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Welcome Senator Susan Collins!

Photo-of-Collins-at-Acadia.jpgMaine is considered the “oldest state in the nation,” as our state is home to the nation’s most elderly population. It is also estimated that 13% of Mainers will have Alzheimer’s by 2030. This is why Maine’s Initiative for Neurologic Aging and Health (MAINAH), a new initiative led by Northern Light Acadia Hospital and Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, is receiving attention across the state and within Washington DC.

U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) visited Northern Light Acadia Hospital August 13 and received updates on the success of current programs, including the Mood and Memory clinic and MAINAH. Hospital leaders and specialists also shared information regarding future senior mental and cognitive health initiatives including research partnership opportunities. At the end of her visit, Sen. Collins commended Northern Light Acadia Hospital and the system for our dedication and commitment to understand cognitive related disorders and discover new treatments.

You can read more about the MAINAH initiative in a Portland Press Herald article as well as a Portland Press Herald Editorial Board op-ed published earlier this month. External investigators from Jackson Labs, University of Maine, and University of New England are scientific advisors on MAINAH.

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How Many Clicks Does It Take?

GettyImages-565975329.jpgDocumentation burden remains an ongoing challenge in our fast-moving digital medical age. When using an electronic medical record (EMR), there is a tremendous amount of information to read, filter, react to, and file all the while placing emphasis on the sick patient in front of you. Digital tools like Cerner help us analyze data, track, trend, and guide the care we provide our patients. At Northern Light Health, our clinical informatics and information systems leaders and staff are constantly looking for ways to make this burden more manageable.

Adoption mastery sessions, developed and taught by Northern Light Health EMR experts, instruct clinical staff to enhance their understanding of Cerner workflows, and reduce inefficiencies. This translates to less scrolling, fewer clicks, and more necessary information “face-up” instead of several clicks/screens away. 

Mastery sessions are workflow-focused and based on real clinical scenarios. Before each session, a survey is distributed to clinical staff to target areas requiring focused education. Every session is accompanied by a detailed handout, usable for offline review and reference. Our “behind the scenes” view of Cerner helps us to understand where providers and nurses spend the most time in the EHR, and our teaching takes this into account to decrease the amount of time our providers spend in the EHR. Every member organization has a regionally implemented adoption plan, implemented by their medical informatics officers, regional nursing informatics officers, and supported by Clinical Informatics (CI) staff. 

At Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, family practice providers who attended all trainings shaved 60 seconds off their time in Cerner per patient and decreased their documentation time by 25 seconds per patient. When navigating through the EMR, miscellaneous time per patient was reduced by 96 seconds/patient. These time savings translated into more visits being made available, as family practitioner providers were able to see more patients following adoption mastery trainings.

“I knew that many of the things I did in my day to day work flow were clunky, likely as a result of work-arounds I had incorporated over the years. I was very interested to see what features Cerner had to make the work more efficient,” says Sarah Crane, DO, of Northern Light Primary Care Hampden. “Taking a few months to get familiar with the system followed by a “master class” was an effective way to learn these efficiency tricks, as learning all of this at the beginning would have likely been fairly overwhelming and difficult to retain. I’m very glad I went to these sessions.”

Other work to decrease documentation burden has focused on removing unnecessary documentation and streamlining the documentation in the workflow. At Northern Light Health, across the system, nursing documentation for the adult medical-surgical patient has made major improvement. Each element of documentation was reviewed for appropriateness using evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence. Thus far, NLH has implemented changes to the admission and physical assessment workflows. By creating views in the EHR that bring the most relevant information to the top, NLH nurses have decreased the number of clicks by 8.8 million annually and decreased the amount of time required to document by more than 3,500 hours per year. These changes have done more than decrease the documentation burden, it also supports the critical thinking process. Following the implementation of the physical assessment changes, multiple novice nurses expressed the sentiment that the documentation format helps them understand what should be assessed and documented. 

We still have a lot of work to do to reduce and refine the burden of documentation on our nurses and providers, but with the right leadership, structure, and support in place, we’re off to a great start!

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Northern Light Health’s healthy brain aging initiative

research-expo-2019_poster_dr-singer-(1).jpgGiven that our state has the highest median age in the nation, Mainers are at greater than average risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Northern Light Acadia Hospital’s Mood and Memory Clinic and Northern Light Health’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program are trying to do something about it.

