Springing forward with Medical Matters

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Health care news in the Queen City and beyond

The local and state-wide landscape remains active with health care issues and items making news on several fronts, so let’s dive right in.

HB 481

Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton

Last month-HB 481-a bill that would legalize commercial cannabis sales in the Granite State- passed the NH house by a healthy margin.  Sponsored by Rep Renny Cushing (D-Hampton) and Sen. Martha Hennessey (D-Hanover), the vote elicited a swift and negative response from medical providers, law enforcement, community educators, health advocates and others across the state who saw the potential law as a public health hazard.  In statement issued by New Futures, Kate Frey, Vice President of Advocacy for the organization stated that “Simply put, HB 481 does not have the health and well-being of our families and our communities in mind.”  Those who advocate for the bill – which would enable those 21 and older to legally purchase the drug for recreational use- would provide critical tax revenue to support state infrastructure.

Recreational marijuana sales are currently legal in 10 states including NH neighbors Vermont and Massachusetts.  HB 481 now goes to the House Ways and Means Committee for future consideration.  Gov Chris Sununu has said previously that he would veto the legislation. There are strong  arguments on both sides of this issue, file this in the “stay tuned” category for certain.

Urgent care centers on the grow

Catholic Medical Center and ClearChoiceMD Urgent Care have announced a partnership that will bring two more urgent care centers to the area.  The collaboration’s first center is open in Goffstown (corner of Mast Road and Daniel Plummer road) while the second facility will open in Hooksett next month near the entrance to Cinemagic.

For non-life-threatening issues, urgent care centers can serve as a good alternative to a hospital emergency department, both in terms of wait times (shorter!) and lower cost.  Urgent care centers can also serve as extenders for families when primary offices are closed. CMC president and CEO Joseph Pepe, MD, said in a news release that services provided in the new clinics would be backed by CMC emergency and specialty providers as needed.  To learn more about the partnership, please visit www.catholicmedicalcenter.org.


Welcome aboard!

Manchester Community Health Center has announced that Kathleen Davidson Esq. was appointed the organization’s Chair of the Board at its February meeting.  Davidson has served on MCHC board since 2014; prior to that she served on MCHC’s partner agency – Child Health Services – for three years.

“We are excited to have Kathleen at the helm of our board,” said MCHC CEO and President, Kris McCracken. “Her leadership experience and knowledge of our patient populations and breadth of services will help propel Manchester Community Health Center forward as we strive to meet the demand for integrated healthcare services.”  To learn more, please visit www.mchc-nh.org.


New COO appointed for Elliot Health System.

The health system announced that Joseph Tate Curti has been named as Chief Operating Officer.  Tate joins Elliot from Southern NH Health System, where he served as Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President. He is a graduate of George Washington University where he obtained his Master of Health Services Administration. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology & American Cultural Studies from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Tate is also a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. As Chief Operating Officer, Tate will be responsible for Elliot Hospital operations, as well as oversight of the Elliot Medical Group (primary care & specialists) and the Visiting Nurses Association of Manchester & So. NH.

Water, water everywhere – but is it safe?

News about our state’s water quality continues to make headlines in communities from Portsmouth to Merrimack as well as in the state house.  The chief culprit is Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid – aka PFOAs. PFOAs first surfaced in the 1950s and are used in the manufacturing of consumer products like stain-proof carpeting and non-stick frying pans – basically meant to repel grease or oil.  This is good for the pans but not so much for humans when it gets absorbed into ground water.  According to health experts, once absorbed, PFAs are very slow to leave the body and are thought to cause a host of health hazards including cancers, harm to internal organs, low birth weight in infants and damage to one’s immune system.  The issue can be complex and far ranging and discussions have ranged from how to hold polluters accountable to blood testing to determine the human impacts.  One of our state’s many advantages is our environment and this issue impacts all of us; wherever you live, this issue bears watching.

A healthy investment

The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation announced recently that it had invested nearly $2 million in the communities and people of New Hampshire in 2018 as part of its continuing efforts to improve the health of the communities and lives of the people of the Granite State.

Lisa Guertin

“We believe strongly that improving the health of our communities is fundamental to what we do here at Anthem,” said Lisa Guertin, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire. “By engaging with local organizations, we are making real progress on some of the critical health issues facing the state, including the opioid epidemic and instilling in young people the importance of lifelong healthy habits. We look forward to continuing our relationships with nonprofit organizations working to make a difference in the year ahead.”

Among the many highlights of Anthem efforts included grants to Easterseals NH & Farnum Center, March of Dimes, Greater Seacoast Community Health, Manchester Police Athletic League, Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country and Boys & Girls Clubs in southern and central New Hampshire.

Anthem associates also came together for Anthem’s largest community-based service campaign this fall, Anthem Volunteer Days. New Hampshire associates helped to turn over garden beds at the NH Food Bank’s Production Garden in Manchester and also prepped meals at the NH Food Bank’s kitchen facility.

To learn more about Anthem’s efforts, please visit: www.anthemcorporateresponsibility.com.

Thank you for your readership and support of Manchester Ink Link.  I welcome your ideas for future stories and columns at Chrisdugan@manchesterinklink.com

Chris Dugan is Principal at Dugan PR, where he provides strategic communications, public relations and marketing/communications support to a broad range of non-profit and for-profit clients across New Hampshire. Prior to starting his consulting practice, Chris held senior leadership communications roles at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, the American Lung Association of NH, Optima Health and St. Joseph Hospital. A New Hampshire native, Chris is an active community volunteer and is a member of the Queen City Rotary Club, where he chairs the Marketing/Public Relations Committee. He has been recognized by the American Academy for Health Services Marketing and the NewEngland Society for Health Care Communications. He is a graduate of Leadership Greater Manchester and Leadership Greater Nashua. Got a scoop? Email Chris at chrisdugan@manchesterinklink.com.

About this Author


Chris Dugan

Chris Dugan is a regular contributor to Manchester Ink Link and writes the Medical Matters column.