Archive for June, 2011

St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center Wins National Award for Environmental Achievement

Thursday, June 30th, 2011


St. Mary’s Health System has been honored with a 2011 “Partner for Change, with Distinction” award from Practice Greenhealth, a national membership organization for health care facilities committed to environmentally responsible operations. The award is one of the organization’s seven Environmental Excellence Awards given each year to honor outstanding environmental achievements in health care sector.

The Partner for Change, with Distinction award recognizes healthcare facilities that have achieved improvements in their mercury elimination, waste reduction, and pollution prevention programs (above the Partner for Change basic criteria.) This includes at least 15% recycling, a more extensive sustainability program, and a show of leadership in the local community and/or in the health care sector.

“The Environmental Excellence Awards recognize success stories,” said Anna Gilmore Hall, executive director of Practice Greenhealth. “St. Mary’s Health System is a successful model of how health facilities can develop and

implement pollution prevention programs to greatly improve the health of their patients, staff and community.”

St. Mary’s earned this prestigious recognition due to its efforts to reduce its electricity, oil, gas, and water consumption as well as promote food sustainability in the community.

St. Mary’s replaced its air cooled chiller with two high efficiency centrifugal chillers contributing to an annual reduction in electricity costs of more than $625,000 even while expanding its facility by approximately 100,000 square feet. As a result of these reductions St. Mary’s was the first hospital in Maine to earn the prestigious national Energy Star Award. Other facility upgrades led to a 9.5 million gallon annual reduction in water consumption. Duel fuel boilers give St. Mary’s the ability to track fuel markets and choose between #2 fuel or cleaner burning natural gas.

Through the work of St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, with the help of community partners, It has taken a lead role in a sustainability and food access study to learn how to best address the needs of the Lewiston/Auburn area. Additionally, Lots to Gardens, a youth and community driven program within the Nutrition Center, uses sustainable urban agriculture to create access to fresh food and to nurture healthy youth and a healthy community.

It is through these efforts and programming that St. Mary’s was selected as a “Partner for Change, with Distinction.”

“We are very pleased to have our accomplishments recognized at a national level,” said St. Mary’s President and CEO, Lee Myles, “We are committed to reducing our environmental impact and are continually monitoring our progress. Receiving this award is confirmation that we are on the right track.”

Medical Issues and Social Concerns are Intertwined

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

David Skavdahl. Medical Student

I have been paying attention to some of the recent events around the L-A area and have been deeply saddened by what has occurred over the past few weeks. Between murder-suicides and murder robberies one becomes starkly aware of the human condition. While it is fairly obvious to most health care professionals in Maine that domestic violence is one of the state’s not- so-secret dirty secrets, when these events occur they make most of us shudder. Fortunately, violent crime in rural Maine is not so great that we have become numb to it. A friend of mine works at two of the county hospitals in Brooklyn known notoriously for the amount of violent crime they see. Over time, health care workers begin to become numb to the violence as the violence is seen as part of the culture. Patients are not treated as human beings, but as objects. Then cynicism begins to set it: “Why should I fix this person’s stab wound when I know that they are going to get out of the hospital and attempt to take revenge on the person who stabbed them.” In this type of environment, where brawls will erupt in the ED and patients have been gunned down on a gurney as they were being wheeled into the hospital – it can be difficult to retain hope. Honestly, is an excellent vascular surgeon going to fix the root cause of the problem?

In rural Maine our violence is more subtle. It goes unheard and unspoken for much of the time. I believe this is why we have to be even more on guard – domestic violence impacts our patients more than we understand and it certainly impacts the relationships we have with our patients. Often this gets lost when we are taking care of patients. Recently I was helping take care of a patient who was refusing treatment. Initially, I was very frustrated because she was pregnant and her choices were affecting the health of her baby. She outright stated that she did not trust doctors (I was pretty sure this meant medical students were certainly not to be trusted). Eventually I was able to spend some time with the patient and she admitted to me that she had been abused and was extremely fearful of situations where she was not in control. I began to understand the patient’s perspective and had to examine myself for my own shortcomings of initially ignoring her anxiety. It is true that this patient had some serious problems, but that is no excuse for me to become frustrated and ignore these issues.

