Health Page: Alzheimer’s Family Support Center Offers Free Groups

By: Cape Cod Chronicle

The Alzheimer’s Family Support Center of Cape Cod is offering free support groups for people with early-stage Alzheimer’s/dementia disease and their caregivers. COURTESY PHOTO

The Alzheimer’s Family Support Center of Cape Cod is offering new free support groups for people with MCI or early-stage Alzheimer’s/dementia disease, and for their caregivers. The groups, which run simultaneously, will take place on the Cape Cod Hospital campus every third Tuesday of the month from 5:30 to 7 p.m. People with MCI will meet in the Cape Cod Medical Center Board Room, while caregivers meet in the Cape Cod Five B Conference Room. These groups are free and open to the public, and are part of an ongoing conversation between the AFSC and Cape Cod Healthcare, whose recent 2017-2019 Community Health Needs Assessment cites the needs of the Alzheimer’s/dementia community as immediate, primary concerns on Cape Cod.
Early-stage groups are facilitated by AFSC Clinical Director Vaughn Harding. Since they began providing service two years ago, the AFSC has been fielding an increasing number of calls from people who have recently been diagnosed. Says Harding, “We know that the earlier we provide support and care, the better people fare. The goal is to help people find ways to cope, and to delay the progression of symptoms. Most significantly, these groups provide an environment for emotional support with peers.”

Caregiver groups are facilitated by Cathy Pastva, facilitator of the Schwartz Center Compassionate Care Rounds at Falmouth Hospital, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and Spaulding Rehab – Cape Cod.

Like all services provided by the AFSC, these support groups are free and open to the public, and are fully confidential according to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). For more information about joining a group, or about any of our free services, call 508-896-5170, email, or visit

Video Highlights Dangers Of HPV

Team Maureen, a community non-profit organization dedicated to education and prevention of cervical cancer and human papillomavirus (HPV), has produced a video promoting awareness of the vaccine to prevent the infection.

The video, sponsored by Cape Cod Healthcare through its Community Benefits program and the CCHC Cancer Committee, depicts how prevention through vaccination can help people avoid the long-term and potentially deadly effects of HPV infection.

About 80 million Americans are infected with HPV, making it the most common sexually transmitted infections in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 80 percent of sexually active men and women will have HPV in their lifetimes.

In women, up to 96 percent of cervical cancers are caused by HPV, but it’s not just women for whom this virus can be dangerous. Cancers of the penis in men, and the mouth, throat and soft palate in both men and women have been linked to HPV, and 93 percent of cancer of the anus is linked to the virus, as well. These cancers can show up many years after the original infection.

The HPV vaccine, which is given during your teens, has cut HPV infections among teenage girls by 64 percent in the 10 years that the HPV vaccine has been available, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite this positive news, less than 50 percent of teens are being immunized. Nationwide, four in every 10 girls and six of every 10 boys are unvaccinated against HPV, according to Team Maureen.

Highlighting the stories of three Cape residents, the new video shows the devastating effects HPV can have on people’s lives and strives to bring awareness to the importance of the vaccine. To watch the video and learn more about HPV and Team Maureen, visit

Cape Cod Healthcare Bond Rating Upgraded

Fitch Ratings has upgraded its rating of Cape Cod Healthcare to A from its previous rating of A-. The Rating Outlook is “Stable,” according to the credit rating agency.

“The upgrade of the rating to A from A- reflects CCHC’s continued solid financial performance over the last four years, solid coverage of debt and low leverage, as well as continually improving liquidity, with metrics now largely consistent with Fitch’s A category medians,” the agency said in its announcement of the upgrade.

Fitch Ratings is an international credit rating agency based in New York City and London. Fellow international credit rating company, Standard & Poor’s, has rated CCHC A for the last two years.

“We are honored to be recognized by Fitch for our strong financial performance,” said CCHC Chief Financial Officer Michael L. Connors. “The upgrade is recognition of the hard work by everyone within the Cape Cod Healthcare system – from our physicians and staff, to our administration and board.”

Cape Cod Healthcare is the parent company of Cape Cod Hospital, Falmouth Hospital, the Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod, Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation, Emerald Physicians and Medical Affiliates of Cape Cod, five outpatient centers, a skilled nursing facility, and laboratory services, as well as several other programs and facilities.

In its announcement of the rating upgrade, Fitch noted as a “key credit strength” CCHC’s status as a sole community provider, “garnering dominant market share consistently above 70 percent in its primary service area.”

Fitch also listed as its reason for the rating upgrade its belief that “CCHC’s strong physician alignment, investment in primary care coverage in its service area, which now includes four urgent care centers, and continued development of clinical affiliations will help maintain its strong market presence.”

CCHC last year continued its strategic expansion of ambulatory services into the Cape Cod community, in order to increase accessibility to crucial healthcare services for Cape Cod residents and visitors, said Connors. Notable in the last year were the addition of two new Urgent Care Centers in Hyannis and Falmouth, joining Urgent Care Centers in Harwich and Sandwich; and new public pharmacies at Cape Cod Hospital, Fontaine Outpatient Center, Stoneman Outpatient Center, and another opening soon at Falmouth Hospital.