October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By Kimberly Curran, SANE Program Coordinator

Domestic Violence Awareness RibbonDid you know that if your partner chokes you, you are seven hundred more times likely to be a victim of a domestic homicide?

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Experiencing domestic violence is a deeply personal and issue. At Meriter –UnityPoint Health we pride ourselves on understanding the unique concerns and needs of those who are living with domestic violence. Our Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) program team has special training in treating victims of violence, including domestic violence.

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we’re spreading the word about our SANE program and how it can help people who go through domestic violence. The goal of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence is to raise public awareness about domestic violence and be the voice of victims and survivors.

About SANE

Meriter Hospital’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program strives to help sexual assault victims begin the healing process. Since 1988, the SANE Program has provided care to victims of all ages, races and populations; it is one of the longest standing programs in existence.

The program is staffed by registered nurses who have advanced education and instruction in medical-forensic examination and in psychological and emotional trauma. We care for about 400 women, men and children each year from Dane County and many of the surrounding counties. Located within Meriter’s Emergency Department, SANE provides care 24 hours a day, seven days a week – it is the only program of its kind in Dane County. In addition to caring for victims of sexual assault, the SANE program also educates the community in relation to sexual assault and care of victims.

Who seeks treatment from the SANE Program?

People who seek out treatment from our program have typically have been physically hurt by someone they love. Physical violence may include hitting, slapping, kicking, grabbing, sexual assault or choking.

What can you expect if you are seen by a SANE provider?

We can also connect you to resources in the Dane county community and we can offer you options related to your health care. By seeing a SANE provider you can expect privacy, confidential services, photographs of your injuries (if you choose) to document the abuse and assistance in reporting the crime (if you choose). There is another way to live, let us help.

How can I access the SANE program?

SANE services are available via the Emergency Department and are available 24/7. No appointment is necessary. Questions? Call 608-417-5916.
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Support Your Girls: Get a Mammogram

Get a MammogramBy Dr. Susan Toth, MD, General Surgery

“You have a spot on your mammogram.”

“You have breast cancer.”

No two sentences can strike more fear in a woman than those above. And sometimes that fear prevents a woman from actually getting a mammogram in the first place. Yet we know that diagnosing a breast cancer early with a screening mammogram helps with treatment options, surgery and eventual cure.

Breast cancer is treatable and curable most of the time, especially when small and found early. Sometimes the mammogram will find a cancer so early that it is not even physically noticeable to the woman or her doctor. Most breast cancers will occur after age 50 (postmenopausal) and are not genetically associated. So the recommendation is to start mammograms at age 40 and repeat every two years until age 50. Then obtain yearly mammograms after that. If there is a strong family history of breast cancer, then the recommendation is to start yearly mammograms at age 35.

Some women are afraid of the radiation from a mammogram – but rest assured that a mammogram is now digital and even with extra imaging, has minimal radiation risk.

So I encourage you to get your mammogram as recommended. An abnormal mammogram, or even a palpable lump, will lead to a biopsy – but most biopsies (>85%) are benign!  Whew.

The Breast Team at Meriter includes screening mammography at the Meriter Monona Clinic, diagnostic mammogram and possible biopsy as needed at UW Breast Center radiologists, Meriter Surgical Consult as necessary, and reconstruction consultation with Meriter Plastic Surgery.  We work closely with the UW Oncologists as always, and the process is seamless.

Go get your mammogram by calling (608) 417-6288.

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Sore Throats are a Pain

Sore Throats Infographic

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Thank you to our 2015 Heart Walk participants!

Thank you to all who joined us for the American Heart Association® Heart Walk® on October 10. It was great to see so many Meriter blue hats! It was a sunny, fun-filled event with lots of music, mascots and participants. We look forward to continuing to expand our presence each year as we support the American Heart Association’s mission of education, advocacy and research.

Thank you to all of our heroes at Meriter!

Meriter's Heart & Vascular Team

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Meriter – UnityPoint Health Employees Demonstrate that they LOVE TO RIDE!

By Megan Matuszeski, Meriter – UnityPoint Health Employee Wellness Coordinator

Woman Biking to WorkThe employees of Meriter – UnityPoint Health know that riding a bike is awesome; it’s good for the body, mind, wallet, environment and the community. Recently, our employees participated in the Love to Ride Madison Challenge, which was part of an effort to bring together the Madison community to encourage each other to ride a bike and enjoy all those benefits.

The Love to Ride Madison challenge pitted organizations against other similarly sized employers to see which could get the highest percentage of their staff to ride a bike for at least 10 minutes (or more) at least once between Aug. 23 and Sept. 30. The Meriter – UnityPoint Health Team finished in second place for organizations with over 500 employees.

