Archive for the ‘St. Mary’s Health System’ Category

An Easy Way to Give to the St. Mary’s Food Pantry

Monday, February 1st, 2016

You can donate your returnable to any Rooper’s location to benefit the St. Mary’s Food Pantry! Just drop off your cans and bottles and ask them to credit the St. Mary’s Food Pantry account. Then, Rooper’s will tally it up and periodically send the Pantry a check. Did you know that the Pantry can often buy food for 16 cents per pound, or even as little as 8 cents per pound for fruits and veggie through Good Shepherd Food Bank. We can make a little go a long way – every little bit counts!
Here are the Rooper’s locations in Lewiston/Auburn:

Thank you for your support!

Surviving the Holidays

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

What’s not to love about viewing the twinkling Christmas lights, caroling, smelling Christmas cookies baking, building a gingerbread house, and witnessing the look of pure glee when our children see what Santa has brought them? For many, the holidays are a time of stress, hassles, aggravation, and even loneliness and isolation. How can we move in the direction of “Peace of Earth” and “Goodwill towards all”?

Here are my top ten tips for reducing holiday stress:

1. Identify your holiday stressors: What holiday events or situations trigger feelings of stress? Is your holiday stress caused by internal or external factors? External examples might include office parties, crowded stores, family dinners, or traveling. Internal examples could include high self-expectations, self-induced pressure to entertain, or high standards for decorating your home, making the “perfect” meal, or hosting the “perfect” party. If you can recognize your common triggers, you can disarm them before they lead to a meltdown.
2. Recognize how you deal with stress. What behaviors do you use to cope with stress (overeating, smoking, etc.)? Is this a crutch you use year round or specifically during the holidays? You can learn to deal with your stress in practical ways. How about practicing deep breathing, exercising, or writing in a journal?
3. Change one unhealthy habit at a time. For example, if time management is an issue, learn to plan ahead. We all know that the holidays tend to require a great deal of time, why not prepare? Do as much as you can ahead of time. 4. Learn to delegate. Does it really matter who

4. Learn to delegate. Does it really matter who does a task as long as it gets done? We all like to think our way is the right way, but let’s face it, there are only 24-hours in a day and we can’t always do it all ourselves. How about sharing the responsibilities? I know my husband won’t wrap the gifts to my liking, but he could help tidy the house. 5. Set a budget and stick to it! With all the marketing ploys in play during the

5. Set a budget and stick to it! With all the marketing ploys in play during the holidays, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. When the credit card bills follow in January, you may be hard pressed to find
that same holiday cheer.
6. Simplify things. If you’re cooking a holiday meal, how about if you prepare the turkey and let all your guests shine by bringing their own specialty dishes? Consider re-thinking your holiday traditions. Are there certain one’s you no longer enjoy? If so, cross them off your list. Getting in the holiday spirit doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be as easy as turning on some nostalgic Christmas music or making your
favorite wintertime drink like hot mulled cider.
7. Prioritize. Whether it’s the invitations you plan to accept or your to-do list, prioritizing to figure out what’s truly important to you can help reduce your stress levels. If you don’t feel right saying no to a party, could you make a brief appearance instead?8. Laugh! Stay in touch with your true emotions. If you’re not feeling festive,

8. Laugh! Stay in touch with your true emotions. If you’re not feeling festive, especially if you’ve lost a loved one or have had a family change such as divorce, let yourself grieve the loss. Keep old traditions alive, but be open to new ones too.
9. Take care of yourself. Exercise, eat healthy, and rest! While your holiday to-do list may be lengthy, don’t let it cut from your needed sleep time. Not only is sleep important for our overall health, it’s also important for your own enjoyment (as well as those around you). How are you going to take pleasure in that holiday party you worked so hard preparing for if you’re lacking energy? Take downtime to relax, even if it’s only for a short while.
10. Get Real! Set realistic expectations. When we dream of the holidays, we tend to romanticize our memories making them impossible to re-create. Spills, squabbles, and other blunders are an inevitable part of the holiday season.


Most of all, remember to just have fun and take heart in knowing the holidays only happen once a year!


jen smith croppedJennifer Smith holds a master’s degree in exercise science and health promotion, a bachelor’s degree in Sports Medicine with a concentration in nutrition and a minor in education, and is a nationally certified personal trainer, group exercise instructor, speed coach, and tobacco cessation helper.

