PROUDLY SERVING BERWICK, NORTH BERWICK, SOMERSWORTH, SOUTH BERWICK, ROLLINSFORD & BEYOND

News

  • 03/27/2020 3:56 PM | Emerson Doiron (Administrator)

    An update to our community.

    As we continue to see new cases of COVID-19 in New Hampshire, today we'd like to share more information about new ways to get care and new ways to lend your support. 

    COMMUNITY HOTLINE
     
    Wentworth-Douglass Hospital's new COVID-19 Community Hotline will serve as a nursing triage phone line for those who have symptoms of COVID-19 or have general COVID-19 questions. 
     
    The COVID-19 Community Hotline is accessible by calling (603) 609-6000.
     
    Operating Hours
    Monday through Friday
    8:00 a.m. - 5:00.p.m.
     
    Saturday and Sunday
    9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
     
    Depending on your symptoms, the Hotline nurses may direct you to the Wentworth-Douglass Hospital Respiratory Illness Clinic outside of our Emergency Department at 789 Central Avenue. The clinic is open Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. 
     
    This Respiratory Illness Clinic is meant for patients experiencing moderate COVID-19 symptoms, such as severe coughing, fever (above 100.4), chills, and a general feeling of malaise or fatigue that prevents you from getting out of bed or off the couch. Those at high-risk for experiencing these COVID-19 symptoms include people who are age 70 or older, with severe lung disease (asthma, bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis, COPD, emphysema, etc.), severe heart disease, those on dialysis, among others. 
     
    Please note that patients experiencing a medical emergency should always call 9-1-1.
    HOW YOU CAN HELP

    We are overwhelmed with gratitude by the community support we have received. Thank you to everyone who has volunteered their time and resources to create masks by hand, donated other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), meals to our staff, or offered support in other ways. 

    We continue to receive messages from community members asking how they can help and we have provided a couple of avenues for this below. 

    Messages to our Care Team

    Our staff has been working around the clock to make sure the community is safe while giving personal care and attention to every patient. Sometimes the greatest gift our staff members can receive is a “thank you” from a patient or family member. We are asking the community to share words of encouragement and appreciation for our tireless and dedicated staff. Please feel free to share your thoughts via email at comrelations@wdhospital.org or by commenting on Wentworth-Douglass Hospital’s Facebook page.

    Donating Medical Supplies

    We are turning to our community to ask for its help in donating urgently needed medical supplies, such as masks, hand sanitizer, non-latex gloves, and digital thermometers. Donated items can be dropped off at the hospital's main entrance (across from the parking garage), Monday - Friday, 6:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. The address is 789 Central Avenue in Dover. Read more about our supply needs. 

    Wentworth-Douglass Emergency Response Fund

    If you don't have medical supplies to donate but would like help, please consider making a gift to the Wentworth-Douglass Emergency Response Fund. Your gift truly makes a difference during these unprecedented times. For more information about the fund, please call the Wentworth-Douglass Foundation at (603) 740-2687.
    REMINDER FOR THOSE WHO HAVE SYMPTOMS...

    If you are experiencing common symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever or cough, please CALL your primary health care provider first or the WDH Community Hotline (603-609-6000). For your safety and the safety of others, please do not come to an urgent care clinic or emergency room unless you have been instructed to do so. 

    The availability of timely and accessible testing for COVID-19 continues to be a concern. To preserve supplies so we can best serve those most in need, the hospital will ONLY test individuals who meet specific testing criteria. We will update the community if that changes
     
    Remember that we can all do our part to help slow the spread of transmission by practicing good public health habits, including maintaining social distancing, washing hands frequently, and staying home if you are sick. 

    Please visit our Coronavirus Updates page for more detailed information.


  • 03/27/2020 11:12 AM | Emerson Doiron (Administrator)

    March 27, 2020

    In response to the extraordinary generosity of Maine people, businesses, and organizations looking to help during these challenging times, Governor Janet Mills today launched a new online resource, coronavirus.maine.gov/mainehelps, to outline ways in which Maine people can support efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “The kindness and generosity of Maine people during this challenging time is nothing short of inspiring. I want to thank all of you for stepping up with innovative solutions to ensure your neighbors and fellow citizens have what they need,” said Governor Mills. “This resource will help those looking to lend a hand and encourage more Maine people to target their skills, resources, and time in the most effective and safe ways to do the most good for our state.” 