Currently, Maine is in poor economic condition. Our current unemployment rate is 7.7%. People are stressed out. The past 3 years of financial recession have taken their toll and problems of domestic violence are only exacerbated by these conditions. As health care professionals it is our duty to not only be aware of domestic violence, but to listen to our patients and make sure they know they have resources for help. Listening to our patients’ stories gives them a voice, and it reassures them that they are human beings. I am not so naïve to believe this will change the course of domestic violence in Maine, but I do know that it means a great deal to our patients. Fostering a culture that cares deeply about patients’ social needs is actively resisting the culture of cynicism that will set in if we are apathetic. This is not easy to do, it takes effort and it will exhaust you physically and emotionally, but it is the right thing to do. I will be the first to admit, that I am often lazy and will focus my attention on the medical problems of the patient and ignore their social concerns. Unfortunately, these two problems are closely intertwined and if I fail to address the social concerns I know that there is a much lower likelihood of successful medical treatment.

St. Mary’s Golf Tournament a Success

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011


St. Mary’s Health System held their 14th Annual Golf Tournament on Monday, June 20 at the oldest golf resort course in America; the golf course at the Poland Spring Resort. For the first time in the tournament’s history it sold out with 144 golfers on the course. The net proceeds from this year’s event (nearly $30,000) will benefit the St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center’s family of services. St. Mary’s has a commitment to provide superior service and to offer the most up-to-date equipment and technology available to our patients.

July 2011 Online WELLNESS CENTER™ from St. Mary’s

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Skin Health
Each lump, wound, and sunburn on your skin could be telling you something – like, “see a doctor” if a mole changes shape, or “stay out of direct sunlight” if you burn. Pay close attention to your skin. It can give you important clues to your health.

Does the Left Side of Your Face Have More Wrinkles? 
You may be paying a price for the time you spend driving. Wrinkles are due to the effect of sun and UV exposure over many years. Find out how to protect your skin and reduce wrinkling.

How to Keep Scarring to a Minimum
The best way to avoid scars is to avoid injury to your skin. But once you’re injured, how you care for the wound will have a big affect on any future scarring. Read more.

Melanoma — Catch It Early, Save Your Life
The sooner you identify a possible melanoma, the greater your chance of a cure before it spreads. Learn how to self-screen for this dangerous form of skin cancer.  Any questions, call St. Mary’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at 207-777-4420 or your primary care physician.

Adult Acne — Not a Sign of Returning Puberty!
Many women experience intermittent skin irruptions and acne. If you do, don’t worry: You’re not going through adolescence again. But you might want to see your doctorRead more.

The Dangers of Ultraviolet Rays
Some sun exposure is good for you, since it’s your major source of vitamin D. But the sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause permanent skin damage – the kind that leads to skin cancer. Protect your skin!  Read more.

Summer Safety
Too many bugs that bite or sting. Too much sun and sunburn. Summer can be a season to endure or enjoy. If enjoying it is your preference, then prepare thoroughly for hikes, slather on sunscreen, and drink enough water through the day to stay well.

Bee-ware — Keep Uninvited Insect Guests From Joining Your Outdoor Party
Read these commonsense tips to reduce the danger of bee stings at your summer outings. 

What You Should Know About Heatstroke
Heat injuries are serious and can occur anytime you’re working or playing in the sun. Heatstroke is the most dangerous, and can even be life-threatening. Everyone who has fun in the sun should know the symptoms and what to do

Going Outdoors? Think Ticks
Ticks can be unpleasant, frightening, and even dangerous. Many carry Lyme disease and other infectious diseases. And just one bite can infect you. Learn how to avoid ticks as best you can.

Hiking Safety
Before you set out for your wilderness trek, ask yourself if you have what you need for your enjoyment and your health. Do you have enough water? The right gear for the weather? Remember that safety is part of the formula for outdoor fun. Read more.

Babies and Toddlers Under the Sun
Most parents and their young children will spend time outdoors this summer. So it’s time to get serious about sun protection. Learn how to guard your child’s delicate skin from sun damage. 

