Monday, August 30, 2010
Enjoy life with a healthy heart
Cardiovascular disease and stroke are America’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers, and along with all other cardiovascular diseases they claim nearly 870,000 lives a year.
Cholesterol is a well known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. There are different types of cholesterol that can be measured by a blood test, and if needed treatment can include diet, exercise and medications.
Learn more about controlling your cholesterol at the Enjoy LIFE (Lifelong Investment in Fitness and Exercise) program this month.
Cardiologist Dr. Michael Fucci of Cardiology Associates in Norwich and at the Plainfield Backus Health Center will present “Healthy Hearts and Cholesterol: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” on Thursday, Sept. 9, from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Plainfield Recreation Center.
The event is part of the ongoing Enjoy LIFE series, a partnership between Backus Hospital and the Plainfield Recreation Department to improve the health of eastern Connecticut residents.
Another upcoming event related to heart disease is the American Heart Association’s annual Heart Walk on Oct. 3 at 9 a.m. at Rocky Neck State Park in Niantic. People can get exercise while also raising awareness and money for research.
In addition to the walk, the event includes a health fair, free screenings from the Backus Mobile Health Resource Center, free lunch and entertainment. Participants can choose between a 2-mile or a 5-kilometer walking route.
To sign up to walk on the Backus Hospital team, call Shawn Mawhiney, Director of Communications at Backus, at 889-8331, ext. 2312 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
By participating in either one of these events, you can help in the fight against heart disease and stroke.
Alice Facente is a registered nurse and clinical educator with the The William W. Backus Hospital Education Department. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
School's in — and so are the germs
With students in close quarters, the odds of spreading germs are high. Droplets from sneezing or coughing can spread germs in a 3-foot radius.
To prevent the spread of colds and flu, parents should encourage children to use hand hygiene by covering their nose and mouth with the crook of their arm while coughing or sneezing, and to wash their hands if needed.
There are other ways to combat the spread of colds and flu as well. Parents may want to provide a hand sanitizer for children to keep with them to use after coughing or blowing their nose, or touching surfaces at school.
But even the best hygiene practices might not stop your children from getting sick. To prevent the spread of illness, parents should keep their kids home if they have a fever, body aches, vomiting or diarrhea.
Due to safety concerns with inappropriate dosing with over-the-counter cold medicines, parents should speak to their pediatricians before administering cold medicine. Rest and fluids are great for colds and flu, and fever reducers may be used.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending the flu vaccine for everyone ages 6 months and older this year. The 2010-11 flu vaccine will protect against three different flu viruses: an H3N1 virus, an influenza B virus and the H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season. Most people will only need one shot this year, except for children who may not have been vaccinated last year.
Most adults can infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than seven days. Symptoms start one to four days after the virus enters the body.
Flu vaccinations will be available at the Backus health centers and pediatricians’ offices, usually starting in October. Parents should check with their pediatrician to make sure all their children’s vaccinations are up to date.
It’s hard to tell how severe the flu season will be this year, and some of it is out of our control. But taking the necessary precautions can limit the chances of a severe outbreak.
Pam Harazim is a nurse epidemiologist at The William W. Backus Hospital. This column should not replace advice from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Ms. Harazim or any of the Healthy Living columnists at email@example.com
Monday, August 16, 2010
Diverse community means bridging the communication gap in healthcare
So how does that impact the care of patients at Backus Hospital? Language barriers and cultural differences present a significant challenge to the delivery of healthcare.
Not understanding the language can cause significant harm if a patient does not understand the discharge medications instructions. To illustrate this point, my family loves to travel. If we were vacationing in Russia and I became ill and hospitalized, how would I understand my discharge instructions for care or read the medicine bottle labels if they were written in Russian? How frightening it would be to be sick or injured and not understand what the healthcare providers are saying and doing!
So what is Backus Hospital doing to meet the challenge of providing culturally competent care to this increasingly diverse patient population?
First, we have two certified medical translation services in place: Cyracom phone interpreter service, where a dual handset phone device is brought to the bedside, and there is a three-way conversation – the healthcare provider, the patient, and the certified medical interpreter.
The other service is MARTTI (My Access to Real-Time Trusted Interpreter) a two-way visual interpreter service. Both are immediately accessible 24 hours a day, and interpreters of over 100 languages are available. These two services have literally become life-savers and help avoid serious miscommunications.
Second, we have established a Cultural Diversity Council, comprised of 13 hospital staff members. The mission of the Council is to be a resource to address issues that arise and to provide education to the staff and community about customs, health beliefs, and practices of the different cultural groups we serve. Adapting to different beliefs and practices requires flexibility, a willingness to learn, and a respect for other viewpoints.
Third, we are hosting a Multicultural Health Fair called “Connecting with Cultures” that will be held on Thursday, Sept. 30, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the entry level conference rooms at the hospital.
This promises to be a fun and fascinating event, open to everyone in the community. There will be representatives from more than 20 cultures, with informational handouts on healthcare customs and recipes, and interesting displays at each table.
We are seeking volunteer representatives to sit at the tables for 2-hour shifts during the fair. For information or to volunteer to represent your culture, please call (860) 889-8331, ext 2495.
Alice Facente is a registered nurse and clinical educator with the Backus Education Department. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, August 09, 2010
What you need to know before leaving the hospital
Good news: You are ready to go home from the hospital. The doctor talks to you about how you are doing, the medications you will be taking and who to make follow-up appointments with.
Next the nurse comes in. She gives more instructions, including a list of medications. You get dressed and go home, probably tired and still not feeling 100 percent, and you think “What now?”
Now you have to remember all of the information you were provided before you left the hospital. What was my diagnosis? How often do I take the new medication? Do I take it with food, or before I eat?
Discharge instructions are vitally important when you leave the hospital. They are the moment of transition, when your healthcare provider places your health back into your hands.
The goal is to make sure that you have all of the information needed to make a successful transition.
This may seem like an easy task. Can’t it all just be written down? Writing it down does help. But, the information has to be written so it makes sense to you, is legible and not too long.
Another thing that helps is to use the buddy system. A friend or family member who also hears the information can help fill in details later.
At Backus Hospital, we have been working as a team to improve our discharge instructions. Research shows that patients who take medications as prescribed, have follow-up appointments, and know how to manage their illnesses are less likely to return to the hospital.
That’s why patients should play an active role in their healthcare. Here are some things to make sure you have before leaving the hospital:
• Legible discharge instructions.
• A list of medications, and how often to take them.
• A list of symptoms that mean you should return to the hospital or call a healthcare provider.
• Contact information for follow-up visits and questions.
It’s hard to design a process that works well for everyone. I like bullet points, others like detailed paragraphs, some people do better with pictures. The most important thing is to make sure to understand the instructions, and if not, know who to call with questions.
Bonnie Thompson, an advanced practice nurse, is Administrative Director of Organizational Excellence at The William W. Backus Hospital. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Ms. Thompson or any of the Healthy Living columnists at email@example.com