7 Tips for Keeping Your Kids Healthy This Halloween

It’s that time of year again when BIG bags of candy start appearing on the store shelves.  And with the rising rates of childhood obesity, it’s important to provide healthy alternatives to the traditional Halloween treats.  Here are 7 helpful hints to keep your little ones healthy and happy this Halloween season!

  1. Instead of handing out candy this year try these healthy alternatives:
    Granola or cereal bars
    Trail mix snack packs with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit
    Mini pretzel packs
    Fig cookies
    Animal crackers
    Goldfish crackers
    Sugar-free gum
  2. Or ditch snacks altogether and hand-out non-food items:
    Mini Play dough containers
    Spider rings
    Halloween pencils
    Stickers
    Crayons
    Tiny decks of cards
    Glow necklaces
  3. Little ones would likely even be happy with a dime or nickel.  So, take the money you would normally spend on candy (some of the bags are $6.99 for 30 pieces!) and get change in dimes and nickels and put them in your Trick-or-Treat basket.
  4. Don’t send your children Trick-or-Treating on an empty stomach.  Make sure they have a healthy, well balanced meal before heading out so they aren’t tempted to snack on their candy.
  5. Always keep your children’s Trick-or-Treat candy in your possession and out of their reach.  This ensures that your children are not eating a pound of candy right before bed each night.
  6. Set a limit of candy that your children can have ahead of time (i.e. maybe 1-2 pieces each day).  Eventually your children will probably forget they have Halloween candy and you can throw it out.
  7. If your child needs a treat for a party or school try making these easy recipes:
    Banana Ghost Pops.  Peel a banana, cut in half and then cut in half length wise again. Dip in vanilla or honey greek yogurt and use mini chocolate chips for eyes.  Put a stick in the bottom and freeze before serving.
    A platter with a pumpkin made out of carrots, cucumbers for the mouth, broccoli for the stem and dip containers for the eyes and nose.
    Clementines with pumpkin faces drawn on them.Sincerely,

    Krista Kohls, RD, CD
    Meriter Clinical Dietitian

Posted in Health Care Connection | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Review of Breast Health and Breast Cancer Reduction Strategies

Having a diet composed predominately of fruits and vegetables resulted in a lower risk of breast cancer.

In the United States, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and the second most common cancer death in women. Breast cancer screening and early detection is the best strategy for breast cancer detection. Reducing risk factors and living a healthy lifestyle are the best strategies for continued breast health. Here are some healthy tips on what you can do yourself to reduce your risk of breast cancer.

FACTORS THAT MAY REDUCE BREAST CANCER

1) Use alcohol in moderation. Breast cancer has been shown to be higher in women who consume 1-3 drinks/day compared to abstainers.
2) Don’t smoke. Smoking is carcinogenic to your body.
3) Breastfeed your babies. A protective effect of breastfeeding has been shown against breast cancer.
4) Eat a healthy diet. A diet composed predominately of fruits and vegetables, resulted in lower risk of breast cancer. The influence of red meat/processed meats, refined grains (white bread, white rice, and white pasta), sugary foods, and high fat diary is not clear. Replace these foods with lean meats, low fat dairy, whole grain breads, brown or whole grain pasta, brown rice, and avoid white sugar whenever possible. Whole grain foods have a lower glycemic index, therefore less sugar in the blood stream.
5) Maintain a healthy weight or at least don’t gain weight after menopause. Obesity and weight gain in postmenopausal women is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
6) Exercise 150 minutes per week. 30 minutes of walking most days, is great exercise for your body. Walking is also a weight bearing exercise and good for bone density and the prevention of osteoporosis. If you can’t walk because of joint problems, try swimming or biking. Just keep moving!!
7) Have your Vitamin D levels checked by your doctor. Studies have determined in postmenopausal women, breast cancer was decreased by 12 percent when Vitamin D3 levels where kept above 27 ng/ml. Many people in the Midwest have low Vitamin D levels because we are not exposed to enough sun especially in the Fall and Winter months. Sunshine is needed for the body to synthesize Vitamin D into a useable form for the body. Also Vitamin D is needed for your body to absorb calcium to prevent osteoporosis. If you supplement with Vitamin D, make sure it is D3.
8) Know your breast tissue. Do self-breast exams enough so that you know what normal breast tissue is for you. Even if you forget to do exams monthly, it’s ok as long as you keep doing them. It’s best to start doing breast exams after you have seen your doctor and she/he has done a breast exam. This way you know what your normal is.
9) Limit postmenopausal oral hormone replacement therapy use to 3 years or less. Long-term use (or greater than 3 years) has been associated with the higher risks of breast cancer.
10) Discuss how often you should get your mammogram with your primary care physician as recommendations vary depending on many factors including family history. Regular mammograms are important over the age of 40. Always get a mammogram before starting hormone replacement therapy.

Sincerely,

Carolyn Hedrington, MSN, APNP

Posted in Health Care Connection | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Dr. Dana Johnson: Talking to Children About Death

Originally published on October 23, 2013 in the Wisconsin State Journal. Dr. Johnson is a pediatrician practicing at the Meriter McKee clinic.

Dear Dr. Johnson: My 6-year-old son’s grandmother has a terminal illness. How do we explain this to him and help him when she does die?

Dear Reader: I am sorry for the sadness your family is suffering. Just as all adults cope with grief differently, each child can react differently in these situations.

As parents, we often want to protect our children from anything that could be upsetting or painful. In this situation, however, it is best to be open and honest with your child.

I would strongly encourage you not to hide or sugarcoat the fact that his grandmother is very ill. Children can be very observant and know something is wrong by how parents and other adults are acting. Communicating with him in an honest and direct way often is best.

Of course, keep the information you share at a level he can understand. Allow him to ask any questions and answer them to the best of your ability. If heaven or other afterlife is a part of your beliefs, you can discuss this further with him.

