Shore Health: Maryland to Offer Online Shopping Tool for Medical Procedures

The Maryland Health Care Commission, the state’s independent regulatory agency, is unveiling a website on which people scheduling a hip replacement, knee replacement, hysterectomy or vaginal delivery can see price differences among different providers for the same procedure.

The site is launching amid rising health-care costs and as some consumers turn to insurance plans with high deductibles.

The state site is meant to give consumers a tool to compare prices and quality on four common medical procedures at hospitals around the state that patients otherwise would have difficulty finding on their own.

Read the full story in the Washington Post here

Bountiful and Talbot Hospice Team up for 14th Annual Holiday Kickoff

Bountiful Interiors, Talbot County’s award-winning home furnishings store and design firm, will host its 14th Annual Holiday Kickoff Thursday, November 2nd from 6 – 9 p.m., at the store, located in the Talbot Town Shopping Center at 218 N. Washington Street. The Holiday Kickoff, a Talbot County tradition, is free, open to the public and includes music, food and a cash bar. Twenty percent of proceeds from the evening’s sales will be donated to Talbot Hospice to honor and recognize their important work with patients and families facing the end of life.

Each year, Bountiful’s owner Jamie Merida and his staff transform the store into a holiday wonderland with an extravagant display of sparkling holiday decor, exquisite home accessories, unique toys, and elegant gifts. The selection is vast, creative, and provides area residents a head start on their shopping while helping to support the mission of a local nonprofit organization. According to Merida, this year’s theme – “A Very Viennese Christmas” – will replicate the glamor and opulence of fin-de-sielce Vienna.

Talbot Hospice Executive Director Vivian Dodge, said “We are so pleased and fortunate to have been designated as the beneficiary of Bountiful’s Holiday Kickoff again this year.  Over the past four years this event has raised close to $10,000 for our services and programs. We are beyond grateful for all that we are able to provide patients and their families, thanks to the generosity of Jamie and our community members.”

Previous Bountiful Holiday Kickoff events have benefitted the Women & Girls Fund of the Mid-Shore, the Humane Society of Talbot County, Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence, the Mental Heath Association of Talbot County, and the Community Alliance for the Performing Arts.  “My staff and I feel privileged to be able to provide an opportunity each year for the community to come out and support the work of these very important non-profit organizations,” said Merida.

For additional information about the party, call 410-763-8500 or visit Bountiful’s website, BountifulDecor.com. For additional information about Talbot Hospice, visit TalbotHospice.org.

Quality Health Foundation Announces Request for Grant Proposals

Quality Health Foundation (QHF) announces a call for proposals for the 2018-19 grant period. QHF will award grants to eligible organizations that work to improve health care to underserved communities.

QHF will fund healthcare projects, focusing on the uninsured and underinsured patient. Selected projects should include well-defined goals with measureable outcomes.  Acceptance of applications for grants will be from December 1, 2017 through 5:00 p.m. EST on January 17, 2018. Notification of award status will be announced in June 2018. Applicants must be from Maryland or the District of Columbia.

“We are embarking on a new era in healthcare accessibility. The projects we have funded in the past have been varied in scope, innovative in design, and had a positive impact health quality in ways that meet the new patient-centered model of care,” said Molly Burgoyne, MD, Chair of QHF’s Board of Directors. “We are particularly interested in non-profit organizations committed to improving communication, education, measurable outcomes, and chronic disease prevention. Programs dedicated to high standards of care are a priority.”

Quality Health Foundation focuses programs that demonstrate improved health care quality with clear goals and measurable outcomes.  Priority areas include programs that:

– Improve access to health care services to the unserved and under-served

– Improve understanding of health issues

– Demonstrate improvement through measureable outcomes of stated goals

About Quality Health Foundation. QHF is the mission arm of Quality Health Strategies (QHS), a national not-for-profit organization committed to Creating Solutions to Transform Health. QHS formed the Quality Health Foundation in 2003 in an effort to improve health care in local communities across Maryland and the District of Columbia. Since 2006, the Foundation has awarded approximately $4.5 million to over 65 different organizations.

For more information or to apply visit www.qualityhealthfoundation.org.

Easton Middle Students Support People in Recovery

Bechora Aguoru and Jonathan Storch created original works of art as part of a service learning project in Mrs. Lauri Bell’s 8th grade Health class.