Teen Health
Teenagers. One day they seem like young adults. The next day, they act like unhappy toddlers. It can’t be any fun for them being so hormonal. Here are some ways to lovingly guide your child through these sometimes tough teen years. 

Teens and Weight— How to Reinforce Good Habits
Teen obesity is on the rise. Parents, here’s how you can guide your teenager – and the whole family – to achieve and stay at a healthy weight. Read more St. Mary’s Outpatient Nutrition Service provides personalized nutrition counseling for aduolts, children and adolescents.  Call 207-777-4049 for information on how to make an appointment.

Helping Your Kids Be Smoke-free
Few parents want their children to start smoking. But thousands of young people start every day. What should parents know, and what can they do?

Teens Need Support After Their Parents’ Divorce
Sometimes it takes a village – of teachers, neighbors, counselors, and peers – to help teens heal after their parents’ divorce.  Read moreSt. Mary’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers confidential counseling services.  Call 207-777-8721 to schedule an appointment.

Middle School Kids and Drug Use
Big changes take place between elementary school and middle school – changes that could increase your child’s risk for drug use. If you have a middle-schooler and you have not yet had “the talk” about drugs, the time to do it is now. Read more.

The Most Dangerous Sport for Girls and Young Women
Would you have guessed cheerleading? It is the number-one cause of injuries in young women. Find out why and what you can do to reduce risks for yourself or your daughter.  Read more.

Zumba Dance Class Fundraiser at St. Mary’s

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011



St. Mary’s Heart Walk committee, in partnership with Girl Power Fitness and Adriane Kramer, invites you to Zumba with us.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011
5:30 – 6:30 pm

Parking Lot C
(weather permitting)

d’Youville Pavilion Gym
(rain location)
102 Campus Avenue, Lewiston

Proceeds benefit St. Mary’s campaign for the American Heart Association’s (AHA)  September Start! Heart Walk. 

Here’s how it works: 

1.  A one hour zumba class with an instructor from Girl Power Fitness in Lewiston.

2. $10 per person – payable at the door.
Cash or check made out to AHA (American Heart Association)

3. Wear comfortable clothing and bring your own water bottle.

4. RSVP to or 777-8292. (Space is limited.)

Thank you!

Lewiston Rain Barrel Helps Lots to Gardens at St. Mary’s

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
City of Lewiston Press Release
June 22, 2011

L to R: Lewiston Engineering Intern Ben Sullivan, Lots to Gardens Education & Outreach Coordinator Bridgette Bartlett, and Lewiston Engineering Intern Greg LaBonte.


LEWISTON   Thanks to a joint effort between the City of Lewiston Public Works Engineering Division and the Lewiston School Department, the local Lots to Garden initiative now has an additional source of water for its garden located by the Lewiston High School (LHS) ball field dugouts in Franklin Pasture

Lots to Gardens is a youth and community driven organization, sponsored by St. Mary’s Health System, that uses sustainable urban agriculture to create access to fresh food and to nurture both healthy youth and a healthy community.  Individuals are taught how to grow their own food, access affordable fresh food, and youth are involved as leaders. Lots to Gardens also helps families and youth develop skills towards lifelong and community-wide change.  Since 1999, Lots to Gardens has built 15 gardens and green spaces in 4 diverse Lewiston neighborhoods.

To provide participating gardeners with additional water, Engineering Division summer interns, Ben Sullivan and Greg LaBonte, installed gutters and downspouts on the LHS dugout and located a rain barrel under the downspout.  The rain water runoff from the dugout roof fills the barrel providing water for the gardeners. The dugout roof, measuring 36’ by 11,’ provides 250 gallons of runoff in a one-inch rain storm.

Bridgette Bartlett, Education & Outreach Coordinator for Lots to Gardens, states, “The community gardeners will really benefit from all the extra drops of water this rain barrel can collect. St. Mary’s Lots to Gardens is excited about the educational aspect as well as the overall benefits to the community when the City and other agencies can work together to help make a project happen.” 

