In the Community

Welcome to the Department of Community Services 

Our mission at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Tufts University, is to provide superior health care leading to the best possible outcome for every patient. We also reach beyond our own doors through our Community Benefits Initiative, which is committed to improving the health and quality of life of community residents by supporting local organizations aligned with this mission. Through this initiative, we are able to provide funding and support to community-based programs that better the lives of our neighbors. In recent years, we have focused on the needs of senior citizens, children and victims of domestic violence.

Lahey Hospital & Medical Center affirms its commitment to identifying and serving the health and wellness needs of its community through our Community Benefits Program.

The foundation of this program is based upon a collaborative initiative between Lahey Hospital & Medical Center employees, community leaders, representatives of community agencies, and community residents. Through collaborative planning, coalition building and financial support, Lahey's Community Benefits Initiative strives to serve as a leader and a catalyst for positive change within the community. Services to improve the health status of community members will be implemented in conjunction with community providers.

Through its ongoing Community Benefits Initiative, Lahey Hospital & Medical Center will maintain strong community ties by working toward promoting the health and wellness of the community members we serve. This commitment of offering community benefits services will be in alignment with Lahey Hospital & Medical Center's mission of providing care of the highest quality.

Based on Lahey's community needs assessment completed in 2010, Lahey Hospital & Medical Center's 2010 community benefits plan focuses on the following areas: 

  1. Elder health issues 
  2. Chronic disease management 
  3. Community health improvement and education programs directed toward adult, elder and under-served populations at risk  

Lahey Hospital & Medical Center is a member of Community Health Area Network 15 (CHNA 15), which offers grants to communities in support of health initiatives. CHNA 15 follows a healthy communities approach, wherein "health is not merely access to health care and the absence of disease, but strengthening positive social, mental, physical, economic and environmental conditions conducive to health and well-being."

In 2010, Lahey contributed more than $400,000 to support a wide variety of efforts by CHNA 15 members, as well as other Massachusetts agencies as a result of our Determination of Needs commitments. In addition, Lahey funded another $144,000 through our own programs and the mini-grants that we funded separately from CHNA.

The following are just a few examples of other programs benefitting the community that Lahey Hospital & Medical Center has sponsored or supported.

To learn more about how Lahey is serving the community, contact the Department of Volunteer & Community Services at VolunteerServices@Lahey.org or 781-744-8803.

Supporting Seniors

You probably wouldn’t believe that a little dancing could change someone’s life—unless you met Marie, Joanne, Pat and some of the other people who attend weekly line dancing sessions at the Wilmington, Mass., Senior Center.

Terri Marciello, Wilmington’s director of elder services, used funds donated by Lahey Hospital & Medical Center’s Community Benefit Program to bring yoga, athletic training and line dancing to the seniors in her town. The seniors love it for the socializing and friendships they have formed. Marciello values it for the health benefits that go along with exercise.

“The country line dancing is good because it gets them breathing,” says Marciello. “There is so much movement, they don’t realize they are doing exercise. They are not only moving their legs and arms, they are working their lungs.”

That’s important help to seniors who may be dealing with a chronic condition, such as congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. For healthy seniors, like Pat Cagnina, the camaraderie itself is a tonic.

“I’m a widow,” she says. “My husband and I danced all of our lives. We did ballroom dancing, so this is different. I never dreamed I’d like it as well as I have. I love it.”

Cagnina credits the instructor, Sam O’Claire, with taking the time to coach newcomers, ensuring they come back for more. Wednesday is now her favorite day of the week.

“It’s therapeutic. Coming here makes you forget the troubles you have. I’ve met so many friends. I hope to do this as long as my legs can move.”
Marciello points out that, with cities and towns struggling financially, supporting a program like hers would be difficult without Lahey’s Community Benefit Program.

“It’s because of Lahey Hospital & Medical Center that we’re able to offer this complete wellness program,” she says.

School Nurse Education

The health needs of area youth have been a focus of Lahey Hospital & Medical Center's Community Benefits program since its inception in 1995. As programs addressing the needs of children evolved over the years, Lahey Hospital & Medical Center recognized the unique role school nurses play. While often focusing on preventive medicine, school nurses also spend time educating parents and children about illness and helping families cope with health related problems. This could mean anything from assessing the common cold to finding resources for students dealing with allergies or autism, and helping manage those conditions in the school setting. Kathy Hassey, Massachusetts School Nurses Association president, and Janet Brown, retired social worker and tireless Lahey Clinic volunteer.

Lahey contributed $60,979 over the past few years for the planning, development and presentation of continuing education programs and other resources for school nurses. The twice-yearly sessions are designed to help school nurses tackle some of their most challenging situations, with topics chosen from recommendations made by the nurses themselves. In fiscal year 2008, the topic was diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is most commonly diagnosed in childhood. Recently, Type 2 diabetes is also increasing among children. According the Kathy Hassey, BA, RN, MSN, MEd, president of MSNO, children newly diagnosed with diabetes used to spend up to two weeks in the hospital. Today, they are back in school within 48 to 72 hours of diagnosis. A lot of diabetes education they and their families require happens in the schools.

At the Mary Rowlandson Elementary School in Lancaster, Mass., Rita Ingrisano, RN, oversees the health program for 500 students. Soon after attending the diabetes program, she was called upon to use the knowledge she had acquired.

"I was able to share the information with the family of a newly diagnosed student and help devise a care plan for the teacher," she said. "It was a wealth of knowledge and good resources."

Domestic Violence Prevention and Assistance

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the number of deaths attributed to domestic violence increased threefold between 2005 and 2007. Statistics like these underline the importance of a health care facility's responsibility to its community in working to prevent, screen for and address violence.

Lahey Hospital & Medical Center has a long history of working in partnership with local police and community organizations to provide crisis intervention and links to services for victims of domestic violence. Lahey and these partners are committed to alleviating the public health and social problems associated with relationship violence in all forms, including spousal violence and elder abuse.

Lahey's Domestic Violence Initiative (DVI) includes physician and nonclinical staff from departments such as Gynecology, General Internal Medicine, Social Work and the Emergency Room. Community members include law enforcement representatives and local emergency resource groups. 

Lahey contributed more than $35,000 to our partners in the Domestic Violence Initiative in 2009.These funds supported emergency shelter provided by REACH, educational programs for youth, and the Domestic ViolenceServices of Middlesex County.

Senior Citizen Wellness Programs

Lahey Hospital & Medical Center's Community Benefits program determined early on that our area's geriatric population had a need for community-based services. For years, Lahey has offered or supported a variety of programs for neighborhood senior citizens, from weekly discounted meals to free insurance counseling.

In fiscal year 2009, Lahey committed $70,000 to bring health related educational programs to senior citizens in Burlington, Woburn, Billerica, Lexington and Wilmington, Mass. The programs address nutrition, chronic disease self-management and exercise. Data collected at these workshops show self-reported lifestyle improvements and many participants attend sessions multiple times.