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Joanne's Journal - Thursday, September 21, 2017

Joanne's Journal - Thursday, September 21, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to Joanne’s Journal! This is a new weekly message – a conversation really – with our D-H family that is nearly 13,000 strong (including our affiliates). Be advised, I write my own messages…and they will reflect my thoughts and observations as I meet with you, and our patients and families at all of our locations.

The last few weeks have been both incredible and challenging. I have met so many dedicated people from across the system, including Megan Todd, Mike Gilbert, and Eva Melanson from D-H Concord in the photo above, and I could not have asked for a warmer welcome from all of you. In Lebanon, I have been rounding throughout the medical center, in early mornings and on weekends. I often take a map and wind my way through the facility, finding such departments as Telecommunications, Inpatient Physical Therapy, and the Volunteer Office, just to name a few. Inevitably, each path ends with meeting another new colleague. It’s been a pleasure.

Until recently, I have not fully appreciated how my experience from two hurricanes (Hugo and Floyd) and the World Trade Center disaster on 9/11 would have prepared me for last week’s Code Silver incident in Lebanon…but they certainly did. On that day, I saw the D-H community come together and focus on our top priority – caring for our patients and each other.

In the aftermath of tragedy, what impresses me most, is the palpable sense of D-H community. All of our affiliates and community group practices reached out to see what they could do to help. The heightened connection between our staff at every level – the direct eye contact, the greetings in the hallway, the conversations, the caring – all of it is striking and inspiring. A good example is the photo below of a sign that our nurses on 3 West posted in a window, showing their support for colleagues in the ICU. Although the incident may have enhanced our sense of community, we will continue to build on the resilience, the collaboration, and the dedication that is at the core of who we are collectively.

window sign ICU The outpouring of good wishes and notes of thanks from our larger community – our patients, neighbors, hospital partners, and local businesses and organizations – also continues. Reading through the many emails, letters and comments on our Facebook page is uplifting. If anyone is looking for evidence of the strength within our community, please read the first story below.

I hope you enjoy this first edition of Joanne’s Journal. Included in it are a few stories (below) about topics that I hope you’ll find informative and interesting. I also hope you’ll consider this e-newsletter as a two-way conversation. If you have questions, comments or suggestions for other messages and stories, please feel free to send an email to me directly at: Again, I want to thank all of you whom I’ve met or have heard from by email for your warm wishes. I look forward to meeting as many of you in person as I can in the coming weeks and months. I am proud to be a part of this team.

Code Silver Incident at D-H: Outpouring of Support

On Tuesday, September 12, the Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H) community was shocked and saddened by the tragic incident that occurred on our main campus in Lebanon. The outpouring of support we have received – and keep receiving – from our local communities, served to lift our collective spirit during this crisis.

D-H has received many uplifting comments on our social media platforms – Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, and Instagram – since this incident took place. And for that we are grateful. Below are just a few sample comments from some of our D-H Facebook posts.

Read the full story here.

Patient Experience Moment: Glendon Ingalls

Glendon Ingalls

Glendon Ingalls of Rutland, Vermont, collapsed while playing his trumpet in the accompanying band for Dartmouth College’s annual “Dartmouth Idol” singing competition on March 3, 2017, suffering from cardiac arrest.

According to Dr. Aaron Kaplan, in D-H’s Cardiovascular Medicine, survival rates of people who experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is approximately 10 percent, and among those even fewer walk away with good neurologic function. Ingalls did not experience these problems because of the immediate response of the bystanders and “the highly-coordinate care system we have developed to treat patients that have been resuscitated in the field by either bystanders or Emergency Medical Technicians,” says Kaplan.

As part of his experience, Ingalls has become an advocate for the importance of Basic Cardiac Life Support training. Ingalls is continually grateful for the individuals who stepped up for him, and for the “nurturing environment of care” he found at D-H.

Read more of Glendon Ingalls story here.

Employee and Volunteer Flu Immunizations Due Fri., November 3, 2017

Meaghan Ellis and Dr. Conroy, flu shot

Maegan Ellis talking to me before my flu shot.

Again this year, the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Influenza Immunization Policy requires all D-H employees and clinicians who work in any D-H location to either be immunized against the flu or qualify for a medical or religious exemption by Friday, November 3, 2017. This includes everyone who works, studies or is affiliated with D-H, including temporary and permanent staff, physicians, other credentialed providers, volunteers, agents, consultants and students affiliated with D-H training programs. Medical or Religious exemption requests are due by Friday, October 6, 2017.

Information about the policy and available flu clinics can be found on the D-H intranet site.

Battling ALS with Centralized Care

Members of Manchester's ALS Multidisciplinary Clinic.

Prior to August of 2014, you had probably heard of Lou Gehrig’s disease (also known as ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), but didn’t know much about it. Thanks to the Ice Bucket Challenge going viral on social media that year—and raising $115 million for research in the process, it’s become somewhat of a household name.

This fatal disease attacks the nervous system, causing paralysis that affects a patient’s ability to move, breathe, speak and eat. As a result, patients need treatment from a variety of health care providers. While Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H) has an ALS Clinic in Lebanon and research labs at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, it also now offers an ALS Multidisciplinary Clinic in Manchester at the Notre Dame Pavilion at Catholic Medical Center (CMC).

