Category - Copley Hospital

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Support for Survivors of Suicide Loss
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Considerate Festive Cooking for Everyone: Special Diets/Allergies
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Tips for a Less Stressful Holiday
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Helping People Navigate the Health Care System
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Family Health History
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Getting Rid of “Dangerous Leftovers”
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The Acorn Philosophy
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2018 Community Health Needs Assessment Posted
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How to Get Started Mountain Biking
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It’s Creepy Crawlies Time

Support for Survivors of Suicide Loss

Death by suicide is complicated as is the survivor grief that follows. Did you know:

  • Grief is unpredictable.
  • Grief is complicated.
  • Grief is not one emotion, but many.
  • Grief is exhausting.
  • Grief ambushes you.
  • Grief never really goes away.
  • Grief permeates all aspects of life.
  • Grief is a process, not an event.
  • Only you know how much time you need to grieve.

Monique Reil of Lamoille County Mental Health Services and Jane Paine with Lamoille Home Health & Hospice are coordinating a support group for survivors of suicide loss. Please join us in this safe, confidential space to share your story or just to be surrounded by those who understand and care.

The Survivors of Suicide Loss (SOSL) support group meets the last Wednesday of each month from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. For location details, call Jane Paine at 888-4651 or Monique Reil at 888-5026.

Considerate Festive Cooking for Everyone: Special Diets/Allergies

By: Stacy Wein, Librarian, Copley Health Sciences Library*

During the holidays we often get together with others for parties or large family dinners. Planning the menus and cooking can be great fun until you remember Aunt Sally has a nut allergy and John has a gluten allergy. There is sure to be someone who is vegan or diabetic. How do you prepare a delicious and safe feast for all? Don’t worry, it can still be fun to plan a menu.

Hosting a festive gathering should be welcoming to all. Some of your guests may have dietary restrictions by choice, religion or culture, lifestyle choices, or it might be a matter of life and death. Make sure your guests know you are aware some might have dietary restrictions. Since you want everyone to enjoy themselves and you want to provide a safe menu, here are some suggestions and links to online resources to assist you in creating a deliciously safe feast for all.

  • Get to know your guests’ dietary restrictions. They might be able to make some suggestions or provide helpful information.
  • In the menu, be sure to list the ingredients for each dish. You might want to save the labels of the purchased items for the dish for reference.
  • Simplify! Keep recipes very basic. Stick to a little salt and pepper and provide other seasonings and ingredients, like nuts, to be available so guests can season their own serving.
  • Remember to wash hands, cooking utensils, and surfaces often. This prevents cross-contamination. You might also prepare dishes on different days.
  • And there is always the buffet or “build your own” option (like a taco bar) where people prepare their own from available options.

More Resources:

*This article was modified with permission from an article written by Carolyn Martin, MLS, AHIP,  Consumer Health Coordinator with University of Washington Health Sciences Library.

Tips for a Less Stressful Holiday

By: Leah Hollenberger

Tips to reduce holiday stress

The holidays can be one of the most stressful and emotional times of the year.  The loss of loved ones is felt deeply, financial worries, and stress over trying to fit in holiday activities along with daily life all contribute. There are two steps to helping make the holidays easier and more enjoyable. The first step is being honest with how much you can afford to spend for the holiday and sticking to your budget. The second step is focusing on what is most meaningful to you and your family and letting go of all the other activities and events that we tell ourselves must be a part of the holidays. This can be hard given all of the commercials, movies, and others’ traditions and expectations that are shared this time of the year.  Here are some tips that may help:

Speak with your extended family or friends in advance and mutually agree to provide gifts only for anyone under the age of 18.

For the adults, hold a Yankee Swap. Set a reasonable price limit, which is fair to everyone. You’ll find people will get creative. It is fun watching everyone open the presents and you’ll have a lot of laughs with the trading and swapping that ensues!

