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No nursing program nearby? No problem.

G1.jpgA three-hour drive from Greenville to Bangor and back, four days a week. That’s what stood in the way of Alaina Cates, a medical assistant at Northern Light CA Dean Hospital, becoming a registered nurse. With her job at the hospital, and two daughters and a husband at home, furthering her education in the Bangor area just wasn’t an option. Now, thanks to a collaboration between Northern Light CA Dean Hospital and Eastern Maine Community College, Alaina is well on her way to earning her nursing degree.

“I live five minutes down the road from the hospital and I don’t think I’d be able to do this if I had to travel,” says Alaina.

Alaina and two other Greenville-area students connect to classrooms at Eastern Maine Community College using video conferencing technology located at Northern Light CA Dean Hospital. They attend class virtually on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and complete their clinical rotations at the hospital on Thursdays and Fridays.

The virtual option to pursue a nursing degree is a career advancement opportunity for certified nursing assistants and medical assistants. Northern Light CA Dean Hospital has a relatively stable nursing workforce, but many nurses are nearing the end of their careers and the hospital will need new nurses, while retaining the nurses it already has, to meet patient demand.

“The retention rate is much higher for a local person,” says Lorraine Rodgerson, RN, vice president of Nursing and Operations at Northern Light CA Dean Hospital. “A lot of new grads that you hire will treat critical access hospitals as a jumping off point. If they’re not invested in the community, they’ll probably last a year before they move on. This is our attempt to train people who are committed to working and staying in Greenville.”

The three students currently enrolled in the program are in their second semester and anticipate earning their associate degrees in 2020. Two of the students are Northern Light CA Dean Hospital employees and plan to transition to nursing roles at the hospital after earning their degrees; one student is a community member who enrolled after moving from Bar Harbor to the Greenville area to care for her ailing father.

Brittany Gould, RN, director of Clinical Services at Northern Light CA Dean Hospital, oversees the students’ clinical rotations and monitors their exams. She’s routinely available to answer questions and help them work through problems. Having access to an experienced nurse leader who is invested in their development has been key to the students’ success.
 
“Brittany has been wonderful,” adds Alaina. “She’s been there every step of the way. She’s been so welcoming and accommodating.”

While most of the students’ coursework and clinical rotations can be done in Greenville, they’ll spend four days at Northern Light Acadia Hospital and complete 24 hours of hands-on simulation training in Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center’s Simulation Center. Having access to the resources at several Northern Light Health members makes their training more diverse and comprehensive.
 
Eastern Maine Community College has a similar collaboration with Mayo Regional Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft, and the college plans to offer the virtual option at Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital beginning in the fall of 2019.
 
As for Alaina, she plans to transition into a nursing role at CA Dean Hospital when she earns her degree. She’s grateful for the opportunity to stay in Greenville and pursue her career goals, close to home.

“This is where my family is, where I’ve created a life,” she says. “This opportunity has been a blessing.”
 

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Beacon Caring Calls

Tom-Battin-headshot.jpgSurviving a Maine winter—a badge of honor for those of us who consider ourselves the heartiest of New England stock. The shoveling, plowing, and scraping—it’s all part of what it means to be from the Pine Tree State. But for some of our state’s eldest citizens, it can be a time of severe isolation and loneliness, as many seniors find it difficult to venture out when ice and snow are a safety concern.

Caring Calls offered by our Telecare program of Northern Light Home Care & Hospice, provides free daily well check phone calls to seniors. Cynthia Smith, Telecare program manager shares, “Thanks to a collaboration between Northern Light Home Care & Hospice and Beacon Health, many older Northern Light Health patients are receiving the option for some added support and friendship. Beacon Health nurse care managers refer patients to our program who don’t need a clinical-based call but who might benefit from someone regularly checking in on them.”

The partnership also makes the job of our care managers easier. Holly Blanchard, care manager at Beacon Health, Portland, explains, “Often at discharge, patients, especially those that live alone, will ask if they can call me to check-in. This was the case with an older gentleman who met his goals and was graduating from our program. He asked if he could call me just to let me know how he was doing. While I agreed, this request also offered the perfect opportunity to suggest the Caring Calls service. He is currently receiving Caring Calls five days a week and he couldn’t be happier about it. I now offer the Caring Calls service to all my patients during my initial assessments and at discharge.”

Richard Davis, one of our first patients to enroll, enjoys having this service as well and sees it as something to look forward to during his daily routine. “The volunteers are simply lovely people and it’s reassuring to know that someone’s calling to check-in.”

For more information on Caring Calls, contact Cynthia Smith, Telecare program manager at 207-973-7848.

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Your hard work, our Annual Report

It’s that time of year again where we get to brag about all the good work that you do every day to help our patients live better, healthier lives. We do this each February through our Northern Light Health Annual Report. Because of you, busy working moms can find OB/GYN care close to home, cancer patients feel supported at home in ways they never have before, and people suffering with sleep disorders are getting a better night’s sleep. These are just some of the success stories that we have the privilege to tell in our annual report. We have a sneak peek of all the stories in this video we like to call our sizzler reel. We hope it inspires you in the same way it inspires us.