Hospice Center for Chestertown Now Open


Compass Regional Hospice’s residential Hospice Center located at 100 Brown Street in Chestertown is now open for patient care. Compass Regional Hospice leases a unit on the third floor of the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Chestertown from University of Maryland Shore Regional Health. Patient care is provided by the staff of Compass Regional Hospice, the sole provider of hospice care in Kent County, and also in Queen Anne’s and Caroline Counties.

“We are grateful for the amount of support we have received already from our community and are excited to bring a new, and much needed level of ‘Care on your terms’ to the residents of Kent County,” says Heather Guerieri, executive director, Compass Regional Hospice. “Opening the Hospice Center allows us to expand the services we have been providing since becoming the sole provider of hospice services in 2014.”

Guerieri adds, “We are grateful to UM Shore Regional Health for helping us to respond to the end-of-life needs of Kent County patients and their loved ones through facilitating the lease with Compass. We also want to thank the many people of our community who have donated their time, materials and expertise to make it possible for us to transform the unit into the Hospice Center.”

Compass Regional Hospice renovated the unit transforming it into a comfortable, home-like Hospice Center that can accommodate four patients in private rooms. All patient rooms are equipped with flat screen TVs and comfortable seating for visitors. The kitchenette and living room are spaces that offer privacy for visitors to gather and enjoy meals, puzzles or other activities.

The Hospice Center is staffed around-the-clock, with two hospice aides always on duty. Other staff available as needed include physicians, a nurse practitioner, hospice nurses, social workers and grief counselors. A chaplain from Compass Regional Hospice will be onsite regularly and personal ministers and other clergy are welcome to visit.

The facility is equipped with technology that connects staff to the Compass Regional Hospice electronic medical record system and allows for constant communication with Compass’ team members at our other three locations.

The Hospice Center is reserved for patients who need a more intensive level of care. Admission will be based on greatest need. 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 Compass Regional Hospice for hospice care according to normal hospice admission procedures. No one is ever turned away if they are unable to pay.

For more information about Compass Regional Hospice or if you think we can help you or a loved one, call 443-262-4100 or visit www.compassregionalhospice.org. To become a hospice supporter in Kent County, contact Kenda Leager, development officer, 443-262-4106, kleager@compassregionalhospice.org.

When Women Help Women Help Women


For thirteen years in a row now, something remarkable takes place at the Garfield Center for the Arts when dozens of women (and a few men) gather to sing and perform their hearts out to raise money for other women.

Organized by Carla Massoni starting in 2005 as a way to provide support of Dr. Maria Boria’s urgent health work with migrant women and their families on the Eastern Shore, the annual event has taken on a life of its own as some of the best professional artists in Kent County take to the stage to make it one of Chestertown’s most popular and successful fundraisers of the season.

The Spy sat down yesterday with the show’s producer and performer, Sue Matthews, and For All Seasons executive director and singer, Beth Anne Langrell, to talk about their decade-old relationship with Women Helping Women and the launch of the Boria Project to honor Dr. Boria’s life work at For All Seasons to provide much-needed workshops on sexual harassment/sexual assault for the Spanish speaking migrant communities working on farms and in chicken plants in the region.

With the long-lasting help of the musical director, Joe Holt, and is hosted by Jen Friedman. Performers this year are Kate Bennett, Sydney and Madeleine Berna and Tillie Killam (Dr. Boria’s granddaughters), Nevin Dawson, Elisabeth Engle, Barbara Ferris, Jen Friedman, Rebekah Hardy Hock, Joe Holt, Yvette Hynson, Diane Landskroener, Beth Anne Langrell, Jodie Littleton, Sue Matthews, Beth McDonald, Melissa McGlynn, Bob & Pam Ortiz, Barbara Parker, Caitlin Patton, John Schratwieser, Nina Sharp, Mary Simmons, Karen Somerville and Shannon Whitaker. We are excited to announce that the River Voices of the Chester River Chorale will also be performing at this year’s Women Helping Women! River Voices Members: Bill Barron, MG Brosius, Helen Clark, Doug Hamilton, Bonnie Keating, Mary McCoy, Jim Moseman, Andrea Neiman, Caitlin Patton, Steffi Ricketts and Tom Schreppler.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. Please go here for ticket information or by calling the Garfield Center at 410-810- 2060. Tickets $25. For more information about For All Seasons and the Boria Project please go here

