5 Reasons Why You Are Unlikely to Become Sick With Ebola

By: Katelyn Harms, Infection Prevention and Control

We screen all our patients for recent travel history to identify any patients who have recently been to areas with Ebola.

Western Africa is currently experiencing the largest outbreak of Ebola in history.  Agencies around the world are collaborating to control the spread of disease and calm the world’s fears about this deadly disease.  While a lot of media attention has focused on the threat of Ebola, here are 5 reasons why you are unlikely to become sick with Ebola:

  1. It’s not easily spread.
    1. Ebola is only spread through the body fluids of sick individuals. It cannot be transmitted through the air or through a cough or sneeze. The common cold is more contagious.
    2. While Ebola is highly infectious; meaning people who are infected will likely become very sick, it is not highly contagious.
    3. Health care workers who care for patients sick with Ebola are at a higher risk because they are commonly exposed to body fluids. People who prepare bodies for burial or eat infected animals are also at high risk for getting the disease.
  2. We have resources to contain it.
    1. Luckily, we understand how it is spread and know what needs to be done to contain it.
    2. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued extensive guidelines on what health care providers need to do to protect staff from transmitting the infection.
    3. At Meriter–UnityPoint Health, we screen all our patients for recent travel history- this will capture those who have recently been to areas with Ebola. We also have isolation precautions established, such as dedicated patient rooms and equipment. Staff is also trained to wear the appropriate protective clothing.
  3. Airports are on high alert.
    1. CDC has issued travel bans for US citizens going to West African countries.
    2. Likewise, Ebola affected regions screen all passengers for signs of infections, preventing anyone potentially infected from leaving the region.
    3. At U.S. airports, trained federal agents also watch for sick passengers and border patrol is asking about potential exposure. Agents are able to identify people who are sick, delay them from entering the country and keep them in special isolation units until the CDC arrives to further care.
  4. Similar viral infections have entered the US in the past and do not spread.
    1. Lassa fever is a similar West African virus that causes hemorrhagic disease and kills about 5,000 people each year. There have been seven cases of this entering the United States through travelers with zero cases of transmission. “Ebola will find the Unites Stated just as inhospitable as Lassa fever,” says Amesh Adalja, a member of the Infectious Disease Society of America and an infectious disease doctor at the University of Pittsburgh.
    2. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated in The Washington Post, “There is certainly a possibility that someone might get on a plane who is infected in Sierra Leone or Liberia and come to the United States,” he said. “But the chance of it being spread here the way you are seeing there is extraordinarily low, to the point that the CDC and me and other officials feel confident that there’s not going to be an outbreak here.”
  5. The chance of catching the disease in the US is VERY rare.
    1. People who have Ebola are only contagious if they are symptomatic.  If they are symptomatic, they are not walking around in public.  “They are very, very sick and pretty much confined to a hospital and to a bed,” Amesh Adalja stated in The Washington Post.

Additional Resources: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html?s_cid=cdc_homepage_feature_001.

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What to Expect at a Sports Physical

By: Dr. Cheryl Martin-Foster, Family Medicine at Meriter Fitchburg

As summer winds down, it is time to get ready for the start of school. If your child participates in fall sports, part of preparing for school is scheduling a sports physical before the first day of practice arrives. In order for your child to participate in sports at school, your child must have a sports physical completed every two years by a medical provider showing that your child is healthy and physically ready to participate in sports.

Medical History
Before you schedule your child’s sports physical, you will have to complete a sports history questionnaire that asks several questions about your child’s health and family health history. Some of the questions you will have to answer include the following:

  • Do you have an early family history of heart disease?
  • Do you have a history of seizures?
  • Do you have any history of broken bones or sprains? If so, are there any residual problems?
  • Do you have a chest pain or shortness of breath when exercising?

Physical Examination
Before the provider beings the exam, a nurse will take your child’s height, weight, blood pressure and pulse. Then, the provider will check the patient’s reflexes. For example, the provider will check the biceps reflex with a small hammer at the inside of the elbow on both sides as well as the patellar reflexes at both knees. The reflexes are testing the function of a specific nerve and should be equal on both sides.

The provider will also check joint mobility and range of motion. This will include checking the movement of the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees and ankles. A few tests the provider might complete include hopping on one foot to test the ankles and walking like a duck to check the hips and knees.

The provider will also check heart to see if it sounds normal or if there is a murmur. If there is a complaint of chest pain or there are other possible heart-related concerns, the provider might order an electrocardiogram to examine your child’s heart. The provider will also check the lungs to make sure air is moving well and no wheezing that could indicate difficulty breathing especially with exercise. The ears, nose, throat, abdomen, feet and back will also be checked during the exam.

After the physical examination is completed, your provider will fill out the form indicating if the child can play sports without restriction, with restriction or if further testing and follow up is needed. If your child needs a sports physical, request an appointment online today!

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Why Choose Meriter for Your Back-to-School Physicals?

 Time to set up your back to school physical!

Many organized programs will require your child to receive a pre-participation physical exam before enrollment. Scheduling a physical exam prior to participation allows your child’s primary care provider, who already has extensive knowledge of your family’s health history, to identify any potential medical conditions that may put his or her health or well-being at risk.

