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Are you in the know?

Curious about the status of the new electronic health record?
Wondering how the system is doing financially?
Interested in the ways in which EMHS is raising the bar for quality and patient safety?
You’re in luck.

The EMHS Employee Update with Michelle Hood, EMHS president and CEO, is now available for viewing. In this brief, 30-minute video, Michelle will answer these questions and more in her semiannual address to the 12,000+ employees of our system.

Many departments find it beneficial to watch the video as a group and discuss the topics with their manager. The video will be available until August 17, 2018.

We encourage you to ask questions and give us your feedback at the survey link below. We plan to review questions from the survey and provide the answers to employees in a timely manner.

Watch the Employee Update with Michelle Hood here:
Give us your feedback here:
If you have any technical issues viewing the video, please contact the IS Help Desk at 973-7728.

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Social Worker of the Year

Ralph never thought about a career in social work. He was studying Behavioral Science at the University of Maine in Presque Isle, and thought maybe he’d join the military. “Actually, I fell into it by accident,” Ralph told us. “I took a position in a psychiatric unit in Fort Fairfield and had the chance to work with some social workers. I liked the interactions and emotional connections social workers have with patients.”

This serendipitous career path worked out well for Ralph McPherson, LCSW, social worker team leader for EMHS’ Beacon Health Community Care Team in Aroostook County. For nearly three decades, the Presque Isle native has worked in a variety of healthcare settings, most within our system, and has become an invaluable part of the community. Ralph was recently shown just how much he means to his peers when the Maine Chapter of the Society for Social Work Leadership named him the 2018 Social Worker of the Year. The award is given annually to one social work leader who exhibits exceptional talent and professionalism in their field.

Ralph-and-Mike-(2).jpgThe primary focus of the social work profession is to enhance well-being and help our patients meet basic human needs like food, housing, and emotional support. “I love being a social worker. If you get into this profession, you have to enjoy people—don’t get into for the money,” Ralph joked when he thought back to advising his own niece when she expressed an interest in becoming a social worker.

He describes his career as a long road filled with great successes, lessons learned, hard work, and some sad situations. “When you go home at the end of the day and think of the homeless patient you tried to help and they are still sleeping in their car at night, obviously, that bothers you. I try to remember the 10 people that day I was able to help.”  

Social workers may not be as recognizable to patients as other parts of a healthcare team like nurses and physicians, but their role is equally as important. EMHS employs more than 160 social workers like Ralph throughout the system to provide a broad range of services in many clinical settings such as inpatient, hospice, home health, outpatient practices, and population health.

“We bring a systems perspective to a patient’s care team,” noted Robin Hirsh-Wright, MSW, LCSW, director of the EMHS Palliative Care Service Line at VNA Home Health Hospice. She explained that social workers bring the expertise of the social factors affecting the patient’s health and can connect a patient and family with the resources they need, often beyond our health system.

Often patients have a need for services like housekeeping and laundry. They may qualify for a subsidized service, but are placed on a wait list until funding becomes available. A social worker can find other resources, perhaps through church and other clubs/social organizations. “The profession demands creativity and out-of-the-box thinking since social resources for patients can be limited or unavailable,” Robin added.
Laura Turner, LSW, TAMC community liaison and manager of the LiveSafe service, nominated Ralph for this award. “When I think about the things social workers affect, the social determinants of health, Ralph embodies the view that the patient is a whole person and not just a medical condition.” In her nomination letter, Laura explained that Aroostook County is not an area rich in supportive community resources and Ralph is adept at finding creative solutions and options for the people he serves.

Ralph was honored to accept his award last month and is quick to assign much of his success to his fellow care team members and mentors along the way. “I think this award means that I've made some really good connections and helped quite a few people, but did so with other people at my side.” As noted in his nomination, Ralph looks for opportunities to mentor others, especially those just starting out in the social work field. He told us, “It’s about being able to problem solve with a client, find out what’s troubling them—like if someone's feeling depressed or anxious—and knowing that you maybe have a little bit of the remedy to help that.”