It may be beneficial for your son to visit with his grandmother if this is possible. If she looks different or if there will be medical devices in the room, it is best to prepare your child for this. Explain what might be different. Explain medical devices on a level he can understand. For example, I often explain IVs to children as special straws that put medicine into the veins.

By school age, most children understand that death is permanent. How close your child is to his grandmother and how much she was a part of his everyday life likely will impact the extent of the loss he feels when she does pass.

Again, don’t shelter him from the fact that she has died, but take time to answer his questions as honestly as you can. Provide reassurance that you are there to support him and talk whenever he wants. It may also be helpful to reassure him that you are healthy and probably will live for a long time.

As I stated earlier, each child will react differently to their grief. Some will become quiet or cry, while others may have more behavior outbursts.

Don’t hide your own grief from your child. If your child sees you expressing your grief through crying or talking about your sadness, it shows him that it is OK to share these feelings. If they feel that talking about death is taboo, they will be less likely to share their feelings and may have more difficulty processing them.

Remember that grief doesn’t resolve quickly for you or your child. Continue to keep the conversation open.

If your grief or your child’s grief is affecting your ability to participate in other aspects of your life, it may be helpful to talk with a physician or counselor.

This column provides general health information and is not specific advice intended for any particular individual(s). It is not a professional medical opinion or a diagnosis. Always consult your personal health care provider about your concerns. No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Johnson to people submitting questions.

Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/local/ask/dr-johnson/dr-dana-johnson-talking-to-children-about-death/article_b5d1215d-8de9-5b3c-9771-f57ed5522fdc.html#ixzz2iYP3rp29

Posted in Health Care Connection, Meriter News | Leave a comment

Meriter Children’s Center Open House

Please join us as we celebrate Meriter’s new Children’s Center! Tour the new building, meet our teachers and enjoy light refreshments as we begin the next chapter of the Meriter Children’s Center. Enrollment is available to both Meriter employees and the general public. 

Thursday, October 24 

Ribbon-Cutting: 4:45pm 

Community Open House: 5:00-7:00pm 

Location: 1021 Mound Street (1 block from Meriter Hospital)  

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Meriter News, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monona, DeForest Clinics Featured in Healthcare Design Magazine

The Monona and Deforest clinics have been recognized in the annual Healthcare Design magazine’s Architectural and Interior Design Showcase of Ambulatory Care Centers. You can view Meriter’s section of the magazine below, or by clicking here (Pages 108-109).

Posted in Meriter News, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Dr. Dana Johnson: Fireplace safety

Originally published October 16, 2013 in the Wisconsin State Journal. Dr. Johnson is a pediatrician practicing at the Meriter McKee clinic.

Dear Readers: If you have been reading this column for a while, you may recognize this topic from previous years. I am writing about it again because it saddens me each year when I see a child who has suffered burns from a fireplace. The injuries are often severe and can result in permanent scars.

Parents or caregivers often do not understand the dangers a gas fireplace poses to a child. I have even heard reports of dogs burning their nose on fireplace glass, so the risk isn’t only to children.

Fireplaces provide heat in the cold winter months and provide a nice ambiance. Most parents understand the dangers of a wood-burning or open fireplace and, fortunately, I don’t often see injuries from these. What parents overlook are the dangers of gas-burning fireplaces with a glass front.

Sometimes there is a sense of security, because children can’t get to the flame. However, burn injuries from touching the glass are the main cause of injury.

The glass on the front of a gas-burning fireplace can reach temperatures above 400 degrees in 6 minutes, and it takes 45 minutes for the glass to cool completely after the fireplace is turned off. Touching the heated glass can be enough to cause second- and third-degree burns.

Third-degree burns can require skin grafting. Both types of burns of the hand can cause scarring that may limit hand movement and require therapy.

Young children who are just becoming mobile are especially at risk. They lack good coordination and can fall on the glass or touch it when reaching out to brace themselves. They also don’t have the dexterity to quickly pull their body or hands away from the heat, so they can endure deeper and more extensive burns.

Also, the flame of the fireplace is interesting to young children, so it draws their attention. And, of course, they want to touch it.

Even with children 2 or 3 years old, injuries can occur. Because the fireplace is not a cause of injury at other times of the year, its dangers are easily forgotten.

My best recommendation is to leave the fireplace off when your young child is awake. Until my son was 3½ years old, I never turned on the fireplace in our home while he was awake.

At 3½, I still wouldn’t let him walk within a couple feet of the fireplace, and I kept reminding him that it was hot and would hurt.

The timing of when a parent can feel safe having the fireplace on depends on their child’s understanding of and willingness to avoid the dangers.

Another safety option is a barrier. This barrier needs to be rigid and not movable by a young child. It also cannot be made of material that will become hot itself when in close proximity to a fireplace. Screens are now being made with this in mind.

If your child ever suffers a burn, immediately run cool water over the wound until it is cool or pain has improved. You also can place the burned area in a bowl of cool water.

Do not use ice or rub the burn. Do not coat in butter or other substances, as this can cause further injury. If needed, the burn area should then be covered with sterile gauze.

If pain or redness does not resolve after a couple of hours, or the burn is extensive or oozing, you should immediately call your child’s doctor or take your child to the emergency room for treatment.

Care also needs to be sought for burns to the hands, face, genitals or over a moving joint, as management is important to prevent long-term disability from scarring.

This column provides general health information and is not specific advice intended for any particular individual(s). It is not a professional medical opinion or a diagnosis. Always consult your personal health care provider about your concerns. No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Johnson to people submitting questions.

Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/local/ask/dr-johnson/dr-dana-johnson-fireplace-safety/article_7a2f390a-dc34-5abb-b175-da3ae6bdc3ca.html#ixzz2i06Cr64D

Posted in Health Care Connection, Meriter News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Reconstructive Options for Patients with Breast Cancer

 

As a plastic surgeon, I have the privilege of treating women who suffer from breast cancer, a potentially life-threatening disease that is becoming all too common. After the general surgeon completes the cancer removal operation, I am given the job of restoring patients with an appearance that is natural. While some may think that my goal is to have a spectacular result, I actually believe that my best result is one in which a patient incorporates the reconstructed breast into her body image, thereby softening the physical, social and mental trauma of breast cancer.

As a reconstructive surgeon, the most important thing is for patients with breast cancer to know the wide range of reconstructive options available. Even in a country with advanced medical care such as the United States, less than 50% of women are counseled regarding their reconstructive options before undergoing surgery. I am an integral part of the breast care team; if you see one of our breast surgeons you will be able to understand your reconstructive options and make an informed decision which is best for you.

Reconstructive options begin for women that are undergoing a “lumpectomy” procedure, or a procedure where the cancer is completely removed but the remainder of the breast is left intact. Occasionally, these operations may result in a deformity that can be corrected or improved with reconstructive surgery, either immediately or in a delayed fashion. Also, many patients are surprised to learn that in cases where the cancer is only on one side, the opposite breast (without cancer) can be reduced or, if a choice of mastectomy on the non-cancer side is made, reconstructed in an effort to restore symmetry between the two sides.

For patients who are undergoing a mastectomy for their cancer treatment, the reconstructive options are broad, and even patients who have decided against reconstruction may benefit. As described above, if a patient has their breast removed on one side, a breast reduction on the opposite, non-cancer, side may help patients fit into clothes better and feel more balanced after their mastectomy operation.

 For patients who do choose reconstruction, their options fall into three categories: using the patient’s own tissue, using breast implants or a combination of the two methods. When patients decide to use their own tissue, it typically comes from the abdomen. 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 gained in popularity and is one we are proud to offer here at Meriter Hospital. For patients who pursue reconstruction with breast implants, this reconstruction typically begins by placing an inflatable implant inserted at the time of the mastectomy. Over a period of several weeks after surgery, this implant is inflated in the office; this inflation process restores the dimensions of the original breast pocket, and creates a space for a permanent implant, placed in the second stage of reconstruction. Nipple reconstruction may also be performed at that time or later.  Finally, in some patients who cannot 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.

It is important to emphasize that there is no reconstructive option that is “better” or “worse.” Every patient is different, and I will help educate you in the options best suited to your body and to the desires you have for your own reconstruction. Similarly, while there are many reconstructive options available, it is also important to recognize that not every option is available for every patient. Your weight, breast size, history of radiation therapy or previous surgery may have an impact on the type of reconstruction best for you.  The rationale and reconstructive recommendations suited to you can only be determined with a consultation. Finally, if you have been treated for breast cancer in the past but did not pursue or were not offered reconstruction at the time and have now become interested, you still have options you can pursue after a “delay” in reconstructive treatment. It is as simple as setting up an appointment with your plastic surgeon to discuss these options.

One of the first plastic surgeons in history described our specialty as one that “restores and makes whole.” This goal holds true today in all types of breast surgery in my practice. It would be a pleasure and honor to see you.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeffrey D. Larson

Posted in Health Care Connection | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

2013 Halloween Candy Trade-In Party

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

Bring your extra Halloween candy and join us at the Meriter/Physicians Plus Halloween Candy Trade-In Party! The event will take place on Saturday, November 2 from 9 – 11:30 a.m. at the Meriter West Washington clinic. Kids can trade-in their extra Halloween candy for a fun, healthy treat – as well as drawing entries for fabulous prizes geared towards active lifestyles!

The more candy you bring in, the more entries you receive!  All candy will be sent to U.S. Troops through Operation Gratitude.

Planning to be downtown anyway for Kids in the Rotunda or the Farmers Market? Just stop by! Free parking is available at the clinic!

Posted in Meriter News | 4 Comments

Meriter Health Services Prepares for Future through Strategic Affiliation

Affiliation with UnityPoint Health will offer new efficiencies and resources for Meriter, Physicians Plus and Dane County patients

MADISON, Wis. (October 10, 2013) Meriter Health Services announced today that it has agreed to combine operations through an affiliation agreement in which it will become an affiliate of UnityPoint Health, a nationally recognized, integrated health system headquartered in West Des Moines, IA. The affiliation will allow Meriter to thrive in America’s changing health care environment, while advancing its commitment to high-quality patient care.

“I’m proud and delighted to announce this affiliation with UnityPoint Health,” said MHS Board Chair Virginia Graves. “It’s the best of both worlds for Meriter and Physicians Plus Insurance Corporation. We will remain a locally-run, community health system, while also gaining the benefits of a broader regional system’s services, experience and expertise.

This is good for our patients, members, employees, the regional health care system and the local economy.”

 “Like Meriter, UnityPoint Health has a culture of patient-focused care, community-minded spirit and high-quality, lower-cost health care,” said Jim Woodward, President, Meriter Health Services.   “In the affiliation, UnityPoint Health will provide resources to MHS, supporting and enhancing the services provided to the community, including taking an ownership interest in Physicians Plus and providing clinical practice and management support to Meriter Medical Group.”

The affiliation is pending state and federal regulatory approvals, which is anticipated later this year.

“With its national reputation for excellence in quality health care, Meriter will be an outstanding addition to the UnityPoint Health family,” said Bill Leaver, President and CEO of UnityPoint Health. “We are a good fit together.  UnityPoint Health is a health system of 15 hospitals in 8 regions.  Meriter is a strong regional organization just like our other 8 regional health systems.  We were fortunate to find in Meriter, an integrated health system that could also offer an HMO to our network. We see Physicians Plus growing in strength and geographic market coverage over time.”

Meriter patients and Physicians Plus members can continue to see their doctors and receive care locally, just as before. “Nothing changes for patients and members,” Leaver said. “Meriter and UnityPoint Health hope to build upon current relationships with local health organizations.”