Unlike other cycling challenges, this challenge wasn’t meant to see who could ride the most miles. The aim was to encourage people who don’t yet ride to experience firsthand how easy and enjoyable riding a bike in Madison can be. Love to Ride Madison was all about participation and Meriter – UnityPoint Health employees stepped up to the challenge. Approximately 130 employees participated and almost 1/3 of them were “new” bike riders. The team rode over 8,300 miles total!

If an employee didn’t have their own bike to ride, they could borrow one by using Meriter’s Borrow-a-Bike program. Bikes, helmets, and locks are available for employees to borrow at the main hospital, the Meriter Business Center and Child & Adolescent Psychology Hospital.

The employees that participated in this challenge had positive comments about the experience. Shelly Kinne, Meriter Human Resource Business Partner said, “I really enjoyed the Love to Ride Challenge. It was a great challenge for people of all abilities and fitness levels as the goal was fun and attainable. I love that some people who participated hadn’t been on a bike in years, but with Meriter’s Borrow-a-Bike program available as well, there was really no excuse not to get out for 10 minutes! The Madison area has such wonderful trails that so many people aren’t aware of, so I love that this activity also made people more aware of some of the things our region has to offer. I thought this was a terrific challenge, and I look forward to participating next year!”

A huge thanks to all employees that participated and to the organizers of the challenge!

The Love to Ride Madison Challenge is just one example of Meriter – UnityPoint Health’s employee wellness program. We pride ourselves on encouraging our team members to lead a healthy lifestyle.

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Delayed Options for Breast Reconstruction

By Dr. Jeffrey Larson, Board-Certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon

Breast cancer awarenessAs a plastic surgeon, I have the privilege of helping women who have suffered from breast cancer. After the general surgeon removes the cancer, I am brought in to help patients restore a natural appearance.

I also have the opportunity to care for patients who are interested in breast reconstruction months or years after their treatment for breast cancer has successfully concluded.  The reasons for delaying reconstructive surgery range from personal preference to financial concerns to health issues. Unfortunately, another reason for delayed reconstruction may be lack of information prior to breast cancer removal surgery—fewer than 50% of women are counseled regarding their reconstructive options before undergoing surgery to remove their breast cancer.

If you have been treated for breast cancer in the past but did not pursue or were not offered reconstruction at the time, you still have options after a delay in treatment. It is as simple as setting up an appointment with a plastic surgeon to discuss your choices.

Typically, reconstruction options fall into three categories:

  1. Using the patient’s own tissue: The skin, fat and muscle from the abdomen can be used to reconstruct one or both breasts in a procedure called a TRAM flap operation. In recent years, a procedure that spares the muscle and uses only skin and fat, called the DIEP flap operation, has grown in popularity.
  2. Using breast implants: For patients who pursue reconstruction with breast implants, the process usually begins by placing an inflatable implant. For several weeks, this implant is inflated in the clinic. This slow inflation process gradually stretches the tissues to create a space for a permanent implant, placed in the second stage of reconstruction. Nipple reconstruction may also be performed at that time or later.
  3. Applying a combination of the two methods: For some patients who are unable to have reconstruction using their abdominal tissue, a procedure that combines both the patient’s own tissue from the back and the use of an implant is performed.

While there are a variety of reconstructive options available, there is no reconstructive option that is better or worse. Likewise, not every option is available for every patient, as everyone is different: weight, breast size, history of radiation therapy or previous surgery may have an impact on the type of reconstruction that’s possible.

It is important to know you still have reconstructive options weeks, months or years after your surgery to treat breast cancer. Together with your doctor, you can assess the options best suited to your body and the desires you have for your reconstruction.

One of the first plastic surgeons in history described our specialty as one that “restores and makes whole,” and I am pleased to apply this principle to my treatment of patients affected by breast cancer.

Learn more about Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Meriter – UnityPoint Health.

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Class Cancelled: Parenting a Child with Sensory Processing Challenges

Due to an unexpected illness, the October 15, 2015 Parenting a Child with Sensory Processing Challenges class has been cancelled.

We apologize for the inconvenience. The next class will be on January 21, 2016
6:30-8:30 pm
Location: Meriter Hospital, 2 North 202 S. Park Street

The class will have two guest speakers: Leslie Redmond, who is the mother of an adult child with an autism and mental health diagnosis, to share their family’s journey from childhood into adulthood. She will be joined by Dr. Benson, a psychologist in Madison who has been dedicated to working with families of children with autism and other diagnosis in our community for many years.