Tips to Survive the Holidays without the Weight Gain – Winter 2016

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

This time of year can be especially hard to maintain a healthy diet, but with a little due-diligence, it can be done! First and foremost, it’s important to establish a foundation of moderation –not deprivation. Spend your calories wisely. Don’t completely cut out your favorite high-fat, high-sugar traditional holiday foods. Instead, be selective and opt for smaller portions of those foods you really enjoy. Eat slowly, savoring every bite. After filling your plate with healthier options, sample those items that have piqued your curiosity. Although, if you don’t like it, don’t eat it. Eating an additional 250 calories per day over 10 weeks will promote a 5-pound weight gain! So, when deciding to munch on chocolates at work, skip the extra helping at dinner.

When shopping, pre-plan several quick,  healthy snacks and have them readily available, forgoing the food court at the mall and fast food restaurants. If this sounds like too much of a hassle, you can still plan
ahead. How about a veggie sub on whole grain bread from one of the sandwich shops with a water?

Learn to say, “No, thank you” –firmly, but politely, of course. If Aunt Fran is pestering you and Granny keeps putting foods in front of you that she lovingly baked, try saying something like, “No. Thank you. Everything was delicious, but I can’t eat another bite.”

Don’t skip breakfast. Start your day with a whole-grain, high-fiber or high-protein breakfast. It will jumpstart your metabolism and help maintain your satiety, so you will consume fewer calories during the
rest of the day. My favorite is a veggie omelet.

Never go to a party hungry. Don’t save up or bank calories because you are going to a holiday social later that day. Instead, eat smaller, lighter meals and snacks consistently. You might opt for
a salad, light soup, or fruit before leaving home.

Use a small plate when going to a holiday social event. This will help you limit how much you put on it. If you are sampling foods, check out the entire buffet table before filling your plate. This way you can
make sensible choices. Keep the half your plate should be covered with veggies and fruits rule in mind and try to select only those favorite special foods leaving standard fare like chips and pretzels behind.

Avoid temptation. Stand as far away from the buffet table as possible, so you’re not tempted to constantly nibble. Focus on socializing instead. Catch up with friends and family you haven’t seen lately. If your break room at work is filled with holiday goodies, plan an alternate route or to frequent it less often.

Offer to bring a delicious, healthy, low-calorie dish to holiday parties, so you know there’s at least one nutritious item for you to eat. Plates of raw veggies and whole-grain pretzel sticks to dip in hummus or
fruit with yogurt dip are great snacks.

Watch your beverages. Alcohol is more calorie dense than both carbohydrates and protein. You get 7-cal for every gram consumed –almost as much as fat. So go light on the alcoholic drinks, which tend to be popular at holiday events—maybe have a glass of sparkling water, hot-mulled cider, or some other non-alcoholic beverage in between that glass of wine or cup of eggnog. Calories from beverages can
contribute up to 25% or more of your daily energy needs. How about opting for “mocktails” with 100% juice and seltzer water and diluting your eggnog with skim milk?

Change your ingredients. Choose lower-fat and lower-sugar recipes for dishes this year. Opt for low-fat or skim milk in recipes that call for heavy cream. Choose low-fat cheese or fat-free dairy alternatives, and a heart-healthy spread to use in baking, on vegetables, and in mashed potatoes, rather than butter.

Increase your fruit & vegetable intake. How about aiming for 5 or more a day? Fruits and veggies are nutrient dense and rich in fiber, vitamins, & minerals, so they fill you up and curb cravings for other, not so healthy foods.

Keep a food diary. Keeping track of what you are eating is a good way to recognize what your food habits are and curb how much you eat. 

Last but not least, EXERCISE! Exercise is more essential than ever this time of year. Not only does it burn calories but also it decreases stress, which for many can lead to overeating. So, keep moving. Try a nice long walk after a meal to check out the holiday lights and decorations in the neighborhood.

Remember, taking care of yourself is one of the best gifts you can give you & your
family this season! 

jen smith croppedJennifer Smith holds a master’s degree in exercise science and health promotion, a bachelor’s degree in Sports Medicine with a concentration in nutrition and a minor in education, and is a nationally certified personal trainer, group exercise instructor, speed coach, and tobacco cessation helper.

