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

Haven Ministries “Beef, Bonfires and Cigars – A ‘Spirited’ Event”

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A new event, “Beef, Bonfires and Cigars,” to benefit Haven Ministries, will be held on November 8 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the Aspen Institute, Wye River Conference Center, 201 Wye Woods Way in Queenstown. The event will offer men a night out to sample food and spirit tastings from multiple restaurants and caterers in the region. Food tastings will be provided by Capriotti’s, Krave Catering, Range and Reef, Harris Crab House, Tamara’s Desserts, Café Sado, and a fresh oyster vendor. The spirit tastings will be offered by Lyon’s Distillery, The Winery, and Rise Up Coffee Roasters.  There will also be live music and multiple vendors showcasing their goods, including cigars to smoke. BMW of Annapolis, one of the event sponsors, will also be onsite with the newest models of BMWs.

Aspen Institute

Mia Cranford, Director of Marketing and Fundraising Coordinator at Haven Ministries, comments, “We wanted to create a new event that was out of the box – including old world charm and where men could come and just have a good time.”

Women are invited to this event, as well, and there will be wine and food tasting for them with a cost of $20 per person. Haven Ministries is planning a separate “Women’s Weekend Away” on February 23 – 25, 2018, at Aspen Institute, including what many women enjoy – shopping, eating, and spa treatments.

What’s Up Media is the media partner for the event and The Aspen Institute is the host of the event and a new business partner. Haven Ministries other business partners to date, which are supporting the event, include Benson and Mangold/Chuck Mangold Jr., Chesapeake Hearing Centers, McCrone, Increte. Bay Times, Miltec, Lundberg Builders, Freestate and Son Insurance, Hemingways, Prospect Bay, Salon Atelier, Maid Healthy, Safe at Home Senior Care, ArtCademy, Construction Services and Supplies, Inc., Bayview Portraits by Cindy Williams Sigmon, Railway Title, The Narrows, Riley Custom Homes, Roof Center, Holiday Inn Express, PENFED Credit Union/Kara.Plummer@pedfed.org, Harris Crab House, Island Furniture Studios, Kate Spade, and Cargo Direct.

According to Krista Pettit, Executive Director of Haven Ministries, the new event benefits Haven Ministries as it continues with its fundraising efforts to help sustain its important programs and to move the ministry forward in purchasing property for a housing assistance program.

Tickets to the “Beef, Bonfires and Cigars – A “Spirited” Event” cost $50 per person and are available at haven-ministries.org.

Love shapes the ministry, love transforms people, and hope prevails at Haven Ministries.  Haven Ministries operates a Resource Center at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Centreville, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with job training, educational programming, and case management services.  The Haven Ministries Food Pantry is held on the third Friday monthly at Safe Harbor Presbyterian Church in Stevensville from 5:30 to 7 p.m.  Our Daily Thread Thrift Store is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For further information about Haven Ministries, visit haven-ministries.org or call 410-739-4363.

November Events to Promote Diabetes Awareness

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Recent public health statistics indicate that diabetes rates for Maryland’s Eastern Shore counties are approaching — and in some cases, exceeding — 10 percent. According to Trish Rosenberry, regional director, UM Shore Regional Health Specialty Clinics, this high prevalence is made more dangerous due to lack of public awareness of the disease and its potential consequences. “More than 25 percent of people who have diabetes are undiagnosed and asymptomatic, and therefore are unaware that they have the disease and may be experiencing damage to their heart, eyes, kidneys, and limbs,” Rosenberry says.

The prevalence of diabetes and the potential damage it poses to overall health are highlighted each November through the American Diabetes Association’s national campaign for Diabetes Awareness. In observance of Diabetes Month this year, health care providers in Kent County have planned three events – one in Worton and two in Chestertown – to help those coping with with diabetes and/or prediabetes gain a better understanding of the disease and strategies to manage it for their best possible health.

On Saturday, November 4, the Mt. Olive AME Church in Worton is hosting a Diabetes Health Fair, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event, which includes a free luncheon and gifts for attendees, will provide expert help regarding diet, nutrition, exercise/wellness, natural foods and nutrition products. “Representatives from UM Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology, Kent Athletic Center, Chestertown Natural Foods, and Nuts and Seeds, among others will be there, giving presentations and answering questions from those in attendance,” says Chrissy Nelson, diabetes educator.

