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EMMC’s new space offers advanced technology

The new nuclear imaging cameras scan patients for cardiac imaging, infections, as well as some stress fractures.When you’re lying on the table waiting for a scan—palms a little sweaty and nerves heightened—seven or eight minutes can make a big difference. Now, patients receiving nuclear imaging experience a shorter scan time and a more comfortable experience thanks to the new space for EMMC’s Cardiovascular Services located in the hospital's recently constructed Penobscot Pavilion.

The new modernized area provides three nuclear imaging cameras that offer faster imaging and reduce radiation exposure for patients. The space also contains 38 interventional preparation and recovery bays, and improves the hospital’s ability to perform transesophageal echocardiograms (a cardiac ultrasound through the esophagus).

The new nuclear imaging cameras scan patients for cardiac imaging, infections, as well as some stress fractures. Cardiac imaging time has been reduced by roughly seven minutes per scan, and the cameras also produce better quality images, enabling physicians to make diagnoses with more specificity, which could lead to an overall quicker course of care.

“This is state-of-the-art technology,” explains Laura Huff, CNMT, RTR, BS, manager of Non-Invasive Cardiology, Nuclear Imaging, and PET CT at Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC). “The reduction in time is a much-welcomed change for our patients, especially those who might be uncomfortable or antsy during a scan.”

The move also brings together services that were previously disconnected, which will enhance communication and streamline the workflow. “We’ve already had our first flow of patients through here,” said Jeremey McCormick, CNMT, supervisor for Nuclear Medicine, on the first patient day. “Everything has gone very well due to the extensive planning and time everyone has put in. It’s definitely paid off. We’ve found a few learning curves here and there but operations overall have gone very well.”

In addition to these advancements, the new area merges EMMC’s Outpatient Observation Unit, where patients prepare for cardiac operating room procedures, with the prep and recovery area for interventional procedures and radiology.  

“Now, they don’t have to go to multiple locations,” says Erica Parker, RN, BSN, assistant nurse manager, Interventional Prep and Recovery. “We have one check-in, they present here, and we’ll bring them back. Previously, patients would go to three different departments, now they’ll just go to one location.”

For more on EMMC’s Modernization Project, visit

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Kids make first aid kits as part of National EMS Week celebrations

Providers from Capital Ambulance and from LifeFlight of Maine taking part in the large-scale annual emergency exercise drill at the Bangor International Airport on May 16, 2017.May 21 marked the beginning of National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week, an opportunity to say, “thank you” to the men and women who answer the call for help. EMHS is proud of the many responders, providers, technicians, and transport crews who make emergency medical care the lifesaving service it is today. Many of these responders also took this week as an opportunity to engage their communities and raise awareness of the important work they do 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
“When people need to call on emergency medical services, it is often among the most difficult days of their life,” said Jeff Doran, vice president of EMHS System Clinical Services. “It is our talented first responders who have the task of helping to make their day as best as it can possibly be. We truly can’t thank them enough for all that they do.”
EMHS members said thank you in a variety of ways. For example, Mercy Hospital hosted a photo tribute to first responders on Facebook, CA Dean held its annual BBQ for all their EMS members, and Capital Ambulance held a first responders thank you breakfast. Capital also held a Pet Food Drive, in collaboration with the Eastern Maine Area Agency on Aging. The pet food and supplies will be distributed to elderly pet owners in our community, since we know that many seniors prioritize their pet’s well-being ahead of their own medications and other needs.
Additionally, Wednesday, May 24, was National Emergency Medical Services for Children Day. To mark the occasion, teams from Capital Ambulance paid special visits to three daycare centers in greater Bangor. Children toured ambulances, were introduced to basic emergency equipment, and had the opportunity to interact with paramedics and other caregivers outside of an emergency situation. The visit ended with basic first aid lessons and a chance for the kids to assemble their very own junior first aid kit.
The very next day, Capital Ambulance hosted the Darlings’ Auto Ice Cream truck at the EMMC Healthcare Mall on Union Street in Bangor. The fundraising effort was to benefit LifeFlight of Maine. LifeFlight staff members were on hand to answer questions and introduce the community to their dynamic lifesaving capabilities.

National EMS Week also included the opening of two new EMS bases in northern and southern Maine. In Aroostook County, Crown Ambulance held a ribbon cutting ceremony for its new base in Washburn. In York County, LifeFlight of Maine held an open house to show off the new base in Sanford. National EMS Week also marked the highly anticipated arrival of LifeFlight’s third helicopter stationed at its Lewiston base. Within an hour of going into service, the new helicopter lifted off to answer its first emergency call.

During National EMS Week, and throughout the year, we would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to the many skilled emergency personnel who help save lives in our communities across Maine. Thank you!

