Good hygiene habits can be the most effective way to protect yourself from infection.
Wash your hands often with soap and water and cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue (and then throw it away). For extra protection, clean frequently touched items such as phones, keyboards, and doorknobs to help remove germs.
Exploring arts and culture is a great way to combat the winter blahs. You might be surprised to learn that it’s also good for your health – especially as you age.
More good news: This region is bursting with musical
performances and other cultural opportunities that won’t cost you a dime. You
just need to know where to go. We’ve made it easy, with a roundup of free
events throughout February near you. Which ones will you put on your calendar?
free for the month of February, making this the perfect time to explore some of
the special exhibits that celebrate Maine’s 200th birthday. Check
out The Frozen Kingdom: Commerce & Pleasure in the Maine Winter, to learn about
ice boating and the rise of local harvesters known as Ice Kings.
smaller scale, this museum is miles easier to navigate than its big-city
cousins. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find some gems to admire here. The
permanent collection includes an 1893 Winslow Homer painting, a 1912 Picasso
etching, and a William Wegman work from 1991.
Tues-Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. , ‘til 8:30 p.m. on Thursdays; Sundays noon to
Portland Conservatory of Music, Noonday Concert Series, Portland
a great time for a musical adventure. Get your toes tapping to the father-son
team of fiddler Ed Pearlman and pianist Neil. They’ll treat you to sounds from
Scottish and Cape Breton, influenced by other global styles. Later in the
month, enjoy a viola performance by Brianna Fischler and Elizabeth Moore. These
accomplished artists have extensive musical resumes, and both now live in
>Feb 20: Fischler and Moore, Feb. 20, 12:15-12:50 p.m.
Screening of The Iron Horse, Brunswick
Go behind the scenes with a
Bowdoin film professor to learn about Maine-born, Academy-award winning
director John Ford, noted for his Westerns. Then watch his 1924 silent film,
which traces the construction of U.S.
transcontinental railway and was selected by the Library of Congress for the
National Film Registry. This event is part of the town’s Longfellow
Days 2020 celebration.
of New Hampshire Department of Music Faculty Concert Series, Durham
melt winter’s chill with a four concert series performed by various members of
the UNH Music faculty. The series features a range of instruments from bassoon
to guitar, and includes classical and jazz performances, plus a chance to hear
original compositions by UNH’s own.
>Feb. 20; times and locations vary, all performances are on the Durham campus.
Art, Portsmouth Senior Citizens Center, Portsmouth
your creative energy flow, any Wednesday in February. If you’ve been working on
a project at home, bring it along. Or just start from scratch as you meet new
friends. Supplies provided.
>Feb. 19, 26, noon to 1:30 p.m.
Thursdays in the Café, Strawberry Bank Museum, Portsmouth
off your Thursday with a live acoustic performance at the museum café. February
artists include the alternative folk band Young Frontier, jazz players CJ Duo,
and the traditional Celtic group, Penhallow. As you listen, you can follow skaters
outside on the Puddle Dock Pond. Free parking in the Museum’s 14 Hancock Street
Endowment for the Arts. The arts and aging: Building the
science. (PDF, 2.3M)
Summary of a National Academies workshop, “Research gaps and opportunities for
exploring the relationship of the arts to health and well-being in older
adults.” February 2013.
Local Seniors use Tai Chi to Build Balance and Confidence
If your 79-year-old mother-in-law told you she was feeling steadier on her feet, able to focus more easily, and misplacing her keys less often, you might think she’d found a wonder drug. More likely, she’s discovered tai chi.
Throughout New England and all over the country, seniors are enjoying similar transformations, thanks to this ancient Chinese practice. Tai chi is helping seniors regain mobility, get healthy enough to stop taking some prescription medications, build balance and more. That’s no small victory, when you consider every 11 seconds, a U.S. older adult is treated in emergency room for injuries related to a fall.
What is tai chi? What does it do for you?
Rooted in self-defense, tai chi includes five original styles.
From these, countless offshoots have sprung up, ranging in nature from gentle
to vigorous. Most U.S. styles are health-oriented. Seniors tend to practice a
gentle, fluid style, where one movement – or form – flows into the next.
In southern Maine, Tai Chi for Health and Balance is a
popular option offered by the Southern Maine Agency on Aging. SMAA enrolls
about 300 seniors a year in this program. It was developed for the Arthritis
Foundation and backed by evidence of impressive benefits, including:
Better overall fitness
Better balance – as much as 30% improvement after three months
An increase in ability to move
More ease performing daily tasks
Increased strength and flexibility – as much as 15 to 20%
Fewer falls – one study reported a drop in fall frequency of nearly 50%, another, an impressive 70%
Tai chi also eases anxiety and boosts mood and energy level.
In New Hampshire, tai chi is part of a state-wide effort to reduce
falls among older adults. N.H. communities offer a program called Tai Ji Quan:
Moving for Better Balance,® developed by Dr. Fuzhong Li at the Oregon Research
Institute. Li’s approach has shown to significantly reduce both fear of falling
and risk of multiple falls in older people and people with Parkinson’s disease.
The program transforms martial arts movements into a series that improves
posture, body awareness, walking, coordination, range of motion in the ankles
and hips, and lower-body strength.
Easy to get started
You don’t have to be fit to begin practicing tai chi. You
don’t need special gear or shoes, just comfortable clothing that’s easy to move
in. Once you learn the basics, you can practice anytime, anywhere, though many prefer
the social aspect of an instructor-led group.
“We often hear from older adults who have tried tai chi and
other group fitness and gotten easily lost or frustrated – and they find
success with this approach,” says Anna Guest, Agewell Program Manager at SMAA.
More good news, there’s no awkward getting up and down off
the floor. All movements are performed standing – many can be modified to do as
you sit in a chair. There’s no jarring impact and movements are gentle and close to the
body, so even learners feel secure.
What’s it like to learn?
Geared for older adult learners, the 11-week SMAA beginner program
covers 12 forms or movements. Each movement has a name, for example, ‘brush
knee’ and ‘push the mountain.’ “Each
week, there’s a new form to learn. They build on each other week to week, like
stringing together flowing movements or learning a dance,” says Guest.
The “watch me, follow me, show me” method eases the class
into each new movement, breaking more complex flows into small pieces that help
you find success.
“We do everything in stages, and our teachers our excellent,
says Patty, 85, who takes Tai Chi for Health and Balance in Falmouth. “They are
so patient and make it all completely non-threatening.”
“Getting your hands and feet coordinated together can be
tricky at first, but we’re all trying together, and that makes it fun,” says
Marge, a Portlander also wrapping up her first session with Tai Chi for Health
and Balance. Her doctor recommended this class to boost her balance and relieve
Students are encouraged to supplement class work with
practice at home – even just 5 to 10 minutes on most days. “This way, you not
only build a habit, you’re incorporating movements into your muscle memory –
and getting regular activity,” adds Guest.
