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Health News: February 19

BANGOR – The Acadia Hospital has joined 2 percent of the nation’s hospitals in being re-accredited as a Magnet Hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet Recognition Program for excellence in nursing services. Nationally, only 5 percent of all hospitals are designated as Magnet hospitals and of those only 2 percent have earned the more difficult re- accreditation.

Additionally, Acadia Hospital remains the only psychiatric hospital with Magnet status.

“We are thrilled to learn of our re- accreditation. This is a direct reflection on the quality and dedication of our nursing staff and all of our employees,” said Acadia Chief Nursing Officer April Giard. “To earn Magnet status once is a tremendous accomplishment and a great source of pride. To retain Magnet status for another four years really underscores the commitment of our entire staff to continually strive harder each day to meet the health care needs of the people we serve.”

According to the center, the leading nursing credentialing organization in the United States, Magnet designation is widely accepted as the gold standard of patient care. The Magnet Recognition Program recognizes excellence and professionalism in nursing.

Applicants undergo an extensive evaluation, and members who are awarded Magnet status must continue to maintain rigorous standards as part of the four-year designation. To reapply for and receive Magnet status for an additional four years is confirmation of the hospital’s resolve to deliver the highest level of care in nursing today.

Research shows that Magnet hospitals are more effective at attracting and keeping quality nurses.

“By achieving Magnet status The Acadia Hospital continues to be a national leader in psychiatric and chemical dependency services,” Giard said. “Organizations will continue to look to us for guidance, and the most qualified mental health and substance abuse treatment providers will be attracted to our employment opportunities. This, in turn, ensures our patients will continue to receive quality psychiatric and chemical dependency treatment services right here in Maine.”

For information, visit, www.acadiahospital.org.

New clinical location

BANGOR – Elizabeth Irvine has moved her office to 263 State St., Suite 1.

Irvine is a licensed clinical social worker, licensed alcohol and drug counselor and certified clinical supervisor. She is now on the staff of Cornerstone Behavioral Health, a Waterville-based agency which is expanding into the Bangor area.

Irvine serves adults and those in late adolescence. She specializes in co-occurring disorders, including substance abuse and mental health problems; mood disorders; anxiety orders; and post-traumatic stress disorders.

She has a master’s degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo and has been a counselor for 30 years.

Irvine said that Cornerstone accepts most insurances, including MaineCare. Hours at the Bangor office are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday. For information, call 942-0919.

Feldenkaris method talk

BLUE HILL – Gabrielle Wellman, guild-certified Feldenkrais practitioner, will present a talk and a sample experience in the Feldenkrais method of somatic education at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26, the Blue Hill Co-op.

Her talk is part of the co-op’s ongoing Health Angels series of talks and is free and open to the public. For information, call Eileen at the co-op at 374-2165.

Hospital accreditation

BANGOR – The Acadia Hospital was notified recently by an independent, not-for-profit accrediting organization called The Joint Commission that the Bangor facility has earned the commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for its hospital-based behavioral services.

The commission accredits and certifies some 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States.

The accreditation process is designed to help health care organizations provide safe, high-quality care, treatment and services by identifying opportunities for improvement and supporting the implementation of improvement plans.

“Joint Commission accreditation is widely considered to be a key part of any hospital’s quality initiatives, and I am pleased that Acadia has once again earned this important designation,” said Acadia Hospital President David S. Proffitt.

For more information, visit www.acadiahospital.org.

Diabetes Support Group

BANGOR – The St. Joseph Healthcare monthly daytime Diabetes Support Group will meet at 1 p.m. Thursday, March 5, in the Diabetes and Nutrition Center, Building 1, St. Joseph Healthcare Park, 900 Broadway. Group members share personal experiences relating to diabetes management, stress reduction and coping skills.

A separate, evening support group meets the second Tuesday of each month. Its next meeting will be 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, also at the Diabetes and Nutrition Center.

For more information about either support group, call the St. Joseph Healthcare Diabetes and Nutrition Center at 262-1870.

Environmentally related childhood illnesses

ORONO – A new study by a University of Maine economist estimates the cost of preventable, environmentally related childhood illnesses in Maine, including lead poisoning, asthma, childhood cancer and neurobehavioral disorders.

Environmental economist and researcher Mary Davis calculates they cost some $380.9 million a year.

Davis said her study presents a conservative assessment of the damaging effects of childhood diseases and the costs of caring for these children. A report on her study, titled “An Economic Cost Assessment of Environmentally Related Childhood Diseases in Maine,” also estimates the potential reduction in lifetime income and educational opportunity for children permanently afflicted by childhood diseases.

“Overall, the aggregate annual cost of environmentally attributable illnesses in Maine children is estimated to be $380.9 million per year, ranging between $319.4 million and $484.4 million,” Davis writes in her report. “It is important to note that the economic costs outlined in this report represent preventable childhood illnesses, and, as such, could be fully avoided if environmental exposures in children were eliminated.”

Davis, an adjunct faculty member in the UM School of Economics, said she conducted her research independently because of her interest in children’s health issues and because of the plethora of environmental initiatives expected to surface in the Maine legislature as a result of LD 2048, “An Act To Protect Children’s Health and the Environment from Toxic Chemicals in Toys and Children’s Products,” passed by the Legislature last year.

The measure requires Maine to adopt a list of priority chemicals of high concern, forces manufacturers to disclose the toxic chemicals they add to products and authorizes the state to require safer alternatives. The report is “directly relevant to the state’s investment in the process that the new law has set into motion,” Davis says.

“The report says if you eliminated all the environmental exposures, you would stand to save this much money in these categories,” said Davis, an assistant professor in the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning at Tufts University. She holds a joint appointment with the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. Davis’s research on the cost and effects on children of secondhand smoke contributed to a 2008 state law banning smoking in motor vehicles with children inside.

Davis says the findings of her research indicate the prevalence of a “new pediatric morbidity,” a changing pattern of more childhood illnesses, including asthma and cancer, being caused more often by environmental factors than genetic susceptibility or infectious diseases.

Some highlights of Davis’s findings:

. The total annual cost of childhood lead poisoning is $268 million, a number that represents the lost lifetime earning potential of children born in the state each year.

. Treatment for environmentally attributable neurobehavioral disorders including autism, ADD/ADHD, cerebral palsy and mental retardation cost an estimated $100.9 million annually, according to Davis’s report.

. The cost of treating asthma in children is estimated at $8.8 million a year in Maine and treating childhood cancer costs more than $2.5 million a year, Davis calculates.

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