Category - Copley Hospital

1
Celiac Awareness Month
2
Second Annual Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day
3
Sweet Dreams
4
A Little Touch of Spring
5
Keeping Your Knees Healthy
6
Become a Live Well Lamoille Blogger!
7
Support for Survivors of Suicide Loss
8
Considerate Festive Cooking for Everyone: Special Diets/Allergies
9
Tips for a Less Stressful Holiday
10
Helping People Navigate the Health Care System

Celiac Awareness Month

By: Drs. Helen and Marty Linseisen

May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month. There is widespread misunderstanding and misinformation regarding Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease is not an allergy, sensitivity, or a lifestyle choice. Celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disease that affects the digestive process of the small intestine. When a person with Celiac Disease consumes gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, the individual’s immune system responds by attacking the small intestine, inhibiting the absorption of important nutrients into the body. Specifically, the tiny fingerlike projections called villi, on the lining of the small intestine, are destroyed.

Celiac Disease affects people differently. There are more than 200 signs and symptoms of Celiac Disease, yet some people with Celiac Disease have no symptoms at all. People without symptoms are still at risk for certain complications of Celiac Disease, such as cancer. Symptoms may or may not occur in the digestive system. For example, one person may experience diarrhea and abdominal pain, while another person displays infertility or anemia. Some individuals develop Celiac Disease as children, others as adults. Celiac Disease can affect men and women of all ages and races, and it is possible to be diagnosed with the disease at any age. Other symptoms of Celiac Disease include painful joints, fatigue, tingling/numbness in the legs, unexplained infertility or recurrent miscarriages, osteopenia, and psychiatric disorders.

Celiac Disease is more common than most people realize. An estimated 1 in 133 Americans, or 3 million people, have Celiac Disease. By comparison, Alzheimer’s disease affects approximately 2 million people. Unfortunately, it is estimated that up to 83% of Americans who have Celiac Disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions. The average time a person waits to be correctly diagnosed is six to ten years. Most primary care providers have been taught that Celiac Disease is a rare condition and patients only have gastrointestinal symptoms. Lectures on Celiac Disease in medical schools, even today, are limited.

Patients with gastrointestinal symptoms should be tested for Celiac Disease. However, testing should be expanded to include patients with nongastrointestinal complaints, as less than 50% of patients present with classic gastrointestinal symptoms. Additionally, children older than 3 years of age, regardless of symptoms, should be tested if a close relative is diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Anyone with an automimmune disorder such as Type 1 diabetes, thyroid problems, Addison’s disease and genetic syndromes like Down’s syndrome should be tested periodically. Women who experience persistent miscarriages or infertility without a determined medical cause should be tested as well. Diagnosis of Celiac Disease initially requires blood tests to measure levels of certain antibodies. If antibody tests and/or symptoms suggest Celiac Disease, the diagnosis needs to be confirmed by an endoscopic biopsy procedure. 

The only treatment for Celiac Disease is a 100% gluten free diet for a lifetime, avoiding all foods that contain or come in contact with gluten. Ingesting any gluten, no matter how small an amount, can damage the small intestine even without having noticeable symptoms. The gluten free diet requires a completely new approach to eating that affects a person’s entire life. Individuals with Celiac Disease must be extremely cautious with each food or product purchased, where they eat and how the food is prepared. Gluten is often found in cosmetics, medications, household products, food fillers or thickeners, and many processed foods. Even if a product does not contain gluten, it may have gluten due to cross-contact which can occur at many stages of product production. Despite the increase in gluten free food options, many times foods labeled “gluten free” are not safe for those with Celiac Disease to consume. Frequently, food items are processed in facilities that produce wheat products, putting people at risk for cross contact. Thus, living with Celiac Disease has a significant lifestyle burden. Those with Celiac Disease report a higher negative impact on their quality of life than do people with Type 2 diabetes, congestive heart failure, hypertension, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Despite restrictions, people with Celiac Disease can eat a well-balanced healthy diet. The gluten free diet can seem overwhelming at first. Support and education are essential to avoid isolation, to foster safe inclusion in social gatherings, and to promote overall health. With time, patience, and guidance, living with Celiac Disease can become easier, with the ability to lead an active and healthy lifestyle. 

Second Annual Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day

By: Suzanne Masland, District Director, Morrisville Local Health Office

Jon Gailmor, Performing Artist

Last week, performing artist Jon Gailmor and Copley Hospital chaplain Alden Launer, joined the Compassionate Bereavement Coalition (CBC) and many families in celebrating the Second Annual Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

The event included an invocation from Alden Launer and a naming recognition ceremony. Jon Gailmor led attendees in uplifting songs and attendees participated in a lantern release just as the sun was setting over the memorial stone that was dedicated “In Remembrance of Our Children” on this beautiful evening.

