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Together, EMHS members are leading healthcare in Hancock County

BHMH-Photo-Sidebar.png“You can’t get there from here.” It’s a Maine adage most of us know all too well regarding our beloved state. Some of the things we cherish most about Maine, like the vast beautiful landscapes, are the same things that make healthcare delivery challenging. Maine Coast Memorial Hospital (MCMH) and Blue Hill Memorial Hospital (BHMH) are only 16 miles apart, yet they each serve a number of unique, far-reaching communities. While the geography of these patients may not overlap neatly, their needs often do. That is why BHMH and MCMH work closely to deliver healthcare to patients in Hancock County, aligning their care delivery resources, services, and now, leadership roles.
Along with sharing managers for oncology, imaging, quality, and risk management, the hospitals have joined their senior leadership teams to drive consistent quality and experience at both facilities. Mark Hankinson, the new vice president of Operations for both hospitals, explains this patient-centered approach, “It always starts with the patient, both with their care and their experience. By working together, we can ensure that the care and patient experience at both facilities is at the same level of excellence.”
Mark’s role is new for MCMH, and moves the management responsibilities of ancillary services (like imaging, dietary, and housekeeping) under his leadership. “What excites me most about my role is that I get to work with many different departments. We can now track and understand the patient journey from primary care, through specialist and ancillary services, and more clearly see how those department interactions affect the patient experience—it’s a unique perspective.”
In late March, John Ronan, FACHE, EMHS senior vice president, BHMH president, and MCMH acting president, named Wendy Jones as vice president of Finance for both organizations. Ardelle Bigos, RN, MSN, CMSRN, assumed the role of chief nursing officer for both hospitals, allowing Kathy Lirakis, RN, MSB, MBA, CPHQ, and formerly the chief nursing officer of BHMH, to transition to the role of associate vice president of Quality and Compliance at both facilities. Kathy sees these changes as an opportunity to build expertise. “This sharing of responsibilities allows each team member to focus on their area of expertise, build best practices, and develop protocols for best-in-class patient care," Kathy explains. "The refined focus lets us dig deeper and see a more complete picture of our care practices and operations.”
The focus of scope with this new leadership affects the health and experience of both hospitals’ staff as well as patients. Mark notes, “We’re invested in employee recognition, wellness committees, and patient experience committees—all of which are vital to our organizational culture. By encouraging professional development of staff, providing wellness opportunities, taking time to celebrate successes, and involving employees in process improvements, we uplift everyone, including patients.”  
Kathy seems to speak for everyone when she concludes, “I’m really looking forward to what this team can do. This is my community, I live in Brooksville, and I want both hospitals to be the best they can be for my family, friends, and neighbors.”

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The slide all kids should avoid this summer

Owen-Wilkes-reading.jpgThis summer is in full swing! While children across Maine are enjoying outdoor activities, make sure reading also tops that summer fun list. Research suggests children are susceptible to what is known as the “summer slide,” a tendency for students to lose literacy (and other) gains they made during the previous school year. Katherine (Kate) Bartley, EMHS Community Health and Grants program manager for child health, sat down with us, to talk about Raising Readers, the collaborative EMHS reading program, and why engaging children in the early stages of life can make all the difference.

Raising Readers began 17 years ago as one of EMHS’ first collaborations with MaineHealth in Portland. An integrated part of birth and children’s primary care appointments, Raising Readers provides books to children that support their changing developmental stages from birth to age five. Kate explains, “This program is helping children prepare for school and reminding families of the importance of reading with their children.” She continues to explain the direct connection between literacy and health, “Reading is critical to all facets of life—school, career, and health. Literacy has been linked to less frequent use of preventive services and higher hospitalization rates, which often results in higher healthcare costs.”

While this age group, from birth to five, isn’t typically the focus of discussions about summer slide, Raising Readers early literacy advisor, Susan Bennett-Armistead, PhD, has a few ideas of things you can do with your littlest learners during the more relaxed days of summer that will benefit school-age children as well.

