Pam Ortiz Band Concerts Benefit No Matter What. . . You Matter Suicide Prevention Campaign


Pictured is The Pam Ortiz Band, who will provide two benefit concerts this year as For All Seasons Suicide Prevention Campaign comes to Chestertown for the first time.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) every 13 minutes someone dies by suicide and for every suicide, 25 suicide attempts are made. This fall, to help create awareness about this community mental health issue, For All Seasons is sponsoring its Annual NO MATTER WHAT . . . YOU MATTER Suicide Prevention Campaign, with two concerts in Chestertown this month.

To benefit the Campaign, The Pam Ortiz Band are holding concerts on both Saturday, September 29 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, September 30 at 3 p.m. at Robert Ortiz Studios at 207C S. Cross Street in Chestertown. Tickets cost $25 per person and can be reserved at or bought at the door. Chester River Wine and Cheese Co. will be selling wine and mini-cheese boards beginning at 6 p.m. on Saturday night. All proceeds will benefit For All Seasons suicide prevention efforts.

According to For All Seasons’ board member Pam Ortiz, “Harry Chapin used to say he played one night for himself and one night for the other guy. In that spirit, we will be doing the two shows to benefit our friends and neighbors served by For All Seasons, a behavioral health and rape crisis center serving the five Mid-Shore counties. These events will kick off the organization’s suicide prevention initiative, No Matter What…You Matter, in Chestertown.”

The Pam Ortiz Band includes Pam on vocals, Pam’s husband, Bob Ortiz, on percussion and guitar; Ford Schumann on guitar; Nevin Dawson on viola and violin; and Philip Dutton on piano and keyboards. The band has been performing in this configuration since 2012. In 2017 the group hosted a seven-concert series, Songs for Our Future, to packed houses. Each show raised funds for an organization that supported an important right or vulnerable group of people.

Monika Mraz, Director of Development at For All Seasons, comments, “We are thrilled to have the support of The Pam Ortiz Band as we promote awareness about suicide prevention in Kent County. This is a real issue in our communities on the Shore and we hope to enhance the community’s understanding of the issue, while providing some valuable tips in how to prevent suicide with our friends and family members.”

Suicide does not discriminate, affecting people of all genders, ages, and ethnicities. Many different factors may contribute to someone making a suicide attempt. For All Seasons hopes that by discussing the signs and symptoms associated with suicide that it can raise awareness about the issue in our community. Because family and friends are often the first to recognize the warning signs of suicide, they can be critical to helping an individual find treatment with a provider who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), for every suicide, 25 suicide attempts are made. For All Seasons wants people to know that If they think a friend or family member is considering suicide, they should reach out and start a conversation. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life. The following are three steps to help people begin the conversation:

1) Ask directly – “Are you having suicidal thoughts?” – Let them know you care.
2) Stay and Listen – Let them share their thoughts and feelings.
3) Get help – Connect them with a friend, family member or a therapist at For All Seasons.

Beth Anne Langrell, Executive Director of For All Seasons, comments, “For All Seasons hopes through this campaign to create an ongoing dialogue with agencies about this growing issue in our communities. We want people to know that no matter what, they do matter.”

For All Seasons provides Trauma Certified Individual, Family, and Group Therapy; Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatry; and Crisis and Advocacy Services for Child, Adolescent, and Adult Victims of Sexual Assault, Rape and Trauma. If you or someone you know needs help, call 410-822-1018 for a same-day crisis appointment.

Throughout the year, For All Seasons brings awareness to the community about such issues as suicide, sexual assault, trauma, and mental health needs.
Follow For All Seasons on Facebook to find out how to get involved. For further information, call Monika Mraz at 410-822-1018, email or visit

 The concerts will be held on Saturday, September 29 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, September 30 at 3 p.m. at Robert Ortiz Studios at 207C S. Cross Street in Chestertown. Tickets cost $25 per person and Chester River Wine and Cheese Co. will be selling wine and mini-cheese boards beginning at 6 p.m. on Saturday night. All proceeds will benefit For All Seasons suicide prevention efforts.

United Way Research Reveal Kent County Residents Struggling to Afford Basic Necessities


United Way releases surprising data on their 2018 Maryland ALICE Project which identifies households that have incomes above the Federal Poverty Level but struggle to afford basic household necessities. That finding is true for both Kent County and the rest of the state. 

