Family Support Groups Now Available in Queen Anne’s & Kent Counties

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National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) sponsors Family Support Groups

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has recently started Family Support Groups in Queen Anne’s and Kent Counties.  These groups are peer-led groups for family members, caregivers, and loved ones of individuals living with mental illness. Support group members gain insight from the challenges and successes of other group members facing similar circumstances.

Family members or friends of someone with mental illness find from the support group that they are not alone and that they can find the support they need from the group.  The family support group is unique because it follows a structured model, ensuring everyone the opportunity to be heard and to get information and the support that they need. The support groups are free, confidential, and led by people who have loved ones with mental illness.

By sharing your experiences to a group in a safe and confidential setting, you gain hope and develop supportive relationships.  The group encourages empathy, productive discussion and a sense of community.  Members benefit through others’ experiences, discover inner strengths, and learn how to identify and use local resources.

One group member said, “The most beneficial thing for me to learn was that I am not alone.  I found the NAMI Family Support Group at the time I really needed it!”

NAMI offers its Family Support Program the first and third Monday of the month in Centreville and the first and third Tuesday of the month in Chestertown from 7 pm – 8:30 pm.  For more information contact:  443-480-0565 or email to namikentandqueenannes@gmail.com

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Shore Regional Health Recognizes Nurse Practitioners

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Nurse practitioners serving UM Shore Regional Health: front row, l. to r., Michell Jordan, Brittany Cutler, Penny Boyle, Wendy Towers and Clare Ross; back row, l. to r.,  Brittany Krautheim, Patricia Lancaster, Lisa Jeffers, Diana Gail Shorter, Dale Jafari and Sharon Stagg. Not shown are Rahel Alemu, Anna Antwi, Jill Burgholzer, Ellen Spurry Christ, Jennifer Dyott, Karen Fisher, Leslie Fox, Lisa Hall, Mary Horseman, Marcia Reynolds, Mickee Roser, Shirley Seward, Doris Allen Tate and Michelle Williams.

National Nurse Practitioner Week celebrates more than 50 years of practice by nurse practitioners (NPs). NPs are expert clinicians with advanced education and clinical experience who provide primary, acute and specialty health care using a high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered approach. They must have a master’s degree in order to practice, and many have doctoral degrees, such as a Doctorate in Nursing Practice.They are licensed in all 50 states to order, perform and interpret diagnostic tests as well as diagnosis and treat acute and chronic conditions.

According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, this distinguished group of healthcare professionals number approximately 234,000. Research has shown that patients whose primary care providers are NPs have fewer emergency room visits and shorter hospital stays, resulting in lower out-of-pocket cost.

At present, 22 NPs practice within University of Maryland Community Medical Group serving Shore Regional Health. They provide care in many specialties, including breast health, behavioral health, diabetes and endocrinology, family medicine, gastroenterology, neurology, neurosurgery, oncology/pulmonology, pain management, palliative care, pediatrics, women’s health and wound care.

“We take a holistic and collaborative approach to patient care that involves listening to our patients and their families, then creating an individualized medical treatment plan to optimize healing, wellness and function while considering the unique needs of each patient,” says Lisa Jeffers of UM CMG Wound Care.

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As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. UM Shore Regional Health’s team of more than 2,500 employees, medical staff, board members and volunteers works with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.

Corn on the Curb! – UPDATED

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Photo Credit – James Dissette

Editor’s note — this story has been updated with details not available at press time Tuesday. 

A grain truck en route from Rock Hall to Church Hill overturned around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, trying to navigate the roundabout at High Street and Morgnec Road, near the new Royal Farms store. The truck flipped on its side and spilled its load of corn by the roadside. The arrow on the yellow pedestrian sign in the above picture is pointing directly at the green cab of the truck as it lies on its side.