Also free and open to the public is a seminar, “You Can Eat and Still Lose Weight,” set for Wednesday, November 8, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., in UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown’s Education Center. Local dietitians Mary King and Cheyrle Borneman will offer tips on how to achieve your desired weight without severe dieting.

“Food Shopping for Health,” a grocery store tour set for Thursday, November 9, 1 to 3 p.m. at Redner’s Market in Chestertown, is designed to show how anyone with diabetes or pre-diabetes can shop and plan for meals that will promote optimal health. “A diabetes diagnosis can seem overwhelming, but there are shopping strategies to help you plan menus and fill up your cart with the right foods to maintain your best health,” says Mary King, nutrition services coordinator, UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown, who leads the tour. “This tour helps people learn how to ‘shop smart’ and select foods that will help them avoid complications.” Persons interested in participating in the tour should RSVP by calling 410-778-3300, ext. 2295.

Ongoing diabetes support and education services at UM Shore Medical Center in Chestertown include: the diabetes support group, which meets the first Tuesday of every month, 6:30 p.m.; and Diabetes Self-Management, a three-class (nine hour) program for persons who are newly diagnosed or need help in controlling their disease. A doctor’s referral and advance registration is required. Physician and advance practice provider care is offered by appointment in Chestertown on Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For more information or to make an appointment, contact 410-822-1000, ext.5757.

Red Cross – Helping America

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Red Cross Disaster Relief truck arrives in the Dallas area after Hurricane Harvey.

Greater Chesapeake Region-Baltimore — October 20, 2017 – In the past eight weeks, the American Red Cross has launched a wide-ranging relief effort to help people devastated by three historic, back-to-back hurricanes – Harvey, Irma, and Maria and the record-breaking California Wildfires. 

The Red Cross is on the ground, part of a large team of agencies and organizations responding to provide help to communities turned upside-down.  The Greater Chesapeake Region has deployed more than 253 Red Crossers to provide help and assistance with all these back-to-back disasters, some deploying to more than one disaster.

“I continued to be amazing at the generosity of our community coming to the aid of their neighbors, both far and near, leaving their families, jobs, and homes for deployments lasting more than 2 weeks at a time.  The American Red Cross could not do what we do to help those affected and displaced by these disasters, without the generosity of our volunteers, donors, and supporters.  Thank you to the community for answering the call” said Scott Salemme, Greater Chesapeake Regional CEO.

California Wildfires

  • Overnight, more than 740 people sought refuge from wildfires in 14 Red Cross and community shelters across the state.
  • Since the fires began, the Red Cross, community, and government partners have provided more than 27,000 overnight stays in emergency shelters.
  • With the help of partners, the Red Cross has served more than 79,000 meals and snacks and provided more than 6,000 mental health and health services to support and care for those affected.
  • The Red Cross has distributed more than 50,000 emergency relief items such as masks, gloves, rakes, trash bags and comfort kits containing deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other hygiene items to people in need.
  • More than 1,200 Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground now.

Hurricane Response Efforts (Harvey, Irma, and Maria)

  • In the last eight weeks, the Red Cross, along with community and government partners, has provided 1.3 million (1,335,000) overnight stays in emergency shelters. That is more overnight shelter stays than the past 5 years combined. Shelters were opened in 8 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This includes—
    • For Harvey, more than 434,000 overnight shelter stays in Texas and Louisiana.
    • For Irma, more than 648,000 overnight shelter stays across six states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
    • For Maria, more than 252,000 overnight stays in primarily government shelters across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • With the help of partners, the Red Cross has served more than 6.7 million (6,744,000) meals and snacks — that is more food than the past 4 years combined.
  • The Red Cross has distributed 3.8 million (3,863,000) emergency relief items to people in need.
  • Red Cross volunteers have provided more than 193,000 mental health and health services to support and care for those affected.
  • More than 16,000 trained disaster workers, 91 percent of them volunteers, have been mobilized to support hurricane relief efforts. Many of these workers have supported multiple relief operations or deployed multiple times.
  • Right now, nearly 1,900 Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground. More than 100 Red Cross workers from around the world have deployed to the United States to help with hurricane relief efforts.

Hurricane Harvey

  • As of October 9, the Red Cross has authorized payment of $400 to more than 477,000 households severely affected by Hurricane Harvey. That is more than $190 million in direct financial assistance, and we continue to process applications.
  • Overnight, more than 300 people stayed in three Red Cross and partner shelters across Texas.
  • Along with our partners, we have served more than 4.5 million (4,537,000) meals and snacks in Texas and Louisiana.
  • More than 540 Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground in Texas now.
  • Red Cross volunteers have provided more than 125,000 mental health and health services to support and care for people in Texas and Louisiana.
  • We’ve distributed more than 1.6 million (1,660,000) relief items like diapers, bug spray, cleaning supplies, coolers, and comfort kits containing deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other hygiene items, in Texas and Louisiana.