The report, which uses 2016 data, shows that in Maryland 825,433 households or 38% could not afford basic needs such as housing, childcare, food, transportation, healthcare, and a smartphone. These statistics indicate an increase of three percent from last year’s report. Low-wage jobs, half of all jobs paying less than $20 per hour, and an increase in “gig” and contractual work all contribute to decreased financial stability for working households.

The ALICE Project utilizes standardized measurements to calculate the cost of a bare-bones household budget in each county in each state and quantifies the number of households that cannot afford even that. It includes Household Survival Budgets which have increased steadily, reaching $69,672 for a family of four (two adults with one infant and one preschooler) and $26,052 for a single adult in 2016. These conclusions are an alternative to FPL guidelines, which underestimates the number of struggling families as it does not accurately reflect current, local costs of living.

“At United Way of Kent County, the ALICE findings have reinforced our commitment to addressing the issues stressed in our Community Needs Assessment,” said Glenn Wilson, Board President, United Way of Kent County. “This updated research underscores our findings and highlights the issues that need more attention here and how to provide services to this vulnerable population.”

Following is the Kent County breakdown of Household Survival Budgets and percentage of households living below the ALICE Threshold:

“ALICE isn’t going away,” said Franklin Baker, president and CEO of United Way of Central Maryland “and as this latest report shows, the numbers are only increasing. We must continue to work together to help remove barriers in areas such as housing, transportation, and childcare that prevent so many of our citizens from leading a stable, secure life. Stronger, stable working families mean stronger, stable communities. And that’s something that United Way, our donors, volunteers, staff and partners fight for every day.”

The United Ways of Maryland join more than 540 United Ways in 18 states that are working to better understand ALICE’s struggles. The research will be used to stimulate meaningful discussion, attract new partners and ultimately inform strategies for positive change.

For more information on the ALICE report please go here



Shore Medical Center at Easton Recognized by US News & World Report


University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton is featured among the Maryland hospitals recently ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s annual report on best hospitals nationwide. The Easton hospital was ranked second among the best hospitals on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and among the top 15 hospitals in the State of Maryland. The U.S. News ranking also gave special recognition to UM Shore Medical Center at Easton’s programs for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure and hip replacement received special recognition for high quality care.

“There are so many people who deserve credit for this excellent recognition – our team members, our physicians and advanced practice providers, our volunteers and our devoted community supporters,” says Ken Kozel, president and CEO of UM Shore Regional Health. “On behalf of the Board of UM Shore Regional Health and our senior leadership, I’m very pleased to express our appreciation for the outstanding teamwork that is helping us achieve our Vision, to Be The Region’s Leader in Patient Centered Health Care.”

Issued annually during the month of August, the U.S. News Best Hospitals nationwide analysis reviews 5,000 hospitals’ performance in both adult and pediatric clinical specialties, procedures and conditions. Scores are based on several factors, including survival, patient safety, nurse staffing and more. Hospitals are ranked nationally in specialties from cancer to urology and rated in common procedures and conditions, such as heart bypass surgery, hip and knee replacement and COPD. Hospitals are also ranked regionally within states and major metro areas.

Hospital Plan Includes Patient Beds, No ICU, Kozel Tells Meeting


Ken Kozel, CEO of Shore Regional Health; Dr. Ona Maria Kareiva; Dr. Michael Peimer; and Margie Elsberg of Save Our Hospital — Photo by Peter Heck

The upstairs meeting room of Chestertown’s Town Hall was filled last Thursday night for a meeting called by the Save the Hospital coalition. Margie Elsberg of Save Our Hospital chaired the meeting, which featured a panel of Ken Kozel, CEO of University of Maryland Shore Regional Health for five counties on the Eastern Shore; Dr. Ona Maria Kareiva, an anesthesiologist from Easton who works at the Chestertown hospital, and Dr. Michael Peimer, an internal medicine specialist, of Chestertown.

