The class had the opportunity this week to get a comprehensive look into Greater Nashua’s healthcare systems. Assembled first at The Hunt Community on Allds Street, the class heard from Dr. Simon Khagi. Dr. Khagi, the Medical Director of Dartmouth Hitchcock Cancer Center and a rock star and expert in the field of Oncology, gave a presentation on the ways cancer develops in the body and the cutting-edge treatments that are emerging to combat it. Dr. Khagi managed to explain complex concepts in a way that was digestible for professionals outside the field, not an easy feat for someone so well-studied.
As we moved through the morning, the class listened to a panel of senior leadership from local healthcare networks. John Jurczyk, CEO of St. Joseph Hospital, Colin McHugh, CEO of Southern NH Health Systems, Dr. Jonathan Thyng, Medical Director at Dartmouth Health Clinics, Nashua, and Dr. Vasuki Nagaraj, Chief Medical Officer of Lamprey Health were in attendance to speak about the state of our healthcare system in Greater Nashua. These gentlemen were notably humble and transparent about the challenges they face and where there are spaces for improvement. One of the key takeaways was the deficit of mental health resources our community is able to provide and how we move forward in trying to increase availability and access to mental health services.
After a generous and delicious lunch, the class enjoyed a tour of the Hunt Community building. We were in awe of the beautiful condition of the facility and the variety of amenities available to residents there. When the class returned, a presentation from Nashua’s Public Health Division provided insight into how public health is analyzed and how developing situations and emergencies are responded to. Bobby Bagley, Director at City of Nashua’s Public Health Division, gave a highly engaging talk about the ways we prevent and respond to public health emergencies and did an outstanding job of including the class in the conversation. Jane Goodman, Public Health Network Strategist in the Community Services Department, helped make these concepts relatable by explaining the factors that affect a person’s wellbeing.
As all aspects of public health are important, the class heard from Barbara Lafrance, RN and Chief Clinical Officer at Home, Health and Hospice Care regarding End of Life Planning. Barbara emphasized the importance of identifying advanced care directives instead of waiting until a crisis, when we are emotional and prone to reactive decision-making.
Our last speaker at the Hunt Community was Stacy Carroll, Director of Emergency Management and EMS Coordinator at Southern NH Health. Stacy spoke to the class about the healthcare landscape post-COVID, particularly the rise in workplace violence and how she and her staff have responded.
The class transitioned to the Nashua YMCA to learn about their new Wellbeing Center and their renewed focus on total wellbeing, emphasizing the importance of mental fitness as well as physical. First, Heather Sweeney, RN, stressed the importance of creating space in your day for rest and focusing on progress over perfection. She led a guided meditation that lent calmness to our busy day. Dr. Cynthia Whitaker, President & CEO, Greater Nashua Mental Health and familiar face to this cohort, reminded us all about how stress manifests (when demands are greater than resources). Dr. Whitaker explained New Hampshire’s mental healthcare system and the challenges and opportunities therein. Following this, Mike LaChance, President & CEO of the location, spoke to the class about the ways in which the Y utilizes community partnerships to support wellbeing in the community.
Katie Parker, LGN Class of 2023 and Executive Director of Member Experience at the Nashua Y, spoke about Prevention programs at the Y. Programs like Bone Builders and Moving for Better Balance aim to strengthen the body and minimize risk of disease and injury later in life. Best of all, these programs are low-cost or free to the public.
We ended the day by participating in an introductory yoga class with Carol. It was the perfect way to finish the day, leaving us feeling relaxed and balanced.
It is worth noting that one of the themes most repeated throughout our day, the topic of which was healthcare in general, was the need in our community for more readily available mental health resources. It is clear that as leaders in the Greater Nashua community, we need to keep this in mind and work together to identify and facilitate solutions to these issues.
Humane Society for Greater Nashua