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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Healthy Dishes That Will Cause a Bang at Your Celebration

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

By: Krista Kohls, Clinical Dietitian

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

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

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

Black Bean Burgers
4 servings

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


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

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

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

*Adjust ingredients based on size of salad.*

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

Melon Salad with Lime and Mint
Makes at least 8 servings

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

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

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The ABCs of Infant Safe Sleep

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

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

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

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

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

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Why Men Should Have PSA Screenings

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

By: Dr. Andrew Jahoda, Urology

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

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

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

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

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

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Welcome Dr. Mohammed Saghir to Meriter Wisconsin Heart

Dr. Mohammed Saghir, Cardiologist

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

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

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

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

Please join Meriter in welcoming Dr. Saghir!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Meriter Hospital Farmstand

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

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

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

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Meriter-UnityPoint Health Clinics Honored as Best in the Nation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dr. Dana Johnson: Lacerations are Common Summertime Injuries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Let Your Voice Be Heard

It’s important that you receive the care and service you want and deserve. It’s why we’re currently recruiting members for a new online community where your ideas and opinions will directly shape the future of health care in Dane County.

It’s called My Health Matters: Your voice @ Meriter and Physicians Plus.You tell us a little about yourself, and we’ll send you a couple of interactive surveys each month, catered directly to your needs and interests. 

  • Be Involved! Tell us your ideas for ways to improve your hospital, clinics and service
  • Be heard! Weigh in on decisions we’re considering
  • Be in the know! Receive inside information about happenings at Meriter and Physicians Plus

You’ll also receive regular updates on how your input affected decisions at Meriter and Physicians Plus, and, as a ‘Thank You,’ you’ll be entered to win Amazon gift cards just for becoming a member and participating throughout the year.

Click here to see if you qualify.

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President & CEO Jim Woodward Announces Resignation

Meriter-UnityPoint Health announced today that Meriter President and CEO Jim Woodward has given his resignation. Woodward accepted a new position as CEO of Elliot Health System in Manchester, NH.

“I am honored to have had the opportunity to be part of the Meriter family for nearly eight years,” said Woodward. “There’s no doubt that Meriter, and health care systems throughout the country, is experiencing a lot of change, but I’m resolute in our decision to affiliate with a strong and vibrant partner like UnityPoint Health. I’m leaving Meriter confident that they are set up for future success.”

“Jim has a commitment for impeccable quality and outstanding service – always putting the patient at the center of what we do,” said Meriter-UnityPoint Health Board Chair Ginny Graves. “I sincerely appreciate Jim’s amazing vision and owe him a great debt of gratitude for the road of success he’s led us down. He will be sincerely missed, although we wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”

During his tenure, Woodward’s accomplishments include the growth and development of the Meriter Medical Group, being twice recognized as one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals® by Thompson Reuters, receiving Most Wired Hospital awards and receiving the American Hospital Association’s Quest for Quality award.

Woodward’s last day at Meriter is June 30, 2014. Transition and succession plans are currently being implemented.

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Pediatric After-Hours Clinic Closed on 6/5

The Meriter Pediatric After-Hours Clinic will be closed on Thursday, June 5. Please contact your clinic to schedule an alternative appointment.

If you believe your child is in need of immediate emergency care, dial 911 or take your child directly to the emergency department. Meriter’s Emergency Department is located at 202 S. Park St.

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A Former Olympic Gymnast Overcomes Adversity

Dr. Marie Roethlisberger, a hearing impaired former Olympic gymnast, shares her story about overcoming adversity.

From the 1984 U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team to family medicine at Meriter McKee, Dr. Marie Roethlisberger shares her story about overcoming adversity in this recent Channel 3000 interview.

After losing hearing in her left ear and having almost none in her right, she embraced her hearing loss as a part of who she is giving her self-confidence and self-esteem. She carried that confidence into gymnastic competitions and continues to carry it with her as a family medicine doctor.

Watch the video and learn more about Dr. Roethlisberger’s story.

