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

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

Spy Intern Projects: Lighting the Way Against Substance Abuse

For weeks, the purple lights in Easton have gained notable attention and for good reason. Standing up against substance abuse is something that everyone can get behind.

On Monday, Talbot Goes Purple had their lighting ceremony in front of the Easton courthouse. Sheriff Joe Gamble and Lucie Hughes, of Tidewater Rotary, explained why substance abuse awareness and prevention is important to learn. 

The event brought together the community in a sea of purple shirts as the Talbot Goes Purple youth group officially flipped the switch. John Hines, the supervisor of electrical engineering, helped oversee the young ambassadors as the finishing touches on his masterpiece were placed. Easton Utilities wrapped a total of 152 light poles in downtown.

Chris Herren spoke the following night at the Easton High School auditorium. ‘The Herren Project’, a mission for taking the first steps to sobriety and educational awareness, was founded by Herren in 2011. Since then, Herren has dedicated his life to helping others understand the meaning of addiction and how they can help too. “If I can help just a single person in this room, that’ll make it all worth it,” he said. Herren shared his own life struggles with drugs and hopes that the youth will listen to his message. The best prevention is awareness

For more information about the Herren Project or Talbot Goes Purple click the links Herren Project or Talbot Goes Purple

Tori Pack is the Talbot Spy intern for 2017-18. A graduate of Easton High School, Tori has spent the last year as a mentor in the non-profit organization, Talbot Mentors. Tori’s interest in writing and film have ushered in a young voice for the Talbot Spy that still has much to say.

To Counter Opioid Epidemic Leads State Panel to Revisit “Recovery Schools

A fire led to the eventual end of Phoenix — a groundbreaking Maryland public school program for children with addiction that closed in 2012 — but the state could see institutions like it rise again from the ashes.

Recent spikes in the Maryland heroin and opioid epidemic have triggered calls for substantial changes in education systems statewide, and a state work group is weighing the return of recovery schools after a Sept. 7 meeting.

For Kevin Burnes, 47, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, attending a recovery school separate from his hometown high school was life-changing.

Burnes said in a public letter that he began to experiment with drugs and alcohol at age 10, and his addiction to alcohol quickly escalated to PCP. He found himself homeless and was admitted into a psychiatric institute, he wrote.

However, after finding Phoenix, a recovery program for secondary school students with addiction, and attending for two years, his whole life turned around.

“What I can tell you is that this program undeniably saved my life,” said Burnes, now a full-time musician living in Frederick, Maryland. “The largest part of Phoenix’s success was due to the fact that everyone was involved. It was a community effort. It’s a community issue.”

State legislation that passed this year — known as the Start Talking Maryland Act — came into effect in July and directed schools in Maryland to take precautionary measures against opioid exposure and abuse. It also established the work group.

The panel is charged with evaluating and developing behavioral and substance abuse disorder programs and reporting their findings to the General Assembly, according to a state fiscal analysis.

The legislation additionally requires:

–To store naloxone in schools and train school personnel in the drug’s administration
–Public schools to expand existing programs to include drug addiction and prevention education
–Local boards of education or health departments to hire a county or regional community action official to develop these programs
–The governor to include $3 million in the fiscal 2019 budget for the Maryland State Department of Education for these policies
–Schools of higher education that receive state funding to establish these similar policies and instruction in substance use disorders in certain institutions

The Phoenix program and similar secondary schools that followed it were created specifically for students in recovery from substance use disorder or dependency, according to the Association of Recovery Schools.

“What we’ve known anecdotally for a while, we are starting to finally see with data. These high schools have positive effects on preventing and reducing adolescent alcohol and drug use as well as supporting the abstinence of kids post-treatment and seeing a positive impact on academics,” Dr. Andrew Finch, Vanderbilt University researcher and co-founder of the Association of Recovery Schools told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service.

The first of its kind in the United States, the original Phoenix I school opened in 1979 as an alternative program in Montgomery County, Maryland, that provided both an education and a positive peer culture centered on recovery. Phoenix II followed, also in Montgomery County.

Since then, about 40 schools have opened nationwide, according to Finch, but none remain in the state of Maryland.