In the News
Check out these great stories from National EMS week.
LifeFlight of Maine adds Sanford base
Ribbon Cut on New Crown Ambulance Base
Capital Ambulance holding a pet food drive to help Maine's seniors
Kids Learn from EMTs for National EMS Week
Maine's newest helicopter transported its first patient less than an hour after going into service

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Protect what matters most

It is true that we can find almost anything online. It is also true that more and more of our every-day life can be connected online. Today, common household items such as lights, toasters, toothbrushes, TVs, and even the crockpot connect with each other through the internet by sending data back and forth digitally. Imagine you're driving home on a hot summer day and you used your smartphone before you left the office to instruct your smart thermostat to lower the temperature before you get home. Life is good.
As more of our life connects online, it’s important to remember that we also risk letting people into our lives via the internet. We want to help you be diligent about protecting what matters most to you against those who wish to use your connectivity to scam, steal, and take your personal information.
The internet of things is a popular phrase that simply refers to the interconnection or network of devices like computers, smart phones, and tablets to everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data via the internet. Here are some ways to protect your home network:
  • Install software security on ALL your connected devices
  • Be sure you have antivirus software
  • Use different passwords for each device or site
Becoming more connected means you become more vulnerable to phishing attacks used to trick you into clicking on a link or providing sensitive information. This is one of the most common threats companies and individuals face. To ward off an attack:
  • Educate yourself on what to look for in a phishing attack—look for the monthly tips from IS Security in your email
  • Keep all of your devices updated with the latest security features and bug fixes
  • Be wary of any email that contains a link
  • A legitimate company will never ask for your password
Ransomware is a dangerous form of malware (software intended to damage or disable computer systems) which blocks access to your data and demands payment to restore the access. Here are some tips to avoid ransomware:
  • Keep your operating system and all software updated
  • Set your antivirus software to update automatically
  • Back up your computer regularly
  • Emails – when in doubt, throw it out
When it comes to your cyber security, there isn’t any one thing you can do to protect yourself. Rather, it’s a lot of little steps and decisions. We’re here to help. Here are some great tips on what to watch for, and how to protect your computer:
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Driving Change: EMHS 2017 Governance Summit

Billings-Lindsey and MillerDriving change was the theme of the ninth-annual EMHS Governance Summit, which took place May 16 and 17. Nearly one hundred board members and system leaders from all EMHS member organizations, and guests from Mayo Regional Hospital, Northern Maine Medical Center, and the Maine Hospital Association, filled the Wells Commons conference center at the University of Maine in Orono.

Topics covered at the summit ranged from an energetic and interactive presentation on the EMHS governance matrix model from Susan Z. Finerty, author of Master the Matrix and founder of Finerty Consulting in Chicago, to sessions on high reliability organizations, and the critical role of Medical Groups in healthcare systems. EMHS president and CEO, M. Michelle Hood, FACHE, presented her annual, “State of the System” address, likening EMHS to a complex biosystem with its own anatomy and physiology.

Evelyn Silver, PhD, EMHS board chair, moderated the two-day event and is in the final year of her board service. In her opening remarks, Dr. Silver reflected on the changes EMHS has seen during her eleven years as a member of the EMHS board by highlighting accomplishments from across the system, such as the world-class Lafayette Family cancer center, partnering with Dana Farber; the creation of Beacon Health (an accountable care organization in support of population health); and the integration of two new hospitals—Mercy Hospital and Maine Coast Memorial Hospital. Dr. Silver reminded the audience that while these accomplishments are noteworthy and impactful, the evolving landscape of healthcare is transforming quickly and EMHS must continue to be ahead of the curve in driving change to ensure that our patients and communities statewide continue to benefit from the best health and care EMHS can offer today, tomorrow, and in the foreseeable future.

Ducker and DoranOn day two, Matt Weed, MBA, EMHS senior vice president and chief strategy officer, moderated an engaging panel of system leaders about what it means to be a High Reliability Organization in the healthcare industry. Jeff Doran, EMHS vice president of system clinical services, then made a convincing case for supporting empowered medical groups in high performing health systems like EMHS.  He went on to elaborate that EMHS’ newly established medical group model will allow for better care coordination, reduced clinical care variability, stronger payor negotiating power, and better healthcare access for patients and their families.

Michelle Hood, Tim Dentry, MBA, EMHS senior vice president and chief operations officer, and Tony Filer, EMHS senior vice president and chief financial officer, were the final presenters for the summit, and gave the audience a preview of their presentation for the prestigious—by invitation only—Citi Group Not‐for‐Profit Health Care Investor Conference, in New York City last week. The slides showcased EMHS as a rural healthcare system, with a large geographic reach, focused on quality, patient safety, and experience, with an emphasis on innovative cost reduction to keep care closer to home.

In addition to the summit program, board members were offered two optional education sessions; one addressed the roles and responsibilities of board members in the EMHS integrated governance model, and the second was an interactive session focused on meaningful governance metrics for the board room.

Attendees agreed that the annual summit was informative, an excellent opportunity to network with colleagues from across the system, and a great venue for sharing ideas, suggestions, and best practices.  