Even if a program does not require a pre-participation physical exam, it is still a good idea to schedule an exam to determine whether or not it is safe for your child to participate. Beyond signing off on participation forms, Meriter physicians are committed to continued monitoring of your child’s growth and development, performing comprehensive health assessments, making sure vaccinations are up-to-date and providing guidance pertinent to participation.

Monitor Growth & Development

Your child’s primary care physician is the leader of his or her health care team, carefully monitoring your child’s growth and development throughout all ages and stages of life. Unlike an alternative provider, a primary care physician has the ability to track your child’s health over time, as well as comprehensive knowledge on any previous hospitalizations, medications, allergies or illnesses, such as asthma, epilepsy or diabetes, which may interfere with your child’s ability to safely participate in an activity.

Provide Comprehensive Health Assessment

Based on his or her knowledge of your child’s health history, his or her primary care physician will perform a comprehensive checkup to make sure there are no alarming changes since your last visit. Included in the exam is a head-to-toe health assessment of your child’s:

  • Height and weight
  • Blood pressure and pulse
  • Vision
  • Heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, nose and throat
  • Posture, joints, strength and flexibility

If your child’s doctor does detect any abnormalities, he or she can prescribe the appropriate next steps to ensure your child is properly cared for or treated in a timely manner, so that he or she may still be able to safely participate in the activity on time.

Make Sure Vaccinations are Up-to-Date

Keeping current on vaccinations is important at any age, but it is especially important for children. Children require specific vaccinations at certain ages to create immunity to potentially harmful, even life-threatening, diseases. During your exam, your child’s primary care physician will make sure he or she is up-to-date with all vaccinations according to guidelines set by the CDC and required by schools.

Provide Guidance Around Participation

Your child’s pre-participation physical exam is also a great opportunity to ask any questions or express any concerns you may have about his or her physical or emotional well-being. In addition to serving as an important resource for your medical questions, your child’s physician will also be able to provide tips pertaining to injury prevention, training, nutrition and a range of other topics specifically designed to help your child become a stronger, healthier and safer participant.

Schedule Your Child’s Physical Exam at Meriter!

You and your doctor know your child – and your child’s health – better than anyone else. Schedule your child’s back-to-school or sports physical with his or her primary care physician today – it’s the most effective way to ensure your child is ready to safely participate in array of spring activities! Click here to request an appointment online.

Don’t have a primary care physician yet? Use our Find a Doctor tool to locate a family medicine doctor or pediatrician in your area, and schedule your child’s pre-participation physical exam today.

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Our Urology Duo Will Help You Get Back on Track


Dr. Brian Le, Urologist

Meriter-UnityPoint Health welcomes urologist Brian Le, MD, MA, to the Meriter McKee clinic, located at 3102 Meriter Way, Madison. We are pleased to have him join Dr. Andrew Jahoda to provide the most up-to-date procedures to help those suffering from urological conditions such as urinary tract infections, stone disease, and sexual dysfunction and reconstruction.

Dr. Le cares for his patients through the full realm of treatment, recovery and beyond. He does his best to focus on wellness, offering advanced treatments based on the latest evidence to alleviate his patients’ suffering. To him, the physician serves as the role of educator and partner by guiding and explaining a patient’s urological concerns and available treatment methods with the utmost compassion and care.

Dr. Le chose to specialize in urology because he’s able to use the latest science and technology to treat his patients and build a relationship over many years. He is specifically interested in sexual dysfunction and reconstruction, and can perform minimally invasive surgery to decrease postoperative pain and speed recovery time.

In his free time, Dr. Le enjoys hiking, playing tennis and practicing martial arts. He is also active in mentoring and teaching at colleges and medical schools.

Please join Meriter in welcoming Dr. Le!

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Five Ways to Stay Safe This Summer

Even on cloudy days, sun burns occur in a short time. You can keep your skin safe by wearing sunscreen and reapply it frequently.

By: Dr. Paul Hick, Emergency Services

With summer in full swing, it is important to keep safety at the top of your mind when enjoying time with family and friends. Whether you’re hiking or cooking out, remember these summer safety tips!

  1. Wear sunscreen and reapply frequently. Even on cloudy days, sun burns occur in a short time. The immediate affect is redness, pain and sometimes blistering. The long-term effect is premature aging and increased risk of cancer.
  2. Check for ticks. Tics may carry diseases, such as Lyme disease. If tics are removed quickly, the risk of illness is eliminated. Tics can be as small as a sesame seeds and therefore close inspection is necessary. Tics are sometimes found in cities, like Madison, not just in the woods. To remove a tick, use a tweezer, grasp it by the head and pull gently. If a rash, fever or other illness occurs after a tick bite you should be checked by your doctor.
  3. Do not use cell phones while driving. Texting, or even making phone calls, while driving is a common cause of car crashes.
  4. Turn off the TV and computer and get outside. Being outside and active is a good way to get vitamin D from the sun plus it is healthy for your heart, body and mind.
  5. Avoid heat illness and drink plenty fluids. If you become weak, dizzy or confused after working or playing on hot summer days, you may have heat exhaustion. You should go to a cool place, drink fluids and rest. If you do not feel better in an hour, see your doctor.
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What to Expect at a Well-Child Visit

At a well-child check, pediatricians will to discuss common behavior concerns such as sleeping, toilet training, discipline or learning problems.