The SIMON Project (The Sudden Infant/Child Mourning Network), a resource for education, advocacy and support, and the CBC raised funds to purchase the memorial stone for families who have experienced the loss of a child in pregnancy, to stillbirth, or in infancy. The memorial stone was placed in the Pleasant View Cemetery in Morrisville, VT. The memorial stone will be open to the community and any family who may wish to add their child’s name to the memorial. This will not be a community burial site. Instead, it is intended to serve as a tangible place to recognize and honor those babies who are gone too soon. 

Copley Hospital chaplain Alden Launer

The Pleasant View Cemetery trustees donated the site for the memorial stone. The Third Annual Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day will take place October 15, 2020 at the Cemetery. The date, October 15, is chosen because it is the National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This is a day when families around the globe light a candle at 7 p.m., local time, to create a continuous wave of light spanning the globe for a 24-hour period in honor and remembrance of children who have died during pregnancy or shortly after birth.

Memorial stone with the setting sun

To add a baby’s name to the stone, call Jenn Chittick at 881-2917 or email Wendy Hubbard, Maternal Child Health Coordinator with the Morrisville Health Department at wendy.hubbard@vermont.gov. Please let either of them know if you want to apply for financial assistance.


Sweet Dreams

By: Julie Bomengen

While most of us have an intuitive drive and love for sleep, many of us don’t understand how a good night’s rest impacts our mental and emotional well-being. Today’s blog is going to unpack Sleep as a Pillar/Foundation for Mental Health. A compromised sleep-wake cycle alters brain activity and the neurochemicals that directly affect our mood and executive functioning (ie: working memory, cognitive flexibility, and self-control), and undermines the processes intended to restore our minds and bodies to a normal, healthy baseline. Protecting the quality and quantity of our sleep is one of the most critical interventions we can do to improve overall mental, emotional, and physical functioning.

Our sleep-wake cycle is controlled by the HPA (Hypothalamus, Pituitary, Adrenal) Axis which controls cortisol production on a 24-hour Circadian Rhythm.  When our sleep-wake cycle is rhythmic, cortisol drops at night to help us fall asleep and increases in the early morning hours to help us wake up. Acute or chronic stress, unresolved trauma, drug and alcohol use, pain, blood-sugar dysregulation (hypoglycemia), misuse of caffeine, illness, and hormone imbalances, among other things, can all impact the level of cortisol in the body, affect our sleep patterns, and exacerbate symptoms of or lead to depression, anxiety, PTSD, PMS, ADHD, dementia, and Bipolar disorder. Ongoing disruption of this essential psychological-biological rhythm reinforces mental distress and becomes a vicious cycle of symptoms that disrupt sleep patterns and sleep disturbances that often develop into mental health disorders.

Research has shown that sleep, and REM sleep or dream sleep, in particular, plays a major role in mood regulation and that increasing our time in REM sleep reduces depression. When we are sleeping, our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) gets a chance to be in Parasympathetic Mode – time to put the brakes on and rest, digest, relax, restore, renew, detoxify, and integrate information and experiences from the day. All important reasons to safeguard sleep.

Our use of technology exerts a considerable impact on both the quality and quantity of our sleep. The blue-green wavelength that screens emit depresses melatonin, the sleep hormone that is released when the sun goes down. For this reason, blue light acts as a stimulant to the brain, making it hard to feel relaxed, settle down, and fall asleep. Easily accessed devices create an all-too-easy and convenient distraction for most people, often leading to a disconnect from real-time experiences and relationships, misuse of time, and a disruption of the circadian rhythm. Behavioral habits of checking and rechecking our devices can often set a negative or anxious tone for the day, and as stress hormones are released, feelings of anxiety increase. Often, even before people are getting out of their beds in the mornings, they are tired, stressed, and irritable from their dysregulated sleep. Beginning the day with a deficit is no fun for anyone!

