2nd Annual Martin’s Point Employee Volunteer Fair a Success

More than 50 employees attended our second annual Volunteer Fair making it a huge success! The event aims to connect Martin’s Point employees with organizations in the community that have volunteer opportunities.

Colleagues from multiple locations came to the fair to show their support for community activism and volunteerism. This event not only shows the value that we place on volunteering, but also the support of the greater Martin’s Point community. There were 10 organizations in attendance and several tables had entire sign-up sheets filled with names of employees wanting to make a difference in their community.

Many of the organizations were asked to describe their causes, and to give a few words on the value of the Volunteer Fair and the impact of employee volunteers. A few of these organizations are represented below:

Make-A-Wish

This foundation helps children in the US, between the ages of two and a half and 18, that are living with critical illnesses. Make-A-Wish grants wishes to children in the categories of “I wish to go,” “I wish to be,” “I wish to meet,” “I wish to have,” and “I wish to give.” The Maine chapter of this foundation is committed to helping the wishes of Maine children come true.

When asked about the value in having the fair, Lani Geistwalker, Program Services Coordinator from Make-A-Wish stated, “It’s a great chance to battle misconceptions. Many people still believe Make-A-Wish is for children suffering from a terminal illness. This gives people the chance to ask questions and truly understand the foundation.”

Parker Harnett of HowtoHelpinMaine.org

Partners for World Health

This organization collects, sorts, and distributes medical supplies and equipment locally and internationally to those in need. These supplies come from various donation sources and the organization is 98% operated by volunteers.

Partners for World Health is an organization that is still expanding. “Even though we’re located in Portland, there are still a lot of people that don’t know who we are. We’re working on getting more exposure and this event allows that to happen,” one representative of the company said. Another representative added, “I actually came to PFWH for the first time with an employee group and then I decided to stay. It’s just nice to get people through the door.”

Good Shepherd Food Bank

This is the largest hunger relief organization in the state of Maine. Volunteers take part in sorting, bagging, and boxing food items for the organization’s various hunger relief programs that support children, the elderly, and many people in between. Last year, volunteers provided over 18,000 hours of support for the Food Bank.

“It’s great to see an organization that encourages their staff to give back to the community,” said Beth Tatro, Volunteer Manager at Good Shepherd Food Bank. “[Employee volunteers] tend to have common goals and are effective in completing those goals.”

Southern Maine Agency on Aging

This organization provides resources, programs, and support for the needy and elderly in Cumberland and York counties. This organization provides financial, medical, and personal support to those adults that are 60 years or older. They currently have volunteer opportunities for more than 600 people each year, which include helping deliver Meals on Wheels, mentoring elderly adults about heathy eating and exercise, and many others.

The representative for the Southern Maine Agency on Aging talked about the value of employee volunteers: “They bring specific workforce skills to the organization that others may not have, and they tend to be quite efficient. I also find that, because they have more limited time, they tend to value their time more.”

Many of the representatives expressed their approval of the support that Martin’s Point shows for community activism and volunteering efforts.

“Taking the time to have this event shows that Martin’s Point wants to know they are supporting what its employees support,” said the representative for Riding to the Top. Their dedication to the community is one thing that makes Martin’s Point employees special and that makes Martin’s Point a Great Place to Work.

See below for the complete list of organizations represented at the Volunteer Fair:

American Heart Association

Bicycle Coalition of Maine

Good Shepherd Food Bank

How to Help in Maine

Make-A-Wish

Maine Senior Games

Partners for World Health

Portland Public Schools

Riding to the Top

Southern Maine Agency on Aging

If your organization would like to be involved at our annual Volunteer Fair please contact community@martinspoint.org

People Caring for People Across the Globe: Bangladesh

Martin’s Point Physician Brings Skill and Compassion Overseas to Treat Women in Bangladesh

When Sara Hoffman, PA-C, joined our Martin’s Point Scarborough Health Care Center in 2017 and learned about the organization’s Volunteer Time Off (VTO) benefit, a lightbulb went on. Here was the chance to combine her passions for medicine, travel, and helping others in underdeveloped countries all at once.

Fast-forward to March 2019, when that spark took her more than 7,500 miles from Maine to  Tangail, a city near the Bangladesh capital, Dhaka. There, Sara cared for 120 women over the course of six days, as a volunteer with Maine-based Partners for World Health.

Six days in southeast Asia

Her patients were sex workers—and not by choice. Her clinic was a small space in a brothel, where she had a stethoscope and common medicines like anti-inflammatories and antibiotics to work with. Sara communicated with patients with the help of an interpreter and a volunteer nurse assisted as Sara addressed a variety of acute, primary care needs, as well diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

Although commuting by tuk-tuk (motorized rickshaw) was different, Sara was unfazed by the communication barrier and lack of diagnostic equipment. “In Scarborough, I see a lot of women who are immigrants from Iraq,” she explains. “I’m used to learning about a patient’s health by what she tells me about her history.”

It was, however, difficult to learn that women who wanted to leave the brothel could not. “The 300 women and children who live there are outcasts, no longer accepted by society. Some of the workers are as young as 12. Many even raise children there,” she explained. “Some had been kidnapped. Some were orphans. Many could not afford medical care.”

“It was important to me to put them at ease by making eye contact, being personable, listening to their stories, and giving them space and privacy,” says Sara. “And so fulfilling to care for people who don’t have the access to health care or the means to pay for it.” 

Fulfilling a lifelong dream

Martin’s Point’s Sara Hoffman

Sara’s background made her a perfect candidate for the mission. First drawn to a career in medicine as a volunteer health care worker with the Peace Corps in Zambia, she later gained experience with female patients in gynecology/obstetrics. Then, as a professor in the physician assistant program at University of New England, she connected with Partners for World Health, which coordinates medical missions in Africa and southeast Asia and redistributes unused surplus medical supplies locally and around the world.

“I’ve always wanted to complete an international medical mission,” concludes Sara. “And with help from our VTO benefit, I’m looking forward to another one.”

A Great Day for a Great Cause

Martin’s Point Staff Participate in ADA’s Tour de Cure

On Sunday, June 9, the annual Kennebunks Tour de Cure took place at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm. The tour is an annual walk/bike event hosted by the American Diabetes Association, which raises money for diabetes research, advocacy, programs, and education. It receives strong support from the community and those passionate about improving the lives of individuals affected by Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

team

Martin’s Point offered support through employee volunteer efforts and a generous sponsorship. 11 employees participated in the event, either walking or biking while four others who volunteered at the Martin’s Point tent.

