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Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center will host Nurses Rock: Salute to Nurse Heroes, a free nurse-appreciation event on Friday, Jan. 20 in downtown Springfield. The free event is for all nurses, regardless of where they work, and will offer free food and drinks, free parking, giveaways, and live music featuring the band Trailer Trash.

“This is our way of showing our gratitude to all nurses, not just our own, for working tirelessly to keep our community healthy,” said Margaret-Ann Azzaro, vice president of Patient Care Services and chief Nursing officer at Holyoke Medical Center.

Nurses interested in attending the event can get additional details and register at www.holyokehealth.com/nursesrock. Registration is required.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center is currently seeking volunteer interfaith chaplains. Specifically, the hospital is seeking individuals who have served as an interfaith chaplain, have completed a clinical pastor education (CPE) program, or have relevant experience in honoring patients of diversified faith traditions and beliefs.

“Holyoke Medical Center is proud of our holistic approach to wellness,” said Pastor Joe DeGrande, volunteer chaplain. “With spirituality being a critical component to patient care, we are looking to expand our interfaith chaplain team to better serve our patients, their families, and our medical staff.”

All Holyoke Medical Center volunteers are required to participate in an onboarding process and orientation, and receive a photo identification badge.

To learn more about becoming a volunteer at Holyoke Medical Center and to apply, contact Laura Ciejka at (413) 534-2510 or [email protected].

Healthcare Heroes

This Critical Team Provides Hope — and a Roadmap to Recovery

Team members of the Addiction Consult Service

Team members of the Addiction Consult Service at Holyoke Medical Center, from left: Eddie Rodriguez, John Martinez, Lauren Carpenter, Maria Quinn, Kelly Jean Deming, Em Moulton, and Jose Ramos.

 

Patrick Hamel remained calm and collected as he chronicled his quarter-century-long battle against addiction.

In telling that story, he recalled more relapses than he could count; how he lost jobs, alienated family and friends, and had run-ins with the law (including some B&Es to support his drug and alcohol use); getting thrown out of the house by his wife on a few occasions; the awkwardness of having his daughter visit him in a halfway house; and even that night a little more than two years ago when he decided that enough was enough and tried to end his life.

He didn’t become emotional — though he did have to stop and collect himself a few times — until he started talking about the Addiction Consult Service (ACS), or the Recovery Support Team, as members call it, at Holyoke Medical Center’s Comprehensive Care Center (CCC) and, especially, Maria Quinn, the charismatic psychiatric mental-health nurse practitioner and leader of that unit.

That’s because Quinn, those who work with her, and those to whom she has referred Hamel have enabled him to move beyond all that has happened to him and now lead a much better life.

“She just listened, and we came up with a plan. She got me hooked up with an amazing therapist. We saw each other every week — she was there for me; she was my support.”

“She is so amazing; she’s like my knight in shining armor,” said Hamel, who would then concisely and effectively sum up what Quinn and other members of this team do. “She just listened, and we came up with a plan. She got me hooked up with an amazing therapist. We saw each other every week — she was there for me; she was my support.

“Mind you, I’ve been in other types of medical treatment facilities and other programs,” he went on. “And I always felt like I was a number, or I was there to meet a quota; it was just a job. You can see with Maria that it’s not just a job; it’s something she’s passionate about.”

Patrick Hamel

Patrick Hamel says those at the Addiction Consult Service listened and helped him come up with a game plan for recovery.

Hamel didn’t nominate the ACS for the Healthcare Heroes award, but his words, and the emotion attached to them, help explain why this special unit is being honored this year in the Community Health category.

In short, there are now hundreds, if not thousands, of people, who would say the same things if they were asked — about not just what the ACS does, but how it goes about its difficult and critically important work.

“We’re essentially ever-present — we like to make jokes that we stalk our patients while they’re here, even if we’re not fully involved,” she explained, adding that this is her way of saying that Recovery Support Team members make sure that those patients with addiction issues, either from the Emergency Department or inpatient units at the hospital — many of whom don’t have anyone to visit them while they are in the hospital, for many of the reasons Hamel listed above — have someone to talk to. And, far more importantly, someone to listen, someone who can help them determine what comes next for them, whatever that might be, including ongoing support at the CCC.

