Join us for State of the Loons with Maine Audubon

A Maine summer is incomplete without a sighting of a Common Loon. These stunning waterfowl are emblematic of Maine’s inland lakes and rivers, as much a part of our identify as puffins and lobsters. 

But how much do you really know about our resident Common Loons? Maine Audubon knows quite a bit, having conducted an annual population survey in the state for more than 35 years, and we’re excited to share our knowledge with Martin’s Point during a State of the Loons talk on Wednesday October 30th at 5:30pm in our Community Center at our Scarborough Health Care Center on Route 1.

Common Loons are renowned for their beauty, both in plumage and in song. Their breeding plumage, worn in spring and summer, is an intricate lattice of black and white, as elaborate and detailed as any bird in Maine. Their vocalizations are for many the soundtrack of a Maine summer evening. We’ll play these calls during State of the Loons, and translate them into plain English to help the audience evesdrop on these birds next summer.

We’ll also discuss the surprisingly eventful life cycle of Common Loons. Though they appear to have a serene lifestyle on our lakes and ponds, the life of a Common Loon is surprisingly active, filled with territorial battles, nest defense, the non-stop attention to chicks, and a whole lot of catching fish. 

Common Loon photo credit: Ben Tripp
Photo Credit; Maine Audubon

But how are Maine’s loons doing? That was the question Maine Audubon asked itself 36 years ago, before we started our annual Loon Count. Now grown to more than 1,300 volunteers counting loons during a single morning each summer, the Maine Audubon Loon Count has been instrumental in tracking population trends and identifying threats to the health of loons in Maine.

Our research has revealed many threats. Loons nests are raided by skunks and mink, and the chicks are preyed on from above by eagles and below by large fish. Humans, of course, are the largest threat, ruining nests by driving boats too closely, or scaring birds off the nests. Warming lakes and water pollution both threaten the food sources that loons rely on for survival.

2017 Maine Audubon Loon Count by Ariana Van Den Akker

Perhaps the most direct human threat to loons come from discarded lead fishing tackle, accidentally ingested by loons. Lead has the same effects on loons as it does on humans, causing illness and death. Maine Audubon has taken its findings on lead tackle to August and has helped pass important legislation working to keep lead out of our lakes and ponds, though there is more work to do.

So how are Maine’s loons doing? Well, I don’t want to spoil it here, so you’ll have to find out for yourself on October 23rd! Nick Lund, Maine Audubon’s Outreach and Network Manager, will lead the discussion about one of Maine’s more recognizable and beloved species, and tell you all you need to know about the state of the loons.

About the Author and Speaker

Nick Lund is Maine Audubon’s Network and Outreach Manager. He’s a native of Falmouth, Maine and writes regular columns on birds and birding for the National Audubon Society. He also maintains The Birdist blog.

People Caring for People Across the Globe: Honduras

Martin’s Point Nurse Finds Joy Amidst Hardship in Honduras

Bernadette Fox, R.N., had never been out of the United States when she signed up to go to Honduras on a medical mission. She didn’t speak Spanish. And her attempt to make the trip in 2018 was crushed when violence at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa forced organizers to cancel. None of this made her hesitate.

“I didn’t think twice,” said Bernadette, a Care Coordinator at the Martin’s Point Health Care Center in Portland. Now that her own children are adults, she has time and ability to give back. So when her niece and sister-in-law asked her to join them for a week with Carolina Honduras Health Foundation, she was all in.

“I’ve always wanted to do work where it’s needed,” says Bernadette, who covered her own airfare, lodging and meals to make this happen.

585 patients in under five days

CHHF regularly sends teams to Honduras to staff a medical clinic in Limon and provide care at a tiny, remote clinic, 4.5 hours away. Many Hondurans live hours from health care, and travel dirt roads on foot or by bus. Few have proper shoes.

Bernadette’s team included two nurses, two pharmacists, a retired teacher/EMT, and two Spanish-speaking doctors from Honduras. In four and half days, the CHHF team helped 585 patients, dispensed 2,542 prescriptions, referred six patients to hospitals, and performed one surgery. They also handed out 159 pairs of reading glasses, 58 pair of flip flops, and scads of crayons.

