Lynn Community Health Center

Health center nurse practitioner honored

COURTESY PHOTO
Elena Freydin, left, with student Danielle Badolato, who is currently doing a rotation at LCHC.

Swampscott resident and Lynn Community Health Center Nurse Practitioner Elena Freydin, DNP, has received the Exceptional Preceptor Award from the Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners.  

This award recognizes nurse practitioners who role model, teach, and evaluate nursing students who are learning advanced practice nursing skills.

“Dr. Freydin has a deep commitment and desire to impact future nurse practitioners,” said Margaret Ackerman, DNP, Assistant Professor and Clinical Program Track Coordinator at Salem State.  “She has very high standards.  Students often approach the clinical practicum with her with trepidation, but finish feeling confident and accomplished.”

Freydin, who is also an adjunct faculty member at Salem State University since 2014, oversees students every semester ranging from first-year students to those who are doing their last rotation before graduation.

“I love working with them,” she said, adding, “Part of your role as a clinician is to share what you know with the next generation. There is only so much you can learn from books. This is my way to share what I know and what I keep learning.”

Dr. Kiame Mahaniah, LCHC Chief Medical Officer, called Freydin “a tireless advocate for her patients.

“She is also a determined manager and a fearless leader.  We are fortunate to have her on our staff,” Mahaniah said.

Freydin received her Master’s of Science in Nursing in adult primary care from the Massachusetts General Hospital Institutes of Health Professionals in 1999 and her Doctor of Nursing Practice in 2009.

She has been a primary care provider at Lynn Community Health Center since 2005 and is currently the medical director of “The Green Team,” one of several primary care teams at the health center. She has also been trained as a physician builder by Epic, the predominant electronic medical record purveyor in the US.

 

Beyond Walls bringing electricity downtown

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
A crowd attends the “Beyond Walls” fundraiser at the Lynn Museum.

By LEAH DEARBORN

LYNN — It was a party Thursday night at the Lynn Museum, with a colorful kickoff to fundraising efforts for downtown art project “Beyond Walls.”

“All aspects of the project are advancing,” said Al Wilson, founder and executive director of Beyond Walls.

The project will use funds raised from the campaign to install lighting in train underpasses and 12 vintage neon artworks in the city’s business district, as well as a sculpture that pays homage to Lynn’s industrial roots and 10 murals in the heart of Lynn’s Transformative Development Initiative District.

Wilson said they’re looking to raise $50-80,000 of the $255,000 minimum total needed for the project.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $50,000 by May 22 at midnight, the project will win a matching grant with funds from MassDevelopment’s Commonwealth Places program.

Lynn girls are strong, smart, and bold

Wilson said his inspiration for the project came from the Wynwood Art District of Miami, Fla., a warehousing area that was transformed through the presence of art. It was a success story that made him think more about the possibilities in Lynn.

“I think it will the give the area a real spark,” said state Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn), who called the project an opportunity to take the arts and culture scene in Lynn up a notch.

“I love it. If I work late I get to walk that way,” said Wendolyn Gonzalez, an employee of Lynn Community Health Center.  

There are plans for future fundraising efforts at the Bent Water Brewing Company May 20 from 3-10 p.m. Wilson said another event will likely take place at the Blue Ox Restaurant sometime in May.

MassDevelopment and Lynn’s Neighborhood Development Associates announced the campaign through the civic crowdfunding platform Patronicity and the Commonwealth Places initiative.

Interested parties can learn more at www.patronicity.com/lynn or www.beyond-walls.org.

Women share stories of health care success

COURTESY PHOTO
Pictured is Lori Abrams Berry.

By LEAH DEARBORN

The Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce kicked off their annual networking series Monday night with a seminar about women in health care.

Retiring CEO of the Lynn Community Health Center, Lori Abrams Berry, introduced four panelist speakers from the center at the Bayside Function Room in Nahant.

Gynecologist Dr. Kristen Cotter spoke about how the creation of comprehensive medical checklists has helped to ensure that no step is overlooked when treating a pregnancy.

She told the story of a recent and particularly difficult delivery where a woman who had just given birth was hemorrhaging.

The bleeding was stopped and the patient’s life saved, but Cotter learned soon after that the woman had lost her sister in a nearly identical scenario in her native country of Cameroon.

“It was just this moment when I realized what we could do because we have access to health care,” said Cotter.

Swampscott making room for an inn

School-based nurse practitioner Julie Chan recounted how she purposefully sought out employment with the Lynn school-based program.

“We can really be with the patients. In school-based health we help them learn to advocate for themselves,” said Chan.

Medical Director Dr. Elena Freydin spoke of her experience working with addiction patients.

“It’s amazing to see that progression and healing,” she said of a woman who is now leading a substance-free life.

The panelists dedicated the end of the discussion to answering questions, a number of which concerned the future of health coverage across the state and the country.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re always going to be there looking for better resources,” said director of community outreach Emily Johnson.

Leslie Gould, president/CEO of the Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber has an annual women in networking series with four events. In the past, they organized series around women in politics and women in the media.


Leah Dearborn can be reached at ldearborn@itemlive.com.

School committee members seek 2nd term

COURTESY PHOTOS
Pictured is Gargi Cooper, left, and Suzanne Wright.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT — Two incumbents vying to retain their seats on the School Committee are stressing the importance of continuity and consistency on the board. One challenger argues that there needs to be more transparency and communication from the committee.

Suzanne Wright and Gargi Cooper have each decided to run for a second, three-year term on the school committee. They face a challenge from Melissa Camire, who will also appear on the ballot for the April 25 local election.

Camire, who has lived in Swampscott for the past five years, said she would bring a unique perspective to the committee, because she has a six-year-old child in the school system and her partner teaches at Swampscott High School.

Camire wants to see more transparency among the committee. If elected, she said she would do more investigation into the budget and said there could have been more transparency and communication about why certain cuts were made.

Wright, in advocating for consistency, said there have been lots of leadership changes in recent years, both on the board and in the administration.

“For the first time in years, we have a school committee and a superintendent who are able to offer our students and the district staff a level of continuity and consistency of policy that has too often been lacking prior to this administration,” Wright said in a statement.

“Last year was the first time in nearly two decades that we saw a school committee that stayed intact for more than a single year. The constant turnover in the past created an inconsistency that presented a number of problems, not the least of which is having the same leadership from one teachers’ union contract to the following one,” Wright continued.

Cooper also cited the district leadership and school committee turnover prior to her time on the board.

“This lack of consistency has caused the district great difficulties in gaining traction on many important initiatives, including addressing mental health support and technology needs,” Cooper said in a statement. “I am proud to contribute to the district strategic plan that places the emotional and behavioral safety of our students at the forefront.

“I would like to see the mental health initiatives (SWIFT and Harbor programs) that were introduced into the high school this year expand to our middle school because they will provide our children with the support needed to address the needs of students reentering school after absences, due to serious mental health challenges or medical illness,” Cooper continued.

Affordable housing for seniors on the agenda

Wright said she also wants to see them expand to the middle school. She said the need for both mental health initiatives is unquestionable and the difference they are making for students is undeniable. Wright also wants to continue work on a district-wide technology plan to benefit students.

Camire said she disagrees with the continuity argument. She said both candidates had a chance to effect change in their three years, and their plans should already be underway. She said the district should start looking into a panel of parents, students and educators to hire the next high school principal. She said the turnover in administration needs to stop and people need to be hired who “fit our vision for what we want the Swampscott school district to become.”

Camire said the schools are “crumbling around us” and some are not ADA compliant, and there seems to be no technology budget. She is for school consolidation for the lower grades, rather than smaller neighborhood schools, arguing that at just 13,000 residents, Swampscott is already a neighborhood.

“We need to start making that forward progress towards stronger schools for a stronger community,” Camire said.  

Cooper cited her work as chairwoman of the Joint Facilities Task Force, saying that she led the school system to work with town administration to strengthen Swampscott’s infrastructure and improve efficiencies. She said hiring a joint facilities director, a shared position between town government and the school department, has made the district become proactive.

“Our current school board has been working collaboratively and has been able to drive our district forward,” Cooper said in a statement. “Continuity on the board is paramount to continuing our district’s positive momentum. With the knowledge and experience I have gained over these past three years, I am truly invested and committed to bring these and many other much-needed initiatives to completion.”

In addition to her role on the school committee, Cooper said she remains involved in the public schools as a parent and PTA volunteer. She works as a nurse practitioner and runs the medical outreach program out of the Lynn Community Health Center that provides medical care to the homeless in Lynn.

Wright said her four children have all been educated through Swampscott Public Schools.

“If we are going to have the kind of public schools that Swampscott residents expect and are paying for, we need to provide stable, even-handed vision that lasts beyond each year’s election,” Wright said in a statement.

“Right now, there is a healthy diversity of skills, personalities and opinions on the school committee,” Wright continued. “We work well together and respectfully challenge each other and the school administration to make sure we are doing the best we can for the students. We are committed to tackling issues large and small, including the tough financial issues we need to solve. We are seeing results.”


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

‘We are celebrating by being here to serve’

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Dr. Alina Reznik, an optometrist at Lynn Community Eye Care Services, talks about International Women’s Day.

By LEAH DEARBORN

LYNN — Solidarity for International Women’s Day took many different forms on Wednesday.

