Stepping On Program: Building Confidence and Reducing Falls

Meriter – UnityPoint Health’s Stepping On Program empowers older adults to carry out health behaviors that reduce the risk of falls. This community-based workshop is offered once a week for 7 weeks using adult education and self-efficacy principles. In this small-group setting, older adults will learn balance exercises and develop specific knowledge and skills to prevent falls.

Older adults who are encouraged to join this program are those who:
      – Are at risk of falling
      – Have a fear of falling
      – Who have fallen one or more times

Location: Meriter Monona Clinic

Dates: Thursdays from October 2 to November 13

Time: 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (October 23 class will be from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.)Cost: $35 per person

Registration: Contact Krista Spiro by phone at (608) 417-8272 or by email at

To learn more, please visit

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Flu Vaccine Available at Meriter Clinics

Flu season is nearly upon us, and we encourage you to schedule your annual flu vaccination today. Anyone 6 months or older should be vaccinated as it’s the number one way to protect yourself from the flu. It’s also a good idea to receive the vaccine now, since the protection you receive from the vaccination will last throughout the entire flu season.

At this time, we are currently scheduling flu vaccination appointments for our patients. Please call us at whichever Meriter clinic location is most convenient for you:

•             Meriter DeForest-Windsor: 608.417.3300

•             Meriter Fitchburg: 608.417.8585

•             Meriter McKee: 608.417.8800

•             Meriter Middleton: 608.417.3434

•             Meriter Monona: 608.417.3000

•             Meriter Stoughton: 608.417.8700

•             Meriter West Washington: 608.417.8300

Although the flu vaccine is the number one form of prevention, here are some other tips for staying healthy this season:

•             Wash your hands often with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer.

•             Cover your cough or sneeze with your upper sleeve. If you use a tissue, throw it away after one use.

•             Use your own drinking cups and straws.

•             Avoid being exposed to people who are sick with flu-like symptoms.

•             Eat nutritious meals, get plenty of rest and do not smoke.

•             Clean commonly touched surfaces frequently (e.g., door knobs, refrigerator handles, telephones, faucets).

•             If you think you have the flu, stay home, get rest, drink plenty of liquids and avoid using alcohol and tobacco. If your symptoms persist or you have underlying health issues, contact your doctor.

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Join Us for Ladies Night Out – Oct. 1

We invite you to join us for an evening of dinner and inspiring discussion about breast health screening, treatment options and reconstruction in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Meriter-UnityPoint Health offers screening mammography, cancer removal surgery and breast reconstruction surgery by Lucinda Prue, Mammography Technician; Dr. Susan Toth, General Surgeon and Dr. Jeffrey Larson, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon. Routine screening mammograms improve the chances that breast cancer can be diagnosed at an early stage and can be treated successfully. Our expert surgeons will remove the cancer and reconstruct the breast to near normal appearance, size and shape.

Don’t delay your screening mammogram, it’s the first step to detecting and treating breast cancer.

Ladies Night Out
Lussier Family Heritage Center
Wednesday, October 1 at 6pm
Cost: $25

The evening will include a 3 course meal from Bunky’s Cafe paired with wine and discussion about breast health, screening mammography, breast cancer treatment and reconstruction options for $25.

Click here to register you and your friends today

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Meriter – UnityPoint Health Wins National Patient Satisfaction Award

Meriter – UnityPoint Health is proud to announce that it has again been recognized as one of the best patient care providers in the nation at the National Research Corporation’s 20th Annual International Patient-Centered Care Symposium in San Diego over the weekend.

“National Research Corporation congratulates Meriter – UnityPoint Health for their outstanding achievements,” said Helen Hrdy, Senior Vice President of Client Service at National Research. “Implementing improvement processes require an immense amount of time and resources. Winning this award demonstrates that Meriter Medical Group understands what it truly means to define patient-centered care.”

Meriter received its second consecutive Path to Excellence award for Top Pediatric Doctor Rating, with patients rating Meriter doctors highest in the nation based on patient satisfaction surveys conducted April 2013 – March 2014. Meriter is also a past winner of NRC’s Top Rated Adult Doctor and prestigious Innovative Best Practice awards.

