Monday, October 25, 2010
Healthcare is a complex but rewarding profession
Hospitals spend a tremendous amount of time talking about quality improvement, or how we can take the best care of our patients. Time is spent monitoring patient outcomes, reviewing data, looking at how care is delivered, dissecting processes and educating staff. All of these activities are undertaken with one central theme in mind — to make sure that we are keeping our patients safe, while we deliver high quality and efficient care.
Patients see evidence of these activities as soon as they arrive at the hospital. They may see a kiosk with masks and hand sanitizer in the entry to encourage patients, families and visitors to help prevent diseases from spreading. Signs alert staff about patients who are vulnerable for falls and pressure sores. Posters remind us to make sure we know what medications patients are getting, and why. And behind the scenes, real-time improvement initiatives are major parts of our daily routines.
Real improvement requires a team effort. For example, say a hospital decides to start using a new type of wound dressing because research shows it helps wounds heal better and faster. First we must make sure it is available in all of the areas where it is needed, then we have to make sure the nursing staff knows when and how to use it. Physicians may need education so they understand when to order this type of dressing. And, finally, patients’ outcomes (did they heal faster?) need to be measured to make sure the product is working as expected.
Last week we took a moment to celebrate, and now it is time to get back to work. Our commitment to the community is continued improvement. Working together to provide excellent care is a complex process — and a great privilege.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
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Cold symptoms might instead be allergies
Sounds like the common cold, right?
Maybe not. It could very well be allergies.
While many people think of spring as the time for allergies, fall can be just as bad, depending on what you are allergic to.
While sometimes it is hard to tell whether it is a cold or allergies, the distinction is important.
Parents need to know which malady their children suffer from, because they are treated differently.
There are some ways to tell the difference between colds and allergies. They include:
• Colds usually get better in two weeks or less, while allergies can last much longer.
• If you notice your child has symptoms until the weather gets cold, that is a sign of allergies.
• Runny noses from colds often turn yellow or green after a few days, while allergy mucus usually stays clear.
• If no one else in the household gets sick, that is a sign of allergies.
The good news is it often possible to identify the triggers that cause allergies by recalling the factors that precede symptoms; noting the time at which symptoms begin; and examining a person's home, work, and school environments. Skin tests may be useful for people whose symptoms are not well controlled with medications and in whom the offending allergen is not obvious.
Treatment includes reducing a person's exposure to known allergens or other triggers.
Several different classes of drugs are available to control symptoms of allergies. The severity of symptoms and personal preferences usually guide the selection of specific drugs. Consult with your doctor about these options.
Immunotherapy (desensitization therapy) refers to injections that are given to desensitize a person to known allergens (also known as allergy shots). This therapy is effective for only certain types of allergens, and is both expensive and time-consuming.
Use of nasal steroids ahead of season changes can also be an effective treatment.
I cannot count how many times I have heard “I have had a cold for a month.” This is usually not the case — it is more likely allergies. But anytime you children have persistent symptoms they should see a doctor.
Ravi Prakash, MD, is a pediatrician on the Backus Medical Staff with a private pediatric office in Norwich. 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 Dr. Prakash or any of the Healthy Living columnists at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, October 11, 2010
There is help for those who have experienced miscarriage or sudden infant death
It may seem like you are on an island, all alone.
But that is far from the case. In fact, one in three pregnancies ends in this tragic way.
To bring attention to this startling statistic, and highlight the support and resources available to those who find themselves in these heartbreaking situations, Remembrance Day is held each year.
On Friday, Oct. 15, a wave of light will gently brighten our world to remember the babies we have lost in pregnancy or early infancy. All who have experienced this loss around the world are invited to light a candle at 7 p.m. for one hour to ensure that these angels are not forgotten.
Locally, support can be found at the monthly Angels Remembered Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Group meeting held at The William W. Backus Hospital. Here, women and men can find a safe place to share their grief as well as their stories of hope and healing surrounding their own experiences of pregnancy or infant loss. Also discussed are various coping strategies and meaningful activities that can facilitate the healing process.
The group is held the second Tuesday of each month from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Medical Office Building (MOB) conference room located on the first floor. For more information call (860) 889-8331, ext. 4239.
As a Backus social worker, I moderate the group and see firsthand how it helps.
I have also seen the other side, where the grief associated with the loss of a child during pregnancy or in infancy can linger and cause long-term mental health issues.
Remembrance Day is one way to help grieve and heal. So is the support group, where you can learn that you are not alone, or that just because you had one miscarriage doesn’t mean you will have another.
Or, just remembering helps. Please join me this Remembrance Day to support or friends, neighbors and loved ones.
Elynor Carey is a social worker in the Backus Hospital Care Management 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. Carey or any of the Healthy Living columnists at email@example.com
Monday, October 04, 2010
Working together we can reduce falls
In fact, one out of three adults age 65 and older fall each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Among this age group, falls are the leading cause of injury death and can lead to a loss of independence for many.
Hospitals and organizations like Backus Home Health Care spend a lot of time working to eliminate falls.
Backus has been highly successful in reducing the number of falls in the hospital. And understanding what causes falls can help prevent them.
Falls can occur for a variety of reasons. You trip over something, lose your balance, miss a step, or slide on the ice. New medications can cause dizziness or changes in blood pressure that make you feel light-headed.
The risk of falling increases the older you are, as poor eyesight and unsteady walking can make each step more of a challenge. So, being aware of your fall risk and doing some simple things to prevent a fall are important. Here are a few simple things that we do at the hospital that you can also do at home:
• Wear good shoes with traction
• Keep the floor clear of clutter
• Make sure the area is well lit so you can see where you are going
• Go slowly when starting a new medication until you know how you are going to react
• Get up slowly to give your body a chance to adjust to the change
• Keep items close by so you don't have to reach to get them
• Provide time to get to the bathroom without having to hurry.
These are all simple things, but remembering them will help to keep you safe, no matter where you are.
There is one more I didn't mention -- walk with a friend. Leaning a bit on the people in our lives not only helps navigate the tough spots, but it makes the journey more enjoyable as well.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org