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Speare Hospital laboratory expands its capabilities

PLYMOUTH — Laboratory Professionals Week celebrates professional medical technologists for the results they get for patients on a daily basis to assist in the detection and treatment of disease. For Speare Memorial Hospital's laboratory professionals, this year's annual recognition also marks the introduction of increased testing options for higher quality and more exacting results in a shorter amount of time.

"We are adding molecular testing for earlier detection of MRSA, Clostridium difficile (a highly contagious bacterial intestinal infection), Group B Strep for expectant mothers, and sexually transmitted disease" says Speare's Laboratory Director Thomas Costigan, MT, AAB. "Before it would take up to two days to verify MRSA while we waited for a culture to grow. Now with the new molecular test we will be able to have the results within an hour and 99 percent certainty."

Costigan explains the molecular tests are more expensive, but are more exact, hence the higher quality result in a very short amount of time. He says, "In the end the new testing is cost neutral, because we can put a patient's mind at ease, or enable their doctor to begin treatment, sooner."

Speare's Lab will also be employing new testing for the detection of Lyme Disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 95 percent of reported cases of Lyme Disease in 2012 came from 13 states, including New Hampshire. Beginning in early May, Speare's Lab will begin validating a new test for Lyme Disease that produces results in 45 minutes. Previously, the Lab would have to send out for results which would take two to three days. Costigan explains that while the Lab will use this new test for primary results, they will also be validating and comparing those results with other testing methods to ensure accuracy.

While the quality and accuracy of these new tests is enhanced, Costigan says the quality of testing at Speare's Lab overall is significantly higher than a large, independent, for profit, high volume lab. He explains, "It is important for patients to know that they do have a choice in which lab they go to, or have their testing sent to. While many insurance providers are offering lower or no co pays to patients who utilize laboratory services in other parts of the state, the trade off is convenience and travel time, not to mention delays in getting results.

"We know our patients and have a more complete picture of their health history. Not to mention we have some of the best phlebotomists anywhere," said Costigan, in reference to the fact the Lab has a large population of "seasonal" patients who come to Speare just to get their blood drawn—some from as far away as New York.

Speare's Lab is accredited by the Commission on Laboratory Accreditation of the College of American Pathologists (CAP,) which advocates for high-quality and cost-effective medical care. CAP is a voluntary accreditation that measures performance against industry best practices and recognizes laboratories for "excellence of the services being provided."  The process includes an inspection of the lab's records and quality control procedures, as well as a review of staff qualifications, equipments, facilities, safety program and record.

The main Lab located at Speare is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. There is also a blood drawing station at the Hospital's medical office building—Speare Memorial at Boulder Point—located on Boulder Point Drive off Tenney Mountain Highway. It is open Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed from noon to 1 p.m. for lunch.

Last Updated on Monday, 02 June 2014 09:36

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HEAL making Ashland a healthier place

ASHLAND — The small town of Ashland has experienced major changes over the past year, as HEAL NH has worked with Ashland town officials, as well as community members, to support several projects designed to provide residents with more healthy eating choices and opportunities to get out and be physically active.

In April alone, Ashland launched two healthy eating, active living projects. An organic community garden was launched, where over 50 people showed up at the ribbon cutting ceremony. Dot's Bread & Butter joined The Common Man Restaurant ­­- two Main Street eating establishments in Ashland - to offer healthy menu items to their customers.

As part of the program, Dot's Bread & Butter and The Common Man worked with a registered dietitian at Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth to modify and/or add several menu items to meet healthier standards, including lower fat and sodium content. The program also requires that the HEAL approved menu items be clearly marked.

According to Joe Collins, Executive Chef at Dot's Bread & Butter, the menus have been altered because, "We believe that the sky is the limit with the positive impact this type of thinking can make. Giving opportunities for people to make healthier choices in this manner can really make a difference."

The healthy restaurant program in Ashland is part of a growing movement with restaurants in New Hampshire and across the country responding to consumer demand for healthier menu items. While there were only four participants in HEAL NH's statewide healthy restaurant initiative about a year ago, participation has tripled in the past few months, with more in the process to join. The Common Man and Dot's Bread & Butter are two of the most recent restaurants to participate illustrating how members of a community can unite to make impacting changes.

"The Common Man Family is proud to not only support but also partner with HEAL in efforts to bring health-conscious options and practices to the Ashland Community," said Jason Lyon, CEO of the Common Man Family. "Our HEAL children's menu has been very well received, and we plan to offer a new summer menu with more great healthy options for our guests."

Last Updated on Monday, 02 June 2014 09:28

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Laconia Housing Authority supportive service celebrates 25 years of operation

LACONIA — Laconia Housing Authority (LHA) supportive service department is celebrating 25 years of serving LHA residents, Family Self Sufficiency participants, and applicants.

The first supportive services employee was hired in 1989 as a resident service coordinator and later served as the first director of the department which grew to twenty employees in the first 10 years. Current staff includes resident service coordinators, nurses, Licensed Nursing Assistants (LNA), dietary staff and housekeepers. The supportive service staff strives to maintain the residents housing stability and to promote independence, dignity and a high quality of life. The goal of the resident service coordinator is to assist all residents in identifying and accessing services and resources within the organization, community or government agencies, or private resources.

The department also operates two supported living programs which provide meals, housekeeping, laundry, nursing services, personal care, transportation to medical appointments and an emergency response system for qualified individuals. In an average year the department serves 35,000 meals, provides 4,596 hours of housekeeping services, and completes 3,312 loads of laundry.

The LHA Home Health Agency nurses visit clients on a regular schedule and the LNA’s provide personal care up to five times per week if necessary. LHA contracts with NH Emergency Response System who monitors at least 30 emergency call units and staff schedule approximately 1,500 visits to medical appointments annually. These services are in addition to the daily support provided which may include some shopping, errands, assistance with phone calls, completing paperwork, etc. Individuals do not need to participate in the assisted living program to benefit from the services as many are available to all tenants.

Currently the department has a Senior Community Employment Program participant who schedules various activities during the week including movies, tea parties, trivia, bingo, and holiday parties. Community volunteers provide clinics, book clubs, bible study, music, sing-a-longs, and other events. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact the Service Coordinator by calling Nancy at 524-2112 x 28 or submit a contact request through www.laconiahousing.org.

Last Updated on Monday, 02 June 2014 09:24

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Camp VanGo registrations now being accepted

LACONIA — Camp Van Go! will be held this summer at Pleasant Street School during the weeks of July 7-11 and July 14-18, from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

This camp is focused on the importance of creativity and fitness and is led by Pleasant Street School teachers Rebehah Gonzalez and Jasmyn Gray, who between them have 18 years of teaching experience and two advanced degrees.

Each day students will participate in fitness activities and art experiences.

Cost is $225 per week. Only the first 40 children to sign up per week will be able to attend.

For more information contact 603-393-7078 or campvango@outlook.com.


Last Updated on Monday, 02 June 2014 09:21

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