Help Us Pack the Bus for the Hungry

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

Volunteers from St. Mary’s Food Pantry will be at Shaw’s in Lewiston and Auburn on Saturday, Nov. 21, from 9 AM to      3 PM, to collect non-perishable food items to PACK THE BUS!  They hope to fill an entire school bus as each location as part of their pre-Thanksgiving food drive.  Residents can stop in at the Shaw’s on East Ave. in Lewiston or Center St. in Auburn to help neighbors in need by making a food or monetary donation.

For the past few years, the Pantry has been focusing more on healthy foods and especially, healthy snacks and lunch items for kids.  Good donation choices include peanut butter, canned tuna and chicken, whole grain crackers and pasta, raisins and other dried fruits, and non-sugary cereals.  The Pantry is also looking for items to help fill Thanksgiving boxes – stuffing and gravy would be most helpful.  St. Mary’s Food Pantry regularly serves approximately 375 people per week, and expects to serve approximately 250 families during the 3 days before Thanksgiving.

In addition to members of the Food Pantry Advisory Committee and other long-time and new volunteers that help staff the event, Lewiston High School’s JROTC Cadets will help at each Shaw’s location, and Wolfpack Fitness members will help unload all the donated food at the end of the day.

The goal of St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, located in downtown Lewiston, is to promote community health through its food pantry, cooking and nutrition education, youth development, and urban gardening programs.  More information about the Center’s work can be found at


Get Fit for Fall – What’s the Best Exercise for Me?

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

The best exercise is the one that you will do. Walking is considered one of the top choices because it’s simple, safe, and requires no equipment except for a good, supportive pair of sneakers.

Brisk walking is great for burning calories and for overall cardiovascular health. Plus, walking regularly can:

  • Decrease your risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes
  • Decrease your blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Improve your mental well-being
  • Decrease your risk of osteoporosis
  • Decrease your body fat

Best practice is to start slow, gradually increasing your time and pace over an extended period. As you become accustomed to walking more, your eventual goal should be to aim for 30 minutes a day and a total of 150 minutes a week; however, even if you’re only able to walk a short while, don’t get discouraged, as any amount of exercise is better than none!

Pictured Bob Poirier and Marc McPheters jogging next to Rick Dodge, Gert Chasse, Elaine Freeman, Normand Demers, and Grace Trainor as they all participate in HealthSteps' Walk-Jog class conveniently located at the beautiful indoor track at Bates College.

Pictured Bob Poirier and Marc McPheters jogging next to Rick Dodge, Gert Chasse, Elaine Freeman, Normand Demers, and Grace Trainor as they all participate in HealthSteps’ Walk-Jog class conveniently located at the beautiful indoor track at Bates College.

If you find the dark, cold weather deters your exercise regimen, HealthSteps offers a class called Walk Jog that takes place on Bates’ indoor track. You decide whether you want to start right off on your own or walk with the group. If the group is what you choose, a light warm up will take place followed by a walk. Once the time is up for walking, a small strengthening, cool down, and stretching session ends the class. In this 50 minute class, your 30 minutes of daily exercise is more than done!

Hear it from our very own dedicated walkers…

At 88 years old participating in HealthSteps was the best investment in my health that I could have ever made.” -Normand Demers

I have been jogging for over 30 years but would not do so outside in the winter months because of the weather. Treadmills were not an option. Fifteen years ago I was introduced to the HealthSteps program, which was a real God send since I can now use the Bates College 200m (1/8 mile) track. This track has a Mondo 8 surface, which is the same surface as used on modern day Olympic tracks and very easy on my aging joints.” –Richard Houle

In addition to Walk Jog classes, HealthSteps offers a wide range of other classes with the core membership fee. For more information or to register, call HealthSteps at 777-8898 or visit us on the web at: Preregistration for all programs is required. Call today and start your way to a new healthy lifestyle in which you will feel better, have more energy, meet great people, and enjoy exercise even more!


Good Food Bus Hits the Road in Lewiston-Auburn Area

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015
Pictured left to right: Kirsten Walter, Director of St. Mary's Nutrition Center, Emily Horton, representing Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, Stephanie Aquilina Food Access Program Manager for Cultivating Community, Sherie Blumenthal, Food Access Coordinator St. Mary's Nutrition Center, Mayor of Auburn, Jonathan LaBonte,  Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation President, Karen Voci, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Vice President, Edward Kane.

