UM Chester River Health Foundation Welcomes New Board Members

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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

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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.

Mid-Shore Hospice Care: The Special Needs of Vets with Deborah Grassman

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It’s hard to think of anyone more qualified to talk about the needs of war veterans as they enter their final stages of life than Deborah Grassman. A nurse practitioner by training, Deborah has had a remarkable record of working at the Veterans Administration specifically focused on hospice care for 30 years, and has directly participated in the final days of over 10,000 veterans.

Those experiences led Grassman to start her own organization, Opus Peace, to educate family members and hospice volunteers to be more aware of the very different emotions many aging vets have at the end of their lives when wartime memories involuntarily surface after years, sometimes decades, of suppression.

That was the primary reason Talbot Hospice invited Deborah to the Mid-Shore so she could share those stories and what she learned a few weeks ago. The Spy sat down with her before her evening lecture to talk about the extraordinary coming to terms to take place with many veterans as a come to the close of their lives and what families can do to help facilitate an honorable and peaceful death.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Talbot Hospice please go here

Hospice Center for Chestertown Now Open

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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

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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:

KCAC/WHW 2018
203 High Street Chestertown, MD 21620

Rotary Award to “Save Our Hospital”

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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

 

 

 

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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

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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

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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

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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