Colorectal Cancer Screenings Save Lives

Colorectal Cancer: Skip the Excuses and Schedule a Screening Today

I’m too young. I dread the prep. I have no family history.

Whatever your reason for avoiding getting screened for colorectal cancer (CRC), it’s not good enough. CRC is one of the most preventable and curable types of cancer. And that’s a big deal when you consider it’s the number two cancer killer in this country.

A cancer we can catch – and cure

Colorectal cancer, found in the large intestine or colon and/or rectum, is more common than you might think. Risk is highest among those age 50 and up, and as you age, your risk climbs. In 2015, 263 people in Maine and 195 people in New Hampshire died of CRC. That year, 1,263 new cases were diagnosed in these two states alone, say statistics kept by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Data shows the needle is slowly moving as medical providers urge more Americans to get screened. From 2014 to 2016, 3.3 million more people were screened for colorectal cancer – a 1.1% increase over prior years. Trouble is, in the 50- to 75-year-old crowd, more than 25% have never been screened, and another 7% are behind schedule. All in all, that means about one-third of adults in the target age group are vulnerable.

How does screening save lives?

Screening stacks the deck in your favor two ways. One, it allows doctors to identify and remove polyps – growths that shouldn’t be there and may become cancerous – before they do any harm. Two, if cancer is found, doctors can treat it right away. That’s important because the sooner cancer is treated, the better the chance for a cure.

“When patients say they’ll wait to have a screening until they have symptoms, I let them know that it’s usually too late to prevent a treatable cancer,” says David Stressler, M.D., a family physician at the Martin’s Point Health Center in Biddeford. “I’m here to answer questions and offer reassurance. My goal is to perform a thorough screening and make their experience with safe and comfortable.”

Testing and timing: Key if you’re age 50 to 75

Health care providers also point out that there are many types of screening, and some are less invasive than you might think. Some tests can even be done at home by taking a stool sample and then sending it to a lab for testing. Others need to be done in a doctor’s office. This includes a flexible sigmoidoscopy, where doctors use a wand to see the inside of the rectum and lower part of the colon. A colonoscopy works the same way, but allows a view of the entire colon. Doctors also sometimes use virtual colonoscopies to capture and review the images they need.

If you’re approaching or over age 50, talk with your doctor about the right screening test for your situation. “I’m here to answer questions and offer reassurance,” adds Dr. Strassler. “My goal is to perform a thorough screening and make your experience safe and comfortable.”

Keep in mind that although these tests are important for everyone between the ages of 50 and 75, some people have an elevated risk and may need testing earlier or more often. This can apply if you have:

  • Already had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer –

 ... 

READ MORE

Five Reasons You Should Choose a Primary Care Provider Today

When it comes to your health, getting the right level of care—where and when you need it—is key to keeping you AND your budget in tip-top shape. Having your own Primary Care Provider, or PCP, to guide your care is the most important step you can take to make sure you’re well-connected to all the health resources available in your community.

If you don’t already have a PCP, now is the time to get one. Here are five reasons why:

  1. Having a PCP takes away worry. It’s no fun searching for a doctor when you’re

 ... 

READ MORE

Martin’s Point Challenges University of Southern Maine Students to ‘Pay it Forward’

The Husky Grads of 2019 Class Gift Campaign will raise funds for the Student Emergency Fund to unlock a $20,000 matching donation from Martin’s Point Health Care.

The USM Foundation’s first student-focused fundraising campaign kicks off March 1 with a challenge to this year’s graduating class: Raise at least $2,019 to support the Student Emergency Fund by May 8 and Martin’s Point Health Care will make a $20,000 matching gift to the fund. The Student Emergency Fund is a new USM initiative designed to help students who face sudden, unanticipated expenses that threaten to derail their ability to stay in school and finish their degrees.

Martin’s Point Health Care, a long-time partner with the University, views access to higher education as a necessary component of a healthy community. According to Steve Amendo, vice president for marketing and community engagement at Martin’s Point, “The Student Emergency Fund is a smart and effective way to help financially vulnerable students persist in their studies. We’re excited to support future USM students and energize student engagement for the class of 2019 with this challenge.”