If you enjoy making gifts, try making one gift your signature gift for the holiday season. Make multiples of the item and give it to every adult on your list. Think homemade cocoa mix, granola, canned or preserved items like jam or pickles, candles, and the like.

Realize that once you give a gift, you are not invested as to if the recipient likes the gift. Of course, you hope they love it, but if they don’t, it is not a reflection on you. Let it go. It is fine if they want to re-gift or donate the item so someone else can enjoy it.

Give experiences as gifts; tickets to a play, a museum pass, a restaurant gift card – something that encourages the recipient to spend time with someone they love.

Give your time: a coupon to babysit; a calendar with an offer to get together monthly for a “walk and talk;” a bag of your homemade cocoa mix with a note to get together to watch a favorite tv show; an offer to drive them to the library, grocery store or laundromat, etc.  You could even suggest volunteering at the food share, nursing home, or with a local non-profit together.

Have your children shop with you for each other, within the budget you set. Siblings typically do a great job picking out a gift for each other – and it means more knowing their brother or sister picked it out especially for them.

The 4-gift rule is popular: one gift is something they want, one gift is something they need, one gift is something they wear, and one gift is something they read. I’m not sure where this rule originated, but it works for everyone and helps you stay on budget.

Figure out the two or three things that you love the most about the holiday and focus on them. If you love the lights on the Christmas tree but dislike decorating it, why not go with just lights on the tree? Make just one or two kinds of Christmas cookies instead of four or five. Better yet, participate in a cookie-walk if you want a variety of cookies. Area churches often hold them and promote them via Front Porch Forum.

Instead of going out to dinner, or fixing a fancy meal, suggest a potluck instead or serve a simple meal with a fancy dessert. Meet after dinner and take a drive around town to see the Christmas lights. Or play a board game with Christmas music playing in the background.

Simplify the expectations you have for yourself and others and you’ll find your holiday is less stressful and filled with what truly matters: spending meaningful time with family and friends.

What tips do you have for making the holidays less stressful?


Leah Hollenberger is the Vice President of Marketing, Development, and Community Relations for Copley Hospital. A former award-winning TV and Radio producer, she is the mother of two and lives in Morrisville. Her free time is spent volunteering, cooking, playing outdoors, and producing textile arts. Leah writes about community events, preventive care, and assorted ideas to help one make healthy choices.

Helping People Navigate the Health Care System

By: Rebecca Copans

Anyone who has accompanied a loved one to an emergency room knows how challenging it can be to navigate the medical system. Its complex language, daunting costs, and frenetic pace make it difficult for the average person to take in. If the patient has no one by their side and if they are dealing with two or more chronic conditions — plus poverty, food insecurity, and unstable housing — they face even greater challenges in navigating the healthcare system.

Sarah Williams, Lamoille County Mental Health Services (LCMHS) Medical Care Coordinator, has seen first-hand the results of that confusion and it has become her mission to directly challenge that problem. In her role, Williams has created collaborative relationships among providers at LCMHS and community partners, including primary care physicians, endocrinologists, neurologists, pharmacists, and hospital emergency room staff. Her role brings together providers and information systems to coordinate health services with patient needs to better achieve the goals of treatment. “When I look into a person’s eyes, I can see the difference that help has made. They are less stressed and can focus on getting well.”

Having someone to help patients navigate a complex system improves the quality of the care they receive. Outcomes improve as well, as the person receives the kind of medical follow-up that is required to treat their needs. Research across disciplines have shown that care coordination increases efficiency and improves clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction with care. “Greater coordination of care—across providers and across settings—will improve quality care, improve outcomes, and reduce spending, especially attributed to unnecessary hospitalization, unnecessary emergency department utilization, repeated diagnostic testing, repeated medical histories, multiple prescriptions, and adverse drug interactions” writes Susan Salmond and Mercedes Echevarria of Rutgers University School of Nursing.

