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North Shore Hospitals

North Shore Hospitals provide environmental and wellness programs to help keep our communities healthy and thriving.

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Hospitals on the North Shore are expanding their patient treatment efforts to include working holistically to keep neighborhoods healthy and reduce institutions’ carbon footprint. This enlightened approach reflects a forward-thinking trend that is pushing across the country—and the world—as healthcare leaders embrace a restorative health philosophy that considers improvements in environmental health, as well as human health, a moral priority.

This new, more inclusive attitude means that the social responsibilities that hospitals carry today extend far beyond the Hippocratic oath, to include conserving natural resources, recycling, and composting. They are also urging our youth and elderly populations to live healthier lifestyles through myriad programs, from nutrition classes to safety in sports to preventive screening. And what better place to start creating a healthier community than with our community hospitals?

Here is a snapshot of some of the North Shore community hospitals that are instituting new, innovative ways to help us all stay healthy.

Lawrence General

Lawrence General is a private nonprofit community hospital affiliated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and with Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center for pediatrics. Although the hospital is considered a community hospital, it is coming into its own as a well-respected regional medical facility. The hospital is undergoing a $72 million renovation due for completion at the end of 2016. The hospital’s current yearly treatment average is 12,000 inpatients, 70,000 emergency visits, 1,800 births, and 200,000 outpatient visits. Last year, Lawrence General contributed more than $13,000,000 in community benefits and charity care to our region.

Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables

We all know that healthy eating is more than half the battle in achieving a healthy lifestyle. Lawrence General Hospital sponsors an urban farmers’ market through Groundwork Lawrence, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of Lawrence’s residents through environmental and open space improvements. Lawrence General’s support makes healthy food alternatives accessible and affordable to its neighbors.  

Spic ’n’ Span

The Spicket River Greenway is a 3.5-mile-long “emerald bracelet” of green spaces and walking paths that connect parks and open space through Lawrence and Methuen neighborhoods, including a section that meanders through the Lawrence General campus. The riverfront restoration and neighborhood revitalization began 15 years ago and has been realized through a multiyear collaborative effort that has included Groundwork Lawrence; local, state, and Federal governments; numerous community organizations; and Lawrence General Hospital, which advocated for enforcement efforts against illegal dumping with the Spicket River Task Force and the Clean Spicket Campaign. The task force championed thousands of residents who cleared more than 120 tons of debris, including thousands of tires, from the Spicket River’s banks through annual cleanups.  

Horsing Around

Ironstone, a 19-acre farm in Andover, works with children with disabilities as well as adults who face numerous physical and emotional challenges. Clients may include autistic children who need help to talk and socialize, veterans trying to overcome post-traumatic stress disorder, and children who need to develop stronger legs and greater balance in order to walk. “The motion of horse riding stimulates many of the same muscle groups that walking does, strengthening the core trunk muscle, normalizing muscle tone, and improving balance,” says Deedee O’Brien, executive director of Ironstone Farm. The farm has more than 30 horses, of which two-thirds are Haflingers, a breed that has a small stature and broad back, which makes them better suited for riders. Lawrence General refers patients to Ironstone therapy programs and also sponsors the farm’s efforts. In December, the hospital made a contribution to the farm’s Early Intervention program—therapy on horseback for children nine months to three years old.

Green Stats

Another way Lawrence General is helping our communities is by protecting our environment!
Its LED Installation Project, implemented three years ago, introduced 155 new lighting fixtures and 1,312 lighting retrofit kits, and replaced 5,548 bulbs. The cost savings the first year was $36,000, the second year $36,000, and the third year a whopping $166,000, thereby saving money and reducing the hospital’s carbon footprint. In its new single-stream recycling program, Lawrence General has recycled 61.03 tons of cardboard, paper, and cans; and the hospital has composted 20 tons of food scraps from its kitchen and cafeteria.

Lowell General

Founded in 1892, Lowell General Hospital is an independent nonprofit community hospital serving Greater Lowell and the surrounding communities. The 434-bed hospital employs more than 4,000 staff and is committed to improving the overall health status of its community and the health problems of medically underserved populations. Lowell General’s centers of excellence include breast imaging centers, the cancer center, heart and vascular center, maternity/pediatrics, surgical services, and weight management. The hospital also successfully merged with Saints Medical Center in 2012 to create a two-campus hospital.

TeamWalk for CancerCare

Each spring, the people of Greater Lowell gather together to support their friends, families, and neighbors suffering from cancer. They come by the thousands, and they have raised millions. Now in its 17th year, Lowell General’s TeamWalk for CancerCare has raised more than $9 million, including $864,500 last year alone, on the strength of 5,000 walkers. This year’s TeamWalk will be held May 22. For more information, visit teamwalk.org.