The heat was intense – and so were the mosquitoes. Because of concern of Dengue fever, Zika virus, and other mosquito-borne illnesses, clinic windows and doors are closed tight at sundown, trapping stifling air inside. The team slept under netting they’d brought from home – Bernadette left hers behind with a grandfather who worried about his infant grandchild’s vulnerability to mosquitoes.

On the way to far-flung hamlets, the team passed through military checks points. “Fatigues, guns, the works,” says Bernadette. Even the crudest homes were surrounded by fences – sometimes with barbed wire or broken glass – to thwart theft.

From coordinating care to providing care

In Honduras, Bernadette’s work was very different from her role in Portland, which involves coordinating care for patients with diabetes, COPD, heart disease, and other conditions and helping them manage their health. In Limon, it was “old-fashioned, hands-on, down in the dirt nursing,” as she says. “Someone comes in with a problem and you rely on all your knowledge and skills to solve it.”

She performed pregnancy tests, administered IVs, calculated insulin, and cared for a young woman with Dengue fever. The “lab” was a table with a few supplies and bare bones equipment. The blood pressure cuff was one-size-fits-all. (“I’m used to having three options – it helps you get the most accurate reading,” explained Bernadette.) They communicated by relying on the two docs, both native speakers, and a translator.

Bright spots every day

A local housekeeper kept the team well fed. “Fresh fruit at every meal – and the most delicious breakfast I’ve ever had – tortillas, refried beans, eggs, salsa and cheese,” Bernadette recalls. Local coffee, pure vanilla, and coconut candies were also specialties. 

But the people she met made the biggest impression. “The children are so joyful – even though they have next to nothing,” explains Bernadette. “Getting six broken crayons in a Ziploc bag or an Oreo cookie is like Christmas to them. I kept saying ‘no habla espanol,’ but the kids swarm to us like flies.”

Bernadette particularly connected with a 12-year-old girl called Marianetta. “She saw my stethoscope and pointed to her heart. I put the instrument to her ears – and her face just lit up.” For the rest of the day, she was at Bernadette’s side. “I saw a lot of kids, but there was a special connection with her.”

Before she left, Bernadette asked an interpreter to give Marianetta a message of hope. “Tell her I want to come back and hear that she’s happy and she’s a nurse or a teacher.”

Giving – and getting back

A giving person by nature, Bernadette has volunteered in many capacities, reading to school children, visiting nursing homes, joining coastal clean ups with other Martin’s Pointers. This experience was for sure the most powerful.

“I’ve always felt you have to understand the journey that the other person is taking,” she says. “But now I can see that it’s even more important. I’m more aware and empathetic. You never know what the other person doesn’t know. You have to meet them where they are.”

Bernadette encourages others to the experience a try.

“If you’re thinking about something like this, do it. You won’t regret it.”

Flu Season Is Upon Us: Get Vaccinated Now

Fall is here, and that means it’s time to get your annual flu shot. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control recommend anyone over 6 months of age get vaccinated by the end of October. This way, your body has time to develop antibodies it needs to protect against flu virus before the flu starts spreading.

“Get a flu shot now,” says Patrick Connolly, M.D., a physician at Martin’s Point’s Health Care Center in Portland. “The flu vaccine is not perfect, but it will make you less likely to get the flu, and if you do get sick, you are likely to get a milder case.”

Where to go for a flu shot

Martin’s Point Health Care patients can go to any MPHC location to receive a flu shot. Click here to see walk-in flu clinic hours at our various locations or call your center and schedule an appointment. You also have the option to use the MyMartinsPoint® patient portal to make an online appointment.

Most insurance plans cover flu shots, but it’s a good idea to double-check with your plan.

Get a complete list of flu vaccine locations by entering your ZIP code with the CDC Vaccine Finder tool (scroll down and look for the blue box).

Questions? Contact your primary care provider today!

Kayaking for Beginners

Who thought a long thin boat was a good idea? Using a weird looking stick with a short, fat end to push yourself away from the land that provides you with a home and safety is just silly. And yet, this crazy idea has since developed into a widely popular and very fulfilling recreational sport: Kayaking.