Patients visit their neurology, pulmonary, palliative care, nutrition and/or rehabilitation providers, depending on their current needs. Led by Dr. Jorge Almodovar-Suarez, the director of the ALS Multidisciplinary Clinic, currently a total of 30 to 35 patients are being treated.

Thanks in part to a $25,000 grant from the ALS Association Northern New England Chapter, one-third of clinic patient services that are unbillable to insurance are being covered. Once the clinic has been operational a full year, Dr. Almodovar-Suarez plans to apply for permanent funding to further alleviate costs.

A unique aspect of the clinic is the nurse coordinator, Jennifer Roy, RN, who works with patients and their families throughout the entire clinical experience, beginning with a screening phone call to help identify needs, providers and resources more efficiently.

“The clinic has been a very successful organizational model because of the support of leadership since Day One,” Dr. Almodovar-Suarez says.

Read more about the clinic here.

Affiliates in Action: New London Hospital Receives American Heart Association Gold Workplace Health Achievement Award

New London Hospital staff participate in Apple Crunch Day.

New London Hospital has achieved Gold level recognition from the American Heart Association (AHA) for taking significant steps to build a culture of health in the workplace.

This is the second consecutive year that New London Hospital has been acknowledged with the AHA Gold Workplace Health Achievement designation for the employee wellness programs and best practices that the hospital has implemented.

“We are honored to have received recognition from the American Hospital Association,” Catherine Bardier, says, director of Wellness and Community Health at New London Hospital. “Many of the wellness programs offered at the hospital and our Newport Health Center are employee-driven. We have a very active employee wellness committee that is continuously listening to feedback, developing new programs and acting as wellness champions.”

The New London Hospital Employee Wellness Committee is comprised of staff from multiple departments throughout the hospital and health center, and meets on a monthly basis. Over the past year initiatives such as the Wellness Wagon and a Hospital Community Trail have been put into action.

The Wellness Wagon was a project developed to make wellness programing and activities more accessible to staff. “We received a lot of feedback that it was hard for staff to sometimes leave their area of work to participate in the activities we were hosting,” Bardier says. “The wagon allows us to visit each department and bring the wellness activities and information along with us. Every month the wagon makes its rounds offering new information depending on the theme that month. “We have celebrated everything from Great Outdoors month to Fresh Fruits and Veggies month to Men’s Health month. We always have giveaways, handouts, educational activities or information, and each employee who visits the wagon has a chance to enter their name to for raffle prizes.”

Trail Grand Opening

Back: Bruce King, CEO and President, left, and Mark Vernon, member, New London Conservation Committee. Front: Kimberly Hallquist, Town Administrator, left, and Catherine Bardier, Director of Wellness and Community Health.

Another wellness initiative that came to fruition in 2017 was the opening of the Hospital Community Trail—a one-mile trail with entrances connected to the hospital parking lot. The trail helps create in-town opportunities for walking, jogging and pedestrian commuting for New London Hospital employees as well as community members to enjoy.

“Not only do we have the engagement of our employees and an active wellness committee, but we also have the support from leadership to continue to expand and develop our wellness programing,” says Bardier. “Because of this, we are creating a culture of health for our organization—with the goal of also having a positive impact on our communities and the wellbeing of our region.”

“The American Heart Association has defined best practices for employers to use to build a culture of health for their employees in the workplace. The Association’s Workplace Health Achievement Index measures the extent to which the company has implemented those workplace health best practices. Companies recognized at the Gold level have achieved an Index score of 175 - 217 out of a maximum 217 points.”

Red Cross Trains 135 for Hurricane Relief at D-H

DH Red Cross Training

As Hurricane Irma pounded through the Caribbean and threatened Florida on Saturday, September 9, New Hampshire and Vermont American Red Cross leaders used Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s (D-H) facility to help train 110 new volunteers and 25 leadership volunteers who may deploy to the southeast region as part of disaster relief.

David Muse, the Red Cross disaster program manager for the New Hampshire Upper Valley, said the trainees—including some D-H employees—were “super engaged and enthusiastic” about helping. Most said they were motivated by the triple threat of Hurricanes Harvey in Texas, Irma in Florida, and the approaching storm Jose, a third powerful storm which has not yet made landfall. Muse said the D-H training session meant that volunteers are now “90 percent good to go” for disaster response.

D-H was a key player in providing much-needed training space as the Red Cross tries to staff multiple disasters in addition to the usual local responses they cover he said.

Healthy Living Series Symposium – Concussions: Risks, Realities and Reforms

The Concussions: Risks, Realities, and Reforms symposium, on Wednesday, September 13 was a great success. Over one hundred people attended the event at Southern New Hampshire University to listen to experts in medicine, law and athletics, including Sports Illustrated journalist Michael McCann, former New England Patriots player Matt Chatham and Dr. Bill Storo from the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. Requests to watch via a live stream came in from as far away as Chicago, Illinois.

Dr. Storo, who specializes in concussion injury and prevention, spoke about the importance of athletes not returning to play after showing concussion symptoms. “About one-third of kids don’t come out of games, even though concussion symptoms will last twice as long by staying in the game,” he said.

Also, former New England Patriot Matt Chatham shared his thoughts about the technique of tackling, “it's a violent sport; helmets hit on almost every play.”

The symposium lasted two hours, questions from coaches, parents and school administrators focused on how concussions can impact all aspects of an athlete's life.

As a follow-up to the symposium, on Tuesday, September 19, Dr. Storo was interviewed by Jack Heath of WGIR Radio. Listen to the interview here.