If you put just one item on your health to-do-list this month, it should be to get a flu shot. This is the most important step you can take to protect yourself from the flu. Last year, Maine saw its worst flu season in five years, according to a May report in the Portland Press Herald. With more than 9,000 reported cases, numbers were up a whopping 55% from the previous season.
“Getting the flu vaccine not only protects you, but also those in your life that are more vulnerable. Influenza kills thousands every year and is very preventable. It results in so many missed days of work and school and is miserable to get for everyone! Influenza is already here this year, so get your vaccine now. “
– Brad Huot, MD (Portland Health Care Center)
When is flu season? The season typically peaks between late November and the end of March.
That said, it’s ideal to get vaccinatedby the end of October, say officials from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control. It takes two weeks for your body to develop the antibodies that will safeguard you against the flu, and you want to be ready when the flu reaches your Maine community.
Who should get vaccinated? Everyone older than six months.
Where can you get vaccinated? Martin’s Point Health Care patients can go to any MPHC location to receive a flu shot. Click here to see walk-in flu clinic hours at our various locations or call your center and schedule an appointment. Please note: Most insurance plans cover flu shots, but it’s a good idea to double-check with your plan.
CVS pharmacies also provide free flu shots, and you can see a complete list of flu vaccine locations with the Flu Vaccine Finder on the CDC website (when you’re on the site, scroll down and look for the purple box).
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.
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.
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.
It’s National Nurses Week, and we’re raising our stethoscopes to the modern-day Florence Nightingales at Martin’s Point Health Care who do so much to inspire their patients to get and stay healthy. And, at Martin’s Point, nurses find many ways to practice their art of healing.
“Martin’s Point is unique in that we provide both direct primary care and health insurance plans, so our nurses play different roles, depending on the line of business,” says Dr. David Howes, President and CEO. “Whether they’re providing clinical care to our patients or managing the care of our health plan members, their work is essential to our mission of improving the health of our community.”
At the seven Martin’s Point Health Care Centers in southern Maine and Portsmouth, NH, our nurses are members of integrated clinical care teams. They collaborate with primary care providers (PCPs) and staff to work at their highest professional level, providing patient-centered care and education to 79,000 patients.
As a provider of Medicare Advantage plans for older adults and TRICARE Prime® plans for military families, Martin’s Point also serves over 90,000 health plan members in northern New England and beyond. Nursing counterparts on this health plan side support members with complex chronic conditions, helping them navigate our health care system and develop skills to manage their health.
Care and trust pay big dividends
Spearheading several innovative care management programs, Martin’s Point nurses provide close medical support and develop trusting relationships with their patients—efforts that pay huge dividends for patients in terms of health outcomes, experience, and cost containment.
One such program helps patients smoothly pivot from hospital to home or rehab. Population health nurses work with recently discharged patients to reinforce new treatment plans and medications, update medical records, engage resources like Meals on Wheels, and coordinate PCP follow up. Their work helps speed recoveries, reduce duplicate testing and treatment, and prevent hospital readmission.
Providing care and hope when it’s needed most
In the Comprehensive Care Program (CCP) and Integrated Care Connection (ICC) program, population health and care management nurses partner with patients and health plan members who struggle to manage multiple chronic conditions.
“We help determine what is most important to our Generations Advantage members, and then support them over the long run to achieve those person-centered goals,” explains Sharon Foerster, CCP director. “With the patient and their PCP, we identify care needs and coordinate specialty and social services to help members stick with their treatment plans and learn about preventing reoccurring symptoms.”
“In the end, it’s about giving patients the tools they need to succeed,” says population health nurse Christina Schoenberg, RN, BSN, CCM. “The most essential thing we do is see each patient as a whole person, truly listen and learn what’s important to them.”
And, for many patients who may have given up on ever feeling better, it’s about restoring hope—a driving force in motivating patients to actively engage in their health. In the simple, but powerful words of an ICC program participant, “This program makes me feel like somebody cares.” And that somebody, undoubtedly, is a Martin’s Point nurse.
This article originally appeared in the Portland Press Herald.
Only 54% of U.S. women know heart disease is the leading killer of women in our country, causing one of every four female deaths. Here in Maine, stroke occurs more often than in any other New England state. “Women should stay vigilant for new or different symptoms – including those that seem minor or vague,” says David Ghiorse, a physician assistant in Martin’s Point Health Care’s cardiology department. Learn the facts and share them with the women in your life.
KNOW THE CAUSES, LOWER YOUR RISK
Tackling heart disease calls for a one-two punch. First, learn the factors that increase your risk. Then work with your health care providers on steps to rein it in.
Don’t smoke. When it comes to heart disease, smoking is even more deadly for women than it is for men. If you smoke, quit. If you don’t, don’t start. Need help getting smoke-free? Start here.
Know your blood pressure readings. New national guidelinesmean that nearly twice as many women from age 20 to 44 now have high blood pressure. If you’re not sure what your numbers are or what steps you should be taking, talk with your provider.
