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Nearly one hundred members of the community and staff celebrated the grand opening of Mount Desert Island Hospital’s new Colket Inpatient Care Center on Thursday, November 29. The event marked the latest phase of an overall modernization program, funded by a recently completed capital campaign.
 
Named for Ruth and Tristram Colket, who donated $1million to the campaign, the new Colket Inpatient Care Center provides spacious, modern facilities for MDI Hospital patients and visitors.
 
“Because of the generosity of Ruth and Tristram Colket, the Inpatient Care Center is a beautiful facility that will assist our staff in continuing to provide quality care today and in the years to come,” said Hospital President and CEO Art Blank in his remarks.
 
The new facility, which features private rooms for telemetry, critical care, and medical/surgical patients, as well as spacious rooms for patients undergoing short-term rehabilitation, is scheduled to receive its first patients in early January.
 
“The design of the Colket Inpatient Care Center will provide centralized nursing care, enabling our dedicated nursing staff to provide more efficient and personalized nursing care,” added Tom Mockus, R.N., Director of Medical and Rehab Services.
 
“High quality nursing care has always been the hallmark of our hospital and our new Inpatient Center will enhance and continue that tradition,” said Dr. Edward Gilmore, M.D. The Critical Care Unit of the new facility has been named in honor of Dr. Gilmore.
 
In his remarks, Dr. Gilmore paid respects to the late Patricia Raynes Jackson, a former nurse of his for whom the new nursing station was named.
 
“In 2003, a fund was established by family and friends of Patricia Raynes Jackson in her memory,” explained Dr. Gilmore.  “This fund helped to support this renovation project and will recognize her contribution to and love of the nursing profession.”
 
Board Chair Dean Read added words of appreciation for support from the business community. “We were very fortunate to have 36 members of our Business Community support the campaign, and I would like to take this opportunity to recognize them.” He added that, combined with strong support from hospital trustees, staff and the community, the campaign exceeded its original $2.5 million goal by $1.2 million.
 
“Many of you here tonight were instrumental in making the Special Gifts Campaign such a success,” said Blank. “With your support, we will be able to continue our tradition of award-winning care long into the future.”

The combination of symptoms known as “Gulf War Syndrome” affects nearly 200,000 veterans. Yet, despite a long, well-documented history of the illness, many physicians still think it’s all in the patients’ mind. But, while testifying before the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs recently, Dr. Meryl Nass explained that the illness is real, and requires better research.

A nationally renowned expert on bioterrorism, anthrax and vaccine injuries, Dr. Nass, who is also a physician with MDI Hospital, was asked to testify before the committee to help it investigate improved research and treatment of affected veterans.

Symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome include muscle and joint pain, memory loss, intestinal and heart problems, fatigue, diarrhea, and rashes. “Gulf War soldiers encountered an unprecedented mix of noxious substances, which are known to cause neurological, immunologic and other adverse effects,” explained Dr. Nass in her testimony. 

“A very reasonable hypothesis is that those who became ill reached a tipping point, where their body’s ability to safely process the toxic materials they took in was exceeded,” she remarked. However, she pointed out that effective treatment is still largely unavailable to veterans.

Part of the problem, she explained, is that doctors aren’t universally convinced that the syndrome exists. Dr. Nass asserted that many physicians have been convinced by the media that Gulf War Illnesses either do not exist, are psychosomatic or a result of stress. “Surprisingly, this includes physicians at VA facilities who care for affected patients,” Dr. Nass added.

Dr. Nass runs a clinic at the Hospital’s Cooper Gilmore Health Center to treat patients suffering from Gulf War and other multi-symptom syndromes. “Many patients with Gulf War Syndrome meet criteria for other medically unexplained conditions, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and multiple chemical sensitivity,” explained Dr. Nass. 

“These conditions are poorly understood, but have a very similar pattern of symptoms and findings as Gulf War Syndrome.” The lack of understanding, she added, is because research to-date has focused on psychiatric causes, and has failed to investigate treatment.

