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EMHS taps into homegrown talent

Pathways-Side-Bar-(1).jpg“EMHS will only be successful with our ambitious goals if we have excellent leadership at all levels of our organization,” EMHS president and CEO, M. Michelle Hood, FACHE, told a room full of eager employees, the first group of EMHS ‘POD people.’

September 26 marked the kickoff of the first annual EMHS Professional and Organizational Development Program (POD). This new program, in partnership with Husson University, provides selected employees an opportunity to develop professional skills while earning education credits. Comprised of two separate groups, one for current leaders and the other for employees aspiring to leadership positions, each group receives a tailored curriculum to maximize their experience.
Brian Van De Water, RN, BSN, nurse manager in Mercy Hospital’s Fore River Surgical Unit, is part of the leader group and continually looks for ways to improve and grow his skills. “I’m a new manager and crave more experience and knowledge because I have high standards—I want to get it right.”

This 12-month program includes online participation and group projects submitted by system senior leaders. “Each class is a great cross-section of our system. We have participants who are clinical and non-clinical from all over EMHS, putting our minds together to help solve the system’s toughest issues,” said Shane Perry, APR, web content administrator in the Office of System Communications.

Gina Bowden, an accounts receivable support analyst in EMHS’ Patient Account Services, sees the program as a chance to look beyond her department. “The system is so large—I’d like to understand the big picture and where we’re headed.” Gina’s cohort will learn about everything from system branding and project management to innovation and career development. “I think this program will give me the tools to build my knowledge and the confidence to determine where I want to go in the future at EMHS.”

DSC_0095.JPGCatharine MacLaren, PhD, LCSW, CEAP, and EMHS vice president of Talent and Diversity, and co-creator of the program, is excited for employees to have this resource available. “EMHS relies on talented and inspiring leaders to help us achieve strategic goals—we need a skilled, engaged community. I’m very encouraged by these groups and the great things they will achieve.”

Click here to see a list of the selected class of 2017-2018.
Check back in with Pathways throughout the year as we follow each class through their journey!

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Employees climb mountains and circle the earth

20170916_110506-(1).jpg152—it’s no small number. That’s the number of times you would have to walk around the earth to match the number of steps EMHS employees have walked since the start of the Virgin Pulse health program in January 2016. Employees have tallied up more than 20 billion steps and counting! They’re not just walking down hospital corridors or on walkways around buildings, but up mountains.

“This is the second year we’ve done this hike,” explained Paul Bolin, EMHS vice president and chief human resources officer. Paul led a group of about 20 employees on a fall hike up Penobscot and Sargent Mountains in Acadia National Park on September 16.

“It’s one of our favorite hikes my wife and I take, so we thought we could share the experience with people who may not have hiked Acadia before or who have not spent time hiking as a physical activity outlet in the past.”

Paul is among a group of employees who not only chooses to exercise in their free time, but likes to involve co-workers. “I think it is part of our culture. Many of our employees enjoy doing things outside of work with their co-workers and this is just one outlet for that, but certainly Virgin Pulse puts a finer point on those regarding wellness initiatives,” explained Paul.

Total Health wellness specialist, Elizabeth Clayton says that one of the reasons Virgin Pulse is so successful is that the program was designed to include community support. “The beauty is people often have a hard time exercising or making other healthy changes on their own. When there is a set up for community interactions, with families included, you provide the supportive environment needed to be successful.”

The intention behind Virgin Pulse is to help employees make the health and wellbeing improvements they already want to make. Financial incentives and community support are compelling ways to help people begin to make lifestyle changes. “Every day we’re taking walks together and challenging each other. It just gets rolled into our lifestyle,” Elizabeth said. “And along the way, as you advance through various levels and track your healthy habits, you are able to earn up to $500 per year!”

Less than two years since its launch, roughly 70 percent of all employees have signed up for Virgin Pulse along with 26 percent of known spouses for a total of more than 8,300 people. Over the course of 2017, participants have averaged about 8,100 steps per month. The goal for the fourth quarter is to get those steps up to 8,600, edging ever closer to the legendary 10,000 steps.

“We get a lot of feedback on the impact EMHS’ wellness programs have made in people’s lives,” said Elizabeth. “We’re so fortunate to have these opportunities in our workplace.”

The Virgin Pulse program is available to all full and part-time employees and their spouses/domestic partners. Spouses and domestic partners are eligible for the same cash rewards. For more information on how to join, visit


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Technology keeps patients where they want to be most

Untitled-1.jpgEMHS’ VNA Home Health Hospice patients are managing their health and staying out of the hospital using technology from the comfort of their couch.
Telemonitoring is a daily remote monitoring system that collects and transmits a patient’s health data to healthcare teams so they can observe and intervene early before a trip to the hospital becomes necessary. The health system’s investment in remote monitoring technology has enabled it to achieve a decrease in patient readmissions in the southern part of the state from 15 percent to eight percent. VNA has more than 400 telemonitoring units that incorporate devices like blood pressure cuffs, scales, pulse oximeters, and more. “This technology allows us to have contact with our patients every day,” said Leah Wright, EMHS vice president of quality compliance and information, “The technology doesn’t get in the way, and patients don’t feel any distractions.”
A specialist installs the remote monitoring system in the home and teaches the patient how to use it. The monitors are cellular and Bluetooth-enabled and feature clear voice prompts that guide the user to collect their vital signs. VNA’s units are currently used on patients with COPD, congestive heart failure, and other cardiac conditions.
EMHS set a goal (one of many) for the system to reduce the rate at which patients are discharged from a hospital and admitted back again within a specified time. In the southern part of the state alone, VNA has seen a seven percent decrease in patient readmissions due to the system’s investment in remote monitoring technology. Several other EMHS members are also using this same technology bringing coordinated, high-quality care to our patients where they want to be most—home.   
A version of this article originally appeared in Home Health Technology News, August 15, 2017.