Women were encouraged to take the day off from work, avoid shopping and wear red as part of A Day Without a Woman, an offshoot of the Women’s March that drew out thousands of protesters in January.

For many women across the North Shore, however, taking a break from the daily grind wasn’t an option.

“I think if we weren’t here, women would suffer and that’s not contributing to the cause,” said Cindy StegerWilson, director of marketing and communications at Lynn Community Health Center. “We are celebrating by being here to serve the women in our community.”

Lynn Community optometrist Dr. Alina Reznik said she sees too many patients to even consider taking a day off.

Instead, Reznik urged that women honor the event by taking care of themselves and their health.  

Education coordinator Teresa Martinez of North Shore Family Daycare in Lynn said she didn’t know of any employees who elected to stay home.

“There’s a better way to show support other than by calling out,” she said.

Warren: Trump is trying to bully mayors

A few businesses in the area did opt to keep their doors closed.

“By ensuring that women have pay equity, a livable wage and paid leave, businesses can demonstrate that their long-term actions align with the values we are standing up for on this day,” said a Facebook post by Salem diner The Ugly Mug.

Others, such as Deanne Healey, president of the Peabody Area Chamber of Commerce, were less sure of the ideal way to mark the occasion.  

“I have conflicted feelings,” said Healey. “I applaud the point they’re trying to make. It’s just difficult to pull off. It’s even harder as a small business.”

Diane Calver, owner of DiHard Fitness in Peabody, employs almost entirely women.   

She said that while everyone came into work on Wednesday, the business will host an all-female spin class dedicated to International Women’s Day on Friday.

“I’m a hardworking female myself,” said Calver. “Anything to do with helping women, I’m all for.”

On ‘A Day Without a Woman,’ where will you be?


Leah Dearborn can be reached at ldearborn@itemlive.com.

Warren: Trump is trying to bully mayors

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tours the Lynn Community Health Center.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — As President Donald Trump signed a new version of his controversial travel ban Monday while Sen. Elizabeth Warren was in town, the CEO of the Lynn Community Health Center said she fears for her staff’s family and patients who have uncertain immigration status.

“I’ve never been so upset about anything in my life,” said Lori Abrams Berry. “There’s a level of tension that everyone in this health center and in Lynn is feeling about this.”

Berry made her remarks during a roundtable conversation with Warren, local officials and clinic executives. The liberal Democratic senator toured the facility to learn how doctors are integrating services among specialties as well as with other health care providers.

Warren used portions of her 90 minutes in Lynn to unleash on Trump’s promise to withhold funds to so-called sanctuary cities, communities including Boston and Somerville, whose police forces refuse to assist federal immigration agents or inquire about immigration status.

“The Trump administration is trying to bully local mayors into changing policing so they’ll double down, so it’s no longer just the federal agents doing this,” she said. “That’s clearly unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government cannot condition grants in one area on compliance in other areas … I met with mayors last week who are prepared to go to court the minute federal dollars are withheld to sanctuary cities.”

Berry’s comments came after the television news crews exited the room.

“One of our board members’ brother-in-law got picked up and is in detention because he was stopped for a minor traffic violation and didn’t have a license,” she said. “All the agencies in Lynn are very concerned about this. We need a rapid response network so we can start to help families. We are starting to feel like we need to give people information on their rights.”

Hundreds of jobs coming to Medford

Trump’s latest executive order on immigration and refugees still restricts new visas for citizens from six Muslim-majority countries and shuts down the nation’s refugee program.

The revised travel order leaves Iraq off the list of banned countries but still affects visitors from Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya.

Last month, in a speech to police chiefs, Trump asked for their help in identifying and deporting illegal immigrants.

“I want you to turn in the bad ones,” Trump said. “We’re going to stop those drugs from poisoning our youth, from poisoning our people. We’re going to be ruthless in that fight. We have no choice, and we’re going to take that fight to the drug cartels and work to liberate our communities from their terrible grip of violence.”

In a question and answer session with reporters following the tour, Warren said she recently met with Seema Verma, Trump’s pick to head the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid. Trump has said he favors restructuring funding for the Medicaid program, which provides health coverage to the poor and disabled, through block grants.

“I made it clear that I will try to work with her if she is confirmed and do everything possible to keep our community health centers in Massachusetts fully supported, and that means not doing block grants,” she said. “If people need healthcare, we need to find the most effective and economical ways to do it, but make sure we are able to deliver healthcare. We don’t say: ‘You’ve met some arbitrary cap with the state of Massachusetts, and now you’re done.’”

On Trump’s accusation that former President Barack Obama wiretapped his New York home, Warren dismissed the allegation.

“It’s becoming clearer every day that President Trump is failing and he knows it,” she said. “That’s what these wild accusations are about.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com. Material from Associated Press was used in this report.

Weight-loss doctor expanding practice

COURTESY PHOTO
Pictured is Dr. Shalva “Sol” Nash.

By BILL BROTHERTON

LYNN — More than one-third of Americans are overweight or obese, according to the most recent findings of the Centers for Disease Control. And every year those numbers increase.

Dr. Shalva “Sol” Nash, who has owned and operated Brookline-based Weightloss Boston since 2002, has had great success using the holistic Sadkhin weight-loss method. Nash is expanding his practice to Lynn, opening an office at 20 Central Ave. in the building that houses Lynn Community Health Center.

Nash says his patients have achieved substantial weight loss without pills, heavy exercise or prepared foods. He adds the Sadkhin method facilitates naturopathic, drug-free and rapid weight loss using acupressure to curb the hunger and cravings typically associated with a restricted diet.

“I use an acupuncture technique, where small steel beads are placed behind the ear and held in place with surgical tape,” said Nash. He said there are 16 bioreactive pressure points in the body, and the stimulating beads are put in different spots to target specific organs, suppressing hunger and fighting fat deposits. Clients must be 18 or older, and an office visit to change the placement of the beads is required every 10 days.

Plus the patient must follow an initial dietary plan/cleansing program (fruits, vegetables, yogurt, milk) that promotes safe weight loss.

“One client suffered from diabetes and had (blood sugar levels) numbers of 230 when she first met with us,” said Nash. “She followed the program and, gradually, the dosage of her medication was reduced. Finally, her numbers were down to 70 and she took no more insulin.” She also lost a lot of weight.

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Nash was a medical doctor in Russia, having graduated from First Moscow State Medical University, before coming to the United States in 1997. Dissuaded by the intensive, years-long process to get accreditation in this country, Nash, who lives in Lynn, first worked as a phlebotomist at Beth Israel Medical Center and then as an EKG technician at Cambridge Hospital before training with Dr. Grigory Sadkhin in New York. He said he is one of the few licensed Sadkhin practitioners in New England, the only one in Massachusetts. He says many of his clients live on the North Shore, and the Lynn office will eliminate their commute to Brookline.

For more information, go to weightlossboston.com or call 617-277-8844.


Bill Brotherton is The Item’s Features Editor. He can be reached at bbrotherton@itemlive.com.

Repeal of Affordable Care Act lamented in Lynn

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
State Senator Thomas M. McGee attended a meeting hosted by U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton at Lynn Community Health Center to hear from constituents who are at risk by President Trump’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

By ADAM SWIFT

LYNNU.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass) has been one of the most vocal national critics of President Trump’s new administration, making appearances on the cable networks and sparking debate across the country.

On Saturday morning, Moulton brought a local focus to a national issue, taking part in a roundtable on the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly referred to as Obamacare, at the Lynn Community Health Center.

“It’s an incredibly important issue in the community and in the country, as the Republicans in Washington intend to repeal the ACA but have nothing to replace it with,” said Moulton.

During the hour-long discussion, Moulton heard from about a dozen community members, Lynn Community Health Center staff, and local businesspeople about how they have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act and their fears if it is repealed.

The Lynn Community Health Center serves 39,000 people annually, according to Lori Abrams Berry, the center’s CEO. Before the ACA passed, 40 percent of those people had no insurance. Today, that number is under 15 percent, Berry said.

That increase in the number of patients who have insurance has a huge impact on the ability to run and fund the health center, Berry said.

State Sen. Thomas M. McGee noted how former Governor Mitt Romney laid the foundation for the ACA in Massachusetts.

“It was embraced by the governor at the time and it was not embraced by the Republicans down in Washington, which was pretty interesting,” said McGee. “They were the ones who came up with the mandate so we were able to pay for it. We were able to insure over 96 percent of the people in the Commonwealth, and our challenge with the ACA under attack is what’s it going to mean for what we’ve been able to do to keep the insurance that we have in Massachusetts.”

With a repeal, McGee said Massachusetts could be in line for losses of billions of dollars in health insurance costs. He said the state could be especially hard hit when it comes to emergency room costs.

“From the legislative perspective, we used to spend hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for the patients who didn’t have insurance who went to the emergency room,” McGee said. “All the hospitals were being inundated and we were really struggling with those costs, we were actually subsidizing those costs as a legislature and a Commonwealth into the hospitals that were giving that care. Obamacare has created a great opportunity to bring those costs down, bring people out of the emergency rooms, and find a better way to care for people.”

While the politics of the ACA was never far from everyone’s mind at the roundtable discussion, it was the personal stories that had the greatest emotional impact of the morning.

Deb Debski has been battling a rare autoimmune disease that was destroying her liver and needed a transplant in order to live. While she said she is doing well now, she was in the hospital earlier this week.