Pictured left to right: Kirsten Walter, Director of St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, Emily Horton, representing Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, Stephanie Aquilina Food Access Program Manager for Cultivating Community, Sherie Blumenthal, Food Access Coordinator St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, Mayor of Auburn, Jonathan LaBonte, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation President, Karen Voci, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Vice President, Edward Kane.

At the Police Athletic League (PAL) Center this afternoon, state and local officials joined St. Mary’s Nutrition Center of Lewiston, Cultivating Community of Portland, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation to launch the Good Food Bus – a colorful, repurposed school bus turned mobile food market. The Good Food Bus, part of the three-year initiative, Good Food Moves, will make stops across Lewiston-Auburn and surrounding communities thanks to a $60,000 grant from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation. The 2015 season of the Good Food Bus will run through October 30th; it will resume next spring.

“At Harvard Pilgrim, we know that health prevention often starts with the food we eat, and for some, accessing healthy and affordable fruits and vegetables can be challenging,” said Karen Voci, President of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation. “Across the country, organizations are using mobile markets to increase access to fresh and local fruits and vegetables. Here in New England, Harvard Pilgrim is launching a fleet of mobile markets to address this challenge and create better access to healthy food.” In addition to the Good Food Bus, Harvard Pilgrim has funded mobile markets in Worcester, Mass., Hartford, Conn., Lowell, Mass., and is preparing to launch a market in Manchester, N.H. in 2016.

“Starting today, the Good Food Bus will sell fresh, local and fairly priced produce and other food items directly to people where they live, work and play,” said Kirsten Walter, Director of the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, as she kicked off the event. “Increasing the availability and accessibility of healthy food to everyone in our community is a very important goal of the Good Food Bus. We are thrilled to work with close partners, passionate area businesses, and community members to make this a lasting resource.”

During the initial phase for the 2015 harvest season, the Good Food Bus will make the following scheduled stops through the month of October. Stops are open to the public except for the Bath Iron Works location.

12-2pm: PAL Center, 24 Chestnut Street, Auburn
3-5pm: Knox Street Community Garden, 61 Knox St., Lewiston

11am-1pm: Bath Iron Works, West Gate (not open to the public)
3:30-5:30pm: Central Maine Medical Center, 300 Main St., location TBD, Lewiston

12:30-2:30pm: Bedard Pharmacy and Medical Supply, 359 Minot Ave., Auburn
3:30-5:30pm: St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, 100 Campus Ave. by parking lot A, Lewiston

Good Food Bus_0001

While not able to attend the event in person, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree sent a statement through staffer Emily Horton, stating, “I love this idea. Maine is lucky to have so many great farmers markets around the state, but that doesn’t mean everyone has access or can afford it. Bringing healthy and affordable food grown right here in Maine to communities in Androscoggin is a great way to make sure everyone has access to a farmers market without actually going to one. And even better if it can accept EBT and other market incentives that provide more options for low-income Mainers. I can’t wait to see the Good Food Bus in action.”

Walter explained the genesis and goals of the project by referencing a Community Food Assessment conducted by the Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn (GFCLA) and published in 2013.

“This report found that healthy food remains out of reach for many people in Lewiston-Auburn and other studies have shown this to be true for people across the state,” said Walter. “This multi-year initiative will make scheduled stops at neighborhoods, organizations, and businesses serving the Lewiston/Auburn community and will make purchasing good food convenient and easy for all.”

Sherie Blumenthal, project lead for the Nutrition Center, explained that the Good Food Bus will accept cash, credit, debit, WIC, and SNAP/EBT at every stop and increase the purchasing power of SNAP benefits for people to bring more fresh fruits and vegetables into their homes.

Auburn Mayor, Jonathan LaBonte, highlighted the City of Auburn’s support for projects that serve the community. “While it may be invisible to many residents, too many families and young people in our community are starting their days and going to bed hungry. I’m proud of the private, and public, partnerships that are working to expand access to good food while at the same time improving quality of life in our city.” Harvard Pilgrim is also supporting development of a community garden on Webster St. in Auburn, in the same neighborhood as the PAL Center.

“The goal is that the Good Food Bus will not only be a bountiful market, but also a fun place for people to connect,” said Stephanie Aquilina, project lead for Cultivating Community.