As a money saver, residents are also encouraged to install a rain barrel at their respective homes to collect water for lawns and gardens. In addition, by utilizing such runoff at homes, local rivers, streams, and lakes will be kept cleaner, as stormwater runoff is the biggest threat to water quality. By collecting the water prior to it becoming street/road runoff sweeping up pollutants and discharging them into water without any treatment, the concern is considerably lessened for that area.

Jan Patterson, Lewiston Project Engineer, further praised the rain barrel at the dugouts, stating, “This project will be a living stormwater education project.”

HealthSteps at St. Mary’s announces its Chair Exercise Class

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011


HealthSteps at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center announces its Chair Exercise Class. This innovative class is designed for senior citizens, those with mobility issues, diabetics, and more. There’s no need to worry about tripping or losing balance, the entire class is performed from the comfort of a chair. Such physical activity can help promote functional fitness allowing participants to perform activities of daily living with greater ease.

 This course will provide participants with an enjoyable, safe program. Goals of the class include:

– Restore or maintain muscle strength
– Relieve stiffness
– Improve and preserve joint range of motion
– Increase flexibility
– Enhance posture
– Increase endurance

This course will teach breathing and relaxation techniques; introduce activities to promote body awareness, posture, balance, and coordination; incorporate exercises to improve body mechanics, range of motion, strength and endurance; as well as practical tips for self care and better health.

The class is offered on Mondays and Wednesdays at the d’Youville Pavillion Activity Room, St. Mary’s d’Youville Pavilion, 102 Campus Avenue, Lewiston, from July 5 – August 4 from 10:00-10:45am at a cost of $30.00.

For more information or to register, call HealthSteps at 777-8898 or visit them on the web.




Baby Steps . . .

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Robert Bruce, Medical Student

The first two years of medical school are “baby steps” toward becoming a doctor. It’s hard to think of that large of a chunk of time as baby steps with the 5-6 hours of class a day, patient interviewing, physical examination training, group learning sessions, conferences, anatomy labs, pathology labs, and ENDLESS stream of exams. Med students sometimes get huffy (I’m guilty of that!) when attending physicians smile as they would at a child and say, “You think you know a lot but you don’t. You’re only just getting started.” It’s a bit like a parent calmly telling their seventeen-year-old that, “No, you can’t take the car on a road trip to your friend’s house in Caribou this weekend. You may think you’re a good driver but you’ve only just learned.”  How can two years spent locked in the library on sunny days reading textbooks and medical journals until your eyes cross be just a baby step?! 

I came out of two years at Tufts with a head stuffed full of shiny new medical knowledge, itching for the opportunity to put all of that learning to work. In this first month at St. Mary’s, the realization that has nagged me for the past two years has been driven home. They were right- I really don’t know a lot. It isn’t just new information about organ systems or procedures or diseases either. There are many aspects of being a doctor– leadership, teamwork, resolving conflicts, communicating with patients and their families — that are every bit as important to being a good physician. The sobering part of the story is that each day confronts me with things that I thought I knew well but don’t. 

Case in point: dealing with “difficult” patients.

 Every doctor has their stories of the patients who come seeking care but whom, for various reasons, don’t make helping them an easy thing. The “difficult” patient is sometimes rude, making unpleasant remarks, yelling, or swearing at the staff. Others will understand the changes they need to make in their lives to manage a heart problem and then go home, not take their meds, eat a daily triple-decker cheeseburger with extra salty fries and a large Coke, and cuss you out when they wind up in the ER with heart failure. Perhaps even more insidious are the patients who have legitimate medical problems that require attention, yet battle with other demons in their life. They come with pain that seems to be everywhere and ask, “Doc, I hurt all the time and nothing makes it better… any chance I could get a script for some Oxys?” 

During two years of school, we listened time and again as senior physicians, wise with years of experience, told us, “You will encounter patients who will test your skills and your patience. Remember that you are there to help — never fall into the trap of letting your emotions get in the way of doing the right thing for your patient.”  After hearing that enough times in the collegial atmosphere of the lecture hall, it’s easy to begin feeling like you understand and are ready to handle anyone that comes in the door. Then you encounter the patient in the ER at 11PM on a weeknight who starts yelling at you before the echo of ‘hello’ has left the exam room. As your temp starts to climb, your jaw tightens, and your sentences become shorter, those words of advice become faint. 

