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 207-303-0162 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.

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

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

Bullying online and off

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

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

Know the warning signs

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

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


Prevent bullying before it starts

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

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

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


If you think your child is a victim

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

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

“You are your child’s most important advocate,” adds Swan-Potter. “It’s best to seek help sooner, before issues escalate.”

The Martin’s Point Health Care Pediatrics Team is ready to help with advice about bullying – and every other aspect of your child’s health. Learn more about our providers, locations, and services at our website.

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

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

Are You Due for Mammogram?

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

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

3-D mammograms: the latest screening technology

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

  • Detects 20-65% more invasive breast cancer than 2-D mammography.
  • Allows for earlier detection and a greater range of treatment options.
  • Results in 40% fewer callbacks.
  • Is approved by the FDA as superior for women with dense breast tissue.

Martin’s Point offers both 3-D and 2-D breast imaging at two Maine locations: Brunswick at 74 Baribeau Drive (207-798-4050), and Portland at 331 Veranda St. (207-828-2402). More insurance plans now cover 3-D mammograms, but it’s a good idea to check with your carrier before you make an appointment.

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Need a nudge? Find a buddy.

National TV colleagues Meredith Vieira and Angela LaGreca used to remind each other to make their mammogram appointments and then go together. After several years their system lapsed, but they got back on track just in time. When LaGreca was diagnosed with breast cancer – small in scale and treatable – both friends credited the buddy system for the early catch.

Don’t let this important screening slip. Reach out to a friend today and make your appointments together, because early detection saves lives.

Flu Season Is Coming: Get Vaccinated Now

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

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

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

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

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Who should get vaccinated? Everyone older than six months.

Where can you get vaccinated? 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. Please note: Most insurance plans cover flu shots, but it’s a good idea to double-check with your plan.

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CVS pharmacies also provide free flu shots, and you can see a complete list of flu vaccine locations with the Flu Vaccine Finder on the CDC website (when you’re on the site, scroll down and look for the purple box).

Martin’s Point Health Care Among Nation’s Highest-Quality Medicare Advantage Plans for 2019

Martin’s Point Health Care Earns 5 Stars, Among Nation’s Highest-Quality Medicare Advantage Plans for 2019

Medicare beneficiaries living in Maine and New Hampshire have access to one of only 14 Medicare Advantage contracts in the country to earn 5 out of 5 stars from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for 2019. Portland-based Martin’s Point Generations Advantage Prime, Value, Value Plus, and Focus DC plans have earned the highest-possible Overall Plan Rating for quality and service awarded nationally to Medicare Advantage plans. They are the only Medicare Advantage plans in Maine and New Hampshire to achieve Medicare’s 5-Star rating for 2019.

“As an organization we are committed to improving the health of our community and are incredibly proud to offer 5-Star plans to our friends and neighbors here in Maine and New Hampshire,” said Dr. David Howes, President and CEO of Martin’s Point Health Care. “We share this recognition with our over 45,000 Generations Advantage members who took an active role in their own health, as well as our dedicated team of employees and over 15,000 network providers who took such great care of our members. We want to especially recognize the tremendous primary care community here in Maine and New Hampshire for such remarkable care. Achieving this rating was truly a team effort and we could not have done this alone.”

CMS publishes their Star Ratings during the Medicare Annual Enrollment period each year to help seniors compare the level of health care quality and service offered by Medicare Advantage plans. While CMS rated 376 Medicare Advantage contracts nationwide this year, only an elite group of 14, including the Martin’s Point Generations Advantage HMO contract, earned the distinction of a 5-Star Overall Plan Rating. The overall rating is based on nearly 50 care and service quality measures across multiple categories including customer service, member experience, management of chronic conditions, how the plan helps members stay healthy, prescription drug services, and more.

“This rating reflects our commitment to partner with our members and the greater health community to deliver the highest quality care and service possible,” said Dan Hounchell, Vice President of Health Plan Products for Martin’s Point. “We are incredibly proud to represent the health care community here in Maine and New Hampshire as we join only a few other Medicare Advantage plans across the country that have received this distinction. In the end, as a local health plan, our dedication to keeping our family members, neighbors, and friends as healthy as possible is what sets us apart.”

Martin’s Point Generations Advantage plans are the most popular in Maine, serving nearly 45,000 Medicare beneficiaries, and have achieved the highest ratings in the state for seven nine years in a row.

In addition to representing the highest quality recognition given by CMS, the rating also means that Medicare beneficiaries in Maine and New Hampshire may enroll in 5-Star Generations Advantage plan throughout 2019, not only during Medicare’s annual enrollment period (which runs from October 15 – December 7 each year). Medicare allows 5-Star plans a special enrollment opportunity to make it easier for seniors to move into higher quality plans at any time during the year.

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About Martin’s Point Health Care

Martin’s Point is a not-for-profit health care organization based in Portland, Maine. Martin’s Point offers Medicare Advantage and TRICARE® health plans – Generations Advantage serving Medicare beneficiaries in Maine and New Hampshire and the US Family Health Plan serving active-duty and retired military families in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, upstate New York and northern Pennsylvania. Martin’s Point also provides primary care services at seven health care centers from Brunswick, Maine to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-star rating system. Star Ratings are calculated each year and may change from one year to the next. Generations Advantage HMO plans (Contract H5591) received a 5-Star Overall Rating and PPO plans (Contract H1365) received a 4.5-Star Overall Rating for plan year 2019. Visit www.Medicare.gov for more information. Martin’s Point Generations Advantage is a health plan with a Medicare contract offering HMO, HMO-POS, HMO SNP, PPO, and Regional PPO products. Enrollment in a Martin’s Point Generations Advantage plan depends on contract renewal. Martin’s Point Health Care complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. ATTENTION: Si vous parlez français, des services d’aide linguistique vous sont proposés gratuitement. Appelez le 1-888-640-4423 (ATS: 711). ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-888-640-4423 (TTY: 711).

