After five surgeries for her breast cancer diagnosis and 61 radiation treatments, Laurie Riding is still one upbeat lady.
She smiles. “You have to have a good sense of humor. You just have to.”
The Ohio-native and current Tolland, Conn , resident underwent a double mastectomy in 2013 but wasn’t healing well following her radiation treatments. She visited a hyperbaric wound care center, only to be told by the physician that she “wasn’t a good candidate.”
Her surgeon encouraged her to get a second opinion.
“Except he wanted me to go to Springfield, which is just way too far away,” she said.
Fortunately, Laurie didn’t need to travel a long distance. She found The Wound Care Center at Harrington in Charlton, and, in the spring of 2014, she began hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy treatments.
“It was within 30 minutes of my work and my home. I was able to make appointments in the morning. It was very convenient!” she said.
She recalls, “From the moment I entered the center, I was greeted like a member of the family. The staff was welcoming, and the doctors were wonderful.”
Laurie noted that personal connection and compassionate care were critical.
“[The therapy] was a big-time commitment. I went through six weeks of treatments, five days a week. It’s nice to have such wonderful staff that you have to see on a regular basis. They were like family,” she said.
Despite the fear of not knowing how HBO worked, Laurie felt comfortable around the staff. The doctors and nurses walked her through the entire process, gave her a preview of the hyperbaric chambers, and made her feel at ease.
Laurie says she recalls everything from her first treatments to her last day.
“Everyone was happy for me. It was a relief,” she said. “If I ever had to come back, I would. And the best thing is that I healed.”
Hi Mr. Moore,
I have been an employee with (the former) Hubbard Hospital and I am still with Harrington seven years later. I just wanted to tell you how my treatment was when I was in the Southbridge hospital with my dad.
He came in the ER late on Jan. 23, 2015 and was greeted by Dr. King and familiar faces of nurses and techs. My dad came in critical condition, and I have to say being on that side of the medical field is not a good thing. I’d much prefer taking care of patients instead of having to make very hard decisions for my dad.
Every single person that walked into my dad’s room explained everything to me — they explained what they were doing and what I could expect (such as time and what would be next). I had left around 1:30 a.m. the next morning. I then received a call that they were transferring him to 3 North that day.
With some family by my side but still having to make such hard decisions, the staff on 3N was incredible! They treated my dad with such great care and they always kept asking if me or my family needed anything.
A few days later, after speaking with Dr. Seidler, Dr. Temple and Dr. Powers, my family and I came to the conclusion that my dad should no longer suffer, and that he was toward the end of his life. We took him off all his support and just let him be. The staff on 3N even got us a private room for my dad so we wouldn’t have to be bothered by other patients and we could spend time with him. I was given a tray of sandwiches, cookies, and drinks in the evening and muffins, fruit, and coffee in the morning. My dad held on until this morning, when Dr. Belezos called and gave me the terrible news that my dad had passed away.
I just wanted to say that my family could not have better things to say about Harrington! They even agree that he got the best care at the end of his life — and that’s what we wanted. Every single person I ran into was so nice and helpful and gave me updates about my dad. The treatment and service was great for my dad AND my family. Not one person ignored us, everyone answered our questions, and they did such an amazing job with him. I am very thankful to be an employee with Harrington. I hope when I finish nursing school, I will have the privilege of working on the floor with these amazing people.
I tried to write out compliment cards on everyone I ran into, but I know I missed some people. Can you please find everyone who took care of my dad and please pass on this thank you! I cannot thank everyone enough on such great care they gave him. My family said they have never seen such great care at a hospital in their lives and they would highly recommend Harrington to everyone.
Cheri MacKinney and Jim Winslow, (former) publishers of the Smart Shopper advertising publication in Webster, say they “feel very fortunate” to have Harrington HealthCare at Hubbard in their community.
When Cheri cut her face deeply in two places after walking into a plank on the back of a parked truck, she went to the Emergency Care Center at Harrington HealthCare at Hubbard in Webster.
As she and Jim were walking into the Emergency Room, a doctor took a quick look at her, escorted her into a waiting room, registered her, and in no time began work on treating her cuts.