If you have any questions or if you would like to register for the class, please contact pediatric occupational therapy at (608) 417-6173 or email pbacskai@meriter.com

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Flu Vaccines Myths & Truths

Flu Myths & Truths

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Meriter Therapy Middleton is Moving

We are excited to announce that we are moving our Meriter Therapy Middleton clinic to a new convenient Middleton location at 2275 Deming Way. The new facility is easy to find with close, accessible parking.

The last day of services at our current location, 2521 Allen Blvd, will be Wednesday, October 28th. Services at our new location, 2275 Deming Way, Suite B100, will begin on Tuesday, November 3rd.

The new location allows us to create an orthopedic hub with orthopedic and sports medicine physicians, Turville Bay Imaging and therapy all conveniently located in the same building. Our brand new therapy site will include:
•    Orthopedic physical therapy
•    Orthopedic occupational therapy
•    Sports physical therapy

We will continue to provide aquatic therapy two days a week at our current location at Harbor Athletic Club, 2529 Allen Blvd in Middleton. Patients can continue to schedule their aquatic appointments through Meriter Therapy Middleton by calling 608-417-8025. Patients will be able to enter more conveniently through the Harbor Athletic Club front entrance and check in with a Meriter staff person at the Harbor Athletic Club front desk.

At the new Middleton location on Deming Way, we will no longer offer pelvic floor services. However, we will now be offering pelvic floor therapy at our Meriter Therapy West location at 5252 Tokay Blvd. Also OT hand therapy will move from Meriter Therapy West to the new Middleton location.

We remain dedicated to providing you with the highest quality therapy services.

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We want your candy! (But, don’t worry – it’s for a good cause!)

Please join us at the Meriter – Unity Point Health Halloween Candy Trade-In Party!

Nov. 7, 2015 from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. at Meriter West Washington.

Stop by to trade in your extra Halloween candy for a fun, healthy treat – as well as the chance to draw entries for great prizes. The more candy you bring in, the more entries you’ll receive. All candy will be sent to U.S. Troops through Operation Gratitude.

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Fall Recipes for the Whole Family

Enjoy these recipes from dietitian Michelle Miller to help your family enjoy the seasonal tastes of fall. You can try more of Michelle’s recipes everyday at the Greenbush Garden Bistro, located near the Meriter Hospital lobby.

Butternut Squash  Mac and Cheese


  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni – whole wheat, low glycemic, gluten free…any will work!
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 small butternut squash (4-5 cups cubed)
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup shredded cheese – I like Gruyère but any kind will work
  • parsley for topping
  • salt and pepper to taste


Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium low heat. Cut the onion into thin rings and add to the butter in the pan, sauteing over low heat until fragrant and golden, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the skin and the seeds from the squash. Cut the flesh into small cubes. Bring the broth to a boil and add the squash. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until fork tender. Drain, reserving ½ cup broth, and transfer squash to the blender. Add the onions, milk, salt, and reserved broth and puree until completely smooth and creamy. This should yield about 4 cups sauce.

Pour the pureed sauce over the cooked noodles and add the shredded cheese. Stir to melt the cheese; add water or milk to adjust consistency as needed. Serve with parsley, salt, and pepper to taste.

Pumpkin Fluff


  • 15 ounces pumpkin
  • 1 (3.5 ounce) package of vanilla instant pudding mix, fat free, sugar-free
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip Free, thawed
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice, cinnamon, nutmeg


Using mixer, blend pumpkin and spice with the milk and mix.

Fold in Cool Whip. Chill.

Serve with ginger snaps, vanilla wafers or graham crackers

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Don’t let the flu tackle you

Don't let the Flu tackle you this seasonBy Dr. Nicole Baumann-BlackmorePediatric Hospital Medicine

School is back in session and fall is in the air. Unfortunately that also means that cold and flu season is right around the corner. We all get several colds each year but are typically able to go about our daily routine despite the illness. Influenza is a different story. In this blog we will review the basics about influenza and discuss ways to keep you and your family healthy this winter.

What is influenza?

Influenza is a viral illness caused by the influenza viruses.  The most common causes are Influenza A and B.  Typically a few strains of the virus circulate each year and cause the majority of the illness.  Infection with influenza can cause mild to severe symptoms and can even lead to hospitalization or death.


Unlike with the common cold, influenza typically causes fever, chills, and body aches, along with headache, fatigue, nasal congestion and cough.  These symptoms tend to come on quite suddenly.

