DECH Welcomes the First Baby of 2021 on New Year’s Day

January 2021 Machias – DECH welcomes its first baby of 2021!  Amber Norton gave birth to Neil Raymond Horn on January 1, 2021 at 7:20pm.  Neil, who weighed in at 8 pounds, 10 ounces, is the wonderful addition to the family of Amber Norton and Calvin Horn and his two “big” sisters Audree and Brielle.

Amber Norton and Calvin Horn of Columbia, pictured with their son Neil Raymond Horn, were presented with a New Year’s Baby basket filled with gifts from DECH and area businesses. Amber and Calvin were happy to be presented with the basket that overflowed with gifts from Down East Community Hospital and area businesses.

Mom and baby were cared for throughout the pregnancy by Christian Inegbenijie, MD and Nurse Midwife, Bjarni Thomas. Congratulations from the OB staff and everyone at DECH on the birth of your son!

Thank you to all who helped us welcome Neil Raymond Horn to our Community: Archibald’s, Bangor Savings Bank, Berry Vines, Bluebird Restaurant, Hammond Lumber, Hannaford’s, Kay Richmond, Machias River General Store, Machias Savings Bank, Tom’s Mini Mart, True Value, Viking Lumber, Dead River Company, Pat’s Pizza.

DECH Vaccinates 73 at Its First COVID-19 Clinic for Staff

December 2020 Machias – On Monday, December 21, Down East Community received its first shipment of 200 Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for staff and held its first clinic on Wednesday, December 23 where 73 staff were vaccinated.  This group will be ready for its second dose of the vaccine on January 20, 2021.

The DECH Pharmacist and staff, the Quality Department, and Infection Preventionist did a fantastic job obtaining the vaccines, coordinating the clinics, and vaccinating staff.  Everything went smoothly, and we are ready for the staff clinics scheduled for the week of the 28th and the week of January 4.

Vice President of Quality, Monique Mills, BSN, RN, CIC, on the first clinic, “This was a special day for DECH and our community.  It feels like the start of hope and light in this dark pandemic. It was so amazing to see the excitement in the healthcare worker’s eyes as they received their first dose. I’m so thankful to everyone for all their hard work on clinic and to all the staff for all they have done since the pandemic began.”

CEO, Steve Lail, “As with the rest of the country, we do not yet know when the vaccine will be available to the general public, but we are optimistic that things will move as quickly as possible and are looking forward to that day.  Beginning the vaccination process before 2021 is a phenomenal feat and we are so thankful.  However, the infection rates in Maine and across the nation continue to rise.  We implore everyone to continue to wear their mask, sanitize their hands, and keep their distance.  We are almost there, let’s make it to the finish line.”

A Fond Farewell and a Warm Welcome

November 2020 Machias – DECH bids a fond farewell to Urologist, Dr. Dhanvant Rathod, for 16 years of dedicated service.  And, gives a warm welcome to Dr. Mark Hirschhorn who will begin practicing at DECH in January.

Dr. Dhanvant Rathod has traveled the roads between Machias and New York for 16 years for the Urology practice at Down East Community Hospital (DECH).  We appreciate his resolute determination to maintain urologic services in Washington County and his commitment to the community and DECH.  There would have been many who would have had to travel long distances for urologic services if Dr. Rathod’s expertise was not available in Washington County.  “He has been a kind and gentle presence in the DECH family; He will be greatly missed.  We wish him many years of happiness and good health.” Steve Lail, CEO.

While Dr. Rathod will be missed, we are pleased to announce that urologic services will remain in Washington County.  We would like you to join us in giving a warm welcome to Dr. Mark Hirschhorn who will begin practicing at DECH on January 5, 2021.  Dr. Hirschhorn comes to us from SMHC Urology and York County Urology, LLC, in Biddeford, where he has practiced for the last 22 years.  Dr. Hirschhorn received his Doctor of Medicine (MD) at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed his residency at Lahey Clinic Medical Center in Burlington, MA.