 

Martin’s Point’s CEO testifies before Senate Committee on Aging

Innovative, Tailored Care Models for Maine’s Seniors

Washington, DC (October 3, 2018) – Martin’s Point Health Care, based in Portland, Maine, is implementing forward-thinking programs and care models to meet the health care needs of the state’s rapidly growing, mostly rural, and chronically ill senior population. That was the message Martin’s Point President and CEO, David Howes, MD, shared at an October 3 hearing of the Senate Committee on Aging, chaired by Maine Senator Susan Collins.

Maine health care providers, including Martin’s Point, are on the front line of tackling a collection of senior health care challenges other states will face in the years ahead. Maine’s average population age is rising faster than that of any state in the nation. Projections show that, by 2020, those over the age of 65 in Maine will outnumber those under 18—a statistic that is 15 years ahead of the national projected date of 2035. Adding to the complexity of this issue, 31 percent of Maine’s senior population lives below 200 percent of the poverty line and 51 percent lives in rural areas.

In describing their innovative approach to caring for a this progressively aging population, Dr. Howes highlighted the fact that Martin’s Point provides Maine seniors with both direct patient care and Medicare health plans. This unique combination of services allows the organization to leverage health care information to inform targeted and closely managed care, resulting in improved patient outcomes and experience and driving down costs.

 “I regard our [health plan] care management programs as some of our best innovation work at Martin’s Point,” said Dr. Howes. “They continue to illustrate to me that the little things can make a big difference.”

In his Senate testimony Dr. Howes described several programs that illustrate this strategic approach to delivering care, managing costs and helping seniors live independently. These programs feature a care model that emphasizes close care coordination and chronic disease management. Some of the programs included in the testimony include:

  • A home-based comprehensive care program tackling all factors that impact health, including physical, emotional, social and environmental. As part of the program, patients are screened for mental illness, addiction and depression. More than half of invited members in the home-care program are accepting nurses into their home for the first visit and then inviting them back.
  • A pilot program for patients with congestive heart failure, providing in-home assessments, education on symptoms and telemonitoring devices for participants. The effort led to significant improvements in members’ medication adherence, as well as decreased hospital admissions and a nearly 70 percent reduction in readmissions.

To read the full testimony from Dr. Howes, click here.

Pull the Plug on Stress with these Five Simple Yoga Poses

Calming frazzled nerves can be as easy as shifting your body into a different position.

“Any yoga posture that assists natural exhalation of breath instantly reduces tension in the body,” says Erin Compton, owner of Riverbend Yoga in Yarmouth, Maine. Forward folds, seated or standing, are a great example. “Breathing out and giving in to gravity allow your body to shift from fight-or-flight to rest and digest, releasing stress-carrying hormones and easing tension from areas where we tend to hold it the most, like the hips and jaw.”

Also, postures that invert your body reverse the flow of blood and flush toxins. “It’s like a reset for your nervous system and body, inside and out,” says Compton, who has been teaching yoga for six years.

More good news, the poses don’t have to be complicated to do the trick. Compton shares her favorites here. For each pose, focus on inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply.

Forward fold

1 | Forward fold (also known as rag doll). Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Clasp opposite hand to opposite elbow, and hinge upper body forward, moving from hips. Shift weight forward to the front of your feet. Let your head hang heavy. Breathe. Work up to 1 minute.

Make it easier: Bend knees more, even to the point of resting upper body on thighs.

 

Wide leg forward fold

2 | Wide-leg forward fold. Step feet wider than hips, knees slightly bent. Hinge upper body forward, moving from hips. Rest hands on the floor and lift up through hips as you lengthen spine toward the floor, shifting weight forward to the front of your feet. Let your head hang heavy. Breathe. Work up to 1 minute.

Make it easier: Bring the floor closer by resting your hands on a stack of books or a yoga block.

 

3 | Child’s pose. Start on the floor on your hands and knees. Sink back as you slowly shift hips toward heels, extending arms overhead, palms on floor. Breathe. Work up to 3 minutes.

Make it easier: If your hips are tight, keep knees together and rest chest on thighs.

 

Supported fish

4 | Supported fish. Sitting on the floor, place a bed pillow or a couple of throw pillows behind you at the base of your spine; don’t sit on them. (The pillows expand your chest, making it easier to fill your lungs with oxygen and improving the flow of oxygen to the brain.)

Lower onto your back, legs extended in front of you, arms stretched to the sides, palms up. Rest back of head on floor or under an additional pillow. Lift chin off chest, close eyes. Breathe. “Let your muscles melt away from your bones,” cues Compton. Work up to 5 or 6 minutes, or more.

 

Legs up the wall

5 | Legs up the wall. Find about 3’ of clear wall space. Sit next to wall, hip to baseboard, palm on floor for support. Lift leg that is closer to wall, and raise it so back of leg faces wall with heel resting on wall. As you raise the other leg to meet the first, shimmy toward wall so buttocks touch baseboard, or come as close as is comfortable for you. Place heels hip-width distance apart on wall. Spread arms to the sides on floor, palms up. Relax your feet and toes. Breathe. Stay for 5 to 6 minutes, or more.

If you’re a senior and you’d like to try yoga with an instructor to guide you, we can help! Join us for free, 1-hour Senior Chair Yoga classes at the Martin’s Point Community Center in Scarborough. Learn more, and watch the video to get a taste.

Looking for more stress-busting strategies? Talk to your Martin’s Point health care provider about other approaches you can try, like meditation, getting out into nature, journaling, mindfulness, counseling or coaching and more.