At a well-child check, pediatricians will to discuss common behavior concerns such as sleeping, toilet training, discipline or learning problems.

By: Dr. Sumita Ram, Pediatrician at Meriter Middleton

Of course, we all know to take our children to the doctor when they are sick with an ear infection or a cough or a rash. However, well -child visits are also extremely important.

A lot of first-time parents may not realize that they can ask about anything related to their child at their well-child visits and not just specifically medical issues. Pediatricians are used to discussing common behavior concerns such as sleeping, toilet training, discipline or learning problems. It is easier to focus on these kinds of issues when your child is not sick. It is often helpful to jot down a few questions prior to a well-child visit to help start a dialogue with your pediatrician.

Pediatricians also focus on preventive care during a well-child visit. They will monitor your child’s overall nutrition, growth and development, vision and hearing and make recommendations on any specific interventions that may be necessary. Sometimes they may pick up medical or developmental issues where early intervention can make a significant difference. Immunizations are a very big part of preventive care. Pediatricians also address safety and injury prevention during a well child visit.

In the first two years of life, well-child visits often revolve around the vaccination schedule, and as your child gets older annual visits are recommended.

At Meriter-UnityPoint Health, the recommended schedule of visits is as follows:

3-5 days
2 weeks
2 months
4 months
6 months
9 months
12 months
15 months
18 months
2 years
30 months
3 years and then annually through the teen years.

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How to Prevent Catching the Flu at the Fair

During past county fair seasons, swine exhibits have been associated with outbreaks of influenza infections among people. Follow these tips to prevent catching the flu during your fair, farm or petting zoo visit.

Today is the opening day for the Dane County Fair! Between the carnival rides, food stands and animals, you can stay busy while taking in the scenes of the fair. During past county fair seasons, swine exhibits have been associated with outbreaks of influenza infections among people. This particular influenza virus, known as A/H3N2v, may spread more easily from swine to people, and common symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, rhinorrhea or nasal congestion.

Follow these tips to prevent catching the flu during your fair, farm or petting zoo visit.

  • Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water frequently and immediately after animal interaction. If soap and water are not available use an alcohol-based hand gel.
  • Do not take food or drink into the pig areas.
  • Do not eat or drink while in the pig areas.
  • Avoid bringing toys, strollers and similar items into pig areas.
  • Minimize contact with pigs in the pig barn.
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Meriter-UnityPoint Health Named 2014 “Most Wired”

Meriter Hospital has been named one of the nation’s “Most Wired” hospitals, according the July issue of Hospitals & Health Networks magazine.

“We’re always looking to better coordinate and improve the quality of care our patients receive. We believe that leading the way in medical technology is just one more way we can provide better service,” said Denise Gomez, AVP of information systems at Meriter-UnityPoint Health. “I’m extremely proud we’ve earned this honor for four consecutive years. I give all the credit to our hardworking employees who are constantly looking for new ways to prepare us for the future.’’

Hospitals & Health Networks magazine partnered with the American Hospital Association, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), AT&T, and McKesson to survey more than 1,901 hospitals across the country between January and March. Hospitals were evaluated in four categories: infrastructure, business & administrative management, clinical quality & safety and clinical integration.

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Expect Traffic Delays Near Hospital on 7/17

If you are traveling to and from the hospital campus or any downtown location on Thursday, July 17, please expect traffic delays.

Meriter, along with UW Madison police, Madison Fire & Police Departments, Dane Country Sheriff Office & Emergency Management, Department of Justice, FBI, US Attorney’s Office and UW Hospital are participating in a full scale disaster drill at Camp Randall.

From 5:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the 1400 block of Monroe Street (Randall to Regent) will be closed to traffic. This could greatly impact traffic throughout downtown. Please make alternative travel plans if this will impact your commute.

You may also see an influx of drill participants in the hospital during that time. Patient care and safety remain our top priority during this drill, and we will do our best to ensure it is not interrupted.

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Dr. Dana Johnson: Keeping Kids Safe Online

It is important that we understand what kids are doing and are aware of which sites they are visiting.

Originally published on July 9, 2014, in the Wisconsin State JournalDr. Johnson is a pediatrician practicing at the Meriter McKee clinic.

Dear Dr. Johnson: How do I keep my preteen safe on the Internet?

Dear Reader: The vast World Wide Web can be an amazing source of information, education and resources, readily accessible at our fingertips. Browsing, however, can lead to viewing of offensive, obscene, and violent information and images. The Internet can also lead to communicating with people who have malicious intentions. While I do not think it is reasonable to never allow a child on the Internet, I do believe we as parents have to take steps to protect our children.

Internet rules will vary based on a child’s age and family values, but the rules should be agreed upon and reiterated on a regular basis. It is important that children understand what Internet activities are considered appropriate and what areas are off limits. There are some contracts available online that parents and children can sign and post as a reminder. One such contract is available at www.safekids.com/contract.htm.

