Martin’s Point Health Care Is Maine’s First Recipient of New Rapid COVID-19 Test

We received the very first Maine shipment of the newly developed rapid COVID-19 tests. The new test offers results in minutes, rather than the days required by current tests—a critical step in helping curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

We have added the rapid tests to our existing tests at mobile testing sites at our Health Care Centers in Portland and Brunswick beginning Monday, April 6. We have requested to receive 1000 Abbott tests per week, significantly increasing the availability of testing to our patients.

At this point, COVID-19 testing is available to established Martin’s Point patients only, although we are accepting new patients seeking a new primary care provider. Testing is available by appointment only for those meeting medical criteria.

Keeping Your Body and Your Brain Active

Adjusting to the New Normal

As challenging as it can be to stay home and keep six feet or more apart from anyone outside of your household, it’s the right thing to do to prevent the spread of covid-19. If you’re starting to climb the walls, we hope these suggestions bring some relief.

Get out of dodge, virtually. If you have Internet access, the world is still your oyster. Some of our favorites:

African safari. Cool footage of lion families, bathing elephants, graceful giraffes, playful monkeys, stealthy hyenas, and more.

Wonder wall. Remarkable panoramic views of the massive Great Wall of China, which stretches a mind-boggling 3,000 miles. 

Art walk. A virtual tour of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris that brings master works by Cezanne, Renoir, Van Gogh to your living room, courtesy of Google Arts & Culture.

Get your game on. It’s entertaining – and good for both brain and body.

Get out. Fresh air is an unbeatable elixir. If you have a yard or other space where you can stay safely distanced – that’s 6 feet or more from people who don’t share your home – go throw or kick a ball. Play tag. Otherwise, get on your bike. Go fishing. Take a walk. Sidewalks are still open, as are many trails at smaller preserves and conservation spaces. Search alltrails.com for locations, and keep in mind this site may not have the latest information on access. Please, do your part by heeding all posted signs.

Expand your board game. When you get tired of conventional games, connect with family or friends via a digital platform like Zoom or Google Hangouts. It adds a whole new dimension to games like Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble.

Take the time to bake. Pull out that recipe book or go online to find something fun to bake. Try something new, involve the kids, or bring back some memories with an old family favorite.

Relive the best of the best. Missing live sports? Relive celebrated moments in football, hoops, hockey, and more with this 28-minute compilation.

Reach out. Everyone needs social connection. And aside from Facetime and the like, it’s the next best thing to being there.

Make a call. Once a day, ring up a friend or relative you haven’t talked with lately. It’s comforting for both of you, and it can be a great distraction to revisit happy times and fond memories you’ve shared in the past.

Write letters. It’s a terrific lift to get something in your mailbox that’s not a bill or an advertisement. Make someone’s day by sending something – even a brief hello – the old-fashioned way. Check out the TouchNote app for your phone and send personalized postcards without leaving your couch.

Craft some cards. Grab whatever you have around – magazines, catalogs, stickers, paper scraps, gift wrap – and make your own. It gives your creative brain something to chew on, as well as a treat for friends, neighbors and relatives.

Got a great way to help fill a long day at home? Add your comments below. And stay safe, everyone.

Volunteers Reach Out by Phone to Keep Seniors Connected During Tough Times

As coronavirus continues to upend normal life, many seniors are feeling more isolated. Enter the Southern Maine Agency on Aging (SMAA) Phone Pal program. Launched in 2018 as an offshoot of Meals on Wheels, Phone Pals pairs community volunteers with home-bound older adults to share critical social interaction and companionship by phone.

Currently, 39 Meals on Wheels clients in southern Maine have Phone Pals. Since the program was relaunched in May 2018, it has been a boost to 60 older adults in all.

Now those connections are more important than ever. “Adding the impact of COVID-19 increases paranoia and feelings of isolation as personal interactions and resources dwindle,” says Cindy Williams, Volunteer Project Manager at SMAA. “Our Phone Pal volunteers check in on their well-being, ask important questions to help manage uncertainty, and tell stories and jokes. It’s essential that our clients feel important and protected.”

In addition to helping seniors, the program gives community members a way to give back at a time when people are looking for ways to help.