About Meriter Health Services

Meriter Health Services is a nationally recognized health system comprised of Meriter Medical Group, offering primary and specialty care; Meriter Hospital, a nonprofit 448 bed community hospital; and Physicians Plus Insurance Corporation. Meriter is a 2013 recipient of the National Research Corporations’ coveted Innovative Best Practice award, Top Rated Adult Doctors award and Top Rated Pediatric Doctors award. Meriter provides a comprehensive array of patient-focused inpatient and outpatient services to meet the health needs of Dane County. For more information, visit meriter.com.

About UnityPoint Health

UnityPoint Health is one of the nation’s most integrated health systems. Its physician-led team of professionals communicates clearly and effectively to address a patient’s health care in the most appropriate setting: whether that is a clinic, a hospital or services provided within the home. Through relationships with more than 280 physician clinics, 30 hospitals in metropolitan and rural communities and home care services throughout its 8 regions, UnityPoint Health provides care throughout Iowa and in Central and Western Illinois.

UnityPoint Health entities employ more than 24,000 employees, working toward innovative advancements to deliver the Best Outcome for Every Patient Every Time. Each year, through more than 4 million patient visits, UnityPoint Health, UnityPoint Clinic and UnityPoint at Home provide a full range of coordinated care to patients and families. With annual revenues of $2.7 billion, UnityPoint Health is the nation’s 13th largest nonprofit health system and the fourth largest nondenominational health system in America.  UnityPoint Health provides community benefit programs and services to improve the health of people in its communities.

Contact:

Mike Flaherty
(608) 509-3997

Leah Huibregtse
(608) 516-2256

Posted in Meriter News | Leave a comment

Community Resources Can Ease Breastfeeding Challenges

Breastfeeding your baby can be one of the most wonderful, lovely, challenging things a woman ever does. Simply put, breastfeeding is naturally feeding your infant. If nature had its way, a mother would continue to feed her infant, naturally, for as long as she and the infant wanted to. Usually that’s at least a year or more. So why do so many mothers find it difficult to nurse for more than a few months, even a few weeks?

In today’s American society, we find varying degrees of help and support to nurse, especially after leaving the hospital with our newborn. Family members, jobs, even physicians all play a role on when and where we nurse our babies, and for how long we are able to be successful.

In order to maintain and build a milk supply for a growing infant, that infant needs unrestricted access to the breast to nurse whenever he or she is hungry. This allows the infant to determine the supply that he or she needs to be able to grow. However, less and less mothers find themselves able to be with their infant to give them the access to the breast whenever they are hungry. Our society, unlike other countries around the world, doesn’t provide a new mother and her infant the time of support for this most healthy feeding and growing to take place.

In the US, many new mothers find themselves returning to work a few short weeks, or months, after the birth of their infant. And while we are making great strides as a society in helping to support a mother in the work place to pump her milk, every breastfeeding mother will tell you how that’s just not the same as nursing your infant. A mother’s hormones don’t respond the same way to a pump, and many working mothers trying to pump find it difficult to keep up their supply to meet their infants needs.

Publicly we have barriers making it hard for mothers to nurse when outside the home. While laws have now been passed making it illegal to discriminate against a nursing mother and infant, many women still find discomfort breastfeeding openly.

So how can we help each other, thereby helping our newborns, to continue to enjoy the benefits of nursing? Connect with whatever help and support you may need! Whether it’s finding a physician who will provide the help and support for nursing you need. Find those community resources, mother-baby groups, play groups and other outlets where you can feel comfortable publicly nursing. Talk to your employer to find a solution for you to express your milk as often as you need to. And most importantly, if you feel you may have to quit, but neither you nor your infant really want to, take advantage of all the sources of advice, help and support to provide the means to do so. Meriter’s Mother-Baby hour, the Breastfeeding Helpline and Outpatient Lactation Clinics are just a few examples of those resources available to you.

Sincerely,
Sharon Marshall, BSN, RN, IBCLC
Meriter Lactation Services

Posted in Health Care Connection | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Dr. Dana Johnson: Vaccinations Best Way to Prevent Flu

Featured in the Wisconsin State Journal on October 2, 2013

Dear Dr. Johnson: Do you recommend the flu shot for otherwise healthy school-age children?

Dear Reader: With the fall season here, we are entering cold and flu season, whether we want to admit it or not. Influenza season is October to mid-May, with a peak usually in January or February, although it can vary from year to year. Now is the time to begin taking steps to prevent you and your children from contracting the influenza virus.

Influenza is a respiratory illness with fever, chills, runny nose, cough, sore throat, decreased energy and body aches. Unlike the common cold, influenza symptoms tend to be more severe and often last over a week. Many children with the common cold may miss a day or two of school. Children with influenza often need to be out for an entire week, sometimes more.

Children under 2 years of age, adults over age 65 and those with chronic medical issues (especially lung issues such as asthma) are most likely to suffer from the complications of influenza, which can include bacterial pneumonia, sinus infections, ear infections, dehydration and worsening of underlying health problems.

While small children can have vomiting and diarrhea with influenza, when most people say they have the “stomach flu,” the illness they have is caused by a virus, not influenza.

One of the best ways to decrease your family’s risk of contracting influenza is to have everyone vaccinated. There are two ways to give the vaccine: nasal mist and injection. The injection is approved for age 6 months and up. The nasal vaccine is approved for age 2 to 49 years old. There are some health conditions for which the nasal vaccine is not recommended.

Individuals with egg allergy can receive the flu vaccine. However, if it is a severe egg allergy (more than hives), it is best to discuss with your allergist before receiving the flu vaccination.

While infants under 6 months of age cannot receive the flu vaccine, I recommend all their household members and close contacts do. This limits the risk of the infant coming into contact with someone with influenza.