Back to School Part 3: Time Savers

Six Ways to Make School Mornings Easier

Sometime between the OJ flash flood on the kitchen counter and the frantic search for last night’s math homework, morning calm slips into morning chaos. Sound familiar? Take heart. Getting out the door smoothly often feels like mission impossible for a lot of families, no matter how good our intentions. But it may be that all you need to make mornings smoother are a few simple strategies.

1 | Get your kids to bed on time.
What does last night have to do with today? A rested kid wakes up with less fuss and is better prepared to zip through morning routines, well, routinely. To be well-rested, your school-age child needs 9 to 12 hours of sleep every day; your teen needs 8 to 10.

“While it may be difficult to stick to a new school schedule, ensuring that children get the sleep they need is essential to learning and growth,” says Torah Tomasi, M.D., a pediatrician with Martin’s Point Health Care. “I can’t emphasize the importance of setting a regular wind-down routine and bedtime enough.”

Freshen up on healthy sleep habits HERE.

2 | Get yourself to bed on time.

Adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep to keep a lid on stress, maintain a decent mood and function at full capacity. As tempting as it can be to relish your downtime at the end of the evening, do yourself a favor. Skip the extra episode of Ozark and turn in.

3 | Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than usual.

You’ll be amazed the difference it makes to unload the dishwasher and get yourself ready for the day before it’s time for everyone else to get up. You’ll feel calmer. You’ll be able to focus on what your kids need. And when a mini-crisis pops up, you can take it in stride.

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4| Prep breakfast and lunch the night before.

Plan a healthy breakfast and stage everything you can. Making scrambled eggs? Crack, beat, and store the eggs in an airtight container in the fridge, and set the pan on the stove. Pre-slice and refrigerate a cantaloupe or strawberries. Put whole wheat bread and plates by the toaster. Set up the coffee maker.

Make your kids’ lunches – or have them make them – and stow them in the fridge. At the very least, set out lunch boxes and pack non-perishables like apples, dried fruit and nuts. Then place a cutting board and bread so it’s easy to make sandwiches and pop in other items that need refrigeration – like yogurt, cheese and cold packs – in the morning.

5 | Pack the night before.

Help kids create and follow a get-ready-for-school checklist to pack their school bags ahead and avoid last-minute scrambles. They may need help thinking about the next day – do they need a musical instrument for band or sneakers for gym class? Then set their backpacks by the door, ready to grab and go.

If you’re heading out the door along with your child, pack your belongings – laptop, water bottle, workout gear, phone, sunglasses, etc., and set your bag by the door. Establish one place for your car keys – maybe a hook or shelf near the door – and make sure they’re in place.

6 | Plan outfits and set out clothes.

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Anyone can get bogged down by having to decide what to wear under time pressure. That’s easy to dodge by having each family member set out everything they will wear the next day. “Asking kids to learn to take care of themselves on a schedule – preparing clothes, school supplies and more the night before – is a perfect way to teach responsibility,” adds Tomasi.

Give these tips a try! Your self-discipline and preparation are sure to pay off in more smiles and calmer send offs – for both you and your child.

Back-to-school tip: Are you child’s immunizations up-to-date? Has he or she had a physical exam in the last 12 months? Get your child’s school year off to a healthy start with a visit to the Martin’s Point Health Care pediatric team. Learn more and give us a call today.

Martin’s Point Military Health Plan Among Highest Rated in US

Martin’s Point Health Care has announced that its US Family Health Plan has been named one of the highest-rated health insurance plans in the nation. The plan is a TRICARE Prime® option that covers over 46,000 active-duty and retired military families throughout the Northeast.

The National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA) has awarded the health plan a 4.5-out-of-5 overall rating for Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont as part of its Private Health Insurance Plan Ratings for 2018-2019. The plan also earned an “Excellent” (ME) and “Commendable” (NH, VT, NY, PA) accreditation status from NCQA.

NCQA uses measures of clinical quality (HEDIS®) and patient experience (CAHPS®) and standards from the NCQA Accreditation process to annually rate over 1,000 health plans (over 90%) across the country. Measures include:

  • Management of chronic disease
  • Prevention and wellness efforts, including recommended screenings and immunizations
  • Access to quality primary and specialty care
  • Quality of member experience

“This recognition from NCQA underscores our commitment to providing the highest-quality care for our US Family Health Plan members,” said Dr. David Howes, Martin’s Point Health Care President and CEO. “We are especially proud of our 5-out-of-5 rating for the “Consumer Satisfaction” measure, as it reflects the dedication of our service team, as well as our network providers and hospitals, to deliver an excellent health care experience for our military families.”

ABOUT MARTIN’S POINT HEALTH CARE

Martin’s Point Health Care is a not-for-profit organization, based in Portland, Maine, providing primary care and health insurance plans. It operates seven Health Care Centers in Maine and New Hampshire and offers Medicare Advantage insurance plans in Maine and New Hampshire and TRICARE® insurance plans in northern New England, New York and Pennsylvania. More information is available at MartinsPoint.org.

ABOUT NCQA

National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations and recognizes clinicians in key clinical areas. NCQA’s HEDIS® is the most widely used performance measurement tool in health care. NCQA’s Web site (www.ncqa.org) contains information to help consumers, employers and others make more informed health care choices.

CAHPS is a registered trademark of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Back to School Part 2: Sleep and Back to School

Make Back-to-School Better with A+ Sleep Habits

During July and August, it’s easy to let summer fun and late sunsets push your child’s bedtime. But with school back in session, sleep should be a bigger priority. Well-rested kids tend to do better at school. Their memories work better. They behave better. Their mental health is sounder. And their bodies are more prepared to fend off colds, flus and more.