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Tracing the care experience

By Jane R. Schetter, RN, MSN, CNS, System Director Accreditation, Certification, and Regulatory Compliance, Office of Patient Safety,
and Tina Scott, System Director of Clinical Performance
Have you ever walked into a hospital patient room and thought about what type of gloves or eye protection the staff used to clean the space before you walked in? Did you look at the empty trash bin and think to yourself, “I wonder if that was emptied before the sharps container, or after the staff disinfected the bed rails?” Thankfully for our patients, many EMHS employees do think about such seemingly minor details. The hospital environment is comprised of hundreds of thousands of processes, or systems—like cleaning patient rooms—which call for protocols and procedures in order to greatly reduce all types of risks to patients. When a process, like a catheter placement, is deconstructed into many smaller steps, to be performed in a particular sequence or method, it allows care teams to look back and retrace their steps to see where a process might have broken down. A method of identifying “broken” systems is through the use of the Tracer Methodology, an important tool in patient safety work. The tracer methodology follows the experience of care, treatment or services for patients through the organization’s entire healthcare delivery process. Tracers are designed to “trace” the care experiences that a patient had while at an organization or trace a system.

When performing a tracer, some of the primary questions and observations can be, “What is the process?” and “What are the risk points and how do I mitigate them?” Then, if a process changes, care teams need to take into consideration how the change might affect staff, equipment, information systems, sequencing of other steps, and location (where physical steps take place, where needed supplies or equipment are located, or where patient care is provided). The EMHS Patient Safety and Clinical Performance System Team is working to establish the tracer method as a tool to be used regularly at all EMHS organizations when reviewing policies, processes, and practices as a means to improve patient care, quality, and safety. Tracers allow us to identify performance risks in one or more steps in a patient care delivery process, or among the interfaces between those processes.
Often seen as a way to prepare a hospital for certification and accreditation surveys, tracers improve the care and services provided to patients. Leadership and staff participation in this quality improvement and quality management method is essential and can include many ways of evaluating a process, including staff interviews and observations. Although The Joint Commission, the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program standards, and the Medicare Conditions of Participation may be used to review care within a healthcare facility, it is important that EMHS uses tracers to repeatedly examine patient care process design, and to look for risk points, opportunities for improvement, and processes that support safe practices. It’s about finding the holes in the swiss cheese. Tracers can reveal if a process has been designed well enough that it results in safe, effective, high quality care.
The Tracer Methodology also supports our path to becoming a high reliability organization. By repeating the same process several times throughout the organization, the Patient Safety and Clinical Performance System Team can more clearly identify and replicate the good demonstrations of patient care, and isolate what isn’t working so well, and explore why and how a process broke down. Possible applications for tracers can be a new process or a redesigned process, a complex process such as medication management, a high-risk process such as high level disinfection, or basic housekeeping process that is the foundation for all infection prevention and control throughout a healthcare facility. While some tracers may be flexible and allow for variation of a process, others may require specific steps to be traced based on manufacturer’s guidelines, law and regulation, and organizational policy where consistency of process is a must.  
Each person working within a healthcare organization has a responsibility for the care of the patient whether that is direct care or supporting the functions that make care possible. By using Tracer Methodology, you can improve any process—just think about the primary questions.

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Beacon Health Maintains Gold Standard

(Pictured left to right) Emily Cianchette, family nurse practitioner, SVH Family Care in Pittsfield; Kate Perkins, RN Beacon Health care coordinator, and John Deason, PharmD, SVH Acute and Primary Care pharmacist.There is no guarantee that when you earn accreditation by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) you will retain it. It takes a daily commitment to putting a patient first while developing care plans and supporting them with the best possible care. Beacon Health is proud to announce that its Case Management program recently received the highest status for accreditation by the NCQA. Since 1990, NCQA has been considered the gold standard for improving healthcare across the country. In 2014, when they initially received this accreditation, Beacon Health was the first care delivery system to achieve this distinction.

"Our care teams work hard each day with every patient, supporting them to live their healthiest life. No matter if our patients are transitioning out of a hospital, emergency department, living with a chronic illness, or requiring extra hands in their home, we have the right people in place to support them in being successful. It’s a privilege to work alongside dedicated professionals who continue to refine our processes and develop relationships with our patients, families, and providers. It takes a team to transform healthcare and renewing this accreditation with a perfect score is the icing on the cake,” shares Tori Gaetani, RN, Beacon Health vice president of nurse care coordination.

Beacon Health nurse care coordinators are embedded throughout Maine in primary and specialty care practices, emergency departments, and hospitals—they are an integral part of our healthcare transformation. In the past 12 months alone, the team has touched more than 14,000 people across the state.

NCQA is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving healthcare quality, and accredits and certifies a wide range of healthcare organizations. It also recognizes clinicians and practices in key areas of performance. NCQA is committed to providing healthcare quality information for consumers, purchasers, and healthcare providers and researchers.

Learn more about Beacon Health at: