Grow Your Own! It’s Easier Than You Think.

Looking for easy ways to get your daily 2-3 cups of nutrient-packed veggies?  You might find the answer in a bucket.

“Most any vegetable can be grown in a simple container,” says Jessica Beesley of Estabrook’s garden center in Yarmouth, Maine. And it’s surprisingly simple to get growing.

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Four steps to home-grown

1. Find containers with proper capacity. Lots of people use simple plastic buckets with a hole or two drilled in the bottom to allow for drainage. Size is important. Big growers – like tomatoes and zucchini – need five gallon-containers, one plant per bucket. Small-scale plants like lettuce, herbs, and radishes, do fine in one-gallon containers or window boxes.

2. Use the right soil. Dirt from your yard won’t support vegetables properly. Choose a good quality potting soil and plan to fertilize regularly.

3. Provide water and sun. Most vegetables need at least 6 hours of full sun per day; 8 is ideal. Container plants need more water than those planted in the ground. Depending on sun and wind, you may need to water two or three times a day. “The trick is keep the moisture even,” advises Beesley. Don’t oversaturate or let soil completely dry out.

4. Don’t forget to consider drainage. Mark Sundermann, a Master Gardner and Website Content Specialist at Martin’s Point, suggests, “To improve drainage in a bucket, line the bottom fifth of the bucket with stones, or gravel, making sure not to block drainage holes.”

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Bucket list

As for picking your plants, at this point in the season and to keep it simple, choose seedlings, not seeds. Look for these container-happy varieties at your local garden center or ask staff for their recommendations:

  • Tomatoes: Husky Red, Patio, Sprite

Sundermann adds,  “When you grow tomatoes in a bucket avoid “indeterminate” varieties that will grow to 6-12 feet high and require staking or caging, try to use “determinate” varieties that are bush like and compact.”

  • Lettuces: Salad Bowl, Tom Thumb
  • Zucchini: Eight ball, Raven

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Fun Tip:

Have fun with combining plants in one container. A container with one tomato plant, a basil plant or two, and a nasturtium or two to flow over the edge will give you all the ingredients for a plate of sliced tomatoes, except the mozzarella.

And be sure to consider what is perhaps Beesley’s best advice:

“Choose vegetables you like to eat, and you’re much more likely to put your crop to good use.”

US Family Health Plan Founding Members Reunite after Nearly Four Decades

Nearly 40 years after its creation in 1981, the US Family Health Plan is still providing high-quality health care to some of its original members.

Martin’s Point Health Care – one of the six US Family Health Plan regional member organizations – hosted a recent seminar to educate members about plan benefits, pharmacy options, health coverage and the latest in military health care.  Excitingly, the seminar also reunited some of the inaugural members who have received health care through the plan since its founding.

Among those members in attendance were retired U.S. Army First Sergeant Gary Cadman and retired U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Roger Courtier, as well as Betty Perkins, who was married to an active-duty member of the U.S. Coast Guard.

When asked what has made them stay with the plan after nearly 40 years, all three members agreed that the US Family Health Plan’s patient-centered approach and reliable access to care have kept them enrolled and satisfied.

Sergeant Cadman served a combined 25 years in the Army and Army Reserves, during which he sailed the Arctic Ocean during active duty and worked on radar ships.  Upon retiring, he joined the US Family Health Plan, where he found his care team’s in-depth knowledge of military culture, values and idealsto be a critical asset in delivering the care and respect he believes military families and retirees deserve.

“I’m tickled to death with the care I’ve received, and I can’t thank them enough for what they do for the military,” Sergeant Cadman said.

Familiarity with military culture has also been an important factor for Senior Master Sergeant Courtier, who served from 1970 to 1971 as a French interpreter while stationed on a gunship in Cambodia and Vietnam.  He remains extremely pleased with the care he has received, including reliable access to doctors and nurses and the ease of scheduling appointments.  US Family Health Plan member organizations strive to ensure that members like Courtier receive care when they need it through timely appointments,in-home monitoring, a 24-hour nurse help line and other advanced approaches to care delivery.

“I drive 45 miles [to Martin’s Point for care], but I would rather do that than wait for the same amount of time in a doctor’s office.  I like the doctors and I like the service – if they schedule an appointment at 2 o’clock, I am seen at 2 o’clock.  Other places don’t have the same respect for time that Martin’s Point does,” Senior Master Sergeant Courtier said.

For Betty Perkins, the biggest relief that US Family Health Plan provided was during her husband’s illness.  She was grateful to never worry about billing and to instead focus fully being her husband’s in-home caregiver and supporter.  Today, Perkins still enjoys the US Family Health Plan’s personal touches. Her providers check up on her after her health care visits and genuinely care about her well-being.

“I don’t know what I would do without them. They make things affordable and easy. I get my friends to sign up, and everyone is absolutely over the moon,” she said.

Sergeant Cadman, Senior Master Sergeant Courtier and Ms. Perkins are among nearly 150,000 US Family Health Plan members nationwide who enjoy access to quality health care through the TRICARE Prime benefit, with top-rated patient satisfaction.

This story was originally published on the US Family Health Plan website.