Dr. Hirschhorn provides urologic care to men and women.  Some of his specialties include: Voiding Dysfunction, Hypogonadism – Low Testosterone; Erectile Dysfunction; Stone Disease; Cancers of the kidney, prostate and bladder.   Some of the many services he provides include: Minimally Invasive Surgery for Enlarged Prostate (Urolift, REZUM), Greenlight Laser Vaporization of Prostate; Laparoscopic Kidney Surgery; Bioidentical Hormone Replacement; Penile Injection Therapy and Inflatable Penile Prosthesis Implantation for Erectile Dysfunction; Minimally Invasive LASER stone surgery; BOTOX Treatment for overactive Bladder; No Scalpel Vasectomy.

Dr. Hirschhorn’s practice will be located at 229 Main Street in Machias.  An appointment can be made with him through a referral or by calling his office directly at (207) 255-5600.

Down East Community Hospital Acquires Calais Regional Hospital

October 2020 Machias – Calais Regional Hospital will soon become Calais Community Hospital; a division of Down East Community Hospital.  After many months of meetings, the DECH leadership and Board was convinced that, if we were to live our mission, we needed to do our part to ensure that Calais has a hospital for the long term.  We are certain that the people of Calais and the surrounding towns want that, and we want that too.

The hospital’s new name will be Calais Community Hospital.  The new name signals a new beginning and fits the DECH brand.  Many may be concerned about our intentions for the Calais Hospital; we want to address those concerns.  We want to maintain a fully functioning hospital in Calais.  Our leadership team, that has facilitated years of positive growth at DECH, will oversee both hospitals.  They will establish financial integrity by improving profits while reducing overall expenses, and they will lessen the administrative burden.  They will bring all the skills and tools they have used to strengthen DECH and use them to rebuild and strengthen sustainable health care services for the people of Calais and neighboring towns.

Our organization decided to take on and embrace this endeavor because we strongly believe that having a thriving, financially stable hospital in Calais is crucial if the health care needs of all those in Washington County are to be met. We did not make this decision lightly.  There were many months of planning and vetting.  We moved ahead because it became clear we should, not only because we are confident in the abilities of our team, but also because we could not sit idly by and do nothing.

Our Pledge to You – We Will Live Our Mission

Our mission is to improve the health of the people in the Sunrise County by being as passionate, determined and resilient as those we service by balancing exceptional services, financial integrity, current technology, staff satisfaction and collaborative community involvement.

Dr. Holzen Retires but Leaves the Community in Capable Hands

September 2020 Machias – It doesn’t seem possible that it has been 8 years since Dr. Holzen hung up his shingle here in Machias to provide ENT services to the people of Washington County.  He came to us as a traveler and, as those who love this area and the people in it do, ended up signing on as an employed provider of Down East Community Hospital.  “He fit in nicely and comfortably with staff and the community.  Not only did he provide great care for his patients, he also provided entertainment to the community playing rhythm guitar in the very talented Timber Creek Band.  We wish him a long, healthy retirement in his beautiful home state of Tennessee.” Steve Lail, CEO, Down East Community Hospital.

While Dr. Holzen will be missed, the community will not go without the services he offered.  Dr. Stephen Salzer has been a member of the hospital medical staff since February of 2018 and is a well-respected member of the team.  He offers a full complement of Ear Nose & Throat services and impressive credentials.

Dr. Salzer is board certified in Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose, and Throat) and Head and Neck Surgery. He was also an Instructor at Yale where he taught and supervised residents in the Pediatric Head and Neck Surgery Clinic.  He has published numerous articles and book chapters on topics including nasal and sinus surgery, head and neck oncology, phonosurgery (surgery for voice disorders), and hearing physiology. He is the recipient of numerous awards for academic achievement, research and surgical technique. Here are some of the services he provides at Down East Community Hospital.

  • Endoscopic surgery
  • Facial fractures, trauma and congenital facial deformities
  • Pituitary surgery
  • Sinusitis
  • Snoring, sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Tonsillitis
  • Vertigo and balance disorders
  • Voice disorders
  • Balloon Sinus Dilatation
  • Thyroid and Para-Thyroid
  • Balance Disorders
  • Mouth, Neck, and Throat Cancer Treatment
  • Ear Infections and Perforations