Hurricane Irma (Continental U.S. Only)

  • Overnight, 48 people stayed in one emergency shelter in Florida.
  • Along with our partners, we have served more than 1.5 million (1,582,000) meals and snacks across six states.
  • We’ve distributed more than 1 million (1,073,000) relief items like diapers, bug spray, cleaning supplies, coolers, and comfort kits containing deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other hygiene items across six states.
  • Red Cross volunteers have provided more than 52,000 mental health and health services to support and care for those affected across six states.
  • More than 560 Red Cross disaster workers are responding to Irma now.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria (Puerto Rico and USVI)

  • In Puerto Rico, more than 4,200 people stayed overnight in 92 government evacuation shelters.
  • On the U.S. Virgin Islands, 309 people stayed overnight in 5 shelters.
  • More than 780 Red Cross disaster workers are supporting relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands now.
  • Along with our partners, the Red Cross has served more than 623,000 meals and snacks across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • We have distributed 1.1 million (1,129,000) relief items across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Red Cross volunteers have provided more than 15,000 mental health and health services to support and care for those affected.
  • After Irma and Maria struck Puerto Rico, the Red Cross has served more than 543,000 meals and snacks, distributed more than 843,000 relief supplies, and provided more than 11,000 mental health and health services to people in need. Right now, more than 600 Red Cross disaster workers are helping.
  • After Irma and Maria struck the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Red Cross has served more than 79,000 meals and snacks, handed out more than 286,000 relief items, and provided more than 4,000 mental health and health services to people in need. Right now, more than 170-trained Red Cross disaster workers are helping.

The American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund is helping people whose lives have been upended by hurricanes, storms, floods, wildfires and countless other crises.  Locally, the American Red Cross of the Greater Chesapeake Region responds to an average of three fires each day. 

On average the American Red Cross of the Greater Chesapeake Region provides help to Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia families two to three times each day after disasters including emergency shelter, food, clothing, and counseling thanks to major support from donors to the United Way campaigns. Each day the Red Cross also provides lifesaving blood to area hospitals; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information or to donate, please visit the Red Cross website.

About the American Red Cross Greater Chesapeake Region

 

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Shore Health: Maryland to Offer Online Shopping Tool for Medical Procedures

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The Maryland Health Care Commission, the state’s independent regulatory agency, is unveiling a website on which people scheduling a hip replacement, knee replacement, hysterectomy or vaginal delivery can see price differences among different providers for the same procedure.

The site is launching amid rising health-care costs and as some consumers turn to insurance plans with high deductibles.

The state site is meant to give consumers a tool to compare prices and quality on four common medical procedures at hospitals around the state that patients otherwise would have difficulty finding on their own.

Read the full story in the Washington Post here

Winter is Coming: Got Your Flu Shot?

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by Peter Heck and Jane Jewell

Have you had your flu shot yet?

The beginning of flu season is rapidly approaching, and now’s the time to get this year’s flu shot. I got mine last Thursday at the Kent County Health Department at 125 South Lynchburg Street in Chestertown. It was fast, about a five-minute wait with only one person ahead of me. There was only virtually no hassle, just one quick form to fill out.  Bring your insurance or Medicare/Medicaid cards and the cost is covered with no co-pay, in most cases.  So it’s basically free and the vaccine gives me a good chance of getting through the upcoming flu season without any of the all-too-familiar symptoms of the virus.

But does a flu shot really help?  Many people say that they got the shot one year but still got the flu. Yes, that happens.  But the Center for Disease Control (CDC) does a study each year to determine how effective that year’s flu vaccine was and how it compares to previous years.  What they have found is that, while it varies from year to year, vaccination reduces the chance of catching the flu by between 40% and 60%.  Thus there’s no guarantee that you won’t get the flu but you have a much better chance of resisting it than those who don’t get the flu shot.  For every one hundred unprotected persons who get the flu, only 40-60 vaccinated persons come down with it.  So with the vaccine, you have a decent chance of avoiding the flu.  Without it, you may be sniffling and missing work for one to two weeks – or more.  So, yes, the flu shot helps.

