FARMINGTON — Franklin Memorial Hospital is leading the way when it comes to screening patients for colorectal cancer.

FMH, a member of the MaineHealth Cancer Care Network, has made significant progress in its efforts to increase its colorectal cancer screening rates. FMH screened 68.7% of eligible patients last year, continuing a positive trend that puts it closer to meeting the MaineHealth goal of 75.2%, according to the MaineHealth Accountable Care Organization.

Joseph Caruso Contributed photo

“This is good news for our patients,” said Joseph Caruso, a surgeon at Franklin Health Surgery, according to a news release from the hospital. “Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women, but it is also the most preventable cancer with regular screenings. Higher screening rates means a healthier community.

“However, while we are proud of our efforts to increase screening numbers, we also know there is much work to do,” said Caruso. “We are confident that being a part of the larger MaineHealth system will give us access to the resources we need to not just meet the goal, but to exceed it in ways that truly benefit our patients and our community.”

Caruso noted that such routine screenings remain vitally important, even as we navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Delaying routine health care can have devastating consequences, especially when it comes to delays in the early detection of cancer,” he said. “We want everyone to know that is it safe to keep all of their routine care appointments, including colorectal cancer screenings.”

The MaineHealth Cancer Care Network recommends that most people receive regular screenings beginning at age 50 or younger if they show symptoms or fall into a high-risk group.

The positive trend in screening numbers at FMH is part of a larger effort by MaineHealth that has increased the rate of colorectal cancer screening system wide from just 45% in 2014 to 79% in 2019.

That effort focused on primary care providers to make sure that they consistently initiated a conversation about colorectal cancer screening with patients in the at-risk categories. It also leveraged the MaineHealth electronic health records system, called MyChart, to send colorectal cancer screening messages to patients based on their age.

The effort has allowed MaineHealth to help Maine post some of the best colorectal cancer screening rates in the country, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. In 2018, the latest year for which data is available, Maine posted a 75.8% screening rate.

“We will continue to work hard on these outreach initiatives, but it’s important that patients know that they can talk to their primary care provider about colorectal cancer screening at any time,” Dr. Caruso said. “Early detection is the best way to prevent colorectal cancer, and a conversation with your primary care provider is the best way to start.”

UScellular promotes Melody Pierce and Emily MacRae

PORTLAND — UScellular has promoted Melody Pierce to agent development manager at the company’s agent retail locations across central and mid-coast Maine. In this role, Pierce is responsible for leading her group of agent owners as their technology experts help customers select the devices, plans and consumer electronics to best meet their needs. Pierce brings more than 25 years of wireless experience to her new role.

Melody Pierce Contributed photo

“At UScellular we work hard to ensure our associates are equipped with the knowledge needed to help customers make informed decisions about their wireless service,” said Tabatha McKay, area vice president/general manager for UScellular in New England, according to a news release from the company. “I am excited for Melody to be a leader for our agent locations in central and mid-coast Maine, and I’m confident that her leadership skills will guide our team to help customers in the area with their technology needs.”

Pierce joined UScellular eight years ago as a performance management consultant. Most recently, she served as the retail area sales manager supporting southern Maine. Pierce lives in Saco, with her husband, Jeff.

Emily MacRae Contributed photo

Emily MacRae has been named retail area sales manager for the company’s central and northern New England territory. MacRae is responsible for leading store associates in Rockland, South Paris, Auburn, Farmington, Waterville, Presque Isle, Ellsworth, Brewer, Augusta and Bangor to help customers and businesses select the best plan and devices to meet their data needs. MacRae has more than 12 years of wireless/sales experience.

MacRae joined UScellular in 2010 as a retail wireless consultant at UScellular’s Bangor retail store. Over the past 12 years, she has held several leadership positions in the corporate owned channel, most recently she was a retail area sales manager in western Iowa. MacRae lives in Belgrade and enjoys baking and biking.

“Emily’s passion and leadership throughout her UScellular journey is inspiring and motivating, and I am excited to have her back on our leadership team in New England to help guide our store associates at our retail locations in central and northern New England,” said McKay, according to the release. “At UScellular, we have friendly, engaged and knowledgeable associates who focus on providing an unmatched customer experience and helping you make the best wireless choices for your needs.”

Businesses, organizations recognized for random acts of philanthropy in Rangeley

Sam Hight, of Hight Family of Dealerships pulled together a group of local partners in an effort to support the demographic most impacted by COVID-19 in Franklin County —  children. Together with Skowhegan Savings Bank, Kyes Insurance and Saddleback Maine, Hight was able to quickly raise $16,500 which will be donated to four different nonprofit youth programs throughout Franklin County: Rangeley Alpine Ski Club, Rangeley Health and Wellness Kids’ Program, Little Mountain School, and Titcomb Mountain.

Early in 2020, the Hight Family of Dealerships supported Main Street Skowhegan’s technical assistance program. Hight also spearheaded the newly formed Somerset Economic Resource Council to provide community grants to small businesses impacted by COVID. In total, $120,000 in grant funding was raised to help local businesses keep their doors open.

“In 2021, it is important to remember who ultimately and undeservingly takes the biggest hit in times like these — our children — the ones we can all learn from. Whether it is their kindness or acceptance of others, or doing their best, not knowing otherwise,” Hight said, according to a news release from the dealership.

