On Call with Dr. Pepe
Healthy Beginnings for 2019
New Year’s Day…Through the years, I have been fascinated by how that one day of the year symbolizes the target date for change and new beginnings. In the 20-plus years that I served as a primary care physician, I cannot tell you the number of times I heard my patients say that January 1 was the day they would make an important change in their lives. Whether it was losing weight, beginning to work out at the gym, quitting tobacco or cutting back on alcohol use, the New Year was going to be the start of a new life when the challenges of the past would suddenly become so much easier.
Unfortunately, when I met with many of those patients at their next appointment, I discovered that the New Year had not been the spark of motivation that brought about the lifestyle changes they desired and needed. Some patients, however, were able to make changes, in large part because they had taken concrete steps to “hardwire” new behaviors. For these patients, the New Year was not a magical moment; rather it was a good starting point to implement a solid game plan for a sustainable lifestyle change.
January 1 also serves as a time for organizations to introduce “new” programs and services. Catholic Medical Center is no exception. As we do so, I am aware of the lessons I learned as a primary care physician. New programs and services must be well planned and built on concrete steps. They must answer a need while also being forward thinking, and they must be rooted in something deeply meaningful, which in the case of CMC is our Catholic identity.
In 2019, CMC will continue to meet the needs of our patients and community with new programs that are firmly rooted in our Catholic identity. We will open a new practice offering medication-assisted treatment (MAT) at the Manchester Recovery and Treatment Center (located in the former Hoitt Furniture building at 293 Wilson St.). Here, CMC will assist individuals struggling with substance misuse. CMC has been at the forefront in addressing the opioid crisis in New Hampshire, and expanding our MAT services will further enable us to care for those struggling with addiction. We hope to be the supportive presence they need to bring about that change in their lives.
With the assistance of the Parish of the Transfiguration in Manchester and the New Hampshire Food Bank, CMC is opening a preventative food pantry to assist chronically ill patients facing food insecurity. A prescription for the pantry helps patients’ access healthy food that meets their particular dietary restrictions to help them make the important lifestyle changes needed to improve their long-term health. Patients will have the opportunity to receive food twice a month, as well as come in contact with nurses who will monitor their health outcomes.
Through the women’s cardiac program, we are increasing awareness and vigilance around women’s heart health. Despite more than a decade of education, not enough people are aware that heart disease is a leading killer of women. Women may also not realize that they have unique risk factors that contribute to their heart health. They are also at particularly higher risk for certain conditions like Sudden Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD). We have encouraged women to put a particular focus on their breast and gynecologic health – now we are supporting them and giving them dedicated resources for their heart health as well!
I am confident that these new programs will help make 2019 a healthy, happy year for CMC and our patients. They are deeply rooted in our Catholic mission of serving the most vulnerable and continuing our long history of promoting health, healing and hope.
Happy New Year and good health and successful new beginnings to you and your family!
Dr. Joseph Pepe is the president and CEO of CMC Healthcare System: Catholic Medical Center, New England Heart & Vascular Institute, and several subsidiaries. He and his wife reside in Manchester.