Dr-Sabbagh-and-patient.jpgParents often wonder about the effect of digital media and electronic reading tools on their child’s development. EMMC Pediatric Primary Care physician, and Raising Readers clinical advisor, Colette Sabbagh, MD, says, “Screen time for children doesn’t inherently have a negative effect on their literacy development. You can learn the same thing from a screen as you can from a book—it’s the lack of interactive participation from your child with electronics that can start to have a negative effect.” Visit the American Academy of Pediatrics site to learn more about their Healthy Digital Media Use Habits for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers.

As the summer flies by, as Maine summers can, grab a book and spend a little time each day helping the child in your life avoid the summer slide. For more resources to promote the love of readingincluding recommended book lists, fun book activity kits, and morevisit the Raising Readers website at Follow the program on social media for engaging articles and fresh reading activities for the family. You can Like, Pin, and Tweet them, or find Raising Readers on Instagram and YouTube.

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TAMC celebrates its first DAISY

Carole-and-Greg.jpgSherry Beaulieu, director of guest relations and volunteer services at TAMC, was nervous about delivering her daughter after a challenging labor with her son, which resulted in an emergency Cesarean section. It was the kindness and support from a particular nurse in the Women and Children’s Unit of TAMC hospital that moved Sherry to nominate Carole Olore, RN, for the prestigious DAISY Award more than two decades after her daughter’s birth. The DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune System) Award is an international recognition program that honors and celebrates the skillful, compassionate care nurses provide every day.
As the first nurse at TAMC to be given a DAISY Award, Carole was honored during a surprise celebration in her department. Carole was presented a pin, a sculpture called “A Healer’s Touch,” hand-carved by artists of the Shona Tribe in Africa, and a certificate commending her for being an “extraordinary nurse.”
“I had read about The DAISY Award and thought ‘that’s nice’ and never ever thought I would be nominated, let alone be the first TAMC employee to receive this prestigious award,” Carole said. “The day of Healer-s-touch.jpgthe ceremony was a total surprise on many levels. I am truly humbled and very thankful and wear my DAISY Award pin proudly! It is an honor and a privilege to be a part of something so special.”
Gastro-group.jpgMercy Hospital, in Portland, has also been fortunate to have dedicated nurses recognized through this award. Mercy honored its first recipient, Alexandra Hughes, RN, professional nurse III of The Birthplace at Mercy, in 2010. According to Lori Fournier, Mercy Hospital department of Clinical Education support specialist, and DAISY Award committee member, “Mercy is proud to be the first hospital in Maine to participate in The DAISY Award program. We announce a new award recipient each quarter—it’s a wonderful program.” In May, Kate Mitchell, RN, professional nurse II of Mercy’s Gastroenterology was also honored in recognition of her clinically excellent and compassionate care.
The DAISY Award nominations:
You can nominate a Mercy nurse at, or a TAMC nurse at

To learn more about The DAISY Award program including how to get involved, visit The DAISY Award Foundation website at
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Go phish-Cybercriminals aren't playing games

Cybercriminals are ruthless and have one goal: to access your personal information and bank accounts. Some of the most high-profile cybersecurity breaches (i.e., Target and Sony) began with phishing emails, and although EMHS is not a large, global company, we are not immune. Last year, several EMHS employees fell victim to a phishing scam in which their money was stolen and personal information was compromised. This is why EMHS has teamed up with one of the nation’s leading experts in cyber threats to help educate employees on how to be safe online. EMHS IS Security recently launched the Security Awareness Program to help you recognize the work of a cybercriminal—here is what you can expect:

  • Simulated attacks and vulnerability assessments
    • Employees will learn to spot the different cybercriminal traps commonly found in phishing emails and spear phishing attacks.
  • Education
    • Employees will be asked to complete 10 to 15 minute, interactive, online training modules to learn about secure online behavior to protect sensitive information.
  • Tips and tricks
    • Employees will receive emails twice a month full of relevant, practical cybersecurity information for home and work.

CyberSecurity-REMEMBER.jpgAs healthcare personnel, it is up to every EMHS employee to be especially vigilant and watchful of potential attacks. In 2015, according U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, there were 253 healthcare breaches that affected 500 individuals or more with a combined loss of more than 112 million patient records. Glenn Martin, Esq., EMHS senior vice president and general counsel, and chair of EMHS Security Governance, says that the key to protecting employees and patients alike starts with training staff. He shares, “Phishing is one of the easiest ways cybercriminals can steal a patient’s medical identity and protected health information. As healthcare providers, we have a legal duty to protect patient information from unauthorized access, whether malicious or unintentional, by both insiders and hackers. Prevention is a top priority for EMHS and that effort begins with educating our employees.”