“We’ve seen students who are so close to finishing

 ... 

READ MORE

Social Links Prove Critical for Seniors – and You Can Help

When you stop to chat with an elderly neighbor as you pass her house, you’re doing much more than being friendly. You’re boosting her health. How? It turns out that social connections with neighbors, friends and family play a significant part in overall health. But seniors generally have fewer opportunities for these nurturing exchanges than most adults – with dire consequences.

The startling impact on health and well-being

It might surprise you to learn that social isolation can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. In fact, researchers have found links between isolation and all sorts of health problems, including dementia and Alzheimer’s, and chronic conditions like heart disease. Adults who are socially isolated are two-thirds more likely to undergo further physical decline; and nearly twice as likely to die2 than those who stay linked to others.

Experts call the situation an epidemic for American seniors. With more citizens over age 65 than any other state but Florida1, Maine’s situation is especially severe. But there’s good news, too. Because each one of us has the power to make a difference. And the best way to start is with a little background information.

What’s behind the isolation epidemic?

Seniors get cut off for a number of reasons – and there’s often more than one factor at play for each situation.

  • Transportation challenges. Many seniors can no longer drive, and/or face limited or no options for getting out and about.
  • Poor health. A myriad of issues from hearing loss to arthritis to injury from falling to depression keep many seniors cooped up.
  • Major life transitions or losses. Retiring from work, the death of a spouse, and caring for a sick or aging spouse can all remove or severely limit socialization and connections for seniors.
  • Lots of rural areas. Eleven of Maine’s 16 counties are considered rural.3 The populations here have higher percentages of seniors, who also face the additional challenges of poverty and poorer health than Mainers living in more populated areas.4

“Senior loneliness is something that we are concerned about year round, but particularly during the cold, dark winter months of New England.  Often, the discomfort of the cold and fear of walking or driving on ice and snow limits the mobility of the elderly population.  This leads to further isolation, which is already a concern for many.  This often leads to feelings of depression and anxiety and can manifest in so many ways, both physically and mentally.  This time of isolation also results in limited activity or exercise and can lead to falls and pain from arthritis.  Many seniors often have limited funds for food and heat and can have to deal with cold homes with little to eat.  We should all take the time to think what we could do for those less fortunate than ourselves.”

– Brad Huot, Martin’s Point Practice Medical Director, Portland Health Care Center
Here’s where you come in

Social isolation is complicated. But small steps can make a big difference in the lives of seniors near you and benefit your community as a whole, too.

 In your neighborhood:

Start by simply being aware of your senior neighbors and looking for ways to connect. When you meet on the street, say hello and introduce yourself.

_ Ask a neighbor to go for a walk or have coffee.

_ Offer to deliver groceries, take trash to the curb, or shovel snow.

_Host a simple neighborhood coffee or potluck.

_Keep your radar up for elderly neighbors who may become vulnerable after losing a spouse or partner.

_Check on vulnerable neighbors during bad weather, power outages, and the like. In big neighborhoods, you might join other neighbors and set up a system so no one’s left out.

In your community:

_Volunteer at your local senior center.

_Ask nearby assisted living facilities about opportunities to socialize or share a meal or a game with residents.

_Help seniors learn about cell phones, social media, Skype, and other technology that can help them stay in touch through your local library, school, or community center.

_Ask staff at your church about providing transportation, meals or companionship to seniors in your area.

_Search for opportunities online: Southern Maine Agency on Aging, United Way, AARP.

Do you have a suggestion for helping seniors or do you have a volunteering opportunity you’d like to share? Share your comments below!

 

Sources

1.

 ... 

READ MORE

Medication FAQs

Make sure the medicines you take can do the job they’re meant to do, with answers to the questions we frequently hear about managing prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, supplements and vitamins.