Elsberg opened the discussion with a summary of the status of Shore Regional Health’s plans for the hospital. She said that Shore Regional Health, a subsidiary of University of Maryland Medical Services, originally planned to downgrade the Chestertown Hospital to a stand-alone medical facility – essentially an expanded emergency ward, with some testing facilities but no inpatient beds. Residents’ protests, notably in a packed 2014 meeting at the Chestertown firehouse, forced UM SRH to reconsider. The community response also resulted in a measure passed by the General Assembly of Maryland, requiring the hospital to stay open until 2020 – a date that SRH extended to 2022. However, if no new legislation is passed before that date, UM SRH is within its rights to carry on with its original plan, or even to close the hospital entirely.

Shore Regional Health (SRH) owns three hospitals on the Eastern Shore — one each in Chestertown, Easton, and Cambridge.  Statewide, University of Maryland Medical Systems (UM MMS) owns 13 hospitals–that’s ten in addition to the three on the Eastern Shore.  Also, UM SRH runs numerous other medical facilities offering a multitude of medical facilities and services including doctors’ offices, testing facilities, and various medical clinics.  The Shore Medical Pavilion at 126 Philosophers’ Terrace in Chestertown–which opened a little over two years in June 2016–is owned and operated by UM SRH.

Elsberg said that UM SRH has agreed to retain some patient beds in Chestertown. However, the current plans do not include an intensive care unit, a decision that Save Our Hospital strongly opposes. She said the community will need to generate legislative support to get the action needed to prevent the hospital from closing or eliminating services. She emphasized that the facility under consideration would be a “minimal” hospital.

Dr. Kareiva said the hospital needs an ICU to care for patients with such diseases as pneumonia, who need a high degree of observation and maintenance. She said an operating room is also necessary for the community. She said Kozel has promised to provide most of what the community has asked for. “We need you to believe him and work together,” she said. She added that the community needs to use the hospital to keep it viable.

Kozel said that the nature of health care has changed significantly in the past five to ten years because of the Medicare waiver granted to the state of Maryland, meaning that health care payments are at a predetermined rate statewide. Because of this, he said, the cost of health care “is going through the roof” at 18 to 19 percent of the economy. UM SRH is under the obligation to provide access to high-quality care at an affordable rate. But it covers a rural area with a comparatively small population spread over five counties, two of which – Queen Anne’s and Caroline – don’t have hospitals.

Kozel said a free-standing medical facility – the model UM SRH originally planned for Chestertown – does 95 percent of what a full hospital does, “all except beds.” He said the plan made sense, but the firehouse meeting forced UM SRH to reconsider. The geography of the five-county area means that patients from Kent County are an hour or more away from the Easton hospital, which he said he now believes is an unacceptable distance to ask them and their families to travel. The current model is a “critical access hospital,” which would have 15 patient beds but no ICU. He said the Shore board supports the plan, although it recognizes that it’s a challenge.

Dr. Peimer said the hospital needs a critical mass of usage to stay open. It needs to keep staff at a certain level, and remain flexible. It’s important for it to be able to take care of patients locally, not send them away. That means bringing in staff to cover specialties not found in the local community. It also means finding enough hours for the nursing staff – Peimer said the hospital is losing nurses because it can’t provide enough hours for them.

Some of the audience at the Save Our Hospital meeting Aug. 2 — Photo by Jane Jewell

Garrett Falcone of Heron Point said the hospital needs to work to bring in more primary care doctors.

Kozel said the system is working to recruit more doctors for the local community. He said UM SRH worked with Dr. Susan Ross to keep her practice open and hired a new doctor to join her practice. Specialists are also being brought in at the offices on Philosophers Terrace, including a cardiologist, an ear, nose, and throat specialist and others. But because the system needs to cover five counties, it has a limited budget for what it can do in Chestertown. “We need to cut to balance what we add,” Kozel said.

An audience member asked why the hospital needs to cut if it is operating in the black, as stated by Dr. Jerry O’Connor in an interview on public radio last week.

Kozel said the hospital previously operated on a fee-for-service basis, meaning that more volume produced more revenue, allowing the hospital to be profitable. Because of the waiver, rates are now capped. “We know our revenue for the year, and we have to use it wisely,” he said. But if the hospital provides fewer services, or if its service is rated poorly, it loses revenue.

UM SRH has been consolidating such departments as human resources and IT systems while working to keep nurse/patient ratios constant, Kozel said. It’s also working to reduce “avoidable utilization” – patients who don’t need to be in a hospital at all, especially those who are readmitted after treatment.