Back to school is a great time to reboot sleep routines,” says Alyssa Goodwin, M.D., a pediatrician at the Martin’s Point Health Care Center in Brunswick at Baribeau Drive. “Kids and teens need a good night’s sleep to tackle their busy days. Plus, sleep is important for focus, behavior and school performance.”

How much sleep do kids need? Children in grade school – 6- to 12-year-olds – need 9 to 12 hours a night, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Teens too need a substantial amount of sleep – 8 to 10 hours through age 18.

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For better sleep at any age

Whether your student is 6 or 16, getting enough sleep comes down to routine.

  • Stick to the same bedtime and wake up time – every day.
  • Establish pre-sleep rituals that prepare kids to go to bed and fall asleep.
  • Manage the transition time. At least 60 minutes before bedtime, turn off and put away all electronic devices. Help younger children transition to quieter, less stimulating activities, like drawing, doing a puzzle, or yoga.

For grade school children

The bedtime routine. The routine you may have relied on for your toddler and preschooler is still your best friend, with a little tweaking. Start 15 to 30 minutes ahead of lights out. After teeth are brushed and the rest of the bathroom routine is done, read together, or snuggle up and listen to mellow music or an audiobook together. Then say goodnight and turn out the lights. Same thing, same order, every night.

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A bedroom that says “sleep.” Close the shades. Keep lights dim, minimize noise and keep the temperature cool. Keep devices with screens – TVs, computers, tablets, gaming devices, phones, etc. – out. Put away toys that encourage activity or noise.

 “The brain needs screen-free space to wind down and be ready for sleep,” explains Goodwin. “Consider using a quiet noisemaker or soft music and a gentle night light for kids who are afraid of the dark or have a hard time settling.”

For teens

Sleep is a particular challenge for teens. Their bodies work against them by moving the time they naturally feel sleepy about two hours later. On top of that, they’re busy. Homework, sports, play practice – they can all take away valuable sleep – and excess screen time only makes this worse.

Set the scene for success. Make the bedroom sleep-friendly. Save the bed for sleep – find another place to do homework. Keep the room cool, dark and quiet toward bedtime. Collect electronics 60 minutes before bedtime, and be consistent about removing them.

Make time for key conversations. Talk about consistent wake up/go to bed times and why they’re important. Help teens be smart about caffeine. Remind your child where it lurks – soda, coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks and more – and suggest avoiding it after 3 p.m. Talk about waking up in the morning. Some teens may want you to make sure the alarm went off or open the shades in the morning to help nudge them into the day.

Compromise. If your teen resists a radical shift in bedtime, take it in steps. Over a week, try having your teen go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night, until you reach the ideal time. Give it another week, and talk about the effects he or she feels.

No matter what your child’s age, keep in mind that it takes several weeks to establish any new routine or habit. Be patient. Know that helping your child get even 15 to 20 minutes more sleep makes a difference. If you get stuck or have a question, reach out to your pediatrician. The Martin’s Point Health Care pediatric team is here to help – learn more at our website.

Back-to-School Part One: Start the School Year in Good Health

While you’re chasing down backpacks, binders and back-to-school shoes, make time for these important to-dos and set your child up for a healthy year.

Annual physical exams. A yearly visit gives your child’s doctor a chance to assess and record your child’s developmental, emotional and social health. It’s an important touch point for sharing information about everything from growth to sleep to eating habits and keeping vaccinations current.

Some schools offer on-campus physical exams to clear students to play school sports. While these exams may be convenient, they should not replace an annual appointment with your child’s pediatrician.

“Yearly wellness checks allow parents and providers to create a team approach to a child’s health care,” says Torah Tomasi, M.D., a Martin’s Point Health Care pediatrician. “They give also us a better view of progress and development, so we can better understand what is normal for your child and detect any issues that may be emerging.”

If you haven’t already established a regular time for an annual exam, call for an appointment today. (Then add a reminder on your calendar to set up next year’s appointment to help you stay on track.)

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Vaccinations. State law dictates , with limited exceptions, thatchildren who attend all public and most private schools provide evidence of receiving all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Legality aside, keeping your child’s immunizations up to date is an important safeguard against potentially dangerous diseases, from chicken pox to meningitis.

“Vaccines are one of the best defenses we have against serious, preventable diseases – diseases that most of today’s parents have never seen,” says Tomasi. “Vaccines help individuals and families stay healthy, and help protect communities by reducing the spread of diseases.”

Many of the recommended immunizations for school age children are completed by age 7. Another set is indicated for middle schoolers between ages 11 and 12, plus a meningitis booster for kids in their late teens. Fall is also time for influenza vaccines for all ages – and many schools make this easy with free clinics.

For a complete picture of your child’s needs, refer to these recommendations for 0 to 6 years and 7 to 18 years.

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Medications. If your child needs medication during the school day, you have a little extra homework. It might help to think of it in steps:

  • Get sign off. In most cases, parents need to provide written consent and authorization from their child’s doctor for a child to be given medication at school. Find out your school’s requirements now, and complete any required forms.
  • Provide essential information. Make sure any medication you send goes in the original container and is labelled with:
    • Your child’s name
    • Medication name
    • How much to give and how often to give it
    • How to administer the medication
    • Your child’s pediatrician’s name
    • The prescription date and expiration date
  • Double up at the pharmacy. Have your pharmacist divide medication into two bottles – each labelled – so you can send one to school.
  • Plan ahead. Talk with your school administrators about how to handle medications during field trips and other outings, and mark your calendar to remind yourself to replenish the school supply of your child’s medication as needed.

If your child is college-bound, connect with health center staff to find out what they need from you, how to handle prescription refills and whether other university staff (like a resident advisor) should be aware of your child’s situation. Before your child leaves home, talk about potential side effects of any medication, including how it may interact with alcohol.