Together, we surpassed our goal, raising $3,072 in support of the American Diabetes Association.

wheel volunteer

Martin’s Point employees, Terry Keough and Heidi Fisher, have been attending the Tour de Cure for several years. When asked about her experience with the event, Terry stated,

“the Tour de Cure is a great cause to get behind. It makes me feel like I am making a difference in something that is so important and…it’s super fun!” Not only is this the Tour de Cure important for diabetes research, it also helps cultivate a sense of community. Heidi says, “I love the camaraderie that goes with participating in any company sponsored event…You always meet new people, and everyone is so friendly and encouraging. “It is a perfect way to spend a Sunday, represent Martin’s Point, get some great exercise and also raise funds for people with diabetes.”

Both es emphasized how the Tour de Cure not only serves as an opportunity to support the American Diabetes Association, but also as a chance to celebrate human connection. “It is a perfect way to spend a Sunday, represent Martin’s Point, get some great exercise and also raise funds for people with diabetes.”

The Maine Pioneers: A League of their Own

About 20 years ago, Marcia Chute picked up a basketball and helped form the Pioneers, the first senior women’s basketball team in Maine. Now 71, Marcia is still going strong – and she’s not alone. She’s one of 51 women over age 55 who gather to play the game they love on courts all over the state.

The Pioneers include eight enthusiastic women plus two helpers. Four of them—Marcia, Claudia Lackee, Eve Abreau, and Beverly MacLean—are Martin’s Point Generations Advantage members. They practice Tuesday evenings throughout the year at the Memorial Middle School gym in South Portland. And they tip off against other senior opponents—there are nine teams in Maine alone—occasionally playing teams from nearby states. The action culminates at the Maine Senior Games, held annually for adults over 45 and sponsored by Martin’s Point Health Care. There’s also a chance for those 50+ to qualify for national competition every two years.

Most of the Pioneers loved sports as young girls, and played whatever they could. “We didn’t have many choices back then, maybe two sports a year,” explains Claudia, 78, who played for the Pioneers for 15 years and still comes to help at every practice.

“I loved basketball and football, but I worked all through high school, so I couldn’t play sports,” adds Eve, 76.

On-court sport means more now than ever

Playing basketball as a senior is a bit different. In the 70+ category, the game is played half-court, three on three, with two 15-minute halves. But it’s just as fun and even more meaningful.

“Seventy is the new 50,” says Jo Dill, a Pioneer player and manager of the Maine Senior Games. “It’s wonderful to be able to compete at this age.”

“Your body says hey, you can’t do the same things you could at age 16,” says Marcia. “But your mind says, oh yes, you can!”

Is it risky? “I get hurt more off the court than on,” says Marcia, who broke an ankle last year out walking, and then hurt a shoulder this year after tripping and falling at an airport. “On the court I’m just fine,” she says.

In fact, they find basketball benefits both body and mind. “I exercise more now, because I want to stay in shape for the game,” says Eve. “And my brain is definitely stimulated because there’s always so much to learn.”

On or off the court, there’s no shortage of support when bad luck strikes. “No one gets hurt without the entire team rallying around them,” says Claudia. “I live alone, and, when I was injured, I had more support than I can convey.”

The camaraderie they feel as a team means more now than it did when the women were teens. “This feels like a family. That sounds cliché but it’s really true,” says Eve. The women also gather socially a couple of times a year for dinners, a Christmas party, and of course, to talk strategy before nationals.

The Maine Pioneers 70+ Women’s Basketball Team

Going for gold

To say the Pioneers are competitive would be understating things. This year’s goal is nothing less than a gold medal at nationals, which will be held in Albuquerque in June.  The team won bronze in 2015, and placed fifth in a field of 16 competitive teams in 2017. This year, they expect a challenge from at least 14 teams from all over the country.

Score aside, they know they’ll find loads of inspiration at the National Games. “Playing at Stanford in 2009 was amazing,” said Claudia. “Most of the events were right on campus, so you could watch lots of competition.” The women were thrilled to be among the 10,000 athletes over age 50 playing the sports they love, from former Olympians to 100-year-old swimmers. “It was just mind boggling,” added Marcia.

Players pay their own way for tournaments and chip in at every practice to help cover their coach’s expenses.

“It’s worth every penny,” says Beverly, 69. She sums up her experience this way: “It keeps us young.” And, if you saw her killer outside shot, you’d know there’s nothing more true.

To learn more about Maine Senior Games, which includes over 20 sports, visit smaa.org/maineseniorgames or call 800-427-7411. Participants and volunteers are welcome!

$22K Donation to Stem Community Hunger Has Special Meaning

Food insecurity is no small problem in Maine. One in five children don’t have enough to eat, and 950 adults in Cumberland and York counties alone need help getting enough meals. This month, Martin’s Point Health Care will donate $22,000 to ease food insecurity among seniors and children in Maine. The gift includes an $11,000 donation in continued support of the Southern Maine Agency on Aging’s Meals on Wheels program, which alleviates hunger and isolation among homebound seniors, and an $11,000 donation to Full Plates Full Potential, a collaborative effort to end child hunger in Maine.

The total amount of the donations has special significance, as Martin’s Point celebrates earning the #22 spot on Fortune magazine’s Great Place to Work® 2019 ranking of U.S. health care organizations. Martin’s Point was the only New England organization to break the top 25, with rankings determined by a survey of almost 730,000 U.S. employees. 

“We owe our repeat spot on the Best Workplaces list to our employees’ commitment to sustaining a culture that respects and nurtures all of us, within our organization and in our community at large,” said Dr. David Howes, President and CEO of Martin’s Point. “In that nurturing spirit, our donations to local organizations focused on nourishing the most vulnerable in our community — seniors and kids — seemed like the perfect way to celebrate and thank our employees for their efforts.”

The funds will go a long way to help feed those in need. “This generous donation will allow us to provide 1,375 meals for seniors,” says Renee Longarini, Nutrition Manager at Southern Maine Area of Aging, noting a recent surge in local need. “We have more than 250 clients currently on our waitlist to receive meals.”  