The whole system is on a break-even budget, he said. The patient census – those kept in beds — averages about 17 a day, but can be as low as five and as high as 25, depending on seasonal variations and other factors.

An audience member said the hospital refers many patients to Easton. Kozel said that decision is up to the doctors – what’s right for the patient. The audience member said that Easton doctors who take phone calls from Chestertown don’t know what facilities are available here. Elsberg said the perception is that Easton doctors don’t listen or care about Kent County patients.

Kozel said that 95 percent of transfers from Chestertown to Easton are decided upon by emergency room doctors who have examined the patient.

Elsberg said that closing the hospital in Cambridge will produce significant savings for Shore. Beds will be moving from that facility to Easton, she said – why not to Chestertown? Or is the system just cutting patients to justify closing the local facility?

Kozel said the UM SRH board has not approved closing the Chestertown hospital and does not intend to. He said it’s working with the General Assembly to create a plan to keep it open.

Elsberg said the system asks nurses to commute to Easton to get their full quota of hours; why not ask doctors to commute to Chestertown?

Kozel said he has no control over what doctors do. He said they could see several patients in the time they would lose driving here. A few are doing so voluntarily.

Allan Schauber of Kent & Queen Anne’s Rescue Squad explains how the need to take patients to Easton impacts the county’s emergency responders — Photo by Jane Jewell

Allan Schauber of the Kent & Queen Anne’s Rescue Squad said that Emergency Medical teams are impacted by the need to transport patients to Easton. He said there had been emergency calls in Still Pond and Fairlee that very day, one of which was a woman in childbirth who had to be taken out of the county because there is no maternity ward here. All three of the available EMS teams were tied up and unavailable for any serious emergency that might have happened.

Kozel said the lack of a maternity ward was the result of the low birth rate in the local area, with less than 200 births a year. It’s impossible to keep the necessary staff in town and to keep up the level of expertise, he said. “We can’t provide all services to all communities.” He said that emergency rooms have delivered babies, but in general, the medical staff has to follow guidelines.

After several more audience members challenged Kozel on the need to transfer patients to Easton, he said he would ask his medical executive committee to look into the reasons for transfers.

Dr. Peimer said the Chestertown doctors take their jobs seriously. He said the doctors would like to see statistics on transfers out of the hospital. “We want to keep people here if we can,” he said, but the local doctors are working against “a different culture” in Easton. He said doctors have to maintain a comfort zone as far as the care their patients are getting, and the Easton doctors may not be aware of what can be done in Chestertown.

Falcone asked whether appointing Kathy Elliott, the hospital’s director of nursing at Chestertown, as executive director of the hospital, was a wise choice. He said that splitting time between the two jobs would make it difficult to succeed. He said community outreach would suffer.

Kozel said Elliott knows the system and knows what the hospital does. Nurses do 90 percent of what the hospital does, nurses have knowledge that most administrators lack. “Kathy’s got the best of both worlds,” he said. As far as community outreach, “We’re trying to get her acclimated,” he said.

Kent County Commissioner William Pickrum said the state’s budget is controlled by the governor; “We need to focus on him.” He said Gov. Larry Hogan’s constituency is heavily weighted toward rural Maryland, and Kent County should be able to “get him to pay attention to us.”

Fred Kirchner of Tolchester said that economic development is an important issue in Kent County, but “it doesn’t work without a hospital.”

Elsberg said that both sides are in agreement that Kent County should have a hospital. “The infighting is about the details,” she said. “’No beds’ is not on the table.”

Asked if Washington College is on board with preserving a full hospital, Elsberg said college President Kurt Landgraf is fully committed and fighting very hard. Landgraf knows hospitals and politics, she said, as he has previously served on a hospital board in another community for several years.

Sarah Feyerherm, the college’s Dean of Students, said the college counts on having the hospital nearby. She said it is a crucial factor in attracting both students and new employees.

Asked whether the lack of an ICU affects patients’ willingness to have surgeries performed locally, Peimer said it would make some people think twice.

An audience member asked if the lack of an obstetrics facility could be made up by using midwives. Kozel said the hospital needs full-time coverage for obstetrics. He said there are no birthing centers in Maryland, and said there might be regulatory issues behind that fact.