Q. Three people in my house take medication regularly. My mother visits a lot, and she takes five medicines. How can we keep them straight?
A. Start by keeping a master list of medications for each person in your household. Each list should include all medications, vitamins and supplements each person takes, along with the following:

• The name of the medicine or supplement
• What the medicine is for
• The name and phone number of the healthcare provider who prescribed the medicine
• How much to take and how often
• A brief description the medication, including color, shape and markings
• Side effects to watch for
• What to do if a dose is missed
• Who to call if there’s a problem.

Keep these lists up-to-date and make sure a family member has copies.

Q. How do I know it’s safe to take my medicine with another medicine?
A. “Medications can be complicated. Understanding how your medicines work with other medicines and your body is important for safety and effectiveness,” says Rebekah Dube, Vice President of Health Plan Clinical Programs at Martin’s Point.

Always ask your healthcare provider and/or pharmacist before you take any new medication, and make sure he or she is aware of other medications you’re currently taking, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as vitamins and supplements. Also, make your healthcare provider or pharmacist is aware of all of your medical conditions.

Q. How can I remember to take my medicine?
A. If you’re taking multiple medicines on different schedules, it can be hard to keep track. Providers offer these tips:
• Use a calendar or planner. Record each dose as an appointment, then check it off as you go.
• Set an alarm to remind you when to take medications.
• Post reminder notes in obvious places – by your coffee maker or on your nightstand, TV, laptop or refrigerator.
• Use a pillbox with multiple compartments for different days of the week.

Q. How should I store medications safely with children in the house?
A. More than 60,000 young children a year need emergency care for poisoning after taking medicine intended for a parent or grandparent. Take these critical steps to protect children:
• Store all medicine up high, out of reach and out of sight of children. Remember kids are climbers – a locked cabinet may be the safest option.
• Return medicines, vitamins and supplements to their safe storage places immediately after taking or administering it – even if it’s a medication you or someone in your home takes multiple times a day.
• Ask for child-resistant caps for medicine containers whenever possible.
• Think of all the other places kids could find medicines – like a backpack, purse or coat pocket, or in the room or pocket of a visiting relative – and store them safely.
• Post the number for Poison Help Line – 800-222-1222 – in an easy-to-find place and add it to the favorites on your cell phone.

Q. My cabinet is full of old medicine bottles and jars. How should I get rid of the ones I don’t need anymore?
A. The best way to dispose of medicines is through a take-back program. You can find out about these events and collection sites through your police station or pharmacy, or by searching the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration website (just enter your ZIP code). If this isn’t an option, some medications can be thrown out with trash after they are mixed with cat litter, dirt or coffee grounds and sealed in a plastic bag. Note that the Food and Drug Administration recommends that medicines on this list be flushed down a toilet instead of thrown out – a practice that also raises concerns about contamination and environmental impact.

Q. Does Martin’s Point have pharmacies? Where are they?
A. Yes! We have two pharmacies open for all – one at our health care center in Portland, Maine, and one at our center in Portsmouth, N.H. Stop by for competitive pricing on the highest-quality, most effective brand-name and generic drugs. We also stock many popular over-the-counter medications.

Call with questions or refill a prescription 24-hours a day:
• Portland pharmacy: 1-888-408-8281
• Portsmouth pharmacy: 1-800-603-0562

Q. Who should I call if I have a question about medication?

A. “Understanding your medications is an important part of staying educated about your healthcare

 ... 

READ MORE

Keep Pace All Winter with Indoor Walking

Are snow, ice and frigid temperatures melting your good intentions to stay active this winter? Head inside and rev up your walking program! From community recreation centers to shopping malls, there are more places to get your miles in comfort than you might think. Check out some of our favorites below.

Tip: Though warm and protected from the elements, indoor walking can get repetitive over time. Keep it fun by bringing a friend, music, or an audiobook. Use a pedometer to count and track your steps – it’s great for motivation. And play around with changing your pace – faster on the straights, slower on the curves – or incorporating intervals, such as alternating 1 minute of faster-paced walking with 2 minutes at a slower pace.

MAINE

Brunswick Recreation Center Indoor Track
220 Neptune Drive at Brunswick Landing, Brunswick

The two-lane track measures about 1/9 of a mile. Hours vary. Most days the track is open from 8:30 am to 8 pm.