The concert and the donations you provide are the sole source of funding for the programs Women Helping Women supports. If you are unable to join us for the show, please consider making a donation by check to:

203 High Street Chestertown, MD 21620

Rotary Award to “Save Our Hospital”


Dr. Jerry O’Connor receives the first annual Dr. Paul Titsworth Service Award from Rotary president Andy Meehan     Photo by Jane Jewell

The Chestertown Rotary Club, at its luncheon meeting Feb. 27, at the Fish Whistle, gave the first annual Dr. Paul Titsworth Service Award to “Save Our Hospital,” a group of citizens and medical professionals who have been working to ensure that Chestertown continues to have a full-service hospital with beds for in-patient care.

The afternoon started with an excellent buffet luncheon provided by the Fish Whistle with pulled pork, roast beef, chicken breasts, and Jeff Carroll’s famous mac-n-cheese. along with salads and a choice of pastries for dessert.  The meeting proper began with the pledge of allegiance and a recitation of Rotary’s Four-Way Test, guidelines that members use before taking action:  1) Is it the Truth? 2) Is it Fair to all concerned? 3) Will it build Good Will and Better Friendships? 4) Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?

Following the lunch, Rotary president Andy Meehan got the ball rolling with general introductions while Brian Moore, the general manager of WCTR radio, gave the history of Dr. Paul Titsworth. Meehan then presented the award. Present on behalf of the “Save Our Hospital” group were Drs. Gerald O’Connor and Wayne Benjamin, who were among the first to alert the community that the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), which acquired the Chestertown hospital in 2007, was planning to close the facility and move its services to Easton. O’Connor said it was an honor to receive the award. He mentioned Marge Elsberg, Kay Macintosh, Zane and Nancy Carter, Glen Wilson and Dr. Benjamin as other key figures in the fight to save the hospital. He gave a brief summary of how local physicians became aware of UMMS’s plans and began to work to oppose a hospital closing. A community meeting at the Chestertown firehouse in January 2016 drew an overflow crowd, estimated at more than 500. Despite the favorable response by the Maryland General Assembly, “Our job is not over,” O’Connor said. He also thanked state senator Steve Hershey and delegate Jay Jacobs for their support in the Maryland General Assembly.

Benjamin agreed that the fight must continue, noting that UMMS appears to have adopted a strategy of “bleeding to death” the local hospital by instituting small cuts most residents won’t notice until it’s too late. He urged attendees to read the affiliation agreement between the local hospital and UMMS and see the promises made at the time of the acquisition. “We need to follow through” to ensure that the promises are kept, he said.

Dr. Karen Couch, superintendent of Kent County Schools.       Photo by Jane Jewell

Karen Couch, Kent County superintendent of education, introduced Mizeur, the keynote speaker. Mizeur is a clinical herbalist, trained as a nutritionist, who operates her own herb farm in Kent County.  She had a long list of experience in healthcare policy before becoming co-chair of the Rural Healthcare Workgroup. Couch said Mizeur is continuing to work to assure that the workgroup’s recommendations are incorporated into legislation. Mizeur served as co-chair of the Rural Healthcare Workgroup established by the Maryland General Assembly in response to residents’ concerns over reports that the Chestertown hospital may close or have its services drastically reduced. The workgroup delivered its report last fall and is waiting for the General Assembly to act on its recommendations.

