In the current copy of Advances in Addiction & Recovery, there is a featured article on "Healing the Addicted Brain." The article, written by Dr. Harold Urschel III, features SPECT images of brains that have been injured by substance use. I was particularly struck by the damage to the brain of a 38 year old male with 17 years of heavy weekend use of alcohol in comparison to the normal healthy brain. It occurs to me that many people might not think that heavy weekend drinking is dangerous. However looking at the SPECT scans it is clear that there is damage to this individual's brain. The article goes on to state that brain damage caused by alcohol or drug abuse is not completely reversible by abstinence. By actively utilizing recovery supports of all kinds, an individual can hope to eventually recover 90% of his/her brain functions. Brains heal slowly and damage can be seen by the SPECT scans even after years of abstinence. Individuals in recovery from addiction are aware of this fact.
SPECT scans show the areas of the brain that are active and functioning normally. These scans can be viewed on-line at www.amenclinics.com. They are fascinating and clearly demonstrate how mental illnesses and addiction affects our brain functions. These disorders interrupt the neuropathways in our brain thus leaving large "holes" of inactivity. With these scans and other scientific advances we have gained a better understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms in the brain that maintain substance dependence. Individuals with affected brains are unable to just stop drinking or using drugs. Asking someone with this type of damage to view himself and his substance abuse honestly is an unrealistic expectation. The large holes of inactivity make it impossible.
There are medications that can accelerate the rebuilding of neuropathways, relieve withdrawal symptoms and help overcome cravings. Medications, such as naltrexone and acamprosate that block the "high" and reduce the cravings have been readily available by prescription for treatment of alcoholism since 2000. Medication for opiate dependence such as methadone and buprenorphine (Suboxone) are widely used even though their potential for misuse or diversion is high. Unfortunately methadone and buprenorphine are often just substitutes for illegal use of opiates. In October of 2010, FDA approved use of naltrexone and acamprosate for treatment of opiate addiction. These 2 medications can be used in conjunction with each other and improve the rates of recovery from opiate addiction for motivated individuals. They are non-narcotic and have no street value. Thus the potential for misuse or diversion is nil. They are available by prescription from a primary care physician. All medication regimes work best when used in conjunction with behavior therapy.
Addiction is a chronic, progressive disease that can be and needs to be treated. Just as high cholesterol or diabetes medications work best when behavioral changes are made (i.e. changes in diet), medications and behavioral therapy for addiction can speed up the healing process and assist in normalizing the brain. When abstinence is established the brain quickly begins to heal and function more normally. New neuropathways are developed and the areas of inactivity begin to become active.
If you or a loved one needs help with mental health or substance abuse, please contact help. It is out there. Our resources for treatment in the Valley are limited but utilizing physicians, medications and therapy your chances of sustained recovery are greatly improved.
Pamela Low is a licensed clinical mental health counselor and master license alcohol and drug counselor. She maintains a private practice with Michael Edwards, MA, LCMHC, MLADC at 45 Washington Street, in Conway. Call for more information at 447-7046.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 04:35
By Tom Eastman
CONWAY — Memorial Hospital held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its newly renovated Emergency Department on May 7.
The ribbon cutting was followed by a walk-through and light refreshments.
Since January, the department has been undergoing renovations, including the addition of three exam rooms to incorporate an Express Care service, and the implementation of an electronic medical record system.
Memorial's CEO Scott McKinnon was joined by Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce director and hospital board member Janice Crawford, Memorial's chief of operations Steve Wyrsch, emergency department Medical Director Dr. Kim Goodwin and emergency department Clinical Director Colin Richards, RN in cutting the ribbon.
In his remarks, McKinnon said the Emergency Department sees about 13,000 people a year.
“The majority of people who come to a hospital come through the Emergency Department. For that reason a lot of hospitals call their ED their front door to their hospital. That's been a bit of a stretch for us [due to the layout of Memorial Hospital] but albeit it's our back door, it's a very important door into our institution,” said McKinnon.
U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) was invited to the event but could not attend. Prior toMcKinnon's remarks, Neva Varsalone, a representative from the senator's office, read a letter of congratulations on completion of the project.
McKinnon, after the ribbon-cutitng ceremonies, provided an overview of the upgrade and new Express Care.
“Basically, what we have done is refurbish the whole registration and waiting area with a warmer nicer, environment,” McKinnon said. “And, we have added three additional patient treatment rooms that are part of our new Express Care. That allows us to continue with our traditional Emergency Department for the more serious cases, while people who come in for more minor injuries can now be seen in this Express Care so they're not caught up in the waiting room, waiting, waiting and waiting until they can access the back [adjacent Emergency Room]. So, it really creates two separate queues and that's the value of this. I think it will have a big impact on patient throughput, waiting times and their overall experience.”
With the redesign of the emergency entrance, patients will now be greeted by a triage nurse as soon as they enter. If the nurse determines that their condition is serious, they are routed directly to the traditional emergency department. Those with less critical needs will be registered and seen through the Express Care service in one of the three newly-constructed exam rooms, generally in the order of arrival.
The Express Care service will be in use seven days a week from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., 365 days a year.
Services offered will include medical treatment for minor illness or injury, treatment for work-related injuries, infections, earaches and more. By treating non-emergent cases in a separate area, hospital officials say, the result is a shorter overall time spent in the hospital.
'Faster and more efficient'
Dr. Ray Rabideau, medical director of primary care at the hospital, says the change will mean faster and more efficient care for people who come to the department with minor ailments.
Studies have shown an overuse of emergency departments nationwide, Rabideau said, with people using them for services because they are their only immediate access to care rather than because they are in need of critical care. In addition, he said, people cannot always judge how critical it is for them to get immediate attention for a medical issue.
This is the first major renovation of the emergency department, he said, since it was moved to that part of the hospital in 2001.
Although he said the numbers of people and types of complaints seen in the Memorial emergency department have not changed significantly in that time, there can be long waits for people who are not in critical need of care. The changes, he said, will create a more streamlined experience for those people.
Completing the upgrade of the department is implementation of an electronic medical records (EMR) system. According to Curtis Kerbs, Memorial's chief of information services, "MedHost" replaces a paper-based system within the ED and is part of the hospital's plan to provide an electronic record throughout the hospital. "MedHost enhances communication and workflow within the ED team as well as with hospital laboratory, radiology and inpatient services," Krebs said. In addition, a patient's primary care provider, whether local or out-of-area, is automatically notified of an emergency visit.
Richards, the clinical director of the Emergency Department, said the ED has added 2.2 full-time positions for the extra three new Express Care rooms and upgraded ED. They include a nurse practitioner and nurses and paramedics.
“It's a pretty significant increase to our FTs, but we feel it's money well-spent,” said Richards. “As you can see, we're really close to the main ED, so if we need to go, we go. No further registration is required for the patient.”
Goodwin, the ED's medical director, said, “We now have a nurse practitioner on seven days a week, in addition to the FT position in the back [in the ED].”
Crawford in her brief remarks at the ribbon-cutting said the hospital is a credit to the community, for residents and tourists alike.
“We are very pleased to have a hospital in our community with the services they offer. We don't have to worry for our community or our tourists who come to visit the area and engage in a lot of activities that could at times bring them to this door,” said Crawford. “We are very fortunate to have this emergency room, and the new upgrade, and to have a hospital that serves our community so well.
For more information about emergency services at Memorial Hospital, call 356-5461 X2198 or visit www.MemorialHospitalNH.org.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 03:26
CONWAY — Every year, National Nurses Week focuses attention on the diverse ways America's 3.1 million registered nurses work to save lives and to improve the health of millions of individuals. This year, the American Nurses Association is celebrating "Delivering Quality and Innovation in Patient Care" as their theme.
Executive Director Sandy Ruka, RN MSN said the theme is a perfect fit for the staff at Visiting Nurse, Home Care & Hospice of Carroll County. "Our nurses lead the home health teams that make quality in-home care possible," she said. "As the complexity and technology of medical care grows, we are called upon to provide a higher level of innovative care to our clients. At the same time, working in someone's home and with their family means we keep them at the center of a holistic approach to health care."