Through these coordinated partnerships, LCMHS is enhancing the quality of care for the individuals they serve. This gives the individual an advocate, as well as someone to translate the often murky landscape of multiple disciplines of medicine. This has a striking benefit to patients’ mental health, quality of life, and their own sense of optimism as they have one distinct person that can be contacted to help clarify information, track multiple appointments, and identify specialists.

As primary and behavioral health care providers strive to integrate services, care coordination will support system-wide efforts to reduce emergency room visits and hospital stays, which is one of the greatest cost-drivers for the health care system. Based on the foundation of care coordination, primary and behavioral health care integration will make huge inroads in achieving the triple bottom line of health care: to improve the health of the population, to improve the patient experience of care (including quality, access, and reliability), and to control or reduce costs.


Rebecca Copans has worked extensively in government affairs, public relations and communications. As a society, our greatest potential lies with our children. With this basic tenant firmly in mind, Rebecca worked most recently with the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children and now with Lamoille County Mental Health to secure a stronger foundation for all Vermont families. 

A graduate of the University of Vermont and Dartmouth College, Rebecca holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in globalization. Her thesis concentration was the history and societal use of language and its effect on early cognitive development. She lives in Montpelier with her husband and three children.

Family Health History

By: Leah Hollenberger

Thanksgiving Day, November 22, is also Family Health History Day. As you gather with family this holiday, why not spend a few minutes with your loved ones exchanging medical histories?

There are several diseases that commonly run in families, including diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer osteoporosis, and sickle cell anemia.

Not many of us have detailed and precise information about other family members’ health histories. But any information can be helpful. Creating a Family Health History, and sharing it with your doctor and other healthcare practitioners, will help your provider recommend actions for reducing your personal risk of disease or help in looking for early warning signs of disease.

Reaching out to other family members to share your family health history, can help develop a more inclusive, larger family health history. And in doing so, talking about your family health history can help each of you stay healthy.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has an online tool,  “My Family Health Portrait,” that makes it easy to capture and save your family medical history. You can share the document with other family members and easily update it. The tool is available online at https://phgkb.cdc.gov/FHH/html/index.html.

Pen and paper works just fine as well. The March of Dimes also has downloadable PDF health history form you can use at marchofdimes.org/family-health-history-form.pdf.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a form too, at www.hhs.gov/programs/prevention-and-wellness/family-health-history/family-health-portrait-tool/printable/index.html.

However you decide to record your family health history, it should include:

  • Health history of your parents, your brothers, and sisters, and your children; next in importance are grandparents, uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews, and any half-brothers or half-sisters. Finally, it is helpful to include great aunts, great uncles, and cousins.
  • Age for all relatives, including age at time of death for the deceased and what caused their death.
  • Ethnicity/Ancestory, as some genetic diseases are more common in certain ethnic groups.
  • Presence of chronic diseases.

The HHS suggests these questions to help get the conversation going:

  • Do you have any chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes?
  • Have you had any other serious illnesses, such as cancer or stroke?
  • How old were you when you developed these illnesses?
  • Have you or your partner had any difficulties with pregnancies, such as miscarriages?
  • What medications are you currently taking?
  • Do you have, or have you had, any learning or developmental disabilities?

You should be prepared to ask some follow up questions. For example, if an uncle tells you he has heart disease you will want to ask:

  • How old were you when you developed the disease?
  • Did you have a heart attack?
  • Have you had any procedures done related to your heart? If so, what and when?
  • Do you have other medical problems, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure?
  • What medications are you taking to help with any of the above?

Please realize that this conversation could be difficult for some members of your family. Not everyone may want to share their personal health information or it could bring up some difficult emotions. Being respectful and sensitive to their feelings is important. It may help to share in advance why you are asking these questions and what you plan to do with the information.

So this Thanksgiving, in addition to asking for the recipe for that delicious side dish, ask them to also share their health history and anything they know about other family members’ past health.

Wishing you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.