If you have questions about the program or about cybersecurity, visit the IS Security portal, or contact IS Security directly at

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EMHS program provides new opportunity for employees

Adult-learners.jpgAt EMHS, we have big plans for the future. We are building an enterprisewide electronic health records system, organizing more than one thousand employed providers into a single medical group, and continuing to lead the way with our population health strategy. Our talented, patient-focused employees are working to align clinical practices across member organizations and find more opportunities to consistently deliver a great patient experience. The future for EMHS is bright, and to ensure that the system will still be flourishing for generations to come, we continue to invest in our most valued resource: you.
Beginning this fall, in partnership with Husson University, EMHS will offer the Professional and Organizational Development program. This is an interactive training program for leaders and employees, with an added opportunity to earn undergraduate or graduate degree credits. Our goal is to build a dynamic program that will enhance knowledge of the healthcare industry and system operations, in addition to gaining practical skills aligned with accomplishing system goals and strategies. You’ll have a chance to broaden your knowledge base and challenge your skills as you and team members partner throughout the year on a project aimed at offering innovative solutions to issues we face today.
Catharine MacLaren, PhD, vice president of Talent and Diversity at EMHS, says, “We want to continue to provide opportunities to all our employees to help prepare them for advancement wherever they may be in their career. This new program will broaden knowledge and teach practical skills aligned with accomplishing system goals and strategies for all EMHS employees."
Program Details: The program accepts one hundred participants each year from across the system fifty employees in leadership positions in one cohort and fifty employees with no direct reports in the other. This 12-month program will include pre-work before meetings, online participation between sessions, and enriching group projects. There will also be monthly, day-long sessions held in Brewer where participants come together to share ideas, network, and attend engaging seminars led jointly by our resident experts and Husson University faculty members.
Mark your calendar:
July 10–August 4: Nomination Period
The applicants supervisor must complete a nomination form—click here to complete
The person who wishes to participate needs to complete their own application—click here to complete
You also will need to have two recommendations completed by your peers—ask them to click here to complete
August 24: Selected cohorts for the 2017–2018 class are notified
Still have questions?
Great! We have several resources available to get all of your questions answered.

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Relationships are the key to good health

DSC_1606.JPG“I am so impressed with the Beacon Health Care Coordination program. Through this program, a nurse is available to support me, to take away the fear of an illness, and help me feel like I’ll be okay when I get home from the hospital,” shares Maureen Hyslop.
Maureen is a shining example of how a close connection with a primary care team can make all the difference in a person’s quality of life. She’s been a patient of James Katz, MD, at Mercy’s Portland Internal Medicine for years and appreciates how he and his team look after her. “I feel extraordinarily lucky; they all listen carefully to what I have to say and respond to me. I’m very satisfied with my care.”

Maureen is living with coronary artery disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and chronic joint pain. Thanks to some close friends and her strong connection to her primary care team, she is enjoying a quality of life that allows her to live on her own. “I won’t always call my doctor, but I will call my nurse and ask her questions and share my concerns. If she thinks I need to see my doctor, she’ll get me in to see him that day.”
Beacon Health’s regular communication with Maureen during the past year has prevented a handful of trips to the emergency department. However, she required some extra care in January to get her oxygen levels normal and stabilized. Dr. Katz sent her to Mercy Hospital for care, and they were waiting and ready for her arrival. “Everyone at Mercy—from dietary, housekeeping, to doctors and nurses—all made eye contact, showing me they really cared about me. I felt a sense of compassion and community, and that I was one of them.”
Supporting patients living their healthiest is what care teams across the Beacon Health Network strive to do each day and with every patient. “When a patient living with a chronic illness consistently monitors their condition, we then see them take control of their health and avoid unnecessary emergency room and hospital visits and typically enjoy a better quality of life,” explains Cathy Simpson, RN, care coordinator at Mercy Family Care. By becoming a trusted partner in their health, patients turn to Beacon Health and together we promote patient independence and self-management. It all comes down to relationships and showing people you truly care.