“Many participants take the introductory Tai Chi for Health
and Balance and then follow with a deepening workshop,” explains Doug Wilson,
SMAA Agewell Program Specialist and tai chi instructor. “They get comfortable
with the forms and learn the flow, then they move on to fine tune. Once you get
the forms down, you can quiet your mind and focus even more on the principles
of tai chi.”
When does the magic happen?
“Our instructors say it’s common to hear that new
participants feel improvements in balance and body awareness after just a few
sessions,” says Guest.
Charlotte, 78, from Portland, says that after 10 weeks, her
balance in noticeably better. “I feel mentally stronger, too,” she adds. “I
practice at home, too. I hate to miss a class.”
Several students have been so impressed with the benefits,
they’ve decided to become volunteer teachers themselves. Mac Hayden, a retired
banker, chose to get certified and volunteer because of the profound changes he
experienced through tai chi. “I have a handicap in my foot that tai chi helped
so much. And then there’s the sense of calming and the balance.”
Find tai chi near you
Ready to start feeling stronger and steadier, too? As you
explore tai chi classes, ask the instructor about his or her teaching style and
how he or she conducts class to help make sure it’s a good fit for you. These
resources can get you started:
Martin’s Point Partners with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Maineto make a difference in the lives of local children.
kid deserves a shot,” says Michelle Gallitto,
Martin’s Point Health Care employee. That’s why she shares an hour with her
‘Little sister’ at a Portland school every week.
Michelle volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Maine on a program that connects Presumpscot Elementary School and Martin’s Point Health Care to provide one-on-one mentoring to local children who struggle with school work, social challenges, or social issues.
Michelle has two young daughters of her own. “Even before I had my
own children I cared about kids. And I wanted to try to level the playing field
for some of them,” says Michelle, who has worked at Martin’s Point for six
Trusted allies, listeners, friends
“Time and attention are the common things our volunteers bring to the table,” says Jessica Dolan, BBBS program manager. “Each volunteer also brings special skills, traits and talents. A Big is a trusted ally or guide, a good listener, a positive role model, and a caring, responsible older friend.”
Littles come from a variety of socioeconomic levels, ethnic
backgrounds, family structures and locations. “While their backgrounds and
personalities are unique, every child can benefit from these one-to-one
friendships,” says Dolan.
“Growing up is tough,” says Martin’s Point
employee and volunteer Louise Neuts. “I still remember positive and negative
things people said to me as a kid – they can really stick with you and make a
profound difference in your life. I wanted to be able to make a positive
Louise began mentoring a third-grader in
January, 2019. She and her Little often make jewelry or draw. (“She is a
fabulous artist and I am not. She is teaching me,” chuckles Louise.) In spring,
they planted sunflowers and followed their progress. They talk about books they
“I’m pretty sure Harry Potter will be one of our books this year,” says the 13-year Martin’s Point veteran. “She is a great, great kid, a wonderful artist and a top-shelf reader. I love to see her face light up when she sees me.”
“I love to see her face light up when she sees me.”
Michelle started mentoring in April 2019, when she was paired with
a third-grader from Portland. They meet weekly in the school library during
lunch and recess to do crafts and play games. “She’s very imaginative,” says
Michelle. “I love her spunky energy.”
The big return
Volunteers undergo a fairly extensive screening process that helps
make sure they’re matched with students who have similar interests. After a 60-
to 90-hour training, they start weekly meetings with their Little Brother or Sister
that continue throughout the school year. The BBBS staff is always available
for guidance and support.
“We have great resources at BBBS and at the school, so if a kid drops something that feels heavy or a tricky issue comes up and you don’t know what to do, there’s help,” says Louise.
The benefits for Littles are many: making
academic strides, strengthening socioemotional skills, and steering away from
risky choices. “Helping our students grow in these areas can only strengthen our
greater community,” says Dolan.
Michelle participates because she cares about kids and wanted a
deeper tie to this community. “But really, it’s a win-win,” she says. When you
invest in them, they give back to you in so many ways, too.”
“It’s always a bright spot in my day,” adds Louise.
This doesn’t surprise Dolan a bit. “I commonly
hear from our volunteers how much more they get out of the program than they
originally believed they would,” she says.
Making it work
Both Michelle and Louise thought seriously about the commitment
before signing up – the last thing they wanted to do was disappoint a
youngster. And the Martin’s Point volunteer-paid-time-off
benefit goes a long way to help employees overcome the time hurdle.
“I would never have been able to do this
without my volunteer time,” says Louise. “We are all so busy. But Martin’s
Point really sees the benefits of volunteering for the community and for its
“It’s one hour a week,” says Michelle. “I schedule it on my calendar with a note not to book over it, and I protect it firmly. If I can make a small difference in this girl’s life, why wouldn’t I?”
Would you like to get involved? New mentors are welcome and needed! To learn more about volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters, visit their website:
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
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.
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.
Fall is here, and that means it’s time to get your annual
flu shot. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control recommend anyone over 6
months of age get vaccinated by the end of October. This way, your body has
time to develop antibodies it needs to protect against flu virus before the flu
“Get a flu shot now,” says Patrick Connolly, M.D., a physician at Martin’s Point’s Health Care Center in Portland. “The flu vaccine is not perfect, but it will make you less likely to get the flu, and if you do get sick, you are likely to get a milder case.”
Where to go for a flu shot
Martin’s Point Health Care patients can go to any MPHC location to receive a flu shot. Click hereto see walk-in flu clinic hours at our various locations or call your center and schedule an appointment. You also have the option to use the MyMartinsPoint® patient portal to make an online appointment.
Most insurance plans cover flu shots, but it’s a good idea
to double-check with your plan.
Get a complete list of flu vaccine locations by entering
your ZIP code with the CDC Vaccine Finder
tool (scroll down and look for the blue box).
Questions? Contact your primary care provider today!
Who thought a long thin boat was a good idea? Using a weird looking stick with a short, fat end to push yourself away from the land that provides you with a home and safety is just silly. And yet, this crazy idea has since developed into a widely popular and very fulfilling recreational sport: Kayaking.
For those who have never
kayaked before, or are hesitant to try it, there are many benefits to going out
on the water.
For the first time
paddler, kayaking may look intimidating. But kayaks are designed to be more
stable than other forms of self-propelled boats. In calm water, it is nearly
impossible to flip a kayak. With a little instruction and a proper life vest, you
can be safe on the water.
It benefits your health
Physically, kayaking can
be a full body exercise. In the process of paddling, you use your arms, back,
chest, core, and even legs to move the kayak. The best bodies of water to kayak
in have little current and no motorized boats. These provide glass-like water, allowing
the kayaker to control their pace. If you want to paddle hard, you can paddle
hard. If you want a break, you can take a break. On calm water, you can relax
while still getting a great workout.