“If you saw what I looked like when I went in compared to today, no one can believe I had stitches,” Cheri said, one week after her visit. The physician, Dr. Brian D’Angona, treated her and used very small stitches on the two cuts on her face, in the manner in which a plastic surgeon would operate in order to minimize the scarring.
“They were so competent and compassionate, and the Doc [sic] was fabulous with me. Thank you to the medical team in the ER for treating me so well and thank you for being an integral part of our community,” Cheri wrote in a recent edition of the Smart Shopper.
The week before Cheri’s accident, Jim went to Harrington HealthCare at Webster for a routine procedure “and all he could talk about was how competent and nice everyone from the registrar to the nursing staff was,” Cheri wrote in another edition of the Smart Shopper. “He was very impressed with the service and kindness he experienced.”
Said Jim, “The thing that impressed me was they were on time, they were very attentive, and they explained everything that was going to happen during the procedure. They couldn’t have been better. And the nurse called the day after to see how I was doing. She went over the findings with me, once again.”
Dear Doctor Cooper,
‘Tis said that words cannot express – but I am gonna try anyway! Since the second grade, when I was given my first pair of glasses, I have been extremely near sighted. Your surgery for my cataracts corrected this. Now I have wonderful vision for long distances.
I want to thank you for your skill and experience, along with the Ministering Angels on your operating team as well. Please thank the staff of the Ambulatory unit. The entire experience was a good one for me!
I am truly blessed to be living in an age when cataract surgery is so technologically possible! I remember by granddad, his week in the hospital and the aftermath at home. My experience with you was certainly different from that.
Do not doubt that every surgery you perform is a miracle! Certainly Harrington Hospital gets high marks. Thank you again Doctor Cooper. With every last page of every book I read you and your staff will be in my gratitude!
The Sturbridge resident receives both radiation and chemotherapy treatment at The Cancer Center at Harrington, and he wouldn’t consider going anywhere else.
“People are very caring here,” he said. “Ive been welcomed with open arms. Theyve been very, very compassionate, including the volunteers. Its a family atmosphere here.”
Lafleche is also happy that he doesn’t have to drive long distances to get his care.
The Cancer Center at Harrington is about a five-minute drive from his home in Sturbridge, so he is able to get there by himself.
What if he were referred to a larger facility farther away?
“I dont know if I’d go to Worcester,” he said. “Having to jump onto Route 290 to get into the city – its not that close to me.”
First, his treatments have not slowed him down substantially. He hasnt lost weight and doesnt feel sick afterwards. The only difference he notices is that sometimes hes slightly tired after receiving treatments.
He also considers himself lucky to have a cancer treatment center where he can find answers, no matter what time he has questions. “If I have a question, I get on the phone any time of the day or night, and there are people here,” Lafleche said. “They gave me phone numbers, pamphlets, next procedures, so my treatment is not a mystery.”
Thats just the kind of service and support hed expect from a facility that prides itself not only on its state-of-the-art equipment, but its welcoming, friendly atmosphere.
Larry Morrison went into his backyard in Sturbridge in February to toss out a holiday wreath. A recent snowstorm had dumped a foot of snow on the region, covering some patches of ice in the yard. He was planning to be outdoors for only a few moments.
“Then I lost my footing and fell with my left leg bent all the way back. It was a freefall — flush onto my kneecap,” he recalled. “In one instant I was perfectly fine, and in the next instant, I felt my entire body go to war. I was in excruciating pain. I heard myself shriek, and it seemed almost not to be coming from me.”
Larry pulled up his pant leg and noticed his kneecap was almost double in size, and off center. Crawling and dragging himself, unable to use his left leg, he somehow made it to his house. Larry managed to reach his daughter by phone, and she drove him to the Emergency Care Center at Harrington Hospital in Southbridge.
Once at the Emergency Department, he crossed the threshold and was immediately wheeled into a room, where a patient care assistant, then a physician, appeared in seconds. Dr. Giza High examined him, gave him a preliminary diagnosis of a ruptured patellar tendon and, almost instantly, he was brought to X-Ray.