One Pal’s perspective

Erica True is one of five Phone Pal volunteers who are also Martin’s Point employees. “This program is extra valuable during this unprecedented time,” says Erica, who has been a volunteer for more than a year. “It gives me an opportunity to listen to the perspective of my Phone Pal, share stories about our families, and focus on the positive things in life. We talk about the craziness of the world, but the positivity we share is uplifting.”

“Prior to the virus outbreak, my Phone Pal and I were connecting every other week. Now we’re talking every week.”

Erica and her Pal found a lot in common from the start, from motherhood to a love of animals. They share stories and photos and talk about world events. “This is one of the greatest parts of my life,” says Erica. “My children know about my Phone Pal and ask how she’s doing and if I’ve checked in with her. It’s a wonderful avenue to offer a senior in the community.”

How to find a Phone Pal

If you’re a Meals on Wheels recipient and you’re interested in finding a Phone Pal, just tell the person who brings your meal – or call SMAA at 207-396-6525. Volunteer Services will get the ball rolling, starting with taking time to match you with a volunteer that shares your interests.

How to become a Phone Pal Volunteer

It’s as easy as reaching out to SMAA, participating in a short training, and getting your match. To keep everyone safe, Phone Pal training is moving to a webinar format – new dates are coming soon. To learn more, send an email to  volunteer@smaaa.org or call 207-396-6525 talk to the SMAA Volunteer Services staff.

Give it a try! For many, it’s the start of a beautiful relationship.

Shopping Information for Older Adults

How can you avoid contact with others and stay stocked up on food, medicines and other essentials? Many stores and pharmacies are taking extra steps to help, with special shopping hours, home delivery, and more. See what might be helpful for you:

CVS

Offering free delivery for prescriptions and everyday essentials. In some locations, orders are delivered in just one hour. Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Learn more and find a store.

Hannaford

Stores open early on Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. only for shoppers age 60 and older and anyone else identified as high-risk. Regular hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Hannaford-to-Go online ordering and curbside pickup is not available right now. Find a store near you or call 800-213-9040.

Market Basket

Open early for customers age 60 and over from 5:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Regular hours: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Find a store or call 978-851-8000.

Rosemont Market & Bakery

Offering curbside pickup and home delivery with a $10 fee and a suggested minimum order of $35 from all six markets: Brighton Ave. Portland, Munjoy Hill Portland, West End Portland, Falmouth, Yarmouth and Cape Elizabeth. Call your local market or use the online ordering form (details and form here). Hours vary by location.

Shaws

Offers grocery delivery, pharmacy delivery, curbside pickup, and special hours for seniors, as well as contact-free delivery for those with a fever or flulike symptoms. Special hours for seniors and those at risk: Tuesday & Thursday: 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Regular hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Offering free same-day and next-day pharmacy deliveries, and free pharmacy mail deliveries until May 1. Find your nearest store. Customer support, 877-258-2799.

Trader Joe’s

Seniors get special treatment and first priority every day from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Crew members will be on hand for extra help as needed. Regular store hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Local stores include Portland (207-699-3799) and Portsmouth (603-431-2654), learn more.

Walgreens

Special hours for customers 55 and up on Tuesdays from 8 am to 9 am. Regular hours, 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Seniors can also pull up to the drive-through and shop during regular hours. Walgreens also offers free shipping with no minimum order required. Learn more or call800–925–4733. Find a store.

Walmart

Offering a special shopping hour for seniors on Tuesdays, time to be determined. Some locations offer in store pickup, home delivery, and pharmacy services. Regular hours: 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Find a store. Customer Service: 800-925-6278.

Whole Foods Market

Opening one hour early for customers age 60 and up. In Portland, seniors only from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., with regular hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Amazon Prime members can order groceries for pickup or free home delivery. Call 844-936-8255 for more.

Did we miss any? Please feel free to let us know.

How Older Adults Can Stay Socially Connected

Being isolated from family, friends and community can have its own negative impact on your health. With our new normal of social distancing to avoid exposure to Coronavirus and reduce the spread of COVID-19, isolation and loneliness are now a concern for even more older adults. We hope these suggestions can help you stay connected.

Plan to talk or chat regularly. Set up a schedule to connect with family members and friends so days don’t go by without contact. Many senior use email or online platforms like Zoom and Skye to keep in touch. If you don’t have Internet access or aren’t comfortable with those platforms, use the phone. Getting mail from a friend always feels good, so send a card or letter to someone you’d like to correspond with – and look forward to a reply.