Nearly every week brings one of those patients and I will be honest — it has been a huge challenge. Sometimes I can see beyond the words spoken out of fear, pain, apathy, or frustration and focus instead on what it is that caused that person to seek care in the first place. Sometimes I can’t.

The truth as I see it is that doctors are every bit as human as the patient, but the job sometimes requires them not to be. I have witnessed a broad spectrum of responses among the physicians with whom I have had the opportunity to work. Some of them should be sanctified for their poise, patience, and ability to see through harsh words to the very heart of what matters most in the encounter- the care of the patient. There have also been the times, however, when the response to a “difficult” patient has been clouded with emotion and, as a result, the patient left having not gotten some or all the care that they need. I wish I could say that I always land in the former category, but that’s not the case.

Each encounter with a “difficult” patient shows me that I don’t know as much as I thought. I’ll get hung up on the negative aspects of the encounter and lose sight of what is important. That’s when I’m met with a knowing smile and gentle reminder from a preceptor – “Believe me, I know that one can be difficult to deal with. Just remember that patient still has diabetes and hypertension. It’s your job to not lose sight of that.”

Until then… baby steps.

St. Mary’s Welcomes New Providers!

Friday, June 17th, 2011




Recognizing the health needs of this region, St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center has actively recruited a broad range of new providers to serve throughout our Health System. We are pleased to introduce the following people:

Jennifer Swift, NP – Lisbon Falls Family Health Center 353-8830

Kelly Johnson, NP – Poland Family Practice (Formerly from our ICU) 998-4483

Robert Aranson, MD – St. Mary’s Pulmonary Associates 777-4320

Allison Gagnon, PA-C – St. Mary’s Neurosurgery 777-4460

Judy Francoise, ANP – L/A Internal Medicine 795-6800

Jessica Rockwell, MD – St. Mary’s Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology 777-8625

Mark Shaughnessy, PMHNP – CCS Psychiatry 777-8974

Gregory Penner, MD – Otolaryngology, St. Mary’s Surgical Associates 777-8635

William Strassberg, MD – St. Mary’s Center for Orthopaedic Care 333-4710

Kevin Kavookjian, MD – CCS Psychiatry 777-8974

Kristina Chadwick, PA-C – Center for Orthopaedic Care 333-4710


Coming soon:


Edwin Tan, MD – Lewiston Medical Associates 755-3383

Michael Gauthier, PA-C – St. Mary’s Center for Family Urology 755-3150

Dawn Decotiis, FNP – Auburn Medical Associates 330-3950

Joan Flint, MD – Emergency Center 777-8120


Sandra Harris, MD – Infectious Disease




Access to highly skilled providers in a wide variety of specialties is a priority for St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center. If you’re looking for a primary care provider or specialist, please call the physician referral line at 777-8899.


Maine Chapter Receives ACHCA Chapter Excellence Award

Friday, June 17th, 2011



Left to right, ACHCA National Board Chair, Tim Dressman, Middle: Phil Jean, New Maine ACHCA President and Robert Armstrong ACHCA Maine Chapter Member and interim Administrator at St. Mary’s d’Youville Pavilion.

The American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA) is proud to recognize the Maine Chapter of ACHCA as a 2011 recipient of two ACHCA Chapter Excellence Awards. The awards were presented last month during the awards banquet at ACHCA’s Annual Convocation and Exposition in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The prestigious Chapter Excellence Award recognizes a project developed by an ACHCA Chapter to address a member need or chapter objective. Preference is given to initiatives that support the mission of ACHCA and its strategic objectives.

One award winning activity was an initiative entitled “Leaders as Mentors,” in which members of the Maine Chapter who are Fellows and/or Certified Nursing Home Administrators actively mentor Administrator-in-Training students as well as newly licensed administrators. This program is open to any newly licensed or student administrator in the state. The Maine Chapter is also being recognized for their professional quality online newsletter, which keeps members and others informed of their activities and serves as a recruitment tool. The ACHCA is especially pleased to present this dynamic chapter with two Chapter Excellence Awards in recognition of their accomplishments.