If you have questions on any of these points, give your child’s doctor a call. Otherwise, follow the checklist below to make your way through these tasks, and you can be confident you’ve given your student a healthy send off.

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Three Ways to Take Summer Salads from Boring to Brilliant

See how tasty nutrient-packed vegetables can be, with recipes from local kitchen pros that feature summer’s bounty. Bet you’ll be back for seconds!

Summer Greek Salad

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“I love this in the summer because the cucumbers are so cool and crunchy,” says Lindsay Sterling, host of immigrantkitchens.com and a food writer from Freeport, Maine.

Prepare the salad:

In a large bowl, combine lettuce and sliced tomato, cucumber, green onions, red pepper, green pepper, crumbled feta cheese and kalamata olives.

Add a small handful of fresh mint leaves (tear larger leaves in halves or thirds). “They make the salad come alive,” adds Lindsay. “But you could substitute a pinch of dried oregano or dried mint.”

 Prepare the dressing:

Nothing beats fresh lemon juice and olive oil for flavor – so bright and refreshing – and it’s simple to make. No lemon handy? Use red wine vinegar instead.

Cut a lemon in half. Over a cereal bowl, press the tines of a fork into the open half of lemon to start the juice flowing.

Pour the lemon juice through a strainer to discard any seeds, or pick them out with a fork.

Add a little more olive oil than you have lemon juice, or use equal parts if you like your dressing strong and tangy.

Grilled Vegetable Salad

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Use the same dressing from Lindsay’s Greek Salad to start off another summer favorite.

Prepare the dressing:

Start with the oil-and-lemon dressing in our Greek Salad recipe.

Add chopped garlic and chopped fresh herbs (Lindsay uses parsley, oregano, and thyme from her garden) and a little salt and freshly ground pepper.

Prepare the vegetables:

Prepare whole portobello mushroom caps, asparagus, tomatoes, onions, corn, and zucchini sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch planks and planks of red bell pepper

Lightly dress the vegetables, reserving the rest for serving.

Grill vegetables.

Place a mound of lettuce on a serving platter (Lindsay’s pick: arugula). Arrange grilled veggies on top. Drizzle on some dressing, nestle in wedge of blue cheese and serve.


Spinach, Arugula, Carrot Thinnings and Sunshine Vinaigrette

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Carrots grow in crowded rows that need to be thinned. Luckily, those thinnings – or sliced carrots from your nearby market – make a great addition to a summer salad like this one, featured in Full Moon Suppers (Roost Books, 2017), by Annemarie Ahearn, founder of the Salt Water Farm Cooking School in Lincolnville, Maine. Annemarie’s assistant, Rebecca, named the dressing – and its combination of sweet, acid, and aromatic flavors is sure to delight!

Prepare the dressing:

Mash two cloves of garlic and a pinch of salt with a mortar and pestle (or a rolling pin and cutting board). Add the juice and zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime, and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Add 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of honey, 2 tablespoons minced lemon thyme, 2 tablespoons minced lemon balm, 1 tablespoon minced sorrel and more salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in a half-cup of olive oil. Let flavors meld for 15 minutes.

Prepare the salad:  

Place 2 cups of young spinach and 2 cups of young arugula (clean and dry) in a large bowl.

Add 1 large handful carrots thinned from your garden or thinly sliced carrots.

Season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, then toss with some of the dressing.

Serve remaining dressing on the side.

Four Local Walks with Great Views

Add spark to your summer walking routine with new scenery and greenery, and you might just be tempted to go an extra mile.

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Southern summit walk. A new one-mile trail loops the summit of Mount Agamenticus, making it easy to enjoy amazing views as far as Cape Ann and Mount Washington while you walk. Park at the summit and follow Big A trail. A great choice for people with physical limitations, this trail is designed for universal access.

Add a climb: Park at one of the lots along the access road, then set off on Ring Trail. Follow Ring to Witch Hazel to make a gradual ascent to the Big A summit trail (just over 2 miles). Return the way you came, or consult the map and take a different trail down.

Directions and more information.

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Urban ocean walk. The 2.1-mile Eastern Promenade Trail affords some of the best views of Portland Harbor and Casco Bay – and easy, level walking on either pavement or packed dirt/stone dust. With parking at either end (along Commercial Street on the harbor end; off Marginal Way on the Back Cove-end) or at the East End Beach, you can access the trail any way you like.

A favorite loop (about 2 miles): From East End Beach, take Eastern Promenade Trail toward Back Cove. After the water treatment facility, look for Loring Stairs on your left (marked). Take the short climb to Loring Memorial Park and savor views of Portland, Back Cove and beyond before following the sidewalk along Eastern Promenade (the street) back toward Portland Harbor. Pick up Midslope Trail on your left. This under-used gem traverses the hill with great ocean views, and ends East End Beach.

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Northern coastal walk. Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport is honeycombed with more than three miles of gentle trails that meander from dense pine forest back toward Casco Bay. Our route saves the water views for last. From the parking lot, follow  Old Woods Trail. Turn right turn onto Harraseeket Trail, left onto Hemlock Ridge Trail, and left again to rejoin Harraseeket. Soon you’ll catch a glimpse of the shore, and then the trail follows the shoreline, eventually joining Casco Bay Trail. Pause to savor ocean views from the rocky shore and look for osprey or sea glass before a short hop to the parking lot.

Make it longer: Continue along the shore on White Pines Trail, overlooking scenic salt marsh.

Directions and more information.


Eastern Trail marsh walk. 
This out-and-back walk features Maine’s largest saltwater marsh as your backdrop. Start at the southern end, where the ET crosses Pine Point Road, or at the northern end, near Black Point Road. The 2.2-mile stretch features a flat, 10-foot wide path, leaving plenty of room for passing cyclists and runners. Keep an eye out for snowy egrets, great blue heron, and more wildlife as you cross the Scarborough River. Directions and more information (see map 6 on the downloadable map).