Cancer screenings

Aware that many people of low income often don’t get annual physicals or routine health screens, Lowell General Hospital works to bring these screenings to them.
Last March, Lowell General sponsored the first-ever Lowell Housing Authority Wellness Fair, and gave residents an extra incentive to join in. Visitors who participated in at least five healthy lifestyle activity tables and/or health screenings received a $25 Market Basket gift card.
Dr. Arthur Lauretano, an otolaryngologist and medical director of Lowell General’s Head and Neck Center, performed cancer screens, while other tables offered tests for blood pressure, body mass index, and glucose levels.

Global Community

In Cambodia, getting access to healthcare requires paying up front. If you don’t pay, you don’t get help. And in a country dominated by poverty, that system leaves thousands of Cambodians reliant on a few hospitals run by charitable foundations that offer the care for free.
Half a world away, Lowell General Hospital is doing what it can to help. It’s not known exactly how many Cambodians live in Lowell, but the 2010 census estimated as many as one in eight Mill City residents came from the South Asian country. One of those immigrants, Rothsovann Yong, was born in Cambodia and is now a Lowell General Emergency Department physician giving back to her homeland. In late January, Yong and a small team of volunteers from Lowell General visited Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope in Phnom Penh with a special delivery—an ultrasound machine bought and donated by Lowell General. The donation is part of an ongoing “sister hospital” relationship started by a Lowell General physician, Dr. Milton Drake, who is a board member with Hope Worldwide, which manages these hospitals, and his wife, Debbie. Along with the ultrasound donation, Yong, Dr. Chris Clingan, and the rest of the team will work to train physicians on how to use it to diagnose everything from gall bladder disease to broken bones.

Environmental Efforts

At Lowell General, unused food doesn’t go in the trash; it gets turned into water. In 2014, in response to updated state regulations regarding biodegradable waste, the hospital purchased an EnviroPure Food Elimination System. Using a combination of mechanical processing, oxygen, heat, and all-natural additives, the machine reduces biodegradable material to gray water within 24 hours. This water is then safe to go into the municipal waste water system. Using the machine keeps tons of biodegradable waste from going to a landfill, where such material makes up as much as 25 percent of what is being dumped.

North Shore Medical Center

The North Shore Medical Center (NSMC) is the North Shore’s largest healthcare provider and is a member of Partners HealthCare, founded by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. The center continues to be a strong collaborator with Massachusetts General.  
NSMC has been ranked among the top five regional hospitals by
U.S. News & World Report. Along with this prestigious ranking, Partners HealthCare is also a member of Healthcare Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth, two organizations that champion environmental change for healthier hospitals and communities across the country and around the world.

Green Thumb

Salem High School teacher Matt Buchannan and his team of students created Salem Greenspace at Palmer Cove Park to foster youth development and community building in the city. Proposed by the Salem YMCA, Salem Greenspace is predominantly funded by Partners Healthcare and NSMC, with planning and design support from Mass in Motion Salem. Occupying a retrofitted former batting cage, the garden lies adjacent to the existing community garden. Buchannan and his students invested many hours last summer preparing the garden for its debut. “New garden boxes are raised off the ground and offer a seating platform for gardeners of all physical abilities,” says Buchannan. His students also installed a self-sustained rain-collection system with gravity irrigation, keeping Greenspace “off the grid.” Not only does Salem Greenspace give almost anyone the ability to garden, but it also cultivates an educational environment with the inclusion of a small classroom. “We already have local businesses like Scratch Kitchen offering to teach cooking lessons in the garden,” Buchannan says. Many programs took advantage of the space last summer, including Saltonstall Elementary, the Boy Scouts, and the YMCA’s SAIL youth leadership program. “This has been a great way for kids to interact with the elderly in our community—it’s about making these connections,” says Buchannan.  

Cool Energy

North Shore Medical Center’s new state-of-the-art central utility plant has received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the U. S. Green Building Council. The NSMC facility, located on the NSMC Salem Hospital campus, is one of only four LEED-certified power plants in the country, and one of only two to receive the LEED Gold designation. In addition, it was recognized as being the most energy efficient of all certified power plants in the country. “Throughout the entire planning, design, and construction process, every effort was made to reduce NSMC’s impact on the environment,” says Mary Jo Gagnon, senior vice president of operations. Not only is the new power plant more energy efficient, it is also expected to save NSMC $300,000 annually in energy costs that can be redirected to patient care and enables NSMC’s to generate 40 percent of its own electricity. It also reduces NSMC emissions by the equivalent of 1,180 cars on the road each year. Part of the system captures unused steam and water and returns it to the boilers, decreasing the use of Salem city water by 2,000 gallons per day.

Lahey Health

Lahey Health comprises a number of community hospitals on the North Shore, including the Lahey Medical Center, Beverly Hospital, Addison Gilbert, and Winchester Hospital. These smaller community hospitals have come together to share a philosophy of doing what is right for its patients and the community, offering several outreach programs throughout the North Shore.