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Healthy Graduation Party Snack Ideas

By: Michelle Gullickson, Manager of Green Bush Garden Bistro

Looking for something that will please the taste buds of everyone, but with a health twist? Try these helpful hints and recipes at your graduation party!

Give up chips and dip for a homemade hummus.

Quick Homemade Hummus
1 clove of  garlic
1 (19 oz) can of garbanzo beans
4 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of tahini
1 teaspoon of salt
Black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Put everything into a blender and puree adding more ingredients to taste. You can dallop the hummus on top of a thickly sliced cucumber and garnish with a whole garbanzo bean, a sprig of parsley and a little paprika. You can also serve this as a dip for a variety of veggies and/or pita chips.

Fresh Quina Salad
Make quinoa as directed, I add a little veggie base and fresh garlic to the water to boil it in. Once this is prepared refrigerate until chilled completely.

Slice fresh yellow, red and orange bell peppers into thin strips
Slice grape heirloom tomatoes
Peel and slice zucchini
Remove excess water from frozen spinach

Lightly saute peppers, spinach, zucchini and tomatoes in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Then, chill completely.

Mix the chilled quinoa and chilled veggies together and top with feta cheese. Serve cold.

Remember, you can add any veggies you would like to this salad. I think diced sweet potatoes would be a great addition as well. Get creative!

Infused Water
Try infused water instead of punch or soda. This is one of my favorites at any party or get together! Here are a few of my favorite combinations.


  • Cucumber mint: Gently rub the mint leave before putting them in the water because it will really get the flavor out!
  • Fresh berries: Mix fresh berries with fresh basil
  • Citrus: Lemon, limes and oranges can be squeezed and then added to ice water.

Trail Mix
Try your own trail mix! Have separate bowls with an assortment of nuts (I like going unsalted), dried fruits and dark chocolate bites. People love to build their own snacks and be in charge of what they are eating and how much. This is a great snack to be interactive with as well as filling healthy alternative to chips and creamy salads. Have small disposable bowls or cups that guests can fill.

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Attend Therapy Central’s Open House on June 11

Meriter–UnityPoint Health is very excited to announce that our new Therapy Central clinic is complete at 1414 S. Park Street, Madison.

The clinic will start treating patients on May 29. This new facility combines:
• Orthopedic physical and occupational therapy
• Neuro physical, occupational and speech therapy
• Specialty services: hand therapy, pelvic floor therapy, and treatment for lymphedema, balance and falls, concussion, vestibular issues and mobility assessment services.

We invite you to join us on Wednesday, June 11 from 4-6 pm for an open house to tour the new location, meet the therapy staff, enter to win a fitness prize and enjoy refreshments.

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Super Foods for Super Kids Event

Have trouble getting your little one to eat right? Join Meriter–UnityPoint Health dietitians and pediatricians for a kid-friendly afternoon with a super hero twist! You’ll learn about the benefits of adding super foods into your family’s diet, watch a demonstration on how to make a yummy blueberry salsa and get tips for picky eaters. Your kids will have a chance to try some healthy snacks and make super hero crafts.

Register ahead of time, or just stop by the DreamBank, located right on the Capitol Square, during your trip to the Dane County Farmer’s Market on Saturday.

Location: DreamBank (1 North Pinckney)

Date and time: May 31 from 10am-1pm

Cost: Free!

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Dr. Dana Johnson: Get Kids Engaged With the Outdoors

There are several wonderful state parks that are just a short drive from Madison, and some activities you can enjoy at these parks are hiking, fishing, biking, picnicking and canoeing.

Originally published on May 14, 2014, in the Wisconsin State Journal. Dr. Johnson is a pediatrician practicing at the Meriter McKee clinic.

Dear Dr. Johnson: What is the best way to get children active outdoors?

Dear Reader: For most young children, the best way to get them to be active outside is to simply take them there. Some older children may take a bit of coaxing but will often enjoy themselves once there.