“It was amazing the support that the students gave to each other. We would have weekly community meetings where they would praise each other for their commitment, but if they weren’t working toward sobriety these kids were the first ones to rat on each other,” Izzy Kovach, a former Phoenix teacher told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service. “It was a real sense of family…”

Critical to the Phoenix schools were outdoor challenges, said Mike Bucci, a former Phoenix teacher for 20 years, in a report. Along with regular days of classes and support groups, students would go from climbing 930-foot sandstone cliffs at Seneca Rocks, West Virginia, to biking the 184-mile length of the C&O Canal to sailing the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

“These trips helped form lifelong bonds along with an ‘I can’ attitude,” Bucci wrote.

The Phoenix schools at their largest enrolled about 50 students each at a time, according to a state report.

After years of successful work, the Phoenix schools began to lose their spark. Tragedy struck in 2001 when the Phoenix II school burned down.

However, instead of remaining a standalone recovery school, Phoenix II continued on as an in-school program, and eventually Phoenix I followed, according to Kovach.

“The program lost its validity with this model (with students back in traditional high schools). The students knew it, the parents knew it, and eventually key staff left because they also saw it was ineffective,” Kovach said.

Eventually, enrollment dwindled down to only three students and the Phoenix program closed its doors in 2012, according to a report compiled by a community advocacy group Phoenix Rising: Maryland Recovery School Advocates.

Five years later, with the rise in drug use throughout the state, talk of bringing back recovery school programs have reemerged.

“Whenever you have a program where there aren’t many of them, like recovery schools, people just don’t don’t think of them as an option. But, it is slowly changing and it’s even starting to be picked up by the media,” Finch said.

The epidemic is gathering attention and resources in Maryland — Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency from March 1 to April 30 and committed an additional $50 million over five years to help with prevention.

From 2014 to 2017, the number of opioid-related deaths reported in Maryland between Jan. 1 and March 31 more than doubled — taking the death toll up to 473, according to state health department data. Since then, the work group has begun to look at these numbers and is beginning to discuss various models for these new recovery programs.

Lisa Lowe, director of the Heroin Action Coalition advocacy group, said she fears that the work group will not be able to understand how to move in the right direction without having students, parents or teachers with lived experience contributing.

“Instead of just guessing what’s going to work, why not ask the people who are living it?” Lowe said.

The work group has considered either creating a regional recovery school or bringing the recovery programs into already existing schools — both models in which Burnes, Lowe and many others are not in favor.

Lowe said students in recovery need to get away from “people, places and things,” a common phrase that is used in 12-step programs. With a regional school or an in-school program, Lowe said, it is more difficult to maintain after-school programming and local peer support groups, and it will bring recovering students back to where their problems started.

The start-up costs for Year 1 for one recovery school are estimated to range from approximately $2,258,891 to $2,473,891 depending on whether the school is operated only for Montgomery County students or as a regional recovery school, and again should enroll about 50 students age 14 through 21 years (or Grades 8 through 12), according to a state report.

“The overdoses are not occurring as much at the high school level, but that’s where they start. They start in high school and they start in middle school. We have to get the program in place so that we don’t have the deaths later on,” said Kovach, the former Phoenix teacher.

Rachelle Gardner, the co-founder of Hope Academy, a recovery charter high school in Indiana, said that these recovery schools are needed all over the country to help battle this substance abuse crisis.

“Addiction is addiction, when you walk into a 12-step meeting you’re in a room of addicts. You have to treat the addict in itself and we have to meet everybody where they’re at regardless of their drug of choice,” Gardner said.

The workgroup is continuing to develop their ideas for recovery schools and are expected to present their findings to the State Board of Education on Oct. 24.

By Georgia Slater

Spy Minute: Meet the Purple Ambassadors

Truth be told, it is very hard to remember a more successful early rollout of a public education campaign then Talbot County’s recent kickoff for Talbot goes Purple. Over the last few weeks, there has been a cascading awareness throughout the County of the Purple project through the use of bumper stickers, T-shirts, and a regular stream of press releases and community outreach events. All in the name of creating much greater awareness of local substance abuse.

 

Ambassadors Savanah Turner, John Duty, Colin Elliott and Corey Wazniak.

This initiative of the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office and the Tidewater Rotary, in partnership with Talbot County Public Schools and the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, seems to many as an extremely promising first start in a long-term effort to engage young people to understand the dangerous drug epidemic that now surrounds them.

