Friday, November 20, 2015

Five-Tidbit Friday: November 20, 2015


The traditional Thanksgiving meal 
Thanksgiving may only come once a year, but there's mounting scientific evidence about the benefits of developing thankful habits. Researcher Glenn Fox at the University of Southern California has been researching how gratitude alters the brain. “A lot of people conflate gratitude with the simple emotion of receiving a nice thing. What we found was something a little more interesting,” says Fox. “The pattern of [brain] activity we see shows that gratitude is a complex social emotion that is really built around how others seek to benefit us.” As you gear up for the big feast, here is some advice to help you and your family be truly thankful at Thanksgiving.


Although popularized more recently, and copyrighted by celebrity chef Paul Prudhomme in 1986, there's a longer story behind the Turducken. This kind of “Russian Doll Roast” traces its roots back to at least medieval times, when animals might be stuffed within other animals for the sake of spectacle. (See also,  “illusion foods,” or “incredible foods.”)

Schott’s Food & Drink Miscellany includes this example of a Russian Doll Roast involving way too many birds: “stuff a large OLIVE with CAPERS and a CLOVE,” and so on, it says. The directions continue stuffing birds, including a bec-figue, ortolan, lark, thrush, quail, plover, lapwing, partridge, woodcock, teal, fowl, duck, chicken, pheasant, goose, and turkey, until ultimately we’re told to “place the TURKEY inside an enormous BUSTARD.”


According to Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Food, at Sea and Ashore, in the Nineteenth Century, Thanksgiving used to be a bigger deal. For roughly the first half of our nation’s history, Thanksgiving reigned as the premier holiday among the Europeans who came to America, and their descendents. (Celebrating Christmas was too “churchy” for the Puritans.) For a fascinating tour of Thanksgiving meals through the ages, including the "Turducken," be sure to check out


Did you know that Jingle Bells was originally written as a song to celebrate Thanksgiving Day? James Lord Pierpont wrote it, quite possibly right here in Massachusetts, some time in the 1850’s, almost certainly at a time when one might expect the heavy snows to begin as early as November.
Placard Commemorating the composition of  "Jingle Bells" in Medford, Massachusetts


Probably all of us have driven along Route 9 in Shrewsbury, past the Worcester County Food Bank. On their website, you can quickly identify the nearest food pantry, learn where to donate funds and food for the hungry, volunteer to help with the distribution process, and learn how to advocate for the hungry in your community.

See you here in two weeks. Hope you have a decent weekend, and a very wonderful Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Where Ideas Come From

When a patient calls to book an appointment in the hospital, and it's your job to schedule it, but you can't--because there aren't any slots open, or too few to align with the patient's schedule, or because of some system problem--it's frustrating.

A group of SHARE members in Central Scheduling has been building a process to eliminate those frustrations, and help patients get the care they need. These schedulers were recently recognized at the Innovation Celebration, where Katie Warren, a scheduler in the 855-UMass MD pod, and Tony Le, the lead scheduler in the Primary Care pod, explained where their best ideas come from, and how their two areas have worked together to turn problems into opportunities.

Lauren George, another architect of the system, explains her personal process. She says she keeps a stack of idea cards on her desk. "It makes sense for keeping track of this kind of thing. I found if I wrote down an idea on any other ordinary scrap of paper, it was too easy to mix up with all of the other notes I take." If, after she hangs up with a patient, she has some concern that the call didn't go as well as it could, or the patient didn't get the appointment time that they wanted, she pulls a blank card and writes down the problem. Then she places the card in a designated spot on her desk. And it sits there, for maybe a couple of days, with the other problems that she's jotted down.

While Lauren takes calls and goes about her work, the cards rest on her desk. It's a busy job, with a constant flow of conversations, and plenty of interruptions. Still, in the background, her thoughts percolate. When she can, she'll stop to look back at the cards. She might come to find trends among the problems. Or, the day after a tough call, when the tension has subsided and she can look at the problem with fresh eyes, she might hit on an insight about its root cause. Lauren will write down her new analysis, and move the card along to another spot on her desk, where it sits for maybe a couple more days.