“I told my doctor that I had this discussion coming up and that he had to let me out,” Debski said. “I’m very thankful for the Affordable Care Act. I had $17,000 in medications during the past year, and I paid $75.59. These are medications that I need to take twice a day in order to live.”

Debski said she is extremely upset that the ACA could be repealed with nothing to take its place.

“It would be an incredible hardship to decide whether I can eat or take my medicine,” she said.

Moulton said that Democrats in Congress are open to changes in the ACA, and that he is open to changes in the ACA that could improve it.

“But, we can’t just throw it out and not have a replacement,” Moulton said. “That would be disastrous and you clearly heard that from so many people. We want to hear these stories because we care so much about you, we want to be able to say this to our Republican friends in Washington, but I think it is even more powerful when you convey it directly.”

$1.5M partnership with Lynn Community Health

BOSTON — The Department of Public Health (DPH) on Monday announced a $1.5 million grant to develop a first-in-the-nation treatment and prevention program for latent tuberculosis (TB) in partnership with the Lynn Community Health Center (LCHC).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) money will support a three-year pilot program to create a comprehensive strategy against latent TB infection.

“In our role providing healthcare to among the state’s most vulnerable and underserved populations, we are in a unique position to provide these critical services for TB infection at the grassroots level,” said LCHC Infectious Disease Director Dr. Hanna Haptu.

Nearly 13 million people in the United States live with latent TB infection. People with latent TB infection do not have symptoms and are not infectious; however, left untreated, 5 to 10 percent of those infected will develop TB at some point in their lives.   

“We are pleased to lead this unique project in partnership with our colleagues at the Lynn Community Health Center,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “We hope this exciting new initiative represents an invaluable first step in eventually eliminating TB in our communities, improving the health of our residents, and reducing healthcare costs associated with treatment for TB infection.”

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Current clinical practice focuses on treating active TB disease — a condition that is difficult and expensive to treat, can be spread through the air to others, and can be life-threatening. Treatment of latent TB is seen as key to eventually eradicating tuberculosis entirely.

The partnership between DPH and the Lynn Community Health Center focuses on supporting community engagement to address latent TB infection; reducing the stigma around TB, educating health care providers, community organizations and community members on advances in testing and treatment, and providing those services to latent TB patients at LCHC.

Globally, more people die from TB than any other infectious disease, and about one-third of the world’s population lives with latent TB infection. People born in countries where TB rates are high are at increased risk.

“We are delighted to work together with the Department of Public Health, the Lynn Public Health Department and our other community partners in this unprecedented collaboration,” Haptu said

Health Center’s Lori Berry retiring

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Lori Berry is retiring from her position as CEO of of the Lynn Community Health Center.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — Lori Berry, chief executive officer of the Lynn Community Health Center, announced her plans for retirement on Wednesday.

The nonprofit, multicultural, community health center is located in the heart of the city. It prides itself on developing new initiatives that result in high-impact, low cost health care. The mission aligns with a career goal Berry set for herself decades ago.

“I’ve always been interested in the underserved population,” Berry said.

Berry will retire when a new CEO is selected, which she expects to happen by October.

“We expect the health center to continue to grow and thrive under our next leader,” she said. “We’re completely confident it has a bright future.”

Shovels full of love in Swampscott

Berry has seen the organization grow from one that offered primary care, behavioral health, OB and WIC services and had a staff of about 175 people, to a medical center with a staff of 600 that serves more than 40 percent of the city’s population.

Services today include everything from behavioral and mental health to dental, eye care and primary care.

“We have a lot of services for the treatment of HIV and Hepatitis C,” she said. “We have treatment for substance use disorders. We’re all about giving people access to the health care services that they need. The majority of our patients — I’m not sure they would be getting health care without the health center.”

The Lynn Community Health Center is the third largest of about 50 health centers in the state, Berry said.

She began her career as a social worker serving people with alcoholism. Before becoming director of the center in 1996, she worked as an associate administrator at The Cambridge Hospital, now known as Cambridge Health Alliance.

She serves on the board of the Mass League of Community Health Centers Capital Link, a national nonprofit that connects community health centers and capital resources to build healthy communities. She plans to remain an honorary board member after her retirement.

Berry received the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers Founders Award in 2008, the Massachusetts Coalition of School-Based Health Centers’ Outstanding Collaborator Award in 2009, and in 2011, she was honored with the Lydia E. Pinkham Award for Lynn Businesswoman of the Year.  


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

‘Opioid Addiction in the Workplace’ subject of LACC forum

The Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce will host a regional forum, “Opioid Addiction in the Workplace: Challenges Employers/Employees Face & What You Need to Know,” on Friday, Nov. 18 at the Peabody Marriott, 8 Centennial Drive, Peabody.

Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett will headline the event, followed by panels of regional experts in law enforcement, treatment and prevention, and legal and human resource industries. Audience questions and participation will be strongly encouraged.

“This is probably one of the most important forums we’ll ever organize,” said LACC President/CEO Leslie Gould. “The opioid epidemic is challenging families, law enforcement and leaving a gap in the workforce. Every business is vulnerable.”

“Substance abuse and addiction are a huge cost to all of us,” said Lynn Deputy Police Chief Lenny Desmarais, who will represent Lynn in the program. 

“Mentally, physically, financially, it’s a benefit to everyone, not just the addicted person, when there are successes in reducing not just the number of addicted people but the number of people whose use may be approaching the level of addiction. Helping them helps all of us.”

“Opioid Addiction in the Workplace” will feature three panels:

➨ “The 101s of What It Is &; Why Now.” Panelists include Blodgett, Desmarais, Salem Police Chief Mary Butler and Peabody Police Chief Thomas Griffin. Former Lynn Police Chief John Suslak will serve as moderator.

➨ “Education, Treatment and Prevention.” Panelists include Executive Director of Project COPE, Mark Kennard; Chief Medical Officer of Lynn Community Health Center, Dr. Kiame Mahaniah; and Project COPE Director of Behavioral Services at Bridgewell, Wendy Kent. Director of Programs for the Mass. Health Council Jeff Stone will serve as moderator.

➨ “Employer/Employee: What You Need to Know.” Panelists include Finneran & Nicholson Employment Attorney Dennis Eagan; GE Senior Health Services Manager Bridgett Davis; and Peadoby native Sean Davis, assistant general manager of a well-known area restaurant. Davis has been living successfully in recovery from addiction to opioids for nearly six years. Executive Director of the North Shore Workforce Investment Board Mary Sarris will serve as moderator.

The cost to attend is $35 per person; it includes a hot buffet breakfast. Registration and breakfast begin at 8:15 a.m. The program is from from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Reservations are strongly encouraged. To reserve your seats or for more information, call the Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce at 781-592-2900 or email info@LynnAreaChamber.com.

Kennedy fights to prevent asthma and diabetes

Mayor Judith Flannagan Kennedy

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy is one of nine Bay State mayors and more than 200 community and health leaders who urged lawmakers to reauthorize a $60 million state trust fund to help prevent diabetes and asthma.

Created four years ago, the first-in-the-nation Prevention & Wellness Trust Fund is paid for by a fee on health insurers and large hospitals to support partnerships in areas with high amounts of preventable health conditions among low-income families and people of color. Nearly one million people are served by the fund.

“Funding from the Prevention & Wellness Trust Fund is most impactful in Lynn and urban municipalities,” Kennedy told The Item. “We have seen the trust’s resources put to extremely good use at the Lynn Community Health Center and other social-service agencies dedicated to keeping residents healthy and safe. I strongly support the state legislature continuing this innovative program, which represents an invaluable investment into the health and welfare of our citizens.”

In a letter to Senate President Stanley Rosenberg (D-Northampton) and House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop), the mayors wrote “Rates of chronic health conditions, many of which are preventable, continue to rise, consuming 86 percent of our national health care costs … The result is shorter lives, lower quality of life, reduced workplace productivity and missed school days, which hamper children’s educational achievement … Tackling these challenges requires more than just good clinical care, it depends on a robust investment in community-based prevention such as the Prevention & Wellness Trust Fund.”

The funding will expire next summer unless the Legislature and governor take action.

Health Care Financing Committee Senate Chair James Welch, who serves on the board that oversees the trust fund, told State House News that he has been “impressed with the progress and impact” and is “eager to explore opportunities with my colleagues to keep this important work moving forward.”

Through a spokesman, Gov. Charlie Baker declined to say whether he would sign the measure until the administration conducts an independent review of the fund. 

In addition to Kennedy, the mayors who signed on included Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Alex Marsh of Holyoke, Jon Mitchell of New Bedford, Richard Alcombright of North Adams, Linda Tyer of Pittsfield, Thomas Koch of Quincy, Joseph Petty of Worcester and Robert Hedlund of Weymouth, as did other local officials from Adams, Cambridge, Fall River, Hudson, Marlborough, Northborough, Stockbridge and Barnstable and Berkshire counties.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Taking a United Way to Florida

Longtime Lynn resident Jeff Hayward is moving to Florida. Item photo by Owen O’rourke.

By Michele Durgin

LYNN — Jeff Hayward has a lot of packing to do.

The longtime Lynner, who served his hometown as former Mayor Albert DiVirgilio’s chief of staff followed by a four-year stint in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, is moving to Florida.