I feel that many children (and adults) are nature deprived. So many of our daily activities are done inside and our lives can become so busy that getting outdoors and just playing is not always a high priority. Fresh air and exploring the world around us can be so beneficial to children and adults alike. We also tend to be more physically active when outdoors than indoors.

The National Park Trust has designated May 17, 2014 as “Kids to Parks Day.” “The goal is to engage kids across the country with parks and public lands to promote environmental stewardship and healthy outdoor living.” Thousands of families have already pledged to go to a park on May 17. More information about this event can be found at

If you haven’t already explored them, there are several wonderful state parks that are just a short drive from Madison. Some that my family has explored are Devil’s Lake, Blue Mound and Kettle Moraine. Some activities we have enjoyed at these parks are hiking, fishing, biking, picnicking and canoeing. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources offers the Wisconsin Explorer program where children can complete a booklet while at state parks, forests, trails and recreation areas and earn a patch. Just stop at the ranger station for more information or go to A list of park locations, activities and other information about Wisconsin State Parks can be found at

If you have a bit more time for a drive, the national parks are a great destination. They also offer activities for children to earn patches or badges through the Junior Ranger program. My son has enjoyed filling his National Park passport book with stamps from the various national parks we have visited.

If driving to a state or national park isn’t a possibility for this weekend, don’t forget that in Madison we are fortunate to have many great area parks and lakes. Some offer nature trails. Small children love playing on playground equipment. Older children might enjoy shooting some hoops with a basketball or playing catch.

Don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray. Also wear appropriate shoes for walking and bring water to keep hydrated. But most importantly, get out and enjoy the great outdoors!

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Mammography Now Offers Extended Hours


For your convenience, we are now offering evening hours for our mammography services at Meriter Monona. Mammography is currently the most effective way to detect breast cancer early – when it is most treatable. In fact, mammograms show changes in the breast up to two years before a woman and her physician can feel them.

Our professional technologists will tailor the mammogram to fit your individual needs. We want to provide you with a positive mammography experience.

Bone density scans are also available at Meriter Monona, you can save time by scheduling your mammogram and bone density scan during the same visit.   

Mammography saves lives, call to schedule your screening mammogram
and bone density scan today (608) 417-6288.

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What does Skin Cancer Look Like?

When outside, apply a sun screen of SPF 30+ every two hours, wear hats and clothing that cover your skin and greatly limit your amount of exposure to the sun during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

By: Dr. Jeffrey Larson, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, affecting nearly one in five individuals. Sadly, my practice frequently involves reconstructive surgery following the removal of skin cancer.

Treatment of skin cancer begins with you! Once a month, it is important to do a self-exam of your own skin, moles and blemishes. Intuition may tell you to check more often, but checking once a month will make it easier to see if a spot has undergone a change and needs to be examined by your doctor.

The next component of skin cancer treatment and prevention is a regular visit to your primary care provider. Any concerning areas should be shown to them; they will be able to tell you if a mole or skin growth has suspicious characteristics and needs to be evaluated by a dermatologist. In general, you should consider having a skin check by your primary care doctor once a year. If there is a family history of skin cancer or melanoma, or you, personally, have had skin cancer, more frequent checks may be necessary.

There are many different types of skin cancer, some of which can be life-threatening. To protect your health, it is essential to catch skin cancer early. What skin-lesion and mole characteristics should cause concern? The acronym is simple: ABCDE.

A. Asymmetry – One side of the lesion is not like the other side.
B. Border – The border of the lesion is irregular or poorly defined.
C. Color – There is no certain color that is worse than another. However, if one lesion has multiple colors (shades of tan, black, brown), this may be a reason for concern.
D. Diameter – If the diameter of a lesion is more than 6 mm (or larger than a pencil eraser), this may be a worrisome lesion.
E. Evolving – If you have one mole that looks different from the rest, or appears to have changed, have a doctor look at it.