For those who have never kayaked before, or are hesitant to try it, there are many benefits to going out on the water.

It’s safe

For the first time paddler, kayaking may look intimidating. But kayaks are designed to be more stable than other forms of self-propelled boats. In calm water, it is nearly impossible to flip a kayak. With a little instruction and a proper life vest, you can be safe on the water.

It benefits your health

Physically, kayaking can be a full body exercise. In the process of paddling, you use your arms, back, chest, core, and even legs to move the kayak. The best bodies of water to kayak in have little current and no motorized boats. These provide glass-like water, allowing the kayaker to control their pace. If you want to paddle hard, you can paddle hard. If you want a break, you can take a break. On calm water, you can relax while still getting a great workout.

The views are stellar

Kayaking provides beautiful views that are hard to match. In this region, there are thousands of lakes and ponds, all providing their own unique sights. In a minimally invasive boat, you get a different perspective to these views. Looking at water is one thing, but being part of the water and paddling through the beauty is amazing. Kayaking provides a full immersion in nature that cannot be matched on land.

It’s easy to get started

Kayaking is a very easy sport to pick up. If you’re a first timer, you can bring your boat to the calm pond you drive by every day. If you’re someone with more experience, you can put your boat in the ocean. With the versatility of the boat, everyone can kayak. It does not matter the age or skill level, there is a body of water perfect for everyone. “There are lots of different kayaks, made for people of all levels of experience,” says Zack Anchor, owner of Portland Paddle and certified kayak guide. “And there are  environments that are easier to go kayaking in.” If you feel anxious or nervous, you can try a tandem kayak and go with someone who has experience. Age and skill level does not matter, as there is a perfect body of water for everyone.

Kayaking is a great sport, full of beauty and many benefits. When you get the chance, go out and explore  the great bodies of water Maine has to offer.

“Helpful Tips for the New Kayaker”

  • Wear a life vest. Life vests are required by law in many states, and are a great safety precaution.
  • Never paddle alone. It is always smart to have someone with you.
  • Get instruction. Paddling is not a difficult sport to learn but getting a small amount of instruction before going out for the first time can go a long way. Look for an American Canoe Association (ACA) guide if you’re a first-time kayaker.
  • Find protected water. For your first time, find a spot with land accessible from all sides, or stay along the coast. 
  • Paddle where you are comfortable. Don’t be too ambitious your first-time kayaking. Paddle where you feel safe. When you become more comfortable, that’s when you can venture out.
  • Try different boats. Kayaks come in all different shapes and sizes. Before buying your first kayak, try out a couple of types to see which has the best feel.

Places to Rent Kayaks

Portland Paddle: Portland, Maine

Paddle Maine: Brunswick, ME

Portsmouth Kayak Adventures: Portsmouth, NH

About the author
Ben Carey is an intern at Martin’s Point and a student at the University of Southern Maine. Ben has worked as a Kayak Tour Guide in Massachusetts and has experience working with new and experienced kayakers, teaching the  skills and etiquette of being on the water. He likes to adventure, and hopes to meet you on the water!

Don’t Trash It, Recycle It!

We’re used to setting aside bottles, cans, cardboard, and the like for the recycling bins to help  conserve resources and lighten the load on our landfills. But what about everything else?

“We want everyone to think about reduction and reuse before we get to recycling,” says Matt Grondin of ecomaine, a nonprofit that deals with handling waste safely and responsibly, and helps Mainers think about sustainable waste management strategies. “While recovering our paper, cardboard, plastic, metal, and glass in our single-sort bins is vitally important to Maine’s landfill diversion goals, we can all look to reuse things we don’t need or want any longer, but might have use for someone else.”

Here’s a rundown on proper disposal for the less-straightforward items many of us use:

Batteries and cell phones: Recycling these items is important because it keeps harmful materials out of landfills and water supplies. It also reduces risk of fires caused by old batteries and conserves resources. Some locations charge a small fee to recycle single-use batteries – the type used in flashlights and remote controls. Find a recycling site.