“Having access to great, nutritious food is of course critical to community health,” remarked Craig Lapine, Cultivating Community Executive Director. “And we are always particularly interested in strategies that involve local farmers and purveyors. That’s because a robust food economy amplifies all the great community health impacts of good food.” Indeed, the Good Food Bus will have a strong local foods preference, with many products from Androscoggin County farms and around the region.

In addition to Harvard Pilgrim support, other generous donations are helping to make this project possible. The bus was donated by the William H. Jordan Farm of Cape Elizabeth, and Hudson Bus Lines is donating bus driver services for the project. Grants from the Quimby Family Foundation and the John T. Gorman Foundation have been instrumental in getting the Good Food Bus on the road, and a Community Food Projects grant from the USDA will support staffing and food sourcing for the next three years.

The event culminated with a raffle drawing and Mayor LaBonte and Karen Voci cutting the ribbon and officially opening the Good Food Bus for customers to buy good food.

To learn more about the project, visit, email, or call St. Mary’s Nutrition Center at 207-513-3848.

The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation
Created in 1980, The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation supports Harvard Pilgrim’s mission to improve the quality and value of health care for the people and communities we serve. The Harvard Pilgrim Foundation provides the tools, training and leadership to help build healthy communities throughout Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine. In 2014, the Harvard Pilgrim Foundation awarded close to $2.9 million in grants to nearly 710 nonprofit organizations in the region. Since its inception in 1980, the Foundation has granted more than $133 million in funds throughout the four states. For more information, please visit

St. Mary’s Nutrition Center
St. Mary’s Nutrition Center was founded by St. Mary’s Health System in Lewiston in 2006 to promote community health through organizing, advocacy and education across the Androscoggin County area. Based on the belief that good health relies upon access to healthy food, the Nutrition Center uses a multi-pronged public health approach: building individual capacity for people to grow, choose and cook nutritious foods; and building community capacity to support a strong regional food system. Core programming includes hands-on cooking, gardening, and nutrition education for all ages; community gardens for over 120 families of low-income; intensive job training programs for over 50 teens per year; year-round farmers’ markets; emergency food distribution 375 people weekly; and collaborative, community based assessment and planning activities. For more information, please visit:

Cultivating Community
Founded in 2001, Cultivating Community creates and sustains greater access to healthy, local foods; empowers people to play many roles in restoring the local, sustainable food system; and models, teaches, and advocates for ecological food production. With farming, teaching, & learning sites in Cumberland and Androscoggin Counties, Cultivating Community in collaboration with participant/leaders each year grows, harvests, and distributes $200,000 in food; provides training for over 1,000 youth; creates food access for over 4,000 people with low/middle incomes; and in 2015 is supporting 60 new American families in establishing independent farm businesses. For more information, please visit:

Youth Lead St. Mary’s Nutrition Center’s Annual Community Dinner

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

More than 100 community members, staff, youth, volunteers, supporters, and gardeners, attended the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center’s Annual Community Dinner on Thursday, August 13, to celebrate all the hard work and community service that has been accomplished this growing season.  This annual dinner highlights the Nutrition Center’s Lots to Gardens program; attendees included the Youth Gardeners and their families, some of the 120 families that garden in the community garden plots in downtown Lewiston, and others who have participated in or supported the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, Lots to Gardens, and the St. Mary’s Food Pantry over the year.

The evening was orchestrated by the Youth Interns and Summer Youth Gardeners (SYGs).  Much of the menu was locally grown and developed and prepared from scratch by the SYGs.  It also reflected diverse culinary tastes, includingsambusa, Indonesian fried rice, Thai beef salad, cucumber salad, Asian slaw, Moroccan carrot salad, sesame green beans, baba ganoush, African greens, and beet brownies. Youth Interns,

Community Gardener, Carolyn Messer, won the veggie basket door prize at the recent Annual Community Dinner held by St. Mary’s Nutrition Center.

Community Gardener, Carolyn Messer, won the veggie basket door prize at the recent Annual Community Dinner held by St. Mary’s Nutrition Center.

Mohamed Abdullahi, Julian Marley, and Hafsa Ahmed guided the group of SYGs in a short presentation about their summer experience in the program.  The presentation included some original poetry and drumming.  True to the Nutrition Center’s mission, the door prize, won by Community Gardener Carolyn Messer, was a basket of fresh veggies from the Nutrition Center’s Community Gardens.