Hayward, 56, is leaving his position as chief of external affairs at the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, one he’s held for 17 years, and is taking over as the president and the CEO of The Heart of Florida United Way in Orlando.

He and his wife Anne-Marie, a Disney travel agent, are busy preparing for the move to Orlando along with their children, Nathaniel, 17, Victoria, 13, and Abigail, 12. His older children, Brittany, 27 and Emily, 25 will not be making the move.

His new job begins in early December and, even though he has been living in Wells, Maine, for the past few years, Hayward still calls Lynn his home and admits to having mixed feelings about his life-changing move.

“I am very excited to start a new chapter, so to speak, but it’s really hitting me how hard it is going to be to leave so many wonderful family and friends,” he said, with a tear or two in the eye.

“I was just at my mom’s (Dorothy, 88) house, visiting with her. Memories were flooding my head and heart as I looked around. It’s the house I grew up in with my two brothers and two sisters. She has lived there for 55 years. I will miss seeing her everyday, but we will still be in close contact. Thank goodness for technology.”

Hayward’s friends are throwing him a goodbye party on Nov. 21 at Old Tyme Italian Cuisine on Boston Street.

Hayward has served on local boards including the Lynn Community Health Center as well as the Lynn Housing Authority.

He is a graduate of St. Anselm College and attended Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government’s two-year executive education program.

He is founder and former chairman of the Board of Directors of Serving People In Need, an organization whose mission was to move homeless families out of shelters. He currently serves on the Board of Directors at the Massachusetts Alliance for Supportive Housing.  

Hayward calls growing up in Lynn “a gift.”

“I have learned the true meaning and value of such things as loyalty, friendship and hard work right here, in this city. I am a proud Lynn English High graduate (Class of 1978) and so much of who I am today comes right back to my time spent here,” he said. “I have vivid memories of people and events that I will take with me and treasure forever. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.”

Hayward has strolled down memory lane far more often in recent weeks. He looks back, with gratitude and fondness, at the people he believes have had a hand in shaping the man he is today.

“So much of who I am comes right back to Lynn and the folks I have had the pleasure of knowing and meeting along the way,” he said. “I am taking memories of my favorite teacher at English High, Bill Sheehan, who sparked my interest in politics and really pushed me to find my calling. I am eternally grateful to Al Divirgilio and all that he did for me. The list could go on forever. I am fortunate and I feel sorry for those who never take the time to look back and take stock.”

Hayward credits his father with giving him solid values, a strong work ethic and instilling the importance of respecting others and their opinions.

His dad, Herbert, was a General Electric shop steward in Lynn and died from bone cancer at the age of 53.

“I was only 13 when I lost my dad, but I have so many wonderful memories of our time together. I think he knew he was not going to be in my life for long and intentionally spent a lot of time with me. We would talk for hours and hours about everything under the sun. He pointed me in what I believe was the right direction, and it’s been all good since. I miss him and hope that he would be proud of the man I grew up to be. He was a true Lynn man and I would feel honored to be called the same.”

Well, best of luck Jeff Hayward — a true Lynn man.

GLSS blows out 40 candles

GLSS employees and volunteers for the evening; Katherine Prouty, Andrea Chaves and Eileen Burk. (Photo by Bob Roche)

By Bridget Turcotte

LYNN — Greater Lynn Senior Services is celebrating 40 years.

An anniversary celebration was held at the Lynn Museum on Thursday evening. The Lynn Police and Fire departments, city council, the Department of Public Works and partners of GLSS were invited to celebrate the milestone.

Paul Crowley, executive director, stressed that while they’re celebrating how far the nonprofit organization has come, they’re also thinking about what’s to come.

“A big part of what we wanted to do was applaud the people in the community that have supported us over the last 40 years,” said Crowley. “Then pivot to the future and say ‘what does the next 40 years look like?”

Since its incorporation in 1976, it has adapted to the changing needs of seniors, providing community health and social services to help people maintain independence. In its next 40 years, Crowley said the focus will shift to serving people of all ages and abilities.

“The entire community plays a role in all of this,” he said. “We are actively in partnerships with the (Lynn Community) Health Center, Element Care, the Housing Authority, Lynn’s EDIC, the mayor’s office. We work with the Lynn Shelter Association, My Brother’s Table. There are just so many organizations that we are actively involved with. It’s a community effort.”

But as time has progressed, the core values of the organization have remained the same, which Crowley said is a big part of why he believes it has been successful.

“The spirit of collaboration that exists between us and other community partners, the innovation came from Vince Lique, who ran GLSS for 24 years until he died,” Crowley said. “He was quite a visionary. He came up with a lot of great ideas that formed my approach to things.”

He estimated that GLSS serves more than 3,000 seniors each day with homecare-related matters, in addition to the 3,000 rides it provides to seniors who need transportation services.

“On a daily basis we do about 6,000 incredible things,” he said. “We’re nostalgic about what has happened but we’re really focusing our attention on what we need to do to continue. There’s a lot of excitement about what we do, going forward.”


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

Latham honored by health center

Dr. Catherine Latham, superintendent of Lynn Public Schools, is awarded the John S. Moran Award for Community Service by Lori Abrams Berry, executive director of Lynn Community Health Center. Photo by Paula Muller.

By Bridget Turcotte

 

NAHANT — Dr. Catherine Latham received the 2016 John S. Moran Award for Community Service at the Lynn Community Health Center’s annual meeting on Wednesday.

The award is named after the former executive editor of The Item. Among many things, Moran was a member of Lynn Community Health Center’s Board of Directors. He contributed a lot of time and expertise to support the center and the community.  

After he died in February of 1990, the board created the award in his memory and honors a worthy recipient each year.

To be eligible, a person should have strong ties to the city and advocate for a healthier Lynn community and health center. They should be someone who has shown leadership and made a difference for the community.

Latham, the superintendent of Lynn Public Schools, was chosen as this year’s honoree because of her work with providing children with proper healthcare.

There are 13 schools in the city with school-based health centers for student use, said Lori Abrams Berry, executive director of the LCHC.

“No one has made the commitment to providing health and mental health service more than Cathy Latham has,” Berry said. “She has been an enormous source of support for this program.”

Latham is a lifelong Lynn resident. She graduated from Lynn English High School, where she later taught math. Though gracious about receiving the award, she attributed the success of the program to the room full of health center employees.

“I do very little,” she said. “It’s you people, the Lynn Community Health Center and the wonderful folks who work there. I can want the world for our students, but without people like you, I couldn’t do it.”

The Lynn Community Health Center is a nonprofit that offers care to the community, regardless of ability to pay. It targets children and families, low-income, minorities, non-English speaking patients, teens and elderly.

More than 90 percent of the center’s patients live below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. More than 50 percent are best served in a language other than English, according to their website.

The health center recognized its long-standing employees individually.

Bob Dempkowski received the Andrea Gaulzetti Award for Excellence in Public Health, named after the health center’s chief of clinical operations who died in 2015.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

Absorbing the burden for new mothers in Lynn

Left, Joy Richmond-Smith, site director of children, friend and family services, and Molly Wadlinger, a clinical intern, unpack diapers that will be given to those in need. (Photo by Paula Muller)

By Bridget Turcotte

LYNN — The Lynn Postpartum Depression Task Force is collecting diapers to distribute at its first diaper bank.

A diaper bank is a take on fulfilling the needs of the community, said Joy Richmond-Smith, Lynn site director for Children’s Friend and Family Services.

As many as one in three American families reports experiencing a diaper need, with disposable diapers costing about $70 to $80 per month, per baby.

“Parents report having more stress from not having diapers than not having food,” said Richmond-Smith.

The newly formed organization includes Children’s Friend and Family Services, Lynn Economic Opportunity, Aspire Developmental Services and the Lynn Community Health Center.

When diaper supplies are sparse, children sometimes are left in soiled diapers longer than they should be, she said. This can lead to rashes and other health concerns.

Richmond-Smith also cited a “trickle-down” effect. Without diapers, babies cannot attend most early childhood education centers or daycares, she said. Without childcare, parents cannot go to work.

Molly Wadlinger, clinical intern at Children’s Friend and Family, added that they can’t be obtained with food stamps.

The idea behind the initiative is to help fill in the gaps and provide information and other resources to people who need them, Richmond-Smith said.

She hopes to have enough diapers collected to bundle them into packs of 10, and hand out one to two bundles to each person.

“It’s not intended as a permanent solution,” she said, “but to help in a pinch.”

When parents come to the diaper bank for assistance, they will also be provided with information about other resources that are available to them. GroVia.com offers a three-year supply of cloth diapers for $40, with $20 returned to the buyer when they send them back, she said.

“They’re good to have as a backup,” Richmond-Smith said. “It’s good to say ‘OK, at least I have this cloth diaper supply to get me through the weekend.”

The group hasn’t decided where the diaper bank will be held but hopes to offer it one to two times per week, with the first within the next month.

Diaper donations, including already-opened packages, can be dropped off at Children’s Friend at 112 Market St., LEO at 156 Broad St. and Aspire at 275 Lafayette St. in Salem.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

Jean C. Miller, 80

PeabodyJean Campbell (Lydston) Miller, age 80, of Peabody, formerly of Lynn, passed away peacefully surrounded by her family and the supportive staff at the Rosewood Nursing Home, on September 17. She was the wife of the late Arthur W. Miller of Lynn and was married to him for 39 years.