Some children 8 years old and younger will require two vaccinations a month apart. Your child’s doctor can help you determine if your child needs one or two doses this year.

Some people worry that the influenza vaccine will give them the flu. While it is true that you may experience headache and fever (more common for children under age 2) as well as possible muscle soreness where the shot was given, you cannot get the flu from the vaccine. These symptoms are the effects of the vaccine going into the muscle and your body developing an immune response to the vaccine.

The nose spray can cause a runny nose. It takes about two weeks for antibodies to the flu to develop, so it is possible to contract influenza after the vaccine is given but before immunity has developed.

Most clinics and some pharmacies now have a good supply of flu vaccines, so it is a good time to get you and your family protected. You can find more information about influenza, the vaccination and other ways to keep your family healthy at flu.gov.

Posted in Health Care Connection | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Meriter Wins 3 National Awards

Meriter is proud to announce that it has again been recognized as one of the best patient care providers in the nation at the recent National Research Corporation’s 19th Annual International Patient-Centered Care Symposium in Baltimore.

Meriter received three major awards at the symposium:

  • Innovative Best Practice Award –Meriter Health Services
  • Adult Doctor Rating –Meriter Medical Group
  • Pediatric Doctor Rating –Meriter Medical Group

The Innovative Best Practice Award is based on the innovative use of resources that result in significant improvements in cost, quality, patient satisfaction and safety. This is the second year in a row that Meriter Health Services has received this award.

The Adult Doctor and Pediatric Doctor awards were based on patients’ ratings of their doctors in patient satisfaction surveys conducted April 2012-March 2013. Last year, Meriter Medical Group also won Top Performing Organization for patient satisfaction with pediatricians and Most Improved Organization for an increase in patient satisfaction in adult primary care.

Posted in Meriter News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Help Feed the Hungry This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving – thousands of reasons to be grateful!

You can easily make a big difference this Thanksgiving. Simply “Like” Meriter on Facebook and we will make a $5 donation to the Goodman Center. We hope to donate up to $2,500 before Thanksgiving, November 28.

For many years, the Goodman Community Center has provided groceries to 2,000 families across Dane County so they, too, can make a traditional Thanksgiving meal to share with their families. They can do this because every year people like you have helped. We hope you’ll help this year by “Liking” Meriter.

Many families will appreciate the gift of a warm holiday meal.

Posted in Meriter News | Leave a comment

Dr. Dana Johnson: Hand Washing a Key to Health

Featured in the Wisconsin State Journal on September 18, 2013.

Dear Dr. Johnson: My child seems to get sick every year after a couple weeks of school. Is there anything I can do to prevent this?

Dear Reader: With the start of school, in the pediatrician’s clinic we often begin to see an increase in the number of visits from children who are sick with the common cold and other viruses. Children are again in close contact and sharing all their wonderful germs.

While there is nothing you can do to protect your child or yourself completely from the common cold and other illnesses, there are some steps you and your child can take to help ward them off.

The number one step is good hand washing. This can prevent a child who has just wiped their nose or coughed into their hands from leaving the virus on a toy or a friend’s hand when they next touch it. It can also prevent a child who has picked up a virus from that toy or friend’s hand from introducing it to their body.

The most common ways germs are introduced to the body are when a child touches their eyes, wipes their nose, puts their fingers in their mouth or touches food before they eat it. Children should be taught and encouraged to practice good hand washing whether they are sick or well.

Good washing takes time — roughly 20 seconds, or two rounds of the “Happy Birthday” song. The backs of the hands, between fingers and under nails all should be scrubbed before the soap is rinsed off.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is an acceptable substitute when soap and water are not available. It also needs to coat all the surfaces of the hand, not just the palms. Hand sanitizer is not effective against all germs or on visibly dirty hands.

In addition to good hand washing, teach children to cough and sneeze into their elbow or shoulder. This prevents the germs from going onto their hands and subsequently onto anything they touch.

If they don’t cover their cough or sneeze, the germs can go into the air. The germs will then wait for the next lucky child to touch the object they are now on. If a child coughs or sneezes into their hand or a tissue, they should immediately wash their hands before touching anything else.

Ill children should stay home to prevent spreading a virus. While it is not reasonable for all children with the sniffles to stay home, a child who has a fever, significant cough or runny nose or symptoms that would prevent them from fully participating at school should be kept home.

Remember, however, that this alone will not fully prevent the spread of infection. Children are often contagious before they show symptoms of an illness.

To prevent your child from getting the more serious illness of influenza — which can result in prolonged fever, cough, decreased energy and other significant complications — I encourage all children and adults over the age of 6 months to be vaccinated against influenza each year (unless they have medical contraindications). Some children over age 2 can avoid the shot and receive the nasal flu mist instead.

Posted in Health Care Connection | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Dr. Dana Johnson: Language Development

Featured in the Wisconsin State Journal on Sept. 25

Dear Dr. Johnson: My 18 month old doesn’t seem to be talking as much or as clearly as other kids her age. Should I be concerned?

Dear Reader: Language delay occurs in one out of every five children and is the most common developmental delay. While using peers as a guide for developmental milestones can sometimes be helpful, it is not always the best measuring stick.

Especially between the age of 12 and 24 months, there is a wide variation in normal language development. Some 18 month olds have several individual words they use regularly and others are speaking in complete sentences. Both can be normal development. The most important aspect is that a child is developing new words and showing gains in communication skills.

Language development can be divided into three components:

1. Speech. This is marked by the ability to produce sound.

2. Expressive. Can be verbal or nonverbal ways of communicating ideas, desires and feelings.

3. Receptive. This means the ability to understand what is heard and seen.

Some children may show delays in just one area, while others may have delays in multiple areas.

The first step in evaluating your child would be to determine if she is delayed for her age. I recommend talking with her doctor to help you determine this. They may use age-based questionnaires to assess this and other areas of development, including fine motor, gross motor, personal-social and problem-solving.