The Nutrition Center’s Lots to Gardens youth programs are open to Lewiston/Auburn area youth between the ages of 14-18.  Through the program, youth get job training and experience, learn about gardening, nutrition, and cooking, and participate in leadership development and food justice workshops.  Youth programs are supported by generous donations from area individuals and businesses.  Sponsoring one youth position for $1,200 is a great way to give back and engage a young person in developing lifelong healthy habits and becoming an agent of change in their community.  Interested individuals can contact Nutrition Center staff for more information.

The St. Mary’s Nutrition Center promotes community health through organizing, advocacy, and education.  It is home to the St. Mary’s Food Pantry, Lots to Gardens, Lewiston Farmers’ Market, and garden, cooking, and nutrition education programs for adults, teens, and kids.  For more information, please see or call 207-513-3848.



Join us for Aquatic Fitness

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Some of the best exercise you can get is in the water. There are two ways that are most common, swimming and aqua aerobics. Both fall into the category of aerobic physical activity. Two and a half hours of aerobic activity a week is recommended for multiple health benefits including preventing and improving chronic illnesses. What better way than to enjoy that time in a pool? St. Mary’s HealthSteps offers both open lap swimming and Aquatic Fitness classes.

Lap Swim

Swim at your own pace and enjoy this individualized form of exercise in the 25-meter, 8-lane pool.

Wednesdays, 6:05-7:00 AM; Mondays and Fridays, 6:05-7:30 AM (Beginning Oct. 30, Mondays and Fridays change to 6:30-7:30 AM); Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:05-7:00 AM, (Tuesdays and Thursdays available until Oct. 29)

Aquatic Fitness

HealthSteps members enjoy a refreshing water-based workout! Front row (L to R): Sheila Sylvester, Janet Irish, Louella Hood  Second Row: Helen McNelly, Dick St. Pierre  Third Row: Joyce Richmond

HealthSteps members enjoy a refreshing water-based workout! Front row (L to R): Sheila Sylvester, Janet Irish, Louella Hood
Second Row: Helen McNelly, Dick St. Pierre
Third Row: Joyce Richmond

Join us for a great workout that’s easy on your joints using the water as resistance!  While swimming skills are not needed, a comfort level in both deep and shallow water is important.

Wednesdays, 6:05-6:55 AM; Mondays, Fridays, 6:30-7:15 AM

Open lap swim offers members an individualized form of exercise where they can choose their own pace. Whether you’re an Olympic swimmer or a doggy paddle expert, the pool is open to you for your aerobic exercise needs.

Aquatic fitness classes, on the other hand, are a social group activity. No swimming skills are required but feeling comfortable in deep water and shallow water while wearing a floatation belt is important.

Aquatic exercise provides many benefits including allowing for an increased range of motion, greater muscle resistance, and less impact on joints, which decreases participants’ chances of an impact injury. The following is what some of our aquatic exercise fans have to say about it.

“Going to my water aerobics class in the morning not only starts my day off right with exercise, but I also enjoy seeing my friends there!” -Janet Irish

I’m so glad I joined HealthSteps over 15 years ago. The water aerobics class is perfect for exercising without undue stress on my arthritic joints.  – Sheila Sylvester

In addition to aquatic fitness and lap swimming, HealthSteps offers a wide range of other classes with the core membership fee.

For more information or to register, call HealthSteps at 777-8898 or visit them on the web at Pre-registration for all programs is required. Call today and start your way to a new healthy lifestyle in which you will feel better, have more energy, meet great people, and enjoy exercise even more!


St. Mary’s Health System Names a New President and Chief Executive Officer

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015


Christopher Chekouras Named New President and CEO of St. Mary's Health System

Christopher Chekouras Named New President and CEO of St. Mary’s Health System

St. Mary’s Board Chair Craig Gunderson and Covenant Health President and CEO David Lincoln are pleased to announce that the St. Mary’s Search Committee has chosen Christopher Chekouras of Shamong, New Jersey as the next President and CEO of St. Mary’s Health System in Lewiston, Maine.

Chekouras is currently Senior Vice President of Post-Acute and Community-Based Services at Virtua, a comprehensive southern New Jersey healthcare system with three hospitals. He will replace St. Mary’s current President and CEO,  Lee Myles, who is retiring in October.