Born in Lynn, she was the daughter of the late Hazel E. Cahill and Courtland W. Lydston. She was raised in Lynn, attended Lynn schools, and graduated from Lynn Classical High School in 1954. Upon graduation, she attended North Shore Babies’ Hospital in Salem, graduating in 1956 to become a pediatric nurse. In 1969 she obtained her L.P.N. from the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home. Jean’s passion in life was caring for infants and children. Jean worked at the Lynn Hospital in Lynn until its closing and then she worked at the Lynn Community Health Center until her retirement in 2001.

In 1995, Jean received the John S. Moran Award from the Lynn Community Health Center. Officials cited her for “Her care for children at the center and her dedication and concern best exemplified in organizing local church groups in obtaining food, clothing, and gifts for several of the neediest families cared for by Lynn Community Health.”

She was a communicant of the South Congregational Church in Peabody where, until her illness, she was actively involved in parish life. Jean was proud of her heritage and was a member of the Sons & Daughters of the First Settlers of Newbury.

She is survived by her sisters, Ann McCarthy of Peabody, Beverly Fritz and her husband, Donald, of Naples, Fla., Martha Ogren and her husband, Carl, of Lynnfield and her brothers, James Cahill and his wife, Lydia, of Lynn, and Robert Cahill and his wife, Elly, of Rutland. Jean was predeceased by her sister, Doris Griffin of Dover, N.H., and her brothers, Eliot Lydston of Peabody, Charles Lydston of Lynn, and John Kelly of Newburyport. She is also survived by several nieces and nephews.

Service information: Jean’s funeral service will be held at 10 a.m., on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at the South Congregational Church, 60 Prospect St., Peabody, MA. Relatives and friends are invited to attend. Burial will be at the Puritan Lawn Memorial Park, 195 Lake St., Peabody, MA. Visiting hours are at Cuffe-McGinn Funeral Home, on 157 Maple St., Lynn, MA from 4-8 p.m., on Tuesday, Sept. 27. Donations in Jean’s memory may be made to the Residents’ Fund at the Rosewood Nursing Home, 22 Johnson St., Peabody, MA, 01960. For online guest book please visit Cuffemcginn.com.

Lynn takes a new stand against AIDS

The red ribbon is the global symbol for solidarity with HIV-positive people and those living with AIDS.

By Leah Dearborn

LYNN — Zero is the best possible number when it comes to AIDS.   

Representatives of Getting To Zero, the statewide AIDS/HIV outreach initiative, were at the Lynn Museum & Historical Society Friday to give a presentation about the ongoing battle against the disease.

The event comes on the heels of legislation enacted on Beacon Hill that promises to help sufferers of a medical condition associated with early HIV medicines. The condition leads to a buildup or loss of body fat that sometimes results in uncomfortable, visible deformations.

“It brings some dignity to the lives of members of the HIV and LGBT communities,” said Oscar Guevara-Perez, Getting To Zero organizer, about the bill. “We’re very excited about it.”  

Last month also marked a court victory on a measure originally  proposed by the AIDS Action Committee, said Christopher Brennan, program coordinator.

The new legislation will make it easier to open and maintain more clean syringe exchange sites around the state, said Brennan, which will in turn help prevent the continued spread of disease.

Over the past decade, new AIDS cases in Massachusetts have been on the decline. The number of reported HIV infection diagnoses and deaths among people living with the disease have both decreased by 41 percent from 2000 to 2013, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Still, several attendees voiced concern that funding for treatment and outreach has also plummeted.

Maria Cubilette of the Lynn Community Health Center said her employer used to perform testing at various sites citywide, including high schools.

Cubilette said the decision to end that practice has resulted in a lost opportunity for Lynn students to learn more about HIV and AIDS.  

Brennan said Getting To Zero is traveling to cities that where AIDS was transmitted to gather information that will improve state treatment strategies.

“It motivates the community to get involved,” said Guevara-Perez about outreach events. “I do believe that epidemics can be controlled.”

State House News Service contributed to this report.

Asthma grant helps Lynn school nurses clear the air

COURTESY PHOTO
From left, Deb Tanzer, Lynn Public Schools nursing program specialist; Jen Spina, asthma resource nurse; and Kathy McNulty, nurses director.

By Paul Halloran

Lynn Public Schools students are breathing easier thanks to a state grant designed to address asthma and other health issues.

The city is in the third year of a $6 million award from the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund. The fund was established by the Legislature in 2012 to assist Bay State communities reduce healthcare costs by preventing chronic conditions.

Lynn is one of only nine communities and organizations statewide to receive the money, which provides funding to help mitigate chronic diseases, reduce pediatric asthma, hypertension, tobacco and falls among the elderly.

Funds directed at pediatric asthma is having a significant impact in Lynn’s schools, according to nurses Jen Spina, Kathy McNulty and Deb Tanzer.

About 2,000 of the approximately 15,000 students in Lynn Public Schools suffer from asthma. Of that number, 60 percent are considered high risk, according to Spina, the asthma

resource nurse for the district.

“We have been focusing on the students who have high-risk asthma,” Spina said. “We introduced interventions at the school level last year. The goal is to increase the number of schools implementing strategies to address pediatric asthma.”

The nurses said helping students better deal with learning to manage their asthma also reduces absenteeism and increases their productivity in school, with fewer trips to the nurse’s office and doctor.

Part of the grant was used to provide training for six school nurses to be certified as asthma nurses who received advanced training for caring for patients with pediatric asthma. They have been meeting for a year and will be resources for other school nurses.

Lynn’s students with asthma have an asthma action plan, devised by their pediatrician and implemented by the nurses.

“It connects us with the doctor to make sure we’re on the same page,” McNulty said.

Lynn Public Schools is partnering with the Lynn Community Health Center, Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development (LHAND) and the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless Room to Breathe program on the asthma initiative.

Room to Breathe piece is especially important, as home visits are conducted by community health workers who identify environmental triggers that exacerbate asthmatic conditions. Families are provided mattress covers, air filters, vacuums and environmentally friendly cleaners.

“We work with parents to remove as many triggers as possible,” said Robin Frost, executive director of the Mass Coalition for the Homeless. “By working with Lynn Public Schools, we have

been able to reach more families. They are fantastic partners.”

Similar steps are being taken in the schools. Green cleaning products are used in the 26 school buildings, and environmental triggers for asthma, such as smells from certain hand lotions and markers, are identified and eliminated to whatever degree possible.

There will be an increased emphasis on education and awareness this school year, as each school will receive a large poster defining asthma, a book identifying asthma triggers and tips on reducing exposure to those triggers in the classroom, and a bucket with environmentally-friendly classroom and cleaning supplies.

“Thanks to this grant and the hard work of our nurses, we have made great strides in being able to better serve students with an asthma diagnosis,” said Superintendent Catherine Latham. “We are grateful for the funding we have received and the collaboration with our community partners.”

Mary Ann O’Connor, director of the Public Health Department, said the grant is also being used effectively in the other covered areas. The city is working with Greater Lynn Senior Services to address hypertension and falls among the elderly. LHAND has a no-smoking policy in all of its residences, and grant money has been used to offer smoking-cessation programs.

“The grant has allowed us to address important issues and create some jobs,” she said.

O’Connor said the goal of the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund grant is to improve the connection between clinical settings and community programming, combining public health and health care strategies. The intended result is improved overall health in Lynn, a decrease in chronic illnesses and health care costs.

Lynn loss is Medford gain

BY THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — Longtime city Health Director MaryAnn O’Connor is leaving her job to become Medford’s new health director.

The Lynn native and St. Mary’s High School Class of 1979 graduate said the new gig offers a chance to tackle health initiatives she has worked on in Lynn, including teen smoking reduction, opiate abuse intervention and exercise promotion.

“I hope to do some good things there,” she said.

With a population of roughly 57,000, Medford is about half Lynn’s size.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy has yet to select a replacement, said mayoral chief of staff Jamie Cerulli.

“She wishes her well,” she said.

Since succeeding Gerald Carpinella as health director O’Connor said her biggest accomplishment has been to expand health services beyond the Health Department’s City Hall office.

O’Connor said she brought $10 million in grants and other funding into Lynn to fund health-related programming. She formed partnerships with local organizations during her 12-year career including Lynn Community Health Center and Girls Inc.

“You go to the experts in the field to get the work done,” she said.

O’Connor earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Boston College and studied graduate public health courses for two years at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Her last day will be Friday, Aug. 12.

The search for O’Connor’s successor comes as Kennedy and the city council remain at odds over hiring a $73,000 a year deputy election commissioner.

Since the council passed an ordinance creating the deputy commissioner job, the position must be funded in next year’s city budget. That said, Kennedy insists the city cannot immediately spend money to pay the salary.

Councilors sided with City Clerk Mary Audley, who oversees the clerk’s office and city elections and wants a deputy commissioner in place prior to the Sept. 8 primary election.

Audley said early voting initiatives and work involved in relocating several city polling places has made the election oversight job complicated enough to require another department head to manage it.

Council President Dan Cahill last month said money in the clerk’s budget and other funding sources are available to pay the deputy salary until a new budget year begins next July.

A half dozen applicants have submitted resumes for the job, and the council personnel committee may conduct interviews as soon as next Tuesday, said Councilor at large and committee chairman Brian LaPierre.

“We’re moving forward with the looming Sept. 8 primary,” LaPierre said.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.

