Listen to Your Heart!

February 9th, 2015

Dr. Shashi Tewari Panozzo layer2Dr. Shashi Panozzo, MD of Community Clinical Services and St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center remind you that heart disease and stroke affect women of all ethnicities.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death for African American women, killing nearly 50,000 annually.

Only 43% of African American women and 44% of Hispanic women know that heart disease is their greatest health risk, compared with 60% of Caucasian women.

Of African-American women ages 20 and older, 48.9% have cardiovascular disease. Yet, only 20% believe they are at risk.

Only 50% of African-American women are aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

Hispanic women are likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than Caucasian women.

Only 3 in 10 Hispanic women say they have been informed that they are at a higher risk.

Only 1 in 4 Hispanic women is aware of treatment options.

Learn more about the effect of heart disease on women by visiting the American Heart Association. Talk to your doctor. If you need a provider call 777-8899. Make an appointment with a Cardiologist (in Lewiston call 777-5300). Learn the warning signs.


National Wear Red Day

February 6th, 2015

St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, in partnership with the American Heart Association, is encouraging everyone to Wear Red today, February 6, 2015 to raise awareness of the number 1 killer of women, heart disease.

In Maine, more than 1 of every 4 deaths is from heart disease or stroke.  Don’t become a statistic. Take charge of your health!  One key to heart health is to know some very important numbers: your blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI.   Ideally, here’s where they should be (for non-diabetics):

  • Total cholesterol of 200 mg/dL or lower
  • HDL (“good” cholesterol) of 50 mg/dL or higher for women and 40 mg/dL or higher for men
  • LDL (“bad” cholesterol) of 100 or lower
  • Triglycerides of less than 150 mg/dL.
  • Your BMI, or Body Mass Index, is based on your height and weight. If it is greater than 25 you are at higher risk of heart disease and stroke.  There are many BMI calculators available online such as
Roy Ulin

Roy Ulin, MD MaineHealth Cardiology

“Most of the time, you will not feel the symptoms of high blood pressure or high cholesterol,” said Dr. Roy Ulin a cardiologist at Maine Medical Partners MaineHealth Cardiology and partner of St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center. “The only way to know for sure if you’re at risk is to know your numbers and take action to fix it.”  Ask your primary care provider how your numbers compare.

Dr. Ulin said one of the best things you can do for your heart is to exercise.  “You don’t have to run a 10K or take a Zumba class, but you do need to move and increase your heart rate.  Ten minutes of brisk walking three times a day can go a long way towards improving your heart health.”

For all the good things you do to keep heart healthy it is important to also avoid the habits that can hurt your health. “Smoking damages your heart and blood vessels, making you two to four times more likely to have heart disease, a heart attack, and/or stroke.” said Dr. Ulin.  “Women who are on birth control pills are at even greater risk. But, if you quit, within three to five years, your risk of heart disease decreases to the level of a non-smoker regardless of how long you’ve been smoking.”

You do what you can to protect your loved ones and to keep them healthy. This year, do something for YOU. Changes you make now can have a positive effect for a lifetime.

St. Mary’s Tina Daigle, Ed.D., Earns National Recognition

January 21st, 2015

tina daigle 2Congratulations Tina Daigle, Ed.D., Learning Management System Administrator at St. Mary’s Health System.  Tina was selected as a winner of the 2014 Talent-in-Talent™ Award by HealthcareSource, the Covenant Health vendor for Position Manager and NetLearning.

This annual national award is given to healthcare Human Resources, Education, and Organizational Development professionals who demonstrate the highest level of talent, proficiency, and competency in healthcare talent management and education and who use this talent to teach others and support the advancement of their professions.

Tina was recognized for her role in the implementation of St. Mary’s new NetLearning system.  She was instrumental in the design of the product for our use and for training leadership to maximize the use of all its functionality.  Additionally she worked with our internal subject matter experts to customize and validate the content we purchased as well as prepare training modules our staff had already authored.  We now have the ability to assign programs and track completion!

As part of the award application Tina stated, “Our goal is to utilize NetLearning to train, manage systems, and assess competency for our organization…  I want to utilize NetLearning in the ways most beneficial to St. Mary’s to attract and retain personnel…. As an organization, we are currently adopting NetLearning to meet the needs of all new and current employees.  Improving patient experiences, retaining quality employees, and enhancing staff learning help build the best employees beyond the initial hire.”

Sam’s Restaurants Support Local Food Pantries

January 20th, 2015

Sam's Cornucopia Winning Store 2014Sam’s restaurants in Maine raised $6,400 to support local food pantries. Each fall, employees at thirteen Sam’s Italian Sandwich Shops ask if they would like to purchase paper cornucopias for $1 to help end hunger. The restaurant location that sells the most cornucopias wins prizes from Sam’s and other area businesses as a thank you. Environmental Remediation, a local business, made a significant contribution to the St. Mary’s Food Pantry as part of this effort.