As part of a service learning project, students in Mrs. Lauri Bell’s 8th grade Health classes chose to donate comfort items to people in recovery or seeking help for drug addiction.  The students assembled and donated 70 care packages to Chesapeake Treatment Services, LLC.  The care packages included basic hygiene items along with inspirational cards to encourage people to continue with treatment.  Two students also made works of art to be displayed at the center.

Although this is not the first time Mrs. Bell has offered this project to her classes, the response this year was remarkable.   “The students amazed me with their enthusiasm and generosity,” said Mrs. Bell.  “We had our highest participation ever in this project!”  Representatives from Chesapeake Treatment Services, LLC paid a visit to Easton Middle School to pick up the care packages.

Affordable Care Act: One Young Cancer Patient in Maryland

Presents sat unopened in her family’s Davidsonville house in April, while at Johns Hopkins Hospital her parents told her she had Ewing’s sarcoma, a cancerous tumor growing in her stomach. The disease is so rare that only about 225 children in the United States are diagnosed each year.

Ella Edwards, 9, holds the opening page of a story she is writing about her fight with cancer. Ella was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma on her birthday. Capital News Service photo by Aaron Rosa.

The Edwards family entered a new reality of oncologists and treatments.

“It was crazy fast,” Jen Edwards said. “We were taken up to oncology, and I was thinking, what are we doing here? There are kids with cancer here.

“At that point we weren’t even thinking of insurance.”

The Edwards family hadn’t been following the congressional debates over the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” But now they, like millions of other Americans, would have to deal with a pre-existing condition — which before the Affordable Care Act meant companies could refuse insurance.

Though Congress and the Trump Administration have tried — and failed — to repeal President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, these patients remain worried about their future.

“The ACA was something I never paid attention to,” Jen Edwards said. “You just assume your child is never going to get sick and be healthy all their lives.”

Brian Edwards runs Hague Quality Water, a water treatment company, owned by his father, that has been in his family over 20 years. He purchased health insurance for his children, which, he said, cost less than what he would have to pay through work.

A week before Ella’s birthday, a stomach flu hit the family, but Ella did not respond to the usual medications.

Ella Edwards walks into the room where she will receive the third of six proton radiotherapy treatments. Capital News Service photo by Aaron Rosa.

Doctors at Anne Arundel Medical Center found a grapefruit-sized tumor pressing against her bladder and transferred her immediately to Johns Hopkins University for further testing.

There, the doctors diagnosed the cancer. And two days after her parents took her to the hospital for what they thought was a stomach bug, Ella began receiving chemotherapy.

At Hopkins, Jen Edwards recalls, hospital administrators made a crucial discovery: Ella had been admitted through the emergency room. If Ella was discharged, Johns Hopkins would not readmit her because, though the emergency visit was covered, Hopkins did not accept her insurance for continuing treatment, a staff member confirmed.

They stopped the family from leaving. The administrators recommended that Brian Edwards purchase a new plan, under “Obamacare,” that would cover Ella’s future treatment — avoiding a bill of $80,000.

In a stroke of luck, Hague Quality Water was in a two-week period where the business could choose a new insurance provider for their employees. Brian Edwards switched his company’s coverage to Evergreen Health, a plan on the state health exchange that offered in-state health insurance for Ella’s condition.

Ella’s newly diagnosed cancer is included on a list of declinable conditions that would have caused her application for insurance to be automatically denied in all but five states before the health care law, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Evergreen Health’s monthly premium is $1,900, nearly 30 times the $66 premium he previously paid for insurance covering all his children — the policy from a company that Johns Hopkins would not accept.

“Even if you can’t pay the bills in that moment, you’re still going to do the treatment,” Jen Edwards said.

She leafed through a thick, worn binder filled with letters from doctors, scraps of paper with hastily jotted notes, and bills — dozens of bills.

Ella’s initial seven-day hospitalization topped $41,000, including $17,000 for room and board, and $20,000 for her first round of chemotherapy.

Four months of cancer treatments, visits with specialists, and hospitalizations racked up over $200,000. All but their $1,500 deductible was paid by their insurance company.

Before the Obama health care law, those costs led many families to bankruptcy.

A study conducted by Harvard University and published in the American Journal of Medicine in 2007 found that from 2001 to 2007, bankruptcies attributable to medical problems increased by 50 percent and comprised 67 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States.