Keep a healthy weight and stay active. Carrying excess weight stresses your whole body – including your heart. Staying active controls your weight and keeps heart strong. Find one (or several) types of exercise you enjoy, and aim for 30-45 minutes of continuous exercise, three to five times of week. “Make your goal at least 150 minutes total every week” says Ghiorse. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, decrease fat and salt, and cap alcohol at one drink per day.
Keep diabetes on your radar. Like smoking, diabetes puts women at higher risk for high blood pressure than it does men. Ask your provider if you should be tested. If you’re positive, be a stickler about management.
Find healthy ways to handle stress and depression. Research shows this is especially important for women. Yoga, meditation, walking and staying social are all effective strategies; your provider can share advice, too.
Don’t think you’re too young. Heart disease is not just for seniors. All women should be on watch, particularly if heart disease is common in your family.
Additional risk factors for heart disease for women include:
Too much alcohol.
Menopausal hormone therapy/menopause.
Certain birth control methods.
High blood pressure and/or diabetes during pregnancy.
KNOW WHEN TO ACT – AND DON’T DELAY
A heart attack can be the first sign that a woman has heart disease. And women are notorious for brushing aside symptoms and until harm is already done. That’s why it’s so important to know and heed these warnings:
Chest pain. Most women experience pain, pressure or tightness in the chest. It could be severe. It could be mild. It might not show up at all.
Pain or uncomfortable sensations in the neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdomen.
Difficulty breathing normally.
Pain in one or both arms.
Nausea or vomiting.
Lightheadedness or dizziness.
Unexpected weakness or fatigue.
“Even healthy women develop cardiovascular disease,” emphasizes Ghiorse, so trust your intuition and don’t ignore these signs. Call 911 for emergency medical help if you’re experiencing these symptoms, and don’t try to drive to a hospital unless it’s your only option.
TEAMING UP FOR HEALTHY HEARTS
Should you need cardiovascular care, the cardiology team at Martin’s Point Health Care is ready to help, from consultation and testing to state-of-the-art treatment. Learn more here.
Now that you know more about women’s heart health, help us spread the word. Share this story with your friends and family – they’ll thank you, from the bottom of their hearts.
This year Maine, like many other states, has been hit especially hard with flu cases. According to a recent Portland Press Herald article, 531 new cases of influenza were reported the week of January 15th, 2018 and many were of a more severe type.
Here are some simple habits you can practice to stay healthy during flu season.
1. Avoid close contact.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
2. Stay home when you are sick.
If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
3. Cover your mouth and nose.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
4. Clean your hands.
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
6. Practice other good health habits.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
7. Get a Flu Shot (It’s not too late). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
“I strongly advise getting the flu shot this year. The flu vaccine is not perfect, but it will make you less likely to get the flu, and if you do get it, you will likely get a milder case. The flu is all around us, but it is not too late to get vaccinated. A flu shot now may also make you less likely to get the flu next year too”, adds Dr. Patrick Connolly, MD from Martin’s Point’s Health Care Center in Portland.
“The single greatest advance in medicine in the last 50 years are immunizations. Diseases such as measles, small pox and pox, which used to have devastating effects and killed or crippled millions of people, have been effectively eradicated thanks to vaccines. Protect yourself, protect your loved ones, protect your neighbors. Get vaccinated today!” – Dr. Patrick Connolly, MD
Visit the CDC website for more information on the Flu and You.
The Scarborough Economic Development Corporation’s Board of Directors has selected Martin’s Point Health Care Center in Scarborough as their 2017 Project of the Year. The purposefully-designed space was opened in January 2017 and offers patient-centered care with primary and integrated specialty services and a dedicated space for seniors. The nearly 18,000 square foot facility has 10 Primary Care providers and 30 employees.
Martin’s Point approached the site with care and worked in collaboration with Town of Scarborough staff to ensure it met the community needs. In partnership with the Town of Scarborough, Southern Maine Agency on Aging, Maine Strong Balance Center, The Center has been able to provider 34 senior lunch events, 74 senior drop in days, 34 Bingo sessions, 19 Tai chi classes, 4 balance classes, 15 yoga sessions, 6 living well for better health and 4 Vet to Vet volunteer meetings.
“The board was unanimous in its selection of Martin’s Point because of many factors. They went above and beyond our expectations and have become a huge community supporter,” says Karen Martin, SEDCO Executive Director. “They took a site that was struck by a devastating fire and transformed it into a beautiful facility for our entire community to enjoy”.
As the largest Medicare Advantage plan in Maine, Martin’s Point is an expert on the needs of local seniors and created this space as a place for seniors to gather, socialize, and engage in healthy physical activity and lifelong learning.
“Nowhere is our deep commitment to senior health more evident than in our decision to include a Community Room,” said Steve Amendo, Martin’s Point Director, Marketing and Communications. “Underscoring the community’s need, our Scarborough Health Care Center Community Room has been booked solid with weekly senior lunches, drop-in social hours, bingo, tai chi and chair yoga classes, and educational workshops promoting healthy lifestyle habits.”