News & Events

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!


Medical Laboratory Professionals Week

Category: Laboratory News

Pentucket Medical wishes to acknowledge our lab staff during Medical Laboratory Professionals week. Since they work behind the scenes, few people know about the critical testing they perform every day. Lab Week is a time to honor the more than 300,000 medical laboratory professionals around the country who perform and interpret more than 10 billion laboratory tests in the US every year.

Interesting facts about our lab at Pentucket Medical:

  • In 2013, Pentucket Medical Lab Technologists performed and interpreted roughly 2.2 million lab tests.
  • Pentucket Medical Lab Technologists on staff have an average of 23 years experience and have been with Pentucket Medical for over 16 years!



Child Neglect: The Facts

Category: Pediatrics

Child neglect is a serious issue in the United States. Within the past year, more than 550,000 cases have been reported and the number continues to grow each year.

What is Child Neglect?

Child neglect is a form of child abuse referring to when a parent or legal guardian fails to provide children with adequate care for their basic needs, such as:

  • Educational Needs – Not allowing or failing to provide a child with an education.
  • Medical Needs – Not taking a child in for check ups or not providing care to sick children
  • Emotional Needs – Not providing emotional support to children or verbally abusing children.
  • Physical Needs – Not providing children with food or shelter

Statistics about Child Neglect

Did you know?

  • A report of child neglect is made every ten seconds
  • More than four children die daily due to child neglect
  • Approximately one-third of child neglect cases are a result of substance abuse problems
  • Seventy percent of children who die from child neglect are under the age of four

If you know of someone suffering from child abuse or neglect, contact your local officials immediately.



U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2013). Child Maltreatment 2012. Available from

United States Government Accountability Office, 2011. Child maltreatment: strengthening national data on child fatalities could aid in prevention (GAO-11-599). Retrieved from


Signs of Child Abuse

Category: Pediatrics

We are all aware, unfortunately, that some children experience violence and other maltreatment at the hands of those who should be caring for them.  How can you help?  Observe, trust your instincts that something seems wrong, and tell the appropriate people.

Most abusers are members of the child’s own family or household.  Certain childhood behaviors are common triggers for abuse because they make parents feel frustrated.  The most common trigger is crying, which is something all babies and children do, of course, but can easily frustrate caregivers who cannot determine what’s wrong nor how to help the child stop.  Pediatric providers often counsel parents at well-child visits by describing behavior that is typical for their child’s age, because having realistic expectations for a child at each stage of development may help reduce the parents’ stress and therefore they can respond differently to the many challenging situations of parenting.

Possible signs of child abuse:

  • Scars, burns, or bruises that occur in locations or patterns on the body that seem unusual or inconsistent with the explanation of how the injury occurred
  • An injury for which the parent’s and child’s descriptions do not match, keep changing, or seem vague, or when the parent or child appears anxious about explaining
  • An injury for which a parent’s description of events does not match a child’s physical or developmental capabilities
  • Evidence of repeated injuries, such as multiple bruises that are in different stages of healing, especially on a body part that is typically covered by clothing
  • An injury that took place because a child was left unsupervised
  • A child who displays fear of a caregiver

What to do if you suspect abuse:

If you notice any of the above signs, you do not need further “proof” that your suspicion is correct before taking action.  You may report your concern to the Child-At-Risk hotline at 1-800-792-5200. (This report is confidential, so you will not be identified as the reporter in the process of investigating the family, and you will not be informed of the outcome.)  You provide whatever information you have and a representative from the Department of Children and Families office that serves the child’s area will start evaluating the situation to determine what resources the child and family might need.


COSTS of Child Abuse in the U.S.

Category: Pediatrics

Child abuse continues to be a problem in the U.S. and occurs at every socioeconomic level, across all cultural lines, and within all levels of education.  Child abuse comes in many forms: neglect—not meeting the basic needs of the child, physical abuse, sexual abuse and psychological abuse.  Kids who are abused are much more likely to abuse drugs/alcohol as teens and adults, experience teen pregnancy and risky sexual behavior. This puts them at greater risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases, developing a psychological disorder, engaging in criminal behavior and abusing their own children.