“This donation will fund grants to help Maine public schools change their culture around food access and remove barriers, so every child that needs food can grow and learn,” says Justin Alfond, co-founder of Full-Plates Full Potential. “We’re honored to have support from Martin’s Point.”

Community support is an integral part of company culture at Martin’s Point. Many employees are involved in a variety of volunteer efforts, from helping young children learn to read to sharing time with isolated seniors. Martin’s Point backs their generosity with paid time off for employees to volunteer, charitable giving, and strategic partnerships with community partners like University of Southern Maine, Southern Maine Agency on Aging, American Heart Association, and American Diabetes Association.

Martin’s Point Employees Help Out While in Houston

For most of us, going to a conference is an opportunity to learn from experts and trade notes with colleagues. For Martin’s Point employees Bonnie Baker and Madeline Cate, it was also a chance to give back.

When the pair traveled to the Lean Enterprise Institute Summit 2019 in Houston this past March to learn about the latest in lean management, they stayed an extra day for a special session – a volunteer day, where 25 conference goers helped rebuild homes for people still struggling with the fallout of Hurricane Harvey.

Martin’s Point’s Madeline Cate sanding the floor at Miss Nellie’s house

Unique benefit makes volunteering easier, here and away

Many Martin’s Point employees take advantage of their volunteer-time-off (VTO) benefit, which gives employees 24 hours of paid-time-off to give back to their local communities each year. But Bonnie, Vice President of Martin’s Point Management System, and Madeline, Administrative Coordinator, put their “community-first” mindset in action 2,000 miles away.

“Without the VTO benefit I never would have signed up,” says Madeline.

The volunteer day let attendees see where the rubber meets the road in lean management. SBP, the nonprofit in charge of the rebuilds, has been working with Toyota’s production people to slash work time and kick up the number of rebuilds they finish each month. The results are impressive. Their efforts have cut 66 days from the rebuild process – a 33% improvement in efficiency.

Bonnie Baker and Madeline Cate take a quick selfie break

Senior Hurricane Harvey victim gets a fresh start

Madeline and Bonnie rolled up their sleeves at the home of Houston resident Miss Nellie, whose house was flooded with two feet of water in August 2017. With help from AmeriCorps members, SBP staff do everything from demolition and mold remediation, to installing insulation, drywall, flooring, and trim, and painting.

“It was tough physical labor sanding concrete and painting walls, but it felt really rewarding to accomplish specific tasks, and to know Miss Nellie was that much closer to being able to return to her home,” said Bonnie.

“We felt really grateful to have the volunteer time benefit and to be able to contribute in a way that is very different from our work in an office environment,” Madeline added. “Seeing the effect of a major disaster in person and being part of the recovery every was really humbling.”

“It was surprising how much damage there still is when you realize that Hurricane Harvey happened back in 2017,” said Bonnie. “That’s a long time to be staying with family and friends and to be without a permanent home, especially for an elderly person.”

Looking for a way to give back?

Check out these websites designed to connect volunteers and nonprofits; VolunteerMatch.orgIdealist.org, or Serve.gov.

Know a young person or student looking to help their community in Maine? Check out www.howtohelpinmaine.org


FAQs about Ticks and Browntail Moth Caterpillars

Answers to Your Questions About Ticks and Browntail Moth Caterpillars

Fine spring weather makes us all want to get outside – just when the re-emergence of troublesome ticks and browntail caterpillars present some very real health risks. Here’s what you need to know to keep yourself and your family safe this summer. 

Why are ticks a problem?

Some ticks carry diseases that spell bad news. The biggest threat is Lyme disease. In Maine, cases jumped from 1,395 in 2014 to 1,769 in 2017, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control. (The real numbers are likely even higher, because many are not reported). As of April 26, there were already 78 cases reported in Maine for 2019.

Lyme disease is caused by bacteria transmitted when an infected deer tick – a.k.a. black-legged tick – bites a person. In the short-term, Lyme typically causes a tell-tale rash and flu-like symptoms. If not treated with antibiotics, the infection can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system. In Maine, anaplasmosis and babesiosis are also spread by ticks, but they are far less common than Lyme.

What can I do to prevent tick bites?

Be on alert from April to September, when ticks are most likely to be at large:

  1. Know and avoid tick habitat. That’s wooded and brush-filled areas with tall grass and leaf debris. If you’re on a trail, stay in the center.
  2. Use an EPA-approved repellent such as Cutter Advanced or Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus IR3535 that contains DEET, picaridin, or other proven effective and approved ingredients.
  3. Dress right. Some people opt for clothing treated with permethrin. It’s best to choose light colored clothing to make it easier to see ticks. Wear long-sleeves and long-pants. Tuck socks into pant legs.
  4. Check for ticks as soon as you come inside. Scan the whole body (use a mirror), with extra care in these areas:
  5. In and around hair
  6. In and around ears
  7. Under arms
  8. Inside belly button and around waist
  9. Behind knees
  10. Between legs
  11. Shower within two hours after coming inside to wash off loose ticks.
  12. Put your clothing in the dryer right away and run it on high heat to kill any ticks that hitched a ride.

What should I do if I find a tick?

Remove it right away. Fine-tipped tweezers do the job. Grasp the tick close to the skin and pull steadily up without twisting or jerking. Wash the bite site with soap and water or rubbing alcohol and wash your hands.

Watch for these symptoms – which could indicate Lyme – for 30 days: fever, chills, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, or a red ring around the bite site. Call your health provider if any of these occur.

Why are browntail moth caterpillars a problem?

It’s those tiny toxic barbed hairs. Some people are extra-sensitive to them, and they’re apt to get an itchy rash and/or have difficulty breathing if hairs touch their skin or are inhaled. It doesn’t help that these nearly invisible hair can be toxic for up to three years – or that the hairs can be almost anywhere outside in infested regions (think trees, lawns, decks, cars, play equipment . . .). Wind, raking, and mowing can also whip hairs up and move them around.

Browntail moth caterpillar

What can I do to avoid contact with browntail caterpillar hairs?

