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Brook Lane to affiliate with Meritus, enhance care for region, state

Move supports a growing community need for mental health services Two long-standing local health providers will join together in July, as Brook Lane and Meritus Health will affiliate, vowing to expand access to mental health services across the region and state. The definitive agreement comes after months of formal due diligence by both organizations and their respective boards. “As we consider the best opportunities to support the total health of our community, while the demand for mental health support and services continues to increase, welcoming Brook Lane to our organization presents an opportunity for our two strong organizations to enhance access to services and provide patients with more coordinated care,” said Maulik Joshi, Dr.P.H., President and CEO of Meritus Health. Joshi said Meritus Health and Brook Lane have a long tradition of partnering in the community. In September 2023, the health providers worked together to open a mental health urgent care on the Meritus Health Campus off Robinwood Drive in Hagerstown. “We looked at the need in our community and across our state and found a way to share resources in order to quickly support that need,” Joshi said. “We understand the strength in working together and look forward to the next chapter in providing mental health services and education to our community.” Over the past several months, Joshi said he and Brook Lane CEO Jeffery D. O’Neal, MBA, LCPC, FACHE have been considering how they can use the strengths of their respective organizations to better fill current and future mental health needs across the region and the state. By combining resources, O’Neal and Joshi outlined an expanded model for mental health that would extend access levels of care and position the organization as one of the largest and most accessible in the nation. Once combined, the community would have access to integrated clinical offerings with a total of 80 inpatient beds; a psychiatry residency program, a high acuity residential crisis program, day treatment programs for children, adolescents and adults, substance abuse treatment services, mental health urgent care, mental health telehealth visits, a Type III and two Type I school programs, school-based therapists, interventional psychiatry programs, an employee assistance program servicing 12 organizations, and much more. Together, there would be 25 providers, 105 licensed therapists, 115 dedicated nursing staff and 20 teachers, all dedicated to supporting mental health services. This model, with combined resources, doesn’t just put together clinical excellence, but aligns cultural and community values as well. "Meritus and Brook Lane share community-centric values and a vision for making our neighbors healthier," O’Neal said. "Affiliating with Meritus provides our organization with the support it needs to grow and expand, while maintaining our tradition of providing compassionate mental and behavioral health services.” The affiliation will not reduce jobs, according to both leaders, but Brook Lane team members will be moved to the more competitive Meritus compensation scale. Over time, the organizations will consider together the best opportunities for expanding mental health services. “We know this partnership will improve access to care in our community,” Joshi said. “We look forward to our next steps, as together we plan and envision how to best enhance services and education.” Meritus Health, Western Maryland’s largest health care provider, is located at the crossroads of Western Maryland, Southern Pennsylvania and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. With over 3,000 employees, 500 medical staff members and 250 volunteers, Meritus Health serves over 200,000 residents of the tristate region. Meritus Medical Center has 327 beds and Meritus Medical group has over 160 providers. More information can be found at www.MeritusHealth.com or visit our Facebook page or LinkedIn page.


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Meritus doc: Proper preparation key when it comes to fall athletics

You have to walk before you can run. When it comes to preparing for fall sports, a physician with Meritus Sports Medicine suggests young athletes run before they practice. “Before the season starts, they should start working on general aerobic and cardio exercise,” said Geoffrey Sanyi, D.O. “They should be overall healthy before they start doing their work for the season.” Dr. Sanyi, who is based at the new Meritus Health location at Valley Mall, said parents interested in prepping their kids for football, soccer and cheer, among other sports, should have them running, jogging or swimming regularly. In other words, they should strive to be physically fit as a baseline for the workouts to come. “There’s being in shape, then there’s being in football shape,” said Dr. Sanyi, who completed a fellowship in sports medicine at St. Luke’s University Hospital in Bethlehem, Pa. When it comes time to hit the gym, Dr. Sanyi recommends not jumping straight to pumping iron. Start off with body-weight exercises, such as squats, pushups and pullups, he said. When the core muscles have been worked out, then it’s time to lift weights. “Sometimes, athletes don’t do too much in preparation in the summer and go straight to weightlifting,” Dr. Sanyi said. “That means their core isn’t strong. It can create a muscle imbalance and that causes problems. “Most patients I see in the clinic, that’s what happened.” Another typical case he sees comes from athletes not using proper form when lifting weights. “Proper form reduces the risk of injury,” he said. When it comes to specific sports, Dr. Sanyi recommends athletes focus on certain things. For example, football players probably want to focus on cardio and strength training. Soccer players probably want to focus on aerobic exercise. Cheerleaders should focus on aerobics, but also strength training. “People would be surprised how fit you have to be to do tumbling or to be a base, holding people up in the air,” he said. No matter what the sport is, Dr. Sanyi stresses to parents and athletes that proper rest is needed. “I know, teenagers don’t like to sleep,” he said, “but that’s what gets your body to heal after intense exercise.” Parents also should pay attention to their athlete’s performance. Whether it be a sprain, a concussion or something heat-related, don’t wait to get evaluated, he said. “If they think their athlete is injured or not performing at what they expect them to be, they should definitely get it checked out,” he said. Meritus Sports Medicine is available to support the unique needs of athletes of all ages and levels – from youth to professional. The practice has sports medicine physicians, physical therapists and athletic trainers working in a new facility with leading-edge technology. To learn more, please visit www.meritushealth.com/sportsmedicine.