“What was interesting to me is that I suddenly felt like I was the audience in the theatre and various characters were coming to me and then leaving, like actors coming from the wings offstage,” he said. “Everyone seemed to know exactly what their role was, and they executed it perfectly. It seemed that everything happened slow and fast — simultaneously. Slow, because everyone was handling me with great care, and fast because nobody was wasting any time. I had this marked impression, from the moment I arrived in the ER, that the entire hospital had been standing around waiting for me to show up.”
Larry is a member of Harringtons Board of Directors, but, he recalls, when he was ushered into the Emergency Care Center, he didnt know anyone, and no one caring for him seemed to know him or know who he was.
“I dont think anyone taking care of me knew or cared who I was,” he said. “I never said a word; the subject never came up, with the patient care assistants, physicians, technicians. To them, I was just some guy who came through the door. I saw them treat everyone this way.”
The X-Ray and an MRI of Larrys knee confirmed Dr. High’s diagnosis of a patellar tendon rupture, and Larry was told he needed surgery that would be performed by Dr. Young-Ho Oh, an orthopedic surgeon on the Harrington Physician Services staff.
Larrys fall and his trip to the Emergency Care Center took place on a Friday. The next Monday, three days later, after being examined by Dr. Oh, Larry was brought into the Operating Room.
“Everyone, the nurses, the patient care assistant, gave me the clear impression that all they had to do was take care of me,” he said. “They didn’t have anything else on earth to care about. They had one thing in their entire life to do, and that was to pay attention to my condition.”
Following successful surgery and an overnight stay, Larry was fitted with a walking brace, was given detailed post-op instructions, came in for follow-up visits, and was always treated with the same attentive, personalized care he had experienced since he first arrived at the Emergency Care Center the day he fell.
Everyone seemed to have all the time in the world to care for him, give him special instructions, make follow-up appointments, and, in general, make sure he received the correct care.
“As far as I’m concerned, every nurse at Harrington Hospital has the same last name, ‘Angel. ”
Today, Larry is walking around, brace free, with little ill effect from his fall in the snow in February.
“When I look at my knee now, there’s no scab — there’s no nothing. When I went into the ER, my kneecap was three inches north of where it belonged.”
Lisa Rei was dumb-struck when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I was 39 at the time,” she recalled. “I was not expecting this.”
Lisa, who works in Southbridge, received her initial diagnosis from a physician at Harrington HealthCare System, and sought a second opinion at a world-renowned teaching hospital in the Boston area. That hospital gave Lisa the same diagnosis, and recommended the same regimen of treatment that she had received from Dr. Christopher Seidler, the Medical Director at The Cancer Center at Harrington.
Lisa chose The Cancer Center at Harrington, on the Harrington Hospital campus in Southbridge, Mass., for her treatment. She has not regretted that decision for one moment. She has found the entire staff, from physicians and nurses to the volunteers, to be personal and supportive, she has found the quality of the treatment to be excellent, and she is extremely happy that she can receive such good care in such a convenient location.
“I work in town,” she said. “To leave for an appointment, travel five minutes, and be at The Cancer Center at Harrington was very convenient. And then, after the appointment, I can go back to work.”
Lisa says she has been able to go back to work after her chemotherapy in part because of the thorough preparation she received at The Cancer Center at Harrington.
“Before I started out with my treatment, I had a ‘chemo teach with my nurse at The Cancer Center, Heather, who taught me what to expect, and how to prepare for it so it will have the fewest side effects,” Lisa said. “I really took her advice, I referred to the material she gave me, and it worked out really well. There was only one time where I didnt feel up to going back to work right after my session.”
In fact, Lisa has done so well with the sessions that she often had lunch right afterward in The Cancer Center dining room.
“When I was getting my treatments, I’d go with husband or my mom would come, or I had coworkers with me,” she said. “They would come and have lunch with me. They would liven up the place, and the staff was very accommodating with that. This really does feel like home.”
