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Memorial Hospital's 34th annual golf tournament to benefit local student health and wellness

CONWAY — Memorial Hospital will host its popular Memorial Hospital Open Golf Tournament, the 34th annual, on Thursday, July 17, at the Wentworth Golf Course in Jackson. Proceeds from this year's golf tournament will support a school-year long initiative to bring health and wellness education and activities to students throughout Mount Washington Valley. The initiative was launched last year and has been an extremely popular program for the student population throughout the region.

"We are looking forward to this year's premier golf tournament, and we are particularly pleased that the proceeds from this year's tournament will once again go towards encouraging good fitness and nutrition for our community's children," said Scott McKinnon, Memorial's president and CEO.

"Good habits start young and this program will bring our doctors and other medical providers into schools and into the community to educate children on these important topics thanks to the funds raised by this tournament."

Last year the event raised just over $30,000 which went towards the school program. The event has raised more than $750,000 over its long history, purchasing many pieces of life saving equipment and supporting community health programs.

Thanks to the generosity of the tournament's supporters, local elementary and middle school students throughout Mount Washington Valley were treated to free running races, snowshoe tours along river banks and informational talks with sports medicine doctors, dietitians and diabetes educators. The tournament proceeds also funded the donation of health and wellness related books to a school's library and a visit from one of Memorial's health care providers to give a talk or an activity on a particular topic. Students also received items to encourage them to partake in a health activity, from jump ropes to pedometers to water bottles.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available for local businesses and individuals. Many sponsorship packages also include golf teams for the event. For those wishing to play in the tournament, golfers may join the event as individuals or in teams of four. This year's tournament presenting sponsor is once again The Tolley Group.

This year's golf tournament committee members include: co-chairs: Dan Jones and Bayard Kennett; Kathy Bennett, Marla Casella, Mary Collins, Mike Davenport, Marilyn Desmarais, Sally Fiore, Paul Keane, Lois Gardner, John Longley, Don Newton, Will Owen, Gail Paine, Joan Phillips, Marta Ramsey, Joanne Sutton, Linda Turcotte, and Mary Vigeant, APRN.

The Memorial Hospital Open Golf Tournament was founded in 1980 by former U.S. Congressman Bill Zeliff and Jackson businessman Lee Harmon. The long-running tournament takes place on the The Wentworth Golf Club, a beautiful 18 hole course in the heart of quaint Jackson Village. This picturesque course provides outstanding views of the majestic Presidential Range and the scenic splendor of the Wildcat and Ellis Rivers as they meander throughout the course. The tournament features a popular raffle with prizes donated from dozens of local and regional businesses, plus its famous Grazing on the Green food extravaganza the evening of the event. Last year's Grazing on the Green featured a gourmet buffet with an array of entrees, appetizers, and desserts to please all appetites.

For more information, or to sign up for golf or sponsorship, visit the golf event page on www.memorialhospitalnh.org/golf or call Joan Phillips at (603) 356-5461 ext. 2264 for more information.



Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 April 2014 04:23

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Maureen Smith RN named new clinical director at Visiting Nurses

PHOTO: New clinical director Maureen Smith, RN (left) is welcomed to Visiting Nurse, Home Care & Hospice by the agency's executive director, Sandy Ruka, RN MSN.

CONWAY — Sandy Ruka RN MSN, executive director of Visiting Nurse, Home Care & Hospice, has announced the appointment of Maureen Smith RN as the agency's new clinical director. Smith will oversee a variety of operations, including monitoring and tracking quality measures, as well as serving as a liaison between the home care staff and the clinical team.

According to Ruka, the role of clinical director is vitally important to the efficient delivery of care by their agency. "We were looking for someone who could provide direction and oversight to our clinical programs by balancing innovation and creativity with an ability to make things happen," she said. "We feel Maureen brings these qualities to our agency."
Smith has a long history of work experience that centers on the importance of "home" in people's lives. A Massachusetts native, she and her husband were a military family that travelled to many places in the U.S. and abroad. She home schooled her three children and became active in the LaLeche League. Later, when her husband retired from the military, they settled in Maine and Smith became a certified professional midwife.