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Two New Services Help You Get Back in the Game

Meriter - UnityPoint Health is proud to offer two new orthopedic services led by two expert physicians.

Dr. Emily Exten offers Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Surgery at Meriter Monona for those suffering from a wide range of foot and ankle injuries. If you experience an immediate injury or accident, Dr. Exten also provides Orthopedic Trauma Surgery at the Meriter Specialty Clinic.

Dr. Beth Weinman practices non-surgical Sports Medicine at the Meriter Orthopedics Clinic and focuses on helping her patients recover from an injury and improve their performance.

Whether you are seeking treatment for an injury or you want to improve mobility, Dr. Exten and Dr. Weinman are here to help you turn a setback into a comeback!

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ALS: The Ice Cold Truths

The Center for Perinatal Care recently completed the Ice Bucket Challenge.

By: Dr. Kevin Kapadia, Neurology

You may have seen your favorite celebrity, friend or family member ‘go viral’ with voluntarily dumping an ice cold bucket of water on themselves this summer. While this may seem like they are playing practical jokes on themselves, it has all been for a worthy cause. In the last month alone, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has helped raise nearly $100 million dollars. ALS became known to the public in the United States in 1939 as ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease’ when the renowned baseball star announced his affliction with the disease that forced him to retire from the sport and resulted in his death shortly thereafter. Recently, ALS has drawn renewed publicity thanks to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge for charity, spawned from honoring a former college baseball star named Pete Frates who is currently suffering with the disease after being diagnosed at the young age of 27.

What is ALS?
ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that specifically affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that provide signals to muscles throughout the body. These affected nerve cells degenerate and eventually die out. Without this electrical signal, muscles atrophy. This nerve cell death eventually leads to the inability to initiate and control voluntary muscle movement. The muscle atrophy is exclusive to voluntary muscles such that the cardiac muscle and the smooth muscles of the gut continue to function normally while the skeletal muscles deteriorate.

What are the early signs of ALS?
The earliest symptoms of ALS may involve noticeable muscle loss or weakness in one limb or multiple limbs, speech or swallowing difficulties. ALS is diagnosed through clinical evaluation typically by a neurologist who may use an EMG study (electromyography) to determine evidence of denervation changes of the affected muscles.

How does ALS affect the afflicted?
ALS affects people typically in the middle age of life, with the average age being 55. Those afflicted with ALS vary in the speed of progression of the degenerative changes but ultimately become paralyzed, lose speech and swallowing functions and lose the ability to breathe due to impaired respiratory muscles. Many patients in the advanced stage adapt to the changes by utilizing a gastric tube for feeding and assistive ventilation for respiration. The average lifespan after diagnosis is 2.5 years. Assistive devices such as custom wheelchairs and communication devices due to loss of speech production become essential for patients in the advanced stages of ALS to continue to live and adapt.

What is next for ALS research and possible treatment?
There is no currently known cure or prevention for ALS. One medication, riluzole, is used for modest slowing of the disease process. Research has made progress in identifying some genetic factors that can be seen in families with multiple family members with ALS. More information is known about the pathophysiology of the disease but it remains unclear what causes ALS. Clinical trials of possible treatment drugs and stem cell therapies are ongoing. It is the hope through organizations like the ALS Association that more insight into the disease process will grow and therapies remain possible on the horizon.

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How to Manage Fall Allergies

Mold is another autumnal trigger that can grow on fallen leaves, on rotting wood and in compost piles.

By: Dr. Jeremy Bufford, Allergy & Immunology

Ready to say goodbye to seasonal allergies now that spring and summer have passed? Not so fast. Unfortunately for many people, the approaching autumn doesn’t mean relief from sneezing. Instead, it marks a new array of allergy triggers.

The biggest trigger for late summer and fall allergies is ragweed. More than 36 million Americans are allergic to ragweed pollen and many often suffer from allergies until the first frost. Just one ragweed plant can produce up to a billion pollen grains in one season. There are several other varieties of weeds that pollinate in the fall, as well.

Mold Is Another Autumnal Trigger
Mold can grow on fallen leaves, on rotting wood and in compost piles. Mold can also grow indoors in areas that are moist, such as bathrooms. Pet dander and dust mites are other allergens that can cause year-round flare-ups.