“That connection needs to happen so that people can stay and continue to get the treatment that they need,” said Quinn, adding that one of the goals of the program is to build trust among those touched by the ACS, because such trust has often been missing, and it is a key ingredient in their success.

“Historically, people with addiction haven’t been treated well in the healthcare system, so there’s a lot of mistrust, and we see that,” she noted. “We talk about it often and sense that the wall may be coming down and people are starting to bloom because we see our patients become a little more trusting.”

“One thing I’ve learned in this process is that everyone’s recovery is different. You have to listen to the patient to understand what they’re looking for in their recovery. By listening to them, I’ll know what kind of direction I can give them.”

Lauren Carpenter, a certified addictions nurse, agreed. When asked how she got into this specific line of work and what she likes about her work with this constituency, she said simply, “being able to help and care for people who aren’t used to being helped and cared for — building that connection and that rapport and making sure they know there is someone there who cares.”

The ACS is comprised of a nurse practitioner, a certified addictions nurse, a recovery-support coordinator, and recovery coaches. And, as noted, it is a collaborative effort, involving partners such as Tapestry Health, the Gándara Center (which employs the recovery coaches), River Valley Counseling Center, Hope for Holyoke, and the Holyoke Health Center. Together, these agencies are working to reduce opioid overdoses and help people like Hamel find a path to a better life.

The positive results of their efforts can be seen — and heard — with people like Patrick Hamel and countless others like him.

 

The Power of Hope

John Martinez’s battle against addiction was and is very similar to Hamel’s.

He described several stints of incarceration, homelessness, and, by his count, four suicide attempts.

He’s been sober now for 13 years and has spent the last several as a certified recovery coach, helping others find the strength and conviction to change their lives, as well as needed referrals and direction. The process starts simply with providing hope that life can get better, he said, adding that this isn’t all that coaches provide, but it may well be the most important thing.

“I remember being hopeless — I know what that’s like,” he recalled. “One thing I’ve learned in this process is that everyone’s recovery is different. You have to listen to the patient to understand what they’re looking for in their recovery. By listening to them, I’ll know what kind of direction I can give them.”

Recovery coach John Martinez

Recovery coach John Martinez says that, among other things, he provides those he counsels with the hope that life can get better.

As noted, recovery coaches are part of the team at the Comprehensive Care Center, and part of a broad, collaborative effort that has come together at a critical time for the Greater Holyoke area.

Indeed, while much of the focus the past few years has been on the pandemic, and understandably so, addiction has only become a bigger, more dangerous, and more deadly problem for the region.

The number of opioid-related overdose deaths increased 9% in Massachusetts in 2021 over 2020. Meanwhile, there are significant disparities in overdose rates, particularly among Black and Latino individuals in Massachusetts; from 2019 to 2020, there was a 70% increase in overdose deaths among Black/non-Hispanic individuals and a 10% increase in Hispanic/Latinx individuals. From 2020 to 2021, there was a 6% decrease in Black/non-Hispanic deaths and an increase of more than 7% for Hispanic/Latinx individuals, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Steadily rising numbers over the past several years prompted the HEALing Communities Study, whereby scientists from the nation’s leading health agencies and four major academic institutions are partnering with communities in four states, including Massachusetts, to test a set of interventions designed to reduce overdose deaths by 40% over three years in participating communities.

Through a grant awarded to Boston Medical Center, a collaborative was created involving several agencies in Greater Holyoke, with Quinn taking the lead as the appointed addiction expert for the Holyoke community. The goal is to address opioid use, with a specific focus on overdoses, she said, adding that the linchpin of the initiative was creation of the ACS and the CCC.

“Prior to that, it was just me trying to do it all — start people on medication, get referrals out, try to make appointments, trying to get people to stay here [the hospital] — and it was challenging.”

“Our goal is not to cure them; our goal is to treat them with dignity and respect, and that includes treating their withdrawal. It includes giving education and resources. Some people decide that they no longer want to use and want to work toward abstaining and not using, and some don’t.”

With the grant funds, Quinn was able to hire Carpenter as well as a recovery-support coordinator and other team members.

Together, they have put together a system to “find patients,” said Quinn, noting that, before creation of the ACS, many would essentially fall through the cracks.