While children sometimes surpass us adults on their technology savvy and ability to manipulate electronic devices, it is important that we understand what kids are doing and are aware of which sites they are visiting. It is best to only allow online activities in a common area of the house where activities can be monitored. There is also tracking software available so you can monitor what is being viewed. Software can also be purchased to filter content. This software is not perfect, however, and may be too restrictive or not filter all inappropriate content.

Social media is popular with the young and old alike. It is important that we use it correctly. All too often people say things online that they wouldn’t say in person. Children need to understand the effect this can have on others. The Internet should not be used to be mean or make someone look or feel bad. They also need to understand that once something is put on the Internet, it can never be completely deleted.

The Internet can be an amazing place to meet and interact with people that we would never have the opportunity to interact with otherwise. This also has some risk. Personal information should never be shared unless a parent approves. This includes any identifying information such as name, address, phone number, age, school, family members or friends. Passwords should never be shared with anyone. A child should never agree to meet someone they have met online unless a parent approves, and a child should never go alone. If someone says something mean or hurtful to them online, they should not respond and instead should tell a parent or other trusted adult.

We can’t completely shield our children from the downsides of the Internet, but we can provide some safeguards. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers additional information on internet safety at http://safetynet.aap.org/.

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Your Children Can Become Meriter Mighty Kids

In an effort to encourage healthy and active lifestyles to our youth, Meriter–UnityPoint Health invites you to register your children to become Meriter Mighty Kids!

The 9 week program is FREE and meets once a week. It focuses on fun running activities that keep kids moving and prepare them for the Roo Run Run on Sunday, September 28. Kids (ages 5-14) that attend 6 of the 9 sessions will qualify for a free entry into the Roo Run Run (distances: ¼ mile, ½ mile or 1 mile).

Dates: Tuesdays from July 29-September 23
Times: 5:45-6:45 pm
Location: Edward Klief Park, 1200 Milton St, Madison
Attire: Running clothes and shoes

Sign up your kids today

Parents are welcome to stay and help with the activities. Please bring a water bottle for your child.

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Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes

Meriter and Physicians Plus team walkers at last year’s event.

Sunday, August 24, 2014
Location: Olin Park
Registration Time: 8:30 AM
Walk Time: 10:00 AM
Cost: FREE

Help us raise awareness and create a healthier community by joining Meriter and Physicians Plus in this year’s American Diabetes Association’s Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes. Participation in this event is part of our overall goal to reduce diabetes in our community, which was identified as a key issue in the community health needs assessment. 

The Meriter and Physicians Plus team will be led by Dr. Kenneth Felz, an internal medicine physician at the Meriter Middleton clinic. Our goal is to have at least 300 walkers on our team and raise $15,000 for the American Diabetes Association. 

All walk participants will receive fabulous prizes and t-shirts!  

  • Patients who register to be part of the Meriter Patient Striders team by July 18 will receive a free Meriter and Physicians Plus team shirt
  • Raise $100 or more by August 24 to get a free ADA Step Out shirt at the event
  • Prizes will be given to the Top 2 Meriter and Physicians Plus fundraising teams!

Learn more and register for free at diabetes.org/MeriterPhysiciansPlus.

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The Formula for Good Health

There’s more to living a healthy lifestyle than eating an apple a day. But it’s hard to know exactly what you should be doing to live healthier and prevent illness. Fortunately, the Formula for Good Health will help you get on track to maintain good health all year and life long. Just keep these 5 simple rules in mind on a daily basis:

  • 0 tobacco products
  • 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day
  • 20 minutes of quiet time
  • Body mass index of 30 or less
  • 150 minutes of exercise per week

Keep in mind, everything you do today that was healthier than yesterday is a step towards good health.

Meriter-UnityPoint Health offers a variety of wellness programs to help you get on the right track! From weight loss to stress management to smoking cessation, we offer a program that can help you achieve your health goals. To learn more and how to join, please visit meriter.com/wellness.

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What to Know About the Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression

It is important for new moms to know that if they experience the baby blues it is common and not a sign that something is wrong with them.

By: Dr. Carleen Hanson, Pediatrics

When you have a newborn, your life is a whirlwind — not only in regards to daily activities (When was the last time I ate sitting down or even ate at all? Yes, it’s 4:30 in the afternoon, and I am still in my pajamas), but also for your emotions. With the combination of recovering from the delivery, sleep deprivation and hormone surges, many new moms have mood swings that can catch them off guard. Some moms are surprised by having not only positive emotions, but also by feeling down and depressed. They often wonder if there is something wrong with them because of this – “I have this beautiful, healthy baby…why do I feel sad?”

Up to 80 percent of new moms experience the “baby blues,” which often starts a few days to a week after delivery and typically lasts no longer than two weeks. With the baby blues, women may find themselves suddenly in tears or feeling more anxious than usual. It’s also common to be very moody and to feel trapped or isolated. Sometimes the most frustrating symptom is having trouble sleeping, despite being exhausted.

The important thing for new moms to know if they experience the baby blues is that it’s common and not a sign that anything is wrong with them. For many new moms, the best thing to help with the baby blues is a little extra sleep, even a short nap is beneficial, and some extra help with household chores. Knowing that someone else is going to clean up the dishes and fold the laundry can be uplifting and help decrease feeling overwhelmed. Most of the time, the baby blues will go away on their own after 1-2 weeks.