The views are stellar
beautiful views that are hard to match. In this region, there are thousands of
lakes and ponds, all providing their own unique sights. In a minimally invasive
boat, you get a different perspective to these views. Looking at water is one
thing, but being part of the water and paddling through the beauty is amazing.
Kayaking provides a full immersion in nature that cannot be matched on land.
It’s easy to get started
Kayaking is a very easy
sport to pick up. If you’re a first timer, you can bring your boat to the calm
pond you drive by every day. If you’re someone with more experience, you can
put your boat in the ocean. With the versatility of the boat, everyone can
kayak. It does not matter the age or skill level, there is a body of water
perfect for everyone. “There are lots of different kayaks, made for people of
all levels of experience,” says Zack Anchor, owner of Portland Paddle and
certified kayak guide. “And there are
environments that are easier to go kayaking in.” If you feel anxious or
nervous, you can try a tandem kayak and go with someone who has experience. Age
and skill level does not matter, as there is a perfect body of water for
Kayaking is a great sport,
full of beauty and many benefits. When you get the chance, go out and explore the great bodies of water Maine has to offer.
“Helpful Tips for the New
Wear a life vest. Life
vests are required by law in many states, and are a great safety precaution.
Never paddle alone. It
is always smart to have someone with you.
Paddling is not a difficult sport to learn but getting a small amount of
instruction before going out for the first time can go a long way. Look for an
American Canoe Association (ACA) guide if you’re a first-time kayaker.
Find protected water. For
your first time, find a spot with land accessible from all sides, or stay along
Paddle where you are comfortable.
Don’t be too ambitious your first-time kayaking. Paddle where you feel safe. When
you become more comfortable, that’s when you can venture out.
Try different boats.
Kayaks come in all different shapes and sizes. Before buying your first kayak,
try out a couple of types to see which has the best feel.
About the author Ben Carey is an intern at Martin’s Point and a student at the University of Southern Maine. Ben has worked as a Kayak Tour Guide in Massachusetts and has experience working with new and experienced kayakers, teaching the skills and etiquette of being on the water. He likes to adventure, and hopes to meet you on the water!
It’s well known that walking in nature positively effects your
physical health, but did you know that it improves your mental health as well?
As many of us spend more time indoors, we increase our risk of developing mental
health issues, such as anxiety, depression, mood disorders, and other related
As New Englanders, we’re lucky to have an
abundance of nature right outside our doors. Our access to green areas, such as
mountains, lakes, and forests, provides us with the sort of natural sanctuaries
that other places may find rare. When you frequently spend time in nature, you
can experience a decrease in stress and anxiety, along with an increase in
“There’s the Japanese practice of “forest bathing” or shinrni-yoku which promotes the healing benefits of nature on mental health as well as physical health,” says Dr. S. Tyler O’Sullivan, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. “Of course, the mind and body are interconnected, so mental health and physical health are both key parts of our wellbeing. And the science is there. A study in 2015 showed improved blood pressure, heart rates, and lower levels of adrenaline after spending roughly an hour in nature. So, take some time and unplug. Go out in nature without your phone or camera and bathe in the soothing sounds – and lack of sounds.”
Take advantage of the cooler, late summer weather and explore the natural beauty that Maine and New Hampshire have to offer. Get out there, stay active, an promote a healthy mind!
Hiking this small trial will give you a break from the city.
You’ll find yourself surrounded by extensive woodland, salt marshes, and clam
flats. Of course, the trail is highlighted by its views of Maquoit Bay.
This is a great trail for all seasons, offering lush
greenery and a view of Tannery Brook in the summer, changing leaves in the
fall, and snowy paths perfect for snowshoeing in the winter. This is truly a
trail you’ll want to visit again and again.
Do you think the Greater Portland area only offers bustling
city life? Think again! The Littlejohn Island Preserve offers a peaceful,
non-industrialized look at the Greater Portland area. If you walk this trail on
a summer day, you’ll find beautiful wildflowers, ocean views, and quiet spots
to have a picnic. You could even see a bald eagle or a great horned owl.
While this trail may not be as secluded as some others, it offers a chance to experience a natural landscape for those in the Scarborough area who may not be able to travel or have a means of transportation. This loop-trail covers not only the cliff-walk, but Scarborough Beach and Ferry Beach as well. There’s no need to walk the entire trail at one time, though doing so would lead to a spectacular day of beach and cliff views of the ocean, as well sightings of piping plovers and sea plants.
There are over 2000 trails across Maine and New Hampshire,
so whether you want to make your nature walk part of a day trip or take a
relaxing trail walk in your local area after work, there is something for you.
Make time for yourself and your mental health.
Autumn Wentworth is from Lebanon, Maine, a small town on the New Hampshire border. She is currently attending the University of Southern Maine where she is completing her Bachelor’s Degree in English and Communication. When she is not in class or at her internship, you can often find her spending time relaxing and recharging through her exploration of local trails, mountains, and sanctuaries.”
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 Staff Participate in ADA’s Tour de Cure
On Sunday, June 9, the annual Kennebunks Tour de Cure took place at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm. The tour is an annual walk/bike event hosted by the American Diabetes Association, which raises money for diabetes research, advocacy, programs, and education. It receives strong support from the community and those passionate about improving the lives of individuals affected by Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
Martin’s Point offered support through employee volunteer efforts and a generous sponsorship. 11 employees participated in the event, either walking or biking while four others who volunteered at the Martin’s Point tent.
Together, we surpassed our goal, raising $3,072 in support of the American Diabetes Association.
Martin’s Point employees, Terry Keough and Heidi Fisher, have been attending the Tour de Cure for several years. When asked about her experience with the event, Terry stated,
“the Tour de Cure is a great cause to get behind. It makes me feel like I am making a difference in something that is so important and…it’s super fun!” Not only is this the Tour de Cure important for diabetes research, it also helps cultivate a sense of community. Heidi says, “I love the camaraderie that goes with participating in any company sponsored event…You always meet new people, and everyone is so friendly and encouraging. “It is a perfect way to spend a Sunday, represent Martin’s Point, get some great exercise and also raise funds for people with diabetes.”
Both es emphasized how the Tour de Cure not only serves as an opportunity to support the American Diabetes Association, but also as a chance to celebrate human connection. “It is a perfect way to spend a Sunday, represent Martin’s Point, get some great exercise and also raise funds for people with diabetes.”
Food insecurity is no small problem in Maine. One in five children don’t have enough to eat, and 950 adults in Cumberland and York counties alone need help getting enough meals. This month, Martin’s Point Health Care will donate $22,000 to ease food insecurity among seniors and children in Maine. The gift includes an $11,000 donation in continued support of the Southern Maine Agency on Aging’s Meals on Wheels program, which alleviates hunger and isolation among homebound seniors, and an $11,000 donation to Full Plates Full Potential, a collaborative effort to end child hunger in Maine.
The total amount of the donations has special significance, as Martin’s Point celebrates earning the #22 spot on Fortune magazine’s Great Place to Work® 2019 ranking of U.S. health care organizations. Martin’s Point was the only New England organization to break the top 25, with rankings determined by a survey of almost 730,000 U.S. employees.
“We owe our repeat spot on the Best Workplaces list to our employees’ commitment to sustaining a culture that respects and nurtures all of us, within our organization and in our community at large,” said Dr. David Howes, President and CEO of Martin’s Point. “In that nurturing spirit, our donations to local organizations focused on nourishing the most vulnerable in our community — seniors and kids — seemed like the perfect way to celebrate and thank our employees for their efforts.”
The funds will go a long way to help
feed those in need. “This
generous donation will allow us to provide 1,375 meals for seniors,” says Renee
Longarini, Nutrition Manager at Southern Maine Area of Aging, noting a recent
surge in local need. “We have more than 250 clients currently on our waitlist
to receive meals.”
“This donation will fund grants to help Maine public schools change their culture around food access and remove barriers, so every child that needs food can grow and learn,” says Justin Alfond, co-founder of Full-Plates Full Potential. “We’re honored to have support from Martin’s Point.”
Community support is an integral part
of company culture at Martin’s Point. Many employees are involved in a variety
of volunteer efforts, from helping young children learn to read to sharing time
with isolated seniors. Martin’s Point backs their generosity with paid time off
for employees to volunteer, charitable giving, and strategic partnerships with
community partners like University of Southern Maine, Southern Maine Agency on
Aging, American Heart Association, and American Diabetes Association.
For most of us, going to a conference is an opportunity to learn
from experts and trade notes with colleagues. For Martin’s Point employees
Bonnie Baker and Madeline Cate, it was also a chance to give back.
When the pair traveled to the Lean Enterprise Institute Summit 2019 in Houston this past March to learn about the latest in lean management, they stayed an extra day for a special session – a volunteer day, where 25 conference goers helped rebuild homes for people still struggling with the fallout of Hurricane Harvey.
Unique benefit makes
volunteering easier, here and away
Many Martin’s Point employees take advantage of their volunteer-time-off (VTO) benefit, which gives employees 24 hours of paid-time-off to give back to their local communities each year. But Bonnie, Vice President of Martin’s Point Management System, and Madeline, Administrative Coordinator, put their “community-first” mindset in action 2,000 miles away.
“Without the VTO benefit I never would have signed up,” says Madeline.
The volunteer day let attendees see where the rubber meets
the road in lean management. SBP, the nonprofit in charge of the rebuilds, has
been working with Toyota’s production people to slash work time and kick up the
number of rebuilds they finish each month. The results are impressive. Their
efforts have cut 66 days from the rebuild process – a 33% improvement in
Harvey victim gets a fresh start
Madeline and Bonnie rolled up their sleeves at the home of
Houston resident Miss Nellie, whose house was flooded with two feet of water in
August 2017. With help from AmeriCorps members, SBP staff do everything from
demolition and mold remediation, to installing insulation, drywall, flooring,
and trim, and painting.
“It was tough physical labor sanding concrete and painting walls,
but it felt really rewarding to accomplish specific tasks, and to know Miss
Nellie was that much closer to being able to return to her home,” said Bonnie.
“We felt really grateful to have the volunteer time benefit and to
be able to contribute in a way that is very different from our work in an
office environment,” Madeline added. “Seeing the effect of a major
disaster in person and being part of the recovery every was really humbling.”
“It was surprising how much damage there still is when you realize that Hurricane Harvey happened back in 2017,” said Bonnie. “That’s a long time to be staying with family and friends and to be without a permanent home, especially for an elderly person.”
Colorectal Cancer: Skip the Excuses and Schedule a Screening Today
I’m too young. I dread the prep. I have no family history.
Whatever your reason for avoiding getting screened for colorectal cancer (CRC), it’s not good enough. CRC is one of the most preventable and curable types of cancer. And that’s a big deal when you consider it’s the number two cancer killer in this country.
A cancer we can catch – and cure
Colorectal cancer, found in the large intestine or colon and/or rectum, is more common than you might think. Risk is highest among those age 50 and up, and as you age, your risk climbs. In 2015, 263 people in Maine and 195 people in New Hampshire died of CRC. That year, 1,263 new cases were diagnosed in these two states alone, say statistics kept by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Data shows the needle is slowly moving as medical providers urge more Americans to get screened. From 2014 to 2016, 3.3 million more people were screened for colorectal cancer – a 1.1% increase over prior years. Trouble is, in the 50- to 75-year-old crowd, more than 25% have never been screened, and another 7% are behind schedule. All in all, that means about one-third of adults in the target age group are vulnerable.
How does screening save lives?
Screening stacks the deck in your favor two ways. One, it allows doctors to identify and remove polyps – growths that shouldn’t be there and may become cancerous – before they do any harm. Two, if cancer is found, doctors can treat it right away. That’s important because the sooner cancer is treated, the better the chance for a cure.
“When patients say they’ll wait to have a screening until they have symptoms, I let them know that it’s usually too late to prevent a treatable cancer,” says David Stressler, M.D., a family physician at the Martin’s Point Health Center in Biddeford. “I’m here to answer questions and offer reassurance. My goal is to perform a thorough screening and make their experience with safe and comfortable.”
Testing and timing: Key if you’re age 50 to 75
Health care providers also point out that there are many types of screening, and some are less invasive than you might think. Some tests can even be done at home by taking a stool sample and then sending it to a lab for testing. Others need to be done in a doctor’s office. This includes a flexible sigmoidoscopy, where doctors use a wand to see the inside of the rectum and lower part of the colon. A colonoscopy works the same way, but allows a view of the entire colon. Doctors also sometimes use virtual colonoscopies to capture and review the images they need.
If you’re approaching or over age 50, talk with your doctor about the right screening test for your situation. “I’m here to answer questions and offer reassurance,” adds Dr. Strassler. “My goal is to perform a thorough screening and make your experience safe and comfortable.”
Keep in mind that although these tests are important for everyone between the ages of 50 and 75, some people have an elevated risk and may need testing earlier or more often. This can apply if you have:
Already had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer – or one of your close relatives has.
Inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
Genetic conditions like familial adenomatous polyposis or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that without a family history, you don’t have to worry about CRC. Most cases happen in people with no history of this cancer in their family.
Learn more, schedule a screening
Now that you’re out of excuses, why not call right now? Find the number for the Martin’s Point Health Care Center nearest you here. Or, learn more by visiting The Centers for Disease Control or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636); TTY, 1-888-232-6348.
