Making the rounds with Medical Matters: Help wanted, Blessings in a Backpack and more

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Lots of health and wellness news in the Queen City and beyond, so let’s jump right in.

Help wanted

According to some estimates, there are more than 2,000 unfilled jobs in NH’s health care sector and if not addressed, the shortage could have major ramifications for our health care systems, many of which are already under stress. At present, there are more than 40 health care organizations supporting SB 308, deemed a multi-pronged approach to addressing the workforce shortage.

Highlights of the bill include: reimbursement increases for Medicaid providers, changes to telehealth, criminal background checks for new employees, administrative relief and investments in the State Loan Repayment Program.  At the heart of what makes our state great is our ability to provide medical care and services; this issue truly impacts all of us and bears watching. Click here to view the latest text of the bill.  

Blessings in a Backpack: Major effort by Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. Courtesy Photo

Blessings in a Backpack

School kids in Manchester got a big boost earlier this spring, thanks to a major grant from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire.  Anthem associates loaded 500 backpacks with nonperishable food items and donated the goodies to the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester to supplement the club’s food pantry.

The effort in Manchester is part of the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation’s partnership with Blessings in a Backpack.  According to Anthem, the collaboration has provided more than 8,000 bags of food for kids across the U.S to date.

“Anthem’s mission is to improve lives and communities and to make healthcare simpler. To help us accomplish this, we work with local organizations to develop community-specific approaches that remove barriers and improve health,” said Lisa Guertin, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire. “Food insecurity is associated with some of the most serious and costly chronic health problems, and it’s important we continue to identify ways to address this serious issue in our communities where help is needed and can be readily accessed.” Learn more here

David Ports

New leader at the Granite YMCA

The state’s largest YMCA association has announced the appointment of David Ports as its new President and CEO.  Ports was selected by the Y’s CEO Search Committee after a nationwide search.

Ports, who started his Y career at the Downtown Manchester branch in the Membership Department, has been part of the YMCA movement for over 20 years.  

“I am honored to accept the responsibility to lead this historic Y,” said Ports in a letter for YMCA members. “Over its 165-year history, The Granite YMCA has been a place of refuge, learning, support, and opportunity for hundreds of thousands of people. I am proud of the role that The Granite YMCA has played in the lives of the people in southern and seacoast NH and am honored that you have chosen me to continue that extraordinary work.” Ports’ appointment is effective July 8, 2019. . .

2019 Scholarship Winner Sydney Spenard, Courtesy Photo

Good sports

Sydney Spenard, a junior at Manchester Memorial High School, has been named as the Bertrand & Blanche Letendre Memorial Student Athletic Training Summer School Scholarship.  The program is administered by the New Hampshire Musculoskeletal Institute.

The scholarship was created by Mark Letendre to honor his parents, Bertrand and Blanche Letendre.  

Spenard is a multi-sport athlete at Memorial, where she also excels in the classroom with a 3.54 GPA.  Other activities include membership in the Student-Athlete Leadership Team and the National Junior Honor Society.  She will be attending the Springfield College Athletic Training Career Discovery Workshop in June. 

Fund a seed

The Manchester Police Athletic League, AKA MPAL, has launched a special fundraiser. Between now and October 31, anyone who donates $20 or more to MPAL will have their name put on a leaf and hung on a tree in the organization’s foyer.  Donations can be made online or via check made out to the Manchester Police Athletic League and mailed to 409 Beech Street, Manchester, NH 03103.

 Earlier this month, I had a great opportunity to tour the facility and hear presentations from some inspiring MPAL ambassadors.  This is a great organization doing yeoman’s work in the inner city. To learn more, please visit their website here.

Lace ‘em up for a great cause

This Saturday marks the annual New Hampshire Heart Walk presented by the American Heart Association. The event takes place at Derryfield Park in Manchester. Check-in is at 9 a.m. with the walk starting at 10 a.m.  To walk, support a team or get more info, please contact

As always, I welcome your press releases, news tips, and story ideas.  Please email me at