 

Diabetes: Living Well and Staying Healthy

In the final part of our three-part series, you’ll learn key strategies for managing type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes cannot be reversed and can eventually trigger serious health problems ranging from eye damage to cardiovascular disease. That’s why the preventive information outlined in parts 1 and 2 of this series is so critical.

“If you’re diagnosed with this chronic disease, don’t give up hope. There’s a lot you can do to manage diabetes, so you can feel your best and live fully,” says Janet Pachta, M.D., adult medicine provider at Martin’s Point Health Care.

The following strategies and steps all focus on one goal: Controlling your blood sugar levels so they stay in your target range.

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Start a lifestyle revolution.

Take it from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – the following changes can truly help fend off the health problems that typically come with diabetes:

  • Eat smart. You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating. Add fruits and vegetables. Cut sugar and salt. Drink more water and fewer sugary drinks (soda, lemonade, sweet tea, hot chocolate).
    • Swap calorie-dense foods like French fries, burgers and doughnuts with healthier choices like roasted sweet potatoes, turkey or tuna sandwiches on whole wheat bread or wraps and berries.
    • Cut back on or eliminate alcohol. It’s also important to spread your intake of refined carbohydrates out over the day to keep blood sugar low. Learn more about healthy eating here.
  • Be active. There’s nothing like icy sidewalks, driving rain, or bone-chilling winds to challenge your good intentions to get and stay moving. So be ready. First, find one – better yet several – things you’ll look forward to. Walking, hiking, cycling, yoga, swimming, cross-country skiing, tennis, ultimate frisbee, golf (no cart!), dance and fitness classes are all great choices.

Second, have a plan for bad weather. Get clothing and footwear that keeps you comfortable in all conditions or be ready with indoor options at home or a local YMCA or gym.

“Over the phone, we’ll teach you exercises you can do in a chair for your arms and legs,” says You can also walk inside using your hallways, and use soup cans or water bottles for weights,” add Elaine Blackwood, RN, Chronic Care Case Manager at Martin’s Point.

  • Stop (or don’t start) smoking. This is an important way to slash your risk of heart disease and stroke.

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Monitor readings and keep in touch with your health care team.

  • Test your blood sugar regularly. Knowing what’s normal for you from day to day helps you keep blood sugar levels in hand. According to the American Diabetes Association, the goals are:
    • Before meals: 80 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) to 130 mg/dL.*
    • After meals: Less than 180 mg/dL 1 to 2 hours later.*
  • Take medications your doctor has prescribed according to his or her instructions.
  • Schedule medical appointments as recommended – and keep them. Monitoring your health is a team effort.
  • Talk with your doctor about your goal for A1C tests. This blood test provides a snapshot of your average blood sugar levels over the previous three months. Your target? Under 7%, says the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Disease.
  • Control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Keep a close eye on skin and feet. Diabetes can cause nerve damage the makes it hard to feel problems or minor injuries. Untreated, these issues can escalate into troubling infections. Your defense: Daily foot checks and wearing shoes and socks that fit right. More foot care tips.

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Don’t go it alone

If you’re frustrated or overwhelmed by the efforts of diabetes self-care, getting support can help keep you on track. Lean on friends, family, leaders from your church or faith, support groups – whatever works for you.

“Taking care of yourself is even more challenging if the stress of managing diabetes gets you down,” adds Dr. Pachta. “If you’re feeling depressed or struggling, talk with your health care provider and ask for help.”

“If you’re ready to make healthier choices and set goals, we can help,” says Blackwood, who leads a team that supports any member who would assistance managing a chronic disease like diabetes. “We’re here to listen and offer suggestions without judgement. We help you decrease complications and take steps toward feeling better.”

You can also sign up for the American Diabetes Association’s FREE one-year program, designed to help people adjust to and live well with diabetes. The program includes information packets, e-newsletters, Diabetes Forecast magazine and more.

Adding so many new components to your routine can be overwhelming. In that case, focus on the most important steps – most agree these are controlling your blood sugar and adding physical activity. With these key habits in place, you can work on adding the rest gradually. Every step you take counts!

*Pregnant women, please check with your doctor for recommended target levels.

Celebrating Our Nurses
During National Nurses Week

It’s National Nurses Week, and we’re raising our stethoscopes to the modern-day Florence Nightingales at Martin’s Point Health Care who do so much to inspire their patients to get and stay healthy. And, at Martin’s Point, nurses find many ways to practice their art of healing.

“Martin’s Point is unique in that we provide both direct primary care and health insurance plans, so our nurses play different roles, depending on the line of business,” says Dr. David Howes, President and CEO. “Whether they’re providing clinical care to our patients or managing the care of our health plan members, their work is essential to our mission of improving the health of our community.”

At the seven Martin’s Point Health Care Centers in southern Maine and Portsmouth, NH, our nurses are members of integrated clinical care teams. They collaborate with primary care providers (PCPs) and staff to work at their highest professional level, providing patient-centered care and education to 79,000 patients.