Mizeur’s talk gave an update on the workgroup’s report, how it is being received in the General Assembly, and future prospects for the continued presence of the hospital in Chestertown. She praised the doctors who raised the alarm about the possibility that the hospital would close. “Doctors want to take care of people, not deal with politics or business,” she said. The low population density of rural areas like the Eastern Shore creates a challenge for getting medical personnel to move to rural areas. It can be an issue of “selling the town,” selling Chestertown to prospective employees.  She said the workgroup focused on the principle that their job was to look for the best way to deliver care to rural areas — not the costs or the business aspects of the problem. Their report tried to identify ways to attract physicians to the Shore. It can be an issue of “selling the town,” selling Chestertown to interested medical personnel. A major issue is how to mitigate the problems of distance, which affect not only getting patients to immediate care but the ability of their families to visit and support them. If the nearest medical facility is an hour away when someone has a stroke or heart attack, it may not matter how good the care is at that facility if the person can’t get there in time. Transportation is a key to any solution, Mizeur said. A study conducted in parallel with the workgroups by the University of Maryland School of Public Health arrived at essentially the same conclusions, especially the need to keep inpatient care in Kent County and similar areas of the state. Currently, UMMS is legally required to keep the hospital open with in-patient beds until 2022.  But, Mizeure pointed out, that doesn’t mean that the hospital facilities and services can’t be left to “wither on the vine” during that time.  She stressed that we must unite and keep UMMS accountable or we will wake up in three years and discover that we have no hospital.  However, the final answer is in the hands of the General Assembly, she said.

Heather Mizeur, co-chair of Maryland’s Work Group on Rural Health Care Delivery, at Rotary luncheon. Leslie Sea and Brian Moore of WCTR radio in the background.    Photo by Jane Jewell

The biggest challenge to finding a solution is the private ownership of the Shore Regional Health facilities, of which the Chestertown hospital is part. Neither the community nor the state has sufficient leverage to control UMMS decisions, which are still driven by a desire to pull services out of Chestertown and move them to Easton, Mizeur said. She said workgroup members and the “Save Our Hospital” group is continuing to advocate for the Maryland Department of Health to monitor services at the local hospital and ensure they are not being eroded. “We’re doing our best to hold UMMS accountable,” she said. “We think we have a strong case,” Mizeur said.  State senators Steve Hershey and Mike Middleton remain committed to helping save the hospital, but the process continues. “It’s a moving target,” she said.

The Rotarian’s service award is named for Dr. Paul Titsworth, who was president of Washington College from 1923 to 1933 and the founding president of the Chestertown Rotary Club in 1926, The “Save Our Hospital” group is the first recipient of what is to be an annual award.  Sound equipment was provided by Leslie Sea and Brian Moore of WCTR radio, Chestertown.  Rotary International is a widely-respected service organization whose purpose is “to bring together business and professional leaders to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and to advance goodwill and peace around the world.”  There are over 35,000 local clubs worldwide.  Anyone interested in joining or finding out more about the organization can contact current Rotary president Andy Meehan at AMeehan12@gmail.com. Visit the International Rotary website here or the Chestertown Rotary FaceBook page here.

Paul Heckels, past president of Chestertown Rotary, and David White hold a picture of Dr. Paul Titsworth, past president of Washington College and founder and first president of the Chestertown Rotary Club.    Photo by Jane Jewell

Dr. Jerry O’Connor, Deborah Mizeur, Andy Meehan    Photo by Jane Jewell















Attendees at Rotary luncheon at Fish Whistle.      Photo by Jane Jewell

Rotary insignia over the years – Chestertown chapter      Photo by Jane Jewell













The Rotary’s Four-Way Test  Photo by Jane Jewell

Rotary president Andy Meehan, Kent County Library director Jackie Adams, Rev. Frank St. Amour of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.     Photo by Jane Jewell

Chestertown Profiles: A New Doctor has Arrived in Town


Dr. Julia Belanger winces a bit when being referred to as an endangered species, but she does accept the fact that very few general practitioners these days decide to come to small rural communities to start their careers.

But that is precisely what Julia agreed to do when she and her husband, Rolando Irizarry, a public relations professional now working at Washington College, agreed to locate in Chestertown with the deliberate motive to making their quality of life their primary objective.

