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.”

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?

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.”

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!

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.

Keep Pace All Winter with Indoor Walking

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

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

mpg_PHO_Blog_WinterWalking_0119_v1_3

MAINE

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

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

Fees: None

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

 

Mason-Motz Activity Center
190 Middle Rd., Falmouth

Walk the hallways and gym.

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

Fees: None

For more info: 207-699-5302
www.falmouthme.org/parks-and-community-programs

 

Kittery Community Center Walking Track
120 Rogers Rd., Kittery

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

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

Fees: $1 for non-residents

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

mpg_PHO_Blog_WinterWalking_0119_v1_2

The Maine Mall

364 Maine Mall Road, South Portland

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

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

Fees: None

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

 

Saco Community Center Gym
75 Franklin St., Saco

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

USM Indoor Track
43 Campus Ave., Gorham

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

Fees: $50/month

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

 

York Middle School Indoor Trails
30 Organug Rd., York

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

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

Fees: None. Registration required.

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

mpg_PHO_Blog_WinterWalking_0119_v1_4

NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

Mall at Fox Run
50 Fox Run Rd., Newington

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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.

DSC_6774
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.

DSC_6800
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.”

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

Learn the moves in Scarborough for free

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

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

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

Unique Maine Program Gives Pharmacists a Career Head Start

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

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

A range of experiences opens more doors

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

IMG_0512

“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.

IMG_0538

“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.

mpg_PHO_Blog_Bullies_1018_v1_3

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:

mpg_PHO_Blog_Bullies_1018_v1_4

“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.

mpg_PHO_Blog_Bullies_1018_v1_2

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.

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.

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.

mpg_PHO_Blog_BackToSchool_Part3_0918_v0_3

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.

mpg_PHO_Blog_BackToSchool_Part3_0918_v0_4

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.

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.)

mpg_PHO_Blog_BackToSchool_0818_v0_3

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.

mpg_PHO_Blog_BackToSchool_0818_v0_2

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.

mpg_PHO_Blog_BackToSchool_0818_v0_4

 

 

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.

mpg_PHO_Blog_LocalWalks_0818_v0-2

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.

mpg_PHO_Blog_LocalWalks_0818_v0-4

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.

mpg_PHO_Blog_LocalWalks_0818_v0-3

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!

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.

mpg_PHO_Blog_DogWalk_0618_v03

  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!

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.

Making Strides Walk2

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.