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Nurses’ Appreciation Week

All the providers and leaders at Pentucket Medical Associates recognize the tireless work and dedication of all of our employees. Without them, we would not be able to provide the level of care that our patients have come to expect.

This is Nurses’ Appreciation Week and we have the opportunity to think about all the things our dedicated nursing staff does—and does very well!!!

The nurses at PMA are among the leaders of the health care team. On a personal level, they really know the patients and are part of the reason patients come to PMA for their health care. Every day, they help to arrange diagnostic testing, communicate test results, respond to a variety of patient inquiries and provide patient education. In addition, many of our nurses are in positions of leadership in our organization.

At PMA, we put patients first. The nursing staff exemplifies that standard. Perhaps caring for patients should be spelled N-U-R-S-E.

We appreciate all of our staff. This week we send a special message of thanks to our nursing staff.

Kenneth Adams, MD, FACC

Medical Director

Former Pediatric Patient Returns As Clinician

Briana Whalen, NP & Sherwood Lee, MD


Thinking back over four decades as a pediatrician, Dr. Sherwood Lee can only guess at the number of children who have been entrusted to his care. Some of the kids he saw in the early years of his practice are now grandparents of current patients.

On the whole, he reckons, the tally has to be in the tens of thousands. Yet of all those he has cared for, only one has returned as a clinician to work alongside him.

That former patient and current colleague is Briana Whalen, NP, now working with Dr. Lee and others in our busy Haverhill Pediatrics office, where she’s soaking up the art and science of caring for children.

Briana, who grew up in Haverhill, is the daughter of Bruce and Jennifer Franz. Following high school she attended Northeastern, earned her Master’s as a Family Nurse Practitioner, and before coming to Pentucket Medical in July of 2014 spent six years at a Mass General inpatient medical unit, where she cared for adults.

“Caring for the little guys,” Briana says, “is a big-time different world. It’s a lot different than working with adults. I am learning a lot from all of my colleagues.”

“I started my own schedule in February,” she adds. “I’m doing one physical an hour, and as I learn the ropes the pace is picking up. The support I’ve been getting here is amazing. It’s an ideal situation for someone like me.”

Dr. Lee sees a bright future for Briana.

“We’re hearing nothing but good things,” he says. “She has a good rapport with patients, and that’s very important in pediatrics where you have to develop a bond with not only the patients but the parents, in order to get information and to do the exam appropriately.

“It takes time,” he says. “I’ve always felt that 90 percent of what you need to know as a pediatrician you can learn in the first year or so of practice, but it takes 20 years more to learn the last 10 percent.”

Briana is focused, confident and hungry to learn. It’s clear she loves the challenge.

“Haverhill pediatrics is a big practice. It’s nice to see other people’s styles,” she says. “I come home at night and go online and read up on one thing that I’ve picked during the day to look into,” she says. “Harriet Lane, that’s the pediatric bible!”

There is no mistaking the pride in Dr. Lee’s voice as he talks about his former patient and new colleague, but when asked about it he deflects the question.

“My job as a pediatrician is to make sure they grow up healthy,” he says. “It’s really the parents that set the stage. “

Pentucket Medical Celebrates Walking Day!


We are proud to celebrate National Walking Day by kicking off the 4th annual Walking Challenge amongst the staff here at Pentucket Medical!

The Walking Challenge is a practice-wide event to get employees moving. There are approximately 10-20 teams each year that participate. Each team, comprised of 5 employees, is asked to select a team captain and a snappy name (these names are always very creative.) Each team member wears a pedometer and tracks the steps they take each week. The steps are then sent to HR and converted to miles. The miles are then plotted out on a map of the United States. There are certain checkpoints throughout the journey. At each check point a few fun facts are disclosed. A status report is then sent out weekly to highlight where teams are and to further motivate team progress.

The walking challenge was initially created to provide increased employee engagement and to promote a healthy lifestyle. People tend to get up and move more to increase their steps. There is friendly competition between the teams and even within each team.

In earlier years the winners was determined by the most miles walked as a team. Due to the varying levels of participation, (we want everyone to participate and feel they have a chance to win even if they don’t walk 10 miles a day) the winner is now determined by a drawing. Teams that consistently report their steps will be put into a drawing at the end of the challenge. The top 3 teams will win a prize. The prize is usually comprised of healthy snacks, water and other things. With all the health benefits to walking – everyone walks away a winner.