Child abuse stats:

  • More than 4 children die every day as a result of child abuse
  • The estimated financial cost of child abuse and neglect in the US is over $150 billion each year
  • 14% of men and 36% women in prison were abused as children—twice the frequency seen in the general population
  • Kids who have been abused are 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activity
  • Abused children are 25% more likely to get pregnant as a teenager
  • Over 60% of all people in treatment for drug abuse report being abused or neglected as children
  • Teens who were abused or neglected are 3 times more likely to have a substance use disorder before they turn 18
  • About 80% of 21-year-olds who were abused as kids have a psychological disorder


Choosing Healthy Fats

Quick tips to choosing healthier fats

Choosing foods with healthy fats is an important part of everyone’s diet. Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats can help to reduce your risk of heart disease. What are saturated fats and where are they found?

Saturated fats are found in animal products. Most people remember the beef, pork, lamb, eggs and processed fatty meats like sausage and bacon, but often forgotten are dairy products- milk, cheese, sour cream, cheese and cream cheese, yogurt, butter and solid fats. Saturated fats are known to increase LDL (low density lipoproteins) that can increase your risk for developing heart disease. Tips below can help you improve the type of fat in your diet and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Use liquid plant oils for cooking and baking

Plant based oils such as olive and canola oil are rich in heart healthy unsaturated fats. Try dressing up a salad or roasted vegetables with an olive-oil based vinaigrette.

Ditch the Trans Fat

When grocery shopping, reading food labels will help you find foods that are trans fat free. Look for the “0” under total fat, and read the ingredient label for the words “partially hydrogenated oil”. Most manufacturers have removed trans fats from their products due to a law from 2006 requiring them to list the trans fats on their food labels. There are still food products in markets where trans fats are used to enhance food flavor, so vigilance is still needed to keep your intake of trans fats close to zero each day. In restaurants that don’t provide nutritional labeling, it is best to avoid fried foods, biscuits, and baked goods and desserts. Many restaurants are attempting to provide this information to their patrons, but it best to steer clear unless you know that the restaurant has eliminated trans fats from their inventory.

Switch from Butter to soft-tub margarine

Choose a product that has zero grams of trans fat and read the ingredient list to make sure it doesn’t have partially hydrogenated oils. Use a plant based oil whenever possible; refrigerated extra-virgin olive oil makes a great spread for toast!

Eat at least one good source of  Omega-3 fats each day

Current research shows that omega-3s lower the risk of heart disease and may also help depression, diabetes and other chronic conditions. These healthy fats are being added to everything from eggs to peanut butter. You can also get them naturally in salmon or tuna, or from fresh, oily fish. The fatty fish, walnuts and canola oil all provide omega-3 acids, essential fats that our body cannot make.

Cut back on red meat, cheese, whole milk and ice cream

Red meats (beef, pork and lamb) and whole fat dairy products are high in saturated fat. Eating less red meat, especially processed red meat such as bacon, and choosing fish, chicken, nuts or beans is an important change to make to reduce the risk of heart disease. If you do choose to eat red meat, choose lean cuts and keep the portions in control. Low fat and reduced fat cheeses are available, but they’re not always so low in fat, and they are often higher in sodium. If choosing cheese, select the one you like, watch the portion and savor the flavor. Low fat or non-fat dairy- milk and yogurt, is better than whole fat choices, and depending on the amount you consume, it might not make a difference.

As you choose foods with healthy fats, and limit the saturated and trans fats in your diet, remember to not replace the saturated fats with refined carbohydrate foods as these can cause weight gain and will not protect your heart, and may increase your risk of developing heart disease.


Physical Activity as a Family

Children and adults need 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day to achieve a healthy weight and prevent a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer and stroke. If you or your child is trying to lose weight, getting this activity is essential. Breaking the activity up into 15 minute chunks throughout the day has the same benefits as doing it all at once but can be easier to achieve. Weave fun activities into your day to get exercise while creating a bond with your kids.

Ways to get physically active with your family:

  • Try a new physical activity together as a family such as skiing, rock climbing, tennis, or canoeing.
  • Go for a bike ride or walk after a family meal.
  • Choose physical family activities such as bowling, miniature golf or laser tag over movies and TV.
  • Go ice skating year round – check out your local indoor skating rink.
  • Enjoy an amusement or water park.
  • Rake leaves and jump into the leaf piles!
  • Encourage children to join a sports team.
  • Give children toys that encourage physical activity like balls, kites, hula hoops, Frisbee and jump ropes.
  • Help kids plan neighborhood games of tag, hide and seek, or touch football.
  • Limit screen time to two hours per day and keep the TV out of the bedroom.
  • Plant a vegetable garden. Planting and maintaining a garden encourages physical activity and kids love to eat the veggies they grow!

Once you get your family moving, remember to drink plenty of zero calorie water before, during and after activities.