Given that the primary audience for Talbot Goes Purple is young people, the Spy spent a few moments with four leaders of the Easton High School this week to understand first hand how they became involved and what the main message will be to their peers over the next year.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Talbot Goes Purple please go here

Lifting Hearts and Lives in Tilghman by Amy Steward

Since For All Seasons has been providing treatment for people with mental health and substance use disorders on Tilghman Island, hearts are being lifted there. Michael Flaherty, PhD, who lives part-time on Tilghman Island and attends the Tilghman Island United Methodist Church wanted to help with some of the issues he was seeing as a resident. Flaherty, a psychologist who practices in Pennsylvania and has national expertise in addiction and mental health issues, thought it would be nice if the church could provide healthy mind, body and spirit outreach in the Tilghman community.

Pictured left to right are Ed Langrell, Marcia Gilliam, Ricky Vitanovec, Jane Copple, Katie Cox, Beth Anne Langrell, and Zack Schlag who performed a Heart and Music fundraising concert on Tilghman Island

Pastor Everett Landon of Tilghman Island UMC agreed and the two decided to approach For All Seasons about getting services there. Flaherty recalls, “We decided to do something about the problem and For All Seasons and Beth Anne Langrell, their Executive Director, came right on board. We wanted to bring services to the Island so people didn’t have to travel ‘up the road’ to be seen. Many just couldn’t.”

Within months, For All Seasons counselors opened shop in the pastor’s office at the church and began seeing clients. To date, more than 20 have used the services of For All Seasons and a Narcotics Anonymous meeting that was launched at the church. Flaherty adds, “We are trying to make inroads through education, counseling and peer support. We did a needs assessment of the community and have identified a need for wellness programs, healthy cooking classes, and exercise programs. In June, the church hosted an Overdose Prevention Night with its partners Talbot County Health Department, For All Seasons, Corsica River, the Talbot County Sheriff’s Department. The goal of the event, which drew over 50 people, was to help residents identify and prevent overdoses. Forty participants received doses of Narcan.

Efforts are now underway to provide a peer support network in the community, as the third part of the program, which has been focused on counseling and community education.
According to Beth Anne Langrell, Executive Director of For All Seasons, “There was an obvious need for services on Tilghman Island. This has been a healthy partnership between the Tilghman community and our agency. We hope to see it grow even more.”

TUMC and Tilghman Island residents have supported the efforts there, donating $25,000 to the church to help start programs and pay for the services for those who do not have insurance or a means to pay. For All Seasons’ recent Heart & Music fundraiser also raised funds. To support For All Seasons work on Tilghman Island, contact Executive Director Beth Anne Langrell at 410-822-1018.

In the future, “Healthy Tilghman” will be partnering with the school and with Project Purple, a substance abuse awareness program to engage our community and youth to stand up against substance abuse.

For All Seasons offers individual and group therapy, general, child and adolescent therapy, marriage and couples counseling, grief counseling, school-based mental health therapy, urgent care services, Rape Crisis Response, Rape Crisis Counseling and Support, 24-Hour English and Spanish Hotlines, and education and outreach programming.

For further information about For All Seasons, call 410-822-1018. For the 24-Hour Crisis Hotline, call Toll-Free: 800-310-7273.

Chesapeake and Dorchester YMCA Organizations Merge

Over the past year, volunteer leaders from the Dorchester County YMCA in Cambridge, Maryland and the YMCA of the Chesapeake have been exploring the benefits that could come from working more closely together. Those efforts led to both volunteer Board of Directors voting to merge the two charities together. “Bringing these two YMCAs together expands our ability to invest more into the communities we serve, strengthen programs and services, and maximize efficiencies to make a bigger impact in the lives of children, families and adults across the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia.” said YMCA of the Chesapeake Board member and Committee Chair Mark Welsh. The merger is slated to be completed in early September.

When the two charities officially merge together, the YMCA of the Chesapeake will be the largest human service organization on the Eastern Shore serving over 35,000 members. “With ten YMCA branches across the Shore, and another two dozen points of contact, the YMCA has the depth and breadth to tackle key community issues like the achievement gap, youth obesity and adult onset diabetes.” stated Mary Ann Moore, Past Board Chair for the Dorchester Y and Merger Committee Chair. “Our mission is focused around doing the most good for the most people and bringing these Ys together helps us further our cause.” The Dorchester County YMCA will keep its name and continue to be led by a local Board of volunteers.

