Waldo County General Hospital’s Pediatric Occupational Therapy (OT) is now Pediatric OT and Physical Therapy (PT). It’s something Corissa Carter OTR/L, who oversees Pediatric OT and PT, has wanted since she started at Waldo County almost 3 years ago.
“It opens up so many doors for kids,” she says, adding that the hospitals with pediatric physical therapy within a reasonable driving distance all have waiting lists.
Pediatric physical therapists aren’t that easy to find and Carter had been looking for nearly a year when she found Steve Hoffman, who worked as a pediatric physical therapist in Ohio for more than 20 years. He had visited this area for vacation with his wife, a former journalist, on several occasions.
Hoffman, who started at Waldo County on August 5, has had 14 referrals and has already seen some good results. He works with children from infancy to 10 years of age.
The earlier he gets involved, the better the results will be, he says, explaining that treating conditions while a child is growing helps the child reach his or her potential. In fact, Hoffman has even worked with a number of premature infants and says they “respond quite well to physical therapy.”
When working with children, Hoffman prefers to work with the whole family. He says often an older sibling is most successful at getting the child to do his or her exercises.
Among the conditions that Hoffman treats in children are developmental delays, Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, Spina Bifida, Torticollis, toe-walking, prematurity, genetic disorders, orthopedic disorders and rare diseases. Hoffman can also assist with orthotics, wheelchairs and other adaptive equipment. One of the conditions he is seeing more of is Torticollis, which involves the head tilting to one side. Hoffman says it is “very treatable.”
Hoffman says he is looking forward to building up the pediatric program at Waldo County General Hospital. “It’s a great opportunity,” he says. “It’s fun to build a program.”
“I enjoy seeing my clients develop their functional mobility skills ranging from scooting and crawling to independence with a mobile stander or wheelchair to walking, running and jumping with their peers,” he says. Hoffman has experience in adapting donated wheelchairs and equipment for clients who need assistance and those awaiting funding for permanent adaptive equipment.
Hoffman was also a long-time volunteer with Special Olympics in Ohio.
When rheumatologist Dr. Sidney Block of Northport starts practicing at Waldo County General Hospital in January, he will not be the only doctor living locally to do so. Dr. Shane Lydon, a general surgeon, who lives in Lincolnville is also slated to begin work at the hospital at the start of the new year.
Dr. Lydon, who is certified by the American Board of Surgery, comes to WCGH from Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington where he has practiced since 2009. Prior to that, he was on the staff at PenBay Medical Center.
Dr. Lydon attended medical school in Ireland. He did his internship and fellowship in general surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and his residency at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He is a Fellow in the American College of Surgery.
Dr. Elizabeth Connelly, who has been working here two days a week for several years, has signed a contract to become our full-time medical oncologist and hematologist. She is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, American Board of Hematology and the American Board of Medical Oncology.
Adam Barnard PA-C, who lives in Belfast, will begin work here as a hospitalist full-time in November. He received his PA from the Duke University Physician Assistant Program in North Carolina in August 2011 and since then has been working at the Lovejoy Health Center in Albion.
Prior to attending Duke, he worked as a medical editor, medical technologist and served six years in the U.S. Navy as a medical laboratory technician.
At a recent series of meetings with hospital employees, Mark Biscone, Executive Director of Waldo County General Hospital, praised the night shift at the hospital for the great way they responded to a recent high profile case in Belfast. He said the victim was stabilized and transferred by Lifeflight to Bangor within 35 minutes.
He also told employees the hospital “is in strong shape financially to go through all the changes facing us.” In fact, he said WCGH is in the strongest financial shape of most, if not all, of the hospitals in the State. “We are not borrowing to meet our expenses and we only have $6 million in bond debt,” he said.
He also pointed out the hospital’s low employee turnover rate, 9 percent compared to the industry average of almost twice that, and an administrative overhead of only 9 percent.
Despite that rosy assessment, Biscone said the hospital’s 2014 budget is expected to have an operating gain of only 1.7%, (without employee pay increases-about half of the normal margin over the past 10 years of 3.3%.
Currently for every $1 of charges, the first 40 cents is written off due to discounted payments from the federal and state government, commercial insurance discounts and for charity care and bad debt cases. That leaves 60 cents to cover expenses and create the operating gain.
There has also been a dramatic rise in uncompensated medical care. In 2007, charity care and bad debt was $2.4 million; for 2013, it is $10.7 million; and it is expected to hit $11 million in 2014.
Still, he added, “We are in the black when most of the hospitals in the State are not and the growth of our charges is in the lowest one-third.” And he praised hospital employees for helping that to happen. “You are our greatest asset and we thank you for all you have done and continue to do!”
Biscone then outlined a series of additional risks that he sees coming in the next five years;
• instead of hospitals being compensated for a percentage of the services provided, reimbursements are going to be “quality and outcome” driven, which is a major change;
• experts are predicting that during the next 10 years, one-third of acute care hospitals will close or merge and the reason is the continuing decline in reimbursements. “I don’t know if Obamacare is going to help or not, the regulations are still being written,” he said;
• the growth in the elderly population (who generally require much more medical care) is a big concern; and
• a new federal report from the OIG found that as many as 70 percent of current Critical Access Hospitals do not meet the federal CAH guidelines, which places them in jeopardy of losing their CAH designation.
Biscone said he and the Board are “looking at new ways of bringing more services into the hospital.” Among the new services being looked at to see if they are financially feasible are a retail pharmacy, pain management clinic and alternative care services.