Leah Hollenberger is the Vice President of Marketing, Development, and Community Relations for Copley Hospital. A former award-winning TV and Radio producer, she is the mother of two and lives in Morrisville. Her free time is spent volunteering, cooking, playing outdoors, and producing textile arts. Leah writes about community events, preventive care, and assorted ideas to help one make healthy choices.

Getting Rid of “Dangerous Leftovers”

Year-round secure medication drop boxes are a convenient and safe way to get rid of  “dangerous leftovers” – i.e. unused, expired, and/or unwanted prescription medication. There are several in the area, including:

  • Copley Hospital – in the main hallway outside of the Laboratory Check-In window
  • Lamoille County Sheriff’s office in Hyde Park
  • Morristown Police Department
  • Hardwick Police Department.

This service is made possible through an agreement with the Vermont Department of Health in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and in collaboration with Healthy Lamoille Valley.

Meg Morris, RPH, Copley Hospital’s Director of Pharmacy with Sheriff Roger Marcoux, Copley CEO Art Mathisen and Chief Medical Officer Donald Dupuis, MD, flank the area’s newest prescription medication drop off box for unused or expired medications. It’s located at Copley Hospital, in the hallway before the Laboratory’s Check-In window.

 

Proper disposal of medication is essential. Otherwise, it might end up in the wrong hands; presenting a danger to children and pets; it could be used improperly, possibly fueling addition; or it could pollute local water systems if flushed down the toilet.

The Drop Boxes accept prescription, over-the-counter, and pet medication in any form from households. This includes: pills & capsules, blister packs, creams & gels, inhalers, patches, powders, and sprays. Please – no needles, syringes, lancets or thermometers and no medications from businesses.

Drop off is anonymous – no ID is required. Before dropping off any medications, please prepare them by crossing your name off the container and putting all of the containers together in a sealed clear plastic bag (such as a Ziplock bag). If you don’t have the original container, please place the medications in a sealed clear plastic bag and label it with the name of the medication.

In addition to the Prescription Medication Drop Box program, the Vermont Health Department has introduced mail-back envelopes for safe and secure drug disposal. Consumers can use these envelopes at home to safely and securely mail in expired and unused prescription medications.

Learn more about drug safety at healthylamoillevalley.org/prescription-drugs and at healthvermont.gov/alcohol-drugs/services/prescription-drug-disposal.

The Acorn Philosophy

By: Leah Hollenberger

A small dish of acorns sits on my kitchen windowsill. They are a symbol of hope and perseverance for me. Within each little acorn is a strong oak tree. For me, small step to improve healthacorns also represent a kernel of an idea that can grow into something meaningful; a kernel of truth that can bring about greater understanding.

“Self-care” is a big buzzword now, often used to promote pampering oneself or splurging on something. The acorn reminds me that self-care is necessary and basic: sunshine, water and the right soil is all the acorn needs to become a mighty oak. Self-care is getting enough sleep (7-8 hours a night), healthy eating (lots of vegetables, cooking at home, less processed food), exercising (preferably outside to get fresh air and sunshine), and spending time with people that make you happy.  Doing these things on a daily basis is the foundation of self-care. Just as the acorn needs sunshine, water, and nutrients in the soil to grow – self-care – so do we. Human beings do better when we take care of our basic needs first.

This acorn philosophy works on a bigger scale as well. It is why this blog exists. Why community members are helping others get the nutritious food they need, receive the preventative and emergent healthcare they need, why a grassroots church effort to run a warming shelter has evolved into the Lamoille Community House.  All of these initiatives were a small acorn, a kernel that grew into a community-wide effort to help meet people’s basic needs. Collectively these efforts can always use more help for the need is great, but not insurmountable.

I have a pair of acorn earrings and a necklace that were given to me by dear ones. I like to wear them because they make me happy. I also wear them when I am feeling down or facing what I think may be a difficult day or trying to shape an idea. They serve as a little talisman of hope and belief, as well as a reminder to nurture that soon-to-be oak tree, to nurture me, to nurture our community.