In the event that skin cancer is diagnosed, there are a variety of treatments that range from topical creams to cryotherapy (“freezing” the lesion with liquid nitrogen) to removing the lesion surgically. The treatment depends on the type of cancer that is diagnosed and where it’s located. A dermatologist will be able to counsel you regarding the best course of action.

In the event that skin cancer is surgically removed and the area is large or in a highly visible location, like the face or neck, reconstruction may be performed by a plastic surgeon. Reconstructive plastic surgery can repair and camouflage skin cancer excision wounds. Each patient and treatment is different. The area may be reconstructed using other tissue around the area (commonly referred to as a local flap) or with skin from somewhere else on the body (a skin graft). More complex reconstructions also exist depending on the needs of the patient. As a plastic surgeon, my goal is to perform a successful reconstruction that matches your native skin as closely as possible.

Of course, no treatment is better than prevention. The leading cause of skin cancer is UV radiation from the sun. When outside, apply a sun screen of SPF 30+ every two hours, wear hats and clothing that cover your skin and greatly limit your amount of exposure to the sun during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you have a lesion you’re concerned about, call your doctor and have it examined.

Learn more about Meriter Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
Learn more about the Meriter Dermatology Clinic.

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Tee Up for Men’s Health

​Meriter–UnityPoint Health invites you for an evening of golf analysis and discussion about men’s health. Although you may prefer to avoid the doctor at all costs, we promise this will be a casual opportunity to ask questions and improve your game.

On Thursday, June 26 from 6-8 pm, join us for golf swing analysis, 3 course dinner and entry into a $5,000 putting contest* at Blackhawk Country Club for only $25.

Location: Blackhawk Country Club
Date and time: June 26 from 6-8 pm
Cost: $25


Register today

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Learn About Food Allergy Safety with The BugaBees

Whether you know a child who has food allergies or you want to learn about how to keep them safe, you don’t want to miss two free events presented by local author Amy Recob, of the popular book series The BugaBees: Friends with Food Allergies, and Meriter-UnityPoint Health allergists and dietitians.

Passport to Food Allergy Awareness
Saturday, May 17
Time: 10:00 a.m. – noon
Location: Madison Central Library, 201 W. Mifflin St, Madison, WI 53703

Millions of children around the world are living with food allergies. This free event is for anyone who happens to be, or simply knows, one of them! Siblings, classmates, friends and family will all benefit from a variety of activities including arts and crafts, story time with author Amy Recob and Q&A opportunities with Meriter board-certified allergists.

“I know firsthand that living with a child who has a food allergy can be stressful and overwhelming at times,” says Amy Recob, author. “Having the ability to attend fun and educational events like this one is important. Not only is it a chance for my child to see she’s not alone, it’s also an opportunity for her friends and family to gain valuable information that will ultimately keep her safe and healthy.”

Allergy-Free Snacks with The BugaBees
Saturday, May 24
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Location: DreamBank, 1 N. Pinckney St, Madison, WI 53703

You don’t want to miss another special appearance by local author Amy Recob. In her book series, The BugaBees offer an optimistic approach to managing food allergies by focusing on all the things kids can – as opposed to can’t – have. Elaborating on Amy’s whimsical stories, Meriter dietitians and allergists will also help parents learn more about food allergies and teach kids how to make a tasty, peanut-free snack.

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Do You Know the Signs of Stroke?

Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability and the 4th leading cause of death for adults in the US. Approximately 800,000 strokes occur each year. The good news is up to 80% of strokes are preventable; learn the signs and symptoms of a stroke and act FAST.

F is for facial weakness; the face feels numb or frozen, especially on one side.
A is for arm weakness; the weakness can be particularly noticeable on one side.
S is for speech problems; the person is unable to speak or understand clearly.
T is for time; the faster a stroke victim gets treatment, the less damage is caused to the brain.

Someone having a stroke may also experience dizziness, loss of coordination, difficulty walking, nausea or vomiting, sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes or have a severe headache with no known cause.