Course of the illness

For most people, the illness is self-limited and typically lasts 5-7 days.  However, there are some patients at much higher risk of developing complications of influenza.  These groups of patients include:
  • Young children, particularly those under the age of 2 years
  • Pregnant women
  • Adults over 65 years of age
  • People with chronic health conditions including asthma, diabetes or heart problems
  • People with weakened immune systems
Complications for these higher risk patients can include pneumonia and other secondary bacterial infections (like ear and sinus infections), meningitis, premature labor or miscarriage, or a worsening of their underlying medical condition.


Most people with influenza improve with rest, plenty of fluids, and fever-reducing/pain-relieving medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.  In some cases, particularly for patients at risk for complications, doctors will prescribe an antiviral medication.  These medications are most effective when started within the first 48 hours of the illness.  It is also important to note that these medications do not “cure” the illness but may shorten the duration of symptoms by 1-2 days and help decrease the risk of complications.  The anti-viral medications are also not without side effects (most commonly nausea and vomiting) so talk with your primary care provider about whether one of these medications would be helpful in your particular situation.


As with most viral illnesses, the best treatment is prevention.  Here are ways to keep you and your family healthy and influenza-free:
  • Get vaccinated! The influenza vaccine is recommended yearly for everyone 6 months of age and older.  The vaccine is carefully developed each year to contain the 3 or 4 strains of the virus that are most likely to circulate that season.  Because of this, it is important to get vaccinated every year.  It also means that the vaccine isn’t necessarily 100% effective so other methods of prevention are also important.  Getting the vaccine is important to keep you healthy but is also important to help prevent the spread of the illness to those who may be unable to get the vaccine due to young age or health reasons.  The influenza vaccine is available in both an injectable form and as a nasal spray.  Talk to your primary care provider about which is best for you.
  • Wash your hands! The influenza virus can live on hard surfaces (door handles, keyboards, phones, etc.) for up to 48 hours.  Frequent hand-washing or use of hand sanitizer during the winter months can help protect you from developing this and other illnesses.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes! Sneezing or coughing into a tissue or into your inner elbow (rather than on your hand that will then touch other objects or into the air where the virus can come into contact with others) can help prevent spread of the virus.
  • Stay home if you are sick! Adults with influenza are typically contagious for about 5 days.  Children can spread the virus even longer.  If you are ill, and particularly if you have a fever, stay home from work or school until you are feeling better.  A good rule of thumb is to stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever subsides (without the use of fever-reducing medications).  This will help prevent the spread of the virus to others.
October typically marks the start of influenza season, but there have already been sporadic reports of influenza in parts of the United States.  Clinics have started receiving the influenza vaccine so call your primary care provider’s office today to schedule your flu shot appointment!
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Breast Cancer Prevention and Early Detection

By Dr. Nicole Baumann-Blackmore, Pediatric Hospital Medicine

Breast Cancer AwarenessAs is the case with many diseases, it is easy to think that breast cancer will never happen to you or a loved one. The statistics, however, show otherwise. Strikingly, one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Since October is breast cancer awareness month, we thought this would be the perfect time to do just that – increase your awareness, particularly about early detection and prevention methods.
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women (skin cancer is first – wear your sunscreen!!) and the second most likely to cause death (after lung cancer – don’t smoke!!). Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast grow abnormally. These abnormal cells do not respond to our body’s natural mechanisms of protection, events such as programmed cell death that would typically destroy cells that have not formed normally. These abnormal cells can then organize into a tumor and invade surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body. Breast cancer can be treatable and even cured if detected early, before the cancer cells have a chance to spread.


Some risk factors for the development of breast cancer, like your family history, cannot be changed and no method of prevention is 100 percent. However, there are some things that women can do to lower their risk of breast cancer.
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle: watch your weight, exercise regularly, don’t smoke and limit your alcohol intake.
  • Breast-feed your babies: studies show that breast-feeding decreases the risk of a woman developing breast cancer. The longer you breast-feed, the more protective the effect.
  • Limit your exposure to hormone replacement therapy during and after menopause: Try to manage your symptoms of menopause without medications. If you are not able to do that effectively, work with your doctor to take the lowest dose of medication possible and take it for the shortest period of time possible.
  • Limit your exposure to radiation: Radiology tests such at CT scans require high doses of radiation which have been shown to increase the risk of cancer. Only undergo such tests if absolutely necessary and recommended by your doctor.


