Waldo County Healthcare and Pen Bay Healthcare have formed a Collaboration Committee to expand the opportunities for collaborative services between the two organizations. The goal is to work together on services that have the ability to ensure long-term, affordable, accessible and high value healthcare to residents of both Waldo and Knox counties.
The 18-member committee is made up of seven members from the Waldo County Healthcare’s executive committee and seven from Pen Bay Healthcare’s executive commit-tee, along with the Chief Medical Officers and the medical staff presidents from both facilities.
That committee has been charged with returning to their respective boards of directors in about six months with recommendations for further collaboration.The guiding principles for the committee are:
• High value healthcare: provide the residents of Waldo and Knox counties with the broadest-possible access to high quality, high value healthcare
• Care close to home: deliver care as close to home for patients as is safe, clinically effective, and cost effective
• Cost efficiency: ensure our clinical, facility and administrative resources are as efficient and streamlined as possible
• Engagement with community and internal stakeholders: engage in active dialogue with healthcare leaders, community residents and Waldo and Pen Bay internal stakeholders to gather input and ideas
• Local stewardship: respect the wishes of donors, maintaining oversight for charitable assets at a local level
The Collaboration Committee has also been asked to be “committed to providing high-value healthcare close to home” by being creative and innovative in its solutions; working with the local communities; thinking compassionately; being cost-effective in care delivery and communicating and being open with its recommendations.
Currently there are 18 areas where Waldo County Healthcare and Pen Bay Healthcare are already sharing services or are in the process of setting up partnerships. These include:
At a community meeting about the Collaboration Committee, Biscone said he would like to at least double the list of services being shared.
He said the scale of population needed to recruit and retain specialists is met by combining the populations of Waldo and Knox counties.
Biscone added that by January, behavioral health services will be shared among Waldo, Knox and Lincoln counties. The administration of home health services in the three counties will also be combined.
Jenifer Juengling, PhD, CCCSLP, is the program manager for The Trust’s Brain and Body Program at Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine in New Orleans. “The Trust is an organization committed to a former NFL player’s wellbeing. With customized game plans, The Trust meets each former player where he is in his transition.”
Dr. Juengling is a medical speech-language pathologist and clinical researcher at Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine with more than 15 years of clinical experience in the cognitive and communicative assessment and rehabilitation of athletes and non-athletes with traumatic brain injury, stroke, encephalopathy, developmental disabilities and degenerative neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Her research interests include the development of rehabilitation outcome measures and functional rehabilitation interventions in the areas of cognition, communication, and swallowing disorders (dysphagia) to improve daily function and quality of life among athletic and non-athletic populations who have neurological disorders. She is also a clinical instructor at Tulane University who teaches a neuroscience course, Sport Related Brain Injury, and mentors medical, graduate, and undergraduate students who participate in her clinical research.
So what was she doing at a recent speech conference and class at Waldo County General Hospital?
“I came to learn about telepractice and how to effectively implement the tool to deliver speech language and cognitive therapy to our clients at Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine,” said Dr. Juengling. She provides clinical services such as cognitive-communication assessments and treatment to high school and collegiate athletes with persistent concussion symptoms. Being able to do therapy using computer technology, such as teleconferencing, is important when she works with players who are often miles away, much as patients can be in Maine.
The majority of her current clinical caseload is former NFL players. Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine is one of four sites (the other three are the University of North Carolina, the Cleveland Clinic and Massachusetts General Hospital) that are charged with completing a comprehensive head-to-toe interdisciplinary assessment of the former players. Some of the issues have to do with injuries they received during their football career, especially concussions and joint problems, but others do not. The interdisciplinary approach can cover such issues as mental health, musculoskeletal, and, along with varied health concerns. They also provide “a plan of action that each player can follow in his home community to help him develop and maintain a healthy brain and body.”
Dr. Juengling wants to be able to communicate with these former NFL players in person over the computer to provide follow-up services to see how they are doing with their brain and body health plan and whether they are getting the recommended medical services.
So what did she think of the course she recently completed? “The course exceeded my expectations and provided comprehensive lessons regarding the efficacy and principles of telepractice tailored to the needs of speech-language pathologists,” she said.
Mark Biscone, President & Chief Executive Officer of Waldo County Healthcare and Pen Bay Healthcare, was honored recently by the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce as the 2014 Citizen of the Year. The award is voted on by the community.
Biscone has been with Waldo County Healthcare for more than 35 years. He was named the Executive Director of Waldo County General Hospital in March 1983, after working for nearly five years as the controller. Prior to that, he had worked at a hospital in Schenectady, NY.
Biscone oversaw a major expansion of services and specialty practices, from a renal dialysis unit to an in-hospital Hospice wing along with five rural health centers; building Penobscot Shores; and taking over the Belfast Public Health Nursing Association. More recently he completed a new operating suite; a sleep lab; a helicopter landing pad and an anticoagulation clinic.
All of this was accomplished at a time when federal regulations were leading to increased consolidation in the healthcare field and the closure of many small hospitals across the country. Waldo County was one of only a few Maine hospitals to consistently maintain a black bottom line.
But being in the black didn’t come from cutting the quality of patient care. Waldo County was awarded the prestigious Leapfrog Award in 2009 and in this year alone was named to iVantage’s 2014 “Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals” in the United States and also as one of Becker’s Hospital Review’s 2014 “100 Great Community Hospitals” nationally.