Fees: None

More info: 207-725-6656
www.brunswickme.org/departments/parks-recreation/parks-facilities/brunswick-recreation-center/

 

Mason-Motz Activity Center
190 Middle Rd., Falmouth

Walk the hallways and gym.

Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 8 am to 5 pm; Tuesday, 8 am to 6 pm; Friday, 8 am to noon.

Fees: None

For more info: 207-699-5302

 ... 

READ MORE

Partners for the Future: Martin’s Point IT Staffers Volunteer their time with local ESOL to IT Program

Martin’s Point Health Care– like many enterprises nationwide– faces some hard truths as they look at the information technology (IT) landscape. Finding qualified candidates to fill open IT positions can be a challenge and building an IT team that can leverage the benefits of diverse perspectives can be even more difficult. In response, efforts to promote diversity in IT training and hiring are gaining ground across the country—and employees at Martin’s Point are working hard to push that effort along in Southern Maine.

Over the past year, a group of Martin’s Point IT staffers has teamed up with a Southern Maine Community College program called ESOL to IT. The program’s goal is to help immigrants find gainful employment in their chosen field– information technology – here in Maine while feeding qualified candidates to Maine businesses that need IT support.

Jim Vernier, Manager of IT Service Operations at Martin’s Point, had been in conversation with SMCC about the ESOL to IT program just as his department’s team was looking for a new project.

“We had already started a talent pipeline with SMCC to help manage our Help Desk, so we

 ... 

READ MORE

Martin’s Point in the Community | Honor Flight Maine (VIDEO)

Martin’s Point physician, Dr. Roy Nakamura, reflects on his experience as a volunteer guardian and chaperone during a recent Honor Flight Maine trip to Washington, DC.

Honor Flight Maine is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s Veterans for all their service and sacrifices. Transportation is provided to Washington, D.C. to tour, experience and reflect at their memorials. Top priority is given to our most frail veterans – terminally ill veterans of all conflicts and World War II survivors.

  READ MORE

Get a Taste of Winter at Your Local Farmers Market

It’s cold and the ground is rock-hard, but it’s still easy to find fresh local vegetables to make winter meals tasty and nutritious. Popular in summer, farmers markets are now thriving through the colder months, too.

They’re stocked with plenty of produce, like cranberries, beets, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celeriac, garlic, kohlrabi, onions, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins, squashes and sweet potatoes. Some vendors even deftly outfox winter by growing fresh local greens indoors.

In addition to bounty from the garden, many markets also feature live music, tasty baked goods, and wares from local artisans – all in warm, dry spaces out the elements. Check our listings and get to a winter market near you!

MAINE

 ... 

READ MORE

Teens and Vaping: What Parents Should Know

Vaping is one of the most significant threats to the health of today’s teens. That’s even more troubling when you consider its growing popularity. Nationally, vaping rates among high-schoolers jumped by 78% from 2017 to 2018, and by 48% among middle-schoolers, according to USDA reports.

As of late November, more than 15% of Maine high school students had used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. The true percentage is almost certainly significantly higher, reports Becky Smith of the Portland American Heart Association chapter. That’s because many teens don’t count using the popular devices called JUULs (pronounced “jewels”) as e-cigarettes.

What is vaping?

Vaping is using an e-cigarette or other battery-powered device to heat a liquid. E-cigarette liquids – or e-liquids – typically contain nicotine, glycol, flavors and sometimes more or different ingredients. Heating this liquid creates an aerosol or vapor instead of smoke, which the user inhales and exhales.

Most popular among teens, JUULs are closed-system devices that include attaching a cartridge or pod filled with e-liquid. There are also open-system e-cigarettes, which are filled with e-liquid by hand with a squeeze dropper.

Why teens vape

Not only do teens misunderstand the risks of e-cigarettes, they are notoriously curious. Many are drawn to try vaping by friends or family members. Others are lured by enticing flavors. One study found more than 80% of first-time e-cigarette users started out with a flavored product. And with options like mint, blueberry pie and pink balloon – plus advertising on the social media sites frequented by this age group – there’s no doubt marketers are targeting teens.