8 Rules for Living Well

1. Limit sugar, salt and saturated fats (the kind that’s solid at room temperature).

Reduce those three “S’s,” Diets high in these foods lead to obesity, fatigue and poor health.

2. Watch out for “portion distortion.”

Try to keep servings at a sensible size.

The ideal meal plate has one-half of the plate devoted to vegetables and fruit; one-fourth of the plate to proteins (ideally the protein is baked, broiled or grilled) and one-fourth of the plate to starches, either whole-grain starches or such starchy vegetables as peas, potatoes and corn.

3. No more “happy plates.”

Stop telling yourself you have to clean your plate.

Be aware, too, that stress and negative emotions can trigger “emotional eating.” Is your stomach really growling? Is there an empty feeling there? If not, take a walk, call a friend, clean a closet, write a letter or pick up a book. And try to keep comfort foods out of your house!

4. Don’t forget the veggies.

Try to incorporate vegetables at lunch and at dinner and in one snack every day. Vegetables are very high in vitamins and minerals, and low in carbohydrates, contain fiber,  a small amount of protein and no fat. Adding more non-starchy vegetables to meals and at snacks can help you feel full with little calories, no sodium, and no fat if not added.

5. Always add protein.

Protein provides valuable iron and has the advantage of helping diners feel full. Try to get 4 ounces (for women) to 6 ounces (for men) of protein at every meal (with 1 ounce being about the size of a golf ball).

Sources include beef, pork, chicken, seafood, eggs, beans, peanut butter and dairy products (low-fat versions are best); Fat-free Greek yogurt is a good high-protein choice for meals or snacks.


6. Make an exercise plan.

Try to fit more activity into the day, aiming for at least 30 minutes (the time can be broken up into intervals of at least 10 minutes) of moderate to vigorous exercise each day. Start slowly if not currently exercising, and work up to the goal of 30 minutes/day.

Alternating days of cardio and  resistance training helps to make sure all your muscle groups are being worked, and gives others time to rest.

7. Stay hydrated.

It’s recommended that people drink 64 ounces, eight cups, of water a day. However, most people only get 16 to 32 ounces daily.  A nice side-effect of being adequately hydrated: a feeling of fullness.

In a recent study, people who drank a large glass of water before their meal ate 75 calories less and lost about 14 pounds a year, from that alone.

8. Live it. Don’t diet.

Don’t consider healthy lifestyle changes to be temporary or just for the moment. Create healthy patterns for life!!









Simple Ways to Cut Calories

“Slow hands” with the salad dressing, mayonnaise and sauces:

  • 2 tablespoons of regular Ranch-type salad dressing contains close to 140 calories
  • ½ cup Alfredo sauce contains up to 300 calories
  • ½ cup of red pasta type sauce adds about 80 calories

While light versions can reduce total calories, be aware that they can still contain a lot of calories in a small portion.  Measuring cups and spoons might be a helpful tool!

Be picky with your proteins!

  • -Sausages, pepperoni, hot dogs, spare ribs, bacon and bologna are all high-fat, high-protein foods and contain upwards of 300 calories for a 2 ounce serving, or about the size of a small sausage link.

Better choices to save calories would include chicken, fish, turkey, lean beef, Canadian bacon and ham.  Consider too, plant proteins like kidney beans, lentils and soy based products.

Skip (slow down) the snacking!

  • -The average “snacker” puts away 300-600 calories per snack.

Typically, snack foods chosen are often high in calories, hydrogenated (bad) fats and sodium. The body will work better if given a 3-4 hour break from food. Breaks allow the stomach and the brain to signal each other better. Include them if you are truly feeling hunger or if a meal is delayed to prevent overeating at the next meal. Choose lean protein, raw vegetables, small amounts of nuts or a small piece of fruit.

Push away the pasta and rice!

  • 1 cup of cooked rice or pasta (about a cereal bowl filled halfway),  without oil or sauces added sets you back up to 250 calories.

Use 100% whole grain versions to add fiber. Additionally toss in vegetables like onions, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli to increase volume and help control calories.


Shy away from shoveling your food!

  • Try the  “4 bite rule

Usually, the first and last bites of food are the tastiest. Eat slowly, taking time to enjoy the texture and taste of the food. The decreased stress and improvements in brain-stomach messaging help cut total calories over time.

Sip wisely!

  • Flavored coffees can add up to over 500 calories for 24 ounces.

Start by ordering smaller sizes; consider asking for less syrup; add less cream, milk and sugar.  Look for coffee and tea that is flavored without added calories.