If you or the physician have concerns after this evaluation, a more detailed evaluation can be completed by a speech therapist or through the federally mandated Birth to 3 Program.

A speech therapy evaluation may be covered by insurance, but subsequent session numbers may be limited as far as coverage is concerned. The Birth to 3 Program (Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) supports families of children with delays or disabilities under the age of 3. Starting at age 3, evaluations can be done through the local school system even before a child enters school.

With the Birth to 3 Program, the initial evaluation is free. Anyone with concerns about a child’s development can refer them to Birth to 3 for an evaluation.

I believe one of the biggest advantages of the program is that the evaluation and services are offered in the child’s home. This allows the child to be in their natural environment to facilitate accurate evaluation of skills and optimization of learning.

To meet eligibility for Birth to 3 services, there needs to be a developmental delay of at least 25 percent in one area of development, a physician-diagnosed condition with a high probability of developmental delay, or an atypical (unusual) development that adversely affects the child’s overall development.

In Wisconsin, we have a Parental Cost Share System in which parents who are determined to be financially able will share in the cost of early intervention services for their child.

Each county in the state administers its own Birth to 3 Program. More information can be found at www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/children/birthto3.

Posted in Meriter News | Leave a comment

Mindfulness Training Prevents Burnout, Boosts Compassion Among Doctors

This article was featured in The Huffington Post on September 13, 2013.

A growing body of research has shown multiple benefits of mindfulness, including helping smokers quit their habit, improving sleep quality, and even helping students score higher on standardized tests. Now, mindfulness training has been linked with a number of positive outcomes for physicians and their patients.

Mindfulness practice — the cultivation of a focused awareness on the present moment — can improve physicians’ performance by not only preventing burnout, but also by helping them better connect with their patients, according to two small, recent studies in the September/October issue of Annals of Family Medicine.

In the first study, conducted by Dr. Luke Fortney, M.D., of the Meriter Medical Group in Madison, Wisc., and his team, 30 primary care physicians underwent a short mindfulness training course. They were then assessed for job satisfaction, quality of life and compassion for up to nine months after the course.

Compared to physicians who were not trained in mindfulness, participants showed improvements at one day, two months, and nine months after they were trained in the course. The researchers found that at nine months, the physicians were significantly less burnt out and had lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress, compared with doctors who didn’t undergo the training course. They also scored higher on scales measuring compassion.

Mindfulness training programs could be an effective, low-cost way to prevent physician burnout, which can have a number of negative effects on the health care system, the physicians themselves, and patients, researchers said.

“Burnout negatively affects quality of care with profound personal implications, including suicidal ideation,” the study’s authors noted. “Furthermore, physician attrition due to burnout is both disruptive to continuity of patient care and costly to health care organizations.”

A second study found that patients can benefit significantly from working with mindful physicians. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University conducted observational research on 45 clinicians who completed the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale — a measure used to gauge an individual’s level of mindful awareness while conducting everyday activities — and who cared for more than 400 HIV-positive patients at four HIV specialty clinics. Clinicians who scored higher on the mindfulness scale were more like to engage in patient-centered communication, meaning that the clinician and patient built a greater rapport and spent more time discussing psychosocial issues faced by the patient. The patients of mindful clinicians also reported high overall satisfaction.
“The benefits of mindful practice extend beyond the practitioner to his or her patients,” Breach and the authors of the study concluded. “It is not only that mindful practitioners can listen attentively, but that their patients are empowered to make their voice heard in areas that matter to them.

Mindfulness has been associated with a number of physical and mental health benefits, including lower stress levels, improved cognitive functioning, and a decreased risk of developing various chronic illnesses. Mindfulness meditation has even been shown to boost creativity and empathy.

Mindfulness training programs can have wide-reaching benefits not just in the doctors’ office, but also in the classroom. A recent University of Wisconsin study found that mindfulness programs are effective in reducing stress and burnout among teachers, and a body of research supports the learning benefits of mindfulness for both schoolchildren and college students.

Click here for The Huffington Post article.

Please click here to read another article on mindfulness training that was published in The New York Times.

Posted in Meriter News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Healthy Recipe: Zucchini Muffins

Recommended by Krista Kohls, RD, CD, Meriter Registered Dietitian

Makes: 24 delicious muffins
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: About 30 minutes

Ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup wheat germ
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup natural/unsweetened applesauce
1 cup sugar or honey
3 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 cups grated zucchini
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup dates, chopped

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325F. Spray muffin cups with vegetable oil spray or use muffin liners.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
3. Beat eggs, oil, applesauce, vanilla and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat well. Stir in zucchini, nuts and dates until well combined. Use a spoon to distribute the muffin dough equally among the 24 muffin cups.
4. Bake for about 30 minutes or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and cool completely.

Posted in Health Care Connection | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Free Bra Fittings at the Ladies Night Out Event

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Meriter is hosting a ladies night out event. Enjoy an evening with your friends while learning more about breast cancer prevention and treatment, featuring our mammography services.

Did you know?

  • One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
  • Each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer
  • The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends a baseline mammogram for all women by age 40

The Good News

  • Approximately 85%-90% of all breast cancers are detectable by mammography, early detection is key

Join us and view the new mammography equipment; meet the Mammogram Technologists; ask questions and enjoy tasty appetizers, desserts and infused water.

Also have a FREE professional bra fitting.

Date and time: Thursday, October 17 from 5-7 pm

Location: Meriter Monona Clinic, 6408 Copps Avenue, Monona

Register for this FREE event

 

Posted in Meriter News | 1 Comment

Pre-existing Diabetes and Pregnancy

Women with pre-existing diabetes (diabetes prior to pregnancy) can have healthy pregnancies and babies. They are no longer discouraged from having children; however, there are important things you need to know to help you have a healthy pregnancy.