Think beyond phones and laptops. All over the world, people are finding creative ways to connect. In Italy, urban dwellers open their windows to sing each evening. At a retirement community in Maine, residents open their apartment doors at 5 p.m. to greet hallmates from a safe distance and enjoy a quick catch-up. Who knows what you might come up with?

Get advice from other seniors. Many have sound advice and savvy tips to share. Jean Potuchek, a retired sociologist and college professor, blogs about her experience as a single senior. Find her insights here.

Move your book group, knitting club or bridge group online. Keep in touch virtually, with a Facebook group or a Google hangout.

Be prepared for downtime:

Read. Dust off a book you’ve been meaning to start. Join Audible or another digital audiobook provider. Some offer free audio downloads. LibriVox has titles that are no longer under copyright. Free Audiobooks is a free app for Apple users. Lit2Go has audiobooks formatted for MP3 players. (If you like to read, LibriVox is looking for volunteers to record more books. Learn more.)

Do yoga. It’s a great way to stay calm and strong. Try this gentle 28-minute sequence designed and led for seniors, or our own 58-minute session for older adults who are more comfortable practicing from a chair.

Learn. The Senior College at USM Lewiston-Auburn is offering free online courses for adults 50 and up. Topics range the artists of Mohegan to the world of baseball, and include single session and multi-week formats. Classes meet via Zoom – and you can join a free hour-long online workshop to learn how to use this platform Send an email laseniorcollege@gmail.com or call 207-753-6610 for more information.

One final tip: Avoid the temptation to follow the news all day – it can be upsetting and add even more stress. Try tuning in once or twice a day instead.

Do you have an idea that might help another senior connect with others? Share it below. We’re all in this together!

COVID-19: Advice and Information for Older Adults

With constant news about the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s hard to know what information matters most. We’ve gathered the following guidance to help adults age 65 and older stay calm and safe.

Know your risk level. Older adults are more likely to become more seriously sick with the COVID-19 respiratory illness than younger adults, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Why is your risk higher? Our immune systems change as we age. This simply makes it harder for our bodies to cope the challenge of disease. Aging also makes the lungs more vulnerable to this particular illness. Finally, older adults may have other health conditions like heart disease, lung disease or diabetes that can make it harder to fend off and recover from COVID-19.

What can you do to protect yourself?

Practice good hygiene:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, and sneezing.
  • Use a hand sanitizer containing 60% or more alcohol if you can’t use soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you’ve washed your hands first.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with tissue and throw it in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces you touch often – like doorknobs, phones, counter tops, sinks and toilets. Use soap or detergent first, then disinfectant.  
  • Stay home if you are sick.

Avoid others.

  • Stay 6 feet – about two arm lengths – or more away from anyone who is sick.
  • Stay at home as much as possible. Cancel any travel that is not essential.
  • If you must go out, avoid crowds. Limit close contact. Wash your hands often.

Plan ahead.

  • Make sure you have access to several weeks of medications, nonperishable food, and supplies in case you need to stay home for long periods and to limit trips out as much as possible.

Get a flu shot.

  • Seasonal flu is still a real concern. If you haven’t received a seasonal flu shot for the 2019-2020 season, call your health care provider and make arrangements. 

Beware of scams. Unfortunately, some are using this situation to tout false cures via email, and some are even claiming to be sending this information from the CDC. There are no cures or treatment for COVID-19 anywhere – do not trust or respond to these emails. Instead, trust information from reliable sources, including:

  • The Maine Centers for Disease Control: website; phone: 800-821-5821.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): website.

If you are sick

If you are sick or if you’re worried about COVID-19 and an underlying condition you have: Call your health care provider for advice.   

There’s no doubt these are difficult, uncertain times, and we want to do all we can to help you through it. Keep an eye out for more information the upcoming days and weeks, and we wish you good health.

Sources:

CDC:

Four Ways to Stay Healthy During Flu Season

With coronavirus reports flooding the news, we can all use a few reminders about how to prevent influenza, or flu, of all kinds.   

  1. Get a flu vaccine – even now. Flu season is in high gear, but it’s not too late to be vaccinated. If you or a family member hasn’t had a shot for the 2019-2020 season, call your primary care physician today and make an appointment. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this is the most important step you can take to prevent flu.