For some women, the baby blues is something more. About 10-15 percent of new moms experience some degree of postpartum depression (PPD). In the first few weeks, it can be hard to distinguish between the blues and PPD as many of their symptoms overlap; although, typically the symptoms of PPD are more severe and last longer than 2 weeks. Some examples are:

  • Lack of interest in your baby or negative feelings about your baby
  • Significant loss of appetite
  • Inability to find pleasure in activities
  • Lack of motivation and energy
  • Lack of concern about yourself
  • Thoughts about death and suicide
  • Thoughts about harming your baby

Postpartum depression can improve on its own but untreated it can last months. Still, many new moms feel embarrassed to admit that they are having anything other than joyful emotions. If there is any concern about PPD, it’s important to be in touch with a health care provider because there is help and treatment available.

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Register for the Running Clinic

The racing season is in full swing now which is exactly when those nagging injuries tend to creep up.

If you are experiencing pain or injury that is limiting your running or just have questions about your running form sign up now for an appointment at the Meriter–UnityPoint Health Sports Medicine Running clinic.

You will meet one on one with one of our sports medicine therapists who will screen your flexibility, strength and running mechanics and help you establish a program to improve any limitations.

In addition, we will have access to our video analysis system to help identify problem areas within your running mechanics.

Date: July 16, 2014
Times: 5:30, 6:00, 6:30 or 7:00 PM
Location: Middleton Therapy Clinic
Cost: $35
Attire: Wear running clothes and have running shoes with you

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Dr. Dana Johnson: Plan Ahead to Stay Safe During Storms

Once you are prepared to receive the alerts, prepare yourself and your family for what to do when they go off. Have an emergency kit ready.

Originally published on June 25, 2014, in the Wisconsin State Journal. Dr. Dana Johnson is a pediatrician practicing at the Meriter McKee Clinic.

Dear Dr. Johnson: How do I prepare my family to be safe during severe weather?

Dear Reader: The recent storms have brought to the forefront the power and destruction of severe weather. Fortunately no one was seriously injured but just viewing pictures of the damage makes me very cognizant of the human injury that could have occurred. The best way to keep your child and yourself safe in severe weather is to plan ahead.

There are several ways to know strong weather is coming your way. When storms occur during the night they have even more potential for injury as people are sleeping and not as aware of what is going on outside. It makes it even more important to have a plan in place of how you will learn about the severe weather warnings.

No notification system is perfect in all scenarios so it is best to utilize more than one. Sirens are designed to warn people outside so not the best alert when in your home and especially at night while asleep. They may not be loud enough. You can purchase your own personal siren in a weather radio. For me, a phone call at midnight from Dane County’s Emergency Warning System was what woke us up and resulted in my family seeking safety in our basement last week. We don’t have a home phone so I had subscribed to the free service. You can register your cell phone to receive alerts at http://dane.alertingsolutions.net We have a weather radio but it recently broke so no longer makes a noise louder than a whisper. It is now a priority to replace.

If you realize that the weather is worsening, you can also turn on the radio, television or use a weather app or website.

Once you are prepared to receive the alerts, prepare yourself and your family for what to do when they go off. Have an emergency kit ready. A list of items it should include can be found at http://www.ready.gov/kids/build-a-kit.

It is important to understand the difference between a “Watch” and a “Warning.” A watch means the conditions are favorable for severe weather and you should monitor weather alerts closely. A warning means severe weather is occurring or imminent and you should take action to protect yourself.

Talk with children at an age appropriate level about the dangers of storms. Keep them safe while trying to avoid making them overly anxious when storms do occur. Teach children to come inside when they see lightning or hear thunder. You can teach older children to use the 30/30 rule for lightning. Go indoors if you see lightning and cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay inside for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder. For tornadoes, determine the safe place in your home. This is usually a basement or an interior room. Avoid corners, windows, doors and outside walls.

It is also a good idea for adults and older children to know basic first aid. This can be done through a class with the Red Cross or area health organization.

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Meriter–UnityPoint Health, UW Hospital and Clinics to Strengthen Mother/Baby Partnership

Meriter–UnityPoint Health and UW Hospital and Clinics plan to expand their tradition of collaborating to improve care for women and infants.

Leaders of both entities have signed a nonbinding letter of intent to strengthen their cooperative relationship around mother and baby health. This is the first step toward a potential joint operating agreement, a more formal partnership than the current women’s health affiliation agreement between the two organizations.

“We’ve successfully worked together to provide women and infant health care since the 1950s when medical students trained at Madison General,” said Dr. Geoff Priest, Meriter–UnityPoint Health’s Chief Medical Officer and Interim President. “Coming together with a joint operating agreement will help us better to coordinate the care we provide our patients and the community, truly putting the patient at the center of everything we do.”

“The University of Wisconsin Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology has enjoyed decades of collaboration with Meriter Hospital, providing the mothers and babies of Dane County and the region with the very highest quality of health care,” said Dr. Laurel Rice, professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology at UW School of Medicine and Public Health and member of the Meriter Hospital Medical Staff. “This agreement will further enhance our partnership, all to the benefit of the community we serve.”