First of all, follow general recommendations for healthy pregnancy, healthy diet and exercise, avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs, get appropriate dental care, etc.

Risk for miscarriage and birth defects is highly dependent on your glucose control when you get pregnant. The higher the glucose levels, the higher the risk for miscarriage and birth defects. Meriter Perinatal recommends your a1c be 6.5 or less before you conceive, but it is also important to have glucose control with a minimal amount of extreme high and low glucose levels.

Medication changes may be recommended prior to pregnancy. Some medications given for diabetes and diabetes related conditions cannot be used during pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins and extra folic may be recommended.

Complications of diabetes (if they exist) for the woman (heart, kidney, eye complications, etc.) can worsen during pregnancy. It is important to have all diabetes screenings for complications completed just prior to pregnancy.

Care of a woman with diabetes during pregnancy is more complex due to the many risks. More appointments and tests are required than for an average woman during pregnancy. Most women with diabetes during pregnancy will have at least some care from specialty OB providers. Much of the risk to mother and baby can be reduced to a minimum with proper care prior and during pregnancy. Insulin needs will usually double or triple during the course of pregnancy during a time when normal glucose levels are needed to maintain a healthy pregnancy. Planning ahead for this time of increased focus on diabetes can help lessen the stress and difficulty.

For these reasons, it is suggested that all women use a reliable method to prevent pregnancy until glucose levels are in the recommended range and see qualified health providers to discuss pregnancy prior to becoming pregnant. Women with diabetes should know who they will receive care from if they become pregnant and who to contact if an unplanned pregnancy occurs. Care should be provided immediately to provide assistance with glucose control and address other issues at the earliest opportunity. Continued help from diabetes experts will be needed to help maintain tight control of diabetes throughout the pregnancy. Many other complications can occur if tight control is not maintained including having a large baby, extra amniotic fluid, preterm labor, increased risk of baby needing intensive care at delivery for various reasons, and more. Again, all risks can be greatly reduced if normal glucose levels are maintained throughout the pregnancy.

The Meriter Center for Perinatal Care offers pre-pregnancy through postpartum care for women with diabetes. Pre-pregnancy care includes consultation with UW Maternal Fetal Medicine physicians and a Certified Diabetes Educator who is an Advance Practice Nurse, Board Certified in Advanced Diabetes Management. The program provides frequent appointments and the latest strategies to assist women in meeting pre-pregnancy glucose targets necessarily for a healthy start to pregnancy.  

For more information on pre-pregnancy diabetes counseling please visit the following links.

Diabetes Pre-Pregnancy Counseling

CDC-Diabetes and Pregnancy

The Meriter Center for Perinatal Clinic phone number is 608-417-6667 and provider referrals can be faxed to 608-417-6364.

Sincerely,

April Eddy, RN, CNS, CDE (APNP)
Diabetes Clinical Nurse Specialist for Perinatal Services

Posted in Health Care Connection | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Register for Finding Fitness After 40

Regular exercise is one of the key components to living a happy and healthy lifestyle.  Unfortunately developing a consistent routine can be difficult and often time injuries provide an additional barrier to starting or sustaining a successful exercise program. 

Meriter, in-conjunction with Harbor Athletic club, is excited to offer a new exercise program opportunity for the community.  Finding Fitness After 40 is a class designed for adults who have not participated in a regular exercise program in the past, or for individuals that may have stopped exercising due to an injury or health concerns. 

The class will provide a combination of lecture and guided exercise instruction and all participants will receive a FREE 1 month membership to Harbor Athletic Club for the duration of the class.

Space is limited to 15 participants, so sign up today and get started on the path to health and happiness.  

Dates:  Thursdays – October 17, October 24, November 7 and November  14th  (No Class on Thursday, October 31 due to Halloween)

Time:  5:30 to 7:00 pm (Night 1 on October 17 will run until 7:30 pm)

Location:  The class will meet each night at the Meriter Therapy Middleton (behind the Harbor Athletic Club) for the lecture components and then transition over to Harbor Athletic Club for the guided exercise instruction

  • Parking – please utilize the Meriter Therapy Middleton parking spaces

Cost:  $35

What to Wear:

  • The class will include 30-40 minutes of guided exercise each night so please where loose, comfortable close and athletic shoes. Also bring a water bottle.

Click here to register today

Posted in Meriter News | Leave a comment

Flu Vaccination Clinic Schedules

This flu season, Meriter urges you to protect yourself by practicing good hand hygiene, steering clear of those who are already sick, and of course, getting your annual flu vaccination.

Meriter clinics are now offering flu vaccinations to all Meriter primary care patients or individuals who have Physicians Plus insurance. Simply call one of our Meriter clinics for an appointment. See the schedule below for adult vaccination clinic hours. Vaccinations can also be given at office visit appointments previously scheduled.

Please note that flu vaccinations for children require an appointment, which may be made by calling your child’s primary care physician’s office.

Adult Flu Vaccination Clinic Schedule
September 16 through December 13, 2013

Meriter DeForest-Windsor – 608.417.3300
Tuesdays: 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Thursdays: 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Meriter Deming Way – 608.417.8388
Mondays: 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Tuesdays: 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Meriter Fitchburg – 608.417.8585
Wednesdays: 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Fridays: 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Meriter McKee – 608.417.8800
Mondays: 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. & 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Wednesdays: 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Meriter Middleton – 608.417.3434
Thursdays: 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. & 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Meriter Monona – 608.417.3000
Thursdays: 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Fridays: 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Meriter Stoughton – 608.417.8700
Tuesdays: 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Wednesdays: 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Meriter West Washington – 608.417.8300
Tuesdays: 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Thursdays: 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Posted in Meriter News | Leave a comment

Dr. Dana Johnson: With Possible Concussions, It’s Better to Sit Out

Featured in the Wisconsin State Journal on September 5, 2013.

Dear Dr. Johnson:
How do I know if my child has a concussion?

