Health news and notes: HCRS achieves Joint Commission accreditation


SPRINGFIELD >> Health Care and Rehabilitation Services of Southeastern Vermont recently earned The Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval for Behavioral Health Care Accreditation by demonstrating continuous compliance with its performance standards. The Gold Seal of Approval is a symbol of quality that reflects an organization's commitment to providing safe and effective care.

"Joint Commission accreditation provides behavioral health care organizations with the processes needed to improve in a variety of areas related to the care of individuals and their families," said Tracy Griffin Collander, LCSW, executive director, Behavioral Health Care Accreditation Program, The Joint Commission. "We commend HCRS for its efforts to elevate the standard of care it provides and to instill confidence in the community it serves."

HCRS underwent a rigorous on-site survey on June 21 through 24. During the review, compliance with behavioral health care standards related to several areas, including care, treatment, and services; environment of care; and leadership. Onsite observations and interviews with leadership, staff, and clients were also conducted.

"HCRS is pleased to receive Behavioral Health Care Accreditation from The Joint Commission," said George Karabakakis, Ph.D., CEO, HCRS. "Having successfully received the Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval® since 2003, demonstrates our commitment to continuous improvement and safe, high quality care."

The Joint Commission's behavioral health care standards are developed in consultation with health care experts and providers, quality improvement measurement experts, and individuals and their families. The standards are informed by scientific literature and expert consensus to help organizations measure, assess and improve performance.

Introduction to somatic breath therapy

BELLOWS FALLS >> Immanuel Retreat Center presents Breath of the Heart, a workshop on somatic breath therapy led by Kaiilama Morris, 9:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 24. The workshop takes place at Currier Hall, 12 Church St.

When we were newborns most of us breathed easily, freely engaging our full breath system. We inhale fully into the belly then release and relax our exhale. As we experience life physically, mentally, and emotionally we learn "coping" patterns. These patterns usually have a mirror image in our breath. These unconscious breath patterns become our "normal" way of breathing; often allowing little or no breathe to certain areas of the body. Over time, this can lead to physical, emotional, and mental imbalance or dis-ease.

Somatic breath therapy is a conscious intentional tool that assists the body to return to an open healthy breath. Through gentle "coaching" the body and mind to learn to relax into a connected full belly breath allowing the healing of the breath system and all the "bodies" to unfold. Each person's experience and journey of this unfolding is unique and individual. The body, through the breath, knows the way to wellness. Trusting the breath to lead the way is a key to allowing the pathway to each level of freedom in the body, mind and emotions.

An additional benefit of opening our breath is a deeper connection to our "essential" self specifically connecting us to the amazing love that each one of truly is. If you yearn to know your true self, lay down and breathe and you will discover you.

The areas of effective therapeutic use with somatic breath include respiratory ailments, infertility, TMJ, phobias, stress, panic attacks, depression, headaches, birthing, addictions and recovery, PMS and menopause, apnea, and more

The cost is $68. Register at or by calling 802-460-0110.

Restorative yoga and sound healing

BRATTLEBORO >> A local therapeutic yoga studio at 452 South Main St., healixyoga, will be offering their fall series of restorative yoga with sound healing sessions on the third Sunday of each month, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Local percussionist and gong specialist Stephan Brandstatter will join for a series of Sunday afternoon restorative meditation practices.

Emily Wiadro will provide a brief and gentle yoga warm up to prepare the body for a series of three 15-minute sequences in a variety of restorative poses while Brandstatter fills the sacred space with the positive vibrations of sound. No experience is necessary. Class cards and the regular drop in fee ($13) will be honored for this workshop. Donations will be humbly and graciously accepted for Brandstatter.

In addition, healixyoga will host a free of charge sound bath open house on Wednesday, Sept. 28, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. for anyone interested in a taste of those healing vibrations. For more information, visit

A weekend to remember

BRATTLEBORO >> In recognition of the 35th year of the AIDS pandemic and to honor the work of the AIDS Project of Southern Vermont, "A Weekend to Remember & Celebrate ... Life, Loss, Love," will be presented at the Latchis Theatre, 50 Main St.

The benefit weekend begins on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 7:30 p.m. with the one-night-only performance of the 1989 show, "Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens," the first piece written about the AIDS pandemic. "Elegies" is a song cycle with music by Janet Hood and lyrics and additional text by lyricist Bill Russell. It debuted in 1989 at the Ohio Theatre in Manhattan's SoHo district before moving on to London. Each of the monologues is written from the perspective of characters who have died from AIDS, and the songs represent the feelings of friends and family members dealing with the loss. The piece was developed in the late 1980s and originally entitled "The Quilt" to acknowledge the AIDS Memorial Quilt, founded in 1985 by AIDS activist, Cleve Jones.

The show will open with a special performance by Jody Sperling, founder of the New York City dance company, Time Lapse Dance. The company's work presents visually arresting kinetic theater fusing dance with mesmerizing fabric-and-light spectacles after the style of modern-dance pioneer Loïe Fuller.

"Elegies" Director Sam Maskell and Music Director Richard Smith are joined by a cast comprised of singers and actors from Vermont and New Hampshire, including leads Allie McGahie, Zac Binney, Gregory Higgins and Jeanie Levesque. For a full cast list, visit

Tickets are $20 for the balcony $20, $40 for the orchestra and $75 for VIP, which includes a pre-show reception when a lifetime volunteer achievement award will be presented to Shirley Squires of Guilford, who has raised more than $300,000 to support the non-profit organization. The award will be presented by Karen Peterson, Executive Director and Patrick Brown, Board Chair of APSV. After the show, all ticket holders are invited to attend an informal reception on the stage of the main theatre.