In other comments, Biscone said:
• he anticipates the State is going to pay back our hospital for services provided from 2009 to 2012. He added, however, that the new 2-year State budget reduced reimbursements for our hospital to the tune of $3 million;
• the 2014 fiscal year budget does not include pay increases for employees but the Board has agreed to assess our hospital’s fiscal position and may give up to a 2 percent increase in April;
• rates may need to be changed for some services. Last year, the hospital looked at its imaging rates and this year will be giving a closer look at lab services as commercial insurance companies are steering their clients to the lowest cost for services;
• the new electronic patient records system, EPIC, will be implemented here next summer. He said implementing the system at Maine Medical Center was difficult but “lessons were learned and there is new leadership.” He said we need to implement EPIC to improve the continuity of care and meet quality reporting requirements;
• there have been system-wide consolidations at MaineHealth of the Information Systems and Human Resources departments from the member hospitals. We are also sharing some doctors, a department manager, some staff, and services with PenBay, which is saving us money; and Lincoln County Home Healthcare is providing administrative services for Waldo County Home Healthcare Services.
• the recruitment of doctors is going well and we are likely to have new ones onboard soon, including a hospitalist and an orthopedist. We have also signed a contract with Dr. Shane Lydon, a general surgeon; Dr. Sidney Block, a rheumatologist, will start here in January; and a new anesthesiologist, Dr. Gowesky, will be here in mid-October.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month and a perfect reminder that early detection can save lives. Most doctors feel that early detection tests for breast cancer save thousands of lives each year, and that many more lives could be saved if more women and their health care providers took advantage of these tests.
Get in touch with your doctor today to set up a mammogram. It’s especially important because these screenings may find tumors too small to feel.
Waldo County General Hospital is offering free screening mammograms for women who are uninsured or underinsured on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 8 a.m. to noon. Call 930-2594 or 930-2553 for more information or to schedule your appointment.
Kimberly Lenfestey, the hospital’s breast navigator, will meet with those receiving the free screening mammograms to try to aid the women in finding a program to help pay for their mammograms.
Waldo County General Hospital has a new cardiac patient monitoring system that is getting rave reviews. Part 1 is a screen that sits beside the patient’s bed and shows all vital signs in bright, easy to read numbers along with the patient’s heart rhythms.
The system allows a nurse to hit a button every 15 minutes for the first two hours after surgery and the results can be viewed on a computer screen at the nurses’ station, instead of having to disturb the patient.
Under the screen is Part 2, a small box that records patient data and follows the patient from department to department. It is especially helpful for a patient that may come to the hospital in the Emergency Department and then is transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), the inpatient Medical Surgical Unit, the post-surgery recovery area, the Women and Infants Health Care Unit and/or the Radiology Dept.
The small box only weighs 2.7 pounds. “It’s portable and a very handy little box,” said an ICU nurse.
Besides accompanying a patient through the hospital, all the data in the system can be printed when a patient is discharged and put in his or her chart.
“This is the latest technology and it will interface with the new computer system that will be installed in the future,” said Stephanie Mitchell, RN, BSN, who is the Nurse Manager for MSU and ICU. “It’s the best—very user friendly and a great upgrade.”
Mitchell and Gail Dudley, RN, who is the Nurse Manager for Perioperative Services, facilitated the selected selection of the new system with input from their nursing staff and physicians.
When the system first went on line in mid-August, there were some kinks to work out, but now caregivers like the easy to see numbers on the patient screen. “They are nice and big and can even be enlarged if need be,” said one ICU nurse.
Nurses in the ICU are also able to monitor the patient screens of their own cardiac patients and also the cardiac patients on the main patient floor.
Waldo County Dental Care has been awarded a $10,000 grant from athenahealth. Employees in all athenahealth campuses nominate groups for grants under a given category for each quarter. All athenahealth employees vote and the top three are awarded funds. The category for this past quarter was “health clinics.”
Athenahealth employee Donna Berry from the Belfast office nominated Waldo County Dental Care to be on the ballot for the campaign. The Dental Clinic was the only group in Maine to be selected to receive funds for the second quarter 2013 campaign.
According to the nomination sheet, “Waldo County adults who lack dental insurance and have low incomes have difficulty accessing oral health services due to insurmountable cost barriers. Many of them live with severely rotted, infected teeth and gums which cause them to miss work and/or have difficulty obtaining jobs.”
In response, Waldo County Healthcare has opened Waldo County Dental Care and hired a part-time hygienist to provide cleaning and oral health screening for a small co-payment. Four local dentists have volunteered to provide dental care at vastly reduced rates for those with high priority needs. The goal of the program is to prevent dental crises from occurring by making affordable preventive and restorative care available in Waldo County by offering a dental “safety net.”
A fall yard sale will be sponsored by the Waldo County General Hospital Aid on Saturday, October 12th, from 8 a.m. to 12 noon, rain or shine, at the hospital’s education center.
This indoor sale offers a full room of bargains on holiday decorations, jewelry, books, puzzles, toys, clothing, craft items, furniture, dishes and ‘white elephant’ items.
Call Phyllis Gaul at 548-0232 or Geary Tibbetts at 338-2564 for more information.
As one of his last duties for the hospital, anethesiologist David Arnold D.O., above left, teamed up with orthopedic surgeon Owen Nelson M.D. in the National Boatbuilding Competition as part of the Belfast Harbor Fest in mid-August. Nelson, a former winner in the competition, and Arnold called themselves “We Knees.” They were the 4th team to finish the construction of their skiff, 4th in the quality of building construction, and 3rd in the rowing competition for an overall 4th.