Before you head out, choose a distance that suits your fitness level and bring water to stay hydrated. Then share your review, or tell us where you love to walk, and inspire others to stick with walking, too!

Summer Vacationland Festivals for the Whole Family

Maine festivals always have a bit of something for everyone and these five unique festivals are great examples. From blues shows and antique showings to local town festivals—each one offers a snapshot of the natural Maine lifestyle that will have you back in touch with your northern roots in no time. Come, enjoy these festivals and embrace Vacationland…the way life should be!

Art in The Park, (August 11, 9 am–4 pm)
Mill Creek Park at 185 Ocean Street in South Portland

This free outdoor art show offers everything from paintings to wood carvings for sale, and also features artwork by local high school students. There will be something for everyone, including your children—from 10 am–2 pm the “Kids in the Park” area will be available for kids to make their own artistic creations! The park venue also provides a wide selection of food and live music, making it a fun option for the whole family.  Learn More    

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First Friday Art Walk, (First Friday of every month 10 am–10 pm).
Portland–Downtown and Old Port areas

This free monthly event opens the doors of Portland’s visual arts community to the public with art on display in galleries, museums, and on the streets. It’s a family-friendly,  quintessential Portland experience. With vendors lining the streets and the smell of good food and live music in the air, you can bet there is something for everyone. Learn More

York County Blues Fest, (July 28, 12–6 pm)
Waterboro Friendship Park, Old Alfred Road

This Saturday, the Grammy-award-winning Paul Nelson Band headlines an afternoon of great blues acts including Nathan Michaud, Andy Schoenfeld, and more.  Admission charged and gates open at 11:30. Learn more  

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Maine Lobster Festival, (August 1–5, 12 pm–11 pm)
Oceanside East High School, Rockland

Children’s races, art shows, cooking contests, beauty pageant, live music, parades, and most importantly, a lobster tent! This classic Maine festival has it all! The first day of the festival has a $1 entrance fee for adults and kids are free. The following days are $8 adults/$2 kids. Come enjoy an authentic Maine experience. Learn More   

Portsmouth Antiques Fest, (August 25, 8 am–2 pm)
Swasey Parkway, Portsmouth (NH)

For our neighbors to the south, think Portsmouth Farmers Market, but with unique furniture and collectibles. This market is more than a big yard sale. Swag On Swasey features some of your favorite dealers including; Todd Farm, the Dover Indoor Antique Market and the Arundel Flea Market. More than 25 dealers in one location. No admission and plenty of free parking. Swasey Parkway has easy access from route 101, 125 and Interstate 95. Learn More

Martin’s Point Health Care makes an impact on Riding To The Top programs

Donation and employee volunteer time support equine-assisted activists and therapies.

Martin’s Point Health Care recently contributed $1,000 to support Riding To the Top’s summer programs, but a group of employees wanted to do more! So nine members of the Martin’s Point Health Care marketing team signed up to do “whatever is needed” and found themselves directed to the horse paddocks.

Executive Director, Sarah Bronson, noted “In order to offer our services we need happy and healthy horses. Keeping their living spaces clean is vital to their health—and with a herd of 18, there is constantly work to be done!” According to Bronson, community volunteers and corporate work groups donated nearly 12,000 hours last year, working in lessons, caring for horses and maintaining the facilities.

Russ Phillips, Martin’s Point Manager of Marketing and Community Engagement, added, “Our group really enjoyed seeing Riding To The Top staff in action working with a client rider. It brought home the value of this organization’s work in our community and we left knowing our volunteer efforts were supporting a great cause.”

About Riding to the Top

Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center (RTT) was founded in 1993.  Our mission is enhancing health and wellness through equine assisted activities and therapies. Located just west of Portland in Windham, Maine, RTT is the state’s only year round PATH Intl. accredited center (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) solely dedicated to Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies. More than 250 clients visit annually, assisted by certified instructors, a herd of 18 horses and over 160 volunteers, all specially trained to assist with therapeutic riding, carriage driving and hippotherapy. Riding To The Top is a community-based nonprofit, receives no federal or state funding and provides scholarships to over 60% of its clients.  For more information about client services, volunteering, or making a gift, please visit us at www.ridingtothetop.org or call 892-2813.

Break Out of Your Walking Rut with These Dog-Friendly Trails

mpg_PHO_Blog_DogWalk_0618_v02This summer, make exercising your dog less of a chore and more of an adventure, with destinations that will get you both jazzed about walking. Here are four of our Portland-area favorites, guaranteed to get tails wagging.

  1. Mackworth Island Trail, Falmouth

Ideal for walkers who prefer level ground, this trail traces the island perimeter, offering nearly constant views of gorgeous Casco Bay. The 1.25-mile loop makes it easy to add laps if you’re so inspired. There are several spots where you can dip down to the shore and let your pup cool off. Dogs must be on-leash (the island is a bird sanctuary). Parking is limited and the State Bureau of Parks and Lands charges a small fee. Details and directions.

  1. Pine Point Beach, Scarborough

Make the most of the dog days of summer by walking sandy Pine Point Beach. From mid-May through Labor Day, dogs are welcome off-leash on the southern end of the beach under voice control from sunrise to 9 a.m. – perfect for early risers. Prefer evening? Portions of the beach are open to dogs on-leash from 5 p.m. to sunset. Morning or evening, avoid posted areas where access is restricted to protect shorebirds. Check the latest regulations at the town web site. Type “Chapter 604” in the search bar to download key info.

