A Week In Business

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Affordability Index Drops

ANNAPOLIS – What had been a hopeful trend in improved affordability for Maryland homeowners has been reversed in the second quarter of 2008. According to the Maryland Association of Realtors (MAR), the First Time Homebuyers Housing Affordability Index (HAI) dropped to 54.1 percent from the first quarter level of 56.4 percent last year. This means that first time homebuyers had only 54.1 percent of the income they needed to purchase the typical starter home in Maryland.

The decline in affordability was attributed to increases in the price of starter homes and interest rates. Despite a slow housing market, the average starter home price rose by 4.4 percent from the first quarter level of $242,260 to $252,842 in the second quarter. A ten basis point increase in mortgage interest rates, which rose from 6.52 to 6.22 percent, also pushed affordability down. A slight increase in first time homebuyer median household income, the third factor determining affordability, was not enough to offset the decline.

“Whatever gains in affordability we have seen since the fourth quarter os 2007 have been effectively erased in this most recent quarter,” said MAR President Carole Maclure. “The increase in starter home prices and mortgage rates mean an increase in the necessary monthly mortgage payment. Any increase in housing costs is a strain on the finances for families in Maryland.”

Maclure observed that event though the drop in affordability is disappointing, it is important to recognize that the second quarter index is still an improvement over the bleak 2007 average of 49.3 percent.

Shore’s Pilot Program Featured At Conference

BERLIN – The Children’s Regional Oral Health Consortium (CROC) pilot program was chosen to present a CROC seminar at the annual Nation Rural Health Association Conference (NRHA) in New Orleans, La.

The NRHA is a national nonprofit membership organization with more than 18,000 members. The association’s mission is to improve the health and    well-being of rural Americans and to provide leadership on rural health issues through advocacy, communications, education, research and leadership.

Dr. Scott Wolpin highlighted the dental needs of Eastern Shore rurally underserved children and the efforts made by the CROC program to increase access to care by creating the Cambridge Dental Clinic, the single dental facility in Dorchester County to care for Medical Assistance supported children and pregnant women, as well as, a hospital based program treating very young children with extensive dental decay needs. This hospital-based program prevents local families from having to travel up to three hours one way to get similar dental treatment.

Alexandra Hall RDH, coordinator of the program, discussed the CROC preventive outreach piece and the importance of containing the volume of patients needing dental treatment by education efforts that emphasize the infectious nature of Early Childhood Cavities. The preventive training focuses on two groups, first the pediatricians and family practice physicians that perform early screening, referrals and give essential preventive information at critical points in a baby’s development. Secondly, faith-based groups have been targeted as receptive audiences to learning preventive dental health information and spreading the preventive message. CROC, in an effort to extend access to care in public health settings, created a volunteer corps of dental professions to assist in extending access to care in public health venues such as school screenings and sealant Saturdays.

United Way Changes

SALISBURY – United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore recently announced that Assistant Director Lynn Huson will be leaving the organization after 11 successful years. Huson will be moving to her home state of North Carolina, where she will be closer to her aging parents.

“Deciding to leave our local United Way after 11 wonderful and memorable years was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make. While I will truly miss this community and everyone I have had the pleasure to work with over the years, I know that being closer to my parents is what I need to do,” Huson said.

During Huson’s 11-year tenure at United Way with Executive Director Kathleen Mommè, the organization has experienced tremendous growth. In 1998, the organization achieved its first-ever one million dollar campaign and has continued raising the bar every year. Last year’s campaign resulted in over $1.5 million and allowed for the funding of 51 local programs in 24 non-profit agencies.

“Working with Kathleen to build our local United Way, and to help people who are truly in need, has been an amazing experience. I cannot thank the local community enough for all of their tremendous support in helping us achieve such remarkable success,” Huson said.

Huson’s successor will be Daphne Bumbrey, who brings a wealth of non-profit and management experience to the local United Way.

Accreditation Earned

SALISBURY – The Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons has awarded accreditation with Commendation to the Peninsula Cancer Center at Peninsula Regional Medical Center.