“Lauren became really good at figuring out which patients we should look at, and we started finding our patients and going to them, often intervening even before a consult was sent,” she told BusinessWest. “And that’s important because people would be leaving the hospital; if you were using opioids or were addicted to opioids, in particular, and didn’t get that, you would feel really, really sick, and if your withdrawal wasn’t being treated, you would probably be leaving.

“So we’d introduce ourselves and let people know why were there,” she went on, adding that, by and large, patients were not used to such a “proactive and impactive” approach to their care, and would have questions about what they could do for them.

What they can do is listen and begin a discussion about what happens next, said Carpenter, who walked through what might be a typical case.

“Someone will come into the ED, and I’ll get notified that this person is there and that they are in withdrawal,” she explained. “At that point, I will meet with the person, gather a history, assess their withdrawal, and then I’ll get Maria involved. I’ll talk with the ED provider, Maria, the addiction consult … Maria will meet with the patient, give recommendations, and order appropriate medications to treat their withdrawal. And when someone is actually on the med floor, we’d start the discussion of ‘what do you want to do from here?’”

As Quinn noted, the course varies with the patient. Often, those at the ACS will connect them to opioid-treatment programs, including two in Holyoke, if they are not already in a program, or connect them with a recovery coach while they are in the hospital.

“Not everyone’s goal is abstinence,” she said. “Our goal is not to cure them; our goal is to treat them with dignity and respect, and that includes treating their withdrawal. It includes giving education and resources. Some people decide that they no longer want to use and want to work toward abstaining and not using, and some don’t.”

When asked how those at the ACS measure success, Quinn said it depends on what how the patient would define that term.

“For some people, having air in their lungs is successful,” she told BusinessWest. “Anyone who leaves here feeling that they’ve been treated well … that’s a big success for me.”

 

Impact Statement

As he talked about Quinn and those she works beside at the CCC, Hamel stressed the present tense.

He is still working with these individuals at the CCC, and they are still making a huge impact on his recovery. He’s not sure they, and especially Quinn, understand just how much of an impact. So, he made it clear.

“I wouldn’t be where I am without them,” he said, adding that these individuals are more than healthcare providers, but are, in many respects, friends and even family.

“They want to make a difference — it’s not just about an f-ing paycheck,” he said in conclusion. “That’s where I get a little passionate and emotional; two years ago, I wanted to kill myself, and now…”

He didn’t finish the sentence, but didn’t really have to. The pause explained not only the journey from where he was to where he is now, but why the Addiction Consult Service is truly a Healthcare Hero.

 

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Daily News Employment Health Care News Women in Businesss

HOLYOKEHolyoke Medical Center has announced the appointment of Lisa Wray-Schechterle, as the hospital’s director of Community Benefits.

Wray-Schechterle joins the hospital from Pyramid Management Group where she served as the marketing director of the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside, a position she held for more than 20 years.

Wray-Schechterle holds both a master of Arts in Communication and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Western New England University. She serves as a marketing committee member for Girls Inc. of the Valley, a board member of the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, and as an advisory board member for the Holyoke Community College School of Business.

“We are happy to welcome Lisa to our team,” said Spiros Hatiras, Holyoke Medical Center’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Her proven ability to build collaborative partnerships coupled with her knowledge of Holyoke and the many community based organizations we work with throughout the region, will enable her to successfully manage and expand our Community Benefits program.”

Holyoke Medical Center Community Benefits provides programs and services to improve health in communities and helps to increase access to health care. This is done to advance medical and health knowledge in the community and relieve or reduce the burden of government and other community efforts. Wray-Schechterle has succeeded Kathy Anderson as the director of the department, following Anderson’s retirement. 

“I am excited to extend my knowledge and networking connections to help improve the health needs of the Pioneer Valley,” said Wray-Schechterle.  

“As the hospital has just completed their 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment, I look forward to creating the next implementation strategy based on the feedback we received and expressed needs identified by the community.”

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems, announced the appointment of Dean Vitarisi as chief financial officer (CFO) at Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems.

“We are proud to welcome Dean to our leadership team here at Holyoke Medical Center and the affiliates of Valley Health Systems. He brings with him over 20 years of hospital finance experience and will play an integral part in the financial management of our organization,” Hatiras said.