    The new resource, which will be updated regularly, outlines four predominate ways Maine people can address immediate needs: 1) financial assistance; 2) health care and medical assistance; 3) small business assistance; and 4) connections with family, friends, and neighbors. 

    Extending Financial Support:

    The Governor is encouraging people to direct financial support to the state’s nine United Ways, which administers local relief funds for COVID-19 to support critical needs such as food and shelter. Details about those funds are available at: unitedwaysofmaine.org/covid

    “These funds are a concrete way for people in Maine to donate to the county or counties that they wish to support,” said Joleen Bedard, executive director of the United Way of Androscoggin County and president of the United Ways of Maine. “Mainers are generous, and the United Ways of Maine greatly appreciate their support as we respond to the emergency needs of people in our community.”

    The Governor is also encouraging Maine people to look to the Maine Community Foundation, which is distributing grants from a statewide emergency response fund to regional and community-based nonprofits, area agencies on aging, community action programs, homeless shelters, and food pantries that are responding to COVID-19. Details are available at: mainecf.org/initiatives-impact/COVID-19-response/ 

    “While all Maine people are responding to challenges from COVID-19, for some it is a matter of actual survival,” said Steve Rowe, president of the Maine Community Foundation. “If ever there was a time to help our vulnerable neighbors, this is it.”

    Supporting the Health Care and Medical Response: 

    • The Governor is encouraging Maine people to donate certified medical supplies, like Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), through THIS ONLINE FORM. While Governor Mills deeply appreciates Maine people who have volunteered to make masks, the Maine CDC is not recommending that health care providers use donated homemade masks at this time because they may not meet certification standards.
    • The Governor is encouraging medical providers and public health professionals with requisite medical experience to volunteer through MaineResponds.org.
    • The Governor also encourages Maine people to donate blood via the American Red Cross of Maine, which is experiencing a critical shortage of blood donations.

    Supporting Local Small Businesses:

    • Small businesses are the backbone of Maine’s economy, and COVID-19 is taking a serious toll on them. The Governor encourages Maine people to safely support local businesses through efforts like PayitForwardMaine while being mindful of crucial physical distancing guidelines and using online transactions or pickup and delivery services.

    Mainers Connecting With Mainers:

    • Most importantly, Governor Mills encourages all Maine people to ensure the COVID-19 epidemic does not also become an epidemic of loneliness, as the imperative of physical distancing to combat the spread of this virus keeps families, friends and neighbors apart for extended periods of time.

    While keeping physical distance is paramount, now is the time to strengthen and renew social bonds with friends, family and community. Make a phone call. Use video tools, like FaceTime or Zoom, to have face-to-face conversations. Connect on social networks to engage with your community and identify businesses or other services you may need or wish to support.

    For additional information and resources, and to stay informed on the latest updates on Maine’s response to COVID-19, visit http://coronavirus.maine.gov/ 


  • 03/27/2020 9:58 AM | Emerson Doiron (Administrator)

    New Hampshire Governor Sununu has issued a Stay-at-Home order from March 27th - May 4th. 

    Read the order here:

    https://www.governor.nh.gov/news-media/emergency-orders/documents/emergency-order-17-1.pdf

  • 03/26/2020 10:25 AM | Emerson Doiron (Administrator)

    Dear Recovery Friendly Workplaces:

    During this time, we know that you are all hard at work to keep your employees and broader communities safe and healthy. We draw strength and inspiration from all of you and hope that you are also finding sources of strength and inspiration during this time.

    Since our email last week, some additional  virtual  resources have come to our attention that we wanted to let you know about (all times given are in EST):

    ·         Virtual recovery resources compiled by SAMHSAhttps://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/virtual-recovery-resources.pdf  

    ·         SOS Recovery Community Organization has compiled a wonderful page full of information on virtual meetings and services: https://straffordrecovery.org/virtual-meetings/. Some of the supports listed include

    o   All Recovery meetings that are offered at 7am, 9am, 12pm, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm, and 11pm 7 days a week (There are also LGBTQ+ and Woman’s All Recovery meetings – see the link for details.)

    o   Moms in Recovery Mon at 5pm & Dads in Recovery Mon at 1pm

    o   Family Support meetings that are offered at 8pm 7 days a week (both of these meetings are offered by a collaboration of Unity Recovery, WEconnect Health Management, Alano Club of Portland, and SOS)

    o   Recovery Planning Groups, which focus on helping people build recovery capital (internal and external resources that assist individuals in their recovery) at 10am and 5pm 7 days a week (hosted by staff at SOS Recovery who are Certified Recovery Support Workers)

    o   Yoga in Recovery sessions hosted by Yoga in Action on Mon/Wed/Fri at 11am and Thurs at 4pm

    o   Coaching and telephone recovery supports. To register for coaching or telephone recovery supports, call SOS at 603-841-2350. Their phones are being answered Mon-Sat, 9am-8pm, and Sun, 12pm-4pm. You can also email them at info@sosrco.org.