The Spy tracked Dr. Belanger down at the recently opened at University of Maryland Shore Medical Pavilion on Philosophers Terrace to take about this decision, her background, and her new practice.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Dr. Belanger and Shore Health please go here

Shore Regional Health Announces Management Change at Medical Center Chestertown


University of Maryland Shore Regional Health CEO Ken Kozel has announced that Kathy Elliott, RN, MSN, REA- BC, Director of Nursing at Shore Medical Center in Chestertown, has been appointed to serve as Interim Executive Director of UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown, following the resignation of Scott Burleson, effective Monday, February 26.

Elliott, a lifelong resident of Kent County, holds a Master of Science in Nursing from Walden University and earned her RN from Wor-Wic Community College. She began her career at the hospital in Chestertown in 1988 and has a broad background in clinical and management services, having served in medical-surgical, critical care, surgery and post-surgery care as well as outpatient services. She was named Director of Nursing at Chestertown in 2017.

Elliott reports directly to Kozel in this role and serves on the senior executive team, while maintaining her role as the nursing leader at Chestertown and the regional director of professional nursing practice and Magnet.

“I look forward to working with Kathy for the success of UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown,” Kozel says. “Please join me in welcoming Kathy to the executive team at UM Shore Regional Health. We wish Scott Burleson well in his future endeavors.”

Mid-Shore Health: The Future of Memory Loss on the Delmarva with Dr. Terry Detrich


Showing his strong native roots on the Mid-Shore, the first thing Dr. Terry Detrich notes about the establishment of the Samuel and Alexia Bratton Neurocognitive Clinic at Bayleigh Chase in Easton was his long-festering grievance that the center’s location had replaced his favorite goose hunting spot. Growing up as a boy in Easton, he and his friends had used the farmland east of Route 50 for that purpose before leaving the Shore to attend college and medical school to become a neurologist.

Dr. Detrich returned to Talbot County after that intensive training to become the Delmarva’s first general neurologist and since the 1960s has been watching his field go from “diagnosis and adios” to stunning new breakthroughs in eldercare treatment for cognition disorders.

And while there have been peaks and valleys in the understanding of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease since the doctor started his practice forty plus years ago, he noted in his recent Spy interview that he has never been more encouraged than over the last two years as he and his colleagues began to see an evolution in how patients are treated with better results and more precise tools for prevention.

That was one of the reasons that led Dr. Detrich to join the staff of the Bratton Clinic this year and the Spy caught up with him on first day on the job late last year to talk about this new phase of Neurocognitive work and his renewed faith that real progress is being made.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about the Samuel and Alexia Bratton Neurocognitive Clinic at Bayleigh Chase please go here

I Didn’t Know about Mental Illness until I Did By Liz Freedlander


For most of my life, like many of my friends and family, I knew hardly anything about mental illness until I started a consulting relationship for a few hours a month with Channel Marker. This piece about my experience has been writing itself in my head for a while.

I have had my heart broken open by the people who Channel Marker serves. I now know about persons diagnosed with severe, persistent mental illness and their families. Please read these words again: SEVERE and PERSISTENT. You can often tell by looking that people living with mental illness do not fit our definition of normal. We want to look away. I don’t look away any more because I now know about mental illness.

The chemistry of the brain of mentally ill persons usually has been changed. In some cases, by exposure to terrible things as a child that have resulted in PTSD. All this time, I thought PTSD was relegated to war experiences. Channel Marker does serve war veterans. (One Vietnam vet still hears the screams of men and the sounds of gun-fire). It also serves children and youth diagnosed with PTSD.

Many of these ill persons suffer from schizophrenia, often occurring out of the blue while in their twenties. They hear voices or have visual hallucinations – often – sometimes constantly.

During a conversation at the Channel Marker Holiday Party, one of these young men and I were having a pleasant conversation when he apologized for wearing his sunglasses. He said, “They help me with the voices.” This was once a young boy, like any young boy, who grew up riding bikes with pals in his neighborhood and enjoying family vacations. Now, he can look a little scary.

For some reason the tattoos, including the one in the middle of his forehead, give him meaning in his difficult life. He is polite and sweet and has a sense of humor. He religiously takes his meds although the side effects make him feel debilitated. They help him cope.