Avoid or be extra careful from April into early July in infested and or/avoid areas, especially if you know you’re sensitive to the hairs. Check this map to see last year’s hot spots, and note that experts predict the infestation will spread west. A few more tips:

  • Shower and change clothes if you think you’ve been in contact with browntail hairs.
  • Don’t hang laundry outside to dry in May, June, or July.
  • If you must do chores or activities that could stir up hairs: Dampen the ground or choose wet days so hairs are less likely to take flight. Wear a respirator, goggles and coveralls.

What should I do if I think browntail is irritating me? 

The rash and breathing issues might last only a few hours – or could hang on for weeks. Both can be severe. You might find relief from anti-itch products like calamine lotion, hydrocortisone cream or by taking an antihistamine. Last year, some area pharmacies created their own sprays and creams, specially formulated for relief from browntail moth rash.

Call your health care provider if symptoms are a problem.

Popular Program Opens Doors to Careers in Health

How do you know if a career in health care is right for you? And even if you know what you want to do, how can you see how theoretical classroom learning translates to an actual workplace? Martin’s Point is helping local college students get some answers.

This month, more than 35 students from University of Southern Maine (USM) and Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) learned about a variety of careers at Martin’s Point during spring Job Shadow Day. Students spent time with 18 different departments in all, spread throughout Martin’s Point’s health care centers and administration offices, from Portsmouth, N.H., to Brunswick, Maine.

Job Shadow Day participants from USM and SMCC spending time with Martin’s Point Benefits Specialist, Theresa Armstrong

Doctors, nurses – and a whole lot more

Because Martin’s Point provides both clinical healthcare services and health insurance plans, students get quite a spectrum of possibilities, from providing specialty medical care like cardiology to keeping patient data secure to maintaining quality assurance. “You don’t have to be a doctor or a nurse to have a career in health care,” says Teresa Nizza, Chief Human Resources Officer at Martin’s Point. “It takes a team of 850 strong, including members of IT, human resources, marketing, purchasing, and more to run Martin’s Point successfully.”

“Our students enjoy getting a unique behind-the-scenes look at Martin’s Point,” says Chanel Lewis, Employer Relationship Manager at USM. “As a result of our amazing relationship with Martin’s Point, USM students have access to understanding the ins and outs of an organization, and learning from Martin’s Point’s dynamic and welcoming employees.”

Helping young students find a path

Now in its second year, this event has become something students look forward to. “Every placement we had was filled in one day,” reports Margaret Brownlee, Director of Career Services at SMCC. She says the opportunity is ideal for health majors and also a big plus for business and IT students. 

“The information provided was great. It was evident that people are passionate about their work!”

– USM Student

There’s something in it for everyone

Students aren’t the only ones who gain from this exciting event. “It’s a great opportunity for Martin’s Point, too,” says Russ Phillips from Martin’s Point. “We get to share our culture, share our strengths, and meet potential candidates for internships and permanent positions.”

Martin’s Point partners with USM and SMCC to host Job Shadow Day in both the fall and the spring. Over 100 students have taken advantage of the opportunity since the program began in 2017. To learn more about Martin’s Point’s work in the community visit https://community.martinspoint.org/

Martin’s Point Health Care Named One of the Best Workplaces in Health Care

Martin’s Point Health Care Named One of the 2019 Best Workplaces in Health Care and Biopharma by Great Place to Work® and FORTUNE

Great Place to Work and FORTUNE have honored Martin’s Point Health Care as one of the 2019 Best Workplaces in Health Care and Biopharma. The ranking considered feedback representing almost 730,000 employees working at Great Place to Work-Certified organizations in the health care and biopharma industry. Great Place to Work, a global people analytics and consulting firm, evaluated more than 60 elements of team members’ experience on the job. These included the extent to which employees trust leaders, the respect with which people are treated, the fairness of workplace decisions, and how much camaraderie there is among the team. Rankings are based on employees’ feedback and reward companies who best include all employees, no matter who they are or what they do for the organization. Martin’s Point Health Care took the #22 spot on the list.

Martin’s Point employees at a volunteer trail cleanup

Uniquely offering both direct primary care and Medicare and TRICARE® health insurance plans, Martin’s Point employs over 900 employees who serve over 176,000 patients and health plan members throughout the Northeast, most in southern Maine.

According to Martin’s Point President and CEO, Dr. David Howes, one key to earning this accolade is the organization’s culture of engagement. “Our employees take our mission to improve the health of our community very personally. Because we are local, the lives our employees touch in their day-to-day work are often those of their neighbors, friends, and family members. That close connection fosters a deep sense of purpose and boosts job satisfaction.”

Martin’s Point’s annual Grandparents’ Day at the Sea Dogs event

Teresa Nizza, Chief Human Resources Office at Martin’s Point agrees. “Our culture of caring starts with how we treat our employees and extends to our patients and members and beyond. Employees especially appreciate our benefits that promote community engagement—like paid volunteer days and donations to charitable organizations they support. We’ve also expanded our Listening Tours—providing an organization-wide forum for leaders to hear the concerns and suggestions of ALL employees who wish to participate. We develop action plans based on emerging themes from employee feedback. Unique benefits and initiatives like these, along with high internal trust levels across the organization, help make Martin’s Point a truly great place to work!”

The Best Workplaces in Health Care and Biopharma stand out for exceling in a competitive industry.  “Health Care & Biopharma companies are exposed to increasingly complex and rapidly changing environments,” said Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work. “The Best Workplaces on this list stand out for cultivating agile workplaces with increasingly change-ready employees.  People in these workplaces feel well-informed, encouraged to offer meaningful improvements, and are supported by leaders that are trustworthy, transparent and collaborative.”

The Best Workplaces in Health Care and 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 and Biopharma

Great Place to Work based its ranking on a data-driven methodology applied to anonymous Trust Index™ survey responses representing almost 730,000 employees at Great Place to Work-Certified organizations. 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 a global people analytics and consulting firm that helps companies produce better business results by focusing on workplace culture. Powered by more than 30 years of research, Emprising®, its SaaS-enabled survey and analytics platform, gives companies access to the assessments, data, and reporting needed to build a high-trust, high-performance culture.

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 – or one of your close relatives has.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • Genetic conditions like familial adenomatous polyposis or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that without a family history, you don’t have to worry about CRC. Most cases happen in people with no history of this cancer in their family.