Ways to protect and improve your sleep and mental and emotional wellbeing:

  • Discontinue use of all technology at least 1 hour prior to going to bed and ideally, leave your device charging outside of your bedroom in order to reduce distractions, increase intimacy (by the way, snuggling releases oxytocin – the human bonding/relational hormone!), and protect the quality and quantity of your sleep.  Use blue light blocking glasses at night and consider installing the f.lux program onto your devices which makes the color of your computer screen adapt to the time of day, thereby modulating its stimulating impact.
  • Develop a relaxing bedtime ritual (we create them for our children, why not for ourselves?) which might include reading, showering, a magnesium-rich (the relaxing mineral) epsom salts bath 30 minutes before bed, gentle stretching, listening to music, drinking herbal tea, aromatherapy, massage, herbs such as valerian root tincture, hops, passionflower, or with the support of an experienced practitioner use supplements that support circadian rhythm which include melatonin, B12, and lithium orotate.
  • Establish a regular sleep-wake cycle 7 days a week, choosing your be-in-bed-by-time and your lights-out time. Doing your best to stick with this cycle every night will better support the 24-hour rhythm that will ensure healthy sleep patterns and improved mental, emotional and physical health. One of the reasons why it’s often difficult to get going on Monday mornings is because people change up their bedtime routines over the weekend which throws off the sleep-wake cycle and makes for a sluggish start to the week.
  • Consider pairing your dessert or alcohol (a.k.a. “liquid sugar” – more on this in a future blog) with food earlier in the evening or omit them altogether to help in eliminating the impact of blood-sugar dysregulation on your sleep patterns. When we consume sugars before bed, our blood sugar levels spike and then come down 2-4 hours later in the middle of the night, waking the individual up as a result of our body’s alarm sensing what it perceives as concerning or dangerously low blood sugar levels. Eliminating sugars and alcohol several hours before going to bed and/ or enjoying a protein or healthy fat snack before bed (ie: avocado, nuts, cheese, egg, turkey and other high tryptophan foods) will help individuals fall asleep and stay asleep more successfully.
  • Limit your use of caffeine to earlier in the day, remembering that caffeine (including energy drinks) that is consumed in the late afternoon for that pick-me-up boost often contributes to insomnia.
  • Because elevated stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine) can lead to memory and attention problems, irritability, and sleep disorders, work diligently to manage stressors by engaging in some form of relaxation, meditation, breath work, or progressive muscle relaxation exercises. Apps like Insight Timer, Calm, and Headspace can be helpful aids for meditation and stress management. Another tip is to write down your worries or to-do’s on a piece of paper that you leave outside of your bedroom, creating a boundary between your “doing” self and your “being or sleeping” self.
  • Keep your bedroom dark (consider an eye mask and room darkening shades) and cool (60-67 degrees F, adjusted to personal preferences) to ensure a restful night’s sleep.
  • Limit the bedroom to sleeping or intimacy.  Your bedroom is not your office!
  • Daily, regular exercise, particularly high-intensity workouts, but ideally before 4 p.m. Physical activity helps relieve stress, reduces cortisol production and helps normalize sleep patterns.
  • Exposure to bright natural light or use of a full-spectrum lamp on a daily basis is helpful in supporting quality sleep patterns, particularly for people who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Getting outside every day helps – even when it’s cloudy, which Lamoille County often is!
  • Use habit-forming sleep medications as a last resort as they will further interfere with your body’s ability to restore a natural Circadian Rhythm.

Resources to Further your Education and Information:


Julie Bomengen is a Vermont Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC) with 22 years of experience in the field of mental health. Julie is also a Nutritional Therapy Consultant (NTC), a certification of the Nutritional Therapy Association. She lives, works and plays in Lamoille County.

A Little Touch of Spring

By: Valerie Valcour

The Vernal Equinox is March 20, 2019. Looking outside my window, I dare say there is more snow melting that needs to happen before it feels like spring. Every year I look forward to spring and getting my hands in the garden to tend my flowers. For me, caring for my flowers provides me solace and relaxation.

You can find several references regarding gardening as a source of mental health. Here is one such reference from Psychology Today. In this article, the author identifies gardening as a source of nurturing and being in the present moment.

The first flower that greets us in the spring is the Crocus. The Crocus is a brave yet delicate flower. It reminds me that having a little courage can help me push through the cold dormant ground of winter’s past. I hope you enjoy this poem by Frances Ellen Walkins Harper and think Spring!

The Crocuses

They heard the South wind sighing
    A murmur of the rain;
And they knew that Earth was longing
    To see them all again.
 
While the snow-drops still were sleeping
    Beneath the silent sod;
They felt their new life pulsing
    Within the dark, cold clod.
 
Not a daffodil nor daisy
    Had dared to raise its head;
Not a fairhaired dandelion
    Peeped timid from its bed;
 
Though a tremor of the winter
    Did shivering through them run;
Yet they lifted up their foreheads
    To greet the vernal sun.
 
And the sunbeams gave them welcome,
    As did the morning air—
And scattered o’er their simple robes
    Rich tints of beauty rare.
 
Soon a host of lovely flowers
    From vales and woodland burst;
But in all that fair procession
    The crocuses were first.
 
First to weave for Earth a chaplet
    To crown her dear old head;
And to beauty the pathway
    Where winter still did tread.
 
And their loved and white-haired mother
    Smiled sweetly ’neath the touch,
When she knew her faithful children
    Were loving her so much

-Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, 1825 – 1911


Valerie Valcour is a Public Health Nurse and specializes in chronic disease prevention and emergency preparedness at the community level for the Department of Health in Morrisville. Valerie has lived in Lamoille County for most of her life. She graduated from People’s Academy in 1983 and worked as a nurse at Copley Hospital for several years. In addition to her work, she volunteers as a board member of both Community Health Services of Lamoille Valley and the Lamoille County Planning Commission.

Keeping Your Knees Healthy

By: Leah Hollenberger

Copley recently hosted a seminar on Knee Health. A key piece of new information for several of the attendees was that exercise helps you build bone and maintain bone density. If you spend most of your time sitting down, your body gets the message that you aren’t using your bones, so your bones stop absorbing the calcium and minerals they need to become and stay strong. So to avoid problems with your knees, the best thing to do is to move more.

Here are some tips from the National Institutes of Health to help:

Think about all the movements you do every day: walking, climbing stairs, typing, turning doorknobs and lifting. Your bones, muscles, and joints all work together to make your body an amazingly movable machine. Like any machine, your body can suffer some wear and tear. It needs regular care and maintenance to keep moving with ease.

The main moving parts of your body include the solid bones, the joint tissues that link bones together, and the muscles that attach to your bones. Your body has about 200 bones and more than 600 muscles. These parts all work together to help you move throughout the day.

Muscle strengthening and proper joint alignment are important for just about anyone who wants to stay flexible and mobile. Exercises that improve your balance and strengthen your muscles can help to prevent falls.

Tips for Body Maintenance

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. A knee sees 3–5 times body weight with every step.
  2. Engage in muscle-strengthening (resistance) exercises. Activities that involve all your major muscle groups 2 or more times a week.
  3. Stay active all week long. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week, such as brisk walking.
  4. Wear comfortable, properly fitting shoes.
  5. Eat a well-balanced diet. Focus on vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean protein.
  6. Get enough calcium and vitamin D daily to protect your bones.
  • 80-1000 IU of Vitamin D daily
  • 1,200 mg calcium daily for women age 51–70, and men and women age >70
  • 1,000 mg calcium daily for men age 51–70

Copley’s Rehabilitation Services created a free downloadable guide to the best exercises you can do to keep your knees strong. See it online here.


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.

Become a Live Well Lamoille Blogger!

The Live Well Lamoille blog is a joint community effort to share information and encourage one another to make healthy choices, and now YOU have the opportunity to be a part of it! This month, we are beginning our search for new bloggers to join the conversation about how to live well and build a healthier community.

So many factors contribute to “health.” Medical care is certainly important; however, many of the other factors that shape our health reside outside the doctor’s office, such as access to nutritious food, economic stability, and the policies and laws that shape the choices available to us.

Too often, the clinical aspects of healthy living are considered separate from the more social aspects. Live Well Lamoille attempts to create a shared space where our community can come together for a more holistic conversation. We bring together bloggers from health organizations, local government, advocacy groups, educational institutions, and local businesses to contribute blog posts sharing resources, activities, and ideas to help readers make healthy choices.

This year, we hope to feature even more perspectives and approaches to improving health. Adults over the age of 18 in the Lamoille Valley are invited to enter our contest to become a new Live Well Lamoille blogger. Entering is simple:

  1. Visit Copley Hospital’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CopleyHospitalVT
  2. Comment on the blog contest announcement (link above) discussing why you would be a great blogger to represent and inspire people in our community to make healthy choices.

Use this as an opportunity to introduce yourself and let your personality shine. Who are you? What is your approach to health? Do you enjoy cooking, exercising, or practicing mindfulness? Do you work to improve quality life for children and families through your career?

We are looking for a variety of backgrounds and approaches to health and wellness. In the past, bloggers have written about both traditional healthcare topics (such as heart health and managing a chronic disease), as well as topics not traditionally thought of in health discussions, such as:

  • neighborhood walkability
  • preventing substance abuse
  • addiction recovery
  • early childhood education
  • coping with grief
  • local recreational resources

Every blogger will bring their own unique voice and stories to the blog. Each Live Well Lamoille blogger will be responsible for writing 2 to 3 blog posts per year.

Head on over to Copley Hospital’s Facebook page and tell us why you would make a great blogger!

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.