Carl Gallegos, a member of the hospital foundation, said the hospital realized some $7 million from the sale of Chester River Manor, the nursing home. He said the funds are being kept in the community; one of the first expenditures from the sale was a new CT scanning machine. He said the foundation needs the community’s continued support.

Elsberg, summing up the two-hour meeting, said she was encouraged by “the enormous passion the community exhibits.” She said the efforts to retain a hospital, including an ICU, are close to being on the right path. Government support will be needed to complete the community’s vision through legislation. While the local delegates to the General Assembly have done much to support the community, “we need to fire up the engines again,” she said.


UM SRH Submits State Applications to Transform Health Care in Dorchester County


Public Information Session July 31 to Share Proposed New State-of-the-Art Medical Campus in Cambridge, Offering 24/7 Emergency Care, Surgery Center, and Comprehensive Outpatient Services to Meet Dorchester Health Needs

Representing a significant step in a process that began more than two years ago, University of Maryland Shore Regional Health (UM SRH) has filed applications with the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) seeking approval to transform and enhance the health care services offered in Dorchester County.

The filing, called a Request for Certificate of Need Exemption, describes plans to replace UM Shore Medical Center at Dorchester with a new state-of-the-art health care campus offering services including 24/7 emergency care and short-stay observation care, with proposed outpatient surgery center, diagnostic services, outpatient specialty medical care, chronic disease management services, telemedicine and enhanced outpatient behavioral health programs and services.

A free public information session is scheduled Tuesday, July 31, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at Cambridge-South Dorchester High School, to share the proposed plans for this new medical campus with a Freestanding Medical Facility (FMF), to be known as University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Cambridge.

Aerial view of the proposed UM Shore Regional Health medical campus in Dorchester (design may be subject to change.)

The proposed medical campus is planned to be located approximately one mile from the current hospital, in Cambridge Marketplace, at Ocean Gateway (Route 50) and Woods Road. This location provides enhanced access to public transportation and ambulances and provides for an adjacent helipad for air transports.

Over the past two years, UM SRH discussed the changing health care environment with Dorchester County physicians, elected officials, Emergency Medical Services, public health and other health care partners, and community business leaders.  With their support for the possible conversion of the aged hospital in Dorchester to an FMF, and the  relocation of inpatient medical-surgical and behavioral health beds to nearby University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton,  the discussions expanded to the wider Dorchester community through a series of community listening sessions around the County in 2017.  With positive feedback from these conversations, the Boards of University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) and UM SRH moved forward with more detailed plans, leading to this month’s applications.

The proposed timeline for the opening of the new UM Shore Medical Center at Cambridge and the relocation of acute care inpatient beds to Easton is mid-2021, depending upon both State approval and funding.

With regulatory approvals, this new model of care will enhance the hospital’s ability to ensure services are available, keeping residents healthy in their community and reducing unnecessary inpatient admissions and emergency room visits.  This model also allows for the potential to provide ambulatory surgical care and intensive outpatient behavioral health treatment.

Plans for the sale and ultimate redevelopment of the existing hospital site, located on approximately 14 acres of Choptank River waterfront, took a step forward in May when the City of Cambridge and Dorchester County created a Memorandum of Understanding creating an entity, Cambridge Waterfront Development, Inc. (CWDI), designed to purchase the property, prepare it for development and negotiate its sale by 2021. A second step occurred in early June, as UM SRH CEO Ken Kozel, Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley, and Dorchester County Council President Ricky Travers signed a Letter of Intent for continued negotiations leading to the future sale of the hospital property to CWDI when health care services transfer to Cambridge Marketplace.