  2. Wash your hands – and don’t be slap-dash about it. Follow the CDC-approved method:wet, lather with soap, scrub for at least 20 seconds, rinse, dry – and repeat often. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use a hand-sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and rub your hands together for at about 20 seconds or until the gel dries. Don’t eat, or touch your eyes, nose or mouth without washing your hands first.

  3. Cover up. Sneeze or cough into a tissue, throw it away, then – you guessed it – wash your hands.

  4. Stay away from sick people – and stay away from others if you are sick. Symptoms to watch for: fever (not always present), chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuff nose, body aches, headaches, feeling tired, vomiting and/or diarrhea (more common among children). Make sure you are fever-free for 24 hours (without the help of ibuprofen or acetaminophen) before you go back to work or school.

If you think you might have the flu and you’re not sure what do to, call your doctor. That’s what we’re here for!

Martin’s Point to Join Nationwide Pilot Promoting Successful Aging

Martin’s Point Health Care has been chosen as one of six organizations nationwide to pilot a community-based Successful Aging Creativity Circle. This is one of two pilots occurring in Maine (the other is being conducted by Healthy Peninsula in the greater Blue Hill area). Additional pilot projects will take place in Metro Chicago and New York City.

The Successful Aging Creativity Circle is a program from The UnLonely Project, the signature initiative of the Foundation for Art & Healing (FAH). FAH was founded by Dr. Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH, and was started as a creative arts trauma-recovery program for 911 survivors and military veterans. The UnLonely Project seeks to raise awareness and reduce stigma around loneliness and social isolation, and develop programming to foster connection.

The goal of the Successful Aging Creativity Circle pilot is to test a program designed to help older adults manage a variety of age-related challenges, such as making friends as we age, finding ways to feel resilient, keeping the brain and body healthy, managing stress, and taking time for self-care.

Using a support-group model, the program offers 10-12 participants weekly meetings over a seven-week period, where they engage in facilitator-led sessions that offer an innovative blend of mindfulness, creative arts expression, and social-emotional learning. These three components combine to help participants share personal experiences and reflections, gain skills, and feel more connected to themselves and others.

The pilot take place March 18 – April 29 at the Community Center at the Martin’s Point Scarborough Health Care Center. Snacks, drinks, and materials will be provided.

If you are interested in participating, you are welcome to join the pilot!  

For more information or to join this opportunity to get connected and be part of a fun and innovative nationwide project, please contact community@martinspoint.org or call 207-253-6351.

Finding the Right Volunteer Role

If your kids have flown the nest or you’ve quit the five-day working world, you might be thinking about volunteering. That’s smart, because as much as you have to offer, you also have much to gain. Volunteering gets you involved, helps you develop new relationships, and creates a way to share your valuable experience. New research also suggests volunteering can improve your health.

Consider before you commit

But before you say yes to the first opportunity that comes your way, think about these key factors to set yourself for an experience that fits you – and the people you’re helping.

The why. Why do you want to volunteer? To add more to your life? For companionship? To give back? Write your reasons down – you’ll probably have more than one – and stay true to them.

Strengths & passions. Think about what you enjoy and care about, whether it’s accounting or reading, a healthy environment or healthy kids, your local neighborhood or the broader community.

Time. Know how much time you want to give each week, and whether you’re ready for an open-ended commitment or a short-term project. To avoid burnout, be realistic. At the Southern Maine Area on Aging – where volunteers give 4 or fewer hours a week – only 28 of 571 stepped down early last year.

Location. Do you have transportation? How far are you willing to travel? Even if it’s not easy for you to get out, you might still have options. “Some of our Phone Pal volunteers who check in with housebound seniors once a week by phone are housebound themselves,” notes Mary Hadlock, who coordinates 500-600 volunteers a year at SMAAA.

Combine your key ingredients

Now you can begin to pinpoint roles that might work. Here’s how it all came together for one Maine volunteer:

“I knew I wanted to connect three things: literacy, my immediate community, and children,” says Debbi Thomson, 81, of Brooksville. “Each one is meaningful to me, but combining them is even more powerful.” She found her place in an after-school reading program at her local library. Four years later, she’s still a Monday-afternoon regular and has followed the same student from second grade to fifth.

Get the details and start smart

Once you have your eye on an opportunity, there’s just a bit more to do to make sure the fit is right.