As a provider of Medicare Advantage plans for older adults and TRICARE Prime® plans for military families, Martin’s Point also serves over 90,000 health plan members in northern New England and beyond. Nursing counterparts on this health plan side support members with complex chronic conditions, helping them navigate our health care system and develop skills to manage their health.

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Sharon Foerster, MSW, LCSW
Director,  Martin’s Point Comprehensive Care Program

Care and trust pay big dividends

Spearheading several innovative care management programs, Martin’s Point nurses provide close medical support and develop trusting relationships with their patients—efforts that pay huge dividends for patients in terms of health outcomes, experience, and cost containment.

One such program helps patients smoothly pivot from hospital to home or rehab. Population health nurses work with recently discharged patients to reinforce new treatment plans and medications, update medical records, engage resources like Meals on Wheels, and coordinate PCP follow up. Their work helps speed recoveries, reduce duplicate testing and treatment, and prevent hospital readmission.

Providing care and hope when it’s needed most

In the Comprehensive Care Program (CCP) and Integrated Care Connection (ICC) program, population health and care management nurses partner with patients and health plan members who struggle to manage multiple chronic conditions.

“We help determine what is most important to our Generations Advantage members, and then support them over the long run to achieve those person-centered goals,” explains Sharon Foerster, CCP director. “With the patient and their PCP, we identify care needs and coordinate specialty and social services to help members stick with their treatment plans and learn about preventing reoccurring symptoms.”

“In the end, it’s about giving patients the tools they need to succeed,” says population health nurse Christina Schoenberg, RN, BSN, CCM.  “The most essential thing we do is see each patient as a whole person, truly listen and learn what’s important to them.”

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Christina Schoenberg, RN, BSN, CCM, Martin’s Point Population Health Nurse

And, for many patients who may have given up on ever feeling better, it’s about restoring hope—a driving force in motivating patients to actively engage in their health. In the simple, but powerful words of an ICC program participant, “This program makes me feel like somebody cares.” And that somebody, undoubtedly, is a Martin’s Point nurse.

This article originally appeared in the Portland Press Herald.

Diabetes: Advice on Prevention

In part two of our three-part series, learn how to prevent diabetes and reverse prediabetes.

In part one of our series on diabetes, you learned all about type 2 diabetes and how to determine if you’re at risk for this chronic disease. Now it’s time to get down to business and uncover the steps to safeguard your health.

Our advice for preventing diabetes and getting a grip on prediabetes may sound familiar. After all, it echoes most everything you’ve heard about staying healthy:

  • Cut back on sugar and high-calorie foods like burgers, fries and doughnuts. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Do something active every day – walk, hike, play a sport, practice yoga, ice skate – anything you find fun and easy to fit in.
  • Lose excess weight by eating better and adding exercise.
  • See your doctor and get your blood sugar tested if you are between age 40 and 70 and overweight.

Even relatively small changes – like losing 10 pounds if you weigh 200 or adding 25 minutes of exercise, six days a week – have big impact and will improve your health in other ways, too.

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All the proof – and support – you need to take charge

There’s more encouraging news for people with prediabetes: Joining a prevention program that follows protocol established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can cut your risk in half. People over age 70 stand to cut their risk of developing diabetes even more – by 71%.

One such program is the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program, offered at more than 200 YMCA locations across the country – including southern Maine. This 10-month program uses coaching, lessons on healthy eating and exercising, managing stress and problem solving, plus group support and weekly meetings.

“The goals are for participants to lose 5 to 7% of their body weight and gradually increase physical activity to 150 minutes per week,” notes Nicole Hart, Strategic Initiatives Director at YMCA of Southern Maine.

Still not convinced? Even 10 years out, follow-up research shows people who finish CDC-approved programs like these are 33% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Find a program at a YMCA near you.

When to get help

Sometimes blood sugar levels creep up so slowly that it’s hard to recognize a problem. These common symptoms can indicate high blood sugar:

  • Extreme thirst and/or hunger.
  • Urinating more frequently than usual.
  • Blurred vision.

If you experience these symptoms – or if you think you’re at risk for diabetes or prediabetes, talk with your health care provider. “Taking action to reverse prediabetes keeps you in control, whereas if things progress to diabetes, there’s no cure,” says Janet Pachta, M.D., adult medicine provider at Martin’s Point Health Care. “And diagnosing diabetes as soon as possible helps you start management that protects your heart, kidneys and eyes.”

Coming soon – part three in our series, which will focus on managing type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes: Know if You’re at Risk

In this first of our three-part series, we’ll help you determine whether you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes calls for constant vigilance: Monitoring blood sugar levels, thinking about when and what you’ll eat, and considering how taking your dog for a romp or your kids to the lake could throw everything off. This chronic illness can also add stress, medical expenses and extra risk to an already full plate.

In Maine, this is reality for as many as 133,100 people. It doesn’t have to be for you. There’s plenty you can do to know if you’re at risk for diabetes – and how to lower it.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic illness that throws off the body’s ability to process food into the sugar it needs for fuel. Because the body either can’t make enough of the hormone insulin or can’t use insulin properly, you end up with way too much blood sugar. Over time, high blood sugar can wreak havoc on your eyes, heart, bloods vessels, nerves and kidneys. This elevates your risk for heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease and even loss of toes, feet or lower legs.