SUMMARY: Proposed UM Shore Medical Center at Cambridge

Approximately 40,000 square foot state-of-the-art Freestanding Medical Facility (FMF), open 24/7/365, to include:

• 18 private emergency treatment rooms serving all ages
• 2 bed resuscitation/critical care suite, serving all ages
• 3 behavioral health rooms
• 10 private short stay observation beds
• Telemedicine capabilities for Emergency Department patient specialist consultation
• State-of-the-art diagnostic/treatment equipment and technology
• Diagnostic services to support emergency care, including CT, MRI, ultrasound and X-ray
• Laboratory services, 24/7
• Helipad for air transport

SUMMARY: Proposed Services- UM Shore Medical Pavilion at Cambridge

Approximately 50,000 square foot, two story facility housing diagnostic, treatment, community education and support services, including:

• Outpatient services/providers in specialties such as cardiology, diabetes/endocrinology, ENT (ear, nose, throat, allergy), gastroenterology, general surgery, gynecology, obstetrics (prenatal care), orthopedics, outpatient behavioral health, outpatient medical oncology, pediatrics and urology
• Ambulatory Surgery Center (1 OR and 1 procedure room)
• Outpatient rehabilitation services, including The Balance Center
• Cardio-pulmonary rehabilitation
• Fully integrated telemedicine services for specialist access
• Community health education hub

About University of Maryland Shore Regional Health

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 2,600 employees, medical staff, board members and volunteers work with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together. For more information, visit

About the University of Maryland Medical System

The University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) is a university-based regional health care system focused on serving the health care needs of Maryland, bringing innovation, discovery and research to the care we provide and educating the state’s future physician and health care professionals through our partnership with the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the UM Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, Social Work and Dentistry in Baltimore.  As one of the largest private employers in the State, the health system’s 25,000 employees and 4,000 affiliated physicians provide primary and specialty care in more than 150 locations and at 14 hospitals.  UMMS’ flagship academic campus, the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, is recognized regionally and nationally for excellence and innovation in specialized care.  Our acute care and specialty rehabilitation hospitals serve urban, suburban and rural communities and are located in 13 counties across the State. In addition, UMMS operates health insurance plans serving Medicare and Medicaid members. For more information, visit

UM SRH Announces Sale of Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at Chestertown


University of Maryland Shore Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at Chestertown is under new ownership effective June 1, 2018. The Center staff are making the transition and net proceeds from sale are committed to enhance health care services and equipment at UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown.

According to Ken Kozel, president and CEO of UM Shore Regional Health (UM SRH), the Center’s new owner/operator, Outcome Health Group, specializes in managing quality long term care and rehabilitation facilities. The terms of the sale have not been released.

“We are very pleased to have completed an agreement with Outcome Health Group that includes certain assurances we viewed as an important component in our mission of providing quality health care for patients and their family members in the region,” says Kozel. These assurances included that the purchaser would keep the facility open and serving the community as a long term care facility; that the purchaser demonstrated a commitment to expanding the admission criteria so that patients with higher-acuity care needs can be accommodated; and that the purchaser demonstrated the financial means to cover needed capital improvements.

UM Shore Regional Health Board member Glenn Wilson, president and CEO of Chesapeake Bank & Trust, shares Kozel’s enthusiasm for the agreement with Outcome Health Group, noting that all net funds received from the sale will directly benefit patients and their families served at UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown. “The sale will enable us to make significant new investments in our hospital facilities, equipment and patient care programs,” says Wilson.

UM Shore Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has been the only long term care facility in the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) and Shore Regional Health engaged in a process last year to evaluate its work with the facility. During that process, it became evident that an entity specializing in managing quality long term care and rehabilitation facilities would be

better equipped to guide Shore Nursing and Rehab to meet the future demand for quality long term care in Chestertown and surrounding communities. In September 2017, Shore Regional Health investigated the possible transition of ownership. Through a process that involved UM SRH Board members from Kent County, the Chester River Health Foundation Board, Chestertown-based physicians and local health system management, potential buyers were vetted and interviewed, resulting in the selection of Outcome Health Group. A period of due diligence and review of business operations was completed and the transaction was finalized June 1.

Outcome Healthcare Group has collaborated with Shore Regional Health and with employees to conduct a smooth transition. Local physicians, UM SNR residents and their families are being updated as the transition takes place.

About UM Shore Regional Health: 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 2,600 employees, medical staff, board members and volunteers work with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.

UM Chester River Health Foundation Welcomes New Board Members


Two local community leaders have joined the Board of Directors of University of Maryland Chester River Health Foundation. Jay Yerkes, of Chestertown, and Michael Faust, of Sudlersville, joined the Foundation Board earlier this year.