Many studies have shown that the earlier a breast cancer is detected, the better the outcome. Recommendations for the methods of detection vary based on a woman’s age and other risk factors, such as her family history. You should always discuss the options best for you with your doctor. In general, these are the most common methods of detection:
  • Breast self-exams: Monthly breast self-exams are recommended for all women, starting in their teens or twenties. While the risk of breast cancer is exceedingly low for this younger age group, it is important for women to know what is normal for them so that if something changes, they have a better chance of detecting the problem and can alert their doctor.
  • Clinical breast exams: These are breast exams performed by your health care provider. When women are in their twenties and thirties, these exams should be performed at least every three years as part of a regular checkup.  Starting at age 40, these exams should be performed yearly.
  • Mammograms: Although there has been some recent controversy surrounding the utility of screening mammograms, the American Cancer Society, along with other medical societies, continue to encourage mammograms as part of the early detection process for breast cancer. Women age 40 and above should have yearly mammograms.
  • Know your personal and family history and discuss it with your doctor: There are some genetic conditions and genetic mutations that greatly increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. Women with this increased risk are often recommended to have a yearly breast MRI in addition to the yearly mammogram.
Treatment and prognosis of breast cancer is complex and determined based on the type of cancer and the stage (did it stay localized or spread?) at which it is diagnosed. In general, the earlier breast cancer is detected, the better the prognosis with early stage cancers having a greater than 90 percent survival rate.
Prevention is best. In the cases where prevention methods are not enough, knowing your risk and working with your health care provider to schedule the detection studies that are right for you, can help you to find and treat breast cancer early and live your life to the fullest!
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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Every woman wants to know what she can do to lower her risk of breast cancer. Some of the factors such as being a woman, your age, and your genetics, can’t be changed.

Other factors — being overweight, lack of exercise, smoking, and eating unhealthy food — can be changed by choosing healthier lifestyle options; you can empower yourself and make sure your breast cancer risk is as low as possible.

Annual screening mammography is the key to finding breast cancer early – when it’s most treatable and before you or your health care provider can feel a problem. Routine mammograms can also prevent the need for extensive treatment for advanced cancers and improve your chances for having successful breast reconstruction.

Call Meriter – UnityPoint Health today at (608) 417-6288 to schedule your screening mammogram, no referral is needed.

Learn more about breast cancer prevention and early detection.

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What May Surprise You about Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding creates a bond between mom & baby and gives baby a healthy start!

Breast-feeding Infographic

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Meal Planning Made Easy

Krista Kohls, Registered Dietitian, MS, CD
Krista works closely with Meriter Women’s HeartCare, a lifestyle program designed especially for women by women. The team can help you find out your risk for heart disease and take the necessary steps to prevent it and improve your overall health and wellbeing.

Do you feel like you are in a rut with making meals? Has life gotten busy and you haven’t had the time to put any effort into meal planning? I’ve been there, but utilizing the tips below can make a huge difference to get you back on a healthy track for making home-cooked meals!

 Prepare ahead of Time

  • Once per week (I like Sundays) do an assessment of your weekly activities, work schedules and try to plan some meals based on that. Or if you are watching a show, use a phone app to plan your meals during commercial breaks (see app ideas below).
  • Be realistic with yourself and try to keep complicated meals for nights when you have more time. Have quick and easy recipes ready for nights when you are busy (see below—we make pesto pizza once a week when we don’t have a lot of time, and this is much healthier than getting pizza delivered).
  • Utilize “planned” leftovers as much as possible (e.g. roast chicken and vegetables on Sunday and then chicken with vegetable soup on Tuesday).
  • Talk with family members and also check websites, apps and magazines (see below) for recipes and meal ideas. Have family members make a list of their favorite meals/recipes to give you ideas.
  • Breakfast for dinner or dinner for breakfast is totally fine! I like veggie omelets with whole wheat toast when we need something quick for dinner. And who says you cannot have leftover chicken, potatoes and veggies for breakfast?!

Utilize Meal Planning/Recipe Apps and websites

  • Check your local grocer’s website for help with meal planning. I use the Hy-Vee app by plugging in my shopping list and also getting recipe and meal ideas. 
  • Paprika, MealBoard and Pepperplate are also good apps to use for storing recipes and meal planning. Allrecipes Dinner Spinner is a good app to use to get recipe ideas; all you have to do to is type in one ingredient and you will get many recipes to choose from.
  • If you would prefer websites instead of apps, check out plantoeat.com for help with meal planning for a small yearly fee. Cooking Light also has a meal planner that you can drag and drop recipes into: cookinglight.com/weeknight-meal-planner. Finally, 100daysofrealfood.com/our-free-meal-plans/ gives you 5 weeks of free meal plans just by becoming an email subscriber.

Host a “Meal Assembly” Party

  • Invite friends over to make multiple meals together to freeze and have on hand. Plan out 3–5 recipes and tell friends to bring the protein and veggies and split up the spices, oil and extra ingredients. Then, together, you can make meals ahead of time to freeze and pull them out on nights when things get busy!