Traffic was rerouted through an adjacent parking lot due to hydraulic fluid leaking from the overturned truck. Because the crash site is close to Radcliffe Creek, containment booms were placed to prevent any leaking fluids from entering the watercourse. However, diesel fuel spillage was minimal, according to the Chestertown Fire Company. The southeast corner of the circle remained blocked as State Highway crews and a private crew sent by the truck’s owner conducted the cleanup and removed the damaged vechicle, which took about four hours all told.

According to emergency personnel on the scene, there were no injuries.

Photo credit – James Dissette

The Maryland State Police, the Chestertown Police Department, the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company, the Kennedyville Volunteer Fire Company and the Rock Hall Volunteer Fire Company  responded.

See a more detailed report from the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company here.

Corn on the Curb!      Photo credit – James Dissette

For All Seasons Receives Speer Grant

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For All Seasons recently received a $30,000 grant from The Speer Trust, an Administrative Commission of the New Castle Presbytery, to support residents on the Mid Shore, including Kent County. The grant will help families to have access to mental health services regardless of their ability to pay and victims of rape and sexual assault to continue to receive a rapid support and advocacy response and have opportunities for ongoing mental health treatment.

According to Beth Anne Langrell, Executive Director of For All Seasons, “Even with the Affordable Care Act, the reality is that co-payments have skyrocketed in the past several years and families cannot afford these co-payments for mental health care. We believe that families shouldn’t have to choose between food on the table and mental health care – families and communities are healthier and safer when everyone who needs mental health care gets it.”

Pictured L-R are Bob Schminkey, Stated Clerk for New Castle Presbytery, Pastor Sara Holben, Presbyterian Church of Chestertown, and Beth Anne Langrell, Executive Director of For All Seasons, Inc.

One focus of the grant will be to reach out to the community, including the Chestertown Presbyterian Church, to ensure that everyone knows about mental health needs and sexual assault prevention and awareness activities. In addition, For All Seasons will also offer general education sessions on topics such as grief, attachment, trauma, and coping.

The Speer Trust is an Administrative Commission of the New Castle Presbytery, funding $6 million of programs in Delaware and the Eastern Shore of MD over the past 32 years and $8 million worldwide. The Speer Trust is a bequest from the estate of George I. And Lizzie F. Speer of Wilmington, Delaware, received by the Presbytery of New Castle in 1985 and earmarked for mission with people who are poor and oppressed. The Presbytery, through the use of the Speer Trust, is committed to empowering people who are marginalized, in every culture, and addressing root cause of poverty.

According to Bob Schminkey, Stated Clerk for New Castle Presbytery, “New Castle Presbytery is excited to partner with For All Seasons in supporting and expanding your mental health advocacy throughout the Eastern Shore. We look forward to our local congregations joining with you to build safe and healthy communities where health services are accessible to all.”

Langrell adds, “We are thrilled with the opportunity this grant provides in helping those who have entrusted us with their care to be empowered and nurtured on their journey to wellness.”

For All Seasons offers individual and group therapy, general, child and adolescent therapy, marriage and couples counseling, grief counseling, school-based mental health therapy, urgent care services, Rape Crisis Response, Rape Crisis Counseling and Support, 24-Hour English and Spanish Hotlines, and education and outreach programming. For further information about For All Seasons, call 410-822-1018. For the 24-Hour Crisis Hotline, call Toll-Free: 800-310-7273.

“Special Rural Community Hospital” Legislation Could Save Hospital

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Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton, chair of the Senate Finance Committee is the tall man standing front and center, next to Del. Jay Jacobs of Rock Hall, and surrounded by members of the Workgroup on Rural Health Delivery. Workgroup Co-chair Deborah Mizeur is behind Jacobs’ left shoulder, with Co-Chair Joseph Ciotola (nearly obscured behind Sen. Middleton) and Sen. Steve Hershey to her left. Shore Regional Health System President and CEO Ken Kozel is at far left, in the third row from the front. Heron Point Executive Director Garret Falcone is at far right, in the back row.

I have excellent news about the future of our hospital in Chestertown beyond 2022.