Leah Hollenberger is the Vice President of Marketing, Development, and Community Relations for Copley Hospital. A former award-winning TV and Radio producer, she is the mother of two and lives in Morrisville. Her free time is spent volunteering, cooking, playing outdoors, and producing textile arts. Leah writes about community events, preventive care, and assorted ideas to help one make healthy choices.

2018 Community Health Needs Assessment Posted

Results and Implementation Plan are Now Available for Community Review

 

Copley Hospital has completed its 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) and posted the results and implementation plan on its website, copleyvt.org. Through the CHNA process, Copley has determined the top health needs of the community are: Preventative Care, Mental Health, Chronic Health Conditions, and Substance Use/Abuse. The Hospital has developed, in conjunction with recommendations from local health care and social service organizations, an implementation plan. This plan will help address these needs and includes services/programs the hospital already offers, new services/programs the hospital may add, other organizations the hospital may partner with and metrics the hospital will use to track progress.

“We had a tremendous response to our survey and are grateful to the staff of area social service organizations and agencies and community leaders that helped with the assessment and shaping our Implementation Plan,” said Art Mathisen, Copley Hospital CEO.  “We view this as a plan for how we, along with other area organizations and agencies, can collaborate to bring the best each has to offer to support change and to address the most pressing identified needs.”

A CHNA is a federal requirement of all non-profit hospitals to prove the hospital is providing community benefit and meeting the needs of local residents. The CHNA process follows federal guidelines including gathering statistical data from reputable sources, surveying “Local Experts” who meet specific criteria and developing an implementation plan for addressing the Significant Health Needs in the area.

The complete report can be found here: https://www.copleyvt.org/about-us/community-health-needs-assessment/. Community members can also go to Copley’s Community Relations office and request a paper copy to review.

How to Get Started Mountain Biking

By: Bonnie Strong, Copley Hospital Authorization Coordinator

Mountain bikes are a great way to exercise and get out into the woods. Compared to road bikes, they have bigger tires with rugged tread and suspension to absorb shock. Trails vary from smooth and flowy to technical single track.

After you figure out what kind of riding you want to do (trail, x-country, enduro, downhill) head to your local bike shop and they will fit you to the appropriate type of bike. There are different types of riding and bikes to match. Trail bikes are good for all purposes and most riders around here have these. Cross-country bikes are lightweight and good for smoother trails (they have no rear suspension); enduro bikes are ok for uphill and good for downhill, while downhill bikes are specific for lift assisted mountains and bike parks.

Ride some demo bikes or rent them and check out some bike swaps. Ask your bike friends what they’re into; it’s a great way to socialize. Grab some biking shorts, gloves, and a helmet. There are plenty of clinics at mountain bike centers (often free!) that will get you started and they’ll rent you a bike. Learn the basics and you’ll be on your way.

Most towns with mountain biking trails have a club that does a weekly group ride. If you’re not riding with others yet, it’s a great way to learn where the trails are, improve your riding and meet other riders. The rides are divided into different levels and you won’t be left behind. Meet up with the riders at your level on other days or head out on your own and keep learning and improving. Go to other bike shops in other towns for maps and ideas, and ride everywhere. Soon, you’ll be hooked!


Bonnie Strong is Authorization Coordinator at Copley Hospital and volunteers with Stowe Trails Partnership. When not biking, you can find her doing trail work and leading group rides.

It’s Creepy Crawlies Time

By: Leah Hollenberger

Creepy crawlies time is back and I don’t mean Halloween! Recently, local school boards and town health officers have had to discuss how to prevent the spread of bed bugs and lice.

The good news is that bed bugs and lice do not spread disease. They are annoying, but not dangerous. They’re also equal opportunists – found all over the world and in a variety of settings, from the chicest hotel to a neighbor’s home near you.