“Diabetes can be managed, but not cured, which makes it so important to make healthy lifestyle choices in the first place,” says Janet Pachta, M.D., a Martin’s Point Adult Medicine physician.

There are three types of diabetes. Here, we’ll focus on type 2 – far and away the biggest trouble maker in America.

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How common is type 2 diabetes?

One in every four adults – a staggering 30.3 million Americans – aren’t aware that they have diabetes. Today, three times as many adults are diagnosed than were 20 years ago. And though it was once an adult-only problem, type 2 diabetes has trickled down to kids, teens and young adults, too.

Equally worrisome is the prevalence of prediabetes. With prediabetes, blood sugar levels aren’t quite high enough to earn a diabetic label, but there’s still trouble afoot. People with prediabetes have a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke – but prediabetes can be reversed.

Who’s At Risk for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes? You could have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes and not know it—there often aren’t any symptoms. That’s why it makes sense to know the risk factors: 45+ years old, Physically active less than 3 times/week, Family history of type 2 diabetes, High blood pressure, History of gestational diabetes (Diabetes during pregnancy. Giving birth to a baby weighing 9+ pounds is also a risk factor), Overweight. Did you know...African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at higher risk. If you have any of the risk factors, ask your doctor about getting your blood sugar tested. CDC-Centers for Disease Control.

Are you at risk?
Having just one of the following factors sends up a red flag that you’re more likely to develop diabetes or prediabetes:

  • You are age 45 or older
  • You are overweight or obese
  • You exercise less than three times a week
  • You have a family history of diabetes
  • You developed diabetes during pregnancy or gave birth to a baby weighing 9 or more pounds
  • You have high blood pressure
  • Your background is African American, American Indian or Alaskan native, Asian American, Hispanic or Latino, or Native Hawaiian or Pacific islander.

You can get a more precise idea of your risk level by taking this quick quiz online or downloading it here. If your score is 9 points or more, make a date with your health care provider right away. If your score is 3 to 8 points, keep up the good work (details below).

“Diagnosing – and then managing – diabetes is key to preventing long-term effects on the heart, kidneys and  eyes,” notes Dr. Pachta. “Recognizing prediabetes and taking action to prevent progression also prevents unnecessary damage.” So, if you think you might be at risk or have diabetes or prediabetes, call your doctor today.

Check back in a couple of weeks for part two of this series, and learn about the many ways you can cut your risk for diabetes and live a healthier life.

Martin’s Point Named One of the 2018 Best Workplaces in Health Care & Biopharma by Great Place to Work® and FORTUNE

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Great Place to Work® and FORTUNE have honored Martin’s Point as one of the 2018 Best Workplaces in Health Care & Biopharma.  Martin’s Point is one of only two New England Health Care & Biopharma workplaces to make the list and the only one in Maine.  The ranking considered input from more than 95,000 employees in the Health Care and Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical sectors. Great Place to Work, a research and consulting firm, evaluated more than 50 elements of team members’ experience on the job. These included employee pride in the organization’s community impact, belief that their work makes a difference, and feeling their work has special meaning. Rankings are based on employees’ experiences, no matter who they are or what they do.

“Martin’s Point is proud to have been recognized as one of the best workplaces in Health Care & Biopharma for the second time in three years. Our results demonstrate that we’re well-positioned in the increasingly tight healthcare labor market,” said Teresa Nizza, Chief Human Resources Officer at Martin’s Point. “Great employees are the foundation of our organization and we remain committed to providing an engaging and professionally rewarding environment to both retain and attract great talent.”

The Best Workplaces in Health Care and Biopharma stand out for sustaining agile, innovative cultures, which helps them outpace competitors in the marketplace.  Martin’s Point employees overwhelmingly praised the organization including 96% stating they worked in a great atmosphere, 95% stating they felt great pride in their work and 90% stating they “feel good about how we contribute to their community.”

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Employees at Martin’s Point’s Annual Winter Party

“In the end, it’s all about our mission and our culture. We encourage open and respectful communication, emphasize employee development and foster community engagement through special benefits like paid volunteer time off,” added Nizza. “We also balance our hard work by celebrating with our employees with fun company-wide events including summer barbecues, Ice Cream Day and Thanksgiving Pie Day to foster team spirit.”

“Great Place to Work is proud of these Best Workplaces that enable their people to be innovators in their field,” said Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work. “Organizations like Martin’s Point set the bar for other Health Care and Biopharma companies, who prove that taking care of employees will give them the tools and motivation they need to provide industry-leading care and services to patients and customers.”

The Best Workplaces in Health Care & Biopharma is one of a series of rankings by Great Place to Work and FORTUNE based on employee feedback from Great Place to Work-Certified™ organizations.

About the Best Workplaces in Health Care & Biopharma
Great Place to Work based its ranking on a data-driven methodology applied to anonymous Trust Index™ survey responses from more than 95,000 employees at Great Place to Work-Certified organizations in Health Care and Biopharma. To learn more about Great Place to Work Certification and recognition on Best Workplaces lists published with FORTUNE, visit Greatplacetowork.com.