To purchase tickets, visit

HCRS welcomes new staff

SPRINGFIELD >> Health Care and Rehabilitation Services, Vermont's second-largest community mental-health agency, is pleased to announce the appointment of eight new professionals whose talents will augment HCRS' services in the Springfield, Brattleboro, and Bellows Falls communities.

Founded in 1967, HCRS is a non-profit, community mental health agency serving Vermonters in Windham and Windsor counties. HCRS serves more 4,000 individuals every year through its mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disabilities programs. The agency provides holistic care for clients, supporting them with employment, housing, transportation, and other social service needs. Visit for more information.

Red Cross urges blood and platelet donations during National Preparedness Month

BRATTLEBORO >> The American Red Cross urges eligible donors to give blood and platelets this fall to help restock the shelves following a significant summer shortage to ensure an adequate blood supply for patients in need.Through the first two weeks of September, the Red Cross is down more than 10,000 donations from what is needed to replenish the blood supply and be prepared for emergencies large and small. Declines in donations can lead to blood shortages and make it difficult to meet patient needs should a disaster or emergency occur.

"September is National Preparedness Month and we urge eligible donors to make an appointment now to give blood or platelets," said Mary Brant, external communications manager of the Northern New England Blood Services Region. "Whether blood is needed for a chronic condition like sickle cell disease, a routine surgery, a traumatic accident or a large-scale disaster, it's the blood already on the shelves that helps save lives. Red Cross blood and platelet donors play an important role in helping communities be prepared for all kinds of emergencies."

Donors of all blood types are needed as blood products continue to be distributed to hospitals almost as quickly as donations come in. To make an appointment to give blood, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donors are encouraged to make appointments and complete the RapidPass online health history questionnaire at to help reduce wait times.

The next opportunity to donate blood in Windham County is on Sept. 29 from noon to 5 p.m. at the Bellows Falls Community Center, 8 School St., and on Oct. 11 from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, 54 Chickering Drive, Unit 1, in Brattleboro.

At the September Blood Donor Day at the Eagles Club, 70 pints were donated.

Multiple and one gallon donors included: Joseph P. Pichette, 22 gallons; Carol Brooke-de-Brock, three gallons; and Michael Barry, one gallon. First-time donors included Robert W. Clements.

Grace Cottage expands health coaching services

TOWNSHEND >> Grace Cottage Family Health now offers nutrition and lifestyle coaching to more people than ever, thanks to a Fannie Holt Ames & Edna Louise Holt Fund grant that has allowed the hiring of a second health coach.

Elizabeth Harrison is still available for appointments Tuesday through Thursday, and Cheryl Shaw now sees clients Mondays and Fridays. Both are members of the Grace Cottage Community Health Team, part of Grace Cottage Family Health.

Harrison holds a B.A. in Psychology from Western College for Women (now Miami University of Ohio) and is a board certified clinical nutritionist through the International & American Associations of Clinical Nutritionists. She provides resources and teaches skills to help clients develop healthy eating habits, and she runs monthly support groups, including a Weight Loss Support Group that meets on the second Tuesday of every month.

Shaw is a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant with a B.S. in Health and Fitness from Springfield College. She is a certified Wellness Coach and Exercise Physiologist with over 17 years of fitness and wellness experience in the corporate sector and as a personal fitness trainer. In her free time, she tries out new whole-food recipes, researches nutrition information, runs, bicycles, hikes, and does strength training.

All CHT services are offered free of charge. These include care coordination, diabetes education, short-term counseling, and health coaching. The CHT team works with individuals to assess their health and establish attainable goals, especially for those managing a chronic condition. A medical provider's referral is not required. Any Southern Vermont resident can contact the CHT directly for an appointment. No insurance is needed, and there are no co-pays or deductibles.

The CHT's services are funded by the Vermont Department of Health and the Holt Fund.

The Holt Fund makes grants to not-for-profit organizations that provide health and medical services to individuals living in and around Grafton, VT, where the Holt sisters were long-time residents. They both were long-time advocates of Grace Cottage.

For more information, visit or call 802-365-3715.

Free flu shots at ClearChoice

BRATTLEBORO >> As flu season quickly approaches, ClearChoiceMD is serving its community by offering free flu vaccinations to the public. The urgent care center, located at 1154 Putney Rd. in Brattleboro, will host a free flu clinic for ages 6 months and older from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 1 and 2, no appointments needed.

"It's important to get your flu vaccination before winter begins so your body has enough time to develop the antibodies that protect against influenza," said Dr. Thomas H. Scott, Director of Clinical Operations at ClearChoiceMD. "This makes early fall the best time to get your flu shot."

Good health habits, combined with a flu vaccination, is the best way to avoid contracting or spreading the flu. Such habits include washing your hands frequently, disinfecting surfaces, covering your mouth and nose, getting enough sleep, a healthy diet, drinking lots of water and staying home if you are sick.

All flu vaccinations on Oct. 1 and 2 will be free of charge and insurance will not be billed. Patients are asked to bring a photo ID, and encouraged to bring friends and family.

New program coordinator at Putney Cares

PUTNEY >> Putney Cares board recently announced that Abby Jacobson has agreed to become the new program coordinator.

Jacobson has deep roots in the Putney community and is returning after service in related health fields. She is beginning her training this week, and her regular office hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feel free to contact Jacobson at Putney Cares Activities Barn for information about rides to medical appointments, Meals on Wheels, or use of medical equipment.

Call if you are interested in volunteering to help the elders in the community by offering what ever time you can to driving, delivering or serving on the board. This is a great chance to get to know more about our town and to help others. Call 802-387- 5593 or email


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