Led by Cliff Singer, MD, chief of Geriatrics at Northern Light Acadia Hospital and principal investigator of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program; Barbara Sorondo, MD, MBA, director of the Clinical Research Center; and Astra Chang Schwertschkow, Ph.D., project manager for MAINAH, a registry for people interested in the latest information has been created, including research studies on delaying cognitive decline in old age.

Recent research has shown that adopting brain-healthy and heart-healthy habits early in life can do a lot to keep the brain healthy throughout life. Research has also shown that it’s never too late to make a difference. MAINAH (Maine Initiative for Neurologic Aging and Health) will be promoting the World Health Organization’s Guideline for Risk Reduction of Cognitive Decline and Dementia, along with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Road Map for Healthy Brain Aging through a quarterly newsletter covering evidence-based risk reduction approaches to diet, physical activity, mental activity, stress reduction, and healthy sleep. Updates on the latest research on brain health will be included. Opportunities to participate in a longitudinal study of healthy brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease clinical trials will also be promoted.

Contact with questions or visit to register.

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Preparing for An Active Shooter

Sgt-Jason-Stuart.jpgFar too often we hear of an active shooter, an aggressive assailant, or a violent situation such as those our country recently experienced in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. As one of the largest healthcare providers in Maine, our team members and communities rely on us to be prepared for threats such as an active shooter as well as natural disasters, emerging disease threats, and large-scale accidents. For this reason, we regularly conduct exercises to ensure we are as prepared as possible for any situation we may face.

“Currently, we’re focusing on emergency response exercises that engage partners in our communities like first responders as well other outside organizations,” explains Kathy Knight, BSN, RN, CHEC II, Northern Light Health system director of Emergency Preparedness.
Kathy notes that while each Northern Light Health member organization has plans in place to respond to a broad spectrum of events, there is always room to improve and update those plans as we learn from one another. In July, a team of employees from Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center performed one of nine active assailant exercises in their off-site locations.
“In addition to our Active Shooter Preparedness HealthStream training for each Northern Light Health employee, we run several active shooter or aggressive behavior training exercises in our inpatient, outpatient, and business locations,” explains Joel Farley, MS, FACHE, associate vice president, Facilities Management for the Medical Center. Joel adds, “The recent training sessions held in the Bangor region are transferrable and are intended to be adapted for use in other locations throughout the Northern Light Health system.”

The overall purpose of these drills is to plan and carry out an event that tests policies, procedures and protocols, communications, knowledge of emergency alarms, and enhances our team members’ ability to respond and recover from an active assailant event.

Ample signage warning of a “drill in process,” along with communication with patients, security, and neighboring companies prior to any drill are always part of our process. No weapons are used during these exercises—fake or real—and no sounds are allowed except for yelling. We do not simulate causalities and staff have the option to opt-out by contacting their manager directly.
When each drill is completed, we use the drill evaluations, filled out by a multidisciplinary team, to identify what went well and areas for improvement, including safety and security concerns, and staff education preparedness. “We’re always in a continuous cycle of planning our response policies, testing them through exercises, then evaluation of how we did,” says Kathy. “These exercises help us build protocols that can be rolled out across the system and help protect our communities across the state.”
We encourage anyone who has a concern about their workplace safety to speak to their supervisor, member security offices, or contact your local human resources partner.

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Apply now!

Northern Light Health Foundation is excited to offer The Frances Rhodes Scholarship to two individuals in the amount of $375 to a member organization employee currently enrolled in the tuition reimbursement program.

Named for one of the early leaders in the development of Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center’s material managements system, the Frances Rhodes Employee Education Fund was created at Northern Light Health Foundation in 1997 by Affiliated Healthcare Systems to continue the spirit of organizational achievement through employee education.

Preference will be given to individuals seeking to expand their employment opportunities within Northern Light Health. Eligible employees should complete the application and return to Lori Kogut, operations coordinator, on September 3, 2019, at Applications will be reviewed by a team at the Northern Light Health Foundation and scholarship recipients will be notified for the fall semester.

Fill out the application here: 2019-NLHF-Frances-Rhodes-Scholarship-Application-(002).pdf

Learn more about your tuition reimbursement benefit at or ask your supervisor for more information.