    ·         RecoveryLink™ is a technologically-informed platform that helps connect users to a wide array of recovery support tools. They are currently working with a variety of partners - WEconnect Health, Alano Club of Portland, Unity Recovery, SOS Recovery, The Recovery Gym, Unity Yoga, Zoom, and Discord - to offer 24/7 FREE access to digital recovery supports during COVID-19. Supports include recovery meetings, physical activities, meditation, and more: https://myrecoverylink.com/digital-recovery-support/.

    ·         To help support individuals in recovery from substance use disorder, Addiction Policy Forum has partnered with CHESS Health to launch the Connections App, a free smartphone app that helps support people in recovery, including through promoting pro-social engagement. You can learn more here: https://www.addictionpolicy.org/connections-app.

    ·         For those in the Greater Manchester area, Makin' It Happen is putting out information on resources, including some on managing stress and anxiety: https://www.mih4u.org/staying-connected-to-your-recovery-during-covid-19/Hope for New Hampshire Recovery (with locations in Manchester and Berlin) has compiled a great list of virtual resources, including links to a variety of 12-step fellowships, SMART recovery meetings, 3 Principles, and more. Telephone supports are available for members: http://www.hopefornhrecovery.org/.

    ·         RecoverYdia is offering AA meetings 7 days a week at 6:30am, 12pm, and 7pm, and you may also request a Live Peer Support meeting: https://www.recoverydia.com/digital-peer-support.

    ·         Headrest of the Upper Valley notes that, especially during this time, people may feel anxious, lonely, scared, or sad. If you need someone to talk to or know someone who does, please call their 24/7 Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. Their trained counselors are here for you.

    ·         Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline and chat available to anyone in the U.S. in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. By dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255), the call is routed to the nearest crisis center in their national network of crisis centers.

    ·         NAMI New Hampshire is also a great resource for mental health supports. Check out their Facebook page and/or website for more info: https://www.naminh.org/. As Ken Norton, NAMI NH's Executive Director notes, during this time, all of New Hampshire’s 10 community mental health centers will remain open, and "[m]any in-home mental health supports are now occurring by phone, text or other remote devices." Mr. Norton will be doing a Facebook Live session on Thurs, 3/26 at 7pm on how New Hampshire’s mental health supports are evolving to meet current needs, in addition to tips on managing mental health during stressful times. The following article provides further information on the status of mental health supports in NH and tips on self-care: https://bit.ly/FostersMentalHealth.

    ·         Connections Peer Support Center serves adults in the NH Seacoast Region. They will still be operating their free Warmline service for their members during this time. Becoming a member is free, confidential, and easy. Unlike crisis hotlines, a Warmline exists as a resource when someone simply feels the need for contact or support. Their staff is trained in Intentional Peer Support (IPS). To learn more, check out their website: http://connectionspeersupport.org/warm-line/. For a full list of Peer Support Agencies in NH who offer free Warmlines, please visit https://bit.ly/PeerSupportWarmlines.

    ·         The Crisis Text Line is a free, 24/7, text-based support for those in crisis. To use this resource, just text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the US to text with a trained Crisis Counselor. Texters can discuss a wide range of issues, including anxiety (including around the Coronavirus), depression, and more. To learn more, check out their website: https://www.crisistextline.org/.

    ·         SAMHSA has also compiled tips for taking care of behavioral health during an infectious disease outbreak: https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/tips-social-distancing-quarantine-isolation-031620.pdf.

    ·         Starting Mon, 3/23, Fit Body Transformations will be hosting live virtual group training sessions Mon-Fri at 6am and 9am. They are also hosting live Check-ins Mon/Wed/Fri at 12pm. They also have added pre-recorded workouts that will be available to the public free of charge: https://www.facebook.com/162399617143222/posts/2754840717899086/?d=n.

    ·         If you are interested in learning more about the expansion of insurance coverage for telehealth services, please see the following link: https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/ombp/medicaid/documents/telehealth-covid19.pdf.