Kathryn Land Named DECH Board Chair at Annual Meeting

July 2020 Machias – Down East Community Hospital held its annual meeting of the Corporators on Tuesday, June 30.  During that meeting, they provided an overall update of 2019 and reviewed the 2019 Annual Report.  Usually, new board members are elected to fill open board positions but there were no open positions this year.  Kathryn Land was elected as Board Chair.  Kathy succeeds outgoing Chair, Wayne Peters, who completed his term.  Wayne has spent over 8 years on the board; the last 2 as Chair.  CEO, Steve Lail, “Wayne, who has already dedicated countless hours to this hospital, will remain on the board.  We are thankful for the work he did as Chair and appreciate his guidance and dedication.  Kathy Land has been on the Board for 9 years and has also committed countless hours to the hospital.  We are pleased that she has stepped into the Chair position and look forward to her thoughtful leadership.”  Current members of the board are Kathy Land, Chair, Lisa Carlisle, Vice Chair, Nate Martell, Secretary, and Mike Hennessey, Treasurer, Wayne Peters, Eric Burke, John Corrigan, Karen Eldridge, Corey Schwinn, Betty Marshall, Christian Inegbenijie, MD, Jacqueline O’Clair, Rose St. Louis, and Rita Ten, MD.

In addition to being on the board for the last 9 years, Kathy has been a member of the DECH Auxiliary for over 12 years.  She has a Managed Care Certification, a BS in Organizational Management and has over 25 years of experience in healthcare organizations.  Her background includes extensive experience in patient accounts management and managed care strategy development and implementation.  She is a skilled managed care contract negotiator and has worked with various healthcare settings, including acute care, ambulatory surgery, outpatient, behavioral health, dental, and skilled nursing facilities.  Kathy has also worked in collaboration with physicians and a PHO to effect contract terms and rates of reimbursement that addressed the financial and network needs of the parties involved.  Her strengths include the development of strong, open relationships with physicians, third party payers and managed care organizations.

Since being a member of the DECH Board, Kathy has been active on the Finance, Governance, and Executive committees.

CEO, Steve Lail, “Kathy has a solid background in healthcare and strong ties to this hospital.  She holds our staff in high regard and is committed to our mission to improve the health care of the people of Sunrise County.  Kathy will, undoubtedly, provide steadfast governance as our Board Chair.”

DECH Pays Tribute to Their Volunteers

July 2020 Machias – Down East Community Hospital was unable to hold our volunteer appreciation event this year, but that doesn’t mean that we value our precious volunteers any less. We want to take this time to pay tribute to all our volunteers and give a special mention to those who earned Presidential Service Awards this year.  Susan O’Clair received a silver award (250-499 hours).  Tom McClure, Linda Wright, Raymond Selby, Kay Richmond, Pauline Cates, Nellie Gatcomb, Judy Hanscom, Janie Kroegar, Nancy Lewis, and Pat Hennessey received bronze awards (100-249 hours).  Throughout 2019, our volunteers clocked in 1,355 hours.

Volunteer Coordinator, Lanette Pottle, “Down East Community Hospital values all our dedicated volunteers; the gift of their time is priceless.  Because of COVID-19, our volunteer program has been shut down since March.  Our staff miss seeing the smiling faces of our volunteers and all they bring each day to help us provide compassionate care to our community.  We all look forward to the day they are all back with us.  We want to remind them how much they mean to our hospital and let them know that their absence has not gone unnoticed.”

In 2003, the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation founded the President’s Volunteer Service Award to recognize the important role of volunteers in America’s strength and national identity. This award honors individuals whose service positively impacts communities in every corner of the nation and inspires those around them to take action, too.

The PVSA has continued under each administration, honoring the volunteers who are using their time and talents to solve some of the toughest challenges facing our nation.

UMM Professor Donates $6,200 to DECH for Critical Respiratory Units

May 2020 Machias – Dr. Gayle Kraus, Professor of Marine Ecology at UMM, recently donated $6,200 to Down East Community Hospital to purchase two high flow oxygen nasal cannula units in memory of her Mother, Muriel L. Kraus.

President and CEO of Down East Community Hospital, Steve Lail, “These systems will be extremely beneficial for patients requiring respiratory assistance.   Dr. Kraus’ generosity to this hospital and the community is remarkable and we are forever grateful.  Our staff and the residents of Washington County will benefit from these high flow oxygen systems for years to come.”