Clothing and footwear. Your local swap center, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and thrift stores are all great places to start. Some churches and other places of worship may have collections, too. Most of these places want items that are gently used clothing and in good repair. Goodwill, however, often finds uses for items with wear and tear (clothing scraps may get another life as cleaning cloths, for example).

Home building materials: If you’re renovating, you might be able to donate old kitchen cabinets, doors, light fixtures and more to a Habitat for Humanity Restore near you. Some locations offer a handy pick-up service for large items. Learn more about donations and locations here.

Electronics. TVs, computers, electrical cords and other electronics cannot go in the trash, because of potential for environmental harm. In Maine, your local transfer station will accept them to recycle, but if electronic device works,  donate it at your local swap center, Goodwill or Salvation Army. Retailers like BestBuy and Staples also take e-waste for recycling for free. Find a collection site near you (they also take other potentially harmful items like fluorescent bulbs and mercury thermostats).

Eye glasses. Gently used eyewear can be reused by others who need a little help to see clearly. Donate eye glasses at these locations: Goodwill, Salvation Army, Ruth’s Reusable Resources (collects and redistributes school supplies). Or call your Town Hall and ask if there’s a community swap shop and check with your public library. Lions Clubs also has many U.S. recycling centers.

Medical supplies. Most medical waste like bandages, asthma inhalers and IV bags are considered trash. This type of waste should be sealed in plastic bags before you add it to your trash. Sharps (needles) should be put in sturdy, puncture-proof, leak proof containers (like a plastic detergent bottle), labelled “do not recycle”, then sealed and taped closed before adding to trash. If you have questions about disposing of medical waste safely, these resources can help:

  • American Diabetes Association, www.diabetes.org or 207-774-7717
  • Biomedical Waste Program, 207-287-2651
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1-800-311-3435.

Have unused medical supplies that you’d like to donate? Partners for World Health can find a use for almost any type of medical supply or piece of equipment you may have! Click here for comprehensive list of what they can accept. If you’re uncertain if they’ll be able to accept something that you have, send them an email at info@partnersforworldhealth.org

Many communities gather hard-goods like crutches, grab bars, and wheelchairs from residents for others to re-use free of charge. Check with your town offices for more information.

Over-the-counter and prescription medication. Because medications of any type could mix with public water, they should never be flushed or poured down a drain. They also shouldn’t sit in our landfills. You can find out where your town or city’s trash winds up here before you put it in the trash. (ecomaine recommends mixing medicine with coffee grounds or cat litter as an additional precaution.)

You can also ask your Police Department or pharmacy when they’re holding a drug collection day, and hand over medications there.

Paint. Maine has 117 locations where you drop leftover paint that’s been used on a building, free of charge, thanks to a relatively new law that led to a stewardship program with PaintCare. PaintCare recycles the paint, reuses it as part of other products, or uses it to create fuel. Find a location near you. Some transfer stations also collect used paint.

Thin, filmy plastic. Grocery bags, bread bags, dry cleaning wrap and the like are no longer accepted by local recyclers, but you can find drop-off locations that accept these materials and more at PlasticFilmRecycling.org. Get a complete list of accepted materials here and search for a drop off location here.

With just one more tool in your arsenal, you’ll be ready to help keep our communities healthier for all: ecomaine Recyclopedia. It’s easy to use. Just enter the name of item you’re not sure how to recycle, and ecomaine gives you instructions and options.

Is the effort worth it? The latest data shows that in Maine, we recycle about 37 percent of all the trash we create each year. Much more of that we drop in landfills – by some estimates as much as 60% – could be recycled or composted. Which makes us think: How can we do more?

Improve Your Health by Exploring Nature

It’s well known that walking in nature positively effects your physical health, but did you know that it improves your mental health as well? As many of us spend more time indoors, we increase our risk of developing mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, mood disorders, and other related illnesses.

As New Englanders, we’re lucky to have an abundance of nature right outside our doors. Our access to green areas, such as mountains, lakes, and forests, provides us with the sort of natural sanctuaries that other places may find rare. When you frequently spend time in nature, you can experience a decrease in stress and anxiety, along with an increase in cognitive functioning.

