Barre Family Health E-News
  News Around the Health Center  
    December  2012    

Inside This Newsletter
Medical Director's Corner
Sam Pickens, MD Honored
Dan Mullin, PsyD Receives Academic Excellence Award
Community Outreach via the Quabbin Wellness Advisory Council
Health Center Headlines
Practice Transformation and Process Improvement
Celebrations and Congratulations!

   Medical Director's Corner    

By Stephen T. Earls, MD


In the spirit of the recent Thanksgiving, and reflecting on the past few months and my recent meeting with our residents, there is much for which I am thankful and for us to celebrate. 


First and foremost, I am truly grateful for our excellent residents. To a person, they are blossoming before our eyes into engaged and talented family physicians. They have shown dedication to our health center and contribute every day to a stimulating learning environment, providing excellent patient care.  


Through their various passions, they are also reaching out to the community in ways that enhance the health of our entire community. Some of those initiatives are covered in this newsletter, but there are so many others such as "Cooking Matters", our community garden and our six quality projects, demonstrating our learners' commitment to excellence.

Our new Patient Advisory Council is having a huge impact on our practice. This necessary element of a PCMH has already, in only six short months, helped us to improve our front desk process, recruit a team of outstanding volunteers and better articulate our practice to our community.

Our staff is actively engaged in our practice transformation as well. Every day, they are finding new ways to utilize such tools as our patient care and high risk registries to assure that our patients are receiving the vital services they need to remain healthy. Handling over 1200 calls per month, our front desk staff has engaged in a LEAN process to improve our service level on the telephone.

To date they have met with huge success, answering 83% of calls in 40 seconds or less and reducing our abandoned call rate from 19% to less than 5%. The project is ongoing and the improvement is getting better each month.

I am inspired and awestruck by the almost effortless way in which so many of these great things are happening in our midst. I believe that all of this is possible only in a working and learning environment which is characterized by excellence and respect for others. Through our joint efforts, you have contributed to a health center which has continued to nurture growth.

Thank you to all of our team for continuing to make the Barre Family Health Center such a rich learning environment and patient care center

 "A Decade of Community Heroes"
 Sam Pickens, MD Honored at EQUAL's Annual Luncheon  

 By Joseph Stenger, MD


The East Quabbin Alliance (EQUAL) held its tenth Annual Luncheon on November 4. This community health coalition has honored an "unsung hero" each year. This year, the awardee was
Sam Pickens, MD, who has been on the staff of the Barre Family Health Center (BFHC) since 1973.

After residency training in New Jersey and at Memorial Hospital in Worcester, he and his wife Sandy spent 13 years in India as medical missionaries. On his return to the US, he joined our staff as Medical Director, handing the reins over to Steve Earls, MD in 1989, and "retiring" in 1996. He continues to precept a couple of days a week, bringing his lifelong experience to bear in helping residents to become excellent physicians and helping the health of the community.   

Sam Pickens, MD


His service to Barre has included work on the School Board, the Barre Rescue Squad, the Board of Health, the Regional Emergency Health Coalition, EQUAL, as well as his church, All Saints in Worcester. The town and region are deeply indebted to his many contributions.

EQUAL was founded in 2000 with leadership from Suzanne Cashman, ScD of UMass Medical School to promote health issues in the neighboring towns. Diverse community members including staff from the Barre Family Health Center make up the Steering Committee. Activities have focused on youth engagement, healthy nutrition, increasing physical activity, and environmental concerns.

Projects have included: running environmental education programs with emphasis on increasing recycling; setting up an organic garden and composting program at the regional high school; healthy cooking classes for BFHC families on Medicaid with overweight children and publishing a book of walking routes in the area.

Other projects include: running a walking program using pedometers at a local elementary school;  hiring an environmental steward for the town; and conducting community meetings about elders, problems with industrial food production, and climate change.  

The EQUAL Steering Committee welcomes participation from any interested people in the area. Several Barre residents have provided ideas, energy and talent. Yours would be welcome, too!                                     

                   Dan Mullin, PsyD Receives Academic Excellence Award              

At the Annual Meeting of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Dan Mullin, PsyD received a 2012 Excellence in Education Award. 

The award is given annually to up to five Departmental faculty to re
cognize work that goes above and beyond what is expected with an emphasis on teaching and academic work that raises the profile of the Department.

Dr. Mullin received this award for his innovative work in teaching, his regional role as faculty in the PCMH initiative and his developing national reputation in the area of Integrated Behavioral Health and Motivational Interviewing.

In presenting the award, Dr. Stephen Earls said of Dr. Mullin, "As a colleague, I am impressed with Dr. Mullin's ability to work as a team member, his critical thinking about educational issues and his leadership. He is the consummate team player. We are fortunate to have a young faculty member in our midst who is as motivated, innovative and energetic as Dr. Mullin."