Learn more, schedule a screening

Now that you’re out of excuses, why not call right now? Find the number for the Martin’s Point Health Care Center nearest you here. Or, learn more by visiting The Centers for Disease Control or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636); TTY, 1-888-232-6348.

It’s Maple Time: Get to a Sugarhouse Near You This Weekend

March is flying by – and that means it’s time for Maine Maple Sunday and New Hampshire Maple Weekend, on March 23 and 24. Whether you have a sweet tooth or you just need a reason to celebrate the end of winter, this is an event you won’t want to miss.

Maple syrup producers all over the northeast – like the Lloy family of Balsam Ridge in Raymond, Maine – are getting ready to share the taste of spring and all they know about this famous New England confection.

Michelle Mulcahy has been welcoming Balsam Ridge visitors in a bright red maple leaf costume on Maple Sunday for six years. As Martin Point’s manager of member services, she knows a thing or two about treating people right.

Martin’s Point employee Michelle Mulcahy ready to greet visitors at Balsam Ridge

“Balsam Ridge is family-owned and run,” explains Michelle. “We all look forward to maple Sunday all year long.”

The farm is owned and operated by Dewey and Sharon Lloy, whose daughter Nicole works at the Martin’s Point Health Care Center in Portland. Her husband, Steven Brooks, also works at Martin’s Point as a sales associate. Both will be helping out this weekend. While Michelle, does the meet and greet, Nicole and Steven will be at the griddle, flipping pancakes.

If pancakes don’t tempt you, never fear: “The maple whoopie pies and other snacks are out of this world,” says Michelle.

Find a sugarhouse near you!

Ready to get out this weekend and celebrate this sweet tradition? Use these links to find locations, directions, and more:

>in Maine

>in New Hampshire

Martin’s Point In the Community | Milestone Recovery (VIDEO)

Homelessness and addiction are problems that are all too real in Maine. Milestone Recovery’s mission is to provide the best quality of services to empower individuals with substance use and behavioral health disorders to attain stability, dignity, recovery and an enhanced quality of life. Martin’s Point employee, Ryan Ciriello, shares what being able to support Milestone Recovery through board service means to him.

Caring by Calling: Employees Reach Out to Local Seniors

Employees Lend Support and Companionship by Phone

Erica True is making life a little less lonely for a housebound Maine senior – right from her desk at Martin’s Point Health Care in Portland. As part of a volunteering program called Phone Pals, the administrative coordinator sets aside work for 30 minutes twice a week to chat by phone, helping a 79-year-old woman stay linked to her community.

Phone Pals – an offshoot of the Meals on Wheels program operated by the Southern Maine Agency on Aging (SMAA) – began providing deeply needed social interaction and companionship to housebound seniors served by Meals on Wheels in 2018.

“Phone Pals allows seniors to stay independent and stay in their home for as long as possible,” says SMAA Phone Pal Volunteer Coordinator Deb Baginski. “Many of our clients rely on this interaction to engage about family, health, wellness, world events and more.”

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For volunteers, it’s a convenient way to contribute from work or home. “Phone Pals fits my schedule perfectly,” says Erica. “It’s easy to find 30 minutes on the phone versus driving somewhere to participate and coordinating work and family life around that.” Jordan agrees: “I can use my break time or volunteer time to connect with Carol with very little effort.”

Eleven of the 46 Phone Pal volunteers are Martin’s Point employees. “We’re in constant contact with Martin’s Point, connecting them to Meals on Wheels clients and discussing how to grow and develop these new relationships,” says Adam Seigal, SMAA Volunteer Services Supervisor. “The Martin’s Point staff is great at keeping communication open. They send us new people, and check in to see how current staff are doing. It’s obvious they care not only about their employees, but also how they engage with community members.”

Can a phone call make a difference?

“There’s a lot of loneliness out there,” notes Jordan Ouellette, a Martin’s Point recruiter who has been volunteering with Phone Pals since last November. Jordan talks with Carol, 71, for about 45 minutes every Friday. Carol is largely stuck at home while her husband is in a nearby care facility.

“I do a lot of listening,” says Jordan, who helped deliver meals to seniors during college, and wanted to keep contributing in a similar way. “Carol has a great memory, following up on events we’ve talked about the week before.”

“I like to hear what she’s lived through, and even though we’re at different stages in life, we find surprising things in common – places we’ve been, experiences we’ve both had.”

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A boost for senior and volunteer alike

“I love my time with Carolyn and making a difference in her day,” reflects Erica, who says the pair talks about everything from pets to how much their babies weighed at birth. “When I learned she grew up on a farm in Orrington, I asked if I could send her photos of our horse, dog, and the calf we’re raising,” That got them off and running.

Erica also keeps a journal to help her keep track of what they discuss from week to week. “I know I get as much joy out of my time with Carolyn as she does,” she says. “I’m incredibly fortunate to work for an amazing organization that offers its employees paid time off for volunteering in the community, supports growth development and enhances the lives of its employees.”

“Seniors have great stories to share,” adds Jordan. “I’m thankful for what they’ve done in their lives – and they aren’t always reminded of that. It’s nice to be there for someone and be reminded each week how important the little things are.”

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Connecting with Phone Pals

Volunteers are well prepared for their roles, with a comprehensive four-hour training provided by SMAA. “You get a heads up about anything you might encounter, from dementia to politics,” says Erica. Volunteers are matched with seniors on the SMAA list, and then the two agree on a mutually convenient time to chat.

Ready to make the call? Learn more about Phone Pals and Meals on Wheels here, and if you’re interested in volunteering, please send an email to volunteer@smaaa.org or call SMAA’s volunteer coordinator at 207-396-6595.

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.

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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 convinced you have strep throat at 2 a.m. Or wondering who to call when you wrench your ankle playing ultimate frisbee. With your own PCP, you’re always ready to get the care you need, with one call. And as you get to know your PCP, you’ll also appreciate the comfort talking to someone you know – and who knows you – about personal matters you may feel awkward discussing with a doctor you’ve just met.

 

  1. Your PCP is trained to be your medical quarterback. PCPs are specially prepared to care for you with broad knowledge in internal or family medicine that covers a range of situations. It’s your PCP’s job to get to know you, your medical history and your family medical history, so he or she can provide proper preventive care and screenings, and care for you when you’re ill or injured.

