DECH Welcomes Their First Baby of 2024

Karmen and Colin Pineo with Their Latest Bundle of Joy, Pierce Pineo

Machias – The first baby born at Down East Community Hospital in Machias arrived at 6:02am, Sunday, January 14.  Pierce Pineo, third son of Colin and Karmen Pineo of Jonesboro, weighed in at 9lbs, 1 oz. and a length of twenty-one inches.  This healthy, beautiful baby boy is the little brother of Bentlee, age 5, and Kiegan, age 2.

Pierce, looking perfectly calm and healthy in his mother’s arms, was delivered by Christian Inegbenijie, MD just like his brothers. Karmen stated, “Dr. Inegbenijie is wonderful. He delivered all my boys and I just love him, and the nurses were great”.

The basket presented to the family was filled with items from the DECH Auxiliary Gift Shop, gift cards from local businesses, a beautiful handmade tote made and donated by Kim Bragg, and a handmade blanket crocheted by Kay Richmond.

Join us in congratulating the Pineo family on the birth of their latest bundle of joy!

DECH Auxiliary Donates $1,000 to Annual Fundraiser

December 19, 2023

CEO, Steve Lail thanks Auxiliary President, Pat Hennessey for the very generous $1000 donation to the hospital.

Machias – The Down East Community Hospital Auxiliary donated $1,000 to the hospital’s annual Light A Life fundraiser which brought the total funds raised to $6,200. The funds raised for this year’s event will go towards National Youth Speaker programs for Washington County youth from grades 6 – 12. These events will center around providing a message of hope, be candid about tough topics that are prevalent in our area such as mental health, substance abuse, and bullying and leave our pre-teens and teens with tools to deal with these issues.

CEO, Steve Lail, on the Auxiliary’s latest donation, “The Auxiliary has been an integral part of the hospital since 1964 and we are forever grateful for all they do. They not only hold fundraisers to help support the hospital, but they are also our tireless ambassador to the community and treasured members of the DECH family.”

Paige Sinford & Lyman Beecher Chosen as DECH Employees of the Year

December 18, 2023

Paige Sinford and Lyman Beecher – DECH Employees of the Year pictured with CEO, Steve Lail, after he presented them with their awards.

Paige Sinford, CMA and Lyman Beecher were chosen as Down East Community Hospital’s 2023 Employees of the Year! Lyman is our non-clinical Employee of the Year and Paige is our clinical Employee of the Year.  Paige works at Family Practice at the Down East Health Center and Lyman works in the Hospital in Materials Management.

DECH staff nominated their peers for these awards by completing a form and providing information and specifics on why staff should be considered. Factors considered are dependability, initiative, attitude, and teamwork. Many great things were shared about all the nominees, the following are a few excerpts from Paige and Lyman’s nomination forms:

“Paige goes above and beyond for family practice as well as other departments. She is always there if anyone needs help. She dives into any situation with both feet and does not think of anything but patient care and the task at hand. We are very lucky to have her at family practice.  Paige is constantly pulled into other departments when needed to fill in and she does this in a very professional and courteous manner. Paige carries out her duties and helps others with theirs. She does this to make sure all assignments are completed correctly and in a timely manner for the best possible patient care. She is dependable and I wish the organization had many more just like her.”

“Lyman is a very hard worker, detail oriented, and takes real pride in doing his job to the best of his abilities. When asked to help in other areas of the hospital, he exhibits this same dedication and attention to detail. You can always count on him. You know that if Lyman says he will do something, you can be confident it will get done. He understands that everyone plays a part in making this organization work and he is always on your team when needed. Lyman interacts with both employees and patients/visitors with a very positive approach and willingness to help. He has never responded in a negative manner to any request or conversation. Observing him with staff he is always professional, very polite, and helpful. His response to department needs is always timely and often much ahead of expectations.”