Ask questions. Make sure you understand the group’s mission. Talk to current and past volunteers. Talk to the person who will be your primary contact. Be clear about your responsibilities. Ask about training to help you get up to speed.

“You might decide that after time, you want to progress or try something different, so ask if the role has room for growth or change,” notes Hadlock.

Take a test run. Shadowing a current volunteer or starting on a trial basis gives you a chance to make sure the role is right without the risk of leaving someone in need in the lurch if it doesn’t work out.

“Meals on Wheels has a list of seniors waiting for services, so it’s essential that we keep our volunteer roster full,” says Hadlock.   

Finding your match

With your homework done, you’re ready to explore opportunities and get to the good part – giving back.

A few resources to get you started: Serve.gov, VolunteerMatchidealist.orgPoints of LightAmeriCorps, Create the Good, and United Way.

Schedule Your Mammogram Today

Due for a Screening? Schedule Your Mammogram Today

In the United States, one in eight women will develop breast cancer. Put another way, every two minutes, one American woman gets this diagnosis. That’s when timing really counts. Because the sooner breast cancer is found, the better the chance for successful treatment. And that’s why mammograms are so important.

Getting regular mammograms – a low-dose X-ray – is a key step in breast cancer detection. “Routine mammograms help to detect breast cancer at an earlier stage, when it is smaller and more localized,” says Smita Sonti, M.D., who practices family medicine at Martin’s Point.

This is especially true for those women age 50 and 70, when the benefits are highest. Mammography images allow doctors to detect changes in tissue like lumps, tumors and tiny calcium deposits that can’t be found with manual exams. 

Know your screening routine

Because breast cancer risk increases with age, the recommendations for getting mammograms are different for women of different ages. Not all experts agree on when to start, but here are three common scenarios:

By age 40: Start annual mammograms.

Age 45: Start annual mammograms.

Age 50: Start mammograms every two years.

Know your options

Three-dimensional imaging is a relatively new alternative. This technology provides additional detail that can lead to more accurate evaluations. Evidence shows that 3-D mammography:

  • Detects 20-65% more invasive breast cancers than 2-D mammography.
  • Results in 40% fewer call backs.

How to keep it on your radar

It’s easy to let the months slip by and forget to schedule. Try using an important date in your life to help you stay on track. “Many of my patients use their birthday as a reminder to schedule this important screening exam,” says Dr. Sonti.

Or just call today!

Get this important screening on your calendar today. Then reach out to a friend, sister or cousin and remind her to do the same – because early detection saves live.

Martin’s Point offers both 3-D and 2-D breast imaging at two Maine locations:

  • Brunswick at 74 Baribeau Drive (207-798-4050)
  • Portland at 331 Veranda St. (207-828-2402)

Check with your insurance carrier to see if they cover 3-D mammography before you make an appointment.

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 30th! 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

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The Maine Mall

364 Maine Mall Road, South Portland

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

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

Fees: None

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

 

Saco Community Center Gym
75 Franklin St., Saco

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

USM Indoor Track
43 Campus Ave., Gorham

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

Fees: $50/month

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

 

York Middle School Indoor Trails
30 Organug Rd., York

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

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

Fees: None. Registration required.

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

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NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

Mall at Fox Run
50 Fox Run Rd., Newington

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

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

More info: 603-431-5911
http://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.

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

Aging doesn’t have to bring you down

At Martin’s Point, we want seniors to know their stories can be different – with balance training. Balance training keeps you steadier, builds strength, and reduces risk for injury – as 73-year-old Patricia Sipos of South Portland knows firsthand.

“I’ve had a few falls – one of which landed me in the hospital with a concussion and a hematoma the size of a grapefruit,” says the Martin’s Point’s US Family Health Plan member from South Portland. Then Pat started attending the All About Balance class at the Martin’s Point Health Care Center in Scarborough in March of 2017. “I haven’t fallen in a year,” she says, adding that she’s also able to safely enjoy favorite activities like camping and gardening again.

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

Building balance, one hour at a time

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

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

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

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

Learn the moves in Scarborough for free

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

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

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

Unique Maine Program Gives Pharmacists a Career Head Start

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

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

A range of experiences opens more doors

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

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

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

Teaching, caring, managing and more

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

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

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

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

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

Time out for Maine fun

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

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

Pharmacy Services at Martin’s Point

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