Beginning in 1999, Smith provided home-based midwifery care and client education through Birthwise Midwifery Services in Bridgton and Sacopee Valley Midwives. In addition to becoming a member of the faculty at Birthwise Midwifery School in 2001, she served as their clinical director from 2003 through 2007, coordinating preceptorships and teaching clinical midwifery skills. For 10 years, Smith also taught as part of an OB Skills Lab at the University of New England, School of Osteopathic Medicine. In 2011, she entered the nursing field, joining the ICU staff at Central Maine Medical Center as a student intern and later as an RN.

However, she missed teaching and working in an environment that supported the value of the home setting. "I wanted a role that could encompass all of my skills," Smith said. "The opportunity to work in home health care seemed to be a perfect fit and I was delighted by the chance."

Smith feels her varied background gives her important insights for working in today's home health field. "All of my experience is similar — home schooling, home birthing, and now health care in the home. Ultimately, this is about all of us working together in a meaningful way as a team to deliver quality services to our clients in their homes."

According to Ruka, the changing health care environment puts added emphasis on the agency's ability to provide care that is both high quality and cost effective. "Our primary focus is on the value we provide to our clients and the community," she said. "I am excited to be working with Maureen because I believe her background and experience will help our organization achieve continued success."

Smith and her husband live in Hiram, Maine in a home they built themselves after retiring from the service, and she is an avid knitter and gardener. Visiting Nurse, Home Care & Hospice is a non-profit Medicare certified home health agency and Medicare certified hospice, licensed by the states of New Hampshire and Maine. For more information about the services they provide, call 1 (800) 499-4171 or (603) 356-7006, or visit their website, www.vnhch.org.



Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 April 2014 02:22

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Sandra Ruka & Sharon Malenfant: Home Care Matters: This is your brain on kindness

No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another ... A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves. — Amelia Earhart

Although kindness and compassion are basic human qualities, we know it's not always easy to embody them in our lives, especially in today's hectic, fast-paced world. The good news is that we can cultivate compassion for ourselves and for those around us. By performing acts of kindness, science is showing that we can become happier individuals who experience healthier aging.

Neuroscience has demonstrated that the psychological rewards of kindness are reflected in our neural circuitry. We know that there are regions of the brain that activate when people experience pleasure. Studies show that acts of kindness or charity make these "pleasure" parts of people's brains light up, particularly when the act is completely voluntary.

Clearly, when we do something kind for someone else, we feel good. On a biochemical level, it seems that the good feeling we get is due to elevated levels of the brain's endorphins functioning as neurotransmitters. They are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus, and resemble opiates in their ability to produce analgesia and a feeling of well-being.
Acts of kindness are often accompanied by emotional warmth which produces the hormone oxytocin throughout the body. Known as a "cardio-protective" hormone, oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide which expands the blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure and protecting the heart. If kindness can produce oxytocin, it becomes cardio-protective as well.

Aging on a biochemical level is a combination of many things, but two things that speed up the process are free radicals and inflammation, both of which result from unhealthy lifestyle choices. However, new research shows that oxytocin actually reduces levels of free radicals and inflammation in the cardiovascular system. By producing oxytocin, kindness can contribute to slowing the aging process at its source as well as acting as a guard against the effects of heart disease.

When we're kind and compassionate, there appear to be "ripple effects" that come with it. We inspire others to be kind, and it actually spreads outwards to three degrees of separation. Just as a pebble creates waves when it's dropped in a lake, so acts of kindness ripple outwards, touching other people's lives and inspiring kindness everywhere the wave goes.

Scientific evidence proves that being kind positively affects the health and well-being of individuals who give and receive it. Kindness benefits your heart, reduces anxiety, and slows down aging. Being actively kind also increases overall happiness, and happier people then become more likely to help others.