Vitarisi’s prior experience included executive-level finance positions with Essen Health Care, Trinity Health Of New England, Yale New Haven Health, St. Mary’s Health System, and St. Raphael Healthcare System. He received his bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting from Bryant University. He then completed an MBA from Quinnipiac University, followed by a master certificate in healthcare leadership from Cornell University School of Human Ecology.

“I am excited to join this organization, with its strong culture and commitment in providing the highest standards of quality, safety, and cost-effective care for all patients,” Vitarisi said. “One of my first goals will be to focus on the revenue cycle and reimbursement strategies, which are ever-changing due to legislation, regulation, and marketplace reform.”

Business Talk Podcast Special Coverage

We are excited to announce that BusinessWest, in partnership with Living Local, has launched a new podcast series, BusinessTalk. Each episode will feature in-depth interviews and discussions with local industry leaders, providing thoughtful perspectives on the Western Massachuetts economy and the many business ventures that keep it running during these challenging times.

Episode 51: February 8, 2021

George O’Brien talks with Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center

Spiros Hatiras

BusinessWest Editor George O’Brien talks with Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center, recently honored as one oof the magazine’s Healthcare Heroes for 2020. The two discuss the state of the pandemic and current trends with cases and hospitalizations, as well as the many ways COVID is impacting the bottom line at this and other hospitals. The two also discuss HMC’s ongoing, and now changing, plans to add more behavioral health beds in a region that sorely needs them. It’s must listening, so join us on BusinessTalk, a podcast presented by BusinessWest in partnership with Living Local.

 

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Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center is actively seeking blood and convalescent plasma donors. The center’s Blood Bank depends on area residents, their friends, and neighbors to help meet the transfusion needs of the local community.

“The demand for convalescent plasma is higher than the supply that has been donated throughout the region. People who have recovered from COVID-19 are encouraged to make a donation and help save the lives of up to two people in our community,” said Jon Gronbach, director of Laboratory Services at Holyoke Medical Center.

Convalescent plasma is a liquid component of blood from patients who have recovered from COVID-19. Patients who have recovered from the disease have antibodies to protect themselves to fight the virus. By making a blood and convalescent plasma donation, recovered patients can help others fight COVID-19 as well.

Blood and convalescent plasma supplies continue to be low, and shortages persist in all categories. Emergency supplies from the Red Cross are often limited. More than 75% of the blood and convalescent plasma needed by patients at the medical center comes from people living in Holyoke, Chicopee, South Hadley, and surrounding communities.

All eligible donors will receive a free recognition gift for their donation, and eligible convalescent plasma donors will receive a free COVID IgG test.

The Blood Bank, located on the first floor of Holyoke Medical Center, is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Appointments are required. For further information or to schedule an appointment, call (413) 534‑2591.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Highlighting its nationally recognized achievements in patient safety and quality, Holyoke Medical Center was named a Top General Hospital nationally by the Leapfrog Group, a national watchdog organization of employers and other purchasers widely acknowledged as the toughest standard setters for healthcare safety and quality.

“Holyoke Medical Center is proud to once again accept the Top General Hospital award from the Leapfrog Group,” said Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems Inc. “With only 29 hospitals receiving this distinction nationally, it speaks volumes about our amazing team members. It is through their dedicated work and devotion to providing the best care and the safest environment for our patients that we receive this recognition.”

More than 2,200 hospitals were considered for the award. Among those, Holyoke Medical Center received a Top General distinction. A total of 105 hospitals were selected as Top Hospitals, including nine Top Children’s Hospitals, 29 Top General Hospitals, 19 Top Rural Hospitals, and 48 Top Teaching Hospitals.

The quality of patient care across many areas of hospital performance is considered in establishing the qualifications for the award, including infection rates, practices for safer surgery, maternity care, and the hospital’s capacity to prevent medication errors.

“Being recognized as a Top Hospital is an extraordinary feat, and we are honored to recognize Holyoke Medical Center this year,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of the Leapfrog Group. “Despite the extraordinary pressure and strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, Holyoke Medical Center has demonstrated an unwavering dedication to patients and to their community. We congratulate the board, staff, and clinicians whose efforts made this honor possible.”