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  1. Stroudwater Trail, Portland

Escape from the hot sun into a shady tunnel of green on the Stroudwater Trail, part of the Portland Trails network. The 3.3-mile trail follows the Stroudwater River west – all the way to Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook. If that’s too ambitious, simply turn around wherever you like. The single-track trail is well-shaded for the entire route, and mostly level until you cross under the Turnpike, with bridges and boardwalks to cross wet areas. Park just off outer Congress Street off River’s Edge Drive in Portland.

  1. Twin Brook, Cumberland

A gem for dogs and owners alike, this scenic 250+-acre park is divided into two sections with opposite off-leash hours, so there’s always an option for well-behaved dogs to romp at will (Tuttle is off-leash from opening to noon; Greely from noon to close). There’s plenty of parking at either the Greely or Tuttle Road entrance, and both give easy access to 4-plus miles of trails through rolling fields and woods. Details and directions.

Whatever destination you choose, bring bags to clean up after your dog, obey posted rules for leashing, parking, and so on. Bring water along for your pet (and you) to re-hydrate. Let us know your favorite, and happy trails!

Protect Yourself from Lyme Disease

Here in the northeast, summer means it’s time to keep ticks on your radar. Deer ticks may be infected with a bacteria that causes Lyme disease, and spread it to humans and animals through their bite. Most people who are bitten by ticks do not get Lyme disease, but incidence of Lyme is rising. In 2016, the state recorded 1,769 cases of Lyme disease in Maine, up from 1,395 in 2014 – and experts suspect many cases go unreported.

 Protect yourself.

  • Take precautions when you go outside. Before you enter wooded or grassy areas, apply bug repellent with 10% DEET or Picaridin and wear light-colored long pants, long-sleeves and a hat.
  • Do a thorough check when you come in. After your outing, thoroughly check your body and clothing for ticks as soon as possible. Be sure to check your scalp, armpit, and groin areas, as well as pets, which can carry ticks inside.
  • Remove ticks immediately. Grasp the tick with tweezers as close to the skin surface as possible and pull upward with even pressure. Clean the bite area and your hands with soap and water. Most infected ticks do not spread the disease until they have been attached for at least 36 hours.
  • If you get a round, red rash at the site of the bite or flu-like symptoms within several weeks of a tick bite, see your doctor immediately and tell him or her you’ve been bitten by a tick. Deer ticks can be very small and hard to find. Even if you have not found a tick on your body, if you develop this rash and/or other symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible.

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If Lyme disease is suspected, doctors typically prescribe an antibiotic, which normally cures the disease, if treated in the early stages. Left untreated, Lyme can spread to joints, heart and nervous system.

To learn more about Lyme disease, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Farm To Blanket: 5 Farmers’ Markets with Nearby Picnic Spots

Farmers’ markets are a healthy alternative, so you can justify that ice cream later in the day. These markets are the best place to support local farmers while enjoying fresh, organic produce and more. The markets are full of wonderful, healthy fare for your summer picnics. So, throw out the woven wooden basket, grab the GPS, and head for these top five farmers markets and picnic locations in southern Maine!

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Portland Farmers’ Market – Portland: Deering Oaks Park, (Saturday 7am-1pm). This market has a huge variety of local fresh options for you to choose from, check out Old Ocean House Farms for fruits, plants, and smoothies before you stretch out on the well-shaded lawn.

Scarborough Farmer’s Market – Scarborough: 259 US-1, (Sunday 9am-1pm). There’s a delicious selection of healthy foods to choose from, try Clover Hill Breads on your way to the warm sands of Scarborough Beach State Park for a seaside picnic. Learn more

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Kittery Community Market -Kittery: 10 Shapleigh Rd, (Sunday 10am-2pm). Like the town itself, Kittery’s farmers market is gorgeous, and boasts live music, fresh local food choices, and a special arts and craft section just for kids. Continue the adventure with a stop at Fort Foster. The fort offers three small, sandy beaches, an extensive trail system, restroom facilities in season, picnic areas, and old military fortifications to explore. The park features an excellent view of the entrance to Portsmouth Harbor, including Whaleback Light, Portsmouth Harbor Light, and Fort Constitution. Learn more

Greater Gorham Farmers’ Market – Gorham: 71 South St, (Saturday 8:30am-12:30pm). Gorham’s Baxter Memorial Lawn teams with farmers and artisans offering seedlings and plants, beautiful local produce from Oscars Farm, baked goods, meats, cheeses, honey, gorgeous fiber arts, handcrafted bath products, and artisan wares. The location itself is a great family friendly picnic location, or head just down the road to Shaw Park, where there are gorgeous trails, swings, and canoe and kayak rentals. Learn more

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Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Farmers’ Market – Brunswick: 277 Pleasant Hill Road, (Saturday 8:30am-12:30pm). The Brunswick/Topsham Land Trust’s Farmer’s Market was established in 1999, making it one of the oldest farmers markets in the state with 40 artisans selling an exceptional array of products, like Wildflour’s amazing gluten-free baked goods. The market is a part of theYou can find more information about the market and the Land Trusts events on their website. Learn more

Farley Fighters Join Forces with Community to Combat Cancer

It was no surprise to anyone familiar with the cancer-busting efforts of the “Farley Fighters” that they recently won the inaugural George Campbell Community Impact Award at Martin’s Point Health Care. Recognized for their long-term, targeted commitment to fighting cancer, this core group of staff at the Martin’s Point Brunswick–Farley Road Health Care Center have united with their fellow employees, patients, and local nonprofits to make a difference in the health of our community.

Making Strides Walk

It all started fourteen years ago, when a small team at the Brunswick–Farley Road Health Care Center took part in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. Over the next few years, support for the annual walk grew and the group wanted to do more for their cause by raising awareness and encouraging voluntary giving throughout the year. The suggestion of monthly site-wide fundraising was proposed, and the group created a branded identity for their cancer-fighting efforts—the “Farley Fighters” were born.

Over the years, the Farley Fighters have rallied around the common cause of cancer prevention, education and treatment—engaging their fellow employees, patients, and aligned community non-profits in their fundraising efforts. Prompted by their coworkers’ suggestions, they coordinate monthly fund-raising activities like Valentine’s Day bake sales, silent auctions for donated gift baskets, employee breakfasts served by site leadership, barbecues, and multi-themed pot lucks.

It is not expected that everyone will donate for each activity, but, as Farley Fighter Sandra Hart attests, “…we all take part in some way. It may be baking for a sale, grilling at our BBQ, selling chances for a fundraiser, walking in the Walk, or dyeing their hair pink.” She adds that “it feels good to take part [in these activities]. The fundraising goes towards an important cause, but it also is an excuse to get together as a team and have fun together.” The result is that employees don’t ask, “Are we doing this again?” but, instead, ask “What can we do next?”

As Martin’s Point patients took notice of the Farley Fighters t-shirts that staff wear at site activities and on Fridays, they began asking how they could join in to support the effort. Today the team takes pride that, without making any direct requests, patients have offered their own donations— both financial and culinary—to the cause.

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While formal records have not been tracked, the Fighters estimate that, between fund-raisers and walk donations, they have raised nearly $20,000 since 2004. This sustained and impactful commitment to the fight against cancer is proof of the power of inspired and engaged Martin’s Point employees. Congratulations to the Farley Fighters for bringing to life both our motto—we are people caring for people—and our mission to improve the health of our community.

Five Ways to Keep Your Campers Happy and Healthy

Your kids and grandkids are now out of school and ready for the fun of summer camp. But before they dive in, make sure you’ve taken these basic preventive measures to keep their adventures safe.

1. Sun smarts. There’s nothing like a sunburn to put a damper on summer fun – and of course, no one wants to elevate their risk for skin cancer. Stock up now on sunscreen rated 15 to 50 SPF with “broad spectrum” on the label (this means it will block both types of harmful rays). Round up a hat with a brim. Ideally you want one that extends 3” around the entire head, but if you have better odds of getting your camper to wear a cap, that’s better than nothing. Consider sunglasses with UV protection for additional eye protection.

Then, start a daily sunscreen ritual. Every morning before departing for camp, apply sunscreen liberally (most of us fail here) to all exposed skin. Send sunscreen with your camper every day, with instructions to reapply every two hours and after swimming.

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2. Proper fuel. Most camps keep kids on the move, so start the day with a hearty, healthy breakfast – a bagel with peanut butter and banana, low-sugar/high fiber cereal and berries, or poached egg on an English muffin with avocado. Pack healthy snacks like celery and almond butter or cheese sticks and grapes, and lunch that supplies the energy and protein kids need. Include whole-grains, protein (hard boiled eggs, hummus, black beans, lean turkey), fruits and vegetables. More lunch ideas.

What about drinks? Younger kids need at least 7 cups of water a day to stay hydrated; teenagers need 10-14 – more in hot, humid weather and when physically active. Skip or limit sugary options like soda and lemonade.

Cool tip: At night, fill a water bottle halfway and store it in the freezer. The next morning, top off the bottle and send it with your camper.

3. Tick talk. Summer is prime time for ticks, known to carry diseases like Lyme that are harmful to people and pets. Most Maine cases of Lyme are reported from May to July,* and deer ticks are the main culprit (see how to spot them here). To reduce the threat of tick bites for outdoor campers, apply tick repellent with 10% DEET or Picaridin to skin and clothing. After camp, do a thorough tick inspection each day, keeping in mind that ticks can be as tiny as a dot and may be mistaken for moles. Check the entire body, especially the scalp, ears, nape of neck, underarms, back of knees between toes, private areas, and between the toes. If you find a tick, remove it right away. Then thoroughly wash the bite area (and your hands) with soap and water or rubbing alcohol.

“Removing a deer tick carrying Lyme within 24 hours decreases the chance of Lyme disease to under 3%,” says Torah Tomasi, M.D., a Martin’s Point Health Care pediatrician. “Call your doctor if you have questions, especially if there is an area of expanding redness around the bite or if your child develops a fever or flu-like symptoms from one to three weeks after the bite.” Monitor the area for about 30 days – if a round of oval red rash develops around the bite, seek medical advice.

*The Maine CDC reported 1,395 cases in 2014 – and experts suspect only 1 in 10 cases were reported. 

4. Medication check. Camp policy about handling prescription and over-the-counter medications for campers varies. Well before camp starts, check with camp leaders so you have time to plan accordingly. This is particularly important for kids who rely on daily prescription medicines to manage chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes, and for kids with allergies. If you’re sending medication to camp with your child, make sure contains are clearly labelled with your child’s name and dosage instructions, your pediatrician’s name and phone number, and your name and phone number.

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5. Lice control. Lice. It’s the four-letter threat all parents want to avoid. Like school, camp can be an easy place for lice to spread. Your best defense is to make sure kids understand how to prevent lice from spreading:

  • Don’t let your hair touch another person’s hair.
  • Don’t share hats, uniforms, towels, hair ribbons, barrettes, elastics, or brushes.

If you think your camper has been in contact with another child or adult infested with lice:

  • Disinfect brushes or hair items. Soak in hot water (130°F+) for 10 minutes.
  • Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items worn or used during the two days prior to treatment. Use the hot water laundry setting and the high heat dryer setting. Anything you can’t put in the machine should be dry-cleaned or sealed in a plastic bag for two weeks.

Learn more about lice symptoms and treatment here.

Call on us!

If you have questions about keeping your camper safe, we’re happy to help. Just call your Martin’s Point Health Care provider and we’ll provide advice or set up an appointment as needed. Together, we can make it a summer to remember – for all the right reasons.