Research has shown that the benefits of walking and moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day can help you:

  • Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
  • Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Improve blood lipid profile
  • Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity
  • Enhance mental well being
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer
  • Reduce the risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes

There really are so many benefits for such a simple activity!

Making the Grade: Haverhill Office Meets Highest Standard For Patient-Centered Care

pentucket medical group awards

After many months of effort, Pentucket Medical has passed a milestone towards its goal of becoming a Patient Centered Medical Home.

With this week’s announcement that our Haverhill office has been awarded Level Three Accreditation by the National Council for Quality Assurance, (NCQA), we have proven that our systems, staff and workflows measure up to the highest standards of patient-centered outpatient treatment.

Pentucket Medical Chief Executive said that he felt “great pride and satisfaction” in announcing the accreditation.

“Level Three is the highest level achievable,” he said, “a huge accomplishment that took much effort, time, perseverance and dedication. Linda Persichetti immersed herself in this effort becoming our in-house expert on NCQA accreditation, and with that knowledge, provided the leadership necessary to bring this vision to reality. Linda was assisted by Kathy White and the Clinical and Support staffs in Haverhill, who despite having to maintain their ongoing workflows, completed all the required tasks as prescribed by the NCQA.

Those task involved thinking critically about nearly every detail of customer service, clinical operations and environment, said Linda Persichetti.

“To be honest, we had a lot of things in place,” she said “We were doing a lot that was needed, so some if was a matter of tweaking and then providing proof for the accreditors.

“But it also involved clinician trainings, reconfiguring exam rooms to the way individual doctors practice, making room in the schedule for sick visits, and documenting, documenting and documenting.

“The staff, the doctors were huge,” Linda said, praise that was echoed by John Sarro.

“I want to publically thank Linda for her leadership and tireless effort,” he said. “Kathy White for her management and determination, the Clinical Staff for its cooperation and patience and the support staff for their positive attitude and extreme effort, for achieving this prominent recognition. In addition, I would like to recognize Tony Fusco who provided invaluable technical and reporting support to the effort.”

Caught You Caring! North Andover Team Comes to Aid of Family in Need

Our Medical Assistants, who are the first to greet patients as they enter the clinical area, are great listeners who often hear the “story behind the story.”

A great example of this occurred last fall at our North Andover office, when a patient of Dr. Tatiana Scott’s came in on an unscheduled visit.

The man told Medical Assistant Yomaira Diaz-Alvarado that he needed new prescriptions, because his medications had been destroyed. The reason? A house fire, that had taken not only his medical supplies, but most of his family’s belongings as well. Yomaira immediately notified Dr. Scott, who reissued the prescriptions. And that same day, as word spread of the family’s plight, a plan began to take shape among the staff to help with the family’s larger problems.

Aware that a school supply drive was under way throughout the practice, our North Andover team contacted Human Resources and requested that their donations be used to supply the hurting family’s three children with things they would need for the school year. HR quickly said yes, and the staff made a list of everything that was needed for the children, two boys and a girl, ages nine to thirteen.

After the items were purchased, there was some difficulty immediately contacting the family, but the father soon returned for an appointment. He was surprised and very grateful, says Site Manager Alicia Harvey, when presented with reams of paper, high-end calculators, back packs, pens, and coloring supplies.

In recognizing the thoughtfulness of the North Andover staffers at our recent Awards Night, Pentucket CEO John Sarro applauded their empathy and generosity.

“This is what makes our practice different,” he said. “This is the Pentucket Way.”

Healing work and healing art

It’s not the funnest thing, having blood drawn, but if it must be, our lab in the basement of RiverWalk is as cheerful place as can be found for the purpose.

The staff there smile freely and no one’s grin is quicker these days than that of Vanny Sok, a phlebotomy team member and avid artist whose bold paintings hang in the lobby and throughout the procedure spaces.

Her canvasses are bright and geometric.

“I get my inspiration from all around me,” Vanny tells a visitor who asks about her work.

“She is also a newly minted American,” Don chimes in from the reception desk. “A new citizen, just a few weeks ago!”

Vanny beams, a bit lost for words.

She began painting ten years ago, and has lately taken a studio in an artist’s building on Western Avenue in her home town of Lowell. She has a gallery in her space where some of her work is available to purchase. She also gifts pieces to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

And for the last couple of months, some of her work has made the blood lab at RiverWalk an even cheerier place.

“A lot of people come and are scared,” Vanny says. “It takes their mind off of the procedure.”