Holyoke Medical Center also received the Top General Hospital recognition from the Leapfrog Group in 2014 and 2016.

Healthcare Heroes

Amid the Crisis at the Soldiers’ Home, This Small Army Answered the Call

The Staff of Holyoke Medical Center

The Staff of Holyoke Medical Center

It was coming up to noon on Friday, April 4, and the staff at Holyoke Medical Center was frantically working to ready facilities there for the arrival of residents of the nearby Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, who needed to be relocated in the midst of a tragic COVID-19 disaster that would make headlines across the country.

Carl Cameron, HMC’s chief operating officer, who was overseeing that work, was on the phone with his boss, hospital President and CEO Spiros Hatiras, who was telling him that some promised National Guard personnel would likely soon be arriving from the Soldiers’ Home to help with the massive and complex undertaking.

Cameron’s response more than sets the tone for a truly inspiring story that most still haven’t heard, but certainly should.

“I told him that at that point not to bother,” he recalled. “Because we had our own army of people. And it was absolutely outstanding and amazing how that team came together and got this done.”

“We had our own army of people. And it was absolutely outstanding and amazing how that team came together and got this done.”

Indeed, HMC’s small army, which would grow in numbers in the coming days and weeks, as we’ll see, came together in every way imaginable to bring 39 residents of the home into a hospital that was in the early stages of the COVID-19 fight itself. An acute-care hospital, HMC was not in the business of providing long-term care. But, to borrow a phrase from hockey, it shifted on the fly, and essentially got into that business.

There was a learning curve — staff members were certainly not used to people in HMC’s beds making requests (better make that demands) for their favorite brand of beer — but they did learn, and they made the veterans/patients/residents feel at home at an extremely difficult time.

They decorated the hastily created living spaces with flags and red, white, and blue ornaments. They found the soldiers television sets. They provided much-needed information and comfort to those soldiers’ family members, many of whom had no idea where they were. They’ve helped a few of their guests celebrate 100th birthdays since their arrival. Outpatient physical therapists were taken off furlough to become veterans’ liaisons, helping the Soldiers’ Home residents with daily functions as well as helping them maintain connections with loved ones. Office assistants stepped in to assist with patient care.

Summing it all up, Hatiras said his staff came together, as perhaps never before, amid a crisis that tested the medical center on every level imaginvable — and earned the designation of Healthcare Hero for 2020 not only from BusinessWest, but from the Huron Studer Group, one of only four such awards that organization issued across the entire U.S.

Spiros Hatiras

Spiros Hatiras

“Everyone put their roles aside and said, ‘all hands on deck.”

“Everyone put their roles aside and said, ‘all hands on deck,’” Hatiras noted, summoning still more military language as he praised every department in the hospital, from Plant Operations to Communications to Environmental Services, for the specific roles they played. “And what we’ve learned, aside from all the bonding and being more comfortable in different roles, is that we’ve technically become much more astute. We’ve learned things from a technical standpoint that would allow us to respond to a second wave or other kind of pandemic, because now we’ve got it right; we know how to convert rooms under pressure, we know how to isolate people, we know how to shift things around, we know how to use alternative ways. We’ve learned so much by going through this.”

As several of those involved with this herculean effort talked with BusinessWest about it, much of the discussion focused on that first day and night — and for a reason.

The hard work of setting up spaces for the soldiers — an outpatient cardiac-services unit and a maternity unit that has seen declining volume for several years — had been completed by mid-afternoon — as noted, without the help of the National Guard.

As he talked about the mad dash to get the rooms ready, Angelo Martinez, a member of the Plant Operations team, spoke for everyone in the room when he spoke of those who be staying in those rooms.

“At end of the day, I was tired, but it was a good feeling,” he said. “Because these veterans did a lot for us, and we owe them for all they’ve done.”

Those units were ready by 3 p.m., the end of a shift for many of those involved. But just about everyone stayed until those soldiers finally started arriving by van in the early evening. And they stayed on until the last of them arrived around midnight. And still they stayed on until the soldiers were settled into their new quarters.

Kaitlyn Nadeau, a surgical technologist, was one of them. She told BusinessWest she was unaware that the hospital was taking on the veterans because it had been a busy day in the operating rooms. When she learned, around 3 in the afternoon, she and others went about setting out a welcome mat.