Quick Pesto Pizza
Serves 2–4


  • 1 ready-made whole wheat pizza crust (I keep the Angelic Bakehouse’s Flatzza Pizza Crusts in my fridge at all times to have on hand.)
  • 3–4 tablespoons pesto (I usually freeze extra pesto in ice trays and then put them in freezer bags.)
  • 1 mozzarella ball, shredded
  • 3 roma tomatoes, sliced
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. Turn Broiler to High (or if your pizza crust has cooking instructions you could use those also).
  2. Spread pesto on the pizza crust. Then put shredded mozzarella on top of the pesto followed by the sliced tomatoes.
  3. Put on a pizza stone and cook for around 15 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown. Top with red pepper flakes (optional). Serve with some veggies or a side salad.
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Easy Gluten-Free Breakfast, Lunch and Snacks Ideas

By Laura Snyder, Registered Dietitian, CD
Eating gluten-free is easier than ever. More restaurants have gluten-free menus, more stores offer a large variety of gluten-free products, and purchasing gluten-free products online is now an option. What hasn’t changed is that life is busy. The time we have to make a meal varies and sometimes there is no time at all. Remember quick and easy can still be healthy. Here are a few ideas for meals and snacks on the run.


  • Overnight oatmeal – Make oatmeal easy and fast in a glass jar. The night before, mix well ½ cup certified gluten-free oatmeal, 6 ounces of low-fat or fat-free blueberry yogurt and 1 teaspoon Chia seeds in a glass jar. Seal and refrigerator overnight. Top with blueberries and walnuts in the morning before eating.
  • Cereal – Did you know Cheerios is the newest mainstream cereal made gluten-free?  You can now enjoy an old favorite. Add fruit, low-fat milk, and nuts for a nutritious breakfast.
  • Breakfast Sandwich – Eggs are naturally gluten-free and a great source of protein. Make a breakfast sandwich by cooking beaten eggs, mushroom, onion and green pepper. Wrap the mixture in a gluten-free wrap. Udi’s and La Tortilla Factory gluten-free wraps are one of many good gluten-free wraps available.


  • Go vegan! Layer black beans, garbanzo beans, spinach, corn, diced onions and diced tomatoes in a large glass jar. Top with balsamic vinegar or your favorite salad dressing. I like Newman’s Parmesan and Roasted Garlic salad dressing (not vegan). Fat-free sour cream is optional. Seal and pack in your lunch.
  • Gluten-free pasta can be made ahead and packed easily in your lunch, too. Cook gluten-free brown rice penne pasta separately as directed. In a skillet with olive oil, cook 2 cups diced chicken breast and 1 jar sun-dried tomatoes until chicken is done. Mix together 8 ounces of cooked gluten-free penne pasta, the cooked chicken & sun-dried tomatoes mixture and ½ cup gluten-free basil pesto.
  • Roll-ups. Make a gluten-free wrap using the wraps mentioned above. Spread a generous layer of your favorite hummus. Then, layer gluten-free turkey slices, followed by romaine lettuce, sliced tomatoes and sliced onion. Top with light gluten-free ranch dressing. Roll it up for a fast meal on-the go.


  • Bars – Nature Valley has a variety of gluten-free nut or protein bars that make a quick and easy snack.
  • Tomato slices topped with tarragon and feta cheese are delicious.
  • Pumpkin Seeds – Pumpkins are in season. After carving them, why not roast the pumpkin seeds for a tasty snack?
  • Nutella spread on a rice cake is always a favorite.


Curried Chicken Salad with Grapes—adapted from Cooking Light

½ cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons water
1 cup cooked, chopped skinless, boneless chicken breast
½ cup red grapes, sliced in half
¼ cup chopped celery
Salt and raisins are optional
Combine mayonnaise, curry powder and water in a medium bowl, mixing until well blended. Add chopped chicken, sliced grapes, celery and optional salt & raisins. Mix well. Cover and chill. Serve with gluten-free Crunch Master Crackers or on gluten-free bread.
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Stepping On Fall Prevention Program

Stepping On - Building Confidence & Reducing Falls

Oct. 13, 2015 – Nov. 24, 2015

What is Stepping On?

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 seven 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.

What you will learn

  • Simple and fun balance and strength training
  • The role vision plays in keeping your balance
  • How medication can contribute to falls
  • Ways to prevent falling when out and about in your community
  • What to look for in safe footwear
  • How to eliminate fall hazards from your home

Is This Workshop for You?

Stepping On is designed specifically for anyone who:
  • Is age 65 or older
  • Has had a fall in the past year
  • Is fearful of falling
  • Lives at home
  • Does not have dementia
It is the process in which the program is taught that makes it effective. Classes are highly participative; mutual support and success help build the participant’s confidence in their ability to manage their health behaviors to reduce the risk of falls and to maintain active and fulfilling lives.