The trouble with vaping

Vaping devices were originally designed to help smokers wean themselves off cigarettes. Ironically, they come with an entire new and equally troubling set of risks.

  1. More nicotine, more addictive risk. A single

 ... 

READ MORE

Seniors, Stand Strong with Free Balance Training

If you’re age 65 or older, it probably doesn’t take a slick winter sidewalk to get you thinking about falling. The loss of balance and strength that come with age make us less stable on our feet – and more prone to falls – even in our homes and other seemingly “safe” places.

Seniors fall more often than you may think. Last year 21,722 Mainers over age 65 sought emergency room treatment as a result of a fall, reports the Maine Health Data Organization. “That’s about 60 people each day,” says Anna Guest, Fall Prevention Project Director at the Southern Maine Agency on Aging and part of the Maine Falls Prevention Coalition.

Aging doesn’t have to bring you down

At Martin’s Point, we want seniors to know their stories can be different – with balance training. Balance training keeps you steadier, builds strength, and reduces risk for injury – as 73-year-old Patricia Sipos of South Portland knows firsthand.

“I’ve had a few falls – one of which landed me in the hospital with a concussion and a hematoma the size of a grapefruit,” says the Martin’s Point’s US Family Health Plan member from South Portland. Then Pat started attending the All About Balance class at the Martin’s Point Health Care Center in Scarborough in March of 2017. “I haven’t fallen in a year,” she says, adding that she’s also able to safely enjoy favorite activities like camping and gardening again.

Building balance, one hour at a time

New evidence shows older adults can

improve
 ... 

READ MORE

Unique Maine Program Gives Pharmacists a Career Head Start

After earning her doctorate in pharmacy at the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy, 26-year-old Angela Manzo moved 1,000 miles east for an additional year of residency training in Portland, Maine. And it wasn’t just the famous ocean scenery that caught her attention.

During pharmacy school, Angela set her sights on the selective University of New England’s PGY-1 Community Pharmacy Residency program, run in partnership with Martin’s Point Health Care and Hannaford Pharmacy. This unique program gives pharmacists a wealth of significant experience in a variety of pharmacy fields including: ambulatory care, managed care and community pharmacy, plus teaching and conducting research.

A range of experiences opens more doors

Though the program is young – the first resident completed the program in June 2016 – its value is already clear. As healthcare continues to change rapidly, the role of the pharmacist continues to expand. By working with providers and patients, developing pharmacists have a greater impact on public health. They learn to strategize with doctors, choosing the most effective medications that will be covered by insurance. They also learn to help patients follow their medication regimens properly and work with health plans to optimize coverage.

“I

 ... 

READ MORE

Video: Martin’s Point in the Community |
Maine High School Athletics

 

The 107th Annual Thanksgiving Day Game between Deering High School and Portland High School takes place Thursday, November 22nd at 10:30 am at Deering High School’s Memorial Stadium. We’re proud to say that the volunteer Team Physician for each team is a Physician at Martin’s Point Health Care. In this video, Dr. John Colianni, Team Physician for Deering High School, shares what that role means to him. READ MORE

School-Year Strategies: Is your child being bullied at school?

Kids often choose to bear bullying silently, rather than tell an adult. According to a 2012 survey, children inform an adult only 40% of the time. And because you can’t help when you don’t know there’s a problem, it’s important for parents and caregivers to know the signs of bullying and help kids be prepared for the possibility.

Bullying online and off

Any behavior that is unwanted, unfriendly, and often repeated over time is considered bullying. Making threats, spreading rumors, launching physical or verbal attacks, and intentionally excluding individuals from groups are all examples of bullying.

Cyber bullies – also called haters and trolls – may send unkind text messages or emails, distribute rumors by email or on social media sites, or post or send embarrassing pictures, videos, websites or fake profiles – often anonymously. Cyber bullying can occur day or night with dramatic effect, because it can reach a large audience quickly.