Cost of life, a metric used to quantify one year of life with cancer treatment, rose from $54,100 in 1995, to $207,000 in 2013. This statistic does not include expenses like surgery or home care, nor does it account for the loss of income resulting from a chronic illness.

Brian and Jen Edwards held a different view of the health care law before Ella’s diagnosis. Back then, they viewed “Obamacare” as socialization of health care.

“For me, Ella’s cancer changed my perspective about the Affordable Care Act,” Jen Edwards said.

“Knowing some of these children that are also at Hopkins, I know their families can’t afford it,” she trails off. “Every child should get care.”

Jen Edwards has quit her job at a local church to care for Ella.

Brian Edwards supplements his work-provided policy with an additional policy to cover the more expensive drugs not covered by Evergreen.

The additional policy is income-based. With five children and a single income, the Edwards family qualifies for its insurance. But if Jen Edwards were to resume working and the family income increased, they would be ineligible.

But even with government subsidies, the Edwards family’s health insurance policies cost him over $2,500 a month.

“It’s overwhelming,” Brian Edwards said. “I don’t know how people do it without insurance.”

Ewing’s sarcoma has a good prognosis if it has not spread. Ella’s has spread to her lungs.

Ella has completed nine of 14 rounds of chemotherapy and is undergoing an eight-week proton radiotherapy treatment plan in lieu of a surgery that would have removed two of her vertebrae.

The family’s life is now shaped by cancer.

Ella and her siblings manned a lemonade stand on the side of a nearby road this summer to raise money for Ewing’s sarcoma research. The family visited Hershey Park. And Ella attended a special week-long camp sponsored by Johns Hopkins University Hospital and staffed by medical personnel.

What they did not do this summer was watch the healthcare debate on television.

Brian Edwards canceled their cable TV subscription. The Edwards children watch cartoons on Netflix.

“Nothing good comes from watching the news,” Brian Edwards said.
But the next wave of bad news didn’t come through the television. It came in the mail.

As a non-profit, Evergreen could no longer cover the costs of its clients, and in a final desperate measure, converted to a for-profit model and sought an outside investor.

Investors dropped out of the Evergreen acquisition deal this summer. In August, the Edwards family received a letter from Evergreen Health announcing that it would be going out of business, honoring existing contracts but closing its doors for good in 2018.

“We’ve been lucky to have coverage so far,” Brian Edwards said softly. “But with Evergreen going out of business, next year is going to be very different.”

Brian Edwards again switched his company’s insurance from Evergreen to Maryland Blue Cross Blue Shield.

His monthly premium increased by $400.

By Aaron Rosa

Bullying of Individuals with Special Needs and Disabilities Workshop October 25

Partners for Success and SECAC (Special Education Citizens Advisory Committee) will host Maureen van Stone, Esq., M.S., Associate Director of MCDD (Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities) at Kennedy Krieger Institute and Founding Director of Project HEAL, who will present “Bullying of Individuals with Special Needs and Disabilities” workshop on Wednesday, October 25, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the Queen Anne’s County Library, Centreville Branch.

Maureen van Stone’s presentation will include an overview of the issues of bullying, harassment, and intimidation of students with special needs and disabilities. She will also provide an analysis of evidence-informed prevention strategies, along with an overview of federal guidance, state laws and policies. Additionally, she will share a case law summary and best practices to address the issues of bullying. A question and answer period will immediately follow the presentation. This session is appropriate for parents, caregivers, providers/therapists and educators of children with special needs, disabilities, autism and other disorders.

Maureen is the associate director of the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD) at Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI) and the founding director of Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy, and Law), a MCDD community-based program. Project HEAL is Maryland’s only comprehensive medical-legal partnership, which provides advocacy and legal services to low- and moderate-income families and children with disabilities who receive services at KKI.

Maureen has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Southern California, a master’s degree in developmental psychology from The Johns Hopkins University, and a Juris Doctor at Whittier Law School, with a concentration on children’s legal issues. Prior to law school, Maureen worked as a clinician on the Neurobehavioral Unit in the Department of Behavioral Psychology at Kennedy Krieger Institute for six years.

The program will take place on Wednesday, October 25 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Queen Anne’s County Library’s Centreville Branch, 121 S. Commerce Street, Centreville, Maryland 21617. The program is free, and includes food and refreshments. Registration is required and space is limited. For more information about this program and to register, please Jennifer Doege, Parent Coordinator – Partners for Success: jennifer.doege@qacps.org or 410-758-3693.