Whether your allergies are caused by ragweed or another allergen, symptoms typically include watery eyes, congestion, nasal discharge, and an itchy throat and nose. Some people with severe allergies may also contend with chronic sinusitis, headaches, and asthma attacks.
To determine which allergen is causing your symptoms, talk with your doctor. A skin test can often identify the source.

Finding Relief
While there is no cure for allergies, here are some tips to help control your symptoms:

  • Remain indoors when pollen counts are at their highest. Ragweed pollens are usually highest in the morning, but to check your area, visit the National Allergy Bureau.
  • Keep windows and doors closed and use an air conditioner with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter.
  • Avoid doing yard work or wear a mask to prevent pollen and mold from reaching your nasal passages.
  • If your child has allergies, schedule an appointment with the school nurse and teachers to discuss his or her triggers.
  • Try using over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, and saline nasal sprays to control your symptoms. A nasal steroid spray is now offered over-the-counter, as well. If these offer no relief, call your doctor.
  • Consider pursuing allergy shots through the Meriter-UnityPoint Health Allergy and Immunology Clinic.

Meriter now offers allergy/immunology services at several clinic sites, Meriter DeForest-Windsor, Meriter Monona, Meriter Deming Way in Middleton (through September 24th), and Meriter McKee (starting September 29th). Please call (608) 417-3000 for an appointment or visit for more information.

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Dr. Kevin Kapadia Joins Our Neurology Team

Dr. Kevin Kapadia, Neurologist

Meriter – UnityPoint Health welcomes neurologist Kevin Kapadia, MD, to the Meriter Specialty Clinic, located on the main floor of Meriter Hospital. He has a genuine interest in his patients’ health and wellbeing, and provides them the tools to manage their chronic illness or recover fully if possible.

Dr. Kapadia wants his patients to know he believes in a team effort when it comes to managing neurologic diseases. He spends as much time as possible with them and ensures they understand everything about the disease process taking place. Through sharing and explanation, decisions are made together about a patients’ care. Dr. Kapadia enjoys treating neurological disorders such as epilepsy, movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, and neuromuscular disorders.

To learn more about our neurology services or how to reduce your risk of stroke, visit

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How to Get an A+ in Healthy Back to School Lunches

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the lunch should have a fruit, a vegetable, two servings of grain, two ounces of meat or beans, a serving of dairy and a smidge of healthy fat.

By: Krista Kohls, MS, RDN, CD

It’s hard to believe but it’s already time to start thinking about back to school and that means finding food to stuff in the lunch box or brown bag for school lunches. Kids’ lunches are an important part of their day at school as they provide energy to help them function, focus and learn. Kids’ lunches should provide about 1/3 of their nutrition for the entire day. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the meal should have a fruit, a vegetable, two servings of grain, two ounces of meat or beans, a serving of dairy and a smidge of healthy fat.

Some kids are fine with a sandwich for lunch 190 days of the year; however, there are many kids that need a variety to stay interested and to keep them away from the a la carte line. Here are a couple tips to keep your kids interested in a home-packed meal.

First, get your kids involved in making their lunch for school. Have your kids pick-out healthy items at the grocery store to include in lunches or have kids actually pack their own lunch in the morning. Keep in mind that kids do not need special food (i.e. fruit snacks, chips, special crackers or cookies or kid specific yogurt). They should be eating the same healthful food as adults.

Secondly, think variety and color. Kids like food that looks appealing and will catch their eye. Here are some options to mix up the everyday brown bag lunch:

