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Enough is enough

Before-and-After.jpgBrenda was tired of being tired. She thought back to healthier days when she and her husband had energy and felt the world was full of possibility. But now, the extra weight was taking a toll. It was about this time last year when Brenda Volz, EMHS corporate accountant, heard her husband Don say, “Enough is enough.”

In February of 2017, Brenda walked into the Beacon Health’s Weight Solutions Class at the EMHS Home Office—one of many across the system—to figure out the next step. “My husband and I had been following a more healthy way of eating, but we needed more guidance.” 

Side-Column.pngLooking back on her starting weight, Brenda saw the long road ahead. “My top weight was 260 pounds! I am only 5 foot and 1 inch tall, so that’s a lot of weight for my short frame. My husband’s top weight was 303! We knew we had to change something or we wouldn’t be able to do the things we really wanted to do.”

Fast forward a year and Brenda has lost 75 pounds—Don is down 59. The Beacon Health Weight Solution classes taught Brenda how to make healthier choices and to creatively plan meals so there was plenty of variety. “Lynn DeGrenier, wellness coordinator, is upbeat and supportive. Her classes are packed full of stuff that is helpful.” In a matter of months both Brenda and her husband were down 20 pounds each.

“I started to notice a difference in my energy level and my ability to walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator every day—I used to get winded after just a half a flight. I can now climb three and a half flights before I get winded. I can even jog up a few flights and feel good about myself! I started ‘shrinking’ out of my clothes, and I am proud to say I can now shop in the Misses department. What a feeling of accomplishment.”

Brenda and Don are still working towards their goal weight—she’s halfway there. Most importantly, eating healthy and exercise is a regular part of their life now. They’ll be the first to tell you it wasn’t easy but they are so thankful they stuck with it. “A healthier life opens up a whole new world of possibilities.”

Find out more about Beacon Health Weight Solutions and other work wellness services at

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Tell us about patient safety

ThinkstockPhotos-467579823.jpgWe do remarkable work and save lives every day. We improve patients’ health and wellbeing, and create a positive experience. However, sometimes patients are harmed while they are in our care. Preventable events like falls, medication mix-ups, or even deaths are realities in healthcare settings across the country, and our system isn’t immune to these issues. 
March 11 marks the kick off to National Patient Safety Awareness Week, designed to increase awareness about patient safety among health professionals and the public. EMHS will celebrate with engaging activities, compelling stories from our coworkers, and more. It’s all to encourage you to identify safety issues and speak up to prevent harm.
To that end, EMHS’ member organizations will soon launch an anonymous Culture of Patient Safety Survey to hospital and medical office employees March 26 through April 20. The survey will help us understand our safety culture, or our attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, and values we share in relation to safety. Your insights and guidance are important to our success.
Thanks to your feedback last year, we implemented a number of initiatives systemwide.
  • Implemented safety huddles at shift change to identify patient safety concerns and high risk patients—the inpatient bedside shift reports include the patient and family.
  • Implemented leadership rounding on units to work with frontline staff to identify and discuss patient safety concerns collaboratively.
  • Completed a thorough review of the patient admission process.
  • Provided increased staff education for fall and pressure injury prevention.
  • Developed a hardwired process for patient handoff between hospital or the Emergency Department and primary care to reduce readmissions, and improve communication and collaboration.
After a safety event, we retrace our steps and often find that it was our processes or systems that failed—the blame doesn’t fall on one person. Your participation in the survey will help to raise awareness about patient safety and encourage open conversations about what is going well and areas we can improve upon. We want to encourage understanding about the current culture of safety at EMHS and look closely at trends we see over time to determine if patient safety initiatives and interventions have worked.
Thank you for the work that you do every day to keep our patients safe and we look forward to your input on this year’s Culture of Patient Safety Survey!
To learn more about patient safety initiatives at EMHS, visit our website at
Was there a time when you spoke up for patient safety? Tell us your story at
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How will mentorship change you?

IMG_2560_adjusted.jpgJosh Hopkins was the type of guy that liked to do his job well and go home—no staff to manage, no big projects that demand long hours. We all can relate. Then, he thought, “Why did I go to college if that’s all I wanted to do?” Josh’s then manager in the Preregistration Department of Eastern Maine Medical Center saw in him an up-and-coming leader. She gave him the gentle push he needed to take on new challenges at work, which led to a pretty big year for Josh.  

Josh enrolled in the 12-month EMHS Mentor Program about this time last year. The idea was to challenge himself to get outside of his comfort area and learn more about EMHS and leadership. “You learn a lot about what’s happening at a system level. No matter what type of work you’re doing or where you are in the system, we all face similar issues. It reminds me we’re all on the same team.”

“He’s very motivated. He reminded me of myself when I first began in healthcare,” said Terri Mathew, RN with Mercy Hospital Gastroenterology at Casco Bay. She was paired with Josh as his mentor and thought the mentor program leaders matched them well considering their professional and geographic distance.

Terri-M-2.JPGTerri was there to talk through with Josh his decision to apply for an open supervisory position in his department. “He really began to step up and was just blossoming in his field. I encouraged him to apply and take that leap.”

For Terri, mentorship has always been an important part of her own career. “It really started with a mentor I had when I was a new nurse; she was much more than just my trainer. To this day, we still talk.” Terri encourages anyone thinking of being a mentor to give it a try. “This program is great if you can work with people, take the time to give feedback, and see the mentees grow.” She added that mentors do not need to be experts in their field or be several decades into their careers to provide quality mentorship. “Go by what your gifts are. You might not always know everything—it’s about putting yourself out there to guide the growth of another person.”

The Mentor Program is available to all employees in our system. Program leaders pair applicants based on an initial assessment of skills and areas mentees hope to improve upon. The program is designed to increase job knowledge, create strong relationships, expand professional networks, and more.

“EMHS is dedicated to investing in its people. One way we’ve done this is by creating a successful mentoring program. Studies show mentoring increases employee retention, promotion rates, and job satisfaction,” said Danielle Abbott, program coordinator and specialist, with EMHS’ Talent and Diversity department.

MMH-Handing-out-certificates.JPGRecently, the mentor/mentee class of 2018 held its graduation ceremony at EMHS’ Home Office in Brewer. Mentors and their mentees spent the day celebrating accomplishments, reflecting on lessons learned, and engaging with a dynamic panel discussion from a few system leaders. They also found time for some lighthearted games and a few laughs.

EMHS president and CEO, Michelle Hood, was also in attendance to congratulate the graduates and share her story of influential mentors in her life. “Mentorship is important—it’s made a big impression on my life, and I encourage all of you to continue on this path. If you were a mentee, now is your chance to mentor.”

Over the course of a year, Josh is now engaged to be married and has purchased his first home. And, that supervisor job he applied for? He got it! It’s been a big year for Josh, and now he can add EMHS Mentor Program graduate to that list of accomplishments.

Keep scrolling for more fun photos of graduation day!