Insurance coverage for treatment is another roadblock for those suffering from Gulf War Syndrome. “A few doctors have experimented with various detoxification strategies, and some alternative doctors use these treatments frequently, but they are not proven to be effective and are not eligible for third party reimbursement,” Dr. Nass remarked.

In addition, patients with multiple symptoms require a lot of physician attention. “I am fortunate that as a salaried physician, my employer, Mount Desert Island Hospital, allows me to conduct a specialty clinic as a community service, even though I could bring in considerably more fees treating patients with standard illnesses during brief visits,” she pointed out.

Her approach, like the syndromes she treats, is multifaceted. “I address treatment for each symptom individually,” she explains. “I also try to optimize patients’ overall metabolic function with diet, vitamins and supplements. Antioxidants may also be helpful.”

But Dr. Nass admits that effective treatment for Gulf War and other multiple-symptom syndromes is not likely to be widely available in the foreseeable future. “Without adequately funded research and training, physicians who are knowledgeable about treating these patients will continue to be few and far between.”

For an appointment with Dr. Nass, call MDI Hospital at 288-5081.

Doug Dubois (center), an Emergency Medical Technician with the Bar Harbor Fire Department receives this year’s EMT of the Year Award during MDI Hospital’s September 11th EMS Recognition Banquet at the Bar Harbor Club. The annual award recognizes the outstanding performance of an EMS professional. Shown with Mr. DuBois are (from left) MDI Hospital emergency department physician assistant Gerry Keenan, PA-C, emergency room nurse Vicky Eaton, RN, Regional EMS Coordinator Rick Petrie, and Emergency Department Medical Director Julius Krevans Jr., MD.

Members of the local EMS community, and those who wish to honor them, are invited to MDI Hospital’s EMS Recognition Banquet, Tuesday, September 11 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm at the Bar Harbor Club on West Street in Bar Harbor.

The Hospital holds the banquet each year on or near September 11th  to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the wake of that tragic day, to honor those who put forth a heroic effort in the rescue and recovery missions, and to recognize the outstanding service of local EMS personnel to our community. 

The evening will feature the annual EMT of the Year Award, as well as presentations by Hospital officials and colleagues within the EMS community.

This year’s featured speaker will be Scott “Dusty” Warner of the National Park Service. Mr. Warner will present a firsthand account and photo essay of his experiences fighting wildfires in the western United States.

Please RSVP by friday, September 7th to Brenda Hall, 288-5082, extension 198.

Mount Desert Island Hospital celebrated awards, milestones and a positive bottom line at its annual meeting, held August 6th at the Bar Harbor Club.

The Hospital recently received the 2007 Outstanding Rural Health Organization Award from the National Rural Health Association. “This award is a tribute to the dedicated and talented professionals that make up our team,” said Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer, Art Blank.

The Hospital also won a fifth consecutive Overall Best Performer for Patient Satisfaction award from the research firm Avatar International, Inc. The award is given to just twelve hospitals nationwide for high patient satisfaction survey scores throughout the organization. “This award underscores the patient-centered approach to care, practiced throughout our organization,” said Mr. Blank.

In May, MDI Hospital received the Governor’s Council on Physical Activity Contest for Communities Award for its Spring and Fall Walking Programs. “This award reaffirms the commitment our Hospital makes to helping members of our community adopt healthy, active lifestyles,” added Mr. Blank.

Wendy Fielding, the Vice President of Finance and Support Services, pointed to a 12 percent increase in doctor visits during fiscal year 2007 as a major reason for the Hospital $1.1 million overall gain. “A large piece of the increase was at the MDI Behavioral Health Center,” explained Ms. Fielding, adding that 4,000 more patients were treated in fiscal year 2007 than in the previous year, an increase of 56 percent.

“Visits to our primary care practices grew by seven percent,” added Ms. Fielding. “Even the emergency department saw 5% growth in the number of services.”

