Health Integrity Team Included in Office of Inspector General’s Cooperative Achievement Award

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General presented the Cooperative Achievement Award to a team including several Health Integrity staff.  The award was “in recognition of outstanding contributions to the largest criminal investigation and successful prosecution of a single physician, Dr. Jacques Roy, involving the submission of more than $375 million in fraudulent claims.” Sr. Vice President Scott Ward; Nurse Investigator and Law Enforcement Liaison Lisa Garcia, RN; and Clinical Educator and Law Enforcement Liaison Donna Large received the award at the Hubert H. Humphry Building in Washington, DC.

Quality Health Strategies CEO Dr. Ron Forsythe, Health Integrity President Sandy Love, Sr. Vice President Jaysen Eisengrein, and Sr. Vice President Carrie Ward attended the ceremony as well. “This was an unbelievable case,” said Scott Ward. “Lisa Garcia testified in the trial as the first witness. Her testimony was so strong that there was no cross-examination.”

According to the Department of Justice April 2016 press release (www.justice.gov/usao-ndtx/pr/dallas-doctor-and-three-dallas-area-home-health-agency-owners-convicted-running-large) “Jacques Roy, M.D., 58, of Rockwall, Texas; Cynthia Stiger, 53, of Dallas; Wilbert James Veasey, Jr., 64, of Dallas; and Charity Eleda, R.N., 55, of Rowlett, Texas, were each convicted of several various counts of health care fraud.

As part of his fraudulent activities, Dr. Roy “sold his signature” to process almost $375 million in false Medicare and Medicaid claims. He also signed off on services by more than 500 home-health agencies for 11,000 patients from January 2006 through November 2010.

“The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG), and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU). It was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force supervised by the Criminal Division Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas.”

“Although the award was presented to a small group,” continued Ward. “It really took a village to bring down Dr. Roy.” Investigators conducted over 700 beneficiary interviews in a span of about 5 months. Nurse Reviewers, Data Analysts, Project Support, Subject Matter Experts, and Law Enforcement Liaisons worked closely together combing through data, producing necessary documentation, and providing expert testimony. The Data team received 77 sample requests, which they processed in the 5-month time-period. The team conducted 72 Medical Reviews and processed 1,725 claims during the 9 months it took to investigate Dr. Roy. This showed the immense dedication of the ZPIC Staff to the Health Integrity mission.

U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay sentenced Wilbert Veasey to 210 months in federal prison and order to pay $23,123,897.18 in restitution to Medicare and $506,880.08 in restitution to Medicaid. Jacques Roy is expected to be sentenced in late August 2017.

“We are proud of the work of our team and their part in this historic investigation and prosecution,” said Sandy Love. “They provide the same effort and achieve the same results for each and every case they work. Once again demonstrating the effect of the best people, providing the best solutions, achieving the best results.”

About Health Integrity

Headquartered in Easton, Maryland, Health Integrity www.HealthIntegrity.org is a wholly owned subsidiary of Quality Health Strategies www.qualityhealthstrategies.com and serves the entire nation in an effort to protect the fiscal and clinical integrity of healthcare systems. The company currently holds a number of federal contracts for detecting and combating health care fraud, waste, and abuse on a national and regional level.

McMullen Named Rehabilitation Clinical Specialist at UM Shore Rehabilitation at Denton

University of Maryland Shore Regional Health’s Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services recently welcomed clinical specialist Deanna McMullen, DPT to the outpatient rehabilitation team at UM Shore Rehabilitation at Denton.

“We are excited about the addition of Deanna to our Shore Rehabilitation team,” says Frank Rath, manager of outpatient rehabilitation services for UM SRH. “Deanna is a talented therapist who brings a lot of enthusiasm, compassion, and clinical experience to benefit patients at Shore Rehab in Denton.”