Yerkes is head of the Chestertown-based Yerkes Construction Company, which he founded in 2009 after more than two decades of experience in the construction industry working with varied companies based on the Shore and in Philadelphia. Yerkes has been active in a wide array of community organizations and civic endeavors, including serving on the boards of the Humane Society of Kent County (2014-16) and the Garfield Center for the Arts (2010-14), and volunteering for various projects of Habitat for Humanity, the Town of Chestertown, Christ United Church and the sailing program of Chester River Yacht and Country Club.

Jay Yerkes and Michael Faust

Presently serving as account executive for Atlantic Broadband, Faust has spent his 25-year career in marketing, including 15 years as director of marketing – motorsports for MBNA America and nine years as owner of a promotions and marketing company. Since 1986, he has been an active member of the Sudlersville Volunteer Fire Company, serving as director, president and fireline officer, and since 2010, he has been a board members with the Maryland State Firemen’s Association, serving as assistant secretary to the treasurer for four years and currently as second vice president. He also is a board member for the Casey Cares Foundation.

Speaking on behalf of the Foundation Board, Carl Gallegos, PhD, chairman, stated: “We are quite pleased to welcome these two new members who bring unique talents to support our mission. They are leaders in the community and are dedicated to enhancing a dynamic and viable full-service hospital in Chestertown.”

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 2,300 employees, medical staff, board members and volunteers work with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.

The Future of Healthcare: Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens in Centreville


The leading edge of a quiet revolution in healthcare reached the Eastern Shore on Valentine’s Day. That’s when Ash + Ember, a licensed medical marijuana dispensary, opened its doors. The owners of the facility—sisters Ashley and Paige Colen—say they are seeing lots of early demand. The dispensary is located at 202 Coursevall Drive #108 in Centreville.  Visit their website here. 

Maryland is now one of 29 states (plus Washington DC) that provide legal access to hemp and marijuana derivatives to treat medical problems such as pain, nausea, depression, sleeping disorders, epilepsy, and other health issues. The medical marijuana movement, however, is increasingly global. Australia, Argentina, Canada, Germany, Israel and many other countries already provide similar access. The process in Maryland requires prospective patients to get a doctor’s recommendation, then register with state authorities and receive a specialized ID card, and then to work with a licensed dispensary to identify the particular formulation and mode of delivery that best meets their needs.

Ash + Ember offers to help would-be patients with the registration process and with finding a doctor who will recommend medical marijuana therapy, as well as with finding a formulation that best suits each patient. Since the dispensary is limited to suppliers in Maryland (federal regulations make it illegal to ship marijuana across state lines), it’s stock is fairly limited at present, but the local grower and processor industry is scaling up fast and the Colen sisters expect a much wider selection in coming weeks and months. For now, they accept cash only but expect to accept credit cards in the near future and to offer home delivery of their products.They can also be reached at 443-262-8045 and are open 10am-7pm weekdays and 10am-6pm weekends.

One of the barriers to full realization of the medical and health benefits of cannabinoids—the generic term for the active ingredients in hemp and marijuana plants—is widespread ignorance about them among both patients and doctors. Many people associate marijuana with the underground growing and smoking of “weed” to get high—a practice still illegal in most states. An informal survey suggests that many doctors in private practice on the eastern shore still won’t have anything to do with medical marijuana.

But medical cannabinoids don’t have much to do with getting high. Medical scientists have now identified as many as 80 different cannabinoids, most of which produce no buzz or high at all. Indeed of the 8 cannabinoids commonly found in the now bewildering array of commercial medical marijuana products, only one—THC—interacts with receptors in the brain to produce that kind of psychotropic effect. The other most common form—CBD, the mainstay of most medical/therapeutic uses—has no psychotropic effect at all and acts on receptors that are part of the body’s own cannabinoid system. That system, found in nearly all cells, produces cannabinoids to help stabilize the body’s internal processes.

Moreover, smoking marijuana is probably the least common form of administration. Instead, the active ingredients are extracted from the plant by solvents and used as oils (directly on the skin, or ingested in capsules or food, or vaporized and inhaled) or alcohol-based tinctures (delivered as drops under the tongue). Extraction allows manufacturers both to concentrate the active ingredients and also to more precisely control concentrations and purity. And the variety of ways of using medical marijuana gives patients more control as well. Inhaling a vapor has an almost immediate effect, but may be too strong for some circumstances or not a comfortable mode of use for some. Ingesting the drug means a much slower but longer-lasting effect (for controlling pain at work, for example). Putting a drop or two under your tongue also gives immediate effect, but the concentrations in tinctures are typically lower.