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EMHS and Mayo: An update on integration

Marie-Edited.jpgMarie Vienneau, BSN, MHA, NE-BC, FACHE, CEO of Mayo Regional Hospital, remembers the name of the Powerpoint slide that she was viewing with members of the hospital board in November of 2015 when they were contemplating Mayo’s future. “There was this one slide called, ‘Survive or Thrive’ and it became very apparent to the board at that time that we had really not been making money to the point where we were going to thrive as a rural facility.” 

What that slide had shown and what Stroudwater Associates, a national healthcare consulting firm had concluded, was that Mayo could not be self-sustaining in the long term. Mayo’s leadership had done a good job building up its savings over the years, but the hospital’s operating expenses had outpaced revenues every year since 2010. “Knowing that we are not going to get any increased reimbursement for rural healthcare, the board voted that month to go through a request for proposal (RFP) process and seek a partner and that’s what they did,” recalled Marie.

Mayo sent RFPs to several healthcare systems in Maine, including EMHS. Of those who responded, Marie said the EMHS proposal was the strongest. “It was very clear that EMHS really had the resources we needed. They had experience with critical access hospitals and we were already collaborating on so many services with EMHS and Eastern Maine Medical Center that it did not make sense to disrupt those established collaborative relationships.”

The list of services that EMHS collaborates on with Mayo is varied and includes:

  • Oncology unit
  • Pharmacy overnight support and vacation coverage
  • Materials management and capital equipment purchasing contracts
  • Cardiology clinics
  • Sleep study staffing and interpretation
  • Echocardiography interpretation
  • Trauma oversight and review
  • Life-Flight air ambulance services
  • Shared Podiatry and OB/GYN services between Mayo and Charles A. Dean Memorial Hospital
  • Various specialty clinics
  • Maternal-fetal medicine (high-risk OB)
  • Teletrauma and pediatrics for the ED

IMG_1932.jpgEMHS senior leadership has been working with Marie and senior leadership at Mayo for several months on the due diligence required to determine whether integration of Mayo into EMHS is feasible, and if so, how the integration would be structured. While the process is still underway, there are some promising opportunities. Integrating Mayo into the EMHS system presents opportunities for collaboration and service enhancement to the Piscataquis County region that cannot be achieved with Mayo operating as an independent hospital. Charles A. Dean Memorial Hospital in Greenville and Mayo in Dover-Foxcroft would be able to collaborate with more flexibility than they can today. In turn, Mayo could handle many procedures which are currently referred to Eastern Maine Medical Center, allowing Piscataquis County patients to receive excellent care closer to home and freeing up Eastern Maine Medical Center’s bed capacity.

“This combination of circumstances illustrates the strategic role that Mayo Hospital could play in the EMHS system,” said M. Michelle Hood, FACHE, EMHS President and CEO. “In our discussions with Marie and her leadership team, we have learned that we share many common values and a commitment to deliver high-quality care to people close to home. We look forward to exploring a stronger relationship with our valued partners at Mayo.”

There are many more financial, regulatory, and legal details to address. One of those issues pertains to Mayo’s status as a Hospital Administrative District or HAD. The HAD is a quasi-governmental entity compromised of 13 surrounding towns, each with governing authority and representation on Mayo’s board of directors. If Mayo joins EMHS, the HAD structure would be eliminated, but the hospital would retain a community-based board of directors similar to other EMHS hospital boards. Marie and her leadership team plan to travel to the towns comprising the HAD throughout the summer and early fall to help constituents understand the merits of integrating with EMHS.   

Mayo celebrated its fortieth anniversary this past spring and invited community members, legislators, current and former employees, and members of EMHS to the festivities. Mayo reflected on its rich past and is now looking towards its future—a future that Mayo believes will be brighter if it aligns with EMHS.