The Queen Anne’s County (QAC) Special Education Citizens Advisory Committee (SECAC) is committed to ensuring the provision of quality services to students with disabilities ages birth to 21 by working collaboratively with families, community, school staff and other professionals to provide a forum to discuss issues related to and advocate for positive changes in special education in Queen Anne’s County Public Schools. SECAC hosts a monthly meeting and new members are always welcome. For more information, please email: secac.qac@gmail.com or visit www.qacps.org/Page/209.

UM Memorial Hospital Foundation to Host Women’s Seminar

University of Maryland Memorial Hospital Foundation will host its annual women’s seminar, “From a Woman’s Point of View: Nurturing Your Physical and Financial Well Being” on Thursday, October 26 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Tidewater Inn in Easton.

Presentations will include:”Evaluation and Treatment of Urinary Incontinence,” presented by R. Duane Cespedes, MD, UM Shore Comprehensive Urology, and “Women and Wealth,” presented by Stephanie L. Saunders, first vice president, The Hill Group at Morgan Stanley.

R. Duane Cespedes, MD (right) and Stephanie Saunders, The Hill Group at Morgan Stanley

Specializing in female urology, incontinence and vaginal prolapse, Dr. Cespedes sees patients in offices at UM Shore Medical Pavilions in Easton and Chestertown. He served previously as the co-director for the Center for Pelvic Health at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and is the former chairman and program director of the Urology Department at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Stephanie Saunders has been part of The Hill Group for 20 years. A graduate of University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business, she also has achieved the professional designations of Senior Investment Management Consultant and Senior Portfolio Manager.

To register for the seminar or for more information, please contact Janet Andrews at the UM Memorial Hospital Foundation (410) 822-1000, extension 5792 or by email at janet@umm.edu. This event is free to all attendees; seating is limited and pre-registration is required.  Light refreshments will be served.

About UM Shore Regional Health: As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. UM Shore Regional Health’s team of more than 2,600 employees, medical staff, board members and volunteers work with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.

Dr. Walid Kamsheh Leads UM SRH Primary Stroke Center

Walid Kamsheh, MD has assumed the position of medical director of the Primary Stroke Center at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton. The announcement of Dr. Kamsheh’s appointment followed the departure of Terry P. Detrick, MD, the Center’s medical director, in late September.

A member of the UM Shore Regional Health (UM SRH) Medical Staff since 1989, Dr. Kamsheh practices neurology and sleep medicine, and has been an innovator in meeting the neurological care needs of patients in the five-county region served by UM SRH.

“I am very excited to lead the continued outstanding care and treatment offered in our Primary Stroke Center,” Dr. Kamsheh says. “In the Center’s recent recognition from the American Stroke Association (ASA), we learned that in terms of meeting and exceeding the benchmarks for the Association’s ‘Gold Plus’ designation and its ‘Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus,’ we are way ahead of stroke centers in many large, metropolitan hospitals. Our community is very fortunate that Shore Regional Health’s Stroke Center has an outstanding team of physicians, nurses, therapists and techs who achieved this level of excellence and who work so well with our hospitalists and our ED physicians and staff.”

According to the ASA, hospitals earning the Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award have reached an aggressive goal of treating patients with 85 percent or higher adherence to all Get With The Guidelines-Stroke achievement indicators for two or more consecutive 12-month periods and have achieved 75 percent or higher compliance with five of eight Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Quality measures. Hospital stroke centers achieving the Target Stroke: Honor Roll Elite Plus designation have demonstrated success in meeting quality measures to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the drug, Alteplase.

In addition to maintaining the ASA’s Gold Plus designation, Kamsheh hopes to provide more community education about the risks and signs of stroke, and the life-saving services and recovery resources offered by the Stroke Center. “We have an older population here on the Shore, and stroke risks increase with age, so it is very important that we get information out as widely as possible,” Dr. Kamsheh notes.

Cancer Center Team Honored as “Everyday Heroes”

Photo: Fifteen members of the Cancer Center team – some in full superhero attire – were on hand to be honored by F. Graham Lee, UM SRH vice president of philanthropy (back row, left) as “Everyday Heroes” were: Lauren Douglass, Nichole Hill, Ashley Kirn, Kathleen Stalfort, Robin Ford, Victoria Glessner, Christa Tindall, Jeanie Scott, Robin VanSchaik, Stephanie Phillips, Diane Soone, Carol Flamer, Debbie Hood, Brian Leutner and Paula Larrimore.