It’s an Emergency

Addison Gilbert partners with The Open Door, a Cape Ann agency that provides emergency food resources, to ensure that all emergency department patients have access to the food they need to become—and stay—healthy post-visit. Some emergency department patients don’t have access to high-quality food or a wide variety of food. The Emergency Department Food Bag Program provides food and access to ongoing help through The Open Door and connects patients with community resources.
After an initial meeting with The Open Door, patients receive a $50 gift card to a local grocery store. Beverly Hospital has a similar program in partnership with Beverly Bootstraps, a North Shore agency that connects the most vulnerable in our community with the resources they need.   

Making an Impact

“Athletes tend to underreport injury,” says Melinda Adam, a physical therapist and director of Beverly Hospital Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Services. Modeled after a program at the University of Pittsburgh, IMPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) has been adopted by the Beverly Hospital Concussion Management Program headed by Adam.
The hospital provides baseline concussion testing for athletes at a number of North Shore high schools—Georgetown, Gloucester, Beverly, Danvers, and Newburyport, among others—to ensure that the trainers can check kids who may get hit in the head during a game. The hospital also provides top safety-rated football helmets from Xenith (a local company that makes football helmets) if a school is willing to go through the IMPACT protocol. The hospitals donated $500 to each school participating. MPACT allows for a sophisticated test of cognitive abilities to help evaluate the concussion and make informed decisions for the young athlete. “The hospital has worked with a number of schools and athletic directors, and it really has made a difference in identifying concussions and keeping student athletes safer,” says Adam. “The first year, 300 baseline tests were completed. There has been a decrease in concussions related to the program’s data.” The focus is not just on football—it is on all contact sports, including hockey, soccer, and lacrosse, at each school, both boys and girls. The program has increased an awareness of athlete safety, Adam says: “Teenagers are a susceptible age group, since their brains are still growing.”

Free Screening  

Lung cancer, the number one cancer killer, claims the lives of approximately 435 people in the country every day. “In January 2012, Lahey Hospital & Medical Center began a community benefit CT lung screening program after one of the largest cancer prevention studies, the National Lung Screening Trial, published its results,” says Dr. Andrea McKee, chair of radiation oncology at Lahey's Sophia Gordon Cancer Center. McKee has earned national recognition for her work in advocating for CT lung cancer screenings as a way to save lives. “The study showed that in older people, both current and former heavy smokers, annual screening reduced the number of deaths from lung cancer by 20 percent.” More than 3,500 men and women have been screened at Lahey, and the screenings have detected more than 80 cases of lung cancer. “Three out of four of these lung cancers have been stage 1, the most curable stage of the disease,” notes McKee. “If lung cancer is diagnosed at stage 1, the survival rate is 90 percent. At stage 4, the survival rates drop to less than one percent.” The National Lung Screening Trial results are so positive that Medicare and private insurance companies will now cover the cost of screening annually. At-risk patients are current and former heavy smokers 50 years or older who have an additional risk factor for lung cancer, such as a family history of the disease, or 55- to 80-year-old current and former heavy smokers who quit within the past 15 years. Just because someone is or was a smoker, doesn’t mean they deserve to die—this screening saves lives.” Current smokers getting the screening are also offered help with kicking the habit.

Anna Jaques Hospital

Anna Jaques was established in 1884 after Miss Anna Jaques, a Newburyport resident and philanthropist, asked her family physician, Dr. F. A. Howe, how she could best use her money to benefit the community. He told her that the community needed a hospital. Jaques donated $25,000 for Newburyport’s first hospital, originally located at the corner of Broad and Monroe Streets. Although it continues to be an independent nonprofit hospital today, Anna Jaques is affiliated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center—a Boston academic medical center and major teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School—while still maintaining its close ties to this seacoast town.

Healthy Hearts

Anna Jaques is a year-round sponsor of the Newburyport Farmers’ Market and often hosts a table at the market. This February, the manager of the Cardiac Rehabilitation program kicks off American Heart Month by offering free blood pressure checks to shoppers at the market.

Take a Hike

Anna Jaques donates more than 1,000 pedometers a year to the community at local health fairs, schools, and senior centers to get folks moving!

Got Milk

Anna Jaques was the first hospital in the state, outside of a neonatal intensive-care unit setting, to use human-donor breast milk, says Alison Sekelsky, director of the Anna Jaques Birth Center. Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, a nonprofit community milk bank, provides new mothers with donated breast milk to supplement while they are waiting for their own milk to come in. In a year’s time, approximately 30 new mothers at Anna Jaques Hospital used donor breast milk. The benefits of breast-feeding are well established, and breast-feeding is strongly recommended by healthcare professionals and the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Babies exclusively fed breast milk for six months are less prone to childhood illnesses like gastrointestinal bugs and ear infections. Nearly 85 percent of babies leaving Anna Jaques are breast-fed. Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston is the only other hospital in the state that provides donor breast milk outside the NICU setting.
Anna Jaques has three weekly support groups for mothers, meeting on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Run by a lactation consultant, the groups are open to all moms, breast-feeding or not, and cover common motherhood and parenting topics. All groups are drop-in friendly and free.

This article appears in the March 2016 issue of Northshore Magazine

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