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Meritus scholarship aims to make nursing more feasible career choice

Partnership with Shepherd University to cover a portion of tuition in exchange for commitment to working at Meritus Medical Center A partnership between Meritus Health and Shepherd University will assist nursing students in becoming registered nurses and working locally. Meritus is offering a certain number of scholarships to nursing students at the Shepherdstown, W.Va., school to help directly address the critical need for more registered nurses locally and throughout the country. “We are excited to be working with Shepherd University to create this opportunity,” said Chief of Nursing Melissa Short, M.B.A., M.N., R.N. “Meritus Health will pay for a portion of the candidate's education in return for a pre-determined length of employment with the hospital after graduation.” Meritus Health will provide a set amount of money per semester students can put towards tuition, required books, lab fees, and uniforms. When students obtain their RN license, they will receive a $7,000 signing bonus for working at Meritus Medical Center, and an additional $5,000 after completing three years of employment with Meritus Health. A similar scholarship program is available for Hagerstown Community College nursing students, too. Shepherd University President Dr. Mary J.C. Hendrix also expressed excitement, explaining how significant programs like this are for students. “It is so important to make the educational opportunities here at Shepherd available to students, especially in these vital areas,” Hendrix said. “We are always working to identify partnerships that support our students and benefit the community and local workforce.” The intent is to attract students from Washington County, Md., and Jefferson County, W.Va., but Meritus reserves the right to entertain candidates from other locations. Interested applicants can reach out to Savannah Durning at 301-790-8500 or Savannah.Durning@MeritusHealth.com for more information.

Meritus tops in three categories from U.S. News & World Report

It’s the second year in a row the hospital has received a ‘high performing' award for treatment of congestive heart failure Meritus Medical Center has been named a 2024-2025 High Performing Hospital in the treatment of congestive heart failure, colon cancer surgery and COPD. The recognition comes from U.S. News & World Report, a global authority in hospital rankings and consumer advice. This is the highest award a hospital can earn for U.S. News’ Best Hospitals Procedures & Conditions ratings. The annual Procedures & Conditions ratings are designed to assist patients and their doctors in making informed decisions about where to receive care for challenging health conditions or elective procedures. It’s the second year in a row the hospital has been cited by the organization for heart failure treatment. “We are thrilled to again receive a ‘High Performing’ designation for our treatment of Congestive Heart Failure, as it reinforces our unwavering commitment to improve the health of our community," said Meritus Chief Operating Officer Carrie Adams, Pharm.D. “Meritus continues to perform at the top of its game thanks to the dedication and skills of our excellent teams.” U.S. News evaluated nearly 5,000 hospitals across 15 specialties and 21 procedures and conditions. Hospitals awarded a “Best” designation excelled at factors such as clinical outcomes, level of nursing care and patient experience. For Meritus, Western Maryland’s largest healthcare system, the recognition from U.S. News & World Report is the latest in a series of honors both regionally and nationally. “It’s our people who make the difference,” said President and CEO Maulik Joshi, Dr.P.H. “This recognition and all the recognitions Meritus has received is a testament to how dedicated our teams are to improving the health of the community.” Recent accomplishments include: A third consecutive “A” Hospital Safety Grade from The Leapfrog Group Listed in the top 1.5% of hospital giving back to their communities by the Lown Institute Voted Best Cardiology, Hospital, and Urgent Care, and Finalist in Plastic Surgery in the Tristate in Verstandig Media’s Best of the Tristate A “High Performing” rating for Meritus Urology’s outpatient surgical center “Get With The Guidelines - Stroke GoldPlus” quality achievement award, Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll Advanced Therapy award, and Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll award from the American Heart Association A 2024 Top Surgical Hospital in Maryland by Healthgrades, a healthcare performance tracking firm


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