“There’s the Japanese practice of “forest bathing” or shinrni-yoku which promotes the healing benefits of nature on mental health as well as physical health,” says Dr. S. Tyler O’Sullivan, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. “Of course, the mind and body are interconnected, so mental health and physical health are both key parts of our wellbeing. And the science is there. A study in 2015 showed improved blood pressure, heart rates, and lower levels of adrenaline after spending roughly an hour in nature. So, take some time and unplug. Go out in nature without your phone or camera and bathe in the soothing sounds – and lack of sounds.”

Take advantage of the cooler, late summer weather and explore the natural beauty that Maine and New Hampshire have to offer. Get out there, stay active, an promote a healthy mind!

Here are some local trails to get you started:

East Point Audubon Sanctuary Trail – 1.5 miles – Biddeford, ME

Trail walkers have commented on the trail’s rocky shore, the clear view of Wood Island, and the wonderful scenery. If you hike here, you’re bound to see some seagulls and made even a common eider.

Maquoit Bay Conservation Land Trail – 1.5 miles – Brunswick, ME

Hiking this small trial will give you a break from the city. You’ll find yourself surrounded by extensive woodland, salt marshes, and clam flats. Of course, the trail is highlighted by its views of Maquoit Bay.

Tannery Brook Park– 1.6 miles – Gorham, ME

This is a great trail for all seasons, offering lush greenery and a view of Tannery Brook in the summer, changing leaves in the fall, and snowy paths perfect for snowshoeing in the winter. This is truly a trail you’ll want to visit again and again.

Little John Island Loop Trail – 1.4 miles – Yarmouth, ME

Do you think the Greater Portland area only offers bustling city life? Think again! The Littlejohn Island Preserve offers a peaceful, non-industrialized look at the Greater Portland area. If you walk this trail on a summer day, you’ll find beautiful wildflowers, ocean views, and quiet spots to have a picnic. You could even see a bald eagle or a great horned owl.

Ferry Way Trail Loop – 1.9 miles – Portsmouth, NH

This trail allows spectacular views of Great Bay and the marshes. There have been many reports of wildlife sightings along the trail, including sightings of turkeys, barred owls, and red squirrels.

Prouts Neck Cliff Walk – 4.3 miles – Scarborough, ME

While this trail may not be as secluded as some others, it offers a chance to experience a natural landscape for those in the Scarborough area who may not be able to travel or have a means of transportation. This loop-trail covers not only the cliff-walk, but Scarborough Beach and Ferry Beach as well. There’s no need to walk the entire trail at one time, though doing so would lead to a spectacular day of beach and cliff views of the ocean, as well sightings of piping plovers and sea plants.

There are over 2000 trails across Maine and New Hampshire, so whether you want to make your nature walk part of a day trip or take a relaxing trail walk in your local area after work, there is something for you. Make time for yourself and your mental health.

Visit Portland Trails or AllTrails for more information on great trails near you.

About the Author

Autumn Wentworth is from Lebanon, Maine, a small town on the New Hampshire border. She is currently attending the University of Southern Maine where she is completing her Bachelor’s Degree in English and Communication. When she is not in class or at her internship, you can often find her spending time relaxing and recharging through her exploration of local trails, mountains, and sanctuaries.”

Making Wishes Comes True for Maine Youngsters

You know us as providers of great health care. You may not know we’re also big fans of healthy communities. At Martin’s Point, it’s a priority to make it easy for our employees to connect to the people that call Maine and New Hampshire home and help make our hometowns better for all who live here. 

One way we do this is by teaming up with Make-A-Wish® Maine. Since we became partners in 2006, Martin’s Point has donated $57,500 to help Make-A-Wish grant wishes for five Maine children living with critical illnesses. Financial support helped make some special dreams come true – dreams like visiting Disney World and going on a dig for dinosaur bones. Now the next phase is about getting more employees directly involved.

Behind the magic

One thing that helps us do just that is a special benefit Martin’s Point provides to employees: volunteer-time-off. Each year, our employees get 24 hours of time off with pay to they can use for the great good of their local communities. Then we help teams and individuals get involved, by connecting them with a variety of opportunities to give back throughout the year.

In June, for example, 25 Martin’s Point employees and Make-A-Wish Maine helped a local family and their son share a remarkable day. The event began at Funtown Splashtown USA, and included a tour of the local fire station, a fire truck escort home, and then one final surprise: a new backyard play area, complete with protective fencing, wooden play house, and a digging toy.

Our team pitched in to plan the day and greet the family with signs, balloons and ice cream sundaes – with happy results. After a moment of surprise and shyness, one preschooler was thrilled to be able to play outside more safely.

Everyone wins

“This particular wish hit home for me, because it took place in my hometown,” said Katie Piantoni, a marketing specialist at Martin’s Point who took an active role in our June event. “I feel blessed to be able to use some of my volunteer time to put a smile on a little boy’s face. It’s wonderful working for an organization that values employee volunteerism and allows us time to give back to our communities.”

Martin’s Point employees have also used their volunteer time to help young students practice reading, share conversation with isolated seniors, fight food insecurity at local food pantries, and more.

Whatever the circumstances or cause, these efforts really do make difference. As Rebekah Roy from Make-A-Wish Maine says: “Everyone involved in fulfilling the wish of a child battling a critical illness is touched by the magic of the experience. Magic that brings hope, strength and joy to children and their families during a difficult time.”

The new fenced play yard is just one of more than 1,500 granted by Make-A-Wish Maine since 1993.

To learn more about Make-A-Wish Maine, visit their website at maine.wish.org.

We Want to Hear Your Story

At Martin’s Point, we’re here to help you reach your best health so you can do what matters to you most—whether that is simply spending time with your friends and family, enjoying a hobby, volunteering in your community, or setting off on your next adventure.

Our Your Health, Your Story series captures the unique stories of our patients and health plan members who have been able to pursue their passions or their simple pleasures with the help of the care they receive from Martin’s Point.

We hope you’ll enjoy hearing these stories and will consider sending us one of your own!

DO YOU HAVE A STORY TO SHARE? We would love to hear it!

Martin’s Point Sponsors 2019 NH Senior Games!

Martin’s Point Health Care is pleased to announce their collaboration with the 2019 New Hampshire Senior Games as the presenting sponsor of the statewide event. Now celebrating its 32nd year, the Games provide a blend of competitive sports and social interactions for active older adults.

“Beyond the high-quality Medicare Advantage plans and primary care, we provide in New Hampshire and Maine, we invest in strategic partnerships to promote healthy communities as an important part of our mission,” said Dr. David Howes, President and CEO of Martin’s Point Health Care. “We’ve advocated for senior health and wellness through our lead sponsorship of the Maine Senior Games for over ten years. We’re very excited to now support the New Hampshire Senior Games in their cause.”

“We’re thrilled to welcome Martin’s Point as a sponsor and supporter,” said Larry Flint, Chairman of the New Hampshire Senior Games.  “Our primary goal is supporting active, older adults in healthy competition and their mission is very much in alignment with our efforts.”

Dr. Howes noted that, beyond the financial support, Martin’s Point Health Care employees volunteer at a broad range of non-profits in the communities they serve.  “As a community-based organization, our employees share an enduring commitment to the good health of our patients and members. Service to our valued non-profit partners is an extension of that and part of our culture.” 

Flint said that, over the years, thousands of athletes from New Hampshire and throughout New England have taken part in the Games.  “Our slogan— ‘where fun and fitness meet’—truly embodies the spirit of the Games,” he said.  “Whether one is a competitive athlete or trying a sport for the first time, we offer something for everyone.”

This year’s Games will take place June through August and offer 17 different events and sports throughout the state and are open to participants aged 40–90+.  Online registration is now open. To learn more or sign up for the 2019 Games, please visit www.NHseniorgames.org.

About the New Hampshire Senior Games

The mission of the New Hampshire Senior Games (NHSG) is to promote, organize and effectively develop physical challenges, as they relate to the NH Masters Athlete and the 50+ population of the state of New Hampshire, undertake related activities benefitting the well-being of adults as appropriate and focusing on the development of active and healthy lifestyles.  Our mission is accomplished by encouraging fitness and by providing athletic competition in a variety of sports, clinics and creative pursuits. To learn more, please visit www.nhseniorgames.org.

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