The flu hits suddenly, no gradual buildup of symptoms like the common cold often has. You don’t wonder if you might be coming down with something; you know when it hits.  Fortunately, the severe symptoms usually last no more than 2-3 days.  However, other symptoms such an intermittent low fever, cough, weakness, and fatigue may last a week or more. Sometimes, there is a lingering dry cough that lasts or returns again and again over the course of a few months.  Catching the flu can end up with you not feeling up to par for the whole winter. So avoiding the flu is really a good thing!  And the flu shot improves your chances.

Peter Heck, your intrepid Spy reporter, receives his lollipop from  Rita Kulley, RN, program manage of the Flu Clinic, after she gave him his flu shot. (As proof, note the band-aid on upper arm.) 

The Kent County Health Department is holding walk-in flu clinics every Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon through the end of December.  No appointments necessary. Tell ’em the Spy sent you.

Regular flu shots cost $30; while high-dosage shots for seniors are $50. But in most cases, it’s free, no money changes hands. Medicare and Medicaid pick up the entire cost while most insurance companies pay all or most of the cost. The clinic accepts Medicare and MCOs for payment, as well as cash, checks and credit cards.  MCOs are the Managed Care Organizations that provide services to Medicaid recipients.

The strains of flu virus in circulation change each season, so last year’s inoculation is unlikely to be effective against this year’s bugs, which the current vaccine is tailored to protect you from. October and early November are the best times to get your vaccination. That way your immune system can develop antibodies before the flu season kicks in around Thanksgiving. Good idea to develop immunity before those big family gatherings followed by the frenetic shopping and festive parties of December. There’s no better time to visit a qualified health care provider and get your shots updated than now.

In addition to the Health Department, flu shots are available at many local pharmacies. No appointments are needed, just walk-in.  Usually there is no or very little wait.

Rite Aid Pharmacy in Chestertown offers the shots Mon-Fri from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m, Sat 9 to 6, Sun 10 to 9.

Walgreen’s Pharmacy in Chestertown offers the shots from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, 8 to 6 Saturdays and 10 to 6 Sundays.

Edwards Pharmacy at 102 S. Commerce St. near the Centreville courthouse, offers the shots from 8 a.m to 6 p.m. weekdays, 8 to 2 Saturdays.

Edwards has just opened a pharmacy in Chestertown but they are not yet geared up to offer flu shots. Next year, they said, Edwards Pharmacy Chestertown will have flu vaccines.

Prices tend to be similar to the Health Department; most insurance plans pick up the entire cost. For those without insurance, the standard shot is around $30, and $50 to $60 for the high-dose senior shot. Bring your insurance cards when you go for the shot.

Rite aid Pharmacy in Kent Plaza shopping center in Chestertown at the intersection of Washington Ave. (Rt 213) and Morgnec Rd. (Rt. 291) Flu shots available M-F from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sat 10:00 am-6:00 pm. Sun.

Walgreen’s Pharmacy in Chestertown at the corner of Washington Ave. (Rt 213) and Morgnec Rd. (Rt. 291)

It’s also possible your family doctor can give you the inoculation. But the point is to get it. It takes about two weeks after the injection for the vaccine to become fully effective, so getting your shot before the flu season begins is important.

In fact, everyone older than six months should get a shot, unless they have a life-threatening allergy to the vaccine or one of its ingredients. A flu shot doesn’t just protect you — it also helps protect the community as a whole, a phenomenon called herd immunity. The more people who have immunity to this year’s virus, the less likely it is that a dangerous pandemic can get a foothold.

And make no mistake — flu can be a killer, especially to those in vulnerable segments of the population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this group includes children under 5 years and adults over 50 years old; anyone with chronic pulmonary or cardiovascular disorders; pregnant women; residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities; American Indians; and anyone who is extremely obese. Family members and caregivers of those in the vulnerable categories should also be sure to get immunized so they don’t expose someone at high risk for complications to the disease.

Antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu are helpful in mitigating flu symptoms once a patient is infected with the virus, but they are not a substitute for the vaccination. Nor do they prevent the infected person from spreading the virus to others around them.

Kent County Health Department at 125 South Lynchburg Street in Chestertown.  Walk-in flu shot clinic on Thursday mornings 9-noon.

The Kent County Health Department also has numerous other services for individuals.  They have informational pamphlets in both English and Spanish on almost every health issue.

Flu clinic forms are available at the Health Department website or at the clinic. Call 410-778-1350 ext. 3 for more information.

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