Gotta catch ’em all

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Our reporter searched for Pokémon on Munroe Street in Lynn.

BY DILLON DURST

LYNN — I spent the better part of Tuesday aimlessly traipsing around the city, eyes glued to my phone, hunting for Pokémon. I knew those suckers were out there somewhere.

Gotta catch ‘em all.

The new Pokémon Go game has enjoyed a whirlwind of popularity since its release last week. Developed by Niantic Inc., the game had been downloaded an estimated 7.5 million times as of Monday, according to application analytics company SmartTower. The game became available on Apple and Android mobile devices last week, combining a sense of childhood nostalgia and cutting-edge technology.

Police officers nationwide have been found playing the game with children; it even supposedly led a Wyoming teenage girl to discover a dead body.

So, on Tuesday, I checked it out myself..

I’m 24 years old. I hadn’t played Pokémon since I was about 10; back when Game Boys and not iPhones and iPads were the primary form of electronic entertainment.

The game uses your phone’s GPS to detect Pokémon as you move. When creatures are spotted, the game’s augmented reality feature, which accesses the user’s phone camera, displays them as if they were standing on the sidewalk in front of you, or perched on your desk at work.

After selecting the color of my character’s hair (brown), eyes (brown), shirt (yellow) and backpack (yellow, again), I was ready to hunt.

Even before I left the office, I captured a Wild Drowzee, which, as I learned throughout the day, appears more often than not.

To catch a Pokémon, the user has to throw a Poké Ball at it by tapping and dragging the ball upward on the screen. It’s addictive fun.

Wandering through downtown Lynn, I found 20-year-old Emily Shirazi mid-Gym challenge battle at the farmers market at the corner of Union and Exchange streets.

There are a few Gyms, which allow players to test their Pokémon against opponents scattered throughout the city.

After acknowledging her defeat, Shirazi said she downloaded the game on her iPhone 6 on Thursday and plays it every time she has the chance. She said she’s been playing Pokémon in its card form for about 15 years, but she likes the convenience of having the game on her phone and the fact she can play it with friends.

Catherine Josey, 25, hunted for Pokémon while walking to get lunch Tuesday.

Josey, who works at the Lynn Community Health Center on Union Street, said she specifically set aside time later in the day to search for Pokémon.

“I wanna catch ‘em all,” she said with a laugh.

“I just caught my son a Jigglypuff,” added a friend accompanying Josey.

After a few hours of trekking around the city in the hot sun in search of Poké Stops, which allow users to replenish their inventory of Poké Balls, I needed to find shade.

At the corner of Andrews and Market streets, I came across 50-year-old Manny Carrasquillo, who had just captured a Drowzee.

The Boston native said he downloaded the game on his Samsung Galaxy S7 on Sunday and spent the day scouring Lynn Beach in the rain with his 29-year-old daughter in search of Pokémon.

“If you wanna catch Pikachu, you gotta take the train to Wonderland Station in Revere,” he said. “It took me seven balls to catch him.”

A little over 7,000 steps later, according to my iPhone, which equates to roughly 3 ½ miles, I had reached level 5. There, I decided, my hunt for the day would come to an end.

Having played the game for a little more than two hours on Tuesday, I found that it forces you to be active and allows you to interact with people you might otherwise just pass by without any acknowledgement.

“I learned how to play from some old guy I met on the bus,” Carrasquillo said.

The buzz is real, and I’m officially hooked on Pokémon Go.


Dillon Durst can be reached at ddurst@itemlive.com.

Philip J. Larson Jr., 78

LYNN — Philip J. Larson Jr., of Lynn, age 78 years, died Wednesday at his home after a lengthy illness. He was the husband of Beverly L. (Bainbridge) Larson, his loving devoted wife of 25 years.

Born in Lynn, he was the son of the late Philip J. and Astrid (Peterson) Larson Sr. Phil attended Lynn schools and graduated from Lynn English High School, Class of 1956. He received his master’s degree in social work from Salem State College.

He was employed as a social worker at the Lynn Community Health Center for many years until he retired in 2013. Phil was a member of the First Lutheran Church, and a friend of Bill W. He enjoyed the outdoors and enjoyed gardening. He also collected coins and stamps.

In addition to his wife he is survived by two daughters, Dawn and her husband, Richard McGann, of Lynn, Victoria Larson of Attleboro, two stepdaughters, Kimberly O’Neil Of Charleston, W.Va., Tami Smith of St. Albans, W.Va., two sisters, Marjorie and her husband, Douglas Penley, of Lynn, Dianne and her husband, William Randall, of Danvers, a granddaughter, Cassidy Jayna McGann, of Lynn, the apple of his eye, he also treasured his step grandchildren and step great-grandchildren.

Service information: Visiting hours will be at the First Lutheran Church, 280 Broadway, Lynn, on Tuesday starting at 10 a.m. Funeral services will begin at 12 p.m., to which relatives and friends are invited to attend. Please make memorial donations in Phil’s name to the Marblehead Animal Shelter, 44 Village St., Marblehead, MA 01945. Guest book at Parkermemorialfuneralhome.com.

Pot debate still hazy in Lynn

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Lynn City Hall.

BY THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — City Councilor Peter Capano wants Lynn to consider sites other than his district on the Lynnway for medical marijuana dispensaries.

“If it’s considered an undesirable business like an auto body or repair shop or a marijuana clinic, it automatically goes in Ward 6,” he said. “Clinic operators say they don’t want to be in a residential neighborhood, but Alley Street and Murphy Avenue, behind the Lynnway, is where people live.”

On Tuesday, the City Council will hold its latest public hearing to determine potential sites for medical marijuana clinics in the city.

The council is facing a state-imposed Aug. 3 deadline to pass an ordinance that would designate pot dispensary districts. If the City Council fails to amend its zoning, the city could face lawsuits from potential clinic operators.

Bay State residents voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2012. The council had drafted a zoning amendment that would allow the clinics to be open at seven separate Lynnway addresses, Commercial Street and Route 107/Western Avenue from the Belden Bly Bridge running north and ending at the intersection of Western and Murphy avenues.

But Capano is angry that a Lynnway clinic seems inevitable given the sheer number of Lynnway-specific addresses named in the proposal.

“What about Boston Street or Wyoma Square?” Capano asked. “What’s wrong with downtown or Union Hospital or Lynn Community Health Center? People don’t want the clinics on the water side of the Lynnway because they don’t want commuters coming off the ferry and seeing a marijuana dispensary. But they don’t mind that people coming out of the bowling alley or the skating rink on the other side of the Lynnway, where people live, will see a marijuana clinic. That’s the kind of thing that pisses me off about the whole thing.”

City Council President and state Rep. Dan Cahill (D-Lynn) acknowledged locating the dispensaries is one of the most controversial aspects of the proposal.

“We should be targeting areas that have the least impact, as far as traffic, public safety, proximity to locations where young children congregate like schools and parks,” Cahill said.

The sites named in the ordinance were proposed months ago by a mix of elected officials and residents. While Cahill said he supports the selected locations, he is open to suggestions.

“If the council wants to find other locations, I will consider them.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Serving up some recognition in Lynn

COURTESY PHOTO
Lynn Community Health Center event committee planners Stephanie Connolly, Marilyn Smith, Adrienne Kelliher, Christine Allen and Magnolia Contreras. Not pictured: Phyllis Sagan, Christine Cowden, Karen Meyer and Mary Manning-Ritter.

BY MICHELE DURGIN

LYNNLynn Community Health Center is preparing for its annual “Women for Lynn Community Health Center Recognition Breakfast” on Thursday.

This year’s honorees include Secretary of Health & Human Services Marylou Sudders and philanthropist Rose-Marie van Otterloo of Marblehead.

Sudders is being honored for her commitment to public service and helping people with behavioral health issues. She oversees a state agency with a $19.4 billion budget.

She was commissioner of the Department of Mental Health where she established the state’s first children’s mental health commission.

Sudders also led the Massachusetts Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children.

She has been an associate professor at Boston College’s Graduate School of Social Work, as well.

Throughout her career she has served on several charitable boards, including the Pine Street Inn and the National Alliance for Mental Illness

She has held the title of Social Worker of the Year and has been recognized by the National Association of Health Workers Foundation.

Rose- Marie van Otterloo is a native of Belgium who moved to the U.S. at the age of 22. She has been a longtime champion of those in need, with a special commitment to those with mental health issues.

For 10 years van Otterloo served on the board of Chemonics International, a company that manages projects in third world countries aimed at ending poverty.

Van Otterloo also served on the board of trustees at McLean Hospital in Belmont, where she and her husband made a $5  million donation.

“This is our fifth year hosting the event and we are all looking forward to a wonderful morning honoring wonderful women,” said Cynthia Steger-Wilson, communications manager.

The event will be held on May 12, from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Kernwood Country Club in Salem. Tickets for the breakfast are $75 and can be purchased by visitinglchcnet.org/Women2016 or calling Clare Hayes at 781-596-2502 extension 2778.

Celebrating soul at St. Stephen’s

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Deborah Potter, the coordinator of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church’s soul celebration, talks about the upcoming event while sitting in the chapel in the church.

BY MICHELE DURGIN

LYNN — Music, food and talk about race and health care inequality are on the agenda for Sunday’s St. Stephen’s Memorial Episcopal Church’s soul celebration.