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  1. Your PCP connects you to care. From a nagging cough to a swollen knee to concern about a heart condition that runs in your family, your PCP is the place to start. If you need more specialized care, your PCP can provide referrals to cardiologists, podiatrists, allergists and other specialists.

 

  1. Your PCP can help translate complex information. If you need specialized care, it can be challenging to understand test results and other information about your diagnosis and medications. You can count on your PCP to answer your questions and direct you to additional resources.

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  1. Your PCP helps you stay healthy. PCPs keep you on top of important screenings like blood pressure and cholesterol checks that help check serious illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. Regular conversations about your weight, whether you use tobacco or alcohol, and how you cope with stress also play a role. And if you develop a chronic condition, check-ins with your PCP can help you manage symptoms and live the life you want to lead.

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 their programs drop out because their brakes fail and they can’t make it to class,” said Nancy Griffin, USM’s vice president for enrollment management and chief operating officer. “A small grant from this fund can make an enormous impact if it enables the student to remain in school.”

USM student Gabrielle Lenotte exemplifies the urgent need for the Student Emergency Fund. She recently faced a financial emergency when the government shutdown forced her dad into an unpaid furlough just as she was preparing to purchase textbooks for her spring classes. “After receiving my final list of classes for the spring, I realized how expensive my books were going to be. I knew my parents were under financial strain because of the shutdown so I reached out to one of my professors because I wouldn’t have my books in time for class.” Lenotte received a Student Emergency Fund grant and was able to start her classes — with books — on time.

The University of Southern Maine Foundation is working with members of the senior class to conduct the 2019 Husky Grads Class Gift campaign, which uses crowdfunding to make it easy for anyone to participate. Students may donate or raise money for the Student Emergency Fund on their own or enlist friends, family and other supporters to help raise funds.

Donations of $2.19 or more to the Student Emergency Fund will earn students a Class of 2019 pin; donations of $20.19 or more earn students a pin and a USM Foundation philanthropy cord to wear at Commencement. Even faculty planning to attend graduation can help support the cause and earn a USM Foundation philanthropy cord.

Josephine Elder ’19, USM student member of the Class of 2019 campaign planning committee, said, “This campaign matters to us because it’s a way to help students who are coming up behind us. The more we can raise, the more students will be helped in the years to come. It’s a legacy the Class of 2019 can be proud of — plus, it’s a challenge so you know we will more than meet our goal!”

The 2019 Husky Grands Class Gift campaign runs from March 1 through May 8. On May 9, during the President’s Senior Class Champagne Reception, Martin’s Point and USM President Glenn Cummings will announce the results of the campaign.

University of Southern Maine
Situated in Maine’s economic and cultural center, the University of Southern Maine (USM) is a public university with 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students taking courses online and at campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn. Known for its academic excellence, student focus and engagement with the community, USM provides students with hands-on experience that complements classroom learning and leads to employment opportunities in one of the nation’s most desirable places to live.

 

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.

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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

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“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.

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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. https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=CF

2. AARP Connect2Affect – Isolation

3/4. Maine Rural Health Profiles, 2016, p. 5, 8

 

 

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.

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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.

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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

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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 and managing your health,” says Dube. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call or visit your healthcare provider or pharmacist and get the information you need.

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.

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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
www.falmouthme.org/parks-and-community-programs

 

Kittery Community Center Walking Track
120 Rogers Rd., Kittery

Log 1 mile for every 17 laps on the bright and roomy elevated track above the gym.

Hours: Monday through Friday, 6 am to 9 pm; Saturday, 8 am to 4 pm; Sunday, noon to 4 pm.

Fees: $1 for non-residents

More info: 207-439-3800
www.kitterycommunitycenter.org

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The Maine Mall

364 Maine Mall Road, South Portland

The mall opens four hours early every day, leaving plenty of time for early risers to walk before shoppers arrive at 10 or 11 am.

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 6 am to 9 pm; Sunday, 7 am to 6 pm

Fees: None

More info: 207-774-0303
www.mainemall.com/en/visit.html

 

Saco Community Center Gym
75 Franklin St., Saco

Monday and Tuesday, 7:30 to 9 am, 11 am to 2 pm; Wednesday 7:30 to 9 am, noon to 1 pm; Thursday and Friday, 7:30 am to 2 pm.

Fees: $2 drop-in or $20 annual fee

More info: 207-283-3139
www.sacorec.com/info/activities/program_details.aspx?ProgramID=25375

 

South Portland Community Center Walking Track
21 Nelson Rd., South Portland, Maine

Circle the track above the gym 12 times to log one mile.

Hours: Monday through Friday, 6 am to 9 pm; Saturday 7 am to 7 pm, Sunday 12 pm to 8 pm.

More info: 207-767-7650
www.southportland.org/departments/parks-recreation-aquaticspool/

 

USM Indoor Track
43 Campus Ave., Gorham

Adults can purchase access to the six-lane track and gym by the month.

Fees: $50/month

More info: 207-780-5430
https://usm.maine.edu/costello-fitness/

 

York Middle School Indoor Trails
30 Organug Rd., York

Walk the hallways after school’s out for the day – incorporate stairs to boost your heart rate or stay on one level.

Monday-Wednesday, 4:30 to 8:30 pm.

Fees: None. Registration required.

More info: 207-363-7922;
https://york.coursestorm.com/course/indoor-walking-trails-and-fitness-stations

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NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

Mall at Fox Run
50 Fox Run Rd., Newington

The mall opens for walkers one hour before stores open their doors.

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 am to 9 pm; Sunday 10 am to 6 pm.

More info: 603-431-5911
www.mallatfoxrun.com

 

UNH Hamel Recreation Center Indoor Track
5 Edgewood Rd., Durham,

You don’t have to be a student to take advantage of UNH facilities. Ten laps on the track earns you one mile.

Fees: $11 a day or $44.16/month (includes access to everything but the pools)

More info: 603-862-2031
https://campusrec.unh.edu/hamel-recreation-center

 

Spinnaker Point Recreation Center Indoor Track
155 Parrott Ave., Portsmouth

The rubberized floor makes for comfortable walking; 12 laps equal one mile.

Fees: Residents over age 60: $9 per month/$108 per year; non-residents over age 60: $18/month, $216/year; drop-ins welcome for fee.