“Everyone is so positive in terms of my treatment,” Lisa said. “They are all pulling for you too, they remember you, its kind of nice to have that attention. Everyone, the doctors, even the technicians, in radiology and nuclear medicine. And you see the same faces every time you go there. You dont feel like youre walking into a strange environment. Its not an easy time, going through this. It can be a stressful time, but everyone was nurturing and would talk me through the process.
The Cancer Center at Harrington really feels like family,” she said. “I go for a treatment on Friday and Nancy is the volunteer who has been through this same thing, and she gets your blanket, gets you a cup of tea, whatever you want.
“I would recommend The Cancer Center at Harrington to anyone.”
Kate Coty is a Registered Nurse who knows what it takes to deliver outstanding healthcare. At Harrington, she says her husband, Tom, has received “world-class care in our own backyard, thanks to Doctors. Tom FitzGerald and Christopher Seidler.”
In February 2012, Tom, a 47-year-old facilities director at a YMCA, was feeling pressure in his forehead. He thought it was a sinus infection. Then he started vomiting and suspected he had a GI bug.
Kate called Dr. Tai Temple, a hospitalist at Harrington HealthCare System, for medical consultation. (Through her work at Kindred Healthcare, a long-term acute care facility, Kate got to know Dr. Temple and other Harrington physicians who referred patients to her.)
Dr. Temple suggested that Kate and Tom, residents of Dudley, come to the ER at Harrington’s Southbridge campus. There, the Cotys met with Dr. Kathleen Finn, who was the attending physician that day. Dr. Finn conducted a thorough exam, including lab work, and the results were negative.
“Tom thought maybe he over-reacted to his head pain,” recalls Kate. “But Dr. Finn really listened to us and decided to do a C-Scan.”
The result: a 5-6 centimeter mass in Toms frontal lobe. Immediately, Dr. Finn arranged for Toms transfer to UMass Memorial in Worcester. The next morning, a neurosurgeon performed an emergency procedure that revealed a glioblastoma, the most aggressive malignant brain tumor.
They Saved His Life in the ER
“If we hadn’t gone to Harrington, I fear Tom would have been discharged with the diagnosis of a virus,” Kate said. “He would have driven to work, and, given the high risk of seizure, God knows what would have happened. They saved his life!”
The surgery removed 95 percent of the tumor, but Tom needed to undergo radiation and chemotherapy. According to Kate, the clear choice for treatment was The Cancer Center at Harrington, on Harrington’s Southbridge campus. She and Tom consulted with another, very well-known cancer treatment center and were told that they agreed with the treatment outlined for Tom at The Cancer Center at Harrington.
In March, Tom started seven weeks of radiation treatments. He was put on Decadron, to reduce swelling in his brain, as well as Temodar, an oral chemotherapy drug. Tom also met with other members of his Harrington medical team: a social worker, a neurologist, and his new Primary Care Physician.
After Toms first round of treatments ended in May, he received an MRI. Based on the findings, he consulted with his neurosurgeon and Dr. Seidler, who recommended that Tom go on another round of chemo treatments.
Today, Tom is doing well and is clinically stable.
“My husband has endured quite an ordeal, but his care has been tremendous,” said Kate. “Doctors FitzGerald and Seidler are not only amazing clinicians but also extremely attentive. The doctors, nurses, and techs take the time to explain things and educate you.”
She adds, “When people ask, ‘why dont you go to Worcester or Boston? I respond, ‘because the care at our community hospital is second to none.”
Editor’s Note: Based on his wife’s medical experience, Tom asked that Kate relate his story on his behalf.
For many women, a mammogram is a yearly ritual, and sometimes a somewhat uncomfortable and unpleasant one.
Beverly Robert had quite the opposite experience when she went for a mammogram at Harrington HealthCare at Hubbard, on the site of the former Hubbard Hospital on Thompson Road in Webster.
“I was very pleasantly surprised at how friendly it was when I walked into the department,” recalled Beverly, a resident of Webster. “The atmosphere was warm and inviting.” She had been going to another hospital, where the atmosphere, she said, was “so cold and impersonal.”
Beverly was also impressed with the gentleness of the treatment. Harrington HealthCare at Hubbard uses soft pads, which make the procedure less uncomfortable. The soft pads are on the plates used in the procedure. Because of the pads, the patient is not pressed up against a rigid, often uncomfortable plate.