Here’s what some workshop participants have to say:

“When I’m walking, I still think ‘lift your feet, walk heel-to-toe.’ I have stopped falling outside! It has made me more aware of the way I walk.”
“It’s made me more aware. Just so much more aware of buses, my home, making it brighter inside, getting rid of leaves outside, of everything”
“Not only did we learn some things about preventing falls, but we had a good time doing it. It was really fun”

Why should I be concerned about falling?

Falling is very common. It can result in injury and can shake your confidence. The threat of falling can be a barrier to safely doing all the things you want to do at home in your community. That’s why preventing falls is critical to maintaining independence.

Did you know?

  • More than one-third of people age 65 or older fall each year
  • Falls are the leading cause of injury and hospitalization for trauma and death among older adults • 35 percent of people who fall become less active
  • 40 percent of people who enter a nursing home had a fall in the prior 30 days
Dates: Classes will be weekly on Tuesdays for seven weeks, starting Oct. 13, 2015 — Nov. 24, 2015
Time: 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., except class Oct. 13 will be from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.; class Nov. 3 will be 9:00-11 a.m.
Location: Meriter Monona | 6408 Copps Avenue | Monona, WI 53716
Cost: $35 per person
How to Register: Please contact Jenny Wallskog at (608) 417-8262 or email jennifer.wallskog@unitypoint.org
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Legionnaires’ disease – Where does it come from?

by Katelyn Harms, Infection Prevention and Control

Legionella ResultsLegionnaires’ disease (or Pontiac Fever), caused by water-borne bacteria called Legionella, took its name from an outbreak of the illness at a 1976 American Legion Convention in Philadelphia. Legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment, typically in warm water. Illness occurs when people breathe in mist or droplets of water that contain the bacteria. Legionnaires’ outbreaks cannot be spread person-to-person and are always associated with water sources.

For example, a hotel’s water cooling tower was the sources of the recent outbreak in the Bronx. Several outbreaks have also occurred after sick patients were exposed to contaminated water from cooling towers, ornamental fountains and even shower heads.

The best way to prevent Legionnaires’ is to maintain clean water sources. For example, Meriter – UnityPoint Health has removed ornamental fountains from the hospital and routinely treats and monitors domestic and cooling tower water supplies. They also have a water safety team that conducts Legionella testing of hospital water sources to ensure patients are safe.

For more info, visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Join us at the 2015 Heart Walk!

Meriter is proud to again support the American Heart Association at its annual Heart Walk.

Did you know cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death for American men and women? In fact, heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined.

Join us—and more than a million people in 300+ cities across America—in taking a stand against heart disease! The Heart Walk is a non-competitive walk that celebrates those who have made lifestyle changes and encourages many more to take the pledge to live heart-healthy lifestyles, all while raising the dollars needed to fund life-saving research and raise awareness of this preventable disease.

This year’s event will be on Saturday, October 10 at the Alliant Energy Center, Willow Island.

  • 8:00am  Gates Open
  • 9:15am  Opening Ceremonies
  • 9:30am  Walk Begins

If you are interested in participating, please visit the Heart Walk website to join one of the Meriter teams or start your own!

There is no registration fee, but participants are encouraged to fundraise.

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“The Plague”- Yes, It’s Still Around

by Katelyn Harms, Infection Prevention and Control


Human plague may sound like a disease of the past, but cases are still occurring in the U.S. Plague is often found in the western US in rural or semi-rural areas. The disease is caused by bacteria (Yersinia pestis) and associated with fleas and wild rodents (such as rats, squirrels or prairie dogs). It is spread when a flea bites an infected rodent, then that flea moves on to humans or domestic pets. It can also be spread by inhaling the droplets from the couch of an infected human or pet (especially sick cats).

There has not been any identified plague cases in Wisconsin, however if traveling to endemic areas, it is important to remember these prevention tips from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Protect yourself

  1. Eliminate nesting places for rodents around homes by removing brush, rock piles, trash and excess firewood.
  2. Avoid picking up or touching dead animals or wear gloves.
  3. Report sick or dead animals to the local health department or law enforcement officials.
  4. Do not let pets sleep in the bed with you. This has been shown to increase your risk of getting plague.
  5. Use insect repellent that contains DEET to prevent flea bites.