“If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, you could be having a transient ischemic attack or TIA, sometimes called a ‘ministroke,’” explains Meriter-UnityPoint Health Neurologist, Ross Levine, MD, FAHA, FAAN. “This is a warning sign that you might have a full stroke. Prompt treatment of a TIA may help prevent a stroke in the future.”

Quick Facts about Stroke
• Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke
• Every 3-4 minutes, someone in the United States dies from a stroke
• Approximately 15% of strokes are preceded by a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
• About half of patients who experience a TIA fail to report it to their health care provider

Stop Stroke
Through recognition and management of risk factors and lifestyle changes, up to 80% of strokes can be prevented. Stroke factors that can be controlled include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, tobacco use, alcohol use (drinking more than 2 drinks per day) and obesity/excessive weight.

Know the Signs
If you or a loved one has symptoms of a stroke, time is critical. Our trained experts in Meriter’s emergency department (ED) are available 24 hours-a-day to care for an emergency.

If you have experienced a stroke, Meriter has a full team of professionals to assist with your recovery including neurologists, rehabilitation medicine physicians and therapy specialists. The team provides a full array of consultative, diagnostic, treatment and case management services for both inpatients and outpatients.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke could save lives, call 911 and don’t delay – time is critical to prevent a stroke.

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Five Things to Know About Mammograms

Talk to your health care provider to determine your screening schedule.

By: Lucinda Prue, Mammography Technologist

Over the last couple of years there has been some misleading information in the media concerning screening mammograms. How old should you be to have a mammogram? How often should you schedule the examination?

Although this is an important conversation to have with your health care provider here are a few facts from a website supported by the American College of Radiology, the Society of Breast Imaging and the American Society of Breast Disease:

  • Mammography has helped reduce breast cancer mortality in the U.S. by nearly 30% since 1990.
  • The 10 year risk for breast cancer in a 40-year-old woman is 1 in 69.
  • Of all the years of life saved by mammography, 40% are for women in their 40’s.
  • ¾ of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease and are not considered at risk.
  • Even for women age 50+, a mammogram every other year could miss up to 30% of breast cancers.

For additional information visit

Annual mammograms can detect breast cancer early – when it is most treatable.
In fact, mammograms show changes in the breast up to two years before a woman or her physician can feel them. Mammograms can also prevent the need for extensive treatment for advanced cancers and improve chances of breast conservation.

Current guidelines from the American College of Radiology, the American Cancer Society and the Society for Breast Imaging recommend that women at average risk for breast cancer receive yearly mammograms starting at age 40 – even if they have no symptoms or family history of breast cancer. Women with a strong family history of breast cancer are at an increased risk for developing the disease and may want to begin screening mammography before age 40.

Talk to your health care provider to determine your screening schedule. Deciding when to stop yearly screening for mature women should also be decided by you and your health care provider.

Meriter offers screening mammography at the Monona Clinic. The technologists who perform the examination are compassionate as well as highly trained professionals. Be assured that your mammogram will be tailored to meet your individual needs providing you with a positive experience.

To schedule your screening mammogram call 608-417-6288.

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Four Ways to Improve Your Health and Wellness

Find a satisfying and enjoyable way to add physical activity to your daily routine such as gardening or playing with your kids.

By: Marta Staple, APNP at Meriter West Washington

Healthy living. Wellness. Good health.

We hear these terms all the time. We wish for good health for one another and for our children.

We strive for our own wellness. We talk about making healthy choices at the grocery store. We hear these terms on the radio, on the television, at home, at work, in the doctor’s office. But what do “health” and “wellness” really mean?

Is it simply the absence of disease that will provide all of us with good health, or is there something more? The World Health Organization (WHO) boldly defined health in 1948, saying that “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” That sounds like a pretty tall order. I mean, “complete physical, mental and social wellbeing…”?

How do you do that? Who has time for that?