When she assesses the problem again, she finds she often has an idea that could reduce the chances of having to deal with that problem again. She writes down her idea. And then the card gets pinned to the department's idea board. "And it's not all for issues with scheduling patients," Lauren points out. "We use it for whatever ideas we have about work. We've got regular Throwback Thursday emails that now recognize birthdays in the department, and other things like that, which have come out of our idea system."

For the schedulers, this is a process that's working. They haven't perfected the scheduling system. But they certainly aren't looking at each other across their idea board huddles, wondering if someone else has thought of something. They're ticking off solutions to problems, one by one. And they're constantly developing a plan for addressing the rest. Not to mention finding ways to have some fun at work in the meanwhile. We're impressed, and very happy to see them recognized.

Look for more SHARE members at the next Innovation Celebration, including a focus on the Primary Care Idea System, on Tuesday, November 17th from Noon-1pm in the University Campus Cafeteria.

Katie Warren and Tony Le

Friday, November 13, 2015

Five-Tidbit Friday: November 13th, 2015

Röntgen and his beard
It’s Movember! Both the “No Shave November” and “Movember” movements encourage men to abstain from the razor for thirty days in order to raise men’s health and cancer awareness. Unfortunately, it’s getting harder to tell which hair is charitable, and which is just garden-variety facial fluff.  
On November 8th, 1895, German physicist William Conrad Röntgen discovered X-rays. National Radiologic Technology Week is celebrated each year during the week of the anniversary of this discovery. Röntgen’s own unruly chin-growth predated the UK’s Decembeard event.
According to the Boston Globe, the Massachusetts State Legislature’s Labor and Workforce Development Committee has put forward a bill to increase the minimum wage to fifteen dollars per hour. The introduction of the bill coincided with Fight for $15 demonstrations in over 270 cities, involving thousands of workers across the country. The bill still requires approval by the House, Senate, and Governor Charlie Baker.

Veterans’ Day was observed this week in Worcester and around the country. President Obama’s Veteran’s Day speech focused on jobs, as Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post writes:

“We’re in the midst of a new wave of American veterans,” said Obama, referring to a generation of men and women who have weathered the longest stretch of war in U.S. history. Those veterans have struggled in recent years to get care from an overwhelmed Department of Veterans Affairs. They’ve faced a higher unemployment rate than their civilian peers and an increase in suicides.
Here in Central Massachusetts, many work continually to honor the service of our Veterans, and to help them find ways to serve their country at home. The Worcester Veterans’ Services Division aims to supply local veterans with immediate financial aid, medical assistance, and referral services on issues such as housing, employment opportunities, health, and education. Notably, four of our area colleges and universities--Worcester State University, Fitchburg, Nichols College, and Mount Wachusett Community College--have been designated “military friendly” institutions.  


Describing one particularly personal commemoration of our country’s veterans, former SHARE-UMMS president and UMMS Library Assistant Paul Julian writes: “On July 9, while on a walk, I stopped to read a Veteran's monument on Upsala Street in Worcester. I had read others on my walks, but this was special, because Richard Leo Jandron , for whom the memorial was erected, died from his wounds sustained in Cherbourg, France exactly 71 years before. I said a prayer for Gunner Mate Jandron, and it occurred to me that I should do this for every veteran who is so honored here in Worcester. Working with two lists, I learned that there were 237 such monuments here in Worcester. I decided to seek them out so that I could pray and reflect on the sacrifices these brave veterans made. I aimed to walk to all 237 monuments. Today, the day before Veterans Day, I journeyed to the last one on my list for Lt. Paul Adams, which is located on Sunderland Road here in Worcester. I have found this to be both a moving and illuminating experience. We owe so much to our veterans. May their sacrifices always be appreciated by us.”

See you here next Friday. Hope you have a very decent weekend . . .