Healing work and healing art.

Congratulations, Vanny Sok!

Pentucket Medical Laboratory Staff Spotlight: Linda Hamel

Ask Linda Hamel about Pentucket Medical and she answers in terms of family. Connection and loyalty resonate in the voice of this 36-year employee and manager of the diagnostic support staff.

“I arrived at Pentucket in October of 1976,” she says. “I started working in the Lab and was there for 23 years. I’d begun as a Medical Assistant, but once I’d done my externship rotation in the lab I knew that was the direction I wanted. Pat Souliotos brought me in and when she went on maternity leave she made me manager of the lab, which was a little intimidating because I had people with all kinds of college degrees in that field, and I didn’t have any, other than my medical assistant training, so I was surprised and flattered, but this has been the pattern.

“People here had faith in me and they trusted me.”

Those who work with her agree.

“She is not only a great manager, but a great mentor and friend,” says Renee Ward, a member of the Haverhill lab’s front line customer service team. “She makes coming to work every day enjoyable. I am very lucky to have her as my boss and as my friend.”

For nearly four decades, Pentucket has been a constant in Linda’s life. Even when she left the area for a couple of years to, as she puts it, “pursue a dream,” Pentucket was never far from her thoughts. And when she was ready to return, the practice happily welcomed her back.

As Pentucket grew in the 1980s, so did Linda’s role in the lab. Simultaneously, she handled all of the practice’s purchasing, until that became a new full-time position.

“Every Thursday afternoon I did purchasing,” she says. “It gave me a great overview of the whole practice. I was lab manager for five of those years, until you needed a certificate or letters after your name. I didn’t have them so I came out front and managed check-in for the diagnostic center and for the lab, plus purchasing.

“In 1998 I thought I’d try something different and when I moved back to this area, I reached out to Lorraine (Amerault) and Ruth (Pothier) and said, ‘whoever is the first one to offer me a job, I’m there.’ ”

So it was that Linda, who’d “never seen a claims form before”, took over Medicaid billing, and soon was “fighting for every dollar… the rates seem really high, but the doctors get reimbursed so little.”

Linda worked in the business office for ten years.

“They are a solid core of people,” she says. “Even though you don’t see them every day, they are a big part of what makes us strong. They are all incredible, and it starts with John (Sarro). We were his family. He set goals for us and we would meet them and he’d set them a little bit higher and we’d meet them again.”

“In 2010 Dwayne (Garland) told me that my old job in diagnostics was available, so I have come full circle and hope to retire from this position.

“I feel incredibly faithful to the company because I feel it’s a family.”

On behalf of all those at Pentucket Medical, we are grateful to Linda Hamel for her many years of loyalty and dedication. She is certainly an integral part of the Pentucket family.

Use the Review button below if you’d like to post a message for Linda!


Pentucket Staff Spotlight: Nancy Niccolini, LPN

Having worked nearly 36 years at Pentucket Medical, Nancy Niccolini is easily one of the longest-serving nurses in our practice. A native of Haverhill’s Bradford area, Nancy joined Pentucket in 1978, just one week ahead a young gastroenterologist named Dr. Tom Fazio, now President of Pentucket Medical.

“I was his first nurse,” she says. “I got here a week before he did, and I’d never worked in an office before, having come over from the old Hale Hospital. The girls who worked with me were very nice and patient. This was up on Summer Street. In those days we were small and everyone knew everyone.”

“There were no computers in those days,” she adds. “Everything was written on paper. The first computer I ever touched was here [at Pentucket]. I was terrified!”

Today Nancy, an LPN, is a key player in Pentucket Medical’s ever busy Merrimack Valley Endoscopy Center.

“I’m a staff nurse,” she says, “and I wear a lot of hats, from phones and call backs to admitting patients, doing the recovery – whatever is needed. A few years ago I started going into the procedure rooms, which is nice. I’m the only LPN down there, all the rest are RNs. There’s always something different and new.”

Another thing that makes Nancy happy is her team of colleagues. “I love the people I work with. We are a team,” she says. “And working in Endo is a little bit like working in a hospital. I enjoy the interaction and learning, which is constant. It’s clinical, which I really like.”

At a recent employee appreciation dinner, Nancy was presented with a longevity award for 35 years of service at Pentucket Medical. Dr. Fazio spoke for all of Pentucket when he thanked her for her hard work and dedication for all these years. Pentucket Medical is lucky to have a nurse like Nancy Niccolini!