“UW Health has a years-long commitment to serve the community without the duplication of health care services,” said Jeff Poltawsky, senior vice president of American Family Children’s Hospital. “We look forward to enhancing our collaboration to improve the quality, access, cost effectiveness and outcomes of health services for mothers and babies in the communities we serve.”

Meriter–UnityPoint Health and UW Health already partner to provide care in the Meriter Birthing Center, Meriter Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Center for Perinatal Care, Generations Fertility Care and OB/GYN services in three Meriter primary care clinics. UW Health also offers obstetric and gynecological care at six other clinics. This year UW Health’s American Family Children’s Hospital also added a Level IV NICU.

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Healthy Dishes That Will Cause a Bang at Your Celebration

July is a perfect time to take advantage of local, healthy options for your holiday party. Try these recipes at your 4th of July celebration!

By: Krista Kohls, Clinical Dietitian

What comes to mind when someone says “4th of July”? Do you picture an American flag or fireworks or hanging out with family and friends in warm weather? How about grilling and sipping on a cold beverage? For me, the 4th of July brings to mind all these good memories, but instead of picturing hot dogs and burgers on the grill, I usually imagine healthier fare. July is a perfect time to take advantage of local, healthy options for your holiday party as there are plenty delicious summer fruits and veggies available this time of year!

If you will be grilling for the Fourth think lean proteins (chicken, fish, lean red meat) or you could try something vegetarian. Black bean burgers are not only easy and delicious but healthy as well! For dessert, try grilling peaches or pineapple for a sweet treat!

If you’ve been asked to bring over a side dish for a get together try bringing a lettuce or fruit salad instead of high fat potato salad or baked beans. Adding strawberries to a lettuce salad with walnuts and some Parmesan cheese is a fresh and easy way to take advantage of the seasons’ delicious produce. Or simply bringing a fruit salad (or melon kebabs) with fresh squeezed lime juice and chopped mint to add a twist to a sweet summer side dish. Including fresh, healthy foods this holiday season will not only help your waistline – you will feel good too!

Black Bean Burgers
4 servings

1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 onion, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 egg
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce or hot sauce
1/2 cup bread crumbs


  1. If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and lightly oil a baking sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
  3. In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Then stir into mashed beans.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce.
  5. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.
  6. If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.

Per burger: 162 calories, 0.5 g sat fat, 28 g carb, 9 g protein
Recipe compliments of Allrecipes.com

Lettuce Salad with Lemon Honey Vinaigrette
Lettuce – spring mix or red leaf or spinach
¼ – 1/2 cup walnuts*
1/2-1 cup strawberries*
1/8 – 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese*
Dressing (makes enough for more than one salad)
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. onion
2/3 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds

*Adjust ingredients based on size of salad.*

  1. For the dressing, put all ingredients (except poppy seeds) in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add in poppy seeds after food processing is done.
  2. Combine lettuce, walnuts, strawberries, grated Parmesan and toss with enough salad dressing to coat the lettuce (the dressing recipe makes enough for more than one salad – keep leftovers in a jar in the fridge).

Melon Salad with Lime and Mint
Makes at least 8 servings

1 cantalope – halved, seeded, peeled, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 honeydew melon – halved, seeded, peeled, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1/2 watermelon – halved, peeled, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp. grated lime peel

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until the lime and mint have coated the melon.

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The ABCs of Infant Safe Sleep

By: Dr. Nicole Baumann-Blackmore, Pediatric Hospital Medicine

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), defined as the sudden death of an infant less than one year of age that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation, is the leading cause of death among infants aged 1 to 12 months in the United States. This staggering statistic, along with the infant deaths that are able to be attributed to accidental strangulation or suffocation in bed, demonstrate the continued need to provide safe sleep information to parents and caregivers of infants. In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its recommendations for a safe sleep environment for infants. Here are some of the key recommendations that should be used consistently for all infants up to 12 months of age:

1.) Back to sleep for every sleep – Infants should be placed in the supine position (completely on their back) for every sleep by every caregiver until 12 months of age. Once a baby is able to roll over, they should still be placed to sleep on their back but then allowed to stay in whatever position they assume during sleep.
2.) Use a firm sleep surface – A firm crib mattress, covered with a fitted sheet, is the preferred sleeping surface. All cribs, bassinets or portable cribs used should conform to the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
3.) Room-sharing without bed-sharing – Some studies have shown that this sleep arrangement may decrease the risk of SIDS by up to 50%, and it makes nighttime feedings and diaper changes more convenient!
4.) Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib – No pillows, stuffed animals, toys, bumper pads, sleep positioning devices, etc.
5.) Avoid smoking, alcohol use and illicit drug use both during pregnancy and after birth. Avoiding second hand smoke exposure is also important.
6.) Breastfeeding is recommended. If possible, mothers should exclusively breastfeed or feed expressed breast milk until 6 months of age. The protective effect of breastfeeding increases with exclusivity. However, any breastfeeding has been shown to be more protective against SIDS than no breastfeeding.
7.) Consider offering a pacifier at naptime and bedtime once breastfeeding has been well established, usually 3-4 weeks. The pacifier does not need to be replaced if it falls out. Do not attach the pacifier to the baby’s clothing, hang it around their neck or attach it to a stuffed toy.
8.) Avoid overheating – Infants should be dressed appropriately for their environment with no more than one layer more than an adult would wear to be comfortable in that environment.

These are just some of the important recommendations provided by the AAP. To learn more, speak with your child’s primary care physician or visit any of the following websites:


Please help keep your baby safe and reduce the incidence of infant death due to unsafe sleep environments. Follow and teach others the ABCs of safe sleep!

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Why Men Should Have PSA Screenings

Roughly 8 out of 10 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, and Dr. Andrew Jahoda recommends patients have a routine PSA screening for prostate cancer diagnosis.

By: Dr. Andrew Jahoda, Urology

Prostate cancer is relatively common, occurring in roughly 8 out of 10 men. According to the latest data, approximately 1,000 men need to undergo Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) screening to benefit one man’s length of survival. Recent research suggesting PSA screening does not improve the longevity of a man’s life has sparked new widespread interest in PSA testing. Unfortunately, the message distilled from that research is that PSA testing is inaccurate and useless, and it suggests that men should forego PSA screening. The media has not discussed that the PSA screening is a controversial test, and it is not everyone’s opinion that men should not get a PSA test.

PSA testing spawned in the early 1980s, and the course of prostate cancer has changed dramatically as a result. While hospitals once dedicated entire floors to patients who were paralyzed from prostate cancer that spread to the backbone, now a typical urologist rarely sees any sign of metastatic prostate cancer. Additionally, when patients undergo surgery to remove the prostate, surgeons are now finding much less local spread of cancer and better odds of removing all of the cancer rendering a patient a complete cure when compared to surgery before PSA testing. Rarely does a patient die from prostate cancer nowadays, which is very different from prostate cancer outcomes historically.

The data clearly demonstrate that PSA screening has transformed prostate cancer from a diagnosis that is potentially devastating or life threatening to something that is more a nuisance. The controversy of PSA screening lies in the fact that many men will develop prostate cancer and would live their entire lives without ever knowing about it if it weren’t for PSA screening, which leads to overtreatment of the disease.

So, how do I sift through this information and fit it into my practice? It only takes meeting one patient who has metastatic cancer from a very preventable disease to become frustrated with a blanket statement that PSA screening is not beneficial. Doctors need to have a discussion with their patients about the risks and benefits of PSA screening.

The biggest impact these studies have had on my practice is the way I manage prostate cancer, rather than the way I diagnose it. What has been born out of PSA research is that we can be comfortable observing much more prostate cancer than we were previously. I still recommend routine PSA screening for prostate cancer diagnosis. It is a simple blood test with little direct risk. It may lead to a biopsy, but then a patient will know if he can be safe on observation or whether he would benefit from intervention. Without that, people are rolling the dice and declining cheap easy information that may be useful.

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Welcome Dr. Mohammed Saghir to Meriter Wisconsin Heart

Dr. Mohammed Saghir, Cardiologist

Meriter-UnityPoint Health welcomes cardiologist Mohammed Saghir, MD, FASE, FACC to Meriter Wisconsin Heart, located at 2601 W. Beltline Hwy, Suite 200, Madison, WI 53713. We are pleased to have him join the Heart & Vascular Care Team.

Although Dr. Saghir specializes in cardiac imaging, he ardently believes the best diagnostic tool is listening to his patients tell their story. He never wants his patients to feel rushed and believes in empowering them to become active partners in their care. He takes the time to teach his patients about their medical conditions and treatment options. It’s his goal to have his patients feel comfortable, informed and in-charge of their health.

Clinically, Dr. Saghir has special interests in valvular heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease. Dr. Saghir is also trained and is interested in cardiovascular imaging, including cardiac MRI and CT, echocardiography, vascular ultrasound and nuclear cardiology.

During his free time, Dr. Saghir and his wife enjoy biking riding on Madison’s numerous scenic bike paths. He also enjoys traveling, hiking and jogging.

Please join Meriter in welcoming Dr. Saghir!

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Dr. Dana Johnson: Fractures Can be a Common Childhood Injury

Fortunately, fractures in children do not usually require surgery. Usually all that is required for treatment is immobilization, which generally is done with a cast made of fiberglass or plaster.

Originally published on June 11, 2014, in the Wisconsin State JournalDr. Johnson is a pediatrician practicing at the Meriter McKee clinic.

Dear Dr. Johnson: My 4-year-old is a “daredevil” and constantly getting hurt. Fortunately just bumps and bruises at this point but how would I know if he broke a bone?

Dear Reader: Broken bones (also called fractures) are the fourth most common injury in children under age 6 — so pretty common. They can occur from various types of injuries but are most commonly associated with falls. Major or severe fractures in children are most commonly a result of car crashes. Fractures can occur from falls from high places but can also occur from more minor falls and landing wrong.

The types of fractures that occur in kids are different than fractures in adults because children’s bones are more flexible and still growing. One of the common types of fractures in kids are greenstick where the bone bends and only one side of the bone breaks. Torus fractures are another type of common fracture in children. In torus fractures, the bone is twisted or buckled and weakened. Children can also suffer from other types of fractures including those that go completely though the bone.

