Winter is in full swing in The Ozarks! These frigid temperatures may cause significant circulation issues for many individuals. As we age, our body systems have to work increasingly hard to supply our body with all the nutrients and oxygen that it requires to perform the vital functions that we all need.
“Impaired circulation may cause significant issues with elderly individuals when you combine poor circulation with things like heart disease, diabetes or a lack of exercise. With the use of the above exercises you can help give your body the boost it needs to make it through this winter season.”
Dr. Brittany Wright, Physical Therapy
Here are three simple circulation exercises that have been shown to increase blood supply to assist with improved day-to-day health.
#1 – Supine Ankle Pumps – Begin lying on your back with your legs straight. Slowly pump your ankles by bending and straightening them. Try to keep the rest your legs relaxed while you move your ankles.
# 2 – Supine Quad Set – Begin lying on your back with one knee bent and your other leg straight with your knee resting on a towel roll. Gently squeeze your thigh muscles, pushing the back of your knee down into the towel. Make sure to keep your back flat against the floor during the exercise.
#3 – Supine Glute Set – “Penny Pinchers” – Begin lying on your back with your hands resting comfortably. Tighten your buttock muscles, then release and repeat. Make sure not to arch your low back during the exercise or hold your breath as you tighten your muscles.
The above exercises have been recommended by the OCH physical therapy department as an easy and convenient way for adults to help pump blood through their body. This is not medical advice.
The dog days of summer are at their tail’s end and fall is rapidly approaching; families are flocking to Wal-Mart to purchase back-to-school supplies and wardrobes, teachers rush to prepare for the influx of students, and fall health & flu prevention begins.
Each year, around 50,000 people in the United States die from vaccine-preventable diseases according to Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS.gov). Influenza, pneumococcal pneumonia and hepatitis B, diseases with available vaccines, account for over 250,000 hospitalizations on an average year.
The good news? Medicare covers vaccinations for each of these diseases. Medicaid and CHIP covers the influenza vaccination along with other vaccinations needed for children.
But it’s not just for kids. Influenza claims an average of 36,000 lives a year. People 65 and older make up a large amount of that statistic. The same goes for invasive pneumococcal disease. Of all the deaths caused by the bacterial pneumonia, greater than half are 65 years of age or older.
This fall, schedule a “time-out” from watching fourth-string scrubs play football or visiting shopping rallies at the mall and take the first step. Contact your health care provider or a local clinic to find out more about vaccines and immunizations.
You don’t have to work in direct patient care to impact patients’ lives in a big way. Ciara Day’s job is testament to that. While a medical degree helps doctors attend to medical conditions, Ciara works to mend the heart. Her entire job is based on the OCH mission of offering assistance in an atmosphere of compassion, respect and dignity. The stories that make up her every day speak to the passion OCH employees have for its patients.
As a Community Health Worker in OCH’s Integrated Care department, Ciara works to empower patients and give them the tools to improve their lives. “Everyone is different,” Ciara says. She says patients need help that is not just limited to healthcare visits with providers: sometimes patients need a ride to the appointment, a shower to clean off the fleas so the patient can address real problems with providers, or basic needs like nutritious food, or a safe place to call home. “It’s my job to check in and make sure those voices are heard.”
When considering healthcare, the Integrated Care department works as a team to look at overall well-being, not just an exchange of symptoms and healthcare solutions. “Everything is a lesson,” Ciara explains. It could mean providing patients with lessons on meal prepping for a chronic illness and what your refrigerator should look like. “You have to meet them where they are. If a patient doesn’t have access to food stamps or their Medicaid gets shut off, we connect them to resources that can help them get access to those things and show them how to work what they have.” Sometimes this means working with patients for a long time, and that’s okay. Changes do not happen overnight and Ciara is dedicated to working long term to better patient lives.
“I’m not afraid to call a patient up and be like, ‘Your provider is worried about you and part of the process for following up is a home visit. When are you available?’” And that’s just what she does. Understanding where a patient is now helps her figure out what the next steps are.
I’ve been doing this in the community for nearly a decade. I was initially hired to help the highest utilizers of the ER. But those aren’t the people screaming for help. It’s the silent ones who need it the most.
Within the first two weeks of joining OCH, Ciara started compiling a pantry for patients. Her office has boxes filled with supplies and walls covered in clean clothes, hygiene products, towels, and now, diapers. “I’m so excited! We just got a partnership approved with the Diaper Bank and now we can get diapers and wipes whenever we need them. We haven’t even started getting food in yet.” Ciara and others in the Integrated Care department do whatever it takes to share a little love.
It’s all a learning process, for Integrated Care and the patient. It is a process of bettering lives and strengthening communities. Community events like HOPE Connection and Everyone Counts in Springfield are integral to the mission. “Getting that access is huge. It’s invaluable to provide access to healthcare and information about how to get signed up for the programs people need.”
Sometimes that learning process takes a long time, like in the case of Allison*. Allison started going to a provider at OCH for over a decade. A few years ago, she incurred a major life event and a variety of severe health issues that left her on disability and Medicaid, unable to care for herself. The medication she was taking was not working which resulted in chronic pain and a distrust of the medical system. When she moved in with friends, she had a limited food supply and limited quality of life. Ciara worked with her to get her food and looked at housing options. Every trip to the grocery store or produce distribution center was a lesson. “Again, you work with what they have. You shop within their budget. You show them nutritious options they can afford.”
After working with multiple agencies and with the help of Ciara, Allison found an apartment. Ciara helped her move out of her friend’s house and into her first “home” in four years. She showed Allison how to cook the food she has. “Sometimes you just need to let them know what they can do. Boil a potato and don’t add too much butter or cream and you have mashed potatoes.” Teaching patients to have the confidence to take care of themselves is one of Ciara’s favorite parts of her job. “[Allison] called me earlier this week saying she worked for hours cooking onions and potatoes and she was running around her apartment like a crazy person with joy.” It’s always a learning process. One day you boil potatoes; the next, you fry them up with some onions. During the interview, Kristen, the Integrated Care manager ran in the room exclaiming, “I found Allison a couch!” It’s the little successes that show the Integrated Care department and Ciara’s dedication to the patients.
Ciara summed it up perfectly when talking about her own children. “I have three rules. One is care about others. Hold the door open for everyone, not just girls. Always be a degree better of yourself than where you are now.” Always treat others the way you want to be treated. You have to share the love.
Qualifications for the Integrated Care program simply include being a patient at Ozarks Community Hospital. To be eligible for the Primary Care Health Home program, the patient must be a current patient, have Medicaid as a primary or secondary insurance and have one (or more) chronic condition(s). If you or someone you know is an OCH patient and in need of assistance, contact Integrated Care. For more information about the Community Health Worker position, email Ciara Day at cday@OCHonline.com.
*Patient names and health information have been changed to protect patient confidentiality.
With the New Year and winter in full swing, now is a great time to remind yourself of how to stay safe and healthy with the cold conditions. OCH provider Angela Standefer, FNP-C offers some tips to make it through the winter:
Get IMMUNIZED! Anyone over the age of six months should get vaccinated against influenza. If you have a history of asthma, COPD or smoking it is recommended you also get your pneumonia and Prevnar vaccines. Talk to your doctor about vaccines for you.
Dress for the weather. A key to staying healthy this winter is knowing the forecast. Check the weather before getting dressed for the day to ensure you are prepared. Choose warm clothing. If it is wet, it is a good idea to wear a pair of water resistant shoes, hat and gloves, and a coat to avoid frostbite.
Don’t FALL victim to icy terrain. Watch your step when walking on wet and icy surfaces. The risk of falls can be greatly reduced by choosing appropriate footwear and using salt (or another kind of ice melting material) on the ground. Choose shoes that have traction so your feet are equipped.
Humidity isn’t always a bad thing. While humidity can wreak havoc on your hair, it can also prevent dry skin and nose bleeds. Use a humidifier in your home to avoid dry air. If you do catch the sniffles, humidifiers help your body stay hydrated.
Have an emergency kit in your car. Traveling even short distances can be hazardous in winter weather conditions. It is crucial to be prepared in case this happens. This includes:
Make sure your cell phone is charged so you can call for help.