The full list of nominees included Brandy Wood, Nick Cianciola, Vanessa Feeney, Julia Alley, Penny Sneed, Brandis Townsend, Lanie Brenton, Trish Morrison, Susan Tinker, Crystal Richard, Connie Sylvia, Dr. Crowley, Joe Bragg, and Dr. Massaad

Congratulations to both of our winners and all our nominees. Thank you for the great jobs you do every day and the special way you care for our patients and your co-workers!

CEO and COO/CFO Received Rural Health Community Star Awards

November 22, 2023

Steve Lail, CEO of Down East Community Hospital and Calais Community Hospital and COO/CFO Lynnette Parr pose for a photo with Nicole Breton, Director, Rural Health, and Primary Care Program, Maine CDC, Maine DHHS after receiving their Rural Health Community Star Awards at the State House in Augusta.

Machias – Down East Community Hospital CEO, Steve Lail, and COO/CFO, Lynnette Parr were presented Rural Health Community Star Awards at the National Rural Health Day celebration held at the State House on November 16, 2023.  They were recognized for their work to preserve health care access in Maine by embarking on the bold local solution of purchasing the Calais hospital when it faced closure to ensure services would be accessible in the eastern most area of the county.

Over a year ago, the leadership of Down East Community Hospital released the following statement:

“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.”

They made this pledge to the community, “We Will Live Our Mission 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.”

When asked about the challenges that they have faced and overcome, CFO Lynnette Parr notes, “The creation and turnaround of Calais Community Hospital has been the most challenging and rewarding of my career.  Seeing the impact of our work is inspiring.  We have connected the two hospitals as a whole new family of staff that have embraced our new system and put in the work for us to be successful.  Our shared resources have provided a significant positive impact for both hospitals and has allowed us to create a shared vision for the future.

We have implemented measures to enhance revenues and reduce costs while maintaining needed healthcare services.  Our efforts have brought the hospital back to profitability and we continue to focus on the growth of our combined system to help address the challenges of maintaining services in a remote area.”

CEO, Steve Lail added, “Over the past two years we have made significant improvements to care at Calais Community by expanding services and adding specialty care such as orthopedics and general surgery.  We have seen positive changes in the finances of the hospital and our support among our staff and the Calais community is very strong and continues to grow. We are moving forward with a new family practice clinic in Baileyville, and our long-term goal is to continue to grow the services we provide at Calais Community Hospital and along with Down East Community Hospital in Machias we hope to remain independent and serve the best needs of the people of Washington County.

Steve Lail, on receiving the awards, “We are humbled and honored to receive this recognition and are grateful to the staff at both hospitals who continue to be committed to provide access to quality health care here in Washington County; We can’t do it without them.  We also want to recognize the importance of the community support we receive and thank all those who continue to utilize our services.

DECH and CCH to Bring National Youth Speaker to Address Important Topics That Affect Our Youth

November 6, 2023

Machias and Calais – DECH and CCH will bring in a national speaker for the High School Students in Washington County. The events will take place November 28 – 30.  The event for DECH area students will be held at the Performing Arts Center at UMM on November 28 and the event for the CCH area students will be held at Calais High School on November 29 and Woodland High School on November 30. All area high schools have been invited and we hope they seize this invaluable opportunity to reach our teens.

How this came about – In developing long range Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) plans for 2023-2025, Calais and Down East Community Hospitals set a goal of reaching out to the youth of our communities about some of the tough topics that are prevalent in our area – mental health, substance abuse, suicide, etc.  While we really wish our children were not aware of these issues, we know they see it, some live it, many experience it every day.  Our plan is to support organizations that are already working with youth on these issues, as well as looking at new avenues to reach our youngest community members.  One of the projects we decided to take on was to bring a youth speaker to the area to provide a message of hope, be candid on these tough topics, and leave teens with some tools for dealing with such things in life. It is our plan to bring a speaker in the spring and invite area grade school students in grades 6 through 8 then bring another speaker in the fall of 2024 for High School students.

The speaker – Jessie Clark-Funk, MSW is a therapeutic coach and the Kindness Crew director for the nonprofit organization, Think Kindness.  She holds a leadership certification from the University of Notre Dame, is a certified life coach, and holds a B.S. Degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Social Work.  Jessie is a former leadership facilitator for Franklin Covey and has also been a professional youth speaker for 18 years, speaking to over one million teens in high schools and at leadership conferences nationwide.

Jessie has released five award-winning solo albums as a professional singer and toured to 37 states with the Broadway tour of Footloose.  She is a published author, has a black belt in karate, and is the mom of two teenagers.  Her voice has been heard on “America’s Got Talent, “The Biggest Loser,” and ESPN.  She is currently working on her doctorate degree and building a summer leadership camp and ranch in the mountains of Utah.

Jessie takes a research-based approach to teach the importance of making good choices. She gives students four proven tools that can take their lives from average to extraordinary. She addresses healthy vs. toxic relationships, bullying prevention, lessons from history’s greatest leaders and she does all this while sharing personal, hilarious stories, and dynamic pop music. We are excited to bring her message to these students.

If her talk results in reaching even one, it matters but we hope and believe it will be more.

DECH Pediatricians Invite Area Children to Halloween Event

October 13, 2023

Machias – Down East Community Pediatricians Drs. Kaplan and Weitz invite area children and their parents to their Halloween event! It will take place on October 27 from 4pm to 6pm at the Robertson Building on the Hospital Campus at 11 Hospital Drive in Machias (rain date is October 28).  This will be a fun filled event with a bounce house, a five-foot-tall Jabbering Jack, an inflatable pumpkin photo booth, games, goodies, and gifts! Many of you will already be in full costume for Trick or Treat on Main Street so stop on by for another Halloween adventure.

Hope to see you there!

Washington County Hospitals to Offer Free Mammograms

October 2023

Machias and Calais – We are pleased to announce that Down East Community Hospital and Calais Community Hospital will be providing 50 free mammograms (each) for our service areas through the month of November.  There are conditions to be met to qualify for the service: it must be a screening mammogram only (not a follow up); you must be 40 or older; you have no health insurance or a high deductible (that exceeds $5,000); it has been at least 1 year since your last mammogram; the mammogram appointment must be made through a referral from your provider.

With our 3D technology, we provide images of outstanding detail and superior diagnostic     accuracy, which helps clinicians provide exceptional care and puts patients’ minds at ease. And with the same low dose as a 2D exam, the lowest patient dose of all FDA approved DBT systems.

Please contact your provider if you would like to be referred for a free mammogram!

Jackie O’Clair Named Board Chair at Annual Meeting

July 10, 2023

DECH & CCH Board Chair, Jackie O’Clair

Machias and Calais – Down East Community Hospital and Calais Community Hospital held its annual meeting of the Corporators on Thursday, June 30.  CEO, Steve Lail, reported that despite the many obstacles hospitals across the country experienced in 2022, DECH and CCH operated in the black. The financial results and accomplishments from the past year were discussed and reported on at the meeting. The 2022 Annual Report, which highlights much of the hard work done by staff over the past year, is available on the DECH and CCH websites.

During the annual meeting board officers were announced and Jackie O’Clair, who most recently served as the Vice Chair and Secretary, held her first meeting as Board Chair. “Jackie has been an excellent trustee since 2018 and we look forward to working with her over the next few years. Since being a member of the board, Jackie has been active on the Finance, Governance, Quality Improvement and Safety, Compliance, and Executive committees,” Steve Lail, CEO.

Several new board members were also approved, and they are Tom Moholland, Julie Jordan, and Jody Dennison. Tom and Julie have close ties to the Calais area, which increases the representation from the northern part of Washington County on the board. Jody is from the Machias area and is an employee of Machias Savings Bank.  Jody is the VP Accounting Manager at Machias Savings Bank, where she has worked since 1999.  In her current role she oversees the accounting function, including managing the internal control program and coordinating exams and audits. Tom is the fiscal officer for Eastern Maine Co-Op and previously worked in the finance Department of WCCC and as a CFO for Sunrise Opportunities. Julie, who is recently retired, has experience in finance investment and human recourses. She was a Director on the Washington County Development Authority board and the Downeast Economic Development Director at St. Croix Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Current members of the board are Jackie O’Clair, Chair, Judd Bragg, PharmD, Vice Chair, Nate Martell, Secretary, and Ian Pratt, Treasurer,  John Corrigan,  Corey Schwinn, Betty Marshall, Tom Moholland, Julie Jordan, Jody Dennison, Christian Inegbenijie, MD, and Rita Ten, MD.

Human Papillomavirus – The Importance of Vaccination

May 25, 2023

By DECH Pediatrician, Joann Kaplan, M.D

Machias – Human Papillomavirus is the virus that causes warts of all types.  Certain strains of this virus can lead to cancer. These strains are most commonly associated with cervical cancer in women, but can also lead to cancer of the throat, penis, anus, vagina, and vulva, as this virus is spread through sexual or skin to skin contact.  Approximately 45,000 people in the US develop HPV related cancer each year.  Preventing infection with this virus through vaccination is the best way to prevent your child from developing cancer later in life. When given at the recommended age, this vaccine can prevent more than 90% of HPV related cancers.

The HPV vaccine reduces the risk of infection with Human Papillomavirus. Like all vaccines, it is most effective if administered before exposure to the virus. The most recent data from the CDC reports that over 40% of teenagers between 15-19 have engaged in some type of sexual activity, and so are at risk of exposure to Human Papillomavirus. Most adults  will have been exposed by the age of 26. About 75% of new HPV infections are found in people aged 15-24.

Many parents ask why we recommend  giving the vaccine at age 11. As in early childhood and infancy, the recommended vaccine schedule developed by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is intended to avail itself of the developing immune system of children. Research has shown that younger children have a stronger antibody response to the vaccine before the age of 15. After the age of 15, the response is not as strong and fewer antibodies are made. In addition, waiting until after age 15 increases the risk that a teenager will already have been exposed to the virus, so its overall protection would be reduced. In fact, people over the age of 15 require 3 doses of the vaccine to reach acceptable levels of protection, as opposed to 2 doses for younger people.

Since 2007, when the HPV vaccine was  approved in the US, 135 million doses have been administered.  Mild reactions such as pain, redness, dizziness, headache, and fainting are common (fainting is more common in adolescents receiving ANY vaccine). Between 2014 and 2017, 28 million doses were given. There were 7,244 adverse reactions were reported in that time period, which is 0.026% of all doses, and only 3% of those were considered serious. The remaining 97% were mild. These statistics show the vaccine is very safe and serious reactions are extremely rare.

Please contact your child’s health care provider if you have any concerns or questions about the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine is free under the Vaccines for Children program and is covered by most health insurance plans.

Dr. Brodsky Retires After 21 Years at DECH

May 25, 2023

DECH bids a fond farewell to Anesthesiologist, Dr. Leonid Brodsky, after 21 years of dedicated service.  In 2002, Dr. Brodsky and his wife Helen came to Machias, and he began his employment at Dr. Massaad’s general surgery practice.  Dr. Brodsky has been a member of the Down East Community Hospital medical staff since 2002 and he came on as a full-time Anesthesiologist at DECH in 2007.

Dr. Aziz Massaad on Dr. Brodsky’s service, “I believe hiring Dr. Brodsky and recruiting him to this county was one of the best decisions I have made as a physician. He has been a great asset for this hospital, a superb addition to the medical staff, and a very compassionate and caring medical professional to our community.”

Dr. Brodsky means a lot to many and saying goodbye was difficult.  There was a nice get-together in the Skylight Café complete with cake, ice cream and many hugs.  Earlier in the week there was a night out with the medical staff and their guests and yet another evening with his co-workers from the OR and Ambulatory Surgery unit.

CEO, Steve Lail, on Dr. Brodsky’s retirement, “Dr. Brodsky, a consummate professional, and an all-around pleasant human being will be greatly missed by his DECH family and the patients he interacted with over these many years. We wish he and Helen a long, healthy retirement.”