A graduate of Easton High School, McMullen earned both a B.S. in Exercise Science and M.S. in Applied Health Physiology at Salisbury University before earning her doctorate in physical therapy at Neumann University in Aston, Pennsylvania. She has experience working in pediatric and early intervention, outpatient orthopedics and inpatient acute care. Most recently, McMullen worked as a physical therapist for ATI Physical Therapy in Dover, Delaware.

UM Shore Rehabilitation in Denton offers a variety of rehabilitative care including physical, occupational, manual and speech therapies. For more information about more services offered and other locations, contact Frank Rath, 410-822-1000, ext. 7641 or visit http://umshoreregional.org/rehabilitation.

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.

Easton’s Primary Stroke Center Earns Gold Plus Status from American Stroke Association

Stroke, a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain, takes the lives of more than 130,000 Americans each year and is the leading cause of serious long-term disability in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When in need of prompt care for stroke, residents of the five-county region served by University of Maryland Shore Regional Health have access to a designated Primary Stroke Center at University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton.

A Primary Stroke Center designation is given by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) when standards are met to support better outcomes for stroke care. Certification standards include having a dedicated stroke-focused program, staffed by specially trained medical professionals – 24 hours a day, 7 days each week – who provide expedited diagnostic services and stroke care.

UM Shore Medical Center at Easton’s Stroke Center recently received the American Heart Association (AHA)/American Stroke Association’s (ASA) Get With The Guidelines®– Stroke Gold Plus Achievement Award with Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll Elite Plus. The award recognizes the hospital’s commitment to providing the most appropriate stroke treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

Photo: The Primary Stroke Center team, led by medical director, Dr. Terry Detrich, and neuroscience specialist and Stroke Center coordinator, Nicole Leonard, is a multidisciplinary team that includes physicians, nurses, Emergency Department staff, diagnostic services such as imaging and lab, and pharmacy. Pictured are (back row) Gary Bigelow, director, Imaging Services; Diane Walbridge, director of Acute Care and Emergency Services; neurologists, Dr. Walid Kamsheh and Dr. Detrich; certified registered nurse practitioner, Rahel Alemu; Mary Collins, nurse leader, 2 East Multi-Specialty Care Unit at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton; Ryan Foster, manager, Emergency Services at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton; (front) Jennifer Miles, nurse manager of Easton’s Multi-Specialty Care and Neuroscience Units; Nicole Leonard; and Ruth Ann Jones, senior vice president, Nursing Services, and chief nursing officer.

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.

In conjunction with its Gold Plus status, Easton’s Primary Stroke Center also achieved the Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus, demonstrating success in meeting quality measures to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), Alteplase, the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke. If given in the first three hours after the onset of stroke symptoms, Alteplase has been shown to significantly reduce the effects of stroke and lessen the chance of permanent disability. Administered intravenously through the arm, Alteplase works by dissolving the obstructive clot and improving blood flow to the part of the brain being deprived of blood flow.

The quality measures established by the AHA/ASA are designed to help hospital teams follow the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients.

“Members of the Primary Stroke Center team at Shore Medical Center at Easton are specially trained in diagnosing and treating all types of stroke,” comments Nicole Leonard, RN, BSN, neuroscience specialist and stroke coordinator.  Much like the objective of core quality measures set forth by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, our top priority is prompt, effective care and positive patient outcomes. We have been able to achieve these awards because of the collaborative effort of our entire Stroke Center team. ”

According to Leonard, the three types of stroke are ischemic stroke, caused by a clot obstructing the flow of blood to the brain; a hemorrhagic stroke, caused by a blood vessel rupturing and causing bleeding inside the brain; and a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which is a temporary interruption of blood flow to an area of the brain.

“Stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures,” she remarks. “When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs causing vital brain cells to die – 1.9 million neurons die each minute stroke treatment is delayed.”

“Our highly skilled medical providers and clinicians strive to make our organization the region’s leader in patient-centered care,” says Ken Kozel, president and CEO, UM Shore Regional Health. “The Stroke Center’s recent recognition from the American Stroke Association demonstrates our team’s commitment to delivering innovative stroke treatments to patients as quickly and safely as possible when care is needed at the most critical time.”