Korean War Veteran Richard Madura, seen here with recreational therapist Mary Argenio, is one of 39 veterans who found a new home at Holyoke Medical Center.

“We made hearts to put on the walls because … it’s a basement, and it’s white walls, and it’s kind of scary when you walk in,” she explained. “So we decorated it like we were going to stay there. Because if it were my grandparents coming in … most of these people are confused as is, and they’re coming to this facility they’ve never been to.

“So we decided we were going to stay there,” she went on. “Hours went by, and they still hadn’t arrived because it’s quite the process to get them here. Finally, I said, ‘let’s get more people down here.’ My boss just started grabbing people from everywhere; people from the command center showed up, and managers from other departments, and CNAs … everyone just came together, including people I’d never met before in my life, to welcome them here and get them settled in.”

This coming together as a team during that first 24 hours or so set the tone, but it was really only the first chapter in a story that, seven months later, is still being written.

Indeed, soon after the veterans arrived, some began showing signs of the virus, meaning more space would have to be readied for these guests, and single rooms would be needed to slow and hopefully stifle any spread.

Also, the hospital, and especially its nursing staff, had to pivot to providing long-term-care services.

“Being an acute-care hospital, we’re not normally planning things out for long-term-care residents,” Nurse Manager Christina Straney said. “But many of our nurses have worked in long-term care, so they stepped up and said, ‘let me take this, let me run with this, let me show you what we do in nursing homes and how we care for patients.’”

Meanwhile, some of the certified nursing assistants had worked at the Soldiers’ Home and recognized some of the patients, she went on, adding that this helped create a fluid, almost seamless transition for the veterans.

Likewise, the furloughed physical therapists stepped into their new roles as veterans’ liaisons, a role that came about out of necessity, Hatiras explained.

“We had the matter of individual preferences,” he said. “I would get on a Zoom call, and I would have family members say, ‘remember, Ed doesn’t eat eggs, and he doesn’t like mayo, and he takes his tuna fish this way, and he likes his newspaper every morning’ … and I’m like, ‘whoa, how am I going to remember all this stuff?’”

The solution was to assign liaisons to each of the veterans. Jeff Ferriss is one of them. He was furloughed on a Friday and called back to work the following Monday to serve in this unique role.

“My father was a veteran — he spent 20 years in the Air Force. My brother spent four. And I’m also a veteran — I was in the National Guard and the Air Force Reserves,” he said. “So this was the perfect transition for me; I was happy to come back and help out. Our job was to keep the family members informed, but being therapists, we tried to goad them into therapy too. Some of them may not have wanted to do that, but over time, they needed to — they were stuck in their rooms, and we were trying to keep their minds going and keep them going physically. It’s been an honor to serve these people.”

Veterans like Richard Madura. A Korean War vet, he will tell you (without much prodding, by the way) that, through his 85 years, he’s been fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time — on most occasions.

Indeed, the long-time Chicopee resident arrived in Korea just as the truce between the warring factions was being signed. And when it looked like he was ticketed for taking up a gun and maintaining the peace along the DMZ, an officer who noticed on his résumé that he had musical experience and had been part of some polka bands, let him take up a clarinet in an Army band instead. To make a long story shorter, his band entered a string of talent contests, ultimately won first prize, and wound up on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Madura told BusinessWest that this habit of being in the right place extends to his current, but certainly not permanent, mailing address at Holyoke Medical Center.

“They take really good care of you here,” he said, not wanting to compare the facilities to those he left just up the hill at the Soldiers’ Home, although he did hint that the desserts are better — and larger — at HMC. “I’m fortunate to be here; we all are.”

Indeed they are. A small army answered the call last April, and it is still answering the call, making the staff at HMC a true Healthcare Hero in a year when there are many to celebrate.

 

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center (HMC) has earned national recognition as a Let Life Bloom Platinum Award recipient for its efforts to increase organ, eye, and tissue donor registrations through the Workplace Partnership for Life (WPFL) Hospital Organ Donation Campaign.

The WPFL is a national initiative that unites the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the organ-donation community with workplaces across the nation in spreading the word about the importance of donation.