Dear Reader: Concussions have been in the news a lot lately. There has been more focus on the long-term effects for professional athletes especially NFL football players. Fortunately, there has also been more focus on younger athletes and concussions. A child or adolescent’s brain is more susceptible to injury as it is still developing.

A concussion is any injury to the brain that disrupts normal brain function. They are typically caused by a blow or jolt to the head. While usually the head is impacted, it doesn’t have to be. A jerking motion that causes the head to come to an abrupt stop can also result in a concussion. The blow also doesn’t have to be to the scalp region. Hits to the face and neck can also result in a concussion.

Concussions cannot be diagnosed just by the type of hit or injury. Two children can suffer very similar blows to the head. One may have a concussion and the other not. Most of the time those that have concussions were not knocked out or unconscious.

There is not an imaging test (X-ray, CT scan, MRI, etc.) that can reliably diagnose a concussion. The diagnosis is based upon the signs and symptoms the person is having.

Common symptoms of a concussion are:

• Headache
• Nausea and/or vomiting
• Dizziness, lightheadness, or balance problems
• Changes in vision (often double or blurry)
• Sensitivity to light and/or sound
• Feeling dazed, stunned, foggy or just “off”
• Difficulty concentrating or remembering
• Confusion
• Forgetfulness
• Difficulty with school work
• Changes in mood – more irritable or emotional
• Drowsiness
• Sleeping more or less

If a concussion is suspected, the individual should be removed from play and should visit a doctor to confirm the diagnosis and determine when it’s safe for an individual to return to activity. All concussions are serious. If a second concussion is suffered before fully recovering from the first, permanent brain damage and even death can occur.

The treatment for concussions is physical and mental rest. Some children need to stay at home from school for a period of time with gradual return. Video games, television and other mentally stimulating activities should also be avoided. Once symptoms have resolved and a doctor has cleared the individual, a stepwise return to physical activity is recommended.

If symptoms recur at any point, activity should be stopped as this is an indication that the brain has not fully healed. A computer based test is sometimes used to further evaluation if mental function has returned to baseline. The most common test used in Madison is the ImPACT test. This test is most valuable if the individual took a baseline test prior to ever having a concussion for comparison.

Once an individual has suffered a concussion, they may be more susceptible to another one in the future.

“When in Doubt, Sit Them Out!”

Posted in Meriter News | Leave a comment

Meriter Helps Quintuplets Reunite

Meriter hosted a very special family reunion over the weekend as a set of quintuplets met their whole family for the first time.

Local couple Cassie and Frank Vanderwall had five babies at a hospital in Arizona last month. Mom, Cassie stayed in Arizona with the babies and Frank traveled back and forth. As the babies grew stronger, they were transfered to Meriter NICU. Over the weekend, the whole family was reunited at Meriter, including a first meeting with grandparents and great grandparents.

A big THANK YOU to all of our hardworking NICU staff for making the family’s transition back to Madison as smooth as possible and taking excellent care of our tiny patients as they grow stronger each day.

Click here to watch WKOW’s story about how these four girls and one baby boy made their way to Meriter.

Posted in Meriter News, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Back-to-School Advice

Dr. Kathryn Cahill of the Meriter West Washington clinic gave back-to-school advice on WKOW’s Wake Up Wisconsin.

Posted in Meriter News | Leave a comment

Meriter Patient Beating Diabetes

originally published on Fox47.com

Watch the Fox47 Story

MADISON- Diabetes is a growing problem in the US. More than 25.8 million adults and children are living with diabetes, while more than 7 million of those are undiagnosed.

A local retired cop is one of those living with diabetes while proving you can take control of your health.

Phil little says he’s 74, but you’d never know it looking at him. He’s turned his life around after realizing there wasn’t any choice but to get up and take control of his life. He’s retired UW Police, Chief of Police of Shorewood Hills and a Chief Deputy Coroner position. After learning he was living with diabetes he now spends his days working out.

“I was up to 320 pounds and every time I would walk somewhere, I would have to stop and catch my breath, no fun at all,” said Little.

Phil progressed during 10 years to needing about 300 units of insulin per day.

“Used to be a day of food, if I went to McDonalds, it would be 2 big macs and 2 quarter pounders with cheese, fries, perhaps,” said Little.

Little said he was also a peanut butteraholic, going through a large jar of peanut butter a week

Now, he’s watching what he eats and eating a lot more fruits and vegetables for fillers, cereals, just watching what he eats and learning about portions.

He’s down 66 pounds in just13 months and plans to continue on. Most importantly, he’s turning around his health.

“In the process of losing this weight, I am now off all diabetic medication,” said Little. “So, I’m a diabetic, but it’s controlled by diet.”

Dr. Gerhard Kraske, an internist at Meriter Health said Phil took the right route.

“Alot of people when they first hear the diagnosis, the first thing that comes to mind is shots and insulin and that’s not necessarily so,” said Dr. Kraske.

Dr. Kraske said American Diabetes Association guidelines recommend trying to get the patient to lose weight with the help of a nutritionist.

“I try to tell them this is not a death sentence, this is a wake-up call to a healthier lifestyle. “It entails eating better, watching portion size, exercising, losing weight, we can come to grips with this condition.”

The ADA estimates 79 million people are living with prediabetes. Dr. Kraske sais doctors need to do a better job screening for diabetes.

Dr. Kraske estimates by the time doctors pick up a diabetic, they actually already lived with diabetes for about 10 years.

Little said he was one of those who didn’t know he was living with diabetes, but after all his hard work.he hopes to never go back.

“The penalty of going back is still fresh in my mind from what I experienced, and I don’t think I ever will, but you never know.”

The Diabetes Step-Out Walk is August 25th. It’s not too late to join. Register to walk on a team or as an individual or donate as a virtual walker.

Register at diabetes.org/slashmadisonstepout

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment