Quality of Life 22/09/15

Health care labor shortages

Health care workforce shortages in New Hampshire have resulted in an increased reliance on contract labor, according to a recent report released by the New Hampshire Hospital Association, which has driven expenses up and operating margins down at hospitals and health care facilities throughout the state. New Hampshire hospitals experienced a 133.1 percent increase in contract labor costs from 2021 to 2022 and are projected to spend $302.7 million on contract labor in 2022, up from $118.5 in 2019, pre-pandemic.

QOL score: -2

Comment: The New Hampshire Hospital Association is working to address the problem by calling on stakeholders to support workforce development initiatives that ensure sustainable recruitment and retention of health care workers, and is calling for state and federal resources to support hospitals at this time of high demand for hospital services.

Getting food to people who need it

Citizens Financial Group has contributed $56,000 to the New Hampshire Food Bank — funding that will support two new refrigerated food distribution trucks, ensuring reliable daily transportation to provide food to people throughout New Hampshire who are experiencing food insecurity. Approximately 7 percent of New Hampshire’s residents — and 9.5 percent of New Hampshire children — are in need of food assistance, according to a press release. There will be an unveiling of one of the new trucks on Thursday, Sept. 22, at 10 a.m., at the NH Food Bank headquarters (700 E. Industrial Park Drive, Manchester).

QOL score: +1

Comment: Citizens Financial Group is also hosting a virtual food drive throughout September to support Feeding America, which provides at least 10 meals through community food banks for every $1 donated. It has agreed to match each dollar donated up to $20,000, according to the release. Visit teamfeed.feedingamerica.org to learn how you can help.

Bike and park

Bike to the Manchester Citywide Arts Festival street fair (at the Opera Block of Hanover Street this Saturday, Sept. 17, and Sunday, Sept. 18) and the Queen City Bike Collective will provide free valet bike parking (from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday), according to a press release from the Manchester mayor’s office. Also happening downtown Saturday is the CelebratED MHT event in Veterans Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. celebrating Manchester’s schools and offering food and entertainment. Attendees of either event — or just anyone who wants to ride their bike downtown this weekend— can leave their ride with the Queen City Bike Collective in City Hall Plaza.

QOL score: +1

Comments: Manchester’s mayor’s office, Queen City Bike Collective and Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission are also hosting a Park(ing) Day event on Friday, Sept. 16, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Bookery (844 Elm St. in downton Manchester) in the outdoor dining area, the press release said.

More art returns

The New Hampshire Furniture Masters return after a two-year hiatus with their Signature Fundraising Gala, known as the Main Event, on Saturday, Sept. 17, from 1 to 7 p.m. at the Kimball Jenkins Estate (266 N. Main St. in Concord). According to a press release, the event will feature an open house during the day, as well as a reception will be held in the evening with a silent auction, live entertainment, artisanal fare and craft beer. Tickets cost $20; admission is free for individuals age 21 and under. Visit furnituremasters.org/the-main-event.

QOL score: +1

Comment: The New Hampshire Furniture Masters Annual Exhibition, on display at Kimball Jenkins now through Oct. 25, is the result of a three-month artistic partnership between 14 Furniture Masters and 28 selected artists and faculty from Kimball Jenkins and features fine furniture, paintings, photography and poems.

QOL score: 82

Net change: +1

QOL this week: 83

What’s affecting your Quality of Life here in New Hampshire? Let us know at news@hippopress.com.

NFL people to watch in 2022

With Week 1 gone and 16 games still left to play, here are a few people worth keeping an eye on before the Pats see them at some point as the season unfolds.

Bill Belichick: After Sunday’s 20-7 loss to Miami, he remains at 321 career wins. Thus he still needs four more to move past NFL founder George Halas’s 324 into second place for all time in career coaching wins, and that would then be 26 behind the 347 of all-time leader Don Shula, a guy who made the chase a little more personal by calling Coach B “Beli-cheat” after the spy-gate nonsense of 2007. I always thought that was a jealously petty shot by Shula to diminish the Pats’ attempt at surpassing Shula’s undefeated Dolphins of 1972 by finishing 19-0.

It gets a little murky between regular wins and overall wins, however, as today’s expanded playoff format helped Coach B to a 31-19 lead over Shula in post-season wins.

All of which means the 70-year-old Belchick will need three full seasons averaging nine wins per to pass Shula, while Papa Bear hopefully will be in the rear view mirror in October. While Belichick has the expanded playoffs on his side, Halas did his damage in 40 years, Shula 33, while it’ll be just 31 for Belichick if he gets there in three years.

As for hardware, he, Halas and back in the day Packers coach Curly Lambeau are tied with six NFL title teams each, while Shula was a paltry 2-5 in NFL title games, which includes somehow losing to the Jets in SB3.

Josh McDaniels: Guys rarely get a third chance when they flunk out after being a hot-shot head coach. So he’s on a personal hot seat in Year 1 with Oakland, er, I mean Las Vegas after his fairly disastrous turn in Denver. But that was over 10 years ago and that’s a lot more time than Coach B had before coming to New England for Round 2 after he was fired by Cleveland. By the time Vegas and the Pats meet on Dec. 18, we’ll know how his second chance has started, and whether the Pats’ O has survived his departure.

Tyreek Hill: While his departure didn’t seem to bother Patrick Mahomes much as he threw for five TDs in KC’s Week 1 44-21 blowout of Phoenix, he did occupy the Patriots’ attention all afternoon in Miami’s 20-7 win with eight catches (on 12 targets) for 94 yards. That helped distracted attention from game MVP Jaylen Waddle. Why? Because speed kills, which Bill B should have addressed in the off-season by trading for a proven ready-on-Day 1 home run hitter instead of drafting a maybe one in Round 2.

Hill will show us all why twice each year until at least 2026.

Jonathan Taylor: My friend the insurance mogul Dick Lombardi was right that I missed a lot by not paying attention when he was killing it in college at Wisconsin. My loss. After last season’s 1,811 rushing yards he’s 20 shy of 3,000 yards in two seasons and already has 29 TDs and averaged 5.3 a carry. He got off the same in Sunday’s 20-20 tie in Houston with 161 (5.2 per) and a TD. They (gulp) see him and Indy on Nov. 6.

The QBs: The Patriots defense will have its hands full as they face two guys drafted ahead of Mac Jones in 2021, along with three MVP contenders.

Zach Wilson and Justin Fields: Both were thoroughly outplayed by Mac in their rookie seasons. So besides rookie mistakes and dumb injuries, not much is on their resumes yet. Wilson is already hurt and expected to miss the Jets’ first month, But Fields got off nicely by beating fellow 2021 draftee Trey Lance by throwing for two scores in Chicago’s 19-10 upset of the ’49ers.

Lamar Jackson: He comes to Foxboro in Week 3. He’s an MVP winner once already, but took Baltimore’s sure playoff mid-season spot with him when he went out for the season in Week 12 last year. This is always the fear/risk when a QB’s game revolves around running as much as his does. But when he’s healthy, watch out, as his production as a runner is what makes him so dangerous and fun to watch.

Aaron Rodgers: Not a huge fan, but there’s no denying how good the reigning MVP is in the regular season. And now that the Green Bay brass caved to his “trade me or else” snit, they’ll see him in Week 4 at GB.

Josh Allen: All I can say about him is, I was right after being all in on him despite an up and down rookie year, and all the local media geniuses (Michael Felger, Tony Mazz and the Globe’s Ben Volin) mocking him as a bust during his early years were dead wrong. He’s a beast who crushed NE twice last year and who started the same way last Thursday night as Buffalo thumped the defending champs to give more credence to him as my pick for MVP.

Sean McVay: They won’t see him, but if you’re looking for who has the best chance to eventually pass Shula or Belichick’s final total, look no further. Hired at 31, he’s got an eight-year head start on Coach B and had 55 wins in his first five seasons to Coach B’s 36. He made his first SB in Year 3 and got his first SB win in Year 5. For BB both came in Year 7. Even his coaching tree is better. Zac Taylor got Cincy to the SB in Year 3 and Matt LaFleur is 39-10 in three years with GB while Bill’s assistants have mostly failed as head coaches.

Interestingly the guy with NFL best winning percentage (.759) also started at a really young age. John Madden was just 33 when Al Davis hired him to coach Oakland in 1969.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Email Dave Long at dlong@hippopress.com.

Rudy the Rudster author to release third book

Rudy 3: Change Can Be Good due out in mid-October

Portsmouth-based author Diane Robbins Jones discussed the upcoming third and final book in her Rudy the Rudster children’s series, Rudy 3: Change Can Be Good, available now for pre-order and expected to be released in mid-October. Visit rudytherudster.com.

What is your Rudy the Rudster series about?

cover for book - Rudy 3: Change Can be Good, showing illustration of woman patting horse's neck

It’s about Rudy, my real-life horse. I got him about seven and a half years ago. It was my first time owning a horse. I’d always loved them since I was a kid. I was taking riding lessons at a local stable, but I had no plans to own a horse at that moment. Things weren’t going particularly well for Rudy and his owner, and they were trying to find a new owner. Meanwhile, I had already noticed him … and connected with him. … When it became clear that his situation was a little bit in flux, I ended up leasing him for a few months. From there, after three months, they wanted to know if I’d make some kind of commitment, and I decided to buy him. I bought him for $1, which tells you quite a bit about how things were going with that situation.

What drew you to Rudy?

You can’t miss him. Yes, there’s a million chestnut horses, but Rudy is big, very charismatic, and he wants to engage with humans. … Poor Rudy hadn’t really been given all the things he needed to succeed. He started acting out, being angry, kicking in the stall walls and got rude with his human handlers. I thought he must just be upset that he doesn’t have a person to give him love and attention, so I started giving him love and attention. I felt like he was going to end up someplace bad if somebody didn’t step in and try to help them.

What led you to create a children’s book series about Rudy?

Rudy changed pretty much everything in my life, and all for the better. … I was in the financial services industry. To be completely honest, I really never had a plan to write children’s books. Writing a book had been on my bucket list for years, but a children’s book was not the kind of book I had in mind. It wasn’t until I started working with Rudy that this story started flowing through me. … Rudy had certain scars from his former life that we had to work through, and I thought that’s a lot like human life. A lot of kids go through stuff like that, kids who are adopted or in foster care or go through a divorce with their parents. So I thought Rudy’s story is going to be very relatable; why don’t I have him share all of his emotions and thoughts about what he’s going through? And maybe, when kids read this book with their parents, it’ll open up a conversation about how they feel.

What lessons can kids learn from Rudy?

Rudy is like all of us, with character flaws and shortcomings, but also with many gifts. There are many teachable human lessons about commitment, perseverance and how you’re going to feel fear from time to time, but Rudy faced a lot of his fears, so how can you overcome your fears? … The other part of it is trying to raise people’s awareness about what it means to be a horse owner. A horse is a huge commitment. If people get a dog and it doesn’t work out, they can bring it to the SPCA, and the same thing happens with horses, but with more dire consequences, since not a lot of people are in a position to care for these huge animals who cost a lot and need a lot of care. … Rudy and I try to educate kids about how horses operate and what they need and all the physiological stuff that goes on. [The books] have equine terms bolded, with a glossary in the back so kids can learn what that word means. In each book I also have 20 fun horse facts. You’d think I’d run out of horse facts, but there are millions; you could go on forever. … I’ve also partnered with a woman, Susan DiFelice, who has this really awesome website called allpony.com, which has all this great horse information. She created a section in her blog on the website called “Rudy’s Corner” where Rudy educates kids about equine practitioners, from vets to saddle fitters to massage therapists.

Are there any more books in your future?

This book wraps things up in the sense that Rudy and I are settled. It’s clear that Rudy has found his forever home, and he has advanced a lot and is able to do things he wouldn’t have done before. … There’s another book I’m thinking of writing that Rudy would still be in, but it will be a whole different thing. It may not even be a children’s book; it could be an adult book. Either way, Rudy has too big of a role in my life to be left out.

Featured photo: Diane Robbins Jones. Courtesy photo.

News & Notes 22/09/15

Omicron boosters

Covid booster vaccinations updated to protect against the omicron variant are now available in New Hampshire. According to a press release from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, the boosters, also known as bivalent doses, were recently authorized by the FDA and are recommended by the CDC for anyone age 12 or older who received their primary series of Covid vaccines or a booster dose at least two months ago. “These updated booster doses more closely align to the new Covid-19 omicron variant and [are] the most effective way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from Covid-19,” state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said in the release, adding that a “fall surge” of Covid infections is expected. Almost 56,000 doses have already arrived at health care provider offices, pharmacies and urgent care centers throughout the state, and 100,000 additional doses have been ordered. To find a booster vaccination location near you, contact your primary care physician or visit vaccines.gov.

