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Massena Memorial Hospital kicks off hospital, nurses week

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MASSENA - An emergency department nurse was recognized as Massena Memorial Hospital’s Nurse of Distinction Monday when the hospital kicked off its annual National Hospital and Nurses Week.

Helen LaPage was lauded during an opening reception for her work in various departments around the hospital and in her current assignment in the emergency department.

Barb Kennedy, who was unable to make Monday’s event, was also recognized as Auxilian of the Year by MMH Auxiliary President Kay Romeo.

Chief Nurse Executive Sue Beaulieu said Ms. LaPage shows “compassionate caring” not only for those coming into the emergency department to have their medical needs addresses, but also those who work with her.

“She is a calming presence in a high-stress situation,” Ms. Beaulieu said. “She has brought a level of professionalism beyond compare to the emergency department.”

Ms. LaPage said she was surprised to hear her name called out by Ms. Beaulieu.

“I don’t feel I do any better than anyone else,” she said. “I love my job.”

National Hospital and Nurses Week gives the hospital an opportunity to recognize all of its employees during what CEO Charles F. Fahd II said was the national’s largest health care event. This is the 92nd year National Hospital and Nurses Week has been celebrated, he said. This year’s theme is “A Guide Light for Changing Times, and he said it gives the hospital an opportunity to “show off the best we have.”

Medicine has changed over the years, according to Mr. Fahd.

“Health care is an entity that grows and adapts to the needs of its constituents,” he said.

But the commitment to patient care has remained the same, the CEO said.

“This is a timeless symbol of extraordinary human commitment. One thing does not change - the dedication to the mission, vision and values,” he said, calling the employees “a continuous source of pride.”

Massena Memorial Hospital not only provides “Quality Healthcare in the Seaway Valley,” but also contributes to the community, Mr. Fahd said. He noted that MMH generates more than $74 million into the economy on an annual basis.

Andrew Spanburgh, chairman of the hospital’s Board of Managers, lauded the efforts of the employees, particularly the nursing staff.

“I have the greatest respect for the profession. When you’re here, they expect you to be perfect. Believe me, we have some of the best hands-on professionals of all. All in the machines in the world cannot lay hands on patients. They need the touch and compassion nurses provide,” he said.

“It is the best nursing staff that cold ever exist,” Ms. Beaulieu said.

Mayor James F. Hidy said he remembered the ice storm of 1998. He was still in Michigan, but his mother was at Massena Memorial Hospital when the storm hit and continued tending to patients’ needs.

“No one could move, and I couldn’t get here. They were a guiding light. The hospital was still there,” he said.

He noted that community hospitals are one of the legs on a three-legged stool when major corporations are looking at relocating to an area.

“You need good schools, you need good government and you also need a good hospital,” Mr. Hidy said.

The hospital recently held a ribbon-cutting for a new medical office building, and Ms. Romeo said she saw it as another important piece of the hospital’s services.

“It’s just beautiful. I’m sure doctors are going to want to be in there,” she said.

The Massena Memorial Hospital Auxiliary does its part to support the hospital, Ms. Romeo said, raising money to support the facility’s needs. This year they provided one bed and one life science monitor with their funds. They also offer scholarships for hospital employees to attend nursing school.

The Massena Memorial Hospital Foundation, a separate non-profit entity, also does its part to support the hospital, according to Foundation Vice President Miriam Catapano and Foundation Executive Director Julia Rose.

“Massena Memorial Hospital is working diligently to offer a full complement of health care to the community. That makes the role of the Foundation more important,” Ms. Catapano said.

Their mission, she said, is to support and enhance patient care, and they’ve raised funds to do a number of things over the years including upgrading the courtyard, providing a desk for the nursery and providing Holter monitors for EKGs.

Ms. Catapano and Ms. Rose presented Mr. Fahd with a $5,000 check to purchase a new kettle for the hospital kitchen, replacing one that dates back to 1952.

They’ll be raising more money on Friday when they hold their annual radiothon. As of Monday, they had 199 items up for auction, according to Ms. Rose, and their goal is to raise $36,000.

“The Foundation believes in the importance of community-based health care,” she said.

A number of new initiatives made Massena Memorial Hospital even better, according to Mark Brouillette, senior director of ancillary services. They include a walk-in clinic, expanded campus and an outpatient center on Andrews Street. They are also in the final stages of selecting a new state-of-the-art scanner, he said.

Those services, he said, shows the commitment Massena Memorial Hospital provides for “exceptional health care to the community.”

National Hospital and Nursing Week will wrap up on Friday with the annual radiothon, but Massena Memorial Hospital will hold another celebration on May 22 to recognize the 20th anniversary of the North Country Veteran’s Clinic.

“We expect hundreds of local veterans to come that day and be honored,” Mr. Fahd said.

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