High flow oxygen (HFO) therapy is a form of respiratory support used in a hospital setting where oxygen is delivered to a patient at rates of flow higher than that delivered traditionally in oxygen therapy.   High-flow oxygen therapy allows the clinician to provide accurate oxygen delivery in a wide array of patient populations and treatment arenas. It is intervention therapy for treating patients with mild to moderate hypoxemia (an abnormally low concentration of oxygen in the blood). The utilization of HFO therapy in appropriate patients can improve oxygenation and can decrease the patient’s labor to breath without the need for noninvasive or invasive ventilation. In addition, it may reduce the duration of ICU stay in some patients.

The warm, humidified constant flow improves gas exchange and is commonly used on patients with acute respiratory failure. It has been used to successfully treat patients with COVID-19, COPD, and bronchiectasis.  Using humidified (warmed) gas keeps mucus more fluid and aids airway recovery and results in less labored breathing and shortness of breath.

“These high flow oxygen systems will be extremely helpful for patients requiring respiratory assistance.  These units will help so many people during these high-risk seasons and beyond. They are something that will be used by our Respiratory Therapy Technicians, the Emergency Department and our anesthesiologist for a long time to come.” Emergency Department Director, Carrie Cassidy, BSN, RN, CEN.

Community Comes Together to Make Gowns for DECH

May 2020 Machias – In mid-March, Down East Community Hospital’s VP of Quality, Monique Mills, asked the DECH Auxiliary if they could provide the hospital with 50 handmade isolation gowns to be used as a backup to our personal protective equipment inventory.   The hospital and the Auxiliary agreed to split the cost of the supplies.  Kathy Land, Auxilian and Board Member, on the project, “After reviewing CDC guidelines and some discussion, we agreed to order our fabric and other supplies online from JoAnn fabrics or from Amazon.  That turned out to be easier said than done as fabric and other supplies were either out of stock, in stock and later cancelled, partially shipped, back ordered for a couple of months, etc.

Monique asked that the gowns have cuffs for the sleeves, and this also turned out to be a challenge.  Premade cuffs were out of stock as was the knit fabric with appropriate stretch and recovery.  At this point Carol Bryan came to the rescue with the idea that we use the ribbed tops of socks as cuffs for the sleeves of the gowns.  Such a clever idea and they work beautifully.

When some of the fabric was back ordered and we were unsure we would ever receive it, we decided to go ahead with what we had.  Lisa Carlisle donated fabric from her stash at home and a 94-year-old lady friend of Carol’s donated fabric because she was no longer able to sew and help make gowns.

We have finished production and was able to provide Monique with 54 gowns, thanks to the work of some dedicated Auxiliary members and friends!”

“We would like to thank the Auxiliary and all the special people who put such talent and care into making these incredible gowns; Kathy Land, Lisa Carlisle, Gail Peters, Sharon Dean, Bett Daley, Kathy Burke, Kathy Rioux, Carol Bryan and her friend. This was no small feat and we want you all to know how much this act of kindness is appreciated.” Steve Lail, President & CEO.

“It is always nice to have back up plans in place during a pandemic. The donation of these washable gowns helps to ensure we can continue to deliver care safely in a time where things are ever evolving. Protecting our staff and patients are of key importance. We understand a lot of time and creative thought was put into this project and we are grateful for this community support. It is heartwarming to know this group is always willing to help in any way that they can. The gowns are just as beautiful as their acts of kindness!”  Monique Mills, BSN, RN, CIC, Vice President of Quality/Interim CNO.

Appreciating Pat’s Pizza

April 2020 Machias – Bill Burke, owner of Pat’s Pizza in Machias, began the weeklong deliveries to the staff at Down East Community on April 20.  Bill made deliveries during the day, evening, and night shifts.  The provider practices in Machias, Milbridge, and Jonesport, were not forgotten either. He delivered boxes and boxes of pizza to show Pat’s appreciation to all our staff who have worked each day of the pandemic to care for the community.

“It’s been a difficult couple of months.  All our staff were very appreciative of the generous, thoughtful gesture.  It makes you feel pretty special when someone does something so totally unexpected.  Bill is a nice guy and we appreciate what he does for us and the community.” Steve Lail, CEO of Down East Community Hospital.