The WPFL Hospital Organ Donation Campaign challenges hospitals and healthcare organizations to “let life bloom” by educating staff, patients, visitors, and communities about the critical need for organ, eye, and tissue donation, including offering opportunities to register as organ donors. HMC earned points for conducting awareness and registry activities between October 2019 and April 2020 and prompting new donor registrations during that time period.

“Three years ago, we had an opportunity for improvement related to raising awareness about the benefits and importance of donation among our staff and within our community,” said Colleen Desai, HMC’s chief Nursing officer. “Together, we worked to challenge the status quo, and with the amazing partnership and support from New England Donor Services, we have successfully changed culture and have risen to the level of receiving the Let Life Bloom Platinum Recognition Award for two consecutive years.

“We could not have achieved this level of recognition had it not been for a team of dedicated staff professionals who share in the passion of donation and were open to change,” she added. “They accepted the challenge to meet and exceed quality-improvement benchmarks, and were willing and able to continue the conversation about donation with their peers, patients, friends, families, and community members. This award belongs to our awesome staff for championing to improve the lives of others through the advocacy of donation.”

Visit registerme.org to sign up as an organ donor. For more information about the WPFL Hospital Organ Donation Campaign, visit www.organdonor.gov/hospitals.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center (HMC) has submitted a letter of intent and project proposal to the Massachusetts Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality to expand psychiatric bed capacity.

The letter, sent on June 19, notified the Determination of Need Program that HMC will be completing an application for an additional 64 psychiatric beds. If approved, this will increase the hospital’s total capacity to 84 psychiatric beds, which will serve adult and geriatric populations.

“Our plan is to build a three-level, 68,000-square-foot, 84-bed behavioral-health pavilion on our campus and near the medical center,” said Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems. “We have completed a comprehensive review and been working with architects and community stakeholders on finalizing building design.”

The Holyoke Medical Center Behavioral Health Pavilion proposal includes 48 adult psychiatric beds, 36 geriatric beds, and 4,000 square feet of shell space for future expansion or uses to be determined later. Population statistics and competitive analysis suggest that there is a need within a 14-mile radius of Holyoke Medical Center for 52 adult psychiatric beds and 36 geriatric psychiatric beds.

The proposal also includes a parking analysis and parking-garage study, which could provide an additional 60 to 180 parking spaces.

Holyoke Medical Center is partnered with Signet Health Corp., assisting the hospital in the delivery of behavioral-health services by providing management and consulting services. The Leo Brown Group, a full-service healthcare real-estate development and solutions company, will design and build the facility.

It is estimated that, once approved by state and local officials, the new facility will take 18 months to complete and become operational.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center announced the appointment of Mark Dunn as director of Health Information Management (HIM).

“With nearly 20 years of experience, Mark brings a broad range of knowledge to the organization, and we are glad he has joined us,” said Michael Koziol, chief financial officer of Holyoke Medical Center. “As the director of Health Information Management, he will ensure efficient and compliant handling of all patient records and related documents.”

In addition to his role at Holyoke Medical Center, Dunn is also an adjunct instructor of Health Information Management at both Manchester Community College and Charter Oak State College in Connecticut.

“I am honored to have been selected to join the Holyoke Medical Center team and am looking forward to ensuring that the privacy and accuracy of our patients’ records are maintained at all times,” Dunn said.

Most recently, Dunn served as corporate director of HIM and privacy officer at Masonicare, a senior-health and retirement-living organization in Connecticut. His prior experience included information-management positions with Cornell-Scott Hill Health Corp., Yale New Haven Hospital, and Smart Document Solutions, all in New Haven, Conn.; Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y.; and Phelps Memorial Hospital Center in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.

Dunn is a registered health information administrator. He received his bachelor’s degree in administration from SUNY University at Stony Brook, N.Y., and his master’s degree in health services administration from Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. He also holds a post-master’s certificate in long-term post-acute care, and a post-baccalaureate certificate in health information administration.

COVID-19 Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center has shared personal protective equipment (PPE) with local first responders, including Action Ambulance, the South Hadley Fire Department, and the city of Springfield.

“Holyoke Medical Center is incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support and donations received through this COVID-19 pandemic by many community businesses, Novanta, and the efforts made by the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association,” said Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems. “Today we became aware that first responders in some of our surrounding communities, who work with our patients, were in desperate need of PPE. In a time of mutual aid, we felt it was our obligation to share some of our PPE with those first responders.”