Expanding upon the magnitude the Gold Plus designation, Terry Detrich, MD, local neurologist and medical director of the Stroke Center, remarks, “This is a fantastic achievement for a small hospital to be able to make the great advancements we have in complying with national stroke care guidelines.”

He continues, “It is also an incredible achievement for everyone on the team – the physicians, nurses, x-ray and lab personnel, the pharmacy team and the entire Emergency Department team. We all continue to work harder to update our capabilities, working with our partners at University of Maryland Medical System, to further enhance the care that we provide to our community members.”

Detrich also feels strongly about the key role that local emergency medical services play in the Stroke Center’s ability to treat patients appropriately and timely. “We would not be successful in our efforts to provide high-quality stroke care without the collaboration of our local Emergency Services teams,” he says.

The Stroke Center team at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton lives by the principle that time lost is brain lost, and because of that, clinicians feel it is imperative for patients to seek treatment for stroke at the first sign or symptom. To recognize signs and symptoms of stroke, it is recommended that people remember the word “FAST” – Facial drooping; Arm weakness; Speech difficulty; and if any of these symptoms are present, it’s Time to call 9-1-1 as immediate medical attention is necessary.

Additional information about the Primary Stroke Center at University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton can be found at UMShoreRegional.org/stroke.

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 employees, medical staff, board members and volunteers works with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.

Shore Kids Camp for Children with Type 2 Diabetes

Enrollment is now open for Shore Kids Camp, a four-day camp experience for children (ages 8-13) with diabetes that takes place July 17-21, 2017 at MEBA Engineering School on Route 33 (the Oxford Road) in Easton.

Provided by University of Maryland Shore Regional Health, Shore Kids Camp helps children with diabetes learn more about their disease and how to manage it in a safe and healthy environment while enjoying many activities, including bowling, boat rides, and visits to organic farms and area museums. The camp is managed by pediatric nurses with experience in diabetes who are assisted by high school and college students as volunteers. It also receives support from varied community groups, including local Lions Clubs, Rotary Clubs, and the Talbot County Public Schools field hockey teams.

“There is no other activity like this on the Eastern Shore,” says Wynne Aroom, patient education specialist, UM Shore Regional Health. “The diabetes camps across the Bay Bridge are overnight camps — many parents are reluctant to send their young children that far away while others find the cost of ‘sleep-away’ camp prohibitive.

The educational aspect of the camp experience includes guest speakers from the hospital and community such as dietitians, other diabetes educators, nurses with diabetes, podiatrists, dental hygienists and ophthalmologists. The children also play various learning games. Says Aroom, “These activities help boost the children’s confidence that they can survive without their parents. In many cases, they are the only child in their school class with diabetes, which is very challenging for them. At Shore Kids Camp, there is a lot of sharing and learning from each other, so they feel less alone in the challenges they face daily,” she adds.

Aroom also notes that Shore Kids Camp helps parents by providing needed respite from round-the-clock vigilance and the confidence that their child is having fun in a safe environment, as well as the opportunity to meet and talk with other families coping with Type 2 diabetes.

The camp fee is $75 per child and the registration deadline is July 7, 2017. For further details, contact Wynne Aroom, 410-822-1000, ext. 5286, or waroom@umm.edu.

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.

New Physician Assistant Rotations in Progress at UM Shore Regional Health

UM Shore Regional Health has welcomed five physician assistant students for clinical rotations with UM SRH physician preceptors, William Huffner, MD, senior vice president, Medical Affairs and chief medical officer, has announced.