Clinical research on specific cannabinoids and their impact on health conditions is still in the early stages—in large part because the federal government had made it very difficult to get permission to do such research. But last year a randomized clinical trial found that high-CBD extracts helped markedly to control epileptic seizures in children. Another study in a mouse model of autism showed that CBD has promise as a treatment there as well. Canadian studies have provided evidence that cannabinoids can help with post-traumatic stress disorder, chemotherapy-induced nausea, sleeping disorders, and arthritic pain. More research is coming.

Arguably one of the most important potential impacts of medical marijuana is likely to be easing the opioid epidemic, the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States. If pain can be treated with non-addictive cannabinoids, why use opiods—and enrich the pharma companies that make them—in the first place? Indeed, research studies have reported fewer opioid deaths and reduced opioid use in states where medical marijuana is available. That in itself would be a major benefit of widespread adoption of medical cannabinoids. And if cannabinoids can be used to help wean people already addicted from opioids, as some research suggests, even better.

Of course, medical marijuana is not the only revolution going on—more and more states are legalizing recreational marijuana as well, and the dominant brands for recreational use usually include quite a bit of THC. One genuine concern about recreational marijuana is its potential impact on adolescents: cannabinoids—especially THC—can have a significant impact on the development of adolescent brains. But the more tightly controlled distribution channels for medical marijuana seem far less likely to “leak” into adolescent culture, as well as focusing more heavily on CBD.

Another concern is work-related drug tests: will medical marijuana use show up on these tests and cause someone to lose a job? As it turns out, the tests that follow a federal standard are specific to THC, so using a low-THC/high CBD formulation to control pain should not trigger a positive test.

Another barrier to use is simply social: we’re not yet to the stage where people talk openly about their medical marijuana use. But if you have medical concerns that are not well met by conventional medicines, or want to avoid opioid use or anti-depressants with bad side effects, you might want to look into what’s available—and legal—in medical marijuana, now conveniently at hand on the eastern shore.

Recovery: Upcoming Addictions Training at Hope Fellowship


The opioid epidemic has left healthcare providers and community outreaches looking for new ways to engage people in treatment. Often addicts are also struggling with mental health and social challenges. Special populations that have low literacy abilities or difficulty expressing themselves may slip through the cracks of standard treatment.

Seeking creative solutions, counselor Melissa Stuebing developed the “Literacy-Free 12 Step Expressive Arts Therapy” curriculum under the editorial oversight of Dr. Lauren Littlefield. It was made for people with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, as well as for illiterate participants and those with self-expression difficulties.

It integrates cognitive behavioral techniques and different expressive arts modalities as means of working through the 12 Steps of addiction recovery. It has since been the subject of 4 clinical studies which found it to promote engagement in treatment. Participants had much higher completion/ retention rates, lower drop-out rates and enrollment in follow up services than non-participants.

“The A. F. Whitsitt Center started incorporating the “Literacy Free 12 Step Expressive Arts Therapy” curriculum into our regular activities schedule several years ago. We consistently get good feedback from the patients and the trainers enjoy leading the sessions.” says Andrew Pons, CAC-AD, clinical director. A.F. Whitsitt Center is an inpatient rehabilitation facility that specializes in treatment for co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.

“The curriculum is beneficial because it teaches those with all the different types of learning styles. I always receive great feedback from participants. They appreciate the change of pace from the lecture format and enjoy being able to express themselves using the different types of media”, remarks counselor Julia Garris.

It is also being used at Kent County Crisis Beds. “Many patients are anxiety ridden and typical verbal skills is a challenge. Melissa’s curriculum allows patients to share their feelings and stabilize in a more natural and comfortable manner.” says Alice Barkley, LCSW-C, crisis beds manager.

There will be 2 upcoming trainings in “Literacy-Free 12 Step Expressive Arts Therapy” on May 8th and September 20th held by Melissa Davis Stuebing, MA, CAC-AD at Hope Fellowship 892 Washington Ave in Chestertown, MD. This program has
been endorsed by the MD Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists for 6 CEUs.

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