Have a first aid kit in case you get hurt on ice.
Keep a blanket or extra coat in the car to keep yourself and the kids warm. While keeping the car running might sound like a good idea at the time, your battery could be depleted before help can arrive, causing further problems.
Munchies may be obvious for a long car trip, but they are also a good idea to keep in your emergency kit.
Kitty litter can give your car traction when stuck in ice or snow. Keep a cheap bag in your trunk to help you escape the conditions.
Keep an ice scraper in your car so if you get into unexpected bad weather, you can keep your windows clean for safe travel.
Depending on the conditions, it may take a long time for a tow truck to get to you in severe weather. Being prepared will allow you to survive the frigid conditions.
Carry a medication list with you. Include what medicines you are currently taking, medical allergies and emergency phone numbers on a small piece of paper in your wallet so it can be easily located. If you suddenly fall ill having this information will be helpful.
iPhone Hack: You can add your medical information to your iPhone that can be accessed without unlocking your phone.
To set up your Medical ID, open the “Health” app. Along the bottom menu, click Medical ID (far right). In the top right corner, click Edit and enter your health information. You can include Name, DOB, Medical Conditions, Medical Notes, Allergies & Reactions, Medications, Blood Type, Organ Donation status, Weight, and Height. Before hitting save, make sure to allow Emergency Access.
Your Medical ID can be viewed when the phone is locked by tapping Emergency, then Medical ID.
Wash your hands. Good hand washing is one of the most important things you can do to avoid colds and the flu. Covering your cough can also help from spreading germs to your family and friends.
Space heaters are convenient, but dangerous. While having a space heater may seem like a good alternative to cranking up the heat, they can also cause house fires or burns on both children and adults. Follow manufacturers’ directions. The safest options for space heaters have a safety mechanism in place that will turn the heater off if it falls over or gets too hot.
Chimney sweeps aren’t just for Mary Poppins. If you have a chimney, have it checked by a professional each year before use to make sure it is clean and safe.
Carbon monoxide isn’t just in car exhaust. If your home or apartment is heated with natural gas, make sure to have a carbon monoxide alarm to alert you if carbon monoxide levels are dangerously high. If it goes off, leave the home to get fresh air and call 911 from a neighbor’s home.
Don’t forget the sunscreen! The cold weather can trick us into thinking we are safe from sunburns. However, snow is a great reflector for the sun and you can still get a nasty sunburn in the winter.
Angela Standefer, FNP-C sees patients for family practice and hepatitis in Springfield in the OCH Medical Offices Clinic and in Bolivar at the OCH Polk County Clinic. She collaborates with Jackie Beene, MD and seeks to bring better health to the community.
Family practice provider J.D. Eiman, PA-C shares insight about high blood pressure and why it’s something you shouldn’t ignore:
Blood pressure is an important measurement of health. When the pressure reading is high, it is given the medical term “hypertension.” Hypertension has few symptoms unless extremely high and so that is why it is routinely checked for at a medical office. It is important to diagnose it early, for better health outcomes.
Many people do not realize that uncontrolled high blood pressure is an important risk factor for a heart attack or stroke (think brain attack). So in other words, the two most important organs in your body – your heart and brain are at risk for the most damage. While many people either live or die with a heart attack, with a stroke there are many levels of disability that occur with damage to the brain. Strokes can leave a person paralyzed, unable to communicate or with difficulty swallowing to name just a few. How terrible to think that these outcomes can be avoided with a little medication to control blood pressure!
There are many different things that can impact your blood pressure that vary from person to person: older age, race, being overweight, family history, too much salt in your diet, drinking too much alcohol, not getting enough exercise, having diabetes or high cholesterol, and even having low Vitamin D.
There are over 50 different medications and more combinations of those drugs, giving medical providers a multitude of ways to counteract all the different causes of elevated pressure. Sometimes it takes some experimentation to find the right combination for an individual patient, but it is worth the work. If you are diagnosed with hypertension, remember to take your medication and monitor your pressure at home, to help your medical team providing your care.
Next time you see a free blood pressure machine, sit down and see how you are doing. And always ask when you are in the clinic what