Traditionally, National Nurses Week begins on May 6, marked as RN Recognition Day, and ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, founder of nursing as a modern profession. The week is intended to highlight how registered nurses, who comprise the largest health care profession, are working to improve health care. "We want all of our nurses to know how much we appreciate the compassionate care they provide to our clients," Ruka said. "Their knowledge and professionalism truly represent our agency's passion for home care."
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 03:26
The aging process never stops and if you slow down or quit being active, your ability to perform activities can decrease very quickly as you age. A big part of staying healthy and active is achieved by using your body's functions and abilities regularly. In a study of geriatric chiropractic patients, it was found that the patients who proactively cared for their bodies, experienced a decrease in chronic conditions, relief from arthritis, fewer symptoms of depression, less drug dependence and hospitalization. Those individuals also reported that their health was good to excellent overall. Is your health "good to excellent?" Would you like it to be?
Mount Washington Valley Chiropractic has a wide age range of clientele, some of whom are well into their 90s. The benefits of chiropractic are not limited to younger or more active individuals. Seniors benefit from chiropractic treatment too, allowing them to continue to perform daily activities of housework, gardening and exercise. Maintaining these abilities is crucial to avoiding premature hospice care or assisted living situations. Participating in a regular exercise regime is essential to long term health, function and maintaining independence. Unfortunately for many seniors, who have lost some of their abilities, their mindset is to accept the situation and continue to deteriorate without any effort to become active and healthy again. Some patients have come to us for chiropractic care after many months or even years of pain and difficulty moving. After treatment was administered, their mobility increased and they were able to return to normal daily activities, with considerably less pain.
Loss of joint mobility is one of the most common symptoms for seniors that cause pain and problems. If mobility or properly aligned function is not restored, the joint continues to wear with use and pain will increase ... As you age the ability to process nutrients to be used for bone and joint strength diminishes and leads to weaker structures. The primary role chiropractic care seeks to provide is to restore joint function which also reduces pressure and aids in slowing wear on that joint. Chiropractic is a very gentle treatment and can be worked around most bone disorders such as osteopenia and osteoporosis. It is an excellent choice for treatment of individuals who suffer from osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by abnormal stress on a joint due to overuse and often an accompanied by a nutritional deficiency.
A great attribute of chiropractic treatment for seniors (or anyone), is that chiropractic care is noninvasive, very safe, approved by Medicare and most insurances. There is virtually no possibility of making a condition worse so the risk is minimal and the reward could be (and usually is) great. Chiropractic care is extremely gentle and very little effort achieves a considerable amount of improvement with maximum comfort. Treatments do not require "popping" or "cracking" sounds to achieve benefits. Treatments can be personalized to your needs and requests appropriate for your condition.
If you (or a senior you know) is having joint issues, whether it is spinal, knee or shoulder, it may benefit them to get assessed and see if chiropractic care can restore their lost abilities and comfort. There is no sense in suffering pain if there is help available.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 03:25
CONWAY — Saco River Medical Group opened a new clinic in Glen on Wednesday, expanding their primary care services to the northern end of the Mount Washington Valley.
"For several years we've been just chock full in our Conway office," Dr. Robert Rose, president of Saco River Medical, said, with a significant portion of the traffic coming from the towns of Jackson and Bartlett. They were considering expanding, he said, and a northern location just made sense.
The new space is 3,000 square feet in the plaza at the intersection of Route 16 and 302. The space is roughly half the size of their office in Conway, Rose said, with eight exam rooms and facilities capable of accommodating three clinicians at one time. Services are currently limited to primary care, he said, but in the coming months they will be opening a walk-in clinic on the site as well.
The Glen location will have its own staff, but physicians from the Conway office will be doing rounds there as well, meaning existing patients from the area may be able to avoid the 20-minute drive south without changing providers.
"We're growing with the valley," Rose said. There is no prescribed plan for expansion, he said, but Saco River Medical has been in operation for 20 years. They saw a need and decided to address it. Rose said the decision has had people asking why there wasn't a primary care facility in the area sooner.
After the walk-in clinic opens, Rose said, they are also considering including specialty services like those they offer in Conway — dermatology, back care — in Glen, but that is still early in the planning process.
To mark the opening Saco River Medical is hosting an open house Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., giving people a chance to see the new space and meet the primary care providers.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 May 2013 05:31
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