Established on the Shore in 1857, the Y provides financial assistance for membership, programs and services turning no one away due to the inability to pay. In 2017, the YMCA will provide over $1,500,000 to over 15,000 people to ensure the Y is a place where everyone is welcome. Dorchester Y Board Chair Lee Grier echoed his excitement for the merger, “The Dorchester Y and the YMCA of the Chesapeake have the same cause and the same culture. We’re both working to strengthen the communities we call home. As we explored the opportunity to bring the two Ys together, it was evident that we could make a bigger impact working together than we ever could working alone.”

YMCA members will have access to facilities, programs and services across the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia as a part of the merger at no additional cost. The YMCA will employ over 850 staff and is currently one of the largest employers of first time work force employees. “Bringing these Y’s together gives us the ability to recruit, grow and develop and retain local talent who have a passion for serving others through the work of the Y and want to live and work on the Shore.” stated YMCA of the Chesapeake CEO Robbie Gill. “This merger is a big win for communities across the Shore and we’re excited to work together to make a positive difference in the lives of those we’re blessed enough to serve.”

UM Shore Regional Health Welcomes New Board Members

Charles D. “Chip” Macleod

Three local community leaders have recently been appointed to the Board of Directors of University of Maryland Shore Regional Health. Charles “Chip” McLeod and Glenn L. Wilson, both of Chestertown, and Stephen Satchell, of Easton, officially joined the Board in July.

Charles D. “Chip” MacLeod founded MacLeod Law Group, LLC in 2017 with offices in Chestertown and Denton, and a practice representing local governments and related agencies. He is head of the firm’s Local Government Practice Group. He also concentrates in real estate, business and contract law, and serves as general counsel to various non-profit organizations and trade associations. As a registered lobbyist, he advocates for clients before the Maryland General Assembly and Executive branch agencies.

Prior to founding MacLeod Law Group, LLC, MacLeod was a member of Funk & Bolton, P.A. for more than 18 years. He was head of the firm’s Local Government and Real Estate Practice Groups while serving as special counsel to various non-profit organizations and public entities on a broad spectrum of legal matters.

MacLeod also previously served as county administrator of Kent County, Maryland; as a member and chairman of the Board of the former Chester River Health System, Inc.; as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Local Government Insurance Trust (LGIT) and chair of LGIT’s Health Benefits Committee; and associate director of the Maryland Association of Counties. He is a graduate of Washington College and University of Maryland School of Law.

Glenn L. Wilson

Glenn L. Wilson was named president and CEO of Chesapeake Bank & Trust in 2015 after five years as president and CEO of a financial institution in western Pennsylvania that included a $1 billion community bank and $1.8 billion trust company. His career in also banking includes the leadership of Citizens National of Laurel, a top performing bank under Mercantile Bankshares that was later acquired by PNC. He subsequently served PNC as senior credit officer overseeing credit operations in most of Maryland. Other career highlights include serving as past national chairman of the Risk Management Association and as vice-chair of the Pennsylvania Bankers Association and a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Community Institutions Advisory Council.

Wilson’s community involvement has included serving as chair of a local United Way Board in Pennsylvania and as board member for a host of several civic, economic development, and educational organizations. He presently serves as Board chair for the United Way of Kent County and as Board member for Sultana Educational Foundation.

Stephen Satchell is senior vice president and financial advisor for the SRVP Group of Baird Private Wealth Management in Easton. A graduate of Easton High School and Hampden Sydney College, he began his career in finance at Legg Mason in Baltimore in 1992, returning to Easton four years later to focus on wealth management for private clients. He is Series 4,7,63 and 65 registered and is licensed in life, health and long-term care insurance. He presently serves on the St. Johns Foundation Board of Directors and Dave Haslup/Lou Gehrig ASF. His previous Board memberships include the United Fund of Talbot County, Pickering Creek Audubon Center and Talbot Country Club.

Stephen Satchell

Speaking on behalf of the UM SRH Board, John Dillon, chairman, stated: “We are very pleased to have Chip MacLeod, Glenn Wilson and Steve Satchell join us in ensuring that University of Maryland Shore Regional Health will successfully navigate the changing landscape of health care. Their strong personal commitment to the communities we serve, as well as their outstanding professional expertise and accomplishments, make them valuable assets to our efforts going forward.”