More info: 603-427 1548
https://www.cityofportsmouth.com/recreation/spinnaker-point

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.

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ESOL to IT students at PeletonLabs in Portland, Maine

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 had that experience to build on. Plus, I knew the IT department was passionate about increasing team diversity. It seemed like the perfect fit.”

Bridging cultures, creating opportunities

Along with Vernier, Charlie Chandler, business intelligence reporting analyst; and Molly McKechnie, clinical informatics analyst are key players from Martin’s Point, supported by a team of ten other IT staffers. Chandler and McKechnie prepare and present lessons to the ESOL to IT learners, demystifying the American workplace, explaining what to expect in the hiring process, and conducting mock phone screens and interviews.

Most SMCC participants in the ESOL to IT program are asylum seekers between age 30 and 45—with extensive education and work experience—though some are younger. They devote three hours of training, four evenings a week to English-language learning, job-readiness training, plus professional networking, job shadowing and IT education.

The SMCC learners come from across the globe, from Afghanistan to Burundi to Haiti. All have either a strong IT background or high aptitude for IT work. The program received 105 applications for the first 20 spots, with future candidates lined up and eager to start.

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ESOL to IT students at Sanford Regional Technical Center

“Most every learner I’ve met has the quality, skills, and passion I’d want to see to hire them, but they have huge gaps in verbal communication, which is critical,” says Vernier.

“Some of these people know every coding language you can think of and speak as many as five languages,” adds McKechnie. “Communicating in English and learning our culture are their biggest barriers.”

Beyond building technical and communication skills, simply interacting with American volunteers adds an intangible that’s equally valuable in putting the newcomers more at ease. “Sometimes learners get isolated in their own communities,” explains David Zahn, ESOL and Global Language Chair at SMCC. “Work-readiness lessons and experiences help them understand the people they might work with, relieving a lot of apprehension.”

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Martin’s Point’s Jim Vernier and Charlie Chandler with  SMCC’s Valerie Green

New perspectives, new solutions

With the long-term goal of reaping the benefits of a more diverse IT workforce—not just for Martin’s Point, but for the state—McKechnie and Chandler realize change won’t happen overnight. “Our results might be 10 or 15 years out, but it’s worth the time and effort,” says McKechnie. She and Chandler have experienced working in different parts of the country—McKechnie in Atlanta, Chandler in Chicago—and they’ve experienced the value of bringing a variety of views to the table.

“Considering different perspectives makes everybody stronger,” says Chandler, noting that a diverse group is more likely to present solutions that don’t all look the same. “It’s hard to put a value on it,” he adds, “but it changes the way you think and solve problems.”

During a mock phone screen, Chandler asked one learner to tell him about his least favorite job. The answer surprised him: “I don’t have a least favorite because every job offers something to learn from and makes you better.”

“That’s the kind of new perspective diversity can bring,” says Chandler. “And it leads to new approaches and solutions.”

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ESOL to IT students at SMCC

Keeping the IT pipeline primed

Unemployment in Maine is low, and our workforce is aging. Nearly half of Maine’s private workers are age 45 or older. Fast forward 20 years and at least 40% will be at or past retirement age. “We simply have to grow this pool [of workers] to keep business running,” says Charlie.

It’s no small thing to have a hand in shaping the future of your team and your company. “We’re really engaged with the SMCC program, and we want to keep it that way,” notes Jim. “We get to add our vision and guide the future by shaping the programs.”

Chandler sums it up best. “It’s a feel-good story, it’s the right thing to do, and it solves a business problem.” Who could ask for 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.

 

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.

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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!

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MAINE

1) Berwick Winter Farmers’ Market

Includes fresh greens and produce from eight local farmers and much more.

Every third Sunday through April 15, 10 am to 1:30 pm

Berwick Town Hall, 11 Sullivan Square

Learn more.

2) Brunswick Winter Market

Produce from six vendors, plus coffees, teas, baked goods and local wares.

Saturdays through April, 9 am to 12:30 pm

Fort Andross Mill Complex, 14 Maine St.

Learn more.

3) Greater Gorham Winter Farmers’ Market

Look for produce from Findview Farm, Oscar’s Farm and The Preservation Farm.

The first and third Saturdays of each month, 9 am to 1 pm

Gorham Rec Department Activity Room, 75 South St., Gorham

Learn more.

4) Midcoast Winter Farmers’ Market

Vegetables from three vendors, plus music and cooking demos like making jam or wood-fired pizza.

Fridays through April, 11 am to 4 pm

Topsham Fairgrounds Exhibition Hall, 54 Elm St., Topsham

Learn more.

5) Portland Winter Farmers’ Market

Shop produce from more than 20 Maine farms that includes greenhouse greens, tomatoes and cucumbers. SNAP/EBT shoppers are welcome.

Saturdays through April 20, 9 am to 1 pm

At the former Maine Girls’ Academy, 631 Stevens Ave.

Learn more.

6) Saco River Market

Lively music and a range of local vendors. SNAP/EBT cards welcome.

Saturdays, 9 am to 12:30 pm.

Pepperell Center, 40 Main St., Biddeford

Learn more.

7) South Portland Farmers’ Market
Vegetables from Alewive’s Brook Farm plus local dairy products, meats, and more.

Sundays through April, 10 am to 2 pm

496 Ocean St. (City Planning and Development Offices/old Hamlin School)

Learn more.

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8) Rolling Green Nursery’s Winter Farmers Market

Look for carrots, radishes, greens, microgreens, squash and more from Shagbark Farm, and more from Andy’s Edible Gardens and M & R Harvest.

First and third Saturdays in January and February, 10 am to 2 pm

64 Breakfast Hill Rd., Greenland

Learn more.

9) Seacoast Eat Local Winter Farmers Markets

With more than 60 vendors, you’ll find plenty of fresh choices. See below for locations and dates/times:

Wentworth Greenhouse
141 Rollins Rd., Rollinsford
Dec. 15, Jan. 26, Feb. 23 and March 23, 10 am to 2 pm

Exeter High School
1 Blue Hawk Dr., Exeter
Jan. 12, Feb. 9, March 9 and April 6, 10 am to 2 pm

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.

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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.