This year Sam’s Sabattus Street location in Lewiston raised the most money. Mary Ellingwood from St. Mary’s Development Department presented a plaque noting the achievement to David MacArthur, Manager of the Sam’s Sabattus Street location.

Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

December 31st, 2014

Every New Year’s Eve you make the same vow: “this is the year I’m going to get into shape.” You buy a gym membership and kick off the year intensely dedicated to your new workout routine. But, as the year progresses, you find yourself heading to the gym less and less often. Discouraged with your lack of progress, you give up going altogether. Does this sound familiar? You’re not alone. Many people have a hard time sticking to their New Year’s promises.
Here are some ways to be successful at keeping your 2015 New Year’s Resolution(s) from Jennifer Smith, a member of the Prevention and Wellness program at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center:

– Be realistic. Resolving to look like a movie star or model is a tall order and one most of us could never reach. Stick with a promise that’s within reason, such as working out and eating right.

– Avoid repeat resolutions. If you resolve to lose 30 pounds every year and fail every year,
try changing your approach. For instance, instead of going on a fad diet, vow to go for a daily walk or cut out eating right before bed.

– Plan ahead. Describe your goals and list specific things you can do to meet those goals.

– Enlist some help. Ask friends and family to support you and remind you of the goal you are trying to achieve. Sometimes you just may need expert help. For example, if your goal is to work out more often, a personal trainer can greatly increase your chance at success. St. Mary’s offers personalized Health Coaching to help you to reach your goals. For more information call 777-8898.

– Don’t overpromise! If you make too many resolutions they will be hard to keep. Make just a few and really put your mind to keeping those! One small step at a time!

– Reward yourself. If you vow to lose weight and you lose five pounds in the first 2 months, buy some new clothes to fit your shrinking figure. Do not reward yourself with an ice cream sundae or you’ll sabotage your progress.

– Mix it up! If your goal is to get fit, try a variety of physical activities so you don’t get bored. In the winter, hit the pool with a water aerobics class. In the spring, try yoga. The summer is a great time to hike, and kick it up a notch in the fall with salsa dancing!

Jennifer Smith

Jennifer Smith

Jennifer Smith is a member of the Prevention and Wellness program at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center. She 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.

Youth-Powered Cooking Kick-Off Event at the Lewiston Winter Farmers’ Market

December 31st, 2014

On Sunday, January 4, 2014 Youth-Powered Cooking will start offering homemade brunch items for sale during the Lewiston Winter Farmers’ Market from 10am to 1pm. As a new initiative of St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, the Youth-Powered Cooking program is an opportunity for a small group of Lewiston/Auburn youth (ages 14-20) to receive hands-on training in cooking and serving nutritious foods while deepening their connection to their local food system.

As part of the Youth-Powered Cooking program, youth participate in a series of skill-based workshops that cover topics such as safe knife handling techniques and following and scaling recipes. Participants then have the chance to put these new skills into practice as they prepare food to be sold at the market café. Menus will include a variety of warm dishes and when available, ingredients will be sourced from market vendors and other local producers. Lewiston Winter Farmers’ Market features a wide variety of vendors and runs on the first and third Sundays of the month, 10am to 1pm from now until April 19, 2014. Proceeds from the café support this and other youth training programs at the Nutrition Center.

The Nutrition Center’s youth programs create healthy environments for young people to develop their voices within their community as they explore in urban and school gardens, kitchens, social justice workshops, and nation-wide youth networks. Job skills training happens in the field as youth provide a crucial service to the community—making healthy food more accessible. To learn more, visit

Four Tips to Make Your Holidays More Healthy and Happy

November 21st, 2014

By Anne Brown, MD

Halloween is over, Thanksgiving is upon us, and beyond that is the mad dash to Christmas. I think I speak for many Moms in that we enter the season with hopes of beautiful decorations, fancy cookies, holiday events to enjoy, and a time to be with everyone whom we love. Unfortunately, implementing this beautiful and calm vision can turn into a stressful time of too much to do, less sleep, and several extra pounds. By the time the big day rolls around, we are often exhausted and frazzled by what we had to accomplish to pull off a successful holiday for our families.

Here are a few tips on how to avoid the holiday craze:
Tip number one is to take care of yourself. This does not have to mean time consuming bubble baths, weekly massages, or a spa weekend (this can come after the holiday!) Simple pleasures such as a five minute period to sit and stretch, a few gentle yoga poses before bed, or having a cup or tea (try leaning into the warm steam) can go a long way toward relaxation. Remember to try and walk a little bit every day – whether that is parking further away or sneaking out for 5 minutes at lunchtime. Stealing a couple of minutes of fresh air every day will provide rejuvenation. If you exercise regularly, and are worried about the seasonal time crunch, try to only cut back by a day or two or shorten your routine rather than giving it up for the holidays.

