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Close to Home: Higher Education at a Lower Cost

As most schools are back in session, we are talking higher education at a lower cost on this edition of Close to Home. Our President and CEO, Maulik Joshi sits down with Dr. Jacob Ashby, Executive Director, USMH, to talk about finding ways to streamline higher education so students are graduating with little to no debt. Click here to listen!


Meritus Today

Meritus Health urges caution, prevention ahead of viral illness season

As Meritus lives its mission of “Improving the Health of the Community,” dedicated caregivers are sharing information about preventative measures to take during viral illness season. In alignment with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Meritus experts strongly recommend that individuals aged 6 months and older receive an updated flu vaccine in addition to staying informed about COVID-19 precautions, and they encourage all eligible individuals to consider vaccination or booster shots as needed. There are multiple options available for scheduling your vaccinations and boosters: • MyChart: You can conveniently schedule your flu and COVID-19 vaccines or boosters through your MyChart account. • Primary Care Provider: Reach out to your primary care provider's office for vaccine appointments and guidance tailored to your health needs. • Your Local Health Department: Stay informed about local vaccination resources by checking with your nearby health department. • Your Local Pharmacy: Many local pharmacies offer both flu and COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters, making it easily accessible for you. Over-the-counter flu and COVID-19 tests are readily available at pharmacies, grocery stores, and online retailers. These tests are user-friendly, quick, and provide reliable results for most individuals. For those requiring laboratory testing, Meritus Medical Laboratory locations offer comprehensive testing services. Please be aware that a healthcare provider's order is necessary, and your insurance will be billed accordingly. Dr. Anand Budi, chief medical officer, emphasizes the health system’s commitment to safeguarding the community against viral illnesses such as COVID-19, RSV and the flu. “Vaccination remains our most effective defense against the spread of these viral illnesses,” he said. You can schedule your flu and COVID vaccine appointments with ease through MyChart, your primary care provider's office or by simply walking in at Meritus Primary Care – Prospect Street. “We all have a part to play in reducing the spread of viral illnesses, including COVID-19 and the flu. By getting vaccinated, you not only protect yourself but also contribute to the well-being of our entire community,” Dr. Budi said. For the latest, up-to-date information on the flu season, viral illnesses, testing, treatment, and vaccination options, please visit MeritusHealth.com/Viralillness.


Upcoming Events

When support can’t wait: Meritus access to mental health care

Meritus Health, in keeping with its mission of “Improving the Health of the Community” is proudly expanding access to mental health services this month. The health center will open the Meritus Crisis Center, a six-bed inpatient unit, to support the needs of those struggling with addiction as well as a new Mental Health Walk-In Care facility that will provide mental health services to individuals in need of immediate help, assessment and intervention. Both are located on the Meritus Medical Center campus on Medical Campus Drive, via the Orange Entrance. In partnership with Brook Lane Health Services, the mental health walk-in care facility will serve as a crucial resource for individuals aged 6 and older, catering to children, adolescents and adults facing mild-to-moderate mental health crises. “We are here to help our neighbors get access to the care they need,” said Maulik Joshi, Dr.P.H., President and CEO of Meritus Health. “We have continued to see the need for these services and are proud to be partnering with Brook Lane to make sure our community has easy access.” “Joining forces with Meritus Health on this initiative is a testament to the power of collaboration in making a positive impact on the lives of those struggling with mental health challenges. Our combined expertise, resources and dedication will not only be treating mental health emergencies, but also offering a pathway to ongoing care, fostering long-term mental well-being for our community,” CEO of Brook Lane, Jeffery D. O’Neal, said.    Allen Twigg, executive director of behavioral and community health said the health system’s most recent Community Health Needs Assessment highlighted a steady increase of drug overdose fatalities in Washington County over the last 10 years, at a rate that’s higher than the state average. The Meritus Crisis Center expands on a pilot initiative offering three crisis stabilization beds with a goal of serving 150 patients in a year. The pilot was very successful, with an 82% linkage rate with treatment upon discharge.  Crisis stabilization beds provide a safe environment for a patient struggling with substance abuse, while they await a treatment program. "We are honored to expand this desperately-needed service to our community," Twigg said. "This represents a significant step forward in improving access to timely and effective behavioral health care, and we are dedicated to supporting the well-being of our community," he added. For more information, visit MeritusHealth.com/MentalHealth.

Sepsis Awareness Month: Stay healthy, stay aware & keep sepsis at bay

Sepsis Awareness Month is here, and it's crucial for everyone to understand what sepsis is and why it's a potentially life-threatening infection. So, let's break it down in a more relatable way. Imagine sepsis as an intruder that sneaks into your bloodstream. It's like a hidden enemy that, if left unchecked, can turn deadly. Sepsis happens when your body's immune system goes into overdrive while trying to fight off an infection, and this overreaction can lead to serious problems – that’s the bad news. Now for some good news – Meritus Medical Center is one of the top performers in the care provided to patients with sepsis when compared to all hospitals across the country.  “Our care at Meritus exceeds the top 10% of other hospitals and health systems when it comes to taking care of patients presenting with sepsis,” said Dr. Christopher Handera, who oversees the hospitalist program at Meritus. Early detection is vital in identifying possible cases of sepsis. Meritus places a strong emphasis on educating both patients and healthcare professionals about the early signs of sepsis. By empowering individuals to recognize symptoms such as fever, rapid heartbeat and altered mental state, the healthcare system enables quicker intervention. In addition to recognizing the signs of early detection, community education and prevention play key roles in raising awareness of the severity of sepsis and how everyone can play a part in keeping themselves and their family sepsis-free. “Prevention starts at the root, and that's why we have implemented stringent infection control protocols. From hand hygiene to sterilization techniques, we take pride in maintaining a proactive stance against infections. By preventing infections at their source, the risk of sepsis is drastically reduced,” Dr. Handera said. Another way that Meritus is protecting patients is through comprehensive care coordination, and ensuring seamless communication and collaboration among various departments. “Through coordination with all the providers and people involved in the care of a patient, we communicate, share and monitor health conditions so that any signs of potential sepsis are promptly addressed,” Dr. Handera said. Timely intervention and communication between medical professionals play a vital role in preventing sepsis-related complications. “We leverage our electronic health records to facilitate efficient patient management. These records track patient health data, enabling healthcare providers to spot trends or warning signs that might indicate a heightened risk of sepsis,” Dr. Handera said. Patients and their families can be active participants in their own sepsis prevention. It’s important to follow medical advice, adhere to prescribed medications and seek medical attention for infections. Join us in raising awareness about sepsis and taking steps to prevent it. Share this information with your friends and family, educate yourself about the early warning signs, practice good hygiene and seek medical attention promptly if you suspect an infection.  Stay healthy, stay aware and keep sepsis at bay!


Healthy Washington County