About Great Place to Work®
Great Place to Work is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through its certification programs, Great Place to Work recognizes outstanding workplace cultures and produces the annual Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For®” and Great Place to Work Best Workplaces lists for Millennials, Women, Diversity, Small & Medium Companies, industries and, internationally, countries and regions. Through its culture consulting services, Great Place to Work helps clients create great workplaces that outpace peers on key business metrics like revenue growth, profitability, retention and stock performance.

Martin’s Point employees featured on Live + Work in Maine and MaineLife

As part of an ongoing video series, Live + Work in Maine is featuring employees from across the Pine Tree State sharing why they love living and working here in Maine. Our own Jeff Polk, Vice President of Network Management, and Michelle Gallitto, Strategy Deployment Director, were recently selected to tell their stories and both did an incredible job on camera. We couldn’t be prouder.

 

The videos were shown during recent episodes of MaineLife and are also featured on the Live + Work in Maine website.

Martin’s Point Job Shadow Day a Win-Win for All!

A big “Thank you!” is going out to all who helped make our recent Martin’s Point Job Shadow Day a huge success! On April 6, our employees hosted 27 undergraduates from the University of Southern Maine (USM) and Southern Maine Community College (SMCC), showing students the ropes of real-world health care work at Martin’s Point.

Student shadowed in their areas of interest, including clinical and administrative roles at our Portland Health Care Center, finance, HR, IT, marketing, and corporate and health plan administration. With participant reviews like “Phenomenal,” “Helpful,” “Very informative,” and “Overwhelming,” event coordinators at Martin’s Point, USM, and SMCC couldn’t be happier with the results.

Pointing to our strong partnerships with these local educational institutions, Martin’s Point Chief HR Officer, Teresa Nizza, noted that the collaboration is a win-win for all involved:

“I am proud of the meaningful experiences we can provide to local students, a number of whom are first-generation college students and new Americans,” said Nizza. “They gain practical exposure to their fields of interest and we are able to showcase our work, share our culture, and meet potential candidates for future internships and even permanent employment.”

See more event images and participant comments below:

“A very good way to learn about different job pathways and what is out there to experience. So many opportunities!” ~USM Student

 “A great opportunity to gain the real-world experience of what I’m learning in school, particularly about computer programming.”  ~USM Student

“It really opened my eyes to new jobs that Martin’s Point has to offer. I wouldn’t have known about the administrative office part of Martin’s Point if I didn’t choose to learn about it. Overall, great and will consider an internship.” ~ USM Student

“It was great to spend the morning with students from USM. I appreciated the opportunity to reflect on my career path, share bits of insight, and highlight some of the things that make Martin’s Point such a unique place to be employed. I am already looking forward to the next job shadow day!”  ~Martin’s Point Employee

 

 

Five Ways to Get Your Family Moving This Spring

Warmer temperatures and extra daylight make spring the perfect time to kick your commitment to being more active into gear. Exercise helps prevent disease, maintains a healthy weight, lifts your mood and energy levels and more. With so many benefits, the question might be not if you’re going to get moving today – but what should you do?

Here are five ways to help you launch a healthier, happier you:

1. Toss in something new: disc golf. Make exercise more like adventure-play – especially if it’s muddy or there’s snow underfoot – with a disc golf outing. To play, follow the course, trying to throw your disc ($10 and up) into one metal basket after another in the set number of throws. You may come upon devotees, but the game is decidedly low key. Keep score, or not. Courses have popped up all over. Find one near you at pdga.com or dgcoursereview.com

2. Make Saturday trail day. Get quality family time and exercise, all in one. To get your kids onboard, collect a list of trails near you (visit Mainetrailfinder.com) and put names on slips of paper in a jar or a hat. Each week, take turns picking a destination. Don’t forget sturdy footwear, bug repellent and hats.

 

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3. Slow it down with yoga. You don’t have to go all cardio – in fact, it’s best to add strength training along with flexibility and balance work. You get all three with yoga – plus stress relief. Get started with a class near you, or on YouTube (Yoga with Adriene and Yoga Journal are great for beginners). Get the little ones involved with The Kids’ Yoga Deck by Annie Buckley – pick a card and learn a fun pose like gorilla or airplane.

4. Go out and play. Try something new – or revisit what you loved as a kid: play Whiffle ball, ultimate Frisbee, or tennis, shoot hoops, mark a box with chalk and play four square, ride bikes, make an obstacle course, go on a neighborhood scavenger hunt. Anything that gets you moving is fair game.

5. Start an evening walk habit. Delayed sunsets are the perfect invitation to get outside after dinner and walk. Shoot for 10 minutes on most days and bam, you’ve added an hour of exercise to every week. And it’s likely you’ll choose to go longer once you lace up your sneakers and set off.

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Before you lace up your sneakers, consider how much exercise you need. It all depends on what your goals are.

“For good health, you need a total of at least 150 minutes of exercise every week,” says Michael Bergeron M.D., M.B.A., a physician with Martin’s Point Health Care. “That’s 30 minutes, five times a week. Most of us can make that work.”