Accreditation as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Program is an honor the Medical Center has received continuously since 1970. Receiving this further accreditation with Commendation shows that the Peninsula Cancer Center was able to demonstrate compliance with one or more standards that represent the full scope of the cancer program – cancer committee leadership, cancer data management, clinical services, research, community outreach and quality improvement. In a recent on-site evaluation, the Peninsula Cancer Center met all seven of these standards, a perfect score compared to the five of the seven standards it met in the last survey three years ago.

“Only one in four hospitals across the United States receive accreditation with Commendation,” said Thomas DeMarco, MD, Chairman of the Cancer Committee at Peninsula Regional. “This shows the quality of our comprehensive patient care and our commitment to providing the best in diagnosing and treating cancer, and the perfect score we’ve received speaks volumes about the expertise of our program and its dedicated team.”

PRMC Staff Announcements

SALISBURY – Peninsula Regional Medical Center recently made the following announcements.

William K. Woods, MD joined the Radiation Oncology department at Peninsula Regional Medical Center. He has joined Dr. Matthew Snyder, Medical Director of Radiation Oncology, in providing radiation oncology services at the Medical Center’s Peninsula Cancer Center.

Woods comes to Peninsula Regional from South Mississippi Associates in Radiation Therapy in Hattiesburg, Miss. He has 13 years of experience in radiation oncology and has extensive experience with current leading-edge techniques in radiation therapy. After graduating with honors from Princeton University, Woods received his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. He completed an internship in internal medicine at Englewood Hospital in New Jersey and a residency in radiation oncology at the University of California at Irvine.

James J. Tay, MD was recently granted active staff membership with clinical privileges in the Department of Anesthesiology at Peninsula Regional Medical Center.

Tay, a specialist in Anesthesiology, received his medical degree from De la Salle University College of Medicine in the Phillipines. He completed two residencies, one at Harrisburg Hospital in Harrisburg, Pa. and another at Pennsylvania State University’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa.

Tay has joined Associated Anesthesiology Practice, PA in Salisbury.

Rachel A. Schiming, MD was recently granted active staff membership with clinical privileges in the Department of Emergency Services at Peninsula Regional Medical Center.

Schiming, an Emergency Medicine specialist, received her medical degree from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She completed both her internship and residency training at East Carolina University School of Medicine in Greenville, N.C.

Schiming has joined Emergency Services Associates, PA in Salisbury and is currently providing emergency care in Peninsula Regional’s Robert T. Adkins, M.D. Emergency/Trauma Center.

Girl Scouts Appointment

SALISBURY – The Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay Council recently appointed Anne T. Hogan as Chief Executive Officer, upon outgoing CEO Judy Taggart’s retirement.

Hogan brings extensive executive, financial and customer service experience to the council. A Girl Scout member and volunteer for over 40 years, Hogan has held several positions in the organization, including troop leader, trainer, camp counselor and board member.

Food Bank Branch Gets Grant

SALISBURYThe Comcast Foundation has received a matching grant of $5,990 to the Maryland Food Bank-Salisbury Branch to help fight hunger on the Eastern Shore.

The matching grant is a made as a result of Comcast Cares Day at the Maryland Food Bank-Salisbury Branch. Nearly 180 volunteers from Comcast and the Food Bank banded together to prepare food and supplies for hungry people on the Eastern Shore.

“In May, we packed 24,000 pounds of salvage food, we made more than 1,000 packages for our Kids Café and snack pack programs and we painted 70 bowls for our ‘Empty Bowls’ campaign,” said Yvonne Terry, Maryland Food Bank-Salisbury Branch Manager. “We knew that the Comcast Foundation was planning to make a matching grant, but we did not expect it to be $6000. We’ll be able to put that money directly to work feeding people, the need has never been greater.”

R. Thomas Worley, Area Director of Government Relations for Comcast’s Bay Shore Group, notes, “This grant from The Comcast Foundation is in recognition of Comcast’s commitment to the communities where its customers and employees live and work. Since its founding in 1999, The Comcast Foundation has distributed more than $50 million in support of programs implemented locally in Comcast communities.”

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