Monday, January 10, 2011


Healthcare extends beyond the walls of a hospital

I have the best job around. I can say that, because after 30-plus years as a registered nurse, I still enjoy each day.

Together with my colleague Lisa Cook, I am a patient and community educator at Backus Hospital. We get to arrange and coordinate various free educational programs, events and screenings for the community, which is our way of preventing major health problems before people end up in the hospital.

We collect data and surveys to prove that these programs are worthwhile, informative, and health-promoting. But more importantly, health screenings facilitate the identification of problems, make appropriate referrals, and facilitate subsequent treatment — possibly saving lives in the process.

Backus Hospital’s mission is to improve the health of the community. To accomplish this, it takes a team of people. Here are examples of what I mean:

• In April, the monthly “Family Matters” educational series presentation was “Recognizing the Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders.” Our speaker was Dr. Dumont-Mathieu, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician from West Hartford. Sixty-two people attended this program, some from as far away as Old Lyme and Colchester. So many parents commented on how valuable this information was, how much they learned, and how appreciative they were to be informed about available resources for autism diagnosis and treatment.

• In September, we offered a free community prostate cancer screening. Two Backus urologists, Dr. Franklin Friedman and Dr. T. Casey McCullough, volunteered their time to examine 40 men, who also had blood drawn for PSA blood tests. Several men had elevated PSA tests, requiring follow-up, and one young man was identified with a suspicious prostate exam, resulting in the recommendation for a biopsy for prostate cancer.

• In December, Backus participated in the Mohegan Sun Employee Health Day. The health theme was “All About Diabetes.” Chinese and Spanish interpreters were available to talk to the many Mandarin, Cantonese, and Hispanic employees who might otherwise not have access to this vital information. Written information was provided in several languages. More than 50 home glucose meters were distributed, and more than 250 people talked to the healthcare providers and interpreters there. Several referrals were made to bi-lingual physicians to establish primary care medical “homes.”

So, a community hospital’s role definitely extends beyond its walls. We will continue to help improve the health of our community with free community education and screenings, including our second “Enjoy LIFE (Lifelong Investment in Fitness and Exercise) program in Plainfield. The kick-off for the monthly series is Jan. 20, 6:30-8 p.m. at the Plainfield Recreation Department. Call 860-889-8331, ext. 2495 to register. Let’s work together and support one another to get healthier in 2011.

Alice Facente is a registered nurse and clinical educator with the The William W. Backus Hospital Education Department. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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