Adding to the Hospital’s healthier bottom line was an increase, by over $1 million, in the operating margin. Ms. Fielding also credited the generosity of donors for the Hospital’s improved financial standing.

Growth in Hospital facilities was also cause for celebration. “Two weeks ago we had the pleasure to cut the ribbon on our new Gilmore Critical Care Unit,” remarked Mr. Blank. The new facility is part of the first phase in the development of the Colket Inpatient Care Center, due for completion in 2008.

The evening culminated with the presentation of the Volunteer of the Year Award to Development Committee Chair Harriet Whittington, and the Employee of the Year Award to co-winners Roberta Cummings and Kay Moore.

With the addition of Dr. Michael Heniser, D.O. Mount Desert Island Hospital has bolstered its staff of family practitioners and obstetrics providers.

Dr. Heniser will begin holding office hours, Monday through Friday, in September at the Community Health Center in Southwest Harbor.

A 2004 graduate of Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Heniser completed his internship and residency at the Fort Wayne Medical Education Program in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 2007.

Dr. Heniser is certified in Advanced Trauma Life Support, Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, Neonatal Advanced Life Support, and Advanced Obstetrical Life Support. 

Dr. Heniser brings to his new practice professional experience in family practice, emergency medicine, surgery, osteopathic manipulation and obstetrics.  

“I’m a full-spectrum family practitioner with an interest in women’s health and acute care,” explains Dr. Heniser. “My experience and training have prepared me to work in communities like this. I like to be involved in every aspect of my patients’ care.”

As one of three OB providers on MDI Hospital’s staff, including Dr. Mary Dudzik, and Certified Nurse Midwife Dianne Lytle, Dr. Heniser will provide prenatal care and deliver babies as well.

Dr. Heniser’s wife Becky teaches third grade at Mount Desert Elementary School. They live on Mount Desert Island and enjoy outdoor recreation. “I look forward to snowmobiling, learning to sail and enjoying all of what Maine has to offer,” remarked Dr. Heniser.

For an appointment with Dr. Heniser, call the Community Health Center at 244-5630.

MDI Hospital’s Spring and Fall Walking Programs has received the Maine Governor’s Council on Physical Activity “Contest for Communities” award. The award, presented Wednesday, May 30, at the State House Hall of Flags, recognizes innovative programs that promote health and fitness in Maine.
 
MDI Hospital also received recognition by the Council in 2005 for the YES, or Your Exercise Solution, a mostly seated, low-impact exercise program for seniors. The Hospital’s Wellness Department presents both programs.
 
The Spring and Fall Walking programs take place on the scenic carriage roads of Acadia National Park. They provide an opportunity for both fitness and social interaction. The guided walks are available for those who walk at a leisurely pace and those who prefer a faster pace.
 
Both Spring and Fall programs include walks that gradually increase in distance and difficulty. All fitness levels are welcome and participants’ fitness is monitored throughout the program to track progress. Walks are lead by CPR certified guides.
 
“We’re honored to receive this award,” said Kathy Mulligan, MDI Hospital’s Wellness Assistant. “The Governor’s Award recognizes MDI Hospital’s commitment to finding innovative ways to improve the health of our community. Our Walking Program provides a unique way for people to get fit, develop new and lasting friendships, and enjoy the spectacular scenery that our island has to offer.”
 
The free Spring Walks take place Mondays and Fridays, ending on June 29 with a final five-mile walk beginning at Bubble Pond. For more information on MDI Hospital’s Spring and Fall Walking Program, call 288-5082, extension 624. 

Also honored at the event was Pemetic Elementary’s Walking Club, organized by nurse practitioner Pilar Burmeister, who provides health care services at the school under a contractual arrangement between the Hospital and school union 98.

Mount Desert Island Hospital; Critical Access to Quality Care Since 1897
10 Wayman Lane • Bar Harbor, ME • 04609 • (207) 288-5081

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