Health Quarters welcomes Julie Johnston, M.D.

-2Health Quarters is proud to announce the addition of Julie Johnston, M.D. to help us address the demand for specialty reproductive and sexual health care in the North Shore and Merrimack Valley.  Dr. Johnston will replace Dr Lou Dilillo, HQ’s Medical Director for the past 16 years.

Dr. Johnston will act as the supervising physician for our Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioners and responsible for working with and assisting Health Quarters in the development and execution of strategies to position the agency as a thriving specialty practice—committed to access, communication and care coordination—in the new neighborhood of medical homes.

Dr. Johnston has been practicing as a Family Physician with the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center in Lawrence on a part-time basis since 2004. She coordinates the Center’s Gynecology and Women’s Health Rotation and runs the Reproductive Health Interest group for medical residents. Johnston is fluent in Spanish and a passionate advocate for women’s reproductive health and rights.

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Birth Control Toolkit is Now Available!

There have been a lot of questions around women’s preventive health services – particularly contraception. We wanted to make sure everyone had this toolkit that the National Women’s Law Center has developedGetting the Coverage You Deserve: What to Do If You Are Charged a Co-Pay or Deductible for a Preventive Service.

It’s a toolkit that provides information on the coverage of preventive services in the health care law, information on how to find out if a plan is currently covering these services, and detailed instructions on how to appeal to an insurance company if it is not, including draft letters to the insurance company.  The services addressed in the toolkit are:

  • Preventive Services (all services)
  • Birth Control (Including generics, ring, patch, and IUDs)
  • Breast Pumps
  • BRCA Testing
  • Colonoscopy
  • Well Woman Visit

What kind of questions or concerns are you or your staff receiving about the preventive services, particularly birth control? 

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2013 Exceptional Advanced Practice Clinician & Mentor Award

Health Quarters is pleased to announce Judy Formanek, our Lawrence Health Center Nurse Practitioner, was awarded the 2013 Exceptional Advanced Practice Clinician and Mentor Award at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Practitioners.  Judy has been worked at Health Quarters’ Lawrence Health Center since 2004.  Congratulations to Judy and thank you for applying your exceptional clinical skills to the care of our patients!

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Judy Formanek, HQ’s Nurse Practitioner at our Lawrence Health Center

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Revenue Cycle Management Workshop, January 15, 2013, Endicott College, Beverly, MA


Health Quarters’ hired Priority Management Group Inc. to train its clinicians and medical billing staff, along with their counterparts from Tapestry Health, Citizens for Citizens and Health Imperatives, on revenue cycle management—including coding, billing and reimbursement.  Increasing revenue from third-party payers will allow essential community health care providers, such as freestanding reproductive health care centers, to better deliver quality health care to the uninsured and underserved.  HQ is grateful to Endicott College for providing the venue.

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New Technology – “Sexting”

By now, most of us have probably heard about the latest wrinkle in teen dating and adolescent sexuality – “sexting.”  Just this weekend, The Boston Globe reported that police are investigating possible child pornography charges after an occurrence of sexting at a local middle school.

The cleverly coined phrase is used to define a situation where a person takes a photo of him – or usually – herself or others nude and/or involved in some sort of sexual behavior.  A camera phone is often used, and the photo is then sent to another person or persons, sometimes even posted on Facebook.  A recent survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that one in five teens have electronically sent, or posted online, nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves. There have been a number of media stories lately about teens and sexting, including a push to prosecute teens as sex offenders, a course of action that Health Quarters does not endorse.

This issue is hard to understand and downright scary to many adults – especially parents – and trying to get a handle on it can seem daunting.

Experts in adolescent psychological development would probably say that there is a generational gap between the way teens and their parents use technology, and possibly a greater gap between each population’s view of sexual behavior and relationships.   Although these gaps may seem wide, it’s imperative that parents try to connect with their children on this issue: Let them know your concerns, the potential consequences of sexting, and strategies to keep themselves safe.  The following tips, adapted from materials developed by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, can help:

1. Talk to your kids about what they are doing in cyberspace.
Just as you need to talk openly and honestly with your kids about real life sex and relationships, you also want to discuss online and cell phone activity. Make sure your kids fully understand that messages or pictures they send over the Internet or their cell phone are not truly private or anonymous. Also remind them that others might forward their pictures or messages to people they do not know or who they don’t want to see them. Worse yet, school administrators and employers often look at online profiles to make judgments about potential students/employees. It’s essential that your kids grasp the potential short-term and long-term consequences of their actions.

2. Know who your kids are talking to.
Of course it’s a given that you want to know who your children are spending time with when they leave the house. Also do your best to learn who your kids are spending time with online and on the phone. Supervising and monitoring your kids’ whereabouts in real life and cyberspace doesn’t make you a nag; it’s just part of your job as a parent. Many young people consider someone a “friend” even if they’ve only met online. What about your kids?

