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November 2009

Do you ask the right questions?

Southcoast Hospitals is hosting an open forum discussing the national topic of health care safety and quality on Monday, November 16, from 6 to 7 p.m. at St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford.

A panel of experts, including E.J. McMahon, MD, MBA, FCAP, Senior Vice President & Chief Medical Officer for Southcoast Hospitals Group, will outline the challenges faced by patients and health care providers, including variations in quality health care and efforts underway to improve safety and quality.

Attendees will learn how they can take action and become active in their own and their family's health care choices.

The event is sponsored by Southcoast, the Partnership for Healthcare Excellence and AARP Massachusetts.

Learn how to register for this event.

Southcoast Hospice introduces "Caring for Caregivers"

Southcoast Home Care, Hospice & Palliative Care and Infusion Services has a new program, "Caring for Caregivers."

Free and open to the public, this new support group is facilitated by Drs. Robert and Barbara Greene and will focus on how caregivers can care for themselves as they care for another.

The first program began earlier this month. Call Jo-Ann Richard at 508-984-0277 for information on future meetings.


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Southcoast updates hospital visitor policy for flu season

Southcoast is now limiting visitors to the maternity and pediatrics units to protect pregnant woman, infants and children in the hospital from H1N1. These groups are known to be most vulnerable to the flu.

The policy applies to Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford and Tobey Hospital in Wareham.

"Southcoast Hospitals is asking the public to avoid visits to friends and family in the hospital if they have cold or flu symptoms," said Patrick Gannon, RPh, Vice President of Quality & Safety for Southcoast Hospitals Group.

The restrictions include:

  • Visitors to the maternity and pediatric units must be at least 18 years old, including siblings.

  • Children who are sick at any time of the year should never come to the hospital to visit a patient.

Maternity and Pediatric Unit visitor policy

Southcoast has maternity units at all three hospital sites and pediatric units at St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford and Tobey Hospital in Wareham.

"It is always important to protect against the flu, but this year the added threat of H1N1 (Swine) flu makes it even more important that we all do our part to protect ourselves and our community," said Marcia Liggin, RN, Chief Nursing Officer for Southcoast Hospitals Group. "The decision to limit visitors to the maternity and pediatric units is an industry-wide practice that is based on recommendations of federal health officials."

In addition, no visitors with severe cold or flu symptoms will be allowed in the hospitals. The policy will continue to be reviewed as the flu season progresses.

H1N1 testing not recommended by health officials

In accordance with recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), Southcoast Hospitals is not recommending a rapid flu test if H1N1 (Swine) flu is suspected.

"Rapid testing for influenza is not recommended for screening of H1N1 at this time," said E.J. McMahon, MD, MBA, FCAP, Senior Vice President & Chief Medical Officer for Southcoast Hospitals Group.

"Rapid tests can have low sensitivity for H1N1 flu," Dr. McMahon said. "These tests should not be used to rule out the presence of H1N1."

Patients who present with flu-like symptoms can be presumed to have H1N1, Dr. McMahon said.

Learn more at:

Too sick to visit? Send an e-mail to a patient!

Another option for people who want to stay in touch with a loved one or friend who is a patient at Southcoast Hospitals is the "E-Mail a Patient" program.

By clicking on the "E-Mail a Patient" link, anyone can create a private message and have it delivered to a patient Monday through Friday. Every effort is made to deliver the message the same day it is sent.

"E-mail is a great option for keeping in touch with a loved one in the hospital — especially during cold and flu season," said Marcia Liggin, RN, Chief Nursing Officer at Southcoast Hospitals.

To send an e-mail to a patient, go to, select the hospital site and complete the simple form.

Weekly flu facts — all in one place

We've gathered weekly flu facts in one place.

Check our Flu Facts page weekly — or simply subscribe to our RSS feed — to get the latest information about H1N1 (Swine) flu and seasonal flu.

Flu Facts podcast — now on iTunes!

Our weekly video podcast, "Flu Facts: Spread the message, not the flu," is now available through iTunes.

You can use iTunes to automatically download each new episode when it comes out each Tuesday.

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