Health and Wellness

May is National Osteoporosis Month

MEREDITH — An estimated 54 million U.S. adults are at risk for osteoporosis and low bone mass. That means more then one-half of the U.S. adult population over the age of 50, is at risk for breaking bones and should be concerned about their bone health. For younger people, proper nutrition and physical activity are critical to reaching peak bone mass and preventing broken bones as they age.

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. As a result, bones become weak and may break from a fall. Osteoporosis is often called a silent disease because one can't feel bones weakening. Breaking a bone is often the first sign of osteoporosis or a patient may notice that he or she is getting shorter or their upper back is curving forward. If you are experiencing height loss or your spine is curving, be sure to consult your doctor or healthcare professional immediately.

Take control of your bone health! Here are four recommended steps to improve your bone health and prevent osteoporosis or broken bones:
• Get the calcium and vitamin D you need every day.
• Do regular weight-bearing and muscle strengthening exercises.
• Don't smoke and don't drink too much alcohol
• Talk to your healthcare provider about your chances of getting osteoporosis and ask when you should have a bone density test.
Do you have questions about nutrition and your health? Let the LRVNA nurses help with your nutrition assessment. LRVNA offers clinics and one-on-one help with nutrition, so call, 603-279-6611 today to get information on the services we provide that are right for you.

Palliative care comes to Plymouth

PLYMOUTH — Pemi-Baker Community Health announces a new Palliative Care program partially funded by the generosity of local donors: John Fernandes, Peter Nordblom, Susan Bliss and the Waterville Valley Tennis Club. Palliative Care is a program that supports chronically ill community members and frail elders in developing goals of care, seeking community support services, preparing advance directives and managing difficult symptoms.
In our first year of Palliative Care practice, they will be offering free in-home or in-hospital palliative care consult visits with Medical Director Dr. Diane Arsenault or clinical social worker Mary Francis Drake.

These consult visits are the first step in providing wrap-around services for chronically ill patients and families and they are covered by Medicare as well as our Palliative Care grants. From financial concerns, to social services, counseling and care options, and advance directives, our team will support patients in finding resources and living the best quality of life they can while addressing their symptoms and the limitations of their illness as it progresses. If you or your doctor feel you would benefit from palliative care services, call Mary Francis Drake, palliative care manager, at 536-2232.
In addition to individual consultations, Drake also does community education programs around goals of care and advance directives. The following events are scheduled for this spring:
Ammonoosuc Health Center, Warren, Wednesday, May 17, 3-5 p.m.
Pease Library, Plymouth, Wednesday, June 19, 6-8 p.m.
Completing advance directives is a big part of palliative care. The care choice "conversation" can be daunting for many folks as we all prefer to look on the bright side where our health is concerned. Sometimes, this hopefulness turns into procrastination that leaves family members distressed in a time of medical crisis as they are left to make decisions without knowing what their loved-one would really want done – or not done. These decisions include medical interventions like intubation/use of ventilator, CPR if a patient dies in the ER or ambulance, medications, feeding tubes and other interventions that patients may not really want to have started – especially older, frail or chronically ill patients. From the health care power of attorney, to the POLST (Providers Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment), to the DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) form, advance directives support patient choice in relation to healthcare options.
Palliative care programs are cropping up all around the country. There is much research that shows their effectiveness in supporting patients' well-being across the continuum of medical care (hospital, MD office, and community health center), decreasing rehospitalizations, and ensuring that social supports are in place.
All of this leads to better quality of life at lower costs, something all of us want for ourselves and our families.

For more information, contact Mary Francis Drake, palliative care manager, at Pemi-Baker Community Health, 536-2232, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,

Mid-State Health Center in Plymouth welcomes Dr. Viking Hedberg

PLYMOUTH — Mid-State Health Center is pleased to announce that Viking Hedberg, MD, MPH, joined its team of providers offering pediatric and adolescent services beginning in April.
Dr. Hedberg received his undergraduate degree from Yale University, completed medical school at Columbia University, and is a leader in pediatric and adolescent health with more than 20 years of experience serving the families in the Plymouth region.
"Dr. Hedberg's commitment to health and wellbeing of the children in our community is inspiring, which simply makes him an excellent choice to join our family-focused practice. We are so pleased to welcome him to the Mid-State team," said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Claire Reed.
Dr. Hedberg says his goal is to continue taking care of the community's children. "My priority is to ensure that our community has access to high-quality, personalized care that puts families and their needs first. I am pleased to be joining a truly innovative team at Mid-State that is committed to the same goal." Dr. Hedberg will be located in Mid-State's Plymouth office, just up the hill past Walmart.
Mid-State and Dr. Hedberg look forward to expanding Mid-State's pediatric and adolescent services and happily welcome families wishing to follow Dr. Hedberg to Mid-State. Sharon Beaty, CEO said, "The care and support of children in the community are a top priority. Mid-State is committed to making the transition to our practice as easy as possible for families who would like to follow or join Dr. Hedberg here."
Mid-State's Patient Services team is offering a stress-free process to help families join the practice. Call them at 603-536-4000 and they will ensure you have everything you need for your children to join Dr. Hedberg at his new medical home.
Mid-State is accepting new patients of all ages and encourages anyone interested in learning more about Dr. Hedberg or the entire Mid-State's clinical team and its services, to visit them on the web at or by calling 603-536-4000.

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Viking Hedberg

Learn to manage ongoing health issues with six-week workshop starting May 24

FRANKLIN — Would you like to increase your energy and better manage your health? If you or someone you live with has an ongoing health concern such as chronic pain, COPD, or arthritis, and would like to learn how to better manage this health concern so that you can do the things you want to do, you can benefit from "Living Well."

Learn how to manage your symptoms with the "Living Well - Better Choices, Better Health" workshop presented by LRGHealthcare. A free six-week workshop will be offered on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. beginning May 24 at Franklin Regional Hospital. Those attending the workshops will apply skills for living a full, healthy life with a chronic condition, learn to set weekly goals and develop a practical step-by-step plan for improving health and quality of life. Weekly topics include healthy eating, physical activity, relieving stress, pain and fatigue management, and more!

Workshop leaders will guide participants through this proven program developed by the Stanford University School of Medicine. These sessions are ideal for anyone living with a chronic health condition or a caregiver of someone with a chronic health condition.

For more information or to register for the upcoming workshops,  call LRGHealthcare Education Services at 527-7120.

A message of hope

Survivor tells local high school students he jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge, and immediately regretted it


GILFORD — What does it take to survive a fall from San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge? For Kevin Hines, one of the few to have done so, his survival hinged on two incredible strokes of good luck. The first bit of luck was his timing: The moment that he chose to leap over the railing was the exact moment that a particular woman was driving by, who immediately called her friend, a Coast Guard officer who happened to be working that day on a rescue boat in San Francisco Bay. The second stroke came in the form of a sea lion, which – and eyewitnesses watching from the bridge attested to this – circled underneath Hines as he tried to stay afloat and nudged him toward the surface when he struggled.

But, as Hines told an auditorium full of students at Gilford High School on Tuesday, April 18, it would have been much easier for someone to have stopped him from jumping, had they only taken a minute to see him.

"'Are you OK? Is something wrong? Can I help you?' These were the only words I wanted to hear when I stood atop the Golden Gate Bridge," Hines told the audience.

Most of the seats were filled with Gilford students, although there were representatives from other Lakes Region schools there as well. Gilford, like every other public high school in the region, has a team of student leaders who are trained to help turn the tides against suicide. 

As Hines's story underlined for those students, the interactions he had with people, both years before and immediately preceding his attempt to kill himself, combined with his mental illness to set the stage for near tragedy.

Hines, who was 19 years old when he took a bus to the Golden Gate Bridge during a September morning in 2000, was dealt about as bad a hand as one can receive. He was born to parents who were both mentally ill, and both had turned to hard drug use to cope with their illnesses. For Hines, who was born with the name Giovanni, and his brother, Jordache, their infancy was spent in neglect, left in disreputable hotel rooms while their parents were out, either looking for, selling or using drugs. The baby boys were rescued from the situation by a hotel clerk, who tired of hearing their cries and called police.

That led to entry into the foster home system for Hines and his brother, though they weren't out of danger yet. A respiratory infection stayed with them, and Jordache died shortly thereafter, leaving Hines completely without a family. That changed when he was 9 years old, though, when Deborah Jones Hines walked into the foster home. She brought him into their family, and Hines was so happy that he eventually took the name of his adoptive father.

"My childhood was beautiful," he said. "I got lucky, unlike my brother ... for a minute. We were a family that was happy, until we weren't." His adoptive parents divorced, and Hines went to live with his father. Meanwhile, Hines's mental illness, later diagnosed as bipolar disorder with psychotic tendencies, was prepared to make itself known. It did so while he was on the stage of his high school auditorium, performing the lead role, when he became convinced that every person in the audience was there to kill him. He ran from the stage and refused his director's plea to finish the show.

Hines then began receiving treatment for his illness, but he didn't tell his father everything he was experiencing. He didn't tell him how he was convinced that the postman was planning to find and kill him, and how running from this imagined threat kept him from attending classes at a local college. And, on the morning of his suicide attempt, he didn't tell his dad what the voices in his head were saying – or that he was planning to follow their instructions.

"I thought I was a burden to everyone who loved me, I thought they hated me, I thought they wanted me dead," Hines said, adding that he was silent in his suffering. "I desperately wanted to live but my brain was trying to kill me. I put a mask over me that made me look like I was calm, cool and collected on the worst day of my life."

By the time the bus he was on was nearing the Golden Gate Bridge, the mask couldn't hide Hines's illness. He was sobbing and talking to himself, but his fellow passengers only treated him with mild amusement. At the stop for the bridge, Hines stood and waited while everyone else departed. The driver, instead of seeing an opportunity to help someone, looked at Hines and then gestured at the door. Then, for 40 minutes, Hines walked up and down the length of the bridge, alternating between finding a place to jump, or hoping someone would stop him. No one did. Finally, he threw himself off the bridge.

One he was over the railing, he said he experienced "Instant regret for my action in free fall." He fell 25 stories in about 4 seconds, hit the water with such speed that he kept descending for about 70 feet below the surface of San Francisco Bay. Down there, under the water, he resolved to survive. Because, if he died, he thought, no one would know about how strongly he wanted to live.

But he was also in tremendous pain. The force of his body hitting the water had broken his back, and he couldn't use his legs. Still, he managed to fight his way to the surface of the frigid water, only to be struck with another handicap. A lifelong asthmatic, his lungs couldn't take in enough oxygen. He began to falter, and slip back below the waves. That's when he felt something swim underneath him. It was big, gray and kind of slimy, he said. He initially thought it was a shark, but observers on the bridge later told him it was a sea lion, nudging him upward until the Coast Guard appeared.

Hines spent the next several months rehabilitating, both from his back surgery and for his mental health concerns. Soon, he began to see that his survival came with a debt that he could repay through suicide awareness and prevention, which is how he was came to Gilford High School. Later that day, he also spoke at Franklin High School. He told the students that every one of them has the ability to affect others around them, whether it's with malice or compassion.

"Your words have the power to do one of two things – damage and destroy, or help and heal," he said.

"If you know someone who is suicidal, the one thing you can't do is keep that secret, because that secret is deadly."

After his talk, Hines fielded questions and comments from the audience. One student said that he had thought about killing himself, and that he would remember Hines's words for the rest of his life.

Hines's visit was sponsored in part by the Partnership for Public Health.

Help and Heal

That truth is something that the Connect Student Suicide Prevention Leaders know well. Those students are trained to give presentations for their peers, describing warning signs exhibited by a suicidal person, letting them know what they can do to help, and telling them that they have a responsibility to help. In fact, it was Marina Baer, a senior at Gilford and one of the Connect leaders, who was responsible for Hines's visit. She heard about him, visited his website, and clicked on the "contact" button. It was a year-old effort to get Hines to come to Gilford, she said, but she felt that his message was one that her school needed to hear.

"I feel pretty good about it, the kids really appreciated it. It had a lot of impact on a lot of students," she said. "It opened up doors to students. Now they know they can talk to people."

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255