March is flying by – and that means it’s time
for Maine Maple Sunday
Hampshire Maple Weekend, on March 23 and 24. Whether you have a
sweet tooth or you just need a reason to celebrate the end of winter, this is
an event you won’t want to miss.
Maple syrup producers all over the northeast – like the Lloy family of Balsam Ridge in Raymond, Maine – are getting ready to share the taste of spring and all they know about this famous New England confection.
Michelle Mulcahy has been welcoming Balsam Ridge visitors in a bright red maple leaf costume on Maple Sunday for six years. As Martin Point’s manager of member services, she knows a thing or two about treating people right.
“Balsam Ridge is family-owned and run,” explains Michelle. “We all look forward to maple Sunday all year long.”
The farm is owned and operated by Dewey and Sharon Lloy, whose daughter Nicole works at the Martin’s Point Health Care Center in Portland. Her husband, Steven Brooks, also works at Martin’s Point as a sales associate. Both will be helping out this weekend. While Michelle, does the meet and greet, Nicole and Steven will be at the griddle, flipping pancakes.
If pancakes don’t tempt you, never fear: “The
maple whoopie pies and other snacks are out of this
world,” says Michelle.
Find a sugarhouse near you!
Ready to get out this weekend and celebrate
this sweet tradition? Use these links to find locations, directions, and more:
Homelessness and addiction are problems that are all too real in Maine. Milestone Recovery’s mission is to provide the best quality of services to empower individuals with substance use and behavioral health disorders to attain stability, dignity, recovery and an enhanced quality of life. Martin’s Point employee, Ryan Ciriello, shares what being able to support Milestone Recovery through board service means to him.
Erica True is making life a little less lonely for a housebound Maine senior – right from her desk at Martin’s Point Health Care in Portland. As part of a volunteering program called Phone Pals, the administrative coordinator sets aside work for 30 minutes twice a week to chat by phone, helping a 79-year-old woman stay linked to her community.
Phone Pals – an offshoot of the Meals on Wheels program operated by the Southern Maine Agency on Aging (SMAA) – began providing deeply needed social interaction and companionship to housebound seniors served by Meals on Wheels in 2018.
“Phone Pals allows seniors to stay independent and stay in their home for as long as possible,” says SMAA Phone Pal Volunteer Coordinator Deb Baginski. “Many of our clients rely on this interaction to engage about family, health, wellness, world events and more.”
For volunteers, it’s a convenient way to contribute from work or home. “Phone Pals fits my schedule perfectly,” says Erica. “It’s easy to find 30 minutes on the phone versus driving somewhere to participate and coordinating work and family life around that.” Jordan agrees: “I can use my break time or volunteer time to connect with Carol with very little effort.”
Eleven of the 46 Phone Pal volunteers are Martin’s Point employees. “We’re in constant contact with Martin’s Point, connecting them to Meals on Wheels clients and discussing how to grow and develop these new relationships,” says Adam Seigal, SMAA Volunteer Services Supervisor. “The Martin’s Point staff is great at keeping communication open. They send us new people, and check in to see how current staff are doing. It’s obvious they care not only about their employees, but also how they engage with community members.”
Can a phone call make a difference?
“There’s a lot of loneliness out there,” notes Jordan Ouellette, a Martin’s Point recruiter who has been volunteering with Phone Pals since last November. Jordan talks with Carol, 71, for about 45 minutes every Friday. Carol is largely stuck at home while her husband is in a nearby care facility.
“I do a lot of listening,” says Jordan, who helped deliver meals to seniors during college, and wanted to keep contributing in a similar way. “Carol has a great memory, following up on events we’ve talked about the week before.”
“I like to hear what she’s lived through, and even though we’re at different stages in life, we find surprising things in common – places we’ve been, experiences we’ve both had.”
A boost for senior and volunteer alike
“I love my time with Carolyn and making a difference in her day,” reflects Erica, who says the pair talks about everything from pets to how much their babies weighed at birth. “When I learned she grew up on a farm in Orrington, I asked if I could send her photos of our horse, dog, and the calf we’re raising,” That got them off and running.
Erica also keeps a journal to help her keep track of what they discuss from week to week. “I know I get as much joy out of my time with Carolyn as she does,” she says. “I’m incredibly fortunate to work for an amazing organization that offers its employees paid time off for volunteering in the community, supports growth development and enhances the lives of its employees.”
“Seniors have great stories to share,” adds Jordan. “I’m thankful for what they’ve done in their lives – and they aren’t always reminded of that. It’s nice to be there for someone and be reminded each week how important the little things are.”
Connecting with Phone Pals
Volunteers are well prepared for their roles, with a comprehensive four-hour training provided by SMAA. “You get a heads up about anything you might encounter, from dementia to politics,” says Erica. Volunteers are matched with seniors on the SMAA list, and then the two agree on a mutually convenient time to chat.
Ready to make the call? Learn more about Phone Pals and Meals on Wheels here, and if you’re interested in volunteering, please send an email to email@example.com or call SMAA’s volunteer coordinator at 207-396-6595.
When it comes to your health, getting the right level of care—where and when you need it—is key to keeping you AND your budget in tip-top shape. Having your own Primary Care Provider, or PCP, to guide your care is the most important step you can take to make sure you’re well-connected to all the health resources available in your community.
If you don’t already have a PCP, now is the time to get one. Here are five reasons why:
Having a PCP takes away worry. It’s no fun searching for a doctor when you’re convinced you have strep throat at 2 a.m. Or wondering who to call when you wrench your ankle playing ultimate frisbee. With your own PCP, you’re always ready to get the care you need, with one call. And as you get to know your PCP, you’ll also appreciate the comfort talking to someone you know – and who knows you – about personal matters you may feel awkward discussing with a doctor you’ve just met.
Your PCP is trained to be your medical quarterback. PCPs are specially prepared to care for you with broad knowledge in internal or family medicine that covers a range of situations. It’s your PCP’s job to get to know you, your medical history and your family medical history, so he or she can provide proper preventive care and screenings, and care for you when you’re ill or injured.
Your PCP connects you to care. From a nagging cough to a swollen knee to concern about a heart condition that runs in your family, your PCP is the place to start. If you need more specialized care, your PCP can provide referrals to cardiologists, podiatrists, allergists and other specialists.
Your PCP can help translate complex information. If you need specialized care, it can be challenging to understand test results and other information about your diagnosis and medications. You can count on your PCP to answer your questions and direct you to additional resources.
Your PCP helps you stay healthy. PCPs keep you on top of important screenings like blood pressure and cholesterol checks that help check serious illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. Regular conversations about your weight, whether you use tobacco or alcohol, and how you cope with stress also play a role. And if you develop a chronic condition, check-ins with your PCP can help you manage symptoms and live the life you want to lead.