Head Lice

Lice is the easier bug to get rid of. Treatments for head lice are generally safe and effective when used correctly and available over the counter at any pharmacy. Most of these products are pesticides that can be absorbed through the skin, so use with care and only as directed.

As an alternative, some people recommend smothering head lice by covering the hair and scalp with mayonnaise or olive oil and leaving it on for eight hours. This should be followed by a vinegar rinse, which is thought to help weaken the “glue” that attaches lice eggs, called nits, to the hair next to the scalp. The Centers for Disease Control does not have clear scientific evidence that proves that the use of olive oil and/or vinegar is effective in killing lice.

With any treatment, you will need to carefully comb out hair with a fine tooth comb to capture lice and nits. You’ll need to check daily for two weeks or so to make sure the lice are gone. It is not uncommon to have to re-treat 5-10 days after the first treatment.

Head lice can’t live long if they fall off a person and can’t feed, which means you can focus on cleaning items used primarily by the infested person. Machine wash and dry any clothes, sheets, towels, hats, scarves, etc. that the person with head lice wore or used during the 2 days before the lice was discovered. Wash in a washing machine using the hot water (130 degrees) cycle and dry on the high heat seating. Clothing and other non-washable items (such as stuffed animals) can be dry-cleaned or sealed in a plastic bag and stored for 2 weeks. This will suffocate the lice. The CDC recommends vacuuming the floor and furniture, especially areas used by the infested person. You should also soak combs and brushes in hot water for 5-10 minutes.

Lice is spread most often by direct head-to-head contact. To limit spreading, don’t share hats, scarves, brushes or combs. You don’t need to avoid someone with lice.

Bed Bugs

These little buggers are a bit tougher and they travel easily. They are very small and flat, so they can fit into really small spaces – something as thin as the edge of a credit card. They hide during the day, but you can look for signs of them near where people sleep. Although they can travel, they tend to stay within 8 feet of where people sleep. Check seams of mattresses, box springs, luggage, overnight bags, and the folds of bedding and clothes, etc. Bedframes, headboards, dresser tables, and clutter also provide hiding spaces. Anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping areas where other people have slept has a higher risk of spreading or being bitten by bed bugs. Some travelers store their luggage in closets away from their sleeping area to reduce the chance of an infestation once they return home.

Bedbugs also leave signs that they are around. In addition to bug bites, they can leave a musty smell, very small reddish brown or dark brown spots or streaks from their poop, and/or shed skin in their hiding areas.

So what can you do if you have bed bugs? The only sure-fire remedy is to use a professional exterminator with experience in using heat to kill bed bugs. Experts say the infested area needs to be heated to at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit for three hours. This can be expensive, so other options include trying to remove the bugs and keeping them away. That means careful and repeated vacuuming of the seams of mattresses and box springs, along and under carpet edges and baseboards and in other crevices, cracks and around clutter near the sleeping area. Be sure to empty the vacuum bag outside of your home after each session. Washing clothing and bedding on the hot water setting and drying on the high heat setting for at least 10-15 minutes is effective. You should continue to monitor for bed bugs daily, and keep vacuuming regularly.

The Vermont Department of Health’s website has good clear directions on how to deal with a bedbug infestation. Their site also provides a good link to “Lice Lessons” on the National Association of School Nurses website. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has information on both lice and bedbugs.

Anyone can have lice or bed bugs, through no fault of their own. There is nothing to fear as they don’t carry disease; usually, they cause itchiness and sleepless nights. Getting rid of them takes time and effort, so be kind to someone dealing with these creepy crawlies.


Leah Hollenberger is the Vice President of Marketing, Development, and Community Relations for Copley Hospital. A former award-winning TV and Radio producer, she is the mother of two and lives in Morrisville. Her free time is spent volunteering, cooking, playing outdoors, and producing textile arts. Leah writes about community events, preventive care, and assorted ideas to help one make healthy choices.