    ·         Last, if you have questions about COVID-19, finding treatment resources, or additional mental health resources or other support services, please call 2-1-1 or visit their website at 211nh.org.

    While this is not an exhaustive list of resources, we hope it is helpful. As always, we encourage you to check in with your local community supports, including your local Recovery Community Organization (RCO), which can be looked up on NH Recovery Hub's website (http://nhrecoveryhub.org/), and Public Health Network (PHN) (https://nhphn.org/who-we-are/public-health-networks/) to see what else may be available to you. Your local RCO may be offering their own set of virtual meetings, coaching, and telephone services, and we encourage you to call them to find out what they are offering. Additionally, we plan to highlight additional organizations in future posts.

    We are wishing everyone well as we continue to navigate the current challenges and create new opportunities for synergy, collaboration, and support. Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any related questions, thoughts, or concerns. Thank you, and be well.


  • 03/26/2020 10:24 AM | Emerson Doiron (Administrator)

    Energy company focuses on safeguarding health while delivering essential energy services

     

    MANCHESTER, N.H. (March 25, 2020) — As Eversource operates under its COVID-19 pandemic plan to safeguard the health and well-being of its employees and the communities it serves, the energy company continues to prepare for emergencies and perform essential work to ensure reliability for its four million customers across Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Recognizing the importance of this work, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security included electric, gas and water utility workers in its recently published list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.”

     

    Eversource lineworker.

    “The reliability of our essential service has never been more important than it is today during these uncertain times,” said Eversource NH President Joe Purington. “Critical facilities like hospitals and nursing homes need uninterrupted service to care for their patients. Many people are working from home, and students are studying remotely, relying on electronic devices to accomplish their goals.”

     

    Under Eversource’s COVID-19 pandemic plan, essential work includes any work that maintains or improves the condition of the energy company’s electric and gas systems and supports its foundational mission of safe, reliable energy service. Examples of essential work include, but are not limited to: 

     

    ·    replacement of electrical lines, poles, and other equipment needed to keep the systems operating;

    ·    installation of automated switches that speed restoration of customers following an outage;

    ·    new utility connections to provide service to homes and other facilities;

    ·    vegetation management along electric lines, as trees remain the biggest threat to our system in New England;

    ·    repair of natural gas leaks;

    ·    replacement and upgrades of natural gas lines and other equipment;

    ·    and work mandated by law or regulation.

     

    Essential work is not the same as emergency work, which is in response to a specific and unexpected outage or other need. Eversource has integrated its social distancing, hygiene and enhanced sanitation measures to safeguard health and well-being into its emergency response planning while continuing to prepare for and respond to potential emergencies. Following the storm that brought heavy, wet snow into the region earlier this week, the energy company restored power to more than 56,000 customers in New Hampshire in 24 hours while operating under its COVID-19 pandemic plan. 

     

    Work that Eversource is not currently performing includes any non-critical field work that requires access to homes or businesses like energy efficiency in-house visits, customer-requested meter relocations and exchanges, and natural gas sales appointments. The energy company also postponed all business travel, large meetings and employee gatherings and continues to require any employee whose job can be done remotely to work from home.

     

    While this pandemic continues to evolve, Eversource will continue to take all necessary precautions to maintain reliable service for its customers and to ensure the safety and health of its employees and the public. For more information on Eversource’s preparedness efforts and response to COVID-19, including FAQs for customers, ways to save, and more please visit Eversource.com.


  • 03/25/2020 12:04 PM | Emerson Doiron (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced its first round of published guidance to provide information to employees and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) when it takes effect on April 1, 2020.

    FFCRA will help the United States combat and defeat COVID-19 by giving all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members. The legislation will ensure that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus while at the same time reimbursing businesses.

    The guidance – provided in a Fact Sheet for Employees, a Fact Sheet for Employers and a Questions and Answers document – addresses critical questions, such as how an employer must count the number of their employees to determine coverage; how small businesses can obtain an exemption; how to count hours for part-time employees; and how to calculate the wages employees are entitled to under this law.

    “Providing information to the American workforce is a top priority for the Wage and Hour Division,” said Administrator Cheryl Stanton. “With so many workers and so many employers struggling to find their way in these trying conditions, providing guidance on a rolling basis will allow workers and businesses to prepare for the law to go into effect on April 1, 2020. We remain committed, and are working around the clock to provide the information and tools for employees and employers alike.”

    The guidance announced today is just the first round of information and compliance assistance to come from WHD. A workplace poster required for most employers will be published later this week, along with additional fact sheets and more Q&A.