With the help of our doctors, delegates, Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton, Workgroup co-chairs Deborah Mizeur and Joe Ciotola, and thousands in our community, the “Save the Hospital” campaign has cleared another hurdle:

On September 28, the state’s “Workgroup on Rural Health Delivery” unanimously agreed that the Chestertown hospital should offer in-patient medical and surgical services.  That means indefinitely, beyond 2022.  That is what our community has fought for since January 2016.

The hospital recommendation also approved unanimously by the Health Care Commission, now goes to the General Assembly as part of a comprehensive Mid-Shore health care plan.

If the in-patient endorsement wins legislative approval and Governor Hogan’s support, the facility on Brown Street will become a “Special Rural Community Hospital,” uniquely eligible for state funding.  The state subsidy is controversial, but it’s critically important.  More than 80 rural American hospitals have closed since 2010.

The Workgroup’s unanimous approval was gratifying.  Even members who had been skeptical or opposed to in-patient care here eventually agreed with messages we’d heard at the January 10, 2016, “Firehouse Meeting.”

  • Healthcare, including in-patient beds, should be as close to home as possible.
  • Shuttling frail patients to Easton from Chestertown and the far-reaches of Kent and Queen Anne’s is bad—sometimes dangerous—medicine.
  • Leaving people who can’t drive with no way to get to Easton appointments and visits to loved ones in the hospital means sick people get sicker.

We’ve come a long way since early 2016 when Shore Health’s board was planning to retain our Emergency Department, diagnostics (MRIs, X-rays, etc.), same-day surgery, rehab, chemo and other ambulatory services, but to eliminate in-patient beds and any surgery requiring an overnight stay.

Ken Kozel, CEO and President of Shore Health, was one of the Workgroup members who endorsed the final report, and on October 28, he reiterated his commitment to the Chester River Health Foundation board.

Shore Health, he said, stands by its in-patient care promise through spring of 2022, and afterward if Maryland provides support as requested through the rural study.

“We feel if you can sustain the funding, then it’s an appropriate facility to have in this community in perpetuity,” Kozel said, adding his agreement with the Workgroup’s conclusion.

“It’s needed,” he said.

Here’s the Workgroup’s full report.  The rural hospital paragraph is at the bottom of page 16.

Margie Elsberg

“Save the Hospital”

Volunteer Communications Coordinator

Hospice Services to Expand in Kent County

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Compass Regional Hospice

By early 2018 residents of Kent County will have a residential hospice center close to home. As part of an agreement between Compass Regional Hospice and University of Maryland Shore Regional Health, Compass began leasing a unit on the third floor at the University of Maryland Medical Center at Chestertown located at 100 Brown Street.

A renovation plan has been developed to transform the vacant unit into a four-bed residential hospice center and is scheduled to open for patient care following months of construction. The newly renovated facility will offer an alternative for Kent County hospice patients who want the security of medical care around the clock but prefer the comfort of a home-like environment.

As Compass Regional Hospice has grown into its role as a regional hospice provider and having considered the current and future needs of the communities served, it became apparent that more convenient access to hospice care was needed in Kent County that included residential hospice beds, much like the Hospice Center in Centreville and the Caroline Hospice Home in Denton.

“We are excited to be able to expand the service we have already been providing in Kent County since becoming the sole provider of hospice services in 2014,” said Heather Guerieri, executive director, Compass Regional Hospice. “Now, in addition to providing hospice care in private residences, nursing homes and assisted living facilities, we will have a four-bed residential hospice center for people who choose routine or continuous levels of care.”

Guerieri added, “We are most grateful to UM Shore Regional Health for helping us respond to the end-of-life needs of Kent County hospice patients and their loved ones through their collaborative efforts and facilitating the lease with Compass, and we will continue to work closely with UM Shore Regional Health when patients are ready to move on to hospice care.”