In addition to his teaching responsibilities at the Barre Family Health Center, Dr. Mullin is a faculty member in Commonwealth Health. He is currently teaching a course to clinicians in Motivational Interviewing similar to the teaching he provides to the residents on a longitudinal basis. He has presented regularly at regional, national and even international meetings including the World Congress Leadership Summit on Integrating Behavioral Health into Patient Centered Primary Care and Medical Homes in Venice, Italy.                                      

    Community Outreach via the Quabbin Wellness Advisory Council                       By Alice LeBlanc, BSN, RN and Cynthia Jeremiah, MD  


"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
                                                                                Winston Churchill


The Barre Family Health Center (BFHC) is quality care close to home. Our employees not only work in this community, but they work for the community because most of them live in this community. This makes participating in community improvement even more important to all of us.


An example of our most recent efforts is the involvement of two physicians and one nurse in the Quabbin Wellness Advisory Council. This Council is working to bring better and improved nutrition education to the neighboring community schools. The Quabbin Wellness Advisory Council is made up of local school nurses, food service employees, and concerned citizens as well as (pictured from left) Steve Martin, MD, EdM; Cynthia Jeremiah, MD and Alice Leblanc, BSN, RN.      



The purpose of the council is to help make important decisions regarding nutrition in our schools. There are specific mandates about no candy, soda, etc, but we need to decide if the cafeterias will continue to prepare foods or contract the service. The farm to school initiative allows schools to work with local farmers to bring freshest produce to the schools.    


The Council is divided into three task forces, and our BFHC representatives are on the "Improving Nutrition Education" task force. They are working on educating through hands-on projects and creating visual aids that can be posted around the schools, and shared amongst the schools. They are also planning to work with high school students to put together a High School Health Fair in the spring, that will serve as a "spin off" of the health center's Health Fair that takes place in the fall.


Finally, Dr. Jeremiah and Alice Leblanc will be writing a column each quarter in the high school's newsletters called "The Buzz from the Barre Health Center."  Its purpose is to notify readers of new and existing nutrition resources at the health center, and to provide nutritious recipes. The column will start January 2013, and we hope to share this editorial opportunity with all of our creative writers.    

  Health Center Headlines
By Marco Cornelio, MD, Ch
ief Resident


Monthly "Walk in the Woods"

One of the perks of working in Barre is being surrounded by many beautiful state parks and protected lands. With such accessible walking trails nearby, you would think our patients are less obese and more active than the state average. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In an effort to change this disappointing statistic, we started a monthly walking program with two local organizations - the Listening Center and the East Quabbin Alliance for a Healthy Community (EQUAL).  


Our first walk took place on October 21 and was along the Swift River in nearby Petersham. Over 20 people, (including residents, attendings, nurses, and patients) participated in this 1.5 mile nature walk. The purpose of this program is to introduce patients to the many hiking trails in the area and offer them an opportunity to perform physical activity.

Our next walk is scheduled for November 25 and we plan on continuing it through the winter with snow shoes or cross country skis.


Second Annual Barre Health Fair

On September 22, the 2nd Annual Health Fair took place at the Barre Family Health Center. Many staff members, attendings, and residents were present to provide information on healthy living and describe the new services, courtesy of being a Patient Centered Medical Home.  


More than 100 patients received flu shots and each attendee received an emergency preparedness kit
complimentary of UMass Memorial Hospital. Our nutritionist (Deb Esposito), our podiatrist (Paula

Angelini), and representatives from WIC and Early Intervention were present to answer questions.

Attendees could also sign up for health insurance, ask pharmacy students questions, get a mammogram, and obtain heating oil assistance. In addition, Dr. Seuss' "Cat in the Hat" made an appearance and read to children. Other activities during the fair included free air brush tattoos, face painting, and tours of the Barre fire trucks.  


Everyone who participated in the event enjoyed speaking with patients during this four-hour event. We also got many compliments from patients who were very appreciative of the services we provide to the community. 


                   Practice Transformation and Process Improvement 

                             By Susan Begley, Ambulatory Manager   



We were recently awarded NCQA Level 3 recognition status for the Patient Centered Medical Home Initiative at the Barre Family Health Center. To help guide our NCQA/PCMH continuous improvement process, we have developed a very robust Patient Advisory Council.

Our work started in March 2012, and has resulted in many improvements. The PAC leaders, Cynthia Jeremiah, MD and our Clinical Care Manager, Alice LeBlanc, BSN, RN have spearheaded this endeavor. Some of their recommendations focused on our registration process realignment to improve privacy.


As a result, our information desk is now being staffed with a friendly volunteer during all office hours and our phone service levels have risen from 52.7% in June '12 to 82.6% in November '12. This improvement was achieved through cross-training and better workflow management. These changes have been welcomed by our patients and staff with positive feedback!

Our PAC is continuing their work in other areas, such as: focus on better communication methods from providers to patients; new patient packets that will inform newcomers about our health center; and a volunteer bi-monthly column in the Barre Gazette informing the community about the work that is being done by the group.

We are very fortunate to have such a dedicated group of patients, providers and staff who take pride in bringing improvement to the health center!


Celebrations and Congratulations!


We want to send out congratulations to two of our Barre residents on their recent weddings!

Chris Chang, PGY-2 (Barre) married Serena Hon, PGY-2 (Hahnemann) on September 29, 2012 in Boston.

Here is a great photo of the happy couple!



Congratulations also to Lauren Davidson, PGY-2 at Barre, who married Allen Linken on August 25, 2012 in Alabama!  Another great photo....