I have met parents. The heartache never goes away. One mother said, “The stigma of mental illness makes me feel as if my son spends each day out in the middle of a field where he is pecked to death.” One father’s sadness was palpable as he explained that his son does not take his meds so his symptoms, out of control, make it very difficult to have a relationship.  Still this father  faithfully makes an effort. You can see the pain in this man’s eyes as he describes the vibrant young man with a blossoming career who was once his son.

Lisa is a grown woman whose children live with other families. She has pretty red hair like I once did. She has PTSD with symptoms of chronic depression and anxiety disorders. She told me her life story. I cried. Her childhood with a cruel, narcissistic mother portended poor choices of men in her life. The ultimate result was fleeing for her own survival from a marriage so abusive that she had to leave her children behind with their father. She mourns the loss of her kids. I leave it to your imagination as to what might be part of her story – when she wears a skirt, she always wears pants under it. Her anxiety causes her to be unable to work in an environment where she might be alone with a man.

But this is not the totality of my experience. I have experienced hope and help delivered in the most compassionate and professional manner by Channel Marker. While mental illness may not be curable; it is treatable. The caring staff see beyond the illness into the hearts and personhood of their clients. They provide emotional support, life-skills, goal setting, job-training and placement, triage for health problems, places to live, a peer group and just plain normal laughter. There are success stories.

Only the brave and the optimistic can do this work every day. I think they are heroes. Marty Cassell, a therapist who has worked at Channel Marker for 25 years and a married father of four boys, is tall and attractive but rarely smiles. I asked him one day if the work is heavy. He said, “I love my work because I can see positive changes in my clients. Do you know that in addition to my day job here at Channel Marker, I work evenings for Mid-shore Council on Family Violence to provide one-to-one counseling for battered women. I also have a support group for men who are batterers.” He answered my question.

There are victories to be celebrated because of Marty and his colleagues at Channel Marker. Lisa who lost her children is strong and clear about her past and her future. Her goal is to have a job in an agricultural setting and be an advocate for sustainable farming. She has poured her maternal love into her cats and has a fiancé. She is a student at Chesapeake College and was recently invited to take an honors course. She, like many others, credit their successes to Channel Marker.

Channel Marker annually serves about 400 individuals almost 50% of whom are ages 21 and younger, in Caroline, Talbot and Dorchester Counties.

Liz Freedlander has been a resident of Talbot County for 41 years. She was executive director of Talbot Hospice from 1990 to 2004 and recently retired as director of development from the Horn Point Laboratory after 10 years. She has been a fundraising consultant to a number of local nonprofits. Liz has been raising money for nonprofits since the age of 9 when she canvassed her neighborhood with a tin can and collected $5.94 for the Baltimore Symphony.


Mid-Shore Health: Aspen Institute Cancels Rehab Center Contract


The Star-Democrat reported today that a contract for a rehabilitation facility proposed by Recovery Centers of America at the Aspen Institute’s Wye Mills site has been terminated effective Dec. 21. The house is part of Aspen’s Wye River Conference Center in Queen Anne’s County.

The full story can be read here (Reader charges may apply)

The Face of Suicide in All Seasons with Beth Anne Langrell and Lesa Lee


For the record, there is no such thing as a “Suicide Season.” While it may be tempting to think of these long dark days of winter as a critical time for those contemplating ending their lives, this has shown to be statistically not the case.

In fact, the risk of suicide is a four-season phenomenon which makes it all the more understandable that our Mid-Shore’s suicide crisis and prevention center is called For All Seasons. A mental health agency tasked with being the community’s front line to save those suffering from these impulses, For All Seasons have significantly invested resources and public education programming over the years to provide a safe and caring place for those at risk and their families.

The Spy recently sat down with For All Seasons director Beth Anne Langrell and its clinical director, Lesa Lee, to talk about the ongoing threat of suicide in the region and their views of how best to attack this cry for help from loved ones.

As part of that interview, the Spy wanted to match some of Beth Anne and Lesa’s comments to the real and recent faces of suicide in our country that were found online.  Young and old, male or female, white or black, over one million Americans are trying to end their lives each year. Those images say so much more about these avoidable tragedies.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about For All Seasons please click here 

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