“We are pleased to team up with these businesses and organizations who are like-minded in developing initiatives that help make our communities a better place to live and work,” said David Cyr, president and CEO of Skowhegan Savings Bank, according to the release. “Sam and The Hight Family of Dealerships really stepped up to drive these programs, supporting them is one more way that Skowhegan Savings can help our local communities during these difficult times.”

In September, Saddleback Mountain and the Hight Family of Dealerships announced a partnership to help drive growth in jobs and services in Rangeley. “Rangeley has taken my family in as one of their own. I’ve wanted to give back to kids’ programs which will offer better accessibility, learning opportunities, and focus on healthy outdoor lifestyles, not only as support but as a thank you. I am thankful to have partners that care and are willing to help support this initiative,” said Hight.

Our youth are quickly becoming a “nature deficit” generation,” said Andy Shepard, General Manager at Saddleback Mountain. “This generation has prioritized time in front of a screen over time outdoors, and the implications that has for the emotional and physical health of our youth is concerning. Saddleback is committed to providing year-round opportunities for children to grow up surrounded by outdoor recreation and education.”

According to Leslie White, executive director of Rangeley Health and Wellness, “Our children’s programs are designed to promote holistic wellness and health of each child. We incorporate components of physical activity, creative expression and nutrition into our programs which encourage growth and development in a proactive way. Now more than ever, we believe that encouraging healthy behaviors, curiosity and resilience within children is essential for them to become strong community members.”

Similarly, Kate Philbrick, from The Little Mountain School echoed these sentiments, “Little Mountain School provides an excellent educational foundation for the future of our children. The Rangeley community has been incredibly supportive of our organization, especially as we navigate through uncharted territory.”

Maine health care providers join Age-Friendly Health Systems movement

Health systems in Maine are recognizing the importance of addressing the health needs of the state’s rapidly growing number of older adults by participating in a movement to better identify and address their unique care needs. Currently, 16 hospitals, medical practices, convenient care clinics, and/or nursing homes in Maine have joined Age-Friendly Health Systems.

Funded by The John A. Hartford Foundation and led by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement — in partnership with the American Hospital Association and the Catholic Health Association of the United States — the Age-Friendly Health Systems movement prioritizes what matters most to an older adult. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the urgency among health systems to prioritize age-friendly care; from March 2020 through December 2020, 1,671 U.S. health care sites joined the effort. This brings the total number of sites to 1,956.

“The rapid growth of the age-friendly care movement means that older adults in Maine have a better chance at receiving high-quality, evidence-based care that is tailored to what matters most to them,” said Terry Fulmer, president of JAHF, according to a news release from the foundation. “As COVID-19 has demonstrated, we must prioritize the care of older adults across all care settings to ensure coordinated, evidence-based, age-friendly care is delivered to those who need it most. We are incredibly grateful to IHI, our other partners, and all Age-Friendly Health Systems participants for their work to make health care age-friendly, especially during this terrible pandemic.”

Health care treatment decisions that help older adults achieve what matters most to them — like daily walks without pain, having the energy for gardening, or talking with grandchildren while feeling clear-headed — result in healthier aging, according to the movement.

“There has never been a more critical time to prioritize adoption of evidence-based care of older adults,” said Kedar Mate, president and CEO of IHI. “We are learning and improving care daily through the Age-Friendly Health Systems movement, and that will fortify our health care systems for the future. I am heartened by the increase in Age-Friendly participants and their commitment to better care for older adults.”

Local participants in the Age-Friendly Health Systems movement in Maine as of January include Central Maine HealthCare, MaineHealth and Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan.

Maine Community Foundation appoints new vice president of Finance and CFO

The Maine Community Foundation announces the appointment of Michele Camarco as vice president of finance and chief financial officer. Camarco, who will work in the Ellsworth office, is responsible for the review, analysis, and evaluation of the day-to-day finances of the foundation. She replaces Jim Geary who is now vice president of investments at the foundation.

Michelle Camarco Contributed photo

Prior to joining the MaineCF staff, Camarco was director of finance and operations at Alpha Gamma Delta Fraternity Inc. in Indianapolis; she also served as interim executive director of Alpha Gamma Delta Housing Corp. in 2018-2019. Camarco earned a degree in accounting from Briarwood College and a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Central Connecticut State University. She also holds a Certified Association Executive credential from the American Society of Association Executives.

Barbara Price hired as Nutrition Services director at SeniorsPlus

LEWISTON — SeniorsPlus has hired Barbara Price as the organization’s new Nutrition Services director.

Barbara Price Contributed photo

Prior to joining SeniorsPlus, Price was the consumer assistance program manager at Consumers for Affordable Health Care and worked in the nonprofit sector in higher education for many years before that.

Established in 1972 and headquartered in Lewiston, SeniorsPlus is the Western Maine designated Area Agency on Aging covering Franklin, Oxford and Androscoggin counties. The overall program goal of SeniorsPlus is to assist older people and adults with disabilities in its tri-county area to remain safely at home for as long as possible. The mission of SeniorsPlus is to enrich the lives of older people and adults with disabilities, their families and communities, and to support them to make informed choices. Annually, SeniorsPlus serves more than 19,000 individuals and fields 200,000 phone inquiries.

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