3. Consider limiting electronic communication.
The days of having to talk on the phone in the kitchen in front of the whole family are long gone, but you can still limit the time your kids spend online and on the phone. Consider, for example, telling your teen to leave the phone on the kitchen counter when they’re at home and to take the laptop out of their bedroom before they go to bed, so they won’t be tempted to log on or talk to friends at 2 a.m.

4. Be aware of what your teens are posting publicly.
Check out your teen’s MySpace, Facebook and other public online profiles from time to time. This isn’t snooping – this is information your kids are making public. If everyone else can look at it, why can’t you? Talk with them specifically about their own notions of what is public and what is private. Your views may differ but you won’t know until you ask, listen, and discuss.

5. Set expectations.
Make sure you are clear with your teen about what you consider appropriate “electronic” behavior. Just as certain clothing is probably off-limits or certain language unacceptable in your house, make sure you let your kids know what is and is not allowed online either. And give reminders of those expectations from time to time. It doesn’t mean you don’t trust your kids, it just reinforces that you care about them enough to be paying attention.

A final thought: Much of what teens are dealing today regarding navigating relationships and sexual decision-making is pretty similar to issues their parents faced.  Whether or not they are participating in this new trend, teens still are concerned about, and need information on, body image, self esteem, gender stereotypes, healthy relationships, communication skills, sexual orientation, and pregnancy and STD prevention.  Keep this in mind when you sit down to talk with them about sexting – they need to hear parents’ values and wisdom about these more “traditional” topics, as well.

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HQ Clients Exceed Standard for Completing Three-Shot HPV Vaccine Series

According to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland of almost 10,000 teens and young women who were eligible for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine at the school’s medical center, only 31% finished the three-shot series. In contrast, Health Quarters’ data on its Beverly health center population shows that 79% of its clients received all three shots.
The HPV vaccine was first approved for females in 2006 to prevent certain strains of the virus that can cause cervical cancer in women and genital warts in both sexes. Health Quarters started offering the vaccine to men shortly after its recent FDA approval for boys and men ages nine through 26 to prevent genital warts.
The vaccine presents a challenge with a three-shot series: The second shot should be administered one to two months after the first dose, with the third dose administered six months after the first.
“We’ve been successful in having clients follow through with all three shots because we’re so diligent in follow up,” says HQ Director of Health Care Quality Renee LaForce.  “Compliance is important, so we’ll mail reminders or call clients to make sure they come in at the right time. “
The University of Maryland findings are consistent with other studies, lead author Kathleen Tracy said. She said that the results suggest a need for better methods of ensuring patient compliance with the dosing schedule, adding, “Any time you require a patient to get more than one dose, especially when it requires a clinic visit, you’re setting up a barrier.” A pilot study is underway to assess compliance among women ages 18 through 26 who receive daily reminders via text message for seven days before their vaccine appointments.

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What is your STD IQ? ANSWERS

1.    A person can have an STD without knowing it. TRUE
Many STDs have no symptoms.  The only sure way to know if you have an STD is to be
tested for it.
2.    It is normal for women to have some vaginal discharge that is not indicative of an STD.  TRUE
3.    Once you have had an STD and been treated for it, you can’t get it again.  FALSE
Bacterial STDs can be treated and cured, however if you have a partner with the infection again in the future, you could be re-infected.  
4.    HIV is present in semen, blood, vaginal secretions, and breast milk.  TRUE
5.    Chlamydia is the most common bacterial STD.  TRUE
6.    Most STDs eventually go away by themselves.  FALSE
The only way to treat or cure an STD is to be treated at a medical facility.  
7.    Untreated STDs can cause infertility.  TRUE
If left untreated, some STDs including chlamydia and gonorrhea, can develop into Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which can cause scar tissue in the fallopian tubes, leading to problems with fertility.  
8.    Birth control pills, patches, and rings offer excellent protection from STDs.  FALSE
9.    Condoms can help prevent the spread of STDs.  TRUE
Condoms, when use consistently and correctly, are very effective at preventing STDs that are spread through vaginal fluids,  semen, and blood.  Condoms offer less protection against STDs that are spread through skin to skin contact (herpes and HPV), however some studies indicate that condoms do reduce the likelihood of transmission.
10.    If you know your partner, you can’t get an STD.  FALSE
11.    What should you do if you think you have an STD?
Go to Health Quarters or your physician’s office to be tested.  Don’t wait!
12.    How can you avoid getting an STD?
Abstain from sexual activity
Use condoms and dental dams during sexual activity
Get tested regularly or with every new partner
Refuse to share needles
Get the Hepatitis A and B and HPV vaccines!  

Health Quarters provides rapid HIV testing and STD testing and treatment at its health centers in Beverly, Haverhill and Lawrence.  Call 800.892.0234 or visit healthq.org for info.

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