Compass Regional Hospice will be responsible for providing all aspects of hospice patient care— staffing the unit 24 hours a day, seven days a week and overseeing its operations. Admission to the residential hospice center will be based on greatest need and priority will be given to Kent County residents. Room and board fees billed from Compass are on a sliding scale based on the patient’s ability to pay. Hospital patients who are deemed suitable for admission to residential hospice care must first be discharged from the hospital according to hospital discharge procedures, then admitted to hospice care according to normal hospice admission procedures.

“Compass Regional Hospice provides exemplary hospice care.  Providing space for them to expand hospice services in our community ensures our citizens have the services they need most, close to home,” said Ken Kozel, president and CEO, UM Shore Regional Health. “That’s why we at UM Shore Regional Health are very pleased to collaborate with Compass Regional Hospice on a lease agreement, creating an important opportunity to ensure that ‘the right care, in the right place at the right time’ is available to Kent County hospice patients for whom in-home care is not recommended.”

As a non-profit, Compass Regional Hospice depends on donations from the community to close the gap between the actual cost of providing patient care and reimbursement received from Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance. Reimbursement does not include room and board at our hospice centers, grief support services offered through the Hope & Healing Center for families of hospice patients and members of the community grieving the loss of a loved one and other patient care services such as the Bridges program.

For more information or to become a hospice supporter, call Compass Regional Hospice at 443-262-4100 or visit the hospice website.

 

 

 

“Shoot for the Stars” Casino Night Tickets On Sale

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Phil Dutton and the Alligators will perform at this year’s Shoot for the Stars Casino Night on November 18.

The stars will align at 7 p.m. Saturday, November 18, at the Garfield Center for the Arts when local “celebrities” take their seats as Las Vegas-style casino dealers to help raise funds that will support health care services and patient care in Kent County.

“This is the fourth Shoot for the Stars Casino Night,” says Maryann Ruehrmund, executive director, UM Chester River Health Foundation, which is sponsoring the event. “It tends to sell out quickly because The Garfield Center for the Arts is a very elegant but relatively small venue, so we encourage people to purchase tickets early.”

According to Ruehrmund, arriving guests will be treated to a glass of Sparkling Vidal Blanc, compliments of Crow Vineyard and Winery, and $25,000 in chips for the casino-style games, which include: Craps, Roulette, Caribbean Stud, Three Card Poker and Blackjack. (Additional chips may be purchased throughout the evening.) A sumptuous selection of heavy hors-d’oeuvres provided by Occasions Catering will be available throughout the evening, and a coffee and dessert bar will be provided at the conclusion of gaming.

Entertainment will be provided by the very popular Phil Dutton and the Alligators, who will perform Louisiana-style music from Satchmo to Chenier, and will surely get you dancing!

At the close of the evening, guests will cash in their chips for the chance to win five incredible prizes including a luxurious Williamsburg, Virginia holiday getaway for eight guests, a long weekend in Washington, D.C., a 20-bottle “divine wine basket” and more.

In addition, tickets for a 50-50 raffle are now on sale at the front desks of UM Shore Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown, and at Foundation’s offices. Attendance at the event is not required to win the raffle.

Community “celebrities” who have signed up as croupiers (dealers) for the night include:

Ken Kozel, President and CEO, UM Shore Regional Health

John Haines, RN, Nursing Supervisor, UM SMC at Chestertown

Sherrie Hill, RN, Coordinator, Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, UM SMC at Chestertown

John Carroll, Galena Mayor and UM Chester River Health Foundation Board member

Ron Fithian, Commissioner, Kent County and Town Manager, Rock Hall

Angela Pritzlaff, RN, Transitional Nurse Navigator for Chestertown

Barrie Frazier-Meima, Foundation Board member

Dan Saunders, Esq., retired Foundation Board president and Shore Regional Health Board member

Loretta Lodge, Executive Director, Kent County Chamber of Commerce

Myra Butler, Board member, UM Chester River Health Foundation and Shore Regional Health

Bill Short, Kent County Commissioner

Tickets are now on sale for $125 (of which $75 is tax-deductible as a charitable donation) on a first-come, first-served basis, as seating is limited. Guests are encouraged to dress in cocktail attire. For more information or to purchase tickets, please call Deb Lauser, 410-810-5661. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are also available online here.