Celebrating National Radiologic Technology Week with SHARE Rad Techs

This week, SHARE tips its hat to the nearly one-hundred fifty members who serve as Radiology Technologists and Radiation Therapists. The week-long celebration calls attention to the important role medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals play in patient care and health care safety. 
Radiology Technologists on the University Campus

Radiology staff enjoying lunch provided by supervisor Marcia Amaral in celebration of rad tech week​.
(photo: RT Jess Joslyn)
National Radiologic Technology Week takes place each year during the week that includes Nov. 8 to commemorate the discovery of the x-ray. The theme for 2015 is Discovering the Inside Story.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Employee Craft Fair: November 20th on the University Campus

The “Employee Craft Fair” is coming! The craft-makers and event organizers--including many SHARE employees--are quite excited about it. Come check out what your co-workers have been doing, and get a jump on your holiday shopping.

WHERE: University Campus, Noonan Concourse corridor (outside the Emergency Department to the left of the main lobby Café)

WHEN: Friday, November 20th from 9am-5pm

WHO: You! Hope to see you there. Along with all these fine crafters . . .
  • Phyllis Chartier from EKG Memorial, “Gifted Touch”- Christmas tree skirts, lighted baskets, Christmas towels, quilts, and decorative Christmas trees
  • Rita Caputo from Primary Care, “Ree’s Creations”- Swarowski crystal and pearl handcrafted jewelry
  • Anne Bouley from Rheumatology, “Bouley’s Baubles” – Handcrafted jewelry bags and jewelry
  • Joe Laventure from Materials Management, “Bekki’s Stitches”- Cross stitch pictures
  • Elaine Wrubel from Diabetes and Endocrinology, “GramEz GoodEz”- crochet afghans and baby items
  • Missy Lucier from Division of Preventive & Behavioral Medicine, “Bella Colori Jewelry”- Handcrafted jewelry from metals, beads, crystals, etc.
  • Erin Cofske from Endoscopy, “Erin Cofske Designs”- Hand sewn wallets, bags, coasters, and fleece blankets
  • Catherine Faiola from Anatomical Pathology, “Shady Lady”- Beaded nightlight shades, sock snowmen, twirly scarfs
  • Kathleen Murray form Surgery  & ENT, “Angel Wings & Pretty Things”- Handmade crystal and beaded jewelry
  • Barbara Laconto from Health Information Management, “Barbara Laconto Designs”- Primitive Snowmen, Santas, Christmas items
  • Vince Pillari from Blood Bank/Transfusion, “Gifted”- Stained glass, wood carvings, and metal sculpture
  • Jessica Stoneham from 8 West, “Quilt”- Handmade quilts and rice warmers
  • Lisa Geneva from Employee Health, “Lisa’s Soap Kitchen”- Handmade soap, candles, wreaths, and story stones
  • Tanya Cournoyer from Primary Care, “Podunk Mittens”- Handmade mittens from recycled sweaters
  • Suzanne Ashton from Pre-surgical Evaluations, “Resuscitated”- Hand painted repurposed Scrubs and vintage jewelry
  • Patty Amelin from Anesthesiology, “Patty’s Pottery”- Handmade pottery
  • Thomas Callahan from Financial Reporting, “Creations in Glass”- Cheese platters, bottle clocks, fused glass jewelry, and stained glass
  • Genevieve Rentas from Pediatric Clinic, “Nini’s Wreaths”- Seasonal wreath
  • Michelle Imbody from Primary Care, “Nypsy’s Creations”- Etched glass items
  • Heather Tessier from Plastic Surgery, “Green Fibers”- Crochet rugs , bath scrubbies, ear warmers, etc. from eco-friendly materials

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Congratulations, Joann Shoup!

Congratulations to SHARE Representative JoAnn Shoup, who is retiring from Memorial, where she has worked for 48 years.
Deb Church, Bobbi-Jo Lewis, and Joann Shoup
JoAnn, a LPN, has been working as a Scrub Nurse in Labor and Delivery. She has prepared the tools for the C-section deliveries performed there, and worked closely with the surgical teams to help bring many, many new babies into the world.

JoAnn's family, her colleagues, now-retired former coworkers, and other well-wishers celebrated her at a fantastic retirement party organized by the Maternity Department. Above, Joann is pictured at that event with SHARE co-president Bobbi-Jo Lewis, and with Deb Church, the new SHARE rep from the Maternity floor.

Thank you, JoAnn, for meaning so much to so many of us. We will miss you. Enjoy your new adventures!