The event is billed by church organizers as a day to celebrate our heritage as we renew our commitment to community action.  Kiame Mahaniah, Lynn Community Health Center’s chief medical officer, will be the keynote speaker.

Mahaniah, in a statement, said he will discuss the economic differences between communities that contribute to varying levels of health care quality.

“It’s up to us, individually and collectively, to fight the causes of those disparities,” he said.

Located at 74 South Common St., St. Stephen’s sponsors free summer and after-school programs and a weekly food pantry.

The church choir will join other musicians Sunday to entertain attendees with members of St. Stephen’s after school music program and Zumix, an East Boston-based program dedicated to building community through music and the arts.

There will be gospel and jazz, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and vegetable dishes served.

St. Stephen’s former ministerial assistant will preach at 10 a.m. and Mahaniah will round out the day by reminding participants justice does not roll down like waters.

 

Moulton brings $325,000 to fight opiates in Lynn

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Lori Abrams Berry, CEO of the Lynn Community Health Center, is congratulated by Rep Seth Moulton during a ceremony announcing federal grants for opiate addiction held at the North Shore Community Health Center in Salem on Thursday.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — Community health centers are on the front lines for battling opioid addiction, an issue that has become a public health crisis.

On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton said the Lynn Community Health Center received a $325,000 grant to expand narcotics dependence treatment services. The Massachusetts Democrat delivered the good news at Salem’s North Shore Community Center, which received $352,083. The center also has locations in Gloucester and Peabody.

Nationwide, 271 health centers received cash from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to combat the problem.

Lori Abrams Berry, CEO of the Lynn Community Health Center, said she sees Lynn as the epicenter of drug addiction. Since March, 10 deaths and 63 overdoses have been reported to the Lynn Police Department. Last year, there were 54 deaths from opioid overdoses, up from 38 in 2014.

“We were already thinking it was a crisis,” Berry said. “It seems to be getting worse, not better. These funds really are a godsend.”

The funds will expand the number of patients the center can serve through its Integrated Primary Care, Behavioral Health and Addictions Treatment Program. Currently, she said, the center treats 375 people suffering from addiction. Of that number, 350 are being treated with Suboxone, a drug used to treat addiction, while the remaining 25 are being treated with Vivitrol, an alternative opioid blocker taken as a monthly injection.

Berry said the goal is to treat 1,000 patients suffering from addiction. She said the funds would also be used to hire more nurses and therapists.

Moulton said the opioid problem should be treated as a health crisis and should not be solved by putting addicts in prison.

“The opioid epidemic is cutting lives short, tearing families apart and draining the resources our law enforcement and health care professionals have to treat addiction,” he said.

Margaret Brennan, director of the North Shore Community Health Center, said their funds would be focused on Gloucester, which she said is one of the hardest hit communities in the state’s opioid epidemic.


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

Lynn will cash in on GE

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
RN Vicky Casides, Nurse Practitioner Scott Weissman and Clinical Assistant Jennifer Castellanos, from left, look at and evaluate their work and identify ways to improve it using LEAN methodology.

By THOMAS GRILLO and THOR JOURGENSEN

Boston is not the only city that will benefit from an infusion of cash as General Electric Co. prepares to move its headquarters to the city’s Seaport District.

While Boston will reap $50 million for its schools, to build a diverse workforce and develop the next generation of healthcare workers, GE has also allocated $10 million to provide training, access to the company’s manufacturing labs and work opportunities for underserved populations outside of Greater Boston, including Lynn and Fall River.

It’s unclear how much money Lynn will get. A GE spokesman could not provide any details on Tuesday, noting that the specifics have not been worked out.

We intend to start discussion soon, but we don’t have a timeline,” said David Lurie, GE’s public relations manager. “The details on how the money is allocated will be made over the coming months. We’ve made the commitment and will figure out how we will specifically do it.”

Generally, he said, the money is earmarked for workforce development and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said she was surprised by GE’s announcement at a Monday news conference in Boston.

“They haven’t talked directly to me about it,” she said. “But any money that GE contributes to Lynn for the betterment of the city is good news.”

Asked if she plans to initiate a call to the company’s headquarters in Connecticut to get more information, the mayor said “GE has been very good about keeping in touch with us. I expect to hear from them in a day or two and if I don’t I will certainly follow up.”

GE has had a storied history in Lynn.

Its workers built mainstay military and commercial jet engines and helicopter engines at the River Works complex, wedged between the commuter rail tracks and Western Avenue.

A landmark for decades on Lynn’s landscape, GE’s presence in Lynn is changing with the former gear plant site off the Lynnway demolished and slated for residential development.

Earlier this year, Charles Patsios broke ground for a Market Basket supermarket to replace the former GE Factory of the Future site on Western Avenue.

Lynn Community Health Center and school officials praised GE’s local support. River Works volunteers help run science, technology, engineering and mathematics study projects and undertake school improvement projects, like painting classrooms.

Lori Abrams Berry, the center’s director, said the Union Street facility’s five-year-old partnership with GE has included $400,000 in financial support and expertise lent by company managers. Some of the money paid to develop a children’s asthma program at the center and a primary care in behavioral health program.

“It’s improved care,” Berry said.

GE volunteers coached center workers in performance management techniques to reduce waiting times and improve the patient referral process at the center.

“In some ways, that is more valuable than the grants,” Berry said.

The company’s human resources workers also consulted with the center on best practices to develop a strategic plan. Berry said the center was one of the first Greater Boston health facilities to forge a partnership with GE and she credited former Lynn Mayor Thomas P. Costin Jr. with linking the health center to GE.

Will PILOTs fly in Lynn?

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
A sweeping view of Lynn.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — When it comes to the contentious issue of whether nonprofits should contribute cash in lieu of taxes, many of the city’s power brokers are silent.

“The issue is not on our front burner,” said Leslie Gould, president and CEO of the Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce, before she announced the interview “off the record.”

Lori Abrams Berry, executive director of the Lynn Community Health Center, a nonprofit that operates five facilities in the city, also shut down the conversation.

“I do not want to participate in that story,” she said. “It’s controversial, and I don’t particularly want to comment on it.

Deb Ansourlian, executive director of Girls Incorporated, was also reluctant to talk, saying she didn’t want to be quoted in a story about that issue.

Robert Norton, president and CEO of North Shore Medical Center, which includes Union Hospital, was unavailable for comment.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy did not return calls and through a spokeswoman referred questions to Peter Caron, the city’s chief financial officer.

Taso Nikolakopoulos, owner of John’s Roast Beef and a former chairman of the Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce, said he’s not surprised that no one wants to talk about it. “That issue is like the third rail in Lynn,” he said. “On one hand, nonprofits are struggling financially and it would be a hardship for them to come up with a payment to the city and any contribution would reduce services for residents.”

But others say Lynn has a limited amount of commercial real estate and some of it is being occupied by nonprofits who pay nothing in real estate taxes.

“If a PILOT is implemented, that’s a big chunk of revenue the city can receive, ”Nikolakopoulos said.

At issue is legislation on Beacon Hill that would give cities and towns the option to negotiate Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreements with landowning tax-exempt organizations. Under the terms of the bill, charities can make cash or in-kind contributions to communities instead of property taxes. Typically, communities like Boston, who have used PILOTs since 2012, ask for about 25 percent of what the tax bill would be.

In Lynn, the total assessed value of all real estate is $6.39 billion. Of that number, charities – excluding city and state buildings, schools and churches – comprise $108.7 million of it. If the charities were taxed at the commercial rate, it would provide $3.5 million in tax dollars. Should Lynn adopt a PILOT that asks for 25 percent of the assessed value, it would add $864,000 to the city’s $290 million budget.

The revenue-raising plan is based on the estimated cost of providing city services, including police and fire protection, snow removal, and emergency medical treatment, which account for about 25 percent of the city’s budget.

For example, Union Hospital’s property on Lynnfield Street is assessed at $18 million and would be taxed at $577,656 annually if it was a for-profit business. Under an agreement to pay 25 percent of that, the hospital’s contribution would be $144,414.

Boston, one of the first cities to launch a PILOT, has raised nearly $100 million since 2012. The initiative was launched by former City Councilor Stephen Murphy, who insisted that nonprofits pay their fair share. Former Mayor Thomas M. Menino convinced 49 nonprofits, which own property valued at $15 million or more, to contribute. 

“I certainly think it warrants a conversation,” said James Cowdell, executive director of the Economic Development & Industrial Corp. of Lynn. “A model with nonprofits of a certain size, that own their buildings, volunteering a sum that reflects the police, fire, and DPW portion of a standard commercial rate, at least merits consideration

 

But Lynn City Council President Dan Cahill said unlike Boston, Lynn lacks giant institutions with billion-dollar endowments such as Harvard University, Boston College and Boston University.

Cahill said targeted PILOTs work, such as the agreement that was struck with the Visiting Nurse Association when it built a new facility at 210 Market St. that is assessed at $4.4 million. In addition, deals were made with the Abbott House Nursing Home, which owns the property at 28 Essex St. that is assessed at $1.2 million; and the Raw Arts Works building in Central Square that is valued at $642,000. In total, they donate about $50,000 annually.

As far as implementing a broader program that would impact some or all of the city’s five dozen nonprofits, Cahill said that’s part a very large discussion that has not yet happened in the city.