The students — Rhavi Dholokia, Emmy Estrada, Chidex Eugene-Francis, Kulvinder Singh and Emily Tull — began their first of eight, five-week rotations on May 22, 2017. The physician preceptors and their specialties are: Eric Anderson, MD, Psychiatry; Walter Atha, MD, Emergency Medicine; Kim Herman, MD, Family Medicine; Mark Langfitt, MD, Pediatrics; Andrew Pelczar, MD, Surgery; Aisha Siddiqui, MD, OB/GYN; Myron Szczukowski, Jr., MD, Orthopedics (offered as an elective); and Elena Tilly, MD, Internal Medicine.

UM SRH has welcomed five physician assistant students for nine-month clinical rotations. Shown are (back row, L-R): Emily Tull, Chidex Eugene-Francis, Ravi Dholokia, Kulvinder Singh and Emmy Estrada; and (front row, L-R) William Huffner, MD, UM SRH chief medical officer and senior vice president, Medical Affairs, Kim Billingslea, regional director, Medical Staff Services, and Jennifer Kaminskas, executive assistant, Medical Affairs.

“We are delighted to host this second group of students from the Physician Assistant program offered jointly by Anne Arundel Community College and University of Maryland at Baltimore,” says Huffner. “According to reports from our physician preceptors and from the seven PA students who were with us during the past year, the first round of rotations was highly successful. In fact, a few of those students, who graduated in May, have indicated that UM Shore Regional Health is their first choice for employment once they pass their PA licensing exams. We could not have asked for a better outcome and we are hoping this new group will have an equally good experience with our physicians and their practices, and in our hospitals and outpatient services.”

Mary Jo Bondy, administrative program director of the M.S. in Health Science/Physician Assistant Porgram, shares Dr. Huffner’s enthusiasm. “We are so very grateful to the physicians and hospital leaders at Shore who have welcomed our PA students,” Bondy says. “The first group of students, who are now graduates studying for state licensure, greatly appreciated the opportunity to become embedded in the local community and to work with one physician practice at a time, which enabled them to really focus on their learning. I also was very glad to hear from some of the physician preceptors how much growth they observed in the students over the course of the rotations.”

According to Bondy, most of the students accepted into the AACC/UMB PA program have some work experience, very often in the field of health care. “We find that candidates with a bit of work history and life experience are most likely to succeed in the program, which is very demanding,” she says.

The demand for certified physician assistants continues to grow, especially in rural communities. PAs work in virtually every area of medicine and surgery in the full array of health care settings — hospitals, private and employed physician practices, outpatient services, and long-term care and rehabilitation facilities. PA duties include taking histories and conducting physical examinations, ordering and interpreting tests, diagnosing illnesses, developing and implementing treatment plans, and assisting in or even performing surgery.

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.

Easton Auxiliary Hosts Annual Membership Luncheon, Announces New Officers

The Auxiliary of Memorial Hospital at Easton recently announced its officers for 2017-2018 at their annual membership luncheon held at the Milestone in Eaton.

Pictured are (from left to right).  The Auxiliary supports programs and services at University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton and at University of Maryland Shore Regional Health offsite locations including the Cancer Center.  Funds are raised by the Auxiliary primarily through retail sales at Maggie’s Gift Shop, located at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton, at The Bazaar at 121 Federal Street.  For additional Information about volunteer opportunities with the Auxiliary, call 410-822-1000, ext. 5839.

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.

Local Neurosurgery Team Offers Presentation on Mission Trip to Jordan

“Neurosurgery and Hope – The Mission for Syrian Refugees” is the topic of a special, free presentation by local neurosurgeon Khalid Kurtom, MD, and his operating room team, set for Thursday, June 29 at 7 p.m. in the Todd Performing Arts Center at Chesapeake College.

Khalid Kurtom, MD, third from left, is shown with members of his surgical team (l. to r.) Robert Brault, Suzette Jones, Wendy Towers and Steve Lykudis (in gray), and two members of the Istishari Hospital medical staff.

