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Health News



Influenza in Maine

January 9 - Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses and can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with chronic conditions are at high risk for serious flu complications, including:

· People with asthma

· People with diabetes

· People with heart disease and those who have had strokes

· Adults 65 years of age and older

· Pregnant women

· People who have HIV or AIDS

· Children younger than 5 but especially children younger than 2

Most people who get the flu will have mild illness, will not need medical care or antiviral drugs, and will recover in less than two weeks. Some people, however, are more likely to get flu complications that result in being hospitalized and occasionally result in death. Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections are examples of flu-related complications.

The flu also can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience a worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.

Influenza symptoms include fever, cough, body aches, headache, chills, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Some people with the flu may not have a fever.

Influenza is spread mainly by droplets made when people cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Or a person may get the flu from touching something that has the flu virus on it and then touching their own nose, mouth or eyes. People with the flu can shed the virus and infect others from one day before getting sick to five to seven days after.

The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year. Other methods of preventing the flu include:

1. Avoid close contact.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

2. Stay home when you are sick.

If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.

3. Cover your mouth and nose.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

4. Clean your hands.

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

6. Practice other good health habits.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

If you have a high risk condition and you get the flu, early treatment with flu antiviral medications is important. Antiviral drugs are prescription medications that can be used to treat the flu. Swift treatment with antiviral drugs in someone with a high risk condition can mean the difference between experiencing mild symptoms at home instead of suffering a very severe illness that could result in a hospital stay. Studies show that these drugs work best when they are started within 2 days of getting sick. However, starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high risk health condition or is very sick from the flu.

Antiviral medications are not a substitute for vaccination. Annual flu vaccination is the first and best way to prevent the flu, but if you do get sick with the flu, antiviral medications are a second line of defense to treat the flu. Antiviral medicines can be prescribed by a physician to help make flu illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. Antiviral drugs may prevent serious flu complications. If you have a high risk medical condition and develop flu-like symptoms, check with your physician promptly.

PVH does request patients that may be coming in to the hospital or healthcare providers’ offices with a fever and cough to please wear a mask to help contain the virus; masks are available at each entrance and registration desk. Let’s all commit to practicing good hand hygiene and masking to help prevent the spread of the flu this season. 

Flu Map


Students gain hands-on experience at PVH Day Camp

Performing stitches with a general surgeon, administering injections with registered nurses and practicing CPR with EMTs were some of the interactive stations students participated in at the second annual PVH Healthcare Career Summer Day Camp. The PVH Community Relations Committee put on the Healthcare Career Summer Day Camp for area junior high and high school students to explore healthcare careers first-hand.

On July 28, fifteen students spent the day at PVH visiting healthcare departments including: information technology, radiology, laboratory, operating room, emergency and emergency medical services, nursing, medical assisting and physical therapy. They met more than 20 PVH staff who educated the students in their career field. The students were engaged in suturing incisions, mock emergencies and participated in an obstacle race.

Students also met members of the Auxiliary over lunch and discussed volunteer opportunities to help boost their resumes and college applications.

"Our staff and volunteers organized a fun-filled day for the students with real-life situations we encounter in healthcare every day,” states camp organizer and PVH senior director of quality improvement Crystal Landry, RN. “We hope this camp will spark students’ interests in healthcare professions. Nationwide, there are shortages in many healthcare roles and we encourage area students to learn more as they consider college and future careers.”

Families were invited to the closing ceremony where students received awards and recapped their day with a photo presentation. Students commented in a follow-up survey about their day that: “Thank you for this opportunity it was a lot of fun!” and
“I had a great time and really enjoyed it.”
“Throughout my career, hosting summer camps to educate youth on healthcare career opportunities has always been a highlight,” states PVH chief executive officer Gary Poquette. “At PVH, we play an active role in educating and training young professionals by working with area technical schools and colleges. The summer camps allow the next generation to explore many healthcare careers before they enter college. The time we spend mentoring these students is an investment in our youth, in our community, and in our future.”

Special thanks to all the PVH volunteers and Lincoln/East Millinocket EMS crews that shared their career knowledge and made the day interactive and fun for the students. Photos from the PVH Healthcare Career Summer Day Camp can be found at  

Summer day camp at PVH

Students at the first PVH Summer Camp learned about working in the laboratory, information technology, imaging, nursing, physical therapy and many more professions. Applications are due June 25 for this year’s Day Camp.

June 20 - Penobscot Valley Hospital would like to remind area students entering grades 6-12 to apply for the upcoming PVH Healthcare Summer Day Camp held on Friday, July 28. There is NO FEE for students to participate. Applications are due to PVH by June 25 at Paper applications have also been sent out to 850 students in area schools last week. Notification of acceptance to the camp will be made in early July.

This camp will provide students the opportunity to explore healthcare careers in a day camp environment at no cost. Students will participate in hands-on activities and challenges while exploring many healthcare careers.
· Healthcare career exploration with our professional staff
· Healthcare competitions 
· Physical challenges with our physical therapists
· Closing ceremony with your family

Expect a day of fun, excitement and education at Penobscot Valley Hospital!  

Participants enjoy laid-back environment at free weight loss classes

Penobscot Valley Hospital invites you to join us for our free weight loss program called Healthy Me on Thursday June 8, and the second Thursday of each month following.

The Healthy Me sessions are open to all, even those who have not attended a prior session.

Participants have claimed, “The information on exercise and stretching was very helpful, the nutrition lectures are very helpful. The best program I have ever been to. Thank you," and “The instructors are very knowledgeable, sincere, and truly care about the subject matter. One on one interaction is excellent!"

Healthy Me provides all the essentials to embrace healthy lifestyles including free use of the PVH Rehab & Wellness Center gym on Thursday evenings during class. The program provides education on heart rate monitoring, safe exercise options, meal planning and making healthy food choices.
· Reach your goals for weight loss in a supportive environment with guidance from licensed professionals
· Receive personalized support to incorporate aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretching programs into your daily routines
· Learn about personal energy needs & healthy food options

Participants in last year’s classes lost an average of 1lb per week over a 5-week session!

Classes are held the second Thursday of each month at the PVH Rehab & Wellness Center, 37 Main Street, Lincoln from 5:30-7:00pm. Call 794-7228 or visit today for more information on Healthy Me. 

Participants in the Penobscot Valley Hospital Healthy Me program will learn more about healthy lifestyles at this free weight loss program. Healthy Me is open to anyone interested in improving his/her health and runs the 2ndThursday of each month at the PVH Rehab & Wellness Center on Main Street in Lincoln.

New Rehab Services for Patients with Parkinson’s Disease

May 24 - Penobscot Valley Hospital is pleased to announce that Occupational Therapist, Kristen Stanley, has obtained certification in the LSVT (Lee Silverman Voice Treatment) Big Program. LSVT is a program specifically developed for patients with Parkinson’s disease to promote increased functional movement with exercise and balanced-based activity. The LSVT BIG program has documented improved function in people following this specialized treatment, which consists of four sessions per week for four weeks. Kristen is proud to offer this service to our community.

We encourage patients and caregivers to engage in discussions with your primary care provider regarding Parkinson’s Disease treatment. It is strongly recommended that patients with Parkinson’s or other Neuromuscular Disease receive therapy early after diagnosis, rather than waiting for symptom progression. However, it is never too late for patients to benefit. For more information on LSVT, visit

Occupational Therapists assist people of all ages to regain independence in meaningful activities through creative and therapeutic techniques. Specific OT services offered at PVH include:
· stroke rehabilitation
· hand therapy
· upper extremity strengthening
· adaptive equipment training
· pediatric rehabilitation
· splinting

Kristen Stanley, OTR/L graduated from Husson University with a Master's Degree in Occupational Therapy in 2012. She has experience treating multiple complex medical diagnosis in the inpatient skilled care unit promoting safe return home for patients. She has also provided treatments for various diagnosis in the outpatient setting. Kristen is an active member of the American Occupational Therapy Association, the American Society of Hand Therapy and is certified through the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and recently received certification in the LSVT (Lee Silverman Voice Therapy) Big Program to treat patients with Parkinson's Disease. She is an active volunteer in the community, with recent projects including the Burlington 4-H club, Golden Key Senior Center, and will also be volunteering for House in the Woods in the near future.

Speak with your primary care provider to discuss how occupational therapy might be beneficial for you. Specific questions on OT or the LSVT program can be directed to the PVH Rehab & Wellness Center at 207-794-7228. 

Penobscot Valley Hospital Occupational Therapist Kristen Stanley, OTR/L, has recently received certification in the Lee Silverman Voice Training BIG program to help treat patients with Parkinson’s and other Neuromuscular Diseases.

Learn the Warning Signs of a Stroke

Public Encouraged to Learn Warning Signs, Prevention and Treatment Tips For May Is Better Hearing & Speech Month

May 9 - With more than 795,000 strokes occurring every year in the United States across the age spectrum, it is critical that all Americans adopt preventive lifestyle habits, know the warning signs, and understand the treatment options available to themselves and their loved ones should a stroke occur. May Is Better Hearing & Speech Month—a time for all of us to become more aware of the warnings signs of a stroke.

Although it’s more common in older adults, stroke can affect anyone. In fact, stroke is trending upward in younger Americans. A recent study showed that the rate of stroke increased by
· 147% in people ages 35–39,
· 101% in people ages 40–45,
· 68% in people ages 45–49, and
· 23% in people ages 50–54.

Lifestyle Modifications
Although not all strokes are preventable, certain lifestyle habits can reduce a person’s risk of having a stroke. Factors that work in a person’s favor include maintaining a healthy diet and low cholesterol, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol consumption, and refraining from smoking.

Early Action Is Vital
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 38% of respondents to one survey were aware of all major symptoms and knew to call 9-1-1 when someone was having a stroke. Patients who arrive at the emergency room within 3 hours of onset of their first symptoms often have less disability 3 months after a stroke than those who receive delayed care, states the CDC—thus, recognizing the signs and taking quick action is key.

If you suspect someone is having a stroke, act FAST:
Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side droop?
Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Is one arm weaker?
Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
Time to act is now if you see any of these signs! Call 9-1-1 right away.

Treatment Transforms
Of the 750,000+ Americans who suffer strokes annually in the U.S., more than 130,000 die. For those who survive a stroke, quality of life is an important issue. In addition to regaining physical abilities such as the ability to walk, get dressed, and bathe independently, one’s capacity to communicate may also be severely damaged by a stroke.

“A person’s ability to communicate is the foundation of just about everything they do, and every interaction they have,” said Stacey White, Penobscot Valley Hospital’s Speech-Language Pathologist. “Beyond just having their basic needs met, the degree to which communication skills are restored affects stroke survivors’ social interactions and relationships, employment status and success, and overall satisfaction and participation in life. Seeking treatment from a speech-language pathologist can make a transformative difference in helping people enjoy a fulfilling life after stroke.”

One of the most common communication challenges that follow a stroke is aphasia, a disorder that affects a person’s ability to understand or produce language. About 25%–40% of stroke survivors acquire aphasia. Other communication difficulties include slurred speech due to weak muscles and difficulty in programming muscles for speech. In addition to these challenges, speech-language pathologists help with cognitive challenges following a stroke—which may include memory and problem-solving skills—and swallowing problems that result from weakness and/or in coordination of muscles in the mouth and throat.

“During Better Hearing & Speech Month, we want stroke survivors and their loved ones to know that speech-language pathologists are here to help with swallowing, communication, and thinking abilities that may have been affected by stroke,” Stacey added.

To contact Stacey at the PVH Rehabilitation and Wellness Center, please call 794-7228.  

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