Because children’s bones are still growing, there are growth plates at the end of the bones from which new bone length comes. Fractures can involve these growth plates causing damage and resulting in the bone growing at an angle or slower than the other bones in the body. Therefore, fractures that affect the growth plate may need to be followed for 12-18 months after the injury as it can take awhile for abnormal growth to become apparent.

Fortunately, fractures in children do not usually require surgery. Their bones tend to heal rapidly and well. Usually all that is required for treatment is immobilization, which generally is done with a cast made of fiberglass or plaster. Sometimes, more minor fractures are placed in a removable splint. If there is a significant angle between the two sides of the fracture or the edges don’t align, a reduction to realign the bones may be needed. This is usually only done after the child is given pain medication, sedation medications and/or full general anesthesia.

So the answer to your question as to how you would know if your child has a fracture, is that you can’t always tell without getting an X-ray. The most obvious sign of a fracture would be visible deformity of bone. More subtle signs would be a young child refusing to walk or move an extremity for a period of time after an injury. Tenderness in one specific spot over a bone can be concerning for a fracture. Being able to move the arm or leg does not exclude the bone being fractured. If you suspect your child could have a fracture they should be examined by a doctor in the clinic, urgent care or emergency room depending on the time of day and severity of the injury.

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Meriter Hospital Farmstand

Stop on by Madison’s newest farmers’ market, located outside the main entrance of Meriter Hospital*. Come get fresh, delicious produce from Madison’s multi-cultural farm incubator, the Farley Center, which supports new local farmers using sustainable practices! They grow healthy vegetables, herbs and fruit without the use of chemicals. Be well and eat well from summer into fall!

Location: Meriter Hospital, 202 S. Park Street, Madison, WI 53715
Dates: Thursdays starting June 12 till October 30
Time: 2pm – 5:30pm

*In case of bad weather, the farmers’ market will be moved inside

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Meriter-UnityPoint Health Clinics Honored as Best in the Nation

Congratulations to Inpatient Rehabilitation (3N), Deming Way Pediatrics, General Surgery Clinic, Orthopedic Trauma Clinic, Home Health Agency and NewStart Outpatient for achieving NRC Best!

Our Inpatient Rehabilitation unit achieved NRC’s Best in the Nation for controlling their patient’s pain.

Our Deming Way Pediatrics, General Surgery Clinic and Orthopedic Trauma Clinic achieved NRC’s Best in the Nation for our patient’s being able to get an appointment as soon as they needed and getting answers to their medical questions the same day.

Our Home Health Agency achieved NRC’s Best in the Nation for our patient’s being able to get help when needed.

Our NewStart Outpatient group achieved NRC’s Best in the Nation for our patient’s being able to get an appointment as soon as they needed.

Thank you to all of our STAR employees for their dedication to extraordinary customer service!

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Dr. Dana Johnson: Lacerations are Common Summertime Injuries

Cuts or gashes are some of the most common injuries your children may encounter this summer.

Originally published on June 4, 2014, in the Wisconsin State JournalDr. Johnson is a pediatrician practicing at the Meriter McKee clinic.

Dear Dr. Johnson: How do I know if a cut requires stitches?

Dear Reader: As kids become more active during the warmer spring and summer months, the number of trauma-related injuries increases. Lacerations (cuts or gashes) are some of the most common injuries.

Lacerations are cuts that extend into tissues below the skin surface. They can come from numerous types of falls, bumps, or other sharp objects. The first step after an injury occurs is to try to remain calm and to apply direct pressure to the wound to control bleeding. Firm pressure over the wound in most cases will stop the bleeding. This can be done with gauze or a clean cloth. If the wound is large or severe, immediate medical attention should be sought in the emergency room or by calling 911.

For less severe wounds, it must be determined if they require further medical care. A general rule of thumb for when lacerations should be seen by a physician is if they are deep and over a half-inch in length, gaping in that the two edges don’t stay together on their own, the bleeding does not stop after direct pressure is applied for 5 minutes, or the wound penetrated deep into the tissue. When in doubt, it is best to call your child’s physician or have the child seen as the extent of a laceration in an upset child can be somewhat difficult to determine.

A wound can be closed with various techniques to minimize risk of infection, speed healing, and decrease scar formation. Some ways of closing wounds are sutures (stitches), staples, steristrips (tape), or my personal favorite — glue. Which technique is used depends on the location and extent of the injury. If the wound requires closure, it is best if this is done as soon as possible. Most wounds should not be closed more than six hours after the injury as the risk of infection greatly increases.

If you determine that the laceration does not require stitches or other closure, make sure it is well cleansed. One of the best ways to do this is with running tap water in a sink or bathtub. Don’t soak the area but instead run warm water across the wound. It is not recommended that alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or iodine be used. These can increase discomfort and aren’t necessary. After the area is thoroughly washed, antibiotic ointment can be applied and covered with a sterile dressing (gauze or bandage). Butterfly bandages can also be used to hold the cut edges closed while healing.

All lacerations should be monitored for signs of infection. Increasing redness, swelling or pain can be signs of infection. Other symptoms may include pus drainage, fever or red streaking from the wound. If your child develops any of these, they should be examined so that if an infection has developed, it can be treated.

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