“It makes sense for Boston’s nonprofits to pay because they have massive colleges and universities with billion-dollar endowments,” he said. “But in Lynn, our charities are considerably smaller and run on a shoestring budget.”

Mark Kennard, executive director of Project Cope, an affiliate of Bridgewell, a nonprofit that provides assistance to individuals with developmental and psychiatric disabilities at 22 Lynn locations, said the nonprofits are a vibrant sector of the city and make a huge contribution to the economy. But he is ambivalent about whether charities should be required to make payments.

“I have operated a nonprofit for many years and we certainly use city services, and in that respect paying some kind of PILOT makes absolute sense,” said Kennard, a founding member of the Lynn Nonprofit Business Association.

“But some nonprofits are vehemently opposed to it and fear it opens a can of worms because it would take money away from core services of their mission. And if some groups contribute, then there will be pressure on others to do the same.”

When asked if any nonprofits have stepped forward to pay, he said “no.”

Geoffrey Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, an advocacy group on behalf of cities and towns, said PILOTs are a matter of fairness.

“The basic premise behind PILOTs is equity, especially for communities that have a concentration of nonprofits,” he said. “Communities provide police, fire, public works and emergency response. Many communities lose a substantial portion of their tax base because of the nonprofits and that burdens all taxpayers.”

Caron, the city’s CFO, said he lacks the statutory authority to make any nonprofit pay.

“It’s really a question of the political will from the council and the mayor to put pressure on these entities,” he said. “I’ve heard talk about this issue, but there’s been no follow up. No one wants to jump on it.”

There’s at least one elected official who thinks it’s a good idea.

City Councilor Wayne Lozzi said he supports the concept, but wants to make sure the threshold is set high enough so that smaller nonprofits are not hit with a big bill.

“Whoever drafted the tax-exempt rules years ago missed the fact that the city provides police and fire safety services,” he said. “They should kick in something.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com

One tough little guy in Saugus

Catherine Lopez with baby Matthew Evans-Lopez and Dr. Ihor Bilyk before Evans-Lopez’s discharge

BY BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS — A Saugus baby, born 100 days early, is thriving as he celebrates his due date.

Matthew Evans-Lopez was born at 24 weeks on Sept. 28 to Saugus resident Catherine Lopez. At the time of his birth, Evans-Lopez weighed one pound and 10 ounces. Today, he is full term and weighs 12 pounds.

Lopez said the day her son was born, she woke up with minor cramping, which progressed as time went on. Eventually, concerned it may be a urinary tract infection, she decided she needed to seek medical attention at the Lynn Community Health Center.

At the center, Lopez was treated by Dr. Landrey Fagan, a family medicine physician, who quickly checked her cervix and realized the cramping she was experiencing was actually labor pains. Fagan determined Lopez was almost completely dilated, despite efforts to slow the progression of labor.

“You just don’t think that you’ll deliver at only 24 weeks pregnant,” said Lopez. “I went to all of my appointments, ate well and took the necessary precautions. I had done everything right.”

Lopez was quickly transferred to North Shore Medical Center’s Birthplace at Salem Hospital, which is closely affiliated with the maternal-fetal medicine specialists at Massachusetts General Hospital, who specialize in caring for women who deliver early.

“I arrived at the NSMC Birthplace and entered the birthing suite to find a number of physicians and nurses waiting for me, and I started to grasp the magnitude of what was happening and began to cry,” she said. “It took a very comforting nurse and the physician talking me through the situation to calm me down.”

“As soon as I received the call from Dr. Fagan, we immediately began to get things ready for her arrival,” said Rosa Lorenia Diaz, LCHC obstetrician and gynecologist. “Catherine was 24 weeks and four days into her pregnancy, which is just past the point at which a baby has a decent chance of survival.

“My concern with this very early baby during delivery was his lung development.”

Diaz delivered Evans-Lopez at 8:23 p.m. NSMC Neonatologist Ihor Bilyk stabilized the baby in the Special Care Nursery.

“Considering the circumstances, it was a seamless transition and delivery, which is a testament to our excellent teams at both LCHC and NSMC,” Diaz said.

Within a few hours, Lopez and her newborn son were both transferred to Mass General so Evans-Lopez could receive more advanced care.

Our neonatologists practice at both NSMC and MGH, which allows for continuity of care and provides the parents with some familiarity and comfort,” said NSMC Chief of Newborn Medicine, Dr. Sanjay Aurora.

Evans-Lopez spent 99 days at the Mass General Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where he was placed on a ventilator, and received intense nutritional and occupational therapy, along with feeding team support. He also underwent surgery for a congenital heart defect and hernia repair.

During Evans-Lopez’s time at Mass General, Lopez said she traveled back and forth between Saugus and Boston each day.

Lopez, who is a physician in Puerto Rico, said her knowledge and background in medicine didn’t make the experience any easier.

“Through the traumatic experience, I was a mom first and foremost,” she said. “I let the physicians and nurses work and I took on the role of mom. Having a medical background did not make any of it easier.”

Following the completion of his treatment, Evans-Lopez was transferred back to NSMC for continued care and observation prior to being released.

“By transferring the patient back to the NSMC Special Care Nursery prior to going home, we can more easily coordinate with LCHC physicians for a seamless discharge,” Aurora said.

“It was a long and hard experience,” Lopez said. “However, through it all I felt strong because I knew I had to be for my baby.

“I did the best I could for him and the reward was bringing home a beautiful and healthy baby boy.”


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

When is enough enough?

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Attorney General Maura Healey, middle, makes a point to Lori Abrams Berry, executive director of Lynn’s Community Health Center, and chief medical officer Dr. Kiame Mahaniah.

Attorney General Maura Healey’s visit, last Thursday, to the Lynn Community Health Center to talk about the war against opiate addiction highlights, once again, an oft-asked question: Does Lynn do more than its fair share to help the addicted or is it the perfect place to wage the battle on a still fiercer level?

Healey praised the Center as a front line combatant against opiate addiction. Treatment programs in the Union Street facility, dating back 10 years and the Center is only one of several local facilities providing addiction treatment, counseling and giving addicts a safe and stable place to live and testing them to ensure they are staying drug-free.

From the methadone clinic off the Lynnway, to treatment residences on Green Street, to the Center’s downtown location, the battle against opiate addiction predates valiant, but smaller-scale efforts in many Massachusetts communities and certainly in neighboring cities and towns.

There are those who loudly and forcefully argue for curtailing, if not ending, Lynn’s status as a destination for drug treatment. The argument flies back and forth, with Not In My Backyard proponents saying the city shoulders more than its fair share of treatment locations, while critics argue the city needs to continue stepping up to battle a deadly addiction problem that is claiming the lives of Lynn natives.

There is a point of view that suggests cities like Lynn are locked in a vicious circle when it comes to addiction: Local treatment centers draw addicts seeking help, but not all addicts grasp recovery and some relapse and use drugs locally, only to re-enter treatment – and so the revolving door circles round and round.

The argument is one without winners and it frames a debate that probably will never end. Police officers, firefighters, emergency room workers, funeral directors, grieving families and friends all know opiate addiction translates into lives lost. The crisis, epidemic, war – whatever label is plastered on it – has captured state and national attention and spawned a lot of questions.

One major debate revolves around asking if addicts should bypass the courts and jail and be sent on a fast track to treatment. Another debate revolves the roles doctors and pharmaceutical companies play in limiting access to narcotic relief.

Probably the most basic question to ask about addiction is when is enough, in fact, enough? In other words, when is the lure of an opiate high and the resulting threat of addiction finally banished the same way other diseases have been relegated to the scrap heap of medical history?

AG visits Lynn Community Health Center

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Attorney General Maura Healey, middle, makes a point to Lori Abrams Berry, executive director of Lynn’s Community Health Center, and chief medical officer Dr. Kiame Mahaniah.

BY THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — State Attorney General Maura Healey praised Lynn Community Health Center workers Thursday for fighting the war against opiate abuse “on the front lines” and pledged to help provide added financial assistance to the Union Street facility.

Healey met with Center Director Lori Abrams Berry and Berry’s colleagues Thursday afternoon to discuss the Center’s treatment programs and the magnitude of the local opiate addiction problem.

“It’s huge. We see many patients struggling or their families,” said Berry.

Berry said the Center treats about 300 opiate-addicted individuals with a mix of medication and programs. Some patients receive Suboxone, a drug Center chief medical officer Kiame Mahaniah said is designed to inhibit opiate cravings. Another drug, Vivitrol, is also administered in medical settings to Center patients to block the effects of opiate drugs.

“We provide a huge amount of treatment,” said Mahaniah.

Healey said community health centers play an important role in ending opiate addiction, partly by combining medication treatment with other services.

“This is an institution that does so much for the community. We know the opiate crisis has hit Lynn hard,” she said.

Berry said Center physicians and nurse practitioners are trained in “chronic opiate therapy guidelines” intended to limit and carefully control opiate prescriptions. Medical personnel throughout the Center work together to treat addicts.

“One thing that makes us different is our team’s way of providing care — mental health, primary care, psychiatric services — it’s totally integrated,” Berry said.

She praised Healey’s interest in visiting the Center and pointed out the relationship previously established between the AG’s office and the Center. A two-year $215,000 grant provided by the AG’s office helps pay for behavioral health therapy in Brickett, Tracy and Ford schools.


 

Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.