Colleges prepare for monkeypox

The New Hampshire College and University Council, a consortium of 21 public and private institutions of higher education in the state, is working with institution leaders to prepare for an outbreak of monkeypox among student populations on campuses. According to a press release, New Hampshire colleges and universities are closely monitoring for updated information about monkeypox and are ready to respond to an outbreak according to the guidelines that the Centers for Disease Control issued for higher education institutions in late August. “We are working to share information and guidance available to both administrators and students, to ensure they understand what this virus is, how it is transmitted and ways in which it can be treated and prevented,” Debby Scire, president and CEO of the Council, said in the release. “Although we have no information that suggests we are facing an outbreak, just like the lessons of the pandemic have taught us, it is important to be prepared.” Congregate living environments, such as colleges and universities that offer on-campus housing, have an increased risk of a monkeypox outbreak, according to the CDC.

Behavioral and geriatric care ER

Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, a member of Dartmouth Health and New Hampshire’s only academic medical center, will open a newly constructed expansion of its emergency department to patients on Thursday, Sept. 15. According to a press release, the $7 million project, built over the course of 16 months, is focused on improving access to behavioral and geriatric health care. It includes nine new patient rooms, some of which feature enhanced safety elements for behavioral health patients that improve visibility and reduce risk of self-harm; space for a wider array of therapeutic interventions; greater privacy for communication with attorneys and the state court system; and a place for social activities for children and adolescents. Six of the new rooms have a window, which Christine T. Finn, M.D., a psychiatrist and director of Emergency Psychiatry Services at DHMC, said in the release is “critical for [behavioral health] patients who stay longer than a few hours” and beneficial for elderly behavioral health patients for whom a lack of natural light can contribute to increased confusion. Other additions include a treatment room with negative pressure capability for high-threat infection, a group therapy and activity room, a mass decontamination room and a single decontamination room.

Extra EZ-Pass Center

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation opened a temporary E-ZPass Walk In Center on the Spaulding Turnpike (Route 16) at Exit 16 in Rochester on Monday, Sept. 12, to help travelers prepare for the new 24-hour All Electronic Toll (AET), a cashless collection system, that will be implemented at Dover and Rochester toll plazas in late October. The Center is open Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with customer service representatives ready to help travelers open E-ZPass accounts, accept payments if money is owed and answer questions about the upcoming changes to the toll system. All New Hampshire toll plazas currently operate as AET between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Visit nhaet.com to learn more about AET and the conversion projects in Dover and Rochester.

Praise for Northeast Delta Dental

Northeast Delta Dental has been recognized by Business NH as one of the Best Companies to Work For in NH in 2022, placing sixth out of 30, and marking the fifth time in the last seven years that the company has received the recognition. A nonprofit member company of Delta Dental Plans Association, Northeast Delta Dental provides dental insurance programs for more than 1 million people living in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont. The company was awarded for creating an engaging workplace and for acknowledging the correlation between employees’ sense of fulfillment and their productivity, according to a press release.

Private movie showings are being offered for a limited time at O’neil Cinemas in Epping (24 Calef Hwy.), featuring new release films. Bookings are available Friday through Sunday at 12:30, 3:30 or 6:30 p.m., according to the website. Rates start at $200 for the theater rental, plus $9 per person. Party packages for groups of 10 or more people are also available. Visit oneilcinemas.com/epping-nh/programs/private-movie-showings.

Colby-Sawyer College in New London was recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top colleges in the region, according to a press release. In the publication’s 2023 Best Colleges issue, the college ranked in the top 10 for two categories — Best Undergraduate Teaching (North) and Best Regional College (North) —and ranked 23rd in Top Performers on Social Mobility (North). Colby-Sawyer President Susan D. Stuebner announced earlier this month that tuition at the college would be cut by more than 60 percent to $17,500 for the 2023 academic year in an effort to increase transparency in higher education pricing.

The Manchester Historic Association presented the Red Arrow Diner with its Century Club Award during the 30th annual Historic Preservation Awards on Sept. 8 at Manchester Community College, according to a press release. The 24-hour diner, on Lowell Street, was established in 1922, and is celebrating its 100th year of business this year. It was named a City Landmark in 2000. The diner has expanded to include locations in Concord, Londonderry and Nashua. Visit redarrowdiner.com/100.

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