The St. Mary’s Search Committee chose Chekouras following an intensive process with multiple strong candidates. According to Gunderson it was the breadth of Chekouras’ experience which impressed the group.

“Chris brings with him broad acute care leadership skills, including strategic planning, business development, physician and board relations, philanthropy, marketing, finance and operations,” said Gunderson.

“He was an outstanding choice in our mind not only because of his background, but also his proven history of achieving results through effective collaboration, transparent communication and personal accountability.”

“Even better,” said Gunderson, “he shares St. Mary’s values.  We think Chris is a great fit.”

Covenant Health President and CEO David Lincoln is equally positive about the choice.

“We are pleased to have Chris joining the Covenant Health leadership team,” said Lincoln.  “He’s mission-driven and will continue the strong faith tradition at St. Mary’s.”

“Chris brings dynamic energy, leadership skills and innovative ideas that will help clinically strengthen and grow the St. Mary’s system. We’ve made great strides this year, and we look forward to advancing our progress further with Chris at the helm of St. Mary’s.”

Chekouras, who formally begins his new role as CEO on October 5, says he eagerly looks forward to joining the St. Mary’s family.

“I am humbled to be given the opportunity to join St. Mary’s Health System.  It is an honor and a privilege to become part of their team.  Together we will continue to build on the 127-year healthcare legacy of St. Mary’s and the Sisters of Charity of Saint-Hyacinthe.”


“The St. Mary’s Search Committee and I are delighted that Chris and his wife Jennifer will be joining the St. Mary’s community,” said Gunderson. “We are looking forward to introducing him to St. Mary’s and the larger community.”

“You can’t help but like him,” Gunderson said, “or feel his energy, creativity and positive approach.”


The Truth about Teething

Friday, June 12th, 2015

By Suzanne Stevenson, APRN, MSN, NP-C

CCS Pediatrics, Lewiston

Teething is one of the many celebrated “firsts” of a child’s first year of life.  Parents often wonder if their baby’s low grade fever, diarrhea, or sleepless nights are a result of erupting teeth.  There are many myths surrounding teething symptoms and treatments.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)  has recently published two studies showing that the only symptoms associated with teething are biting and mouthing, drooling, gum rubbing and irritability.  Parents and caregivers often attribute fever, diarrhea, red cheeks and rashes to teething, however, they are often times associated with illness and may warrant evaluation by your child’s pediatric provider.

There are many remedies both safe and unsafe for treating the discomfort associated with teething.  Amber teething necklaces are becoming increasingly popular as parents look for alternative ways to relieve baby’s sore gums.  These necklaces, however, pose a significant risk to infants.  They can easily break if they are able to get into baby’s mouth, and just one small bead can pose a choking hazard.  Teething necklaces can also cause strangulation.  Most teething necklace distributors have a disclaimer that necklaces should only be used under adult supervision, though many parents keep them on infants 24 hours a day.  Though these necklaces are thought to emit oils that relieve pain there are no studies supporting this claim.  Topical “gum numbing” medication can be harmful as well and has not been shown to be beneficial in alleviating pain from teething.

Teething toys are generally safe  as long as they are large enough to not fit inside a toilet paper or paper towel roll.  Anything smaller should not be given to a child under the age of three.  Teething rings are a great way to sooth sore gums.  They should be chilled in the refrigerator, not the freezer, and should never be boiled or placed in the dishwasher.  Mesh fruit traps can hold frozen vegetables or fruit which baby can chew on.  Other safe ways to help ease your infant’s pain are freezing wash clothes and letting baby chew on it.  Finally, acetaminophen and ibuprofen (for infants over 6 months of age) can be helpful in relieving teething discomfort, but should only be used when necessary.  You should talk to your pediatrician about appropriate dosing.  Teething can be a trying time for both parents and babies.  Always ask your pediatric provider for advice when you are unsure of symptoms or treatment options.


Suzanne Stevenson, APRN, MSN, NP-C

suzanne stevenson webSuzanne Stevenson is a Certified Nurse Practitioner at CCS Pediatrics in Lewiston.   Suzanne has a wide range of clinical experience in pediatric care. She has worked in emergency departments, newborn nurseries, transitional NICU, and a primary care office setting.  She earned her Master of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner specialty at Yale University in New Haven Connecticut and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut.

Suzanne is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.