    WHD provides additional information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19, and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.

    For more information about the laws enforced by the WHD, call 866-4US-WAGE, or visit https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd.

    For further information about COVID-19, please visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    WHD’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation's workforce. WHD enforces federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.

    The mission of the U.S. Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.


  • 03/25/2020 10:44 AM | Emerson Doiron (Administrator)

    Two new orders bolster health care workforce and telehealth

    The Administration of Governor Janet Mills has taken two actions to promote Maine people’s access to health care in response to COVID-19, which bolster the health care work force and facilitate the expansion of telehealth.

    “I am committed to ensuring that Maine people have access to quality, affordable health care as we respond to COVID-19,” said Governor Mills. “As a result of these actions, I am hopeful that more Maine people will be able to get counseling, prescriptions, and treatment from their trusted health care providers from the safety of their homes whenever possible and without sacrificing other basic necessities.”

    “These changes advance Maine’s role as a national leader in supporting telehealth and make it possible for more of our patients and health care providers to connect online and over the phone rather than in person,” said Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “We stand ready to work with providers to ensure patients can get the health care they need, especially with so many Maine people staying home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

    First, Governor Mills has signed an Executive Order (PDF) allowing licensed physicians, physician assistants, and nurses greater flexibility to contribute to Maine’s response during the civil state of emergency. Those who are licensed and in good standing in other states can now:

    • Receive an emergency license to provide health care in person or through telehealth to Maine people, with no application fee
    • See Maine patients through telehealth without obtaining a Maine license, if already serving those patients at out-of-state locations
    • Have their licenses automatically renewed if up for renewal during the state of emergency
    • Suspend conforming to physician oversight requirements (for physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses)
    • Reactivate their license immediately with no application fee, if retired.

    Additionally, all physicians, physician assistants and nurses licensed in Maine and those authorized under the order may provide services through all methods of telehealth, including video, audio and other electronic technologies to treat Maine people for all medical needs. The order expands acceptable technologies beyond only those that are compliant with patient privacy laws, to align Maine with major changes made by the federal government that provide broad coverage for telehealth services for Medicare members.

    In addition to this Executive Order, the Administration’s second action also aligns Maine with federal guidance and improves the affordability of needed health care services delivered through telehealth. To implement the Governor’s initiative, Superintendent of Insurance Eric Cioppa on Friday signed an order that requires insurance companies to provide coverage for clinically-appropriate services delivered by telephone, as well as via more commonly used apps, such as FaceTime, WhatsApp and Skype, as long as they are private. This provides flexibility to patients who may not have access to web-based applications traditionally used for telehealth.

    “The telehealth order allows health care providers greater options in delivering care to Mainers,” said Cioppa. “The change will allow people to have virtual house calls, providing them with the health care they need, while at the same time maintaining social distancing.”

    The Superintendent’s order also requires insurance carriers to pay providers for telehealth services at the same rate they would pay for an in-person visit for the same service. This supports health care providers who are following national and state recommendations to postpone in-person appointments for non-urgent care and makes it more likely that patients will be able to get the care they need through telehealth visits.

    MaineCare, or Medicaid, already pays the same rate for most covered services whether delivered in person or through telehealth. Last week, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced an expansion of this already robust policy through an emergency rule change that allows for prescribing through telehealth. Maine DHHS has long supported the promotion of telehealth services, as described in a new fact sheet.

    The Insurance Superintendent’s authority extends only to fully-insured health plans -- not to Medicare Advantage or self-insured plans. The Governor urges all self-insured large employers in Maine to adopt the same policies to ensure their employees continue to get the care they need.

    DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and the Northeast Telehealth Resource Center will host a statewide virtual statewide Telehealth Town Hall meeting on Thursday, March 26 for health providers to explain these changes and announce a range of resources (PDF) available to support them in using telehealth services.

    Additionally, DHHS reconstituted a statewide Telehealth Advisory Committee in 2019 to promote consistent practices across health care payers, use of tele-psychiatry in emergency departments, and use of telehealth for new workforce models.


ABOUT THE FALLS CHAMBER

The Falls Chamber of Commerce is a professional association of businesses in  the falls area.  We are the catalyst that facilitates business growth , prosperity, partnership and success for our members. 

       

CONTACTS

Emerson Doiron, Executive Director

info@thefallschamber.com
603.749.7175
office hours by appointment: 472 High Street, Somersworth NH 03878

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