Kurtom, a neurosurgeon with University of Maryland Community Medical Group – Neurosurgery in Easton, and his four team members will discuss their recent trip to Amman, Jordan to perform complex, minimally invasive brain and spine surgeries on Syrian refugees who had fled war-torn Syria to live in refugee camps in Jordan. Organized by Kurtom and the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), the mission was funded by SAMS, University of Maryland Medical System and many private donations. While at the Istishari Hospital in Amman, the team performed 22 life-changing surgeries on patients who were suffering from a range of debilitating conditions, including bullet wounds and other injuries related to the conflict in Syria, advanced and untreated spinal disease, and previous unsuccessful surgeries.

In addition to Kurtom, surgical nurses Wendy Towers and Suzette Jones, surgical technologist Robert Brault and surgical equipment specialist Steve Lykudis will be on hand to assist in the presentation and answer questions from those in attendance.

For more information or to RSVP for this event, contact Cindy Yost, 410-820-9117, ext. 4144 or cyost@umm.edu.

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.

Quality Health Foundation Awards $380K in Grants throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia

Quality Health Foundation (QHF) has announced this year’s grant awards totaling $380,000 in Maryland and Washington, D.C.that support local healthcare-related quality improvement efforts.

Of the 67 applications, 15 organizations received grants. “The Board received many diverse and deserving applications this year,” said Dr. Molly Burgoyne, QHF Board of Directors Chair. “It’s reassuring to know there are so many organizations with programs designed to improve the health of our most vulnerable populations. Ultimately, we chose a stellar group of programs covering a wide geographic area with diverse health concerns.  Dr. Catherine Smoot-Haselnus, Board chair of Quality Health Strategies, the parent company of QHF, added “The work these organizations do is outstanding and often go unnoticed.  We are proud to provide both funding and encouragement to the many volunteers and staff members who serve the community so well.”

The 2017-18 grantees are:
• Access Carroll
• Aspire Counseling
• Associated Black Charities
• Breast Care for Washington
• Channel Marker
• Community Ministries of Rockville
• Hearing and Speech Agency
• Help and Outreach Point of Entry
• La Clinica del Pueblo
• Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area
• Maryland Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped
• Miriam’s Kitchen
• Mission of Mercy
• Samaritan House
• University of Maryland Medical System Foundation-Breathmobile

For more information on the recipients and their grants, go to www.qualityhealthfoundation.org/

About Quality Health Foundation

Quality Health Foundation, the mission arm of Quality Health Strategies, is a national not-for-profit organization that provides grants to charitable organizations in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Since 2006, Quality Health Foundation has awarded grants totaling almost $4.5 million to provide support to underserved communities

For more information, visit www.qualityhealthfoundation.org/

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Man and Woman of the Year

I’d never met even 1/8 of the people filling the huge ballroom at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge last Saturday night for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Eastern Shore Man and Woman of the Year Grand Finale Celebration, but by the end of the evening, all 500 found a special place in my heart.  Having learned about the organization and being a donor to it since my own daughter was diagnosed in 2007 with a rare form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I started getting involved with the Eastern Shore MWOY a few years ago.  You just can’t say no to Jennifer Veil, the enthusiastic, engaging MWOY coordinator –“I’m trying to cure cancer; what are you doing?!” is her daily mantra.

Although a long-standing national initiative of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Eastern Shore Man and Woman of the Year was launched just 5 years ago with Veil at the helm.  Inspired by her young nephew’s battle with leukemia, Veil rallied family and friends – her nephew’s mother Katie Wilson, chief among them.  In the first year, the Eastern Shore MWOY had 8 candidates and raised $83,000.  This year, with 10 candidates, the campaign raised an incredible $457,480.

In the MWOY program, individuals are nominated to be candidates and then work for an intense period of 10 weeks to raise money through private donations, corporate sponsorships, securing auction items, and more.  The campaign culminates in a grand finale where all of the candidates and their teams gather to celebrate their efforts, the numbers are tallied, and the final total revealed.  The man and woman who raise the most money are named the Man of the Year and Woman of the Year respectively.