Protect your pets

  1. Treat dogs and cats for fleas regularly.
  2. Keep pet food in rodent-proof containers.
  3. Take sick pets to the veterinarian promptly.
  4. Do not allow pets to hunt or roam in rodent habitat, such as prairie dog colonies.
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10 Activities to Improve Memory

Staying active can help improve memory for those suffering from Alzheimer’s.  Here are 10 tips to improve memory.

10 Activities to Improve Memory

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Vaccinations – Not Just For Kids

Contact your primary care clinic to get your vaccines!

Vaccinations- Not Just For Kids Infographic

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Breast-feeding 101

By Dr. Carleen Hanson, M.D., Pediatrician

new mom breast feedingIt’s important for new moms to know that breastfeeding is different for everyone and while sometimes it goes smoothly from the start, for other moms it doesn’t click right away (think of all the other things in life that take time to learn, such as learning a language or riding or bike, plus successful breast-feeding is dependent not only on the mother, but on the infant as well). My advice would be to try for at least two weeks before deciding that it’s not for you, as it really can take that much time to get the kinks worked out (and sometimes even longer). I think that it’s also important to try to focus on what is working and go from there. Some women feel so much pressure to breast-feed (often self-imposed) that when it’s not going smoothly, negative feelings take over instead of focusing on enjoying your new baby. Finally, I can’t overemphasize the importance of having continued support for breast-feeding once you leave the hospital, whether it’s through your newborn’s doctor or a lactation consultant as there is so much that changes with breast-feeding in the first few days after birth.

Breast-feeding benefits

Breast-feeding provides so many benefits for you baby. For instance:

  • Easier digestion — We know that breastmilk is better digested/tolerated than formula for most infants.
  • Customized for your baby — Most parents aren’t aware of the fact that breastmilk actually changes in its composition as your baby grows, so it truly is custom-made for your baby.
  • Immune boosting — There are other benefits to the infant including less infections and lower incidence of SIDS.
  • Obesity Risk Reduced — Studies have also shown less risk of obesity for breast-fed infants.
  • Good for mom too — There are a multitude of benefits to moms as breast-feeding has been shown to help with recovery after delivery, decrease the chance of postpartum depression and lower the risks of some cancers.

Breast-feeding Resources

There are some classes or books you can read about breast-feeding ahead of time, and while I don’t discourage new moms from preparing, I think the majority of “learning” about breast-feeding occurs once you have your baby, since the infant plays a huge role in how breast-feeding goes.

Feeding Schedules

  • Feed often — Newborns have very small stomachs, so regardless of whether they are breast-fed or bottle fed, they eat very frequently — initially a baby usually feeds about every one to three hours, for 8-12 feeds a day.
  • Follow babies cues — While it’s very tempting to try to “schedule” feeds, once a newborn is gaining weight well, I generally tell new moms to nurse their baby when he/she is acting hungry; as long as an infant is gaining weight, it’s better to follow a baby’s cues than to “schedule” feeds.
  • Wait to set a schedule — Typically, as an infant gets older, the feeds become more predictable in their spacing and duration. Most commonly the feeds space out a little more, closer to three to four hours, but again, every baby is different.

Latching issues

Because you’ll be spending so much time with your baby breast-feeding, you’ll want to devote time to ensuring your baby has a good latch. For new breast-feeding moms, I think issues related to latch are the stem of many breast-feeding problems; sometimes it’s hard to know what a good latch is and what isn’t. The main way to help with this is to get help when in the hospital and don’t be afraid to ask your baby’s doctor to assess breast-feeding after you leave the hospital if there is a concern.

What about discomfort?

I’d be lying if I said that breast-feeding is completely pain-free, as there often is some discomfort as your breasts get used to breast-feeding; however, this should only last for a few days. You should know that if breast-feeding is continually painful, then this is a sign that something is likely wrong, whether it be the latch or possible infection of the nipple or breast. If this is the case, then you should be in touch with your infant’s doctor or else a lactation specialist to have them evaluate what may be happening.

Breast-feeding challenges

I often get asked why many women give up on breast-feeding, and I think discomfort due to latch issues is a huge factor. I think other times, women worry about not having enough milk. Because there isn’t a great way to measure how much milk a breast-fed infant gets (wouldn’t it be great if breasts came with gauges to help with this?), parents have the tendency to attribute fussiness to hunger, which can be the case, but not always. Finally, despite all the pro-breastfeeding messages out there right now, our society still doesn’t go the extra step to help working moms continue to succeed at breast-feeding, so it’s not uncommon for a new mom to breast-feed for the first two or three months, and then stop when they have to return to work.

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Finding a Balance for Over-Programmed Kids

Today, children often have busy schedules of academics, sports, music and other extracurricular activities. Find out how being over-scheduled can impact you and your child.Finding a health balance for over-programmed kids

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