Maryland Touts new Generic Drug Price-Gouging Law

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Following Maryland’s recent efforts as the first state to enact a law that protects consumers from generic prescription drug price-gouging, local leaders and health care advocates on Tuesday highlighted the benefits of the legislation and urged Marylanders to share their personal stories about drug affordability.

The law went into effect Oct. 1 and restricts manufacturers of generic and off-patent prescription drugs from price gouging, or the “excessive and not justified” increase in the cost of a drug, according to a state analysis.

In July, the Association for Accessible Medicines, the trade association that represents America’s manufacturers of generic and biosimilar medicines, filed a lawsuit against Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and Dennis Schrader, secretary of the Maryland Department of Health, charging that the law was unconstitutional. The association said in July that the law was only protecting high-priced brand name drug companies and punishing lower cost generic alternatives.

In September, a judge rejected portions of the association’s argument and allowed the law to take effect. The association in a statement has said it plans to appeal.

“As a caregiver, prescription drugs are a big part of my life,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker in a press release. Baker on Tuesday explained how the law has personally affected him and his family. His wife was diagnosed with early onset dementia and the cost of her medication had shot up from $100 during his earlier pharmacy visits to $300 in recent visits.
“You think about the fact that I have some of the best insurance as county executive. … I have resources, but what happens to somebody that comes in and can’t afford to pay $300?” Baker said.

Generic medications account for 88 percent of drugs dispensed nationally, and 22 percent of generics studied by the Government Accountability Office experienced an “extraordinary price increase” of 100 percent or greater between 2010 and 2015, according to the office of the Maryland Attorney General.

“I take care of patients, not laws,” Dr. Stephen Rockower, past president of MedChi said Tuesday. “My job is to make sure that patients get better, which means patients taking their medicine, and I can’t do my job when they can’t afford their medicine.”

EpiPens and Naloxone are medications that officials have raised concerns about recently — citing prices that rose sharply from October 2013 to April 2014. Prices of EpiPens had a 508 percent increase in price. Naloxone, a medication used to treat opioid overdose — an especially important medication amid the nation’s opioid crisis — increased in price by 553 percent, according to the office of the Maryland Attorney General.

“It’s outrageous that companies can jack up prices like this,” Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative President Vincent DeMarco told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service. “This law is a life-saver and we’re confident that the attorney general will continue to succeed in court with this legislation.”

Maryland joined 44 other states on Tuesday in an antitrust investigation of the generic drug industry. They asked a federal court for permission to file a new complaint to increase the number of generic drug manufacturer defendants from six to 16, and drugs at issue from two to 15.

“We have to go after it,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh told Capital News Service. “We’ll see the drug companies collapse and take it to trial.”

Supporters of the legislation urged consumers on Tuesday to submit their stories to www.healthcareforall.com/hearmystory, a new webpage created for the public to share how escalating drug prices have hurt them or their families.

“As legislators, one of the ways we were able to fight was to hear the stories of individuals and repeat them in court by talking to people who could not afford the medicine that they needed,” said state Delegate Ariana Kelly (D-Montgomery). “We need your help to make sure that the legislation works.”

By Georgia Slater

Md. Medical society asks hospitals to review opioid doses

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The Maryland State Medical Society is taking action amidst the nation’s opioid crisis and urging hospitals and physicians in the state to decrease the automated controlled-substance standing orders and to prescribe a minimum amount of opioids necessary.

This epidemic is gathering attention in Maryland — Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency March 1 and committed an additional $50 million over five years to help with prevention.

The number of deaths due to prescription opioids decreased slightly — from 218 to 211— in the first half of this year over the same time period last year, Jan 1. To June 30, according to state health department data released Tuesday.