The donations included face shields and KN95 face masks first responders. Also provided were standard face masks for the responders to provide people they interact with at a distance closer than six feet.

After canvasing the local communities, the following were in need of PPE and were provided with the followng list of contributions from Holyoke Medical Center:

• Action Ambulance: 200 KN95 masks, 100 face shields, and 600 standard masks;

• South Hadley Fire Department: 200 KN95 masks, 100 face shields, and 600 standard masks; and

• City of Springfield: 600 KN95 masks, 500 face shields, and 900 standard masks.

Holyoke Medical Center executives also spoke with officials in other surrounding municipalities, most of which had an adequate current supply of masks and face shields.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center’s leadership team, recognizing the increased need for behavioral-health inpatient beds in Western Mass., has been planning for approximately one year to identify a way to address this need. This process has produced a proposal for a new, state-of-the-art, standalone inpatient facility.

In addition, in September, 2019, Holyoke Medical Center partnered with Signet Health Corp. to assist the hospital in the delivery of behavioral-health services by providing high-quality management and consulting services.

The current inpatient behavioral-health unit at Holyoke Medical Center has a capacity of 20 beds. The proposed new facility would have approximately 100 beds, including the 20 existing beds currently on the fifth floor of the main hospital building. It is designed to provide best-in-class care in a purpose-built facility specifically tailored to accommodate the needs of behavioral-health patients with all of the modern requirements, including secure outdoor space.

A letter of intent has been signed with the Leo Brown Group, a full-service healthcare real-estate development and solutions company, to design and build the facility. Holyoke Medical Center has identified a suitable location on the main hospital campus for the proposed building. In addition, the hospital will continue to work with Signet Health for management services within the proposed facility.

The conversations with appropriate stakeholders, including the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Public Health, and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, will begin shortly and will continue in the following weeks as the hospital seeks to obtain local and state approval to move forward with the project.

“Holyoke Medical Center is eager to have conversations at the state level to expand the much-needed behavioral-health bed capacity in Western Massachusetts. This proposal is fully in line with the Commonwealth’s goal to increase investment in behavioral-health services,” said Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems.

It is estimated that, once approved, the new facility will take 18 months to complete and become operational.

For the past six years, Holyoke Medical Center has been growing and expanding services through recruitment and retention of doctors and advanced-practice providers, Hatiras noted, and the proposed project is aligned with the mission of the health system.

HCN News & Notes

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center’s leadership team, recognizing the increased need for behavioral-health inpatient beds in Western Mass., has been planning for approximately one year to identify a way to address this need. This process has produced a proposal for a new, state-of-the-art, standalone inpatient facility.

In addition, in September, 2019, Holyoke Medical Center partnered with Signet Health Corp. to assist the hospital in the delivery of behavioral-health services by providing high-quality management and consulting services.

The current inpatient behavioral-health unit at Holyoke Medical Center has a capacity of 20 beds. The proposed new facility would have approximately 100 beds, including the 20 existing beds currently on the fifth floor of the main hospital building. It is designed to provide best-in-class care in a purpose-built facility specifically tailored to accommodate the needs of behavioral-health patients with all of the modern requirements, including secure outdoor space.

A letter of intent has been signed with the Leo Brown Group, a full-service healthcare real-estate development and solutions company, to design and build the facility. Holyoke Medical Center has identified a suitable location on the main hospital campus for the proposed building. In addition, the hospital will continue to work with Signet Health for management services within the proposed facility.

The conversations with appropriate stakeholders, including the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Public Health, and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, will begin shortly and will continue in the following weeks as the hospital seeks to obtain local and state approval to move forward with the project.

“Holyoke Medical Center is eager to have conversations at the state level to expand the much-needed behavioral-health bed capacity in Western Massachusetts. This proposal is fully in line with the Commonwealth’s goal to increase investment in behavioral-health services,” said Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems.

It is estimated that, once approved, the new facility will take 18 months to complete and become operational.

For the past six years, Holyoke Medical Center has been growing and expanding services through recruitment and retention of doctors and advanced-practice providers, Hatiras noted, and the proposed project is aligned with the mission of the health system.

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