The Husky Grads of 2019 Class Gift Campaign will raise funds for the Student Emergency Fund to unlock a $20,000 matching donation from Martin’s Point Health Care.
The USM Foundation’s first student-focused fundraising campaign kicks off March 1 with a challenge to this year’s graduating class: Raise at least $2,019 to support the Student Emergency Fund by May 8 and Martin’s Point Health Care will make a $20,000 matching gift to the fund. The Student Emergency Fund is a new USM initiative designed to help students who face sudden, unanticipated expenses that threaten to derail their ability to stay in school and finish their degrees.
Martin’s Point Health Care, a long-time partner with the University, views access to higher education as a necessary component of a healthy community. According to Steve Amendo, vice president for marketing and community engagement at Martin’s Point, “The Student Emergency Fund is a smart and effective way to help financially vulnerable students persist in their studies. We’re excited to support future USM students and energize student engagement for the class of 2019 with this challenge.”
“We’ve seen students who are so close to finishing their programs drop out because their brakes fail and they can’t make it to class,” said Nancy Griffin, USM’s vice president for enrollment management and chief operating officer. “A small grant from this fund can make an enormous impact if it enables the student to remain in school.”
USM student Gabrielle Lenotte exemplifies the urgent need for the Student Emergency Fund. She recently faced a financial emergency when the government shutdown forced her dad into an unpaid furlough just as she was preparing to purchase textbooks for her spring classes. “After receiving my final list of classes for the spring, I realized how expensive my books were going to be. I knew my parents were under financial strain because of the shutdown so I reached out to one of my professors because I wouldn’t have my books in time for class.” Lenotte received a Student Emergency Fund grant and was able to start her classes — with books — on time.
The University of Southern Maine Foundation is working with members of the senior class to conduct the 2019 Husky Grads Class Gift campaign, which uses crowdfunding to make it easy for anyone to participate. Students may donate or raise money for the Student Emergency Fund on their own or enlist friends, family and other supporters to help raise funds.
Donations of $2.19 or more to the Student Emergency Fund will earn students a Class of 2019 pin; donations of $20.19 or more earn students a pin and a USM Foundation philanthropy cord to wear at Commencement. Even faculty planning to attend graduation can help support the cause and earn a USM Foundation philanthropy cord.
Josephine Elder ’19, USM student member of the Class of 2019 campaign planning committee, said, “This campaign matters to us because it’s a way to help students who are coming up behind us. The more we can raise, the more students will be helped in the years to come. It’s a legacy the Class of 2019 can be proud of — plus, it’s a challenge so you know we will more than meet our goal!”
The 2019 Husky Grands Class Gift campaign runs from March 1 through May 8. On May 9, during the President’s Senior Class Champagne Reception, Martin’s Point and USM President Glenn Cummings will announce the results of the campaign.
University of Southern Maine
Situated in Maine’s economic and cultural center, the University of Southern Maine (USM) is a public university with 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students taking courses online and at campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn. Known for its academic excellence, student focus and engagement with the community, USM provides students with hands-on experience that complements classroom learning and leads to employment opportunities in one of the nation’s most desirable places to live.
When you stop to chat with an elderly neighbor as you pass her house, you’re doing much more than being friendly. You’re boosting her health. How? It turns out that social connections with neighbors, friends and family play a significant part in overall health. But seniors generally have fewer opportunities for these nurturing exchanges than most adults – with dire consequences.
The startling impact on health and well-being
It might surprise you to learn that social isolation can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. In fact, researchers have found links between isolation and all sorts of health problems, including dementia and Alzheimer’s, and chronic conditions like heart disease. Adults who are socially isolated are two-thirds more likely to undergo further physical decline; and nearly twice as likely to die2 than those who stay linked to others.
Experts call the situation an epidemic for American seniors. With more citizens over age 65 than any other state but Florida1, Maine’s situation is especially severe. But there’s good news, too. Because each one of us has the power to make a difference. And the best way to start is with a little background information.
What’s behind the isolation epidemic?
Seniors get cut off for a number of reasons – and there’s often more than one factor at play for each situation.
Transportation challenges. Many seniors can no longer drive, and/or face limited or no options for getting out and about.
Poor health. A myriad of issues from hearing loss to arthritis to injury from falling to depression keep many seniors cooped up.
Major life transitions or losses. Retiring from work, the death of a spouse, and caring for a sick or aging spouse can all remove or severely limit socialization and connections for seniors.
Lots of rural areas. Eleven of Maine’s 16 counties are considered rural.3 The populations here have higher percentages of seniors, who also face the additional challenges of poverty and poorer health than Mainers living in more populated areas.4
“Senior loneliness is something that we are concerned about year round, but particularly during the cold, dark winter months of New England. Often, the discomfort of the cold and fear of walking or driving on ice and snow limits the mobility of the elderly population. This leads to further isolation, which is already a concern for many. This often leads to feelings of depression and anxiety and can manifest in so many ways, both physically and mentally. This time of isolation also results in limited activity or exercise and can lead to falls and pain from arthritis. Many seniors often have limited funds for food and heat and can have to deal with cold homes with little to eat. We should all take the time to think what we could do for those less fortunate than ourselves.”
– Brad Huot, Martin’s Point Practice Medical Director, Portland Health Care Center
Here’s where you come in
Social isolation is complicated. But small steps can make a big difference in the lives of seniors near you and benefit your community as a whole, too.
In your neighborhood:
Start by simply being aware of your senior neighbors and looking for ways to connect. When you meet on the street, say hello and introduce yourself.
_ Ask a neighbor to go for a walk or have coffee.
_ Offer to deliver groceries, take trash to the curb, or shovel snow.
_Host a simple neighborhood coffee or potluck.
_Keep your radar up for elderly neighbors who may become vulnerable after losing a spouse or partner.
_Check on vulnerable neighbors during bad weather, power outages, and the like. In big neighborhoods, you might join other neighbors and set up a system so no one’s left out.
In your community:
_Volunteer at your local senior center.
_Ask nearby assisted living facilities about opportunities to socialize or share a meal or a game with residents.
_Help seniors learn about cell phones, social media, Skype, and other technology that can help them stay in touch through your local library, school, or community center.
_Ask staff at your church about providing transportation, meals or companionship to seniors in your area.
Make sure the medicines you take can do the job they’re meant to do, with answers to the questions we frequently hear about managing prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, supplements and vitamins.
Q. Three people in my house take medication regularly. My mother visits a lot, and she takes five medicines. How can we keep them straight?
A. Start by keeping a master list of medications for each person in your household. Each list should include all medications, vitamins and supplements each person takes, along with the following:
• The name of the medicine or supplement
• What the medicine is for
• The name and phone number of the healthcare provider who prescribed the medicine
• How much to take and how often
• A brief description the medication, including color, shape and markings
• Side effects to watch for
• What to do if a dose is missed
• Who to call if there’s a problem.