What kindness can you offer someone today?
Visiting Nurse, Home Care & Hospice is proud to be part of the Third Annual BeKind Festival in Schouler Park during the weekend of May 16 through 18. For more information on all the planned activities, visit the festival website at BeKindFest.com or call (603) 356-7006 or 1-800-499-4171.

Home Care Matters is a bi-weekly column sharing information on today's important home health issues. The articles are written by Sandra Ruka, RN MSN and Sharon Malenfant, MS APR for Visiting Nurse, Home Care & Hospice of Carroll County.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 April 2014 02:40

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Brian Irwin: West Nile Virus


It's spring. Soon the birds will be chirping and the mosquitoes buzzing. And some of those creatures will be carrying West Nile Virus.

First identified in 1937 in Uganda, West Nile Virus, or WNV, has since spread to and across the United States, having been first recovered from a sample in New York City in 1999. Now it's present across the globe. While many people may perceive WNV as a theoretical risk, it actually is a real one, having taken the lives of 286 people in 2012 alone.

West Nile Virus typically doesn't present with any significant symptoms; this is true for 80 percent of all cases. In the cases where symptomatology does occur, it usually begins within two weeks of infection. Infection can occur through direct contact with infected blood products or exchange of bodily fluids, but most cases aren't transmitted in this fashion. Rather, direct infection from a bite of a mosquito carrying the virus is the more typical modality.

Mosquitoes pick up WNV from infected birds, who are known to be the reservoir for WNV. The virus can kill the birds, but even in cases where it does not, a mosquito ends up pulling WNV from its system, only to pass it over to humans when they later bite us.

The symptoms of WNV are highly variable, but the most common constellation of symptoms is known as West Nile Fever, or WNF. This condition is a flu-like illness where body aches, fevers occur and last a week or so. Chills, sweats and fatigue can occur, mimicking a "summertime flu."

Rarely WNV leads to neurologic disease. This can occur when the virus infects the brain (encephalitis) or the covering of the central nervous system (the meninges, yielding meningitis). Confusion, stiff neck, headache and even seizures can occur.

Very rarely WNV leads to a neurologic paralysis akin to polio. Symptoms can appear like a stroke, with one-sided weakness or paralysis with preserved sensation. Weakness of the respiratory muscles can lead to respiratory collapse and the need for mechanical ventilation. Hepatitis, infection of the eye, heart muscle and a variety of other presentations are possible, but rare.

West Nile Virus infections are diagnosed with blood tests and sometimes spinal taps. Should it be detected, there unfortunately is no cure for WNV, yet supportive measures like IV fluids are sometimes utilized. The better approach isn't to wait for WNV to fly up and bite you, rather to prevent its transmission in the first place. Long clothing and aggressive use of insect repellents has been proven effective at not only preventing the transmission of WNV, but Lyme disease and EEE alike. Despite some common myths, DEET is very safe and has been shown to be the most superior product for insect-borne disease prevention.

WNV is not common, but has been reported in New Hampshire. It will be here as soon as the summer comes, so pull out your DEET and get ready for warmer times.

Dr. Brian Irwin is a family physician at Tamworth Family Medicine, a division of Huggins Hospital.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 April 2014 01:46

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ServiceLink informational gathering April 24


The ServiceLink Aging and Disability Resource Center of Carroll County will hold an informational gathering 10 a.m.-noon, Thursday, April 24 in the Sununu Room of the Tri-County Community Action Program building in Tamworth.

New staff members who have been hired over the past several months will be on hand to meet the community.

ServiceLink, directed by Janet Hunt, provides information and referral assistance on caregiver support, long-term care options counseling, Veterans-directed services, Medicare and other health insurance counseling, including the new Health Insurance Marketplace.

The organization is dedicated to integrating its work with like-minded individuals, businesses and organizations so that older adults and people with disabilities may remain independent and involved in their communities, and hopes to engage community members to work with ServiceLink in building and strengthening the organization's goals.

For more information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or by calling 323-2043.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 April 2014 03:02

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