But the increase in all opioid-related deaths recent years has been sharp: From 2014 to 2017, the number of opioid-related deaths reported in Maryland between Jan. 1 and March 31 more than doubled — taking the death toll up to 473 from 226 three years earlier, according to state health department data.

In response to this crisis, the society, known as MedChi, created an Opioid Task Force to “educate Maryland physicians on safe opioid prescribing practices, how to recognize risk factors, and when to recommend alternative, scientifically-based evidence-based non-opioid treatments,” according to a release earlier this month.

Over the last decade and a half, the amount of opioids prescribed in the United States has risen sharply.

The amount of opioids prescribed per person more than tripled from 1999 to 2015, when the volume of prescriptions reached enough for every American to be medicated for three weeks straight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The problem may have began in the 1990s when physicians received messages saying they were undertreating pain, said MedChi President Dr. Gary Pushkin.

The “inadequate treatment of pain” was the subject of many policy efforts in the 1990s and among these were the “increased use of opioids for acute pain and the use of long-term opioid therapy for patients with chronic pain,” according to a 2016 paper in the
American Journal of Law and Medicine.

“Doctors do have a role in the whole opioid problem, but I don’t think we are the bad guys that we are painted out to be … a majority of doctors want to do the right thing,” added Pushkin.

Now with the ongoing epidemic and continual increase in opioid prescriptions, MedChi is seeking out these smaller changes with the hopes of a larger impact.

The group is asking that physicians and hospitals review the automated controlled substance “standing orders” that are in the electronic health record systems.

These systems may be creating these standing orders automatically as the recommended dosages — even when lower dosages would be sufficient, Pushkin said.

With this initiative, MedChi is asking that if opioids are being prescribed, hospitals and physicians do not solely rely on auto-populated dosages, and instead they decide which dosage, preferably one that is more minimal, is actually necessary for the pain being treated, explained MedChi CEO Gene Ransom.

Letters have been sent to Maryland hospitals and physicians, according to Pushkin, suggesting that either, “(1) the physicians’ standing orders be reduced to the minimum dosage and quantities necessary or (2) that practices remove any automated dosage and quantity in the …ordering system.”

Ransom said MedChi has received positive responses from hospitals and physicians, and some have begun looking into enacting these changes. Many of them were appreciative that more is being done to try and solve this opioid problem, he added.

“We are very much in line with MedChi’s efforts to reduce standing orders and we know that our efforts can’t just stop there. There are many more measures we have to take on a wider basis for this issue,” Nicole Stallings, Maryland Hospital Association vice president of policy and data analytics told Capital News Service.

The association has been trying to tackle the epidemic for years — in 2015 the group created a set of opioid prescribing guidelines, which included altering standard orders, and 100 percent of Maryland hospital emergency departments signed on to using these guidelines, Stallings added.

Prescribing opioids for too many days and at too high a dose can create a problem, according to the CDC.

Even at low doses, taking an opioid for more than three months can increase the risk of addiction by 15 times, the CDC reported.

A solution may be prescribing for fewer days; for acute pain, prescriptions for three days or fewer is often enough, and more than seven days is rarely needed, according to the CDC.

“This small adjustment could help prevent patients from receiving a higher dosage or quantity than necessary, and may prevent diversion (giving drugs to other people) or other problems,” said Pushkin.

Additionally, many of these opioid prescriptions go unused and are improperly stored in the home, according to a 2017 Johns Hopkins Medicine study.

Dr. Mark Bick, associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care at Hopkins, spearheaded the study and found that 67 to 92 percent of a total of 810 patients did not use their entire opioid prescription, but still held onto them, increasing the risk of misuse.

“Our task force continues to work on solutions to this problem and we are going to keep working on it and are open to more ideas to how this can work better. It’s a common sense solution….If we can reduce just a small number (of deaths) it’s worth it,” said Ransom.

By Georgia Slater
Capital News Service