Tip number two is to maintain healthy eating. When I started to study nutrition, my family was afraid I would banish the sweets and treats of the holidays. Since real change is most effective when gradual, I added moderation and modification to the holiday food extravaganza. Instead of indulging in cookies/fudge/and various holiday sweets every day for several weeks, we limit sugar to a couple days a week. On those days, my daughters take everything out of the tins and load it onto a big platter. We then carefully select our favorites to mindfully enjoy the tastes and uniqueness of these holiday treats. On the other days, we try to come up with fun healthy deserts: cutting oranges into circles and placing drops of yogurt then raisins on them (to look like ornaments) or cutting a pear in half, and dusting it with a little confectionary sugar (snow on trees). This is the perfect time to exercise your creativity and create holiday themes out of fruits and vegetables.

Tip number three is deep breathing. The act of breathing into our bellies, trigger a response in our bodies that is relaxing. Singing is a great way to do this. Once Thanksgiving is past, my daughters and I sing Christmas Carols and holiday songs in the car everywhere we go and in the kitchen while cooking. This is a blast and tradition we cherish.

My final tip is to find a way to stop a few times every day, take a deep breath and focus on your senses. Use a few holiday items as reminders. This is a fun thing to do with kids – they love to move a couple holiday decorations around and are masters of noticing what they see, smell, hear, or feel at the moment.

To me, the things that make the holidays really special are the traditions we develop and follow year after year. Kids love routine and by creating an environment where mindful and healthy traditions flourish, not only are we enhancing our own enjoyment of the holidays, but we are also giving our children the gift of relaxation and health.

Dr. Brown is a physician at St. Mary’s Medical Associates. She earned her medical degree from the University of Vermont and completed her internship and residency in internal medicine at the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr Brown did her mind-body training through the Benson Henry Institute at Massachusetts General, and she finishes her fellowship in integrative medicine through the University of Arizona in December 2014. Dr. Brown offers mind body groups for stress reduction and will be offering integrative medicine consults starting in January 2015.

Caring for the Caregiver: A free presentation at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center

November 12th, 2014

One of the most important and frequently overlooked things a caregiver can do for their loved ones is to take good care of themselves. Often, caregivers are so focused on making sure everyone’s needs are met, that they don’t take the time to look after themselves.

If you’re a caregiver, please join us for an important free presentation on Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 5:30pm. During this presentation, Yasmine King,
FNP-C, and Jennifer Hazen, BSN, RN, OCN, from St. Mary’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders will discuss:

• the physical and emotional toll of caregiving
• ways to reduce stress
• how to improve your overall health
• where to find support resources

The presentation will be held at the Lepage Large Conference Room at 99 Campus Avenue in Lewiston. Snacks will be provided. Seating for this program is limited. To reserve your seat, please call 777-8458 by November 18, 2014.

Is it a Cold or More?

October 23rd, 2014

This article, written by Jennifer Radel, orginaly appeared in the October 16, 2014 edition of Macaroni Kids Androscoggin Newsletter.

It’s fall. The leaves are showing off their brilliant hues, the air is crisp, and tasty treats made with apples and pumpkins abound. While it’s one of my favorite seasons, it does have a downside. My youngest son suffers from allergies that tend to flare up this time of year and both my boys seem to trade colds with classmates as often as they do Pokémon cards.

On Sunday, it started. My eight-year-old, Cade (the one with the allergies), sniffled and sneezed throughout the day. Monday, he was running a low-grade fever. By Tuesday the coughing fits began and Wednesday, general lethargy crept in. Typical stuff for cold and allergy season. No big deal, right?

Right, unless you are like me. After reading, watching, and listening to the news reports about the enterovirus, I’m more than a little paranoid my child will get very sick. The virus may be linked to a mysterious neurological illness causing paralysis that hospitalized a small number of children in Colorado, Massachusetts, and Michigan (authorities are still investigating a connection). Last month, a four-year-old in New Jersey died in his sleep. His only symptom his parents say was pinkeye. Another child, a 21-month old girl from Michigan succumbed to the illness this week.

So how do you know when it’s the average cold, or something more? I sought the advice of Teresita Maguire, MD from St. Mary’s Pulmonary Medicine and Infectious Disease to learn something more about this. According to Dr. Maguire, enteroviruses are quite common and occur mainly during summer and fall. It has been in the news a lot lately because cases of the enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), which is one of more than 100 non-polio enteroviruses, have been significantly on the rise across the US this year.

“Most people who are infected,” explained Dr. Maguire, “do not have symptoms or they experience only mild cold-like symptoms such as fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body aches. In general, infants, children, and teenagers, especially those with asthma, are more susceptible to severe symptoms because they haven’t developed immunity or protection yet from previous exposures to these viruses.”