The set-up at Harrington HealthCare at Hubbard also was friendly, efficient, and private, Beverly said. “You go into a private room, change, and from there get tested right away,” she said. “Other places, you undress, put on a gown, and go into a public area to wait.”
The staff was so friendly and knowledgeable! From the minute I walked in the door, the receptionist was welcoming and I just knew I was in the right place!” Beverly said. At one hospital, she said, the waiting room was actually a hallway — with no privacy.
“I like what they’ve done here in Webster,” she said. “I think they’re treating women with respect.
“The atmosphere was warm and inviting,” Beverly said. “I’ve been telling all my friends, you really should go! And being able to get mammograms close to home — right here in Webster where I live — is so convenient!
You cared for me in these days of doubt
You gave me hope to help fight this bout.
You answered when you were asked
The questions I needed to finish my task.
Your qualities and abilities are by far the best
That makes it easier for me to rest.
You have a lot for us and thats what its all about
Youll only find it on Floor 2 – no place else will ever do.
To help, thats what you are
Best in the state and thats by far.
You are not frequently found, but I found you.
The most remarkable and excellent staff around.
Thanks for being there.
Oxford resident Stephanie Sterritt was accustomed to driving to Worcester, some 25 minutes away, when 6-year-old daughter Abigail MacKay needed pediatric care. She was also accustomed to waiting a very long time in the emergency room. But when Abigail recently ruptured an ear drum, she was anxious and hoped to get immediate medical attention. She and her husband took Abigail to Harrington HealthCare at Hubbard in Webster, just five minutes from her home.
Within a couple of minutes, Abigail was checked in and seen by a nurse. Shortly after, Dr. Kathy Finn met with the family, evaluated Abigail, diagnosed her condition, wrote a prescription, comforted the family, and sent them on their way.
“My daughter was so scared, but Dr. Finn was so gentle and sweet; her personality is perfect for the work she does,” says Stephanie, who thinks its an understatement to say they were completely satisfied.
“My first pleasant surprise was that we were in and out in 40 minutes tops,” says Stephanie.
The next day, Stephanie was surprised again: “Dr. Finn called us to check in about how Abigail slept and how she was feeling. Ive never had anyone from the ER follow up with us directly,” says Stephanie. “I told her that Abigail was responding to the medication and was doing just fine.”
“Its wonderful to know that such good care is available so close to home. I certainly wont hesitate to go back.”
Mike Moran of Framingham discovered Harrington HealthCare System because he wanted to track down an orthopedic surgeon who had done a wonderful job fixing his ankle in 2009.
The surgeon, Young-Ho Oh, had since joined Harrington Physician Services, working out of 94 South on the Harrington Hospital campus in Southbridge.
“When I decided something was bothering me, I searched for Dr. Oh knowing he was no longer in the Framingham area,” Moran said. “I thought it was worth at least a trip to go see him.”
The trip was almost 50 miles from Framingham to Harrington, but to Moran, it was worth it. He describes everything he encountered at Harrington — from the reception he got at the registration desk, to the service from the staff, to the follow-up work from Dr. Oh — as “an absolutely pleasant experience.”
“I didnt know what to expect from a hospital out in Southbridge,” he said. “Without a map, I wouldnt have gotten here in the first place.”
“Once I got here, people noticed immediately that I was lost walking down the hall, and they came to help me. Everyone was pleasant and treated me promptly and efficiently,” he said.
Dr. Oh determined that Moran should have the plate and screws removed from the ankle he operated on in 2009.
The operation, at Harrington, went without a hitch. It was scheduled for 7 a.m., and by 7:02, Moran was being attended to by nurses, seen by anesthesiologists, and operated on by Dr. Oh.
“Dr. Oh and all the staff were so good,” he said. “Im in the service business, so I know good service.”
“Ive had a great experience here,” he said. “I’m from Framingham, grew up in Ashland, and came back to Framingham. It might be a fair distance from Framingham, but if it has anything to do with bones, I highly recommend Harrington.”