Gail Embair was diagnosed with diabetes more than 10 years ago. But her recent struggle to manage the illness was becoming frustrating.
“I was on five shots and up to 350 units per day. But my sugar still wasn’t maintained,” she said.
After consulting with her primary care doctor, Gail began meeting with Dr. David Erani, Harrington Physician Services Endocrinologist, and Pat Bak, the diabetic educator at the same Sturbridge office. Pat quickly recommended Gail try an insulin pump.
“When I met with Gail, I saw her frustration,” Pat said. “She was doing everything that was asked of her, but her glucose numbers were still high. So I discussed insulin pump therapy with her and she agreed to try it.
Gail added, “The pump would cut the insulin in half and I could manage it better.”
Gail has been on a diabetic pump for about five months, but said it only took days to see and feel the difference.
“Oh, it was almost instant,” she recalls. “Pat was fantastic. She really educated me on how everything worked. With the pump it’s so easy. I hook it up and don’t need to change it for two days. And I use less than half the insulin than before.”
Gail said it’s important to do your homework online.
“They give you a lot of reading material to look up, and it really helps. If you prepare yourself, the pump really isn’t as difficult as it looks.”
Thanks to the help of Pat and Dr. Erani, Gail said she is able to easily check her sugars and count her carbs each day.
“I was always worried I would put too many carbs in. But [when Pat showed me], the pump doesn’t let you take too much. It’s really not that hard,” Gail said.
Gail still sees Pat and Dr. Erani every four or five months for routine check-ups.
“The office is fantastic. Everyone is friendly. It’s a good atmosphere. And my confidence is so much greater in managing my diabetes,” she said.
When Mary Devlin, 51, was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2010, she suddenly found herself in a whirlwind of numbers and emotions. She had four heavy chemotherapy treatments to start, followed by 12 more after her surgery.
Mary has lived in Dudley, Mass., since she was 5 years old and had only visited Harrington when she was young and her mom would bring her when she got hurt.
Due to the aggressive nature of her cancer, she was sent to The Cancer Center at Harrington and Harrington Hospital to perform biopsies, chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, and more chemotherapy.
“No matter where I went, the hospital or The Cancer Center, they were all truly amazing,” says Devlin. “I can’t say enough about either place, but I hold The Cancer Center deep in my heart for their kindness. When I go for my visits now, they still remember me and always say hi. It takes a special person to do what they all do.”
Devlin attributes her great experience to the expertise of the doctors and nurses who treated her. She had the tumor in her right breast biopsied first and then went back for the other one on her left breast. She remembers a Harrington Cancer Center volunteer coming in to check on her and giving her hand massages during treatments. She applauds Dr. Christopher Seidler for the way he handled her chemotherapy treatments, Dr. Harry Easterly for his work as the surgeon and Dr. Arturo Aguillon, who performed her reconstructive surgery in 2012 once she was in remission.
“I felt insecure for a very long time with losing my breasts and my hair,” remembers Devlin. “I’m all back to ‘normal’ again, but it was a rough road as I know it is for many others. I still have insecurities that I deal with from it, but in the end, I always look at the bright side that I’m still here.”
Mary Devlin works as an Administrative Assistant for the Board of Selectmen for the Town of Charlton. She has participated in three breast cancer awareness walks since her battle and still keeps in touch with RN Rose Benvenuti, who treated her in the Cancer Center.
“I remember Mary’s treatments well and mostly what amazed me was the support she had from her daughters. They came to all her treatments with her,” recalls Benvenuti, who still works at Harrington. “I also remember that Mary and her family took part in the breast cancer walk that Harrington used to hold in October. They came as a team and really got into the spirit, going all out in the pink! I enjoy seeing her when she comes in for follow-ups. It is great to catch up with her and to see how well she is doing.”
This October will mark her fourth year in remission.
“Having breast cancer is really scary. I guess any cancer is,” says Devlin. “I watched my mom and dad go through it and now I know what they had to endure, although I think I had it so much easier than they did because of the way the treatments are done now. My children, family, and friends, both inside and outside of the Harrington walls, are my angels and they saw me through it.”
Lisa Cave, a 5th grade Educational Assistant at Burgess Elementary School in Sturbridge, Mass., was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2015. Over April vacation, in the midst of chemotherapy, she lost her hair. She returned to work the following Monday wearing a scarf around her head.
That Tuesday, she walked into homeroom to see almost every student in her two classes wearing a scarf or hat in support.
“It was a beautiful moment,” says Cave. “They didn’t have any help from the other teachers. They thought of it all on their own and rallied together. I never missed a day of work while I was going through treatment, and the compassion of those kids was a huge reason why.”
Cave, a Sturbridge resident, also attributes being able to go in to work every day throughout her cancer journey to the locality of Harrington’s Cancer Center in Southbridge.
“People thought I was crazy for working,” remembers Cave. “Even my oncologist warned against it because my immune system was so low, but I wanted to keep my family close, and I couldn’t have done that if I was going far away. There is a lot to be said when you can keep your life as normal as possible while going through a really difficult, scary time.”
Cave went to radiation in the Cancer Center every morning at 7:30 before school started. After Cave’s diagnosis, she had the lump in her breast removed in February, which was the first surgery she ever received in her life. Then she began eight rounds of chemotherapy with six weeks of radiation to follow.
Her family members and friends questioned why she wasn’t going to a more world-renowned cancer treatment center, like Dana Farber in Boston, but Cave defended the high quality of care at Harrington.
“I remember some days, I would drive up to the parking lot and think, ‘I can’t believe I have to do this again,’ just anticipating how I would feel after. Then I would walk in and everyone from the people at the front desk to the nurses to the techs were so nice. They were so empathetic, but not in a pity way, in a very human way. They don’t make you feel like a cancer patient, but just a person who they want to feel better.”
The mother of three teenagers has been a patient with Harrington since she moved to Sturbridge with her husband 24 years ago. She delivered all of her children in Harrington’s Birthing Center and came to Harrington Physician Services for her annual physicals, appointments, and mammograms.
Aside from bringing her kids to the emergency room for stitches over the years, Cave had only come to Harrington for standard, preventative checkups. She was devastated when she was first told that she had breast cancer, especially with no family history of the disease whatsoever.
“It’s devastating when you get that kind of news. It was like getting hit in head by a two-by-four piece of wood,” says Cave. “You have to be positive. When I first got diagnosed, I didn’t understand that, but everyone at the Cancer Center is so positive. It’s hard not to be positive when you have five people smiling at you, asking what they can get for you to make you more comfortable. Their positivity rubs off on you.”
Lisa Cave finished up her last week of radiation just in time for October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. She plans to take this October to recuperate, but hopes to participate in pink ribbon events in the years to come. She recalls her 10-month battle with cancer and the beautiful moments she was still able to experience along the way, like watching her oldest son graduate high school, attending her 16-year-old son’s soccer games, and watching her 13-year-old daughter go horseback riding.
“I’ll never look at each day the way that I used to,” she says. “This October, I will be thankful that my outcome was so good, but also think of those who are going through it alone or under different circumstances. My appreciation for life is so different now. I usually tend to be a more private person. After going through something like this, I feel like I need to share it.”
In 2013, 46-year-old Charlton resident Sharon Yager thought she was done with cancer treatments. The previous year she had undergone surgery and radiation for thyroid cancer at one of the major medical centers in Boston.
“When I finally finished treatment, I thought I would slowly start to feel better and regain my energy,” she says.
Yager’s energy levels, however, remained the same, and she felt worse, not better.
When Yager brought these concerns up to her oncologist during follow-up appointments, they were brushed aside. Since Yager had her thyroid removed, she was on synthetic hormones, and her doctors attributed her low-energy levels to her body adjusting to these.
“They kept telling me that it was going to take a while to get used to,” she explains. “But in my gut, I knew something was wrong.”
In January 2014, Yager decided to get another opinion close to home. Step one? Visiting her OB/GYN, Dr. Christine Carey, at Harrington HealthCare System.
“I was way overdue for my mammogram, so I figured it was a good place to start,” she says.
Little did Yager know this appointment was about to give her the answer to her concerns, but unfortunately, it wasn’t the answer she wanted to hear.
A Second Diagnosis
During the mammogram, the technician found a fairly large tumor in her left breast.
Dr. Carey referred Yager to Harrington’s general surgery department, where she then underwent a lumpectomy performed by Dr. Colette Whitby in June 2014. After the lump was biopsied, Yager learned she had stage IIB breast cancer, which means the tumor was greater than 2 cm but less than 5 cm and had spread to her lymph nodes. The diagnosis led to an aggressive, 30-week treatment plan involving chemotherapy and radiation.
“Dr. Whitby didn’t sugarcoat the news,” Yager says. “She told me, ‘Yes, it’s going to be hard, you’re going to feel awful and look awful, but think of it this way: we’re going to take a year away from your life so you can have 30 to 35 more years of health.’ That notion got me through the toughest days.”
In July 2014, Yager started chemotherapy with Dr. Shakeeb Yunus and then Dr. Christopher Seidler as her oncologists at the Cancer Center at Harrington. She went every other week for five months, ending that portion of treatment in November 2014.
Looking back, she reflects on the irony that such great care was so close to home, yet she had chosen to go back and forth to Boston for her first cancer treatment.
“My experience at the Cancer Center at Harrington was very different from my previous cancer treatment in Boston,” she says. “Being in such a bright and peaceful place did a lot to boost my spirits during a pretty depressing time. Everyone from the second you walk in the door to the second you leave is just wonderful. You get to know them all, and it becomes sort of like your own little community. I knew they were rooting for me. I didn’t get that personal touch in Boston, and it really meant a lot.”
During chemotherapy, she experienced side-effects such as hair loss, serious skin problems, and a weakened immune system.
“It was very challenging,” she explains. “But Dr. Yunus and Dr. Seidler treated each problem as it came along. They always took the time to explain why it was happening and what I could do to make myself more comfortable.”
During this time, Yager found a flyer in the Harrington resource room for the “Look Good Feel Better” program, a service program that teaches beauty techniques to cancer patients to help them manage appearance-related side-effects.
“The Cancer Center has so many resources,” she says. “From information on support groups and programs to more practical things like blankets and pillows you can use when you go in for treatment, they have everything. The Resource Room was a really big help.”
After Yager finished chemotherapy, she started 33 days of radiation with Dr. Thomas Fitzgerald from the affiliated 21st Century Oncology on the first floor of the Cancer Center.
“The radiation department was just as wonderful as the oncology department,” she says. “The nurses and technicians had this really great sense of humor, and they would play music they thought I would like. I just felt like everyone really got me.”
It’s been eight months since Yager had her last round of treatment, and in September 2015, she finally got the news she had been waiting to hear:
“I’m cancer free!” she says, laughing.
Yager says her energy is now back to where it was before, and she has returned to her position as the Council on Aging Director for the town of Shrewsbury. She enjoys spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren.
“During what was the scariest and most difficult time in my life, every single staff member at the Cancer Center did what they could to make it the best situation possible,” she says. “Having everything in one place so close to home took a lot of stress out of treatment. I never had to worry about finding parking or traffic jams. The convenience of it all really made a difference.
“The hospitals in Boston do amazing things, and they save so many lives, but it’s not for everyone, and it’s not for me. If you’re unlucky enough to get cancer, be lucky enough to go to Harrington.”
I couldn’t have felt more at home in Harrington Hospital’s Family Birthing Center. The doctors, nurses, and staff are more than just knowledgeable and kind. Everyone that I have encountered over the past four years went above and beyond their role to make me comfortable during the births of my three children.
They were always happy, gentle, smiling people—exactly who a mother wants taking care of her and her newborn baby. My husband, older children, and family members felt right at home while coming to visit me, as well.
With each subsequent pregnancy of mine, I was looking forward to seeing the same, familiar faces as times past, and sure enough, they were all there.
My husband (and myself), especially looked forward to the gourmet, candle-light “Stork Dinner” that we were served on our last night at the hospital each time. We’d always savor that meal as our last date night for quite some time.
My mother was recently a patient at your Emergency Room in Webster where she was then transferred the same day to Harrington for an emergency appendectomy.
My father and I just want to extend our thanks to everyone who was involved in her care, including Rhonda Tackson and the ER physician Dr. Michael Gray, Dr. Colete Whitby, the anesthesiologist Dr. Savago-Tamas, Dr. Josef Braun, the ICU staff, and all the nurses and CNA’s of the third floor that were involved with her care.
We also had some great teaching from Trina, Respiratory Therapist, for the CPAP machine and maintenance.
This could have been a different experience if your staff was not so proactive and attentive to detail. I don’t think she would have fared better at another facility.
Dear Mr. Moore,
I am writing you to compliment one of your emergency room nurses. Her name is Kathy “Jean” Barlow. About two weeks ago my father, Walter Darzenkiewicz, was brought to the Emergency Room virtually unconscious from a serve UTI and dehydration, which I am told caused adrenal fatigue and he was considered to be in a perilous state.
While attending my father, I observed perfection in nursing by “Jean.” No item was overlooked and all procedures were performed to the highest standard that I have ever witnessed.
I want to commend you and your staff on my father’s recovery and hope “Jean” and other quality nurses continue their excellent work in caring for you patients.
David Majorowski, 39, of Quinebaug, Connecticut, is very familiar with emergency departments. He has been Captain for Webster EMS for the past 10 years.
“I’ve sent a lot of patients to the emergency department at Webster. The new facility is outstanding. It’s large, spacious, modern, and very clean. It’s welcoming, too, not sterile,” he says.
In April of 2015, instead of being the one to send people to the emergency department, roles were reversed, and Majorowski became the patient.
“I woke up around 1 a.m. with terrible pain in my chest and in my stomach,” he says.
He was driven to the new Remillard Family Emergency Center at Webster, where Dr. Jarrett Burns diagnosed him with gallstones. From there, he was transported to Harrington Physician Services in Southbridge, where Dr. Colette Whitby proceeded to remove his gallbladder.
“Everything went very fast,” he says. “I went in around 2 a.m., had my surgery at 10 a.m., and then went home later that evening
“Dr. Whitby is just phenomenal. She came and talked me through everything she planned to do. Dr. Burns is great, too; in fact, all the physicians are just wonderful. What could have been extremely stressful turned into a very pleasant experience.”
Majorowski has had no problems related to his gallstones since the surgery, but feels comforted knowing he has reliable care so close to home.
“As ironic as it might sound, it was a wonderful experience. Of course, I didn’t want to get sick and lose my gallbladder, but if I had to do it again, I would certainly do it here.”
Dear Mrs. Beaudry,
My fiancé and I have been patients at the Birthing Center for the past three days, welcoming our newborn baby girl. We can’t, in good conscious, leave without speaking out about how we’ve felt about our care and stay here. The help and compassion, of your nursing staff especially, could not be summed up or praised enough on a small comment card. Since the moment we were admitted to the fourth floor, we were treated with above-and-beyond care and consideration down to every small detail.
Through the 22-hour labor, we had a handful of different nurses and nurses in training coming in and out, and not one left without making a great contribution to the situation and making us feel loved and taken care of (one very special nurse stood out even more so, for getting us through the toughest parts of the labor and helped us pull it all together; she will go unnamed in this email but will forever be in our hearts).
Even our guests noticed and commented on the pleasant and knowledgeable staff. The moment of the birth of our baby was a magical experience that we cannot put into words, but we can strongly say that we’re glad and blessed that we got to share that moment amongst fantastic, caring people. We are happy with our one baby for now and we’re not sure what our future holds, but if we ever have another bundle of joy, we’re choosing the Birthing Center here at Harrington without question and will gladly suggest this hospital to all of our friends and family with high praise. Please express our thanks and gratification along to these outstanding nurses and thank you for everything.
The proud parents of room 407
At 38 weeks pregnant, Linda Sanborn didn’t stress too much when her husband, David, was deployed by the National Guard to Vermont for three days.
“I thought, ‘No problem. He’ll be back in plenty of time,’” recalls Sanborn.
But no sooner had he left than Sanborn began experiencing contractions. She called her doctor at the Harrington Physician Services OB/Gyn office. They told her to come in to the Southbridge Family Birthing Center—and it wasn’t long before Sanborn was in labor.
“I was so nervous. I had no idea what I was going to do [without my husband there],” she said.
But she gives credit to the entire staff on the Harrington Maternity, Labor and Delivery floor.
“The nurses were all so attentive and sweet. They could relate to my situation. Some of them have family in the reserves, so they really helped calm me down and get through it,” Sanborn said.
Sanborn gave birth via C-section to Neo, her second child. She delivered her first son, Drake, who just turned 4, at UMass Memorial Health Care in Worcester. But she said the difference between the two facilities was incredible.
“At UMass, I just felt like a number, like just another patient in a hallway,” Sanborn said. “But [at Harrington], the nurses went out of their way to provide such personal care. I was amazed at how different the experience was.”
From the care she received at the OB/Gyn office during her pregnancy to the support after her surgery, Sanborn said she has nothing but positive things to say about Harrington.
“I never felt rushed. I never questioned what they were doing. They walked me through everything,” Sanborn said. “The staff, the nurses, the doctors… They are all capable of taking care of their patients. I felt really comfortable.”
The nursing staff even helped Sanborn when she was ready to be discharged by contacting the Red Cross, which released Sanborn’s husband so he could come home and be with his family.
“I would tell anyone that if they want more of a personal care experience to definitely go to Harrington,” Sanborn said. “I have no complaints at all.”
No one likes getting poked by strangers for routine tests, but a long-time Southbridge resident knows if she comes to Harrington for health care, she will find kindness and reassurance.
Cindy*, who was born at Harrington Hospital, has continued to come to Harrington for labs work, mammograms, and other routine, preventive appointments. In fact, she requires her long-time primary care physician in Worcester to order her ancillary tests at Harrington.
“It’s convenient; I have no reason not to go to Harrington,” Cindy says. “I mean, what would be the alternative if we didn’t? Driving 20 or 30 minutes for a routine test? We are so fortunate to have care close to home—and great care at that.”
In July, Cindy came to Harrington’s Southbridge campus for what she thought was regular lab work, but found out upon arrival that her physician had ordered an extensive four-hour test. She rescheduled the draw for that upcoming weekend.
Lab Receptionist and Phlebotomist Jillian MacDonnald, who has been with Harrington for five years, was the first person Cindy talked to during this visit and rescheduled and preregistered the nervous patient for the weekend to minimize her wait time.
“I strongly believe patients should be involved in the decision making of their health care; they should be comfortable when receiving services, and each patient deserves the best service possible every time,” says MacDonnald. “I try to make every patient comfortable, no matter if I am checking them in at the front desk or drawing their blood.”
The patient also worked with Ken Simpson and Miritza Colon, among a few other lab staff employees.
“They are very prompt,” says Cindy. “They don’t keep you sitting there. No matter how many patients they have, they make you feel like you are the most important one at that moment in time.”
Ken Simpson, who has worked at Harrington’s Lab for 35 years, sat with the patient for over an hour to go over the significance of her test results.
“Everyone seems to enjoy their job, and I think that is a key point of why the care is so great. If their employees are happy, they must be doing something right,” says Cindy. “For that job, you can have all the credentials in the world, but if you don’t have the personality, forget it.”
Simpson’s philosophy is simple: “I try to treat them like they are my family and go the extra mile if I can.”
And Simpson definitely did that for Cindy.
“I can’t say enough about Ken Simpson,” says the patient. “He has to be one of the best people I know, any place, any time. You can’t meet a nicer, better human being than Ken Simpson without question.”
*Name has been changed to ensure anonymity at the patient’s request.
Dear Jackie Calcia & Company at The Cancer Center at Harrington,
There are no words to adequately express my thanks for the recent and exceptional care you gave my mother, Jackie Varin. From the moment my mother met with you, you put her mind at ease with your expertise, your confidence and, most importantly, your optimism. It was your outlook that helped to get our family through her ordeal as well.
I hope you never underestimate the impact your exceptional bedside manner has on your patients. I witnessed it firsthand every time I joined my mother for her treatments. Oddly enough, she looks forward to her visits with you.
Thank you again for being so good at what you do and thank you to all of you for treating the most important person in my life as if she were the most important person in yours as well!
In December of 2007, Ken Towle, 75, formerly a truck driver and now retired, needed back surgery. During his procedure at UMass Memorial Hospital, the staff took blood samples to run some tests. When they saw that his platelet count was low, they ran more tests and discovered that Ken has Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia (CMML). CMML is a type of cancer that starts in blood-forming cells of the bone marrow and invades the blood.
After receiving his diagnosis, Ken started his platelet infusions with Dr. Shakeeb Yunus at UMass in January 2008. During that time, he received infusions every three months, though the drive to receive his treatment at UMass was 30 minutes from his house in Charlton, Mass.
“Then I found out that Dr. Yunus also practiced at the Harrington Cancer Center in Southbridge. I was thrilled to transfer my treatment there since it was so much closer to home,” he says. “Another plus is that the wait time is never that bad. I’ve been to places where you wait forever. Here, the majority of the time I’m only waiting 15 minutes max.”
Being closer to home became even more important to Ken when his treatment plan changed. Shortly after starting chemotherapy, he began a new course of platelet infusions: instead of every three months, he had to go once a week.
“I’ve had weekly treatments for the past three years. Then they switched me to these specialized platelets,” he says. Fortunately, Ken is responding well to the new treatment.
“Throughout my experience, the staff at Harrington has been there for me 100 percent.
“It’s like family. When I go there, it’s a very comfortable feeling.”
Over the years, Ken has been attended to by many different nurses, including Heather Staniszewski, Gerry Silva, Stacey Delacruz, and Rose Benvenuti. And now, Ken will start seeing Dr. Christopher Seidler.
“I found all the staff at Harrington to be excellent and very knowledgeable. Every question I’ve asked they’ve answered right away,” he says.
“Overall, my experience has been very positive. I cannot think of one negative moment.”
Joann Grindle, 74, of Southbridge, is no stranger to Harrington Hospital. She worked here for 20 years as a home health aide coordinator in the homecare division. Now she works for Overlook Life Care Community in home care, where she has been for the past 10 years.
When Joann found a lump on her neck, she immediately called her primary care doctor, Dr. Paul Harrington.
“I had lost a lot of weight and found a lump, so I made an appointment and saw his nurse practitioner, Carleen McQuaid,” she says.
They decided to biopsy the lump, and the results came back negative; however, they still decided to surgically remove it. Then they sent the biopsy for more tests, and it turned out positive for Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Already familiar with the doctors at Harrington, Joann says her decision to choose a cancer care center was easy.
“I knew that they had a very good oncology unit. I had heard a lot of good things about the doctors and the facility from my friends,” she says.
Joann went to see Dr. Christopher Seidler, who reviewed her treatment plan. The first year would consist of chemotherapy infusions once a month, and after that, she would have infusions every three months for another year.
“I was very frightened,” she says. “But the doctors, nurses, staff are all absolutely outstanding. They went above and beyond and made me feel comfortable. They talked me through the whole thing.
“Dr. Seider is exceptional. He has a wonderful way with people. He’s funny and very positive, which is really important. You go in there dealing with the big issue of cancer, but he put me at ease right away and made me feel that the outcome would be positive.”
During Joann’s treatment, she was attended to by Nurse Heather Staniszewski.
“She’s phenomenal. I feel like at this point we’re friends,” she says. “She always gets me a warm blanket before starting because she knows I get cold!”
As of June 2015, Joann is still in treatment and will continue with the infusions every three months for the next year. “We’re hoping it will go into remission by then,” she says.
“Having gone through this whole thing for a year now, I have to wonder why people would drive all the way to Boston when you get the same, maybe even better care, right here at Harrington. The treatment they provided me was excellent and up-to-date. I know I am getting the best possible treatment here and I didn’t need to go elsewhere.
“I certainly have a heart for Harrington. I love seeing the way the hospital is always growing and expanding. As a local citizen, it’s a very comfortable feeling to know the hospital is doing well.”
When Terance Grant, 67, went to UMass Memorial to get a gallstone removed, he was not expecting them to find a cancerous mass on his pancreas. He had to undergo a demanding operation known as the Whipple Procedure to remove it.
The surgery went well, but the oncologist on site still recommended he get treatment as a preventive measure to target any straggler cancer cells. However, his doctor was a 30-minute drive from his house in Southbridge. So he decided to receive his treatment at the Cancer Center at Harrington.
“It was only three minutes from my house, and there was no parking fee!” he says.
Once at Harrington, he met with Dr. Christopher Seidler and received his treatment plan, which consisted of six months of chemotherapy. During this time, Terance was attended to by Nurse Rose Benvenuti.
“It was nice having the same nurse every time; you build a friendship and bond with them,” he says. “Everyone there is always so friendly, including the volunteers who would bring us juice and snacks.
“They treated everybody with respect, like you’re part of the family. During treatment, they’re the people you can depend on and talk to. They made things as comfortable for me as they could, answered any questions, calmed my fears, and explained things fully.
“As a side effect of my treatment, I lost weight and I would feel very tired the second and third days after the infusions. Now, I’m feeling better, I’m getting stronger.”
Terance received his last round of chemo in April 2015. He still goes back to see Dr. Seidler for checkups.
While he is happy to put this chapter behind him, he still considers himself very lucky.
“If I hadn’t gone to get that gallstone out, who knows how long it would have been until someone found the cancer.”
He adds, “I would never want to go through it again, but it was a good feeling to know that the people there cared so much about me and my wellbeing. Getting that kind of care so close to home is wonderful.”
Road to Recovery
On January 18, 2014, John Hughes, 17, a resident of Webster, was running up and down the gymnasium stairs at Bartlett High School in preparation for the upcoming varsity baseball season. That night, he complained of soreness in his legs to his mother, Heidi Hughes.
The next morning, Heidi received a call from the school nurse. John had been taking a school exam when he tried to stand up and could not move his legs.
After extensive testing, a spinal tap, and scans, the doctors at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester determined John had Transverse Myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord that targets nerves and often causes sensory problems in the lower body.
It is estimated that about 1,400 new cases of transverse myelitis are diagnosed each year in the United States. Doctors thought that John had picked up the infection from a common cold he had about a month prior.
In an instant, life changed.
John was suddenly paralyzed from the belly button down and came home in a wheelchair after being hospitalized for a month.
At first, the Hughes traveled to Worcester for John’s outpatient physical therapy.
“We were driving half an hour for a half-hour therapy session,” she remembers. “Then we drove half an hour back.”
Harrington HealthCare System Physical Therapist Karen Bussiere was recommended to the Hughes family by a friend. Since the Hughes lived less than five minutes from Harrington’s Physical Therapy office in Webster, Heidi decided to give it a try.
”When I first starting working with John, he tired very easily,” recalls Karen. “He needed assistance getting up and down the stairs … His family helped him with the most basic things.”
Heidi insists the relationship she developed with Karen made all the difference.
“Karen has become like a friend,” says Heidi. “She truly goes above and beyond. Whatever she said to do, she was always right.”
Through physical therapy, John graduated from being in wheelchair to being in a walker, then on crutches, and–by October 2014–he was walking.
He is slowly picking up baseball again.
“He’s swinging the bat in the pool without falling over now,” said Heidi. “Every day you see a little bit of progress. Not once did John ask why me. He would just say, ‘I have a job to do.’”
Karen even reached out to John’s personal trainer at the gym to go over medical history and therapy programs.
“John is a hard worker and has done whatever it takes to get stronger,” Karen said. “I have enjoyed when he has success with an activity when he has progressed to do something he couldn’t do before.”
John continues to make progress every day. He is junior at Barrlett High School, and wants to attend Worcester Polytech Institute to study civil engineering. The family is hopeful that John will be able to play baseball once again, but for now, his mother said, she is simply overcome with joy at how much he’s improved.
“All I wanted for Christmas this year was for John to be able to walk and I got it early,” Heidi said with emotion.
Dear Mr. Moore,
I know that in the past and even now you have encouraged those who have used the services of Harrington to critique the actions of hospital employees.
Long before services were extended to Charlton, Spencer, and Webster, this single improvement set a tone and a hospital culture which at once lifted this community facility far above what it was previously.
I have the conviction that no matter how familiar one might be with a hospital setting or used to testing and treatment, an individual feels a degree of apprehension entering a hospital. As a result, the courtesy and kindness of employees does much to alleviate those feelings – besides setting a tone of a superior facility. I have thought this a long time, particularly this week, having tests.
Having experienced Stage 3 Melanoma and, 20 years later, Colon Cancer, plus some medical misadventure two years ago resulting in hospitalization for three months, at 80 years old I look upon each day as a gift.
I am just sending you this complimentary note to articulate appreciation for all you have done for Harrington Hospital, beginning with re-training all employees. This, even more than enlarging the physical plant of this hospital, sets it apart in a most positive way.
Thank you Ed Moore!
To whom it may concern:
About seven weeks ago my husband, David Almeida, was rushed by ambulance to the Harrington Hospital ER. I went by car and by the time I got there (I live in Southbridge), he was already in a room and hooked up to everything. He had Dr. Marino.
I cannot tell you what an amazing doctor he is. He literally ran to call Mass General. My husband ended up having a torn aorta. He actually diagnosed it before the CAT scan. (I think it was a CAT scan.) To watch him work and care for my husband was awe inspiring. You are very fortunate to have this man on your team. He explained everything to myself and my sons. Also, there was an amazing nurse; I think her name was Allison or Allie. She was so caring, it was so genuine.
Dr. Marino is amazing. He saved my husband’s life and I cannot begin top thank him enough. My husband spent one month at Mass General, ended up having an eight hour surgery and a pacemaker put in a few weeks later. Thank you Dr. Marino, you are truly a Godsend.
Again, you are very lucky to have this man and the nurse on your staff.
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.”