Monies donated go directly to support treatment for blood cancer patients and cutting-edge cancer research, including that of Dr. Carl June – the “rock star of blood cancer research” – who first introduced the use of modified HIV cells to kill cancer cells in advanced leukemia patients.  Many of our Eastern Shore neighbors who have fought blood cancer are directly familiar with LLS having received help with transportation costs to University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins, and other Baltimore area hospitals through the organization’s patient travel assistance program or with medical bills through their co-pay assistance programs.

In and of itself the money is amazing, but it’s the stories behind the money that move me to tears.  Standing at the back of the room that night, I listened to Kim Silpath from Galena as she talked about her son whose cancer has come back not once, not twice, but three times.  Silpath was effusive in her thanks to the crowd for their efforts that she knew would translate into better treatment and more hope for families like hers.  There was Wyatt, age 5, and Mia, age 3, this year’s Boy and Girl of the Year, dancing about with their parents.  Smiling and happy, who would know they are both in treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)?  Then there were the cheers for Melissa Coligan, mother of 3 and this year’s Woman of the Year, who in 2015 was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) and underwent a bone marrow transplant.  Now, there she was at center stage in front of all those people, having raised over $121,000 for LLS and blood cancer research.

So what do I say to all those people I didn’t know – the candidates, their teams, all the other guests in the room who bid on auction items and donated extra money on site, all the people behind the scenes, the mom who shared her deepest pain to thank the crowd for stretching to do as much as they could to raise as much as they could to fight what I often called during my daughter’s personal battle, “the Big C”?  What do I say to all those people knowing that what they did and what those before them did through Man and Woman of the Year to fuel the organization that fueled the research that I know helped save my own daughter and so many others? Nothing other than “I’m grateful and I love you all.”

If you would like to get involved with our campaign, please contact jennifer.veil@lls.org. The more the merrier! Next year’s gala will take place on June 9, 2018 in Cambridge.

Child Loss Support Group Partners with Talbot Hospice

Beginning June 21 the Child Loss Support Group will hold its monthly sessions at Talbot Hospice for anyone dealing with the loss of a child of any age. Ongoing sessions will be held the 3rd Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. at 586 Cynwood Drive. Summer dates are July 19, August 16 and September 20. The group sessions are free of charge and open to the public.

The Child Loss Support Group was founded in 1986 by Talbot Hospice volunteers Betts Guthrie, Millie Parrott, Rhonda Higginbottom and community members Rob and Lynn Sanchez following the loss of their 8-year-old son Rion. Higginbottom, who served as the group’s facilitator for more than 30 years, retired in January. “It seemed like a natural fit for Talbot Hospice to take on the Child Loss Support Group,” Sanchez said. “In fact, the group started at Talbot Hospice, and it has now come full circle going back there.”

The transition officially took place on June 3rd when the Child Loss Support Group held its annual Celebration of Life commemorating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. The ceremony is held each year at the Healing Garden, located at the entrance of The Easton Club.The garden was established in 1998 by Child Loss Support Group members as a memorial to their children and a place to remember, meditate and pray. Butterflies are released at the Celebration of Life as a symbol of hope and new life.

“The death of a child is a special kind of loss and leaves parents and families feeling confused, vulnerable and fragile,” said Talbot Hospice Bereavement Coordinator Becky DeMattia. “The support group provides a safe place for parents to share and heal, and will focus on the special needs of parents, the grief experienced, the secondary losses, the impact on families, marriages, siblings and how to create meaningful rituals to honor the child’s life. Rob, Lynn and Rhonda have lovingly cared for this group for many years, and we are honored to bring the child loss group to our program”

For more information on the Child Loss Support Group or any Talbot Hospice bereavement session, contact Becky DeMattia at 410-822-6681 or bdemattia@talbothospice.org. A complete list of grief support groups can be found at TalbotHospice.org/programs/bereavement.