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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 JUUL pod has as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes, which means it doesn’t take long to become addicted to vaping.
  2. Teen brains are especially vulnerable, because their brains are still developing.
  3. Academic impact. Experts like Sarper Taskiran, M.D., from the Child Mind Institute report that teens who vape have more difficulty focusing, and get easily distracted by cravings.
  4. Health impact. Recent studies flip the misconception of vaping as safe, reporting that it damages lungs and immune system cells – just like smoking tobacco. Others note vaping also increases heart and blood pressure.
  5. Gateway to tobacco. Studies show teens that vape tend to move on to smoking cigarettes. One study of non-smoking high school seniors who had recently begun vaping found that one year later, students were four times more likely to say they’d smoked cigarettes that seniors who had not tried vaping.
  6. Hard to spot. With small, colorful, slick devices and virtually no telltale odor, vaping can easily escape adult detection – even in the classroom.

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What parents can do

Education is your first line of defense. When you have your information straight, your child is more likely to listen and respect your concerns and expectations. “Know that the language varies by product for vaping, dabbing and juuling,” notes Torah Tomasi, M.D., a Martin’s Point Health Care pediatrician.

“I often start by asking whether a child or teen knows someone at home or school that has used e-cigarettes,” says Tomasi, who makes it a point to ask the question during office visits. “Ask your child what he or she would do if someone asked them to try vaping. This can lead to conversation about whether the teen has experimented or is using regularly, and creates opportunity to offer care and guidance.”

Listen to your child’s point of view to build trust and signal you value his or her input. From here, it’s tempting to think you’ve covered it. But substance use is a topic to revisit on a regular basis. Tell your child to expect check-ins and more conversations and remind her you’re willing to listen to talk anytime.

If you notice shifts in your child’s mood or the peers he spends time with, check in right away. Don’t hesitate to talk with your pediatrician if you have concerns. Nicotine addiction is a serious issue that can become a lifelong problem, but there are health professionals who can help teens overcome it.

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.

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Balance training keeps you steadier, builds strength, and reduces risk for injury.

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.

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At Martin’s Point, we want seniors to know their stories can be different – with balance training.

Building balance, one hour at a time

New evidence shows older adults can improve balance by an impressive 25 to 40 percent with specific exercise training, called high-level perturbation training. “Essentially, that means repeating difficult tasks, such as standing on one foot,” explains Jason Adour, PT, DPT, owner of Maine Strong Balance Center in Scarborough, Maine, and All About Balance instructor.

Balance training also involves building strength. “Weakness increases risk of falling by 2.6 times for older adults,” explains Adour. The seniors in his class work on strength chair rises (modified squats) and more. It’s also important to challenge the vestibular system – which helps us maintain balance in motion – with exercises like standing with eyes closed as you turn your head side to side, as if you were saying “no.”

How much training does it take to improve? The ideal target is 50 hours, completed in under six months. “It’s very different than cardiovascular training, where the recommendation is 150 minutes every week,” adds Ardour. “It helps to think of gaining balance in terms of gaining points, as opposed to a weekly requirement.”

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All About Balance Class at Martin’s Point in Scarborough, ME

Learn the moves in Scarborough for free

Get started on your 50 hours with our All About Balance class. There’s no charge for the one-hour class, which takes place Mondays, 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Martin’s Point Health Care Center in Scarborough.

“It’s a wonderful benefit, and we work at our own pace, without pressure to keep up,” adds Pat. Ardour even gives homework – exercises you can do on your home – so you can build balance, wherever you are.

Call 207-303-0612 today to RSVP for the free All About Balance class in Scarborough. (Dropping in is fine, too, as long as there’s space.) You can also find more information and resources for preventing falls at www.knowfallsforme.org.

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.

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“I was drawn to this program because of the three different partnerships and the varied experiences it offers,” explains Angela. “Other programs focus on just one aspect of pharmacy.”

About 10 pharmacists apply for this position every year – and every year, more are “from away.”

Teaching, caring, managing and more

Angela’s schedule has more twists than a New England weather forecast. One day she’s teaching an advanced pharmacy practice lab to third-year PharmD students at the University of New England College of Pharmacy. The next she’s at the Hannaford corporate office in Scarborough, helping design a program to improve medication therapy management or at their Scarborough pharmacy dispensing medications. Then she’s back at Martin’s Point, reviewing medications for patients with chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes. In this role, Angela keeps a watchful eye out for drug interactions and therapy problems, and connects weekly with doctors, case managers and social workers to help provide a fuller picture of each patient’s situation.

Part of her work with Martin’s Point also involves helping patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who have recently left the hospital. “I review their medications, comparing what they are taking now to what they were taking before they were admitted so that everyone involved in care is on the same page,” Angela explains. “I also help patients look for cost savings – making sure the inhaler they have is preferred by their insurance plan, for example. Then I gather all the information and send a report to the primary care doctor.”

“Pharmacists can play a big role by reviewing all medications a patient is taking and identifying problems that might have been overlooked,” she says.

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“I never knew how much went on behind the scenes with the insurance plans or understood which drugs are put on a formulary and why,” adds Angela. “It’s also great to see so much outreach to patients. I know they appreciate it – and sometimes we’re the only other voice a patient hears all day.”

Changing hats with every day of the week may be a logistical challenge, but it’s worth it. “I’m getting such diverse experiences,” says Angela. “And because all of my projects continue for a full year, the learning over time can really sink in.”

Time out for Maine fun

Somehow, Angela finds energy to explore all Maine has to offer in her downtime. She’s been to Acadia, Wolfe’s Neck park, Bradbury Mountain, Scarborough Beach, Sebago Lake and more. This winter, snowshoeing and skiing might be on the list. In the city, she’s busy checking out Portland’s vibrant food scene, from Holy Donuts to Duck Fat.

“I really like Maine,” says Angela. “Everyone at Martin’s Point has been so welcoming. Through all the connections I’m making here, I’m hoping to stay.”

Pharmacy Services at Martin’s Point

Martin’s Point Health Care offers a range of pharmacy services, including walk-in and mail-order options. The pharmacies at our health care centers in Portland, Maine, and Portsmouth, N.H., are open to members and the public with prescription services and many over-the-counter medications. For location information and 24-hour refill line numbers, please visit our website. Members of our Generations Advantage and US Family Health Plans can find information on our pharmacy networks here.

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.