Monday, November 9, 2015

We Need YOUR Opinions and Ideas!

Have YOU filled out your SHARE survey about our upcoming contract negotiations??

This is the first step towards a new contract. The survey turns the conversations SHARE members have everyday -- about how things are going and what should change -- into data that helps us to figure out our collective priorities for contract negotiations. We want to make sure we include all opinions and ideas -- from SHARE members from all departments and all shifts, all ages and all jobs. (Many thanks to the hundreds of you who already filled out the survey!)

Here's the link:

Topics on the survey include:

  • What parts of working at UMass Memorial are satisfying, and what parts are not?
  • Staffing Levels, Breaks, Lunches and Vacations
  • Getting the Work Done and Process Improvement
  • Co-Workers and Working as a Team
  • Supervisors and Managers
  • Training and Career Development
  • The SHARE Union
  • Your Priorities: What would help most to improve how it feels to come to work?

Super Convenient Ways to Take the Survey -- Come to the SHARE table to pick up a paper copy of the survey, or fill it out on a laptop right there, or pick up a postcard with the link to remind yourself to do it at home:
Memorial: Wednesday, November 11th, 1:45 am - 1:15 pm in the hospital cafeteria
370 Main Street: Thursday, November 12th, Noon - 1:00 pm in the 5th floor conference room
University: Friday, November 13th, 11:45 am - 1:15 pm in the hospital cafeteria

Can you help spread the word to your co-workers?

Please encourage your co-workers to take the survey! If you would like some postcards with the link on them to hand out, just call the SHARE office and we will bring you some!

Having trouble with the survey?

If you are having any trouble getting into Survey Monkey to do the SHARE survey, try typing the link above into your browser. If that doesn't work, please let us know so we can figure out what's wrong.

Would you rather fill out a paper survey?

Follow this link to a .pdf that you can print. Then mail us or fax us your survey -- call us if you want a postage paid envelope.

All questions or ideas -- You can talk to your local SHARE Rep, your SHARE Organizer, or call the office at SHARE 508-929-4020. Leave a message at extension 10. Or you can send an email to

Friday, November 6, 2015

5 Tidbit Friday: November 6, 3015


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During lunchtime last Friday, UMass Memorial’s Central Billing Office opened its doors for the costumed children of employees to trick-or-treat among the cubicles . . . and receive candy from the jesters and bakers and witches and pirates who work there. What a way to transform the workday! What a fun family event! So many adorable minions! Nice work, CBO.


More details have been requested about the recent tidbit touting free online classes through

  • The project was founded by Harvard University and MIT, and a number of colleges and universities have since joined in.
  • New courses are continually being offered.
  • The program does not adhere to a traditional academic calendar.
  • At any given moment, a few million students are enrolled in the courses, and the website promotes a variety of ways of interacting with other students in your class, wherever in the world they may be.
  • EdX offers certificates of successful completion, but does not offer course credit. Whether or not a college or university offers credit for an edX course is within the sole discretion of that school.

Signing up for a class is just about as simple as registering for the edX site and clicking on the course(s) you want to take. The EdX site has a useful video explaining how it works. (A couple of years back, I signed up for Harvard’s “Food and Science” course. Signing up was fairly simple and straightforward. Keeping up with the course-load after work, however, was trickier. But when else can you use your kitchen as a laboratory?)


This week, the Pew Research Center released a report about work-family balance in households that include a mother and a father. This prompted the Huffington Post to wonder why so many government policies and employers are stuck in “Leave It to Beaver” mode--notably highlighting that the US is the only developed country that does not offer paid family leave to new mothers. (Additionally, the article points out that “Almost 40 percent of kids in the U.S. live in a home with a single parent or no parent at all (for example, a grandparent's in charge), according to a different Pew study.”)


. . . keeping an eye on the labor-management partnership at Kaiser Permanente. In his address at the recent White House Summit on Worker Voice, President Obama stated, “Kaiser Permanente works with 28 different unions to provide good pay and benefits, but also educational programs, and avenues for employees to help improve quality and care throughout the company — which is why they’re considered one of the premier health organizations in the country.”

See you here next Friday! Hope you have a great weekend . . .