In addition to Robert A. Chrencik, CEO, University of Maryland Medical System, and Kenneth Kozel, president and CEO, UM Shore Regional Health, current UM SRH Board members are: from Caroline County, Wayne Howard and Keith McMahan;from Dorchester County, Marlene Feldman, Michael D. Joyce, MD, Richard Loeffler and David Milligan; from Kent County, Myra Butler, Charles B. MacLeod, Charles B. Nolland Glenn L. Wilson; from Queen Anne’s County, Joseph J. Ciotola, MD and Kathleen Deoudes; and from Talbot County, John W. Ashworth,Charles Capute, Art Cecil, John Dillon, Wayne L. Gardner, Sr., Geoffrey F. Oxnam, Stephen Satchell and Thomas Stauch, MD.

“Our board members live and work in our communities. I believe their diverse knowledge and perspectives position us well to achieve our vision of being the region’s leader in patient centered care,” says Kozel.

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 2,300 employees, medical staff, board members and volunteers work with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.

Debunking the Myths About Foster Parenting in Talbot County

Pictured back row are Jayden Carter and her foster and adoptive parent Glenda Dawson. Seated front row are her other adopted children, left to right, Jeremiah and Jayla Carter.

Talbot County does not have enough foster parent resource homes to accommodate the number of children in need of emergency placement due to unexpected family circumstances. Often, people think there are too many roadblocks to becoming a foster parent and don’t pursue the training and screening necessary to be licensed. Some of the myths surrounding becoming a foster parent are that you need to be married or be a two-parent family; you need to own your own home; you need to have a high income; and you need to have separate bedrooms in your home.

Brandon and Susan Angell with their son Nicholas Angell, along with Paris Quillet, Special Projects Coordinator with the Talbot County Department of Social Services.

According to Paris Quillet, Special Projects Coordinator with the Talbot County Department of Social Services, “Many of these myths keep people from coming to our information sessions to learn more about becoming a foster or adoptive parent. We have foster parents of all races and ethnicities, all religious beliefs, and all sexual orientations. They live in million dollar homes and they live in subsidized housing.”

Glenda Dawson of Easton has been a foster parent for 12 years with the Talbot County Department of Social Services. After raising her own family of four children as a single parent, working two jobs to pay her rent, she discovered Habitat for Humanity and was able to finally purchase her own home. Dawson, who had more love to give, was then licensed as a foster mother to care for her two great nieces and one great nephew. Eventually, through a kinship adoption, she was able to adopt all three children. She continues to provide respite and foster care for the children of Talbot County.

She recalls, “I did this for the love of family and the importance of keeping these children all together as a family.”

She adds, “You just go step by step. If it’s something you really want to do, you go for it. I am proud of what I have accomplished with these children in providing them with a safe and stable home.”

According to Dawson, the support of her extended family and the Department of Social Services has enabled her to manage her second family while continuing to work. Family members help with respite care when she needs a break and the Department helps provide what Dawson needs for the children when things come up. They are also a resource to her for advice and encouragement.

On July 25, 2017 from 5:30 to 7 p.m., the Talbot County Department of Social Services will be hosting an open house for anyone interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent at its location at 301 Bay Street Unit #5 Easton MD 21601. For further information, call the Talbot County Department of Social Services at 410-820-7371.

 

Mid-Shore Health: The YMCA’s Winning War against Diabetes

There are a few things that the local health community knows about type 2 diabetes. The first is that it is an epidemic, with close to 28 million Americans already diagnosed facing a lifetime of a disproportionately higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, and a variety of other conditions that often lead to chronic disabilities and death.

The second is that close to 100 million Americans are assumed to be prediabetic. That’s right, about 100 million folks are walking around who could very quickly transition to a condition is experts say is the 7th leading cause of death.

The third is that those whose blood tests indicate a prediabetic condition can dramatically reduce the odds of developing full-blown diabetes by shedding 7% of their weight and committing to some form of exercise for at least 150 minutes a week.

That third fact is what the YMCA of the Chesapeake is now focused on.

Working with adults who are prediabetic, the Y has created year-long classes and support groups throughout the Mid-Shore to slowly and methodically educate their members that their pre-diabetic condition can be controlled or even eliminated with simple, common sense eating and light exercise.

Under the direction of Bridget Wheatley, the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program Director, these outreach efforts are now starting to show some stunning results in the first two years of operations. The three formal classes are running at capacity, and more and more participants are forming informal support groups to maintain personal goals.

The Spy caught up with Bridget and several members of the Y’s support group in Denton a week ago to talk about their experience and the extraordinary sense of well-being that has come with modest changes in lifestyle.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about the YMCA of the Chesapeake and its Diabetes prevention programs please go here