The University of Maryland Memorial Hospital Foundation received a donation from Sylvia Jeanne Carroll to support the Cancer Center at UM Shore Regional Health. As the wife of a patient treated at the Cancer Center, Carroll made the donation in appreciation of the “Everyday Hero” health care providers – John Mastandrea , MD and Robin Ford, and “all who participated in her husband’s care from the front desk and radiation crew.”

The Everyday Hero program provides patients, visitors and staff members with the opportunity to recognize and thank any UM SRH staff member or team who has made a positive difference in a visit or stay by making a financial contribution of any size to the UM Memorial Hospital Foundation or the UM Chester River Health Foundation. Funds received through gifts to the Foundations’ Everyday Hero programs help pay for equipment, capital improvements and staff education for the departments in which the employees or team work.

As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. UM Shore Regional Health’s team of more than 2,500 employees, medical staff, board members and volunteers works with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.

Talbot County Health Department Prevention Office Launches New Campaign

The Talbot County Health Department Prevention Office has launched a new campaign, ‘Talbot’s Got Heart,’ which includes screenings of the film ‘Written Off’ followed with free Naloxone training and doses at seven locations across Talbot County.

The first of the free events is scheduled for Oct. 18 at the Cordova Fire House. Doors open at 5:30 and the film, which runs 117 minutes starts at 6 p.m., with a 30-minute Naloxone training immediately following the film. Each person or family trained will receive a free box of Naloxone, which includes two doses, along with a window cling.

Registration is requested and available at www.TalbotsGotHeart.org, along with a complete schedule of events. The events are in partnership with Mariah’s Mission Fund of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation.

Commonly sold under the brand name Narcan, Naloxone is a life-saving medication that reverses an opioid overdose yet has no abuse potential. Available in Maryland without a prescription, side effects of Narcanare minimal and the medication is safe for children and pregnant women.

The film ‘Written Off’ is a powerful documentary that details the life of Matt Edwards, who lost his battle with heroin dependency. ‘Written Off’ is intended to help change the conversation about drug dependency, as told through Edwards’ personal journals. Edwards grew up in Wisconsin and his first high came from a doctor, prescribed for a botched toe surgery.

The film is not yet rated and does depict some drug use and contains some foul language, but there are no age restrictions on attendance. More information is available at www.written-off.com.

In addition to the community trainings, several ‘Lunch and Learn’ trainings are offered for local business owners and employees through the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce.

Those trainings are scheduled from noon until 1 p.m. at the chamber office on Oct. 24, Nov. 8 and Nov. 30. Each session can hold up to 16 people. Registration is available online at www.talbotchamber.org or by calling the chamber at 410-822-4653.

Alexandra Duff, prevention coordinator with Talbot County Health Department administers the trainings. Funding for the Naloxone came from a state grant that provided resources for 266 boxes of the life-saving drug. Those boxes, combined with Duff’s existing supply amounts to 350 boxes available for trainings. With two doses in each box, the trainings will provide 700 free doses for our community.

“Last year in Maryland more than 2,000 people died from an opioid overdose,” Duff said. “This grant and campaign enables us to get 700 doses of this life-saving medicine across our county.”

Trainings include an overview of how to recognize the signs of an overdose; how to respond to an overdose; and how to administer Naloxone.

In addition, each training includes general information on Maryland’s Good Samaritan Law, which protects people who call 911 for an overdose from prosecution for certain crimes, and information on getting Naloxone.

Training certificates are good for two years. Renewal certificates do require a refresher course.

For more information on Naloxone or other substances contact Duff or Kirsten Moore, community health educator at 410-819-5600.

The Talbot County Health Department Prevention Office helps community groups, agencies and individuals in providing programs and activities to prevent alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse, and to build a healthier community. Resources include parenting skills, video and resource loan library, awareness campaigns and educational workshops.

Established in 2014, Mariah’s Mission Fun of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation is a non-profit that provides support groups and resources to empower families and individuals struggling with the effects of substance use disorder. Valerie Albee founded the fund in honor of her daughter, Mariah, who lost her life to heroin.