But the truth is, it is reasonable to expect health this good, good thing for ourselves! Even busy women, tired women, parenting women, working women; women can achieve health through making health a priority and committing to that priority. You can start on your road to wellness by creating a plan that includes:

  1. Quiet Time. Create time for yourself every day, if only 10 minutes. Turn off the phone, the computer, the TV. Put down the dishes. Hand your responsibilities to someone else for a few minutes. Be quiet, take a walk, think. Calm your mind. Simply creating time for yourself will help you manage your stress and increase your energy.
  2. Well Balanced Eating. It’s hard to know where to start, or to even know if your diet needs help. Use these simple guidelines: make ½ of every meal plant based foods, avoid sugars and processed food, and keep high fat foods as a rare treat instead of a daily item. Maintain a food diary on paper or through a smartphone app, which will keep you accountable to yourself for every last little cookie. Minimize restaurant food. As much as possible, make your own food from whole food ingredients.
  3. Get Active. Find a satisfying and enjoyable way to add physical activity to your daily routine. Remember that gardening, hiking, skiing, kayaking, running, snowshoeing, playing with kids, and long walks with a friend or partner are all forms of exercise that rewards not only your body but your soul. When you enjoy your activity, you are much more likely to stick with it. Make a goal of 30 minutes of activity 5 days a week. Make a goal of getting just a little bit of sweat on your upper lip.
  4. Avoid the Bad. If you smoke, become motivated to quit! Keep your alcohol consumption to moderate amounts, like 1 drink per day with a meal. Find a good bedtime routine and stick to it, so you can get all the rest you need. Dump the relationships that make you feel bad.

These practical ideas might help you think of your own ways to get started on your road to health. On the other hand, these practical ideas might just sound like someone else’s ideas, and not something that fits with your life. Don’t forget that your healthcare provider does not just help keep you free from disease; healthcare providers are also great at helping you create your own individualized plan for health. Meriter offers many great educational programs, mind-body wellness courses, and exercise and diet classes to help you achieve the health goals that are right for you. Talk to your healthcare provider to create a plan that works for you. Make this a priority, because you deserve good health.

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How to Manage Daily Activities While Living with Arthritis

Contrary to popular belief, low to moderate exercise, including stretching and light strengthening, may help improve arthritis pain.

By: Dr. Amy Franta, Orthopedic Surgery

May is National Arthritis Month! Until I hit middle age, I don’t think I truly understood the impact that arthritis has on the millions of Americans who suffer from it. While my aches and pains simply mean a little stiffness in the morning, for many who suffer from arthritis the disabling pain and stiffness make even the simplest daily activities challenging. This month recognizes the importance of diagnosis, new treatments and research for arthritis.

Arthritis is a condition that can affect any joint in the body. It is generally characterized by inflammation within the joints due to the loss of cartilage, the smooth slippery covering at the ends of the bones where two bones meet. This leads to pain and stiffness of the joints. For those suffering from arthritis, it can be challenging to manage the pain and stiffness and lead an active and healthy lifestyle.

Although there is currently no cure for arthritis, there are many options for managing the symptoms. These options can range from making simple changes to your everyday life to joint replacement surgery. Joint replacement surgery is typically considered only after all other options fail.

Here are a few tips for making everyday activities more manageable:

  • Moderate exercise. Contrary to popular belief, low to moderate exercise, including stretching and light strengthening, may help improve arthritis pain
  • Over the counter medications. Prior to starting any medications, even over the counter medications, it is important to talk to your doctor.
  • Warm moist heat including hot showers or warm packs. According to the Arthritis Foundation, heat therapy should be limited to 15 minutes up to three times a day.
  • Ice packs. Ice packs or cold therapy should be limited to 15 minutes up to four times a day.
  • Weight management. Even slight reductions in weight can improve arthritis pain.
  • Walking aids-cane or walker. Assisted devices can relieve the sore joint leading to improvements in pain. Use canes in the hand opposite of the sore joint.
  • Stress reduction and relaxation. Sore joints need rest. Listen to your body when it is time to relax.

Be aware of the symptoms of arthritis, and talk to your doctor about what diagnostic and treatment options might be right for you. Learn more about Meriter’s Orthopedic Program today.

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