Nurse’s Innovation Helps Teen Survive Frost Bite Unscathed

Amy O’Connor, RN, pictured with Audrey Johnson, who’s back on the soccer field, said “I love her so much. I’m so thankful for her. She’s like a miracle and a half …” (Image courtesy of WBZ)

Last February, 17-year-old Audrey Johnson was at risk of losing her fingers and toes to severe frost bite after a dangerous accident that landed her car upside down in Philips Brook in Fitchburg. The teen was able to escape from the car, but was covered in snow, ice and water for an hour before being rescued and brought to our Children’s Medical Center for care. Pediatric Intensive Care Unit nurse, Amy O’Connor, RN, knew she had to keep Audrey’s hands and feet warm and moist to save them. That’s when she came up with the innovative idea of repurposing diapers by dipping them in warm water and wrapping them on the girl’s hands. Watch WBZ Channel 4 segment.

Recognizing Final Cohort of Direct Care Workers Pathways Program


Members of the second cohort, from left, Heather Rich, Diabetes Clinic; Joanne Gallagher, Sports Medicine; Dinah Thompson, Nursing Float Pool; Jessica Vega, Emergency Medicine; Nana Oduro, Primary Care Clinic; Sandra Pepin, Cardiology; Christopher Tuero, Emergency Medicine; Angelica Mateo-Duran, Westboro Dermatology; Megan Belanger, OP North Clinic; Sarah Pepi, 3 West; Richie Frieda Dacanay, 3 West; Jennifer Whalen, Emergency Medicine; Jessica Cousineau, Arthritis and Joint Center; Sharon McPherson, Hand Clinic; and Sandra Kane and Randi Zanca of WSU.

We recently celebrated the completion of our second and final cohort of the Direct Care Workers Pathway Program. This on-site program was funded by a grant from the Department of Higher Education between Worcester State University (WSU) and our Medical Center to help SHARE union’s direct care workers get on a college track. The collaboration was initiated by Stephanie Chalupka, EdD, associate dean for nursing at WSU, who wrote the grant that provided substantial funding for this program. Cohort members began their college journey in September 2016. They have completed three college courses, earned nine college credits and the opportunity to submit a portfolio for additional credits.

Our Facebook Community Gives Big Shout-out to Our Nurses!

As we continue celebrating our employees during Caregiver Appreciation Month, read about how our nurses were recognized by their patients, peers, family and friends via our Medical Center Facebook page in celebration of National Nurses Week.

Don’t Miss Restaurant Savings during Our Celebration Month! Employees with a UMass Memorial Health Care ID badge will receive 10 percent off their bill at Mezcal on Tuesday, May 16 and The Fix on Monday, May 22. Bon Appetito!

Thanks to Implemented Idea, Old Furnishings Good as New

The Medical Center is working with a local cooperative to breathe new life into existing furnishings including this chair and couch.

Furnishings across the Memorial and University campuses are getting a fresh look thanks to an Office of Capital Planning Idea Board suggestion. The Medical Center is working with Wellspring Upholstery Cooperative to reupholster, refinish and repair chairs, sleepers and recliners in patient rooms and common areas with updated colors and patterns in easy-to-clean materials. The initiative saves the Medical Center the cost of buying new furniture (refurbishing is about one-third the cost) as part of the MC 2020 project to improve patient and visitor areas, and it supports worker-owned Wellspring Upholstery Cooperative’s mission to provide business training and employment for low-income Springfield residents. About 60 pieces have been completed to date, resulting in savings of approximately $70,000.

Dr. Hirsh Shares Harsh Reality to Teens about Prom Season Safety

Dr. Hirsh

Local high schools are getting positive attention for their after-prom and post-graduation all-nighters that aim to keep teens safe. Michael Hirsh, MD, director of pediatric trauma and co-director of the Injury Prevention Center, holds nothing back when he’s invited to speak to students about the dangers of driving while impaired. After walking students through the aftermath of an accident scenario he said, “I kind of feel like I have gotten them to listen … to see that this is a tragedy on a lot of different levels for a lot of different people. They really start thinking about putting their parents through situations like that.” Read the full story in the Telegram & Gazette.

Are You Coughing, Wheezing and Sneezing? Hello, It’s Allergy Season!

May is peak season for asthma and allergy sufferers. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), Asthma affects more than 24.5 million Americans, with more than six million of those being children under the age of 18. And more than 50 million Americans have all types of allergies – pollen, dust, latex and more. While there’s no cure for asthma and allergies, knowledge is power, and asthma and allergies can be managed with proper treatment. Test your knowledge of allergies by taking a few minutes to take the asthma, child allergy and food allergy quizzes to help you to avoid your asthma and allergy triggers.

Join Trade Show on University Campus to Support Local Businesses

The fifth Annual Worcester County Vendor Trade Show is returning to our University Campus. The purpose of the free event is for local vendors to introduce themselves to members of the Medical Center and Medical School community. The Medical School’s Purchasing Department and the Office of Community and Government Relations are working in conjunction with the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce to stage the event on Wednesday, May 17, 11 am to 1:30 pm, Medical School lobbies. Stop by to meet local vendors, try free samples, enter raffles and get discounted prices on services. See story for the list of vendors.

Recycle Your Old Fitness Tracker at Digital Health Event

Have you registered for the conference, How Digital Health is Revolutionizing Medicine. It is hosted by the UMass Center for mHealth and Social Media on Thursday, May 18, 10 am to 3:30 pm, Faculty Conference Room, University Campus.  Speakers are from the Medical School, UMass Amherst, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Duke University. Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, founder of RecycleHealth, a charity that collects wearable activity trackers that are no longer used and donates them to underserved populations, will be collecting fitness trackers to donate. Register for the free event before space runs out or email Jared Foetz with questions.

What You Need to Know about Fall Prevention at Home and Work

Falls are some of the most common causes of injury for trauma patients in our hospitals. Learn about fall prevention by visiting the Injury Prevention Center table Tuesday, May 16, 11 am and 1 pm, University Campus, near the pharmacy. Stop by to get information on making your home a safer place and different things you can do to make yourself or your loved one less likely to fall. Print out a home safety checklist.