With five fresh ideas and a reasonable time-goal, it’s easy to launch your fitness plan. You could even find that for you, variety is the key to sticking with it. Worse case? Hopefully you find at least one new thing you love to do, week after week, and before you know it, it’s spring again!

This article originally appeared in the Coastal Journal

Thanking Our Doctors on National Doctors’ Day!

“At Martin’s Point we consistently recognize and value the work of our doctors, because we believe that honoring their efforts leads to trusting relationships and a healthier community,” said Dr. Jonathan Harvey, Chief Medical Officer. “Thank you to all of the great doctors at Martin’s Point.  On Doctors’ Day and every day, it’s a pleasure to work with you.”

National Doctors’ Day, celebrated in a number of countries across the globe, pays tribute to the contributions of physicians to the health and well-being of individuals and their greater communities. In the US, we honor physicians annually on March 30 to commemorate the date in 1842 when general anesthesia was first used on a surgery patient. The first Doctors’ Day observance in the US was a private event held in 1933 in Winder, Georgia to honor local physicians. The tradition slowly grew and the day was celebrated regionally until 1990 when President George H. W. Bush designated Doctors’ Day as a national holiday.

On this 2018 celebration of National Doctors’ Day, we would like to recognize the exceptional work of Martin’s Point Health Care physicians. Your tireless dedication to improving the health of our community, one patient at a time, is acknowledged and appreciated. Thank you—for sharing your skill, your experience, your empathy, and your energy with our patients. They, their families, and our greater community are the better for it!

Five Ways to Fight Winter Blues

In June, Mainers savor over 15 hours of daylight. In December, we get only nine. Add frigid temperatures to short days, and no wonder many of us feel down and out in winter. The most extreme form of the winter blues – Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD – only troubles 1%-2% of Americans. But as many as 20% feel down, unmotivated, grumpy and tired this time of year, compared to spring and summer.

Thankfully, the outlook isn’t all bleak. In spite of our northern location, you can take action that will help you feel sunnier all winter long.

Keeping it Light in the Season of Darkness

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Keep moving. Get outside daily, regardless of weather. Physical activity taps feel-good chemicals in the brain like serotonin and endorphins. “In fact, research shows exercise is as effective as an antidepressant for easing depression,” says Kathryn Hamann, a Nurse Practitioner at Martin’s Point in Portland.

You’ll get the most impact by getting 30- to 60-minutes of rhythmic activity on most days. “Add the fun of adventure by snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in your own backyard or on local trails, or ice skating on local lakes, ponds or rinks,” says Hamann.  Sledding, pond hockey and ice fishing are more great ways to get outdoors and move during winter.

With the right clothing and footwear, outdoor exercise in winter is totally doable. Squeeze it in during daylight hours, and you’ll get an additional mood-boost from exposure to natural light, too.

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Be mindful. As with exercise, there’s a lot to choose from. Yoga, meditation (on your own or guided), progressive muscle relaxation, mindful walking and tai chi are all effective techniques to calm the mind and replace negative emotion with uplifting ones. Even 10 minutes a day can help.

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Connect with others. Isolation is the last thing you need when you’re feeling down – even if you don’t feel like putting on a bright face. Gather a friend or two for coffee or a walk. Join a book club. Volunteer once a week at your local school or library. Pick up the phone and catch up with a relative. “Support from people we care about and community engagement create a sense of purpose that keeps you going,” explains Hamann

Practice sound sleep habits. Stay rested. Rise and go to bed at the same times each day. Avoid caffeine and vigorous exercise late in the day. Have a bedtime ritual to signal your body that it’s time to wind down.

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Pay attention to what you eat. You know the drill – more vegetables and fruits, fewer processed foods and fewer “bad” fats. It’s good for your physical health and it keeps your mood balanced. “Your body may crave pasta, doughnuts and French rolls, but try to opt for whole-grains like oatmeal and brown rice instead,” says Hamann. Boost your omega-3 fat intake by adding flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines. Add vitamins D and B12 and fish oil to supplement your diet.

Consider indoor light therapy. If the strategies above don’t help, your provider might suggest light therapy. This artificial exposure to intense light using a device called a light box is thought to kick off chemical shifts in the brain that calm symptoms of SAD.

If you can’t get out of your winter rut, your health care team can also suggest other avenues, such counseling at Spurwink in Portland, and medication, which you may only need during winter months. Let your providers know how you’re feeling, and together, we’ll find an approach to make winter bearable – and maybe even fun.

Heart Disease: What Every Woman Should Know to Safeguard Her Heart

Only 54% of U.S. women know heart disease is the leading killer of women in our country, causing one of every four female deaths. Here in Maine, stroke occurs more often than in any other New England state. “Women should stay vigilant for new or different symptoms – including those that seem minor or vague,” says David Ghiorse, a physician assistant in Martin’s Point Health Care’s cardiology department. Learn the facts and share them with the women in your life.

KNOW THE CAUSES, LOWER YOUR RISK

Tackling heart disease calls for a one-two punch. First, learn the factors that increase your risk. Then work with your health care providers on steps to rein it in.