Keep these lists up-to-date and make sure a family member has copies.
Q. How do I know it’s safe to take my medicine with another medicine?
A. “Medications can be complicated. Understanding how your medicines work with other medicines and your body is important for safety and effectiveness,” says Rebekah Dube, Vice President of Health Plan Clinical Programs at Martin’s Point.
Always ask your healthcare provider and/or pharmacist before you take any new medication, and make sure he or she is aware of other medications you’re currently taking, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as vitamins and supplements. Also, make your healthcare provider or pharmacist is aware of all of your medical conditions.
Q. How can I remember to take my medicine?
A. If you’re taking multiple medicines on different schedules, it can be hard to keep track. Providers offer these tips:
• Use a calendar or planner. Record each dose as an appointment, then check it off as you go.
• Set an alarm to remind you when to take medications.
• Post reminder notes in obvious places – by your coffee maker or on your nightstand, TV, laptop or refrigerator.
• Use a pillbox with multiple compartments for different days of the week.
Q. How should I store medications safely with children in the house?
A. More than 60,000 young children a year need emergency care for poisoning after taking medicine intended for a parent or grandparent. Take these critical steps to protect children:
• Store all medicine up high, out of reach and out of sight of children. Remember kids are climbers – a locked cabinet may be the safest option.
• Return medicines, vitamins and supplements to their safe storage places immediately after taking or administering it – even if it’s a medication you or someone in your home takes multiple times a day.
• Ask for child-resistant caps for medicine containers whenever possible.
• Think of all the other places kids could find medicines – like a backpack, purse or coat pocket, or in the room or pocket of a visiting relative – and store them safely.
• Post the number for Poison Help Line – 800-222-1222 – in an easy-to-find place and add it to the favorites on your cell phone.
Q. My cabinet is full of old medicine bottles and jars. How should I get rid of the ones I don’t need anymore?
A. The best way to dispose of medicines is through a take-back program. You can find out about these events and collection sites through your police station or pharmacy, or by searching the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration website (just enter your ZIP code). If this isn’t an option, some medications can be thrown out with trash after they are mixed with cat litter, dirt or coffee grounds and sealed in a plastic bag. Note that the Food and Drug Administration recommends that medicines on this list be flushed down a toilet instead of thrown out – a practice that also raises concerns about contamination and environmental impact.
Q. Does Martin’s Point have pharmacies? Where are they?
A. Yes! We have two pharmacies open for all – one at our health care center in Portland, Maine, and one at our center in Portsmouth, N.H. Stop by for competitive pricing on the highest-quality, most effective brand-name and generic drugs. We also stock many popular over-the-counter medications.
Call with questions or refill a prescription 24-hours a day:
• Portland pharmacy: 1-888-408-8281
• Portsmouth pharmacy: 1-800-603-0562
Q. Who should I call if I have a question about medication?
A. “Understanding your medications is an important part of staying educated about your healthcare and managing your health,” says Dube. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call or visit your healthcare provider or pharmacist and get the information you need.
Martin’s Point Health Care– like many enterprises nationwide– faces some hard truths as they look at the information technology (IT) landscape. Finding qualified candidates to fill open IT positions can be a challenge and building an IT team that can leverage the benefits of diverse perspectives can be even more difficult. In response, efforts to promote diversity in IT training and hiring are gaining ground across the country—and employees at Martin’s Point are working hard to push that effort along in Southern Maine.
Over the past year, a group of Martin’s Point IT staffers has teamed up with a Southern Maine Community College program called ESOL to IT. The program’s goal is to help immigrants find gainful employment in their chosen field– information technology – here in Maine while feeding qualified candidates to Maine businesses that need IT support.
Jim Vernier, Manager of IT Service Operations at Martin’s Point, had been in conversation with SMCC about the ESOL to IT program just as his department’s team was looking for a new project.
“We had already started a talent pipeline with SMCC to help manage our Help Desk, so we had that experience to build on. Plus, I knew the IT department was passionate about increasing team diversity. It seemed like the perfect fit.”
Bridging cultures, creating opportunities
Along with Vernier, Charlie Chandler, business intelligence reporting analyst; and Molly McKechnie, clinical informatics analyst are key players from Martin’s Point, supported by a team of ten other IT staffers. Chandler and McKechnie prepare and present lessons to the ESOL to IT learners, demystifying the American workplace, explaining what to expect in the hiring process, and conducting mock phone screens and interviews.
Most SMCC participants in the ESOL to IT program are asylum seekers between age 30 and 45—with extensive education and work experience—though some are younger. They devote three hours of training, four evenings a week to English-language learning, job-readiness training, plus professional networking, job shadowing and IT education.
The SMCC learners come from across the globe, from Afghanistan to Burundi to Haiti. All have either a strong IT background or high aptitude for IT work. The program received 105 applications for the first 20 spots, with future candidates lined up and eager to start.
“Most every learner I’ve met has the quality, skills, and passion I’d want to see to hire them, but they have huge gaps in verbal communication, which is critical,” says Vernier.
“Some of these people know every coding language you can think of and speak as many as five languages,” adds McKechnie. “Communicating in English and learning our culture are their biggest barriers.”
Beyond building technical and communication skills, simply interacting with American volunteers adds an intangible that’s equally valuable in putting the newcomers more at ease. “Sometimes learners get isolated in their own communities,” explains David Zahn, ESOL and Global Language Chair at SMCC. “Work-readiness lessons and experiences help them understand the people they might work with, relieving a lot of apprehension.”
New perspectives, new solutions
With the long-term goal of reaping the benefits of a more diverse IT workforce—not just for Martin’s Point, but for the state—McKechnie and Chandler realize change won’t happen overnight. “Our results might be 10 or 15 years out, but it’s worth the time and effort,” says McKechnie. She and Chandler have experienced working in different parts of the country—McKechnie in Atlanta, Chandler in Chicago—and they’ve experienced the value of bringing a variety of views to the table.
“Considering different perspectives makes everybody stronger,” says Chandler, noting that a diverse group is more likely to present solutions that don’t all look the same. “It’s hard to put a value on it,” he adds, “but it changes the way you think and solve problems.”
During a mock phone screen, Chandler asked one learner to tell him about his least favorite job. The answer surprised him: “I don’t have a least favorite because every job offers something to learn from and makes you better.”
“That’s the kind of new perspective diversity can bring,” says Chandler. “And it leads to new approaches and solutions.”
Keeping the IT pipeline primed
Unemployment in Maine is low, and our workforce is aging. Nearly half of Maine’s private workers are age 45 or older. Fast forward 20 years and at least 40% will be at or past retirement age. “We simply have to grow this pool [of workers] to keep business running,” says Charlie.
It’s no small thing to have a hand in shaping the future of your team and your company. “We’re really engaged with the SMCC program, and we want to keep it that way,” notes Jim. “We get to add our vision and guide the future by shaping the programs.”
Chandler sums it up best. “It’s a feel-good story, it’s the right thing to do, and it solves a business problem.” Who could ask for more?
Martin’s Point physician, Dr. Roy Nakamura, reflects on his experience as a volunteer guardian and chaperone during a recent Honor Flight Maine trip to Washington, DC.
Honor Flight Maine is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s Veterans for all their service and sacrifices. Transportation is provided to Washington, D.C. to tour, experience and reflect at their memorials. Top priority is given to our most frail veterans – terminally ill veterans of all conflicts and World War II survivors.
It’s cold and the ground is rock-hard, but it’s still easy to find fresh local vegetables to make winter meals tasty and nutritious. Popular in summer, farmers markets are now thriving through the colder months, too.
They’re stocked with plenty of produce, like cranberries, beets, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celeriac, garlic, kohlrabi, onions, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins, squashes and sweet potatoes. Some vendors even deftly outfox winter by growing fresh local greens indoors.
In addition to bounty from the garden, many markets also feature live music, tasty baked goods, and wares from local artisans – all in warm, dry spaces out the elements. Check our listings and get to a winter market near you!
1) Berwick Winter Farmers’ Market
Includes fresh greens and produce from eight local farmers and much more.
Every third Sunday through April 15, 10 am to 1:30 pm
Vaping is one of the most significant threats to the health of today’s teens. That’s even more troubling when you consider its growing popularity. Nationally, vaping rates among high-schoolers jumped by 78% from 2017 to 2018, and by 48% among middle-schoolers, according to USDA reports.
As of late November, more than 15% of Maine high school students had used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. The true percentage is almost certainly significantly higher, reports Becky Smith of the Portland American Heart Association chapter. That’s because many teens don’t count using the popular devices called JUULs (pronounced “jewels”) as e-cigarettes.
What is vaping?
Vaping is using an e-cigarette or other battery-powered device to heat a liquid. E-cigarette liquids – or e-liquids – typically contain nicotine, glycol, flavors and sometimes more or different ingredients. Heating this liquid creates an aerosol or vapor instead of smoke, which the user inhales and exhales.
Most popular among teens, JUULs are closed-system devices that include attaching a cartridge or pod filled with e-liquid. There are also open-system e-cigarettes, which are filled with e-liquid by hand with a squeeze dropper.
Why teens vape
Not only do teens misunderstand the risks of e-cigarettes, they are notoriously curious. Many are drawn to try vaping by friends or family members. Others are lured by enticing flavors. One study found more than 80% of first-time e-cigarette users started out with a flavored product. And with options like mint, blueberry pie and pink balloon – plus advertising on the social media sites frequented by this age group – there’s no doubt marketers are targeting teens.
The trouble with vaping
Vaping devices were originally designed to help smokers wean themselves off cigarettes. Ironically, they come with an entire new and equally troubling set of risks.
More nicotine, more addictive risk. A single JUUL pod has as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes, which means it doesn’t take long to become addicted to vaping.
Teen brains are especially vulnerable, because their brains are still developing.
Academic impact. Experts like Sarper Taskiran, M.D., from the Child Mind Institute report that teens who vape have more difficulty focusing, and get easily distracted by cravings.
Health impact. Recent studies flip the misconception of vaping as safe, reporting that it damages lungs and immune system cells – just like smoking tobacco. Others note vaping also increases heart and blood pressure.
Gateway to tobacco. Studies show teens that vape tend to move on to smoking cigarettes. One study of non-smoking high school seniors who had recently begun vaping found that one year later, students were four times more likely to say they’d smoked cigarettes that seniors who had not tried vaping.
Hard to spot. With small, colorful, slick devices and virtually no telltale odor, vaping can easily escape adult detection – even in the classroom.
What parents can do
Education is your first line of defense. When you have your information straight, your child is more likely to listen and respect your concerns and expectations. “Know that the language varies by product for vaping, dabbing and juuling,” notes Torah Tomasi, M.D., a Martin’s Point Health Care pediatrician.
“I often start by asking whether a child or teen knows someone at home or school that has used e-cigarettes,” says Tomasi, who makes it a point to ask the question during office visits. “Ask your child what he or she would do if someone asked them to try vaping. This can lead to conversation about whether the teen has experimented or is using regularly, and creates opportunity to offer care and guidance.”
Listen to your child’s point of view to build trust and signal you value his or her input. From here, it’s tempting to think you’ve covered it. But substance use is a topic to revisit on a regular basis. Tell your child to expect check-ins and more conversations and remind her you’re willing to listen to talk anytime.
If you notice shifts in your child’s mood or the peers he spends time with, check in right away. Don’t hesitate to talk with your pediatrician if you have concerns. Nicotine addiction is a serious issue that can become a lifelong problem, but there are health professionals who can help teens overcome it.
Martin’s Point Health Care has announced that its US Family Health Plan has been named one of the highest-rated health insurance plans in the nation. The plan is a TRICARE Prime® option that covers over 46,000 active-duty and retired military families throughout the Northeast.
The National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA) has awarded the health plan a 4.5-out-of-5 overall rating for Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont as part of its Private Health Insurance Plan Ratings for 2018-2019. The plan also earned an “Excellent” (ME) and “Commendable” (NH, VT, NY, PA) accreditation status from NCQA.
NCQA uses measures of clinical quality (HEDIS®) and patient experience (CAHPS®) and standards from the NCQA Accreditation process to annually rate over 1,000 health plans (over 90%) across the country. Measures include:
Management of chronic disease
Prevention and wellness efforts, including recommended screenings and immunizations
Access to quality primary and specialty care
Quality of member experience
“This recognition from NCQA underscores our commitment to providing the highest-quality care for our US Family Health Plan members,” said Dr. David Howes, Martin’s Point Health Care President and CEO. “We are especially proud of our 5-out-of-5 rating for the “Consumer Satisfaction” measure, as it reflects the dedication of our service team, as well as our network providers and hospitals, to deliver an excellent health care experience for our military families.”
ABOUT MARTIN’S POINT HEALTH CARE
Martin’s Point Health Care is a not-for-profit organization, based in Portland, Maine, providing primary care and health insurance plans. It operates seven Health Care Centers in Maine and New Hampshire and offers Medicare Advantage insurance plans in Maine and New Hampshire and TRICARE® insurance plans in northern New England, New York and Pennsylvania. More information is available at MartinsPoint.org.
National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations and recognizes clinicians in key clinical areas. NCQA’s HEDIS® is the most widely used performance measurement tool in health care. NCQA’s Web site (www.ncqa.org) contains information to help consumers, employers and others make more informed health care choices.
CAHPS is a registered trademark of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.