a similar shift, dropping by the Melrose-Wakefield Hospital in Melrose, March 8.

“It’s always nice to go to hospitals and lift some spirits,” said MacDermid. “There were a lot of fans and it was a good turnout.”

Hallmark Health, a major league provider of quality and advanced community healthcare, joined forces with the hockey stars three years ago 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.

During their visit, Rask and Johnson met with several elderly patients.

“It was a little different,” admitted Rask. “I’m use to seeing kids, but today was older people, which was nice. I don’t think they get to see us so often in person, so it was a good treat. It’s part of our job and we love doing it. I can’t complain.”

MacDermid and Khudobin visited several floors at Melrose-Wakefield meeting patients who had orthopedic surgeries, to newborn babies. Both tours concluded with an autograph session.

“Its always fun to make people happy,” MacDermid said. “Hospitals aren’t always the best place to be, unless you’re having a baby, but its always nice seeing people there.  It’s part of the job, but you also like to do it. You like to be a part of the community and help those places out. I like to do it whenever I can.”

Rask is entering his sixth season with the Bruins, after coming over in a June 2006 trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Andrew Raycroft. The 6-foot-2, 171-pound goaltender entered the week owining a 13-2-3 records, with a 1.96 goal against average.

The Finnish netminder is no stranger to making big saves. He enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2009-10 leading the NHL with a 1.97 goals against average and .931 save percentage. He then teamed up with Tim Thomas, forging an impressive tandem that helped lead Boston to its first Stanley Cup Championship in 39 years in 2011.

Khudobin has proven to be a reliable back-up for Rask, posting a 4-1 record in five games this season.

A rookie forward, MacDermid is the son of former Hartford Whaler Paul MacDermid. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound winger has a penchant for physical play, which should make him a fan favorite in the years to come.

A nine-year NHL veteran, Johnson is entering his first year with the Bruins. The 6-foot-1, 204-pound blueliner has liked what he has seen from his new hockey home, and has enjoyed interacting with the fans in these type of settings.

“Anytime you mention the Bruins name you always get a smile,” Johnson said. “A lot of people know what happened in the last game and want to talk hockey. We have a lot of support around here and its nice to be able to give back to them.”

Hallmark Health Executive Vice President Charles Whipple saw the impact the players visits had on the patients first hand.

“I saw their faces light up,” Whipple said “One woman said to me she had chest pains, and has even more now after meeting Aaron Johnson and Tuukka Rask, but we’re taking great care of her in our community hospitals.”

“For them to take a time out of their day after practice to come out and see our patients means the world.”

According to Whipple, the partnership is a winning combination.

“Its two real cornerstones of the Boston Community,” Whipple said. “Our local community hospitals and the great Bruins brand. We have very loyal patients and obviously the Bruins have a great loyal fanbase here. We’re able to put the two of those together; it’s a great combination.”

As he lined up for the autograph session, Melrose fourth grader Nicholas Ciccorella came prepared bringing in his goalie stick to get signed. But the squirt netminder never imagined that he’d run into Rask.

“I was actually pretty shocked,” said Ciccorella, 9, a member of the Melrose Youth Hockey Squirts. “I didn’t think Tuukka was going to be here. I thought it was going to be some of the younger players. I had no idea. I’m shocked, but I’m pretty happy.”

“That was pure luck,” said Jeanine Jump, Nicholas’s mother, noting that the family watched the team practice in Wilmington earlier in the day. “He had no idea he was going to be here.”

Both the mother and her son have a strong feeling about this year’s team.

“I think they’ll do good,” Ciccorella said.

His mom concurred

“Playoffs definitely, and hopefully more,” she said.

Boston Business Journal

Feb. 22, 2013

By Julie Donnelly

Alan Macdonald was recently named the new executive vice president for strategy and external affairs for Hallmark Health System. It’s at a time when the community hospital system is under pressure to change the way it delivers care, and to ally itself with a larger hospital or health care network. McDonald has been a trustee of the hospital group since its founding in 1997. McDonald spoke to reporter Julie M. Donnelly about the changing health care landscape, why he’s passionate about having deep community roots, and what’s so special about a set of captain’s chairs he uses for his bridge table.

What’s the biggest challenge facing Hallmark Health System right now?

The biggest challenge is to adjust the delivery system to be more focused on outpatient care and less focused on inpatient care. Over the years, the health care system has become very hospital-centric, and we have to reverse that. One thing we are doing is opening urgent care centers to move care there that does not need to go to more expensive emergency rooms. We have opened one at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Medford and we will be looking to open more in our other core service areas, which include Saugus, Melrose, Wakefield, Reading and Saugus.

What’s something that gives you a competitive edge?

If I have a competitive edge, it would be that I have had a lifetime of working closely with wonderful leaders in both public and private life. I like to think I’ve learned something from them.

What are your three greatest passions? Volunteer community activities is a great passion.

I’ve lived in the same house in Winchester since sixth grade. I’ve served in town government, at one time as the chair of the Board of Selectmen. I’m also a trustee of the Winchester Scholarship Fund and have served on a number of other community boards. The second would be recreation, specifically golf. And the third would be spending time with my four grandsons.

What’s a good day for you?

A great day for me would have four parts. It would have one or more visits with family, it would include personal reading and writing time, it would include completing a business or volunteer commitment, and end with a leisurely dinner for two with my wife Jane.

What is your favorite status symbol?

I have four captain’s chairs that are very meaningful to me. One is from Dartmouth College and was given to me for serving as the president of the local alumni association. One is from the town of Winchester, for serving as the chair of the Board of Selectmen. One was given to me by the Winchester Country Club. The fourth I just received from Hallmark Health last week, for serving as a founding trustee. I use them for my bridge table, to play cards.

What is your favorite restaurant?

The Black Horse Tavern in Winchester. It’s new in the past several years, and it’s become a great community resource.

What three people, alive or dead, would you choose to have dinner with?

I would choose St. Paul, for his wisdom in building relationships; Galileo for his personal courage and scientific genius; and Daniel Webster, for his stories about his role as a political leader in Massachusetts.

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