Know the warning signs

Bullying can happen to anyone. Some children become targets because they are disabled or socially isolated, or because of their sexual orientation. Every child who is bullied may not show signs, but there are telltale signs:

“Children do not always show the same textbook symptoms when they are bullied,” says Katie Swan-Potter, NP-C, a pediatric nurse practitioner at the Martin’s Point Brunwick-Baribeau Drive Health Care Center. “Some shut down, become more introverted or sleep less. Others act out, become difficult to restrain or become bullies themselves. When there are also physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches or digestive issues, we always consider bullying as a possible cause.”


Prevent bullying before it starts

We all want to protect our children and make sure they feel safe at school, during sports and other activities, and throughout their community. You can help by encouraging your child to talk with you about anything. “A strong relationship between parent and child can be instrumental in their ability to withstand the stress of social pressures and teasing,” adds Swan Potter.

Another key strategy: help your child build resilience. In the Youth Voice Project, researchers surveyed more than 13,000 students in 31 U.S. schools, and found the steps below can help kids cope with stressful situations, like bullying:

  • Make family time a priority.
  • Encourage your child to have positive relationships with adults outside of your immediate family.
  • Encourage your child to pursue hobbies and interests.
  • Create opportunities to connect with kids outside of school.
  • Help your child learn how to solve problems.
  • Encourage your child to ask for help when necessary.
  • Urge your child to help others and acknowledge the impact he or she makes by helping.
  • Help your child understand that people may act unkindly to others.


If you think your child is a victim

If you suspect your child is being bullied at school, talk to his or her teacher and school officials right away and work together on a plan. This is especially important if events are harming your child’s ability to sleep, eat, learn or participate in other daily activities.

Don’t hesitate to involve your child’s health care provider. Bullying can have long-term health effects on young people, including significantly increasing risk for depression.

“You are your child’s most important advocate,” adds Swan-Potter. “It’s

 ... 

READ MORE

Video: Martin’s Point in the Community |
Riding to the Top Therapeutic Riding Center

Martin’s Point’s Terry Keough volunteers her time at a very special place. Located in Windham, Maine, Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center is a non-profit dedicated to helping people with disabilities reach their highest potential through the healing power of horses. At RTT, children and adults with disabilities work together with horses, volunteers and staff to overcome challenges and reach their highest potential. READ MORE

Are You Due for Mammogram?

Nearly 100% of women with stage 0 or 1 breast cancer live at least five years after diagnosis. But if cancer has a chance to spread, the chance of survival drops steeply. If you’re a woman age 50 to 74, getting a mammogram every two years improves your chances for early detection and survival of breast cancer. This may be the motivation you need to pick up the phone and make your appointment today.

The National Institutes of Health agree a mammogram – a low-dose screening X-ray – is the most important step you can take to protect yourself against breast cancer. These images give doctors information they can’t get by examination alone, detecting changes in tissue like lumps, tumors or minuscule calcium deposits that might otherwise go unnoticed.

3-D mammograms: the latest screening technology

Three-dimensional imaging provides additional detail that can lead to more accurate evaluations of breast tissue, with benefits that are hard to ignore:

  • Detects 20-65% more invasive breast cancer than 2-D mammography.
  • Allows for earlier

 ... 

READ MORE

Flu Season Is Coming: Get Vaccinated Now

If you put just one item on your health to-do-list this month, it should be to get a flu shot. This is the most important step you can take to protect yourself from the flu. Last year, Maine saw its worst flu season in five years, according to a May report in the Portland Press Herald. With more than 9,000 reported cases, numbers were up a whopping 55% from the previous season.

“Getting the flu vaccine not only protects you, but also those in your life that are more vulnerable.  Influenza kills thousands every year and is very preventable.  It results in so many missed days of work and school and is miserable to get for everyone!  Influenza is already here this year, so get your vaccine now. “
– Brad Huot, MD (Portland Health Care Center)

When is flu season? The season typically peaks between late November and the end of March.

That said, it’s ideal to get vaccinated by the end of October, say officials from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control. It takes two weeks for your body to develop the antibodies that will safeguard you against the flu, and you want to be ready when the flu reaches your Maine community.

Who should
 ... 

READ MORE