When asked earlier this year to add to his duties at Waldo County by becoming the interim Chief Executive Officer of Pen Bay Healthcare, he didn’t hesitate. More work, certainly, but also a challenge and an opportunity to collaborate to provide the highest quality care in the region.
Biscone isn’t all work and no play. He enjoys working on the farm that he and wife Barb are creating. He is also actively involved with Rotary, especially with the 100 Fund Project, which provides clothing and toys to the 100 neediest children in the area each Christmas.
Members of the hospital’s Community Advisory Council were told at their annual meeting that the hospital successfully met its biggest challenge in 60 years: the implementation of electronic health records system.
“We went from stone tablets to state-of-the-art,” joked Waldo County Healthcare board president Lee Woodward, before crediting the six members of the administrative team with leading the effort.
Chief Operating Officer Dan Bennett and Chief of Quality Rob Fowler relayed to the group the preparation required before the go-live for the electronic health records, the success of the implementation and the challenges that lie ahead, especially a major upgrade in June 2015.
The bigger challenge for the upcoming year is going to be finding more ways to work with Pen Bay Healthcare. Woodward said, “We have been as financially successful as any hospital in Maine but if you are standing still, you are falling behind.”
As co-chair of the collaboration committee, Woodward said the work is going to be “challenging and exciting” and his guiding principle is going to be what is best for the health of Waldo County residents.
Andrea Patstone, Senior Vice President for System Development at MaineHealth, said healthcare is changing and it’s getting
harder and harder to preserve access to high quality care.
She said while the Collaboration Committee is “probably not looking at a full merger,” there are likely ways to combine administrative and clinical services, and board governance.
“Price and cost of care really does matter,” she said, “and we need the population to make specialty care sustainable.”
Mark Biscone, President and Chief Executive Officer for both hospitals, said that in addition to the 18 areas where we are already sharing services (see Collaboration Committee story), they are working to add more collaborative services over the next several months. “It’s very good and long overdue,” he said.
“We need to be willing to take risks and be creative,” Patstone concluded.
Concussion program at Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy Center can help
The Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy Center at Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast has treated many athletes and have now added concussion management to their list of services offered. In the past few years as the emphasis on concussions has increased, school nurses and coaches have gotten better at recognizing and testing for concussions. No longer do you hear “he just got his bell rung” and after sitting out for a play or two he is put back in to play again.
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury. It occurs when the brain is shaken into the skull, causing changes in the way the brain functions. A concussion may happen as a result of a direct blow to the head or an indirect force such as a whiplash.
Many times the symptoms disappear with rest. But no two concussions are the same and sometimes the symptoms last for weeks or even months. This is when a physical therapist or an occupational therapist can help. Either can perform an examination to assess the individual’s symptoms and limitations and then design an individualized treatment program.
Physical therapists or occupational therapists can help with:
No one should return to sport or vigorous activity while signs or symptoms of a concussion are present. Experts recommend that an athlete with a suspected concussion not return to play until he or she has been medically checked out by a health care professional trained in evaluating and managing concussions. Experts also recommend that all athletes with a concussion not return to play on the same day as the injury.
David Orsmond, PT, CVT and Moriah Grant, OT, CVT are the concussion treatment team at Waldo County General Hospital. They are both certified vestibular therapists who treat mild brain injuries. Grant is also finishing up her certification in craniosacral therapy, a light touch therapy that manipulates membranes within the nervous system to restore their normal function. Dysfunction of these membranes can contribute to headaches.
Among the other therapies available at the Concussion Management Program are manual therapy for neck and back pain and functional training which involves an individualized program of specific exercises that address the demands of your sport or work and help you regain your physical abilities as quickly as possible.
Patients in the Concussion Management Program have already seen some tremendous results, in some cases in only a few treatments. Ongoing therapy may be needed in other cases. The length of the treatment is affected by both the severity of the concussion, the patient’s history, and possible number of previous concussions suffered by the patient.
The Concussion Management Program only sees patients who have a referral from their doctor. And they work closely with and make referrals, if necessary, to ear, nose and throat specialists, audiologists, speech therapists, neurologists, neuropsychologists and optometrists.
Call 338-4666 for more information.
Dianna Herbert has been hired as the Hospital Technology Provider Support Specialist. In her new role, Dianna will be working directly with providers to improve workflow efficiencies and help them optimize their use of the electronic health record. She will also be developing and providing ongoing provider education through individual and group sessions as needed. Dianna’s office is located in the Nursing Education Office and her phone extension is 4060. Please feel free to contact her if you have specific SeHR provider support needs.
Helping out as wait staff at the annual recognition luncheon for employees celebrating five-year anniversaries were, above from left, Dianna Wing, Angie Thomas, Vicci Babson RN, and Karen Littlefield. Below, Lee Woodward, President of the hospital board, congratulates Erica James, speech pathologist, on her ten years of employment at the hospital.
The goal of the hospital’s annual campaign is $115,000, Through Nov. 21, we have raised $104,712. Thank you to everyone who has contributed and if you haven’t, please consider a gift before the end of the year.
The Hospital Aid made $1,520 at its fall yard sale.