Don’t smoke. When it comes to heart disease, smoking is even more deadly for women than it is for men. If you smoke, quit. If you don’t, don’t start. Need help getting smoke-free? Start here.

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High blood pressure was recently redefined for first time in 14 years

Know your blood pressure readings. New national guidelines mean that nearly twice as many women from age 20 to 44 now have high blood pressure. If you’re not sure what your numbers are or what steps you should be taking, talk with your provider.

Keep a healthy weight and stay active. Carrying excess weight stresses your whole body – including your heart. Staying active controls your weight and keeps heart strong. Find one (or several) types of exercise you enjoy, and aim for 30-45 minutes of continuous exercise, three to five times of week. “Make your goal at least 150 minutes total every week” says Ghiorse. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, decrease fat and salt, and cap alcohol at one drink per day.

Keep diabetes on your radar. Like smoking, diabetes puts women at higher risk for high blood pressure than it does men. Ask your provider if you should be tested. If you’re positive, be a stickler about management.

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Staying active and social are great ways to help with stress

Find healthy ways to handle stress and depression. Research shows this is especially important for women. Yoga, meditation, walking and staying social are all effective strategies; your provider can share advice, too.

Don’t think you’re too young. Heart disease is not just for seniors. All women should be on watch, particularly if heart disease is common in your family.

Additional risk factors for heart disease for women include:

  • Too much alcohol.
  • Menopausal hormone therapy/menopause.
  • Certain birth control methods.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • High blood pressure and/or diabetes during pregnancy.

KNOW WHEN TO ACT – AND DON’T DELAY

A heart attack can be the first sign that a woman has heart disease. And women are notorious for brushing aside symptoms and until harm is already done. That’s why it’s so important to know and heed these warnings:

  • Chest pain. Most women experience pain, pressure or tightness in the chest. It could be severe. It could be mild. It might not show up at all.
  • Pain or uncomfortable sensations in the neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdomen.
  • Difficulty breathing normally.
  • Pain in one or both arms.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Sweating.
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness.
  • Unexpected weakness or fatigue.

“Even healthy women develop cardiovascular disease,” emphasizes Ghiorse, so trust your intuition and don’t ignore these signs. Call 911 for emergency medical help if you’re experiencing these symptoms, and don’t try to drive to a hospital unless it’s your only option.

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Diets rich in vegetables and fruits such as strawberries may help prevent cardiovascular disease and other diseases

TEAMING UP FOR HEALTHY HEARTS

Should you need cardiovascular care, the cardiology team at Martin’s Point Health Care is ready to help, from consultation and testing to state-of-the-art treatment. Learn more here.

Now that you know more about women’s heart health, help us spread the word. Share this story with your friends and family – they’ll thank you, from the bottom of their hearts.

Happy Trails…Thanks to Martin’s Point Volunteers

Molly Mendola, Patient Services Representative, knows the importance of maintaining, cleaning and building up local trails. So when she had the opportunity to volunteer at the Walton Park Trail in Falmouth, she took it.

“I love that I work for an organization that promotes volunteering while taking care of the community,” said Molly. “It was an awesome experience. The whole project was very rewarding and provided us all with instant gratification. It was a great way to meet other Martin’s Point employees!

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Martin’s Point is proud to partner with Portland Trails and their Adopt-A-Trail Program

More than 20 employees volunteered for Portland Trails, spending their time raking, laying crushed rock, spreading mulch, setting up trail barriers and removing trash. Not only did our volunteers get in some healthy activity, but they left the trail in shape for others to enjoy.

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Martin’s Point volunteers at work

Why Does Martin’s Point support trails?

Trails are an important resource in Greater Portland. They connect individuals with nature, but also to businesses, neighborhoods, schools, and destinations. In conjunction with streets, sidewalks, and public spaces, trails are part of a healthy, walkable community. A trail network supports active lifestyles, enhances the livability of the community, and strengthens the regional economy by serving as an amenity for residents and property owners.

To learn more about Portland Trails visit their website.

Martin’s Point Shows a Lot of Heart at the United Way Kickoff and Sculpture Contest

A warm day greeted more than a dozen co-workers who joined together on Sept. 15 to help kickoff the United Way of Greater Portland’s United We CAN campaign with a food drive and can sculpture contest in Monument Square.

Employees donated over 1,000 items, weighing 865.2 pounds, during our food drive.

“We put a lot of heart into our can sculpture,” said Russ Philips, “This was a great event with a LOT of food going to a great cause.”

This year’s effort brought in enough food for more than 16,000 meals, United Way said. The cans will be donated to the Wayside Food Programs and distributed to food pantries around Cumberland County.

Martin’s Point Receives National Accolades as a Great Place to Work in Healthcare

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87% of employees rated Martin’s Point Health Care as a great place to work

Martin’s Point Health Care, a progressive, not-for-profit health care organization, once again received accolades from Great Place to Work®, the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures.   Martin’s Point was credited with providing not only a great work environment but also a company culture of contributing to their community.  As employers continue to seek qualified candidates, Martin’s Point has remained an “employer of choice” and continues to attract and retain top talent.  In fact, employee satisfaction numbers have increased exponentially with an impressive 4-point jump (83% to 87%) since 2016.