  • Grilled chicken breast strips or hummus, sliced red pepper, lettuce/spinach and low-fat cheese in whole-wheat pita, a piece of fresh fruit and a carton of low-fat milk.
  • Canned wild salmon or tuna with whole grain crackers (like Tricuits) with low-fat mayo, a bunch of fresh grapes, and a carton of low-fat yogurt.
  • Quick lunchbox pasta salad (whole wheat pasta, black beans or chicken, veggies, Italian dressing with low-fat cheese), fruit kabobs, and a carton of low-fat milk or cottage cheese.
  • 10-12 Whole wheat crackers, 2 Tbsp peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, soy nut butter or avocado, celery sticks, apple or berries, lowfat/nonfat yogurt.
  • Whole wheat tortilla with peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, or soy nut butter spread on it, wrapped around a banana, cherry tomatoes and/or cucumber slices with hummus, and a carton of low fat milk.
  • Kebobs with pieces of low fat meat, cheese, cherry tomatoes, pineapple, almonds on the side and a low-fat yogurt.
  • And don’t forget about a beverage. Water should always be #1. Second would be low-fat or fat-free milk. If consuming juices try to choose 100% fruit juice – keeping in mind that juice has the same calories per ounce as soda. The whole fruit (i.e. an apple or orange) is always better than juice (apple juice or orange juice). If packing a water bottle, freeze it and put it in your child’s lunch box to keep foods cold. Otherwise, a cold pack works well.

Visit Laptop Lunches to find options for kids and adult lunches.

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10 Tips for Returning to Work After Having a Baby

One way to manage your return to work is by exploring the possibility of going back part-time, job sharing or doing some work from home.

By: Kris Fedenia, RN, Lactation Consultant

Many new moms are returning to work in the early weeks after the birth of their baby. It can be challenging and exhausting without some support and planning. Here are some ideas to help you reduce stress and manage your return to work.

  1. If possible, extend your maternity leave. Explore possibilities for going back part-time, job sharing or doing some of your work from home.
  2. Take good care of yourself during your maternity leave – rest, sleep, eat well and enjoy your new baby. This is a special time for you to get to know each other.
  3. When planning your return date, ease into your first weeks by returning mid or late week. Consider shortening your days if possible.
  4. Choose a caregiver for your baby who will respect your wishes when caring for your baby, keep you informed daily and will allow you to drop-in anytime. You may also wish to schedule a couple of trial runs to day care before your official return to work.
  5. If you are breastfeeding, you can continue to provide breast milk for you baby when you return to work. A few weeks before your return, start pumping breast milk once or twice a day in the morning, between feedings. You may not collect much in the beginning, but pumping will signal your body to produce more milk. You will then be able to collect and freeze some back-up feedings to give to your caregiver.
  6. When planning to pump at work, talk with your supervisor ahead of time. Agree on a private area to pump and plan to take 3 breaks during the day to pump. Federal law requires employers with more than 50 employees to allow moms to pump or feed their babies in a place other than a bathroom for the first year after baby’s birth.
  7. Once back to work, nurse your baby exclusively when you are together. Save pumping for when you are away. Your baby will keep your milk supply higher than a pump. Feed frequently, as often as baby needs. Remember that any amount of breast milk you provide for your baby is wonderful!
  8. Try to simplify your life by enlisting support from your partner, family or friends.
  9. Try to lower your expectations for household cleanliness and accomplishing other tasks.
  10. The first year with your new baby passes quickly. Allow yourself time to enjoy your new family!
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Now Offering Rheumatology Services

Dr. Christine D. Sharkey, Rheumatologist

If you are experiencing pain and inflammation due to a rheumatological condition, you may feel at a loss knowing where to turn for help. Meriter-UnityPoint Health is pleased to announce we offer rheumatology services at two convenient locations: Meriter Deming Way and Meriter Monona. Rheumatologist Christine D. Sharkey, MD will diagnose, treat and manage a variety of diseases that affect your joints, muscles and bones.

A rheumatologist is a board-certified internist who is qualified by additional training and experience to treat numerous rheumatological conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, scleroderma, inflammatory myopathies, vasculitis, arthritis related to other conditions, connective tissue disease related interstitial lung disease, osteoarthritis, complicated gout and other disorders of the immune system.

Dr. Sharkey enjoys building long-term relationships to help you adapt to your diagnosis. She will listen attentively to your concerns and provide you with the best treatment options and tools to manage your chronic condition. Please join Meriter in welcoming Dr. Sharkey!

Call Meriter Deming Way (608) 417-8388 or Meriter Monona at (608) 417-6175 to schedule an appointment today.

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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:

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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

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

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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

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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

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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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