Dr. Maguire suggests keeping a vigilant eye on your kids. If their fever spikes, have difficulty breathing (or are wheezing), or show signs of weakness, seek medical treatment immediately. “Consider EV-D68 as a possible cause of an unexplained acute severe respiratory illness even if a patient has no fever,” said Dr. Maguire. “This can cause a bad cold, but in children with asthma, it can exacerbate their asthma to the point where they may need medical attention.”

There are some things you can do to protect you and your family, and the community, from the spread of EV-D68 and other respiratory diseases. Just like with the common cold and flu, the CDC says:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (tell your kids to sing the “Happy Birthday” song while they wash to ensure they are washing long enough). Use a liquid hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
• Avoid touching your face (especially eyes, mouth, and nose) with unwashed hands
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick, such as hugging and hand shaking
• Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or shirt sleeve, not your hands
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick
• Stay at home when you are sick

Reach out to your primary care provider if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s health. As parents, that’s all we can do. While we’d like to keep our kids safely in a bubble, we’d miss out on all the fall fun of leaf peeping, apple picking, and pumpkin carving.

Jennifer Radel has been the Community Relations Manager at St. Mary’s Health System in Lewiston, Maine for nine years.

On a daily basis she gets to work with some of the best health care providers in the State of Maine, and routinely picks their brains for the best ways to keep her family and friends healthy.

Jennifer is a mom of two boys and wife who volunteers with several community groups. She is on the Board of Directors for Literacy Volunteers-Androscoggin.

Prior to coming to St. Mary’s Jennifer spent nearly 15 years working in television, mainly as a news producer in upstate New York and Portland, Maine. During that time she received the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence, among other awards for journalism.

9th Annual Chefs Soirée a Success

September 30th, 2014

St. Mary’s Health System’s Nutrition Center held the 9th Annual Chefs Soirée, Exploring Our Roots, earlier this month. The event was inspired by the 125th anniversary of St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center and the 15th anniversary of the Nutrition Center’s Lots to Gardens program. Courses throughout the evening featured root vegetables and other culinary delights from local farms and producers.

Chef Paul Landry of Fish Bones American Grill, Cody LaMontagne, co-founder of Forage Market, Karen Bolduc of South Auburn Organic Farm and Gerry Walsh of Forage Market educated and entertained guests with their collective knowledge and great food.

Paul Drowns, the Nutrition Center's  Community Cooking Educator (left) and Fiston Mubalama Lowitiwiya, a Nutrition Center Fellow (right), share their culinary expertise with guests of the 9th Annual Chefs Soirée at the St. Mary's Nutrition Center.

Paul Drowns, the Nutrition Center’s Community Cooking Educator (left) and Fiston Mubalama Lowitiwiya, a Nutrition Center Fellow (right), share their culinary expertise with guests of the 9th Annual Chefs Soirée at the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center.

Sarah Spring of Spring Day Creamery in Durham and Pat O’Brien of Fiore Artisan Olive Oils & Vinegars in Freeport offered samples of their product for tasting. A display of recently harvested vegetables and flowers from 4 Season Farm Market in New Auburn gave the Nutrition Center a market atmosphere. The Nutrition Center’s Community Cooking Educator, Paul Drowns, and Fiston Mubalama Lowitiwiya, a Nutrition Center Fellow, set up the Center’s bicycle cart kitchen outside and served Beet Carpaccio with Caramelized Onion Marmalade.

The four course meal featured roasted butternut squash, beet and goat cheese galette with a salad made with South Auburn Organic Farm’s mixed greens and Spring Day Creamery’s award winning blue cheese and warm apple cider dressing. Chicken kebobs with Ricker Hill Farm’s apples, and turnips were served with mushrooms (Maine forged) risotto and Fiore’s Wild Mushroom & Sage Olive Oil. The third course featured North Star Sheep Farm grilled lamb burgers topped with Pineland Farm’s feta cheese and greens drizzled with a mint chimichurri aioli and served with salad nicoise. Gerry Walsh of Forage Market created a Chocolate Torte made simply with eggs, chocolate and cream to finish off the evening.

Susan Hall of The Vault, a specialty wine and craft beer shop in Lewiston pared each course with wine. Baxter Beer of Lewiston donated four varieties of craft beers to the evening’s festivities.

The proceeds will support St. Mary’s Nutrition Center and its programming. The Nutrition Center serves as a hub for healthy food initiatives across Lewiston and Androscoggin County. Key programs include the food pantry, cooking and garden education programs for people of all ages, the Lewiston Farmers’ Market, and Lots to Gardens, which uses downtown gardens to create access to fresh local food, empower youth, and to build community. For more information contact the Nutrition Center at 207-513-3848.