Martin’s Point has been a Great Place to Work certified organization since 2015 which means they have met the highest standard of workplace excellence.  Based on 695 employee surveys, questions assessed coworkers’ feelings on camaraderie and pride on the job, as well as other workplace issues including management, communication, work-life balance, and compensation. Employees praised Martin’s Point for providing a great working atmosphere, rewards and top management.  93% of employees also cited that when you join the company, you are made to feel welcome.  An impressive 87% of Martin’s Point employees participated in the survey which underscores the passion they feel for the company and validates the results.

Given Maine’s aging population and ongoing decreases in the labor pool, the Maine health care industry is facing current and ongoing labor shortages.  According to a 2016 Maine Department of Labor report, this trend is expected to continue through 2024.  Healthcare organizations in Maine are competing for top candidates and need to provide not only competitive compensation but great work environments.

“Martin’s Point continually strives to provide employees with a workplace environment that is both professionally and personally rewarding.  This translates to employee retention, helps attract new talent and provides our patients and healthcare plan members with best in class offerings,” said Teresa Nizza, Chief Human Resources Officer at Martin’s Point. “As the healthcare labor market continues to decrease, we want to ensure the very best talent at Martin’s Point.  Our results demonstrate that Martin’s Point is well-positioned in the rapidly changing healthcare labor market.”

The Great Place to Work Martin’s Point review can be found here:
http://reviews.greatplacetowork.com/martin-s-point-health-care

About Great Place to Work
Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and certification programs, including Best Workplaces lists and workplace reviews, Great Place to Work provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures. In the United States, Great Place to Work produces the annual Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For®” and a series of Great Place to Work Best Workplaces lists, including lists for Millennials, Women, Diversity, Small and Medium Companies and over a half dozen different industries. Great Place to Work provides executive advisory and culture consulting services to businesses, non-profits, and government agencies in over 50 countries across six continents.

Martin’s Point named one of the Best Workplaces in Health Care for 2016

voted-best-2016.pngMartin’s Point Health Care is one of the 2016 Best Workplaces in Health Care, according to the global research and consulting firm Great Place to Work® and Fortune Magazine.

Martin’s Point Health Care ranked #5 on the list, based on employees’ assessments of the pride they take in their jobs, the camaraderie they experience with coworkers, and the trust they feel toward Martin’s Point leaders.

This year’s Best Workplaces in Health Care stand out for creating workplaces that employees say make them feel good about what they do and close to their coworkers. Those feelings come despite employees working in an industry under pressure to implement new regulations, curb rising costs, and absorb technology advances while also caring for patients and members.

To create the list, Great Place to Work® surveyed close to 34,500 employees in health care organizations, including hospital systems, home health care providers, national health care associations, and medical products distributors.

Martin’s Point and the other winning companies were selected based on responses to Great Place to Work®’s Trust Index© employee assessment survey. Survey questions assessed coworkers’ feelings on camaraderie and pride on the job, as well as how they felt about other workplace issues including management, communication, work-life balance, and compensation.

“Employees at the Best Workplaces in Health Care are working in a family-like atmosphere where everyone’s got each other’s back and they’re working toward a common goal of taking care of people,” says Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work®. “And the organizations that foster these inspiring, collegial cultures benefit by becoming talent magnets.”

This camaraderie creates a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining employees at a time when many organizations in the industry can’t fill jobs fast enough. In 2015, voluntary turnover in health care organizations hit 14.4%, according to CompData Surveys, but best health care workplaces are doing better at hanging onto workers, including in-demand positions such as nursing. Voluntary turnover at Martin’s Point came in at 7% for 2015, beating that national trend by more than half.

“Over the past five or so years, our organization has engaged in intensive culture work to improve our employees’ experience so they, in turn, can provide positive experiences for our patients and health plan members,”  says Teresa Nizza, Chief Human Resources Officer at Martin’s Point. “It’s very exciting and affirming to have earned this recognition through the direct feedback of our employees.”

“At Martin’s Point, we work very hard to create an atmosphere where our employees feel cared for. Building those positive, energizing feelings in our workplace is especially important in health care, where the daily work of caring for others is very demanding,” adds Nizza. “Our efforts range from the big things…like  organization-wide training on building respectful and trusting work relationships, to the small (but fun) things like making sure each one of our 800+ employees goes home with a Thanksgiving treat on Pie Day. When you add in organizational goals that support transparent communication, employee development, and business results, you start to gain real advances in creating a great place to work.”

The Best Workplaces in Health Care ranking is part of a series of rankings by Great Place to Work® and Fortune based upon employee survey feedback from Great Place to Work®-certified organizations. To see the full list of the Best Workplaces in Health Care click here.

About Great Place to Work®
Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and certification programs, including Best Workplaces lists and workplace reviews, Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures. In the United States, Great Place to Work® produces the annual Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For®” and a series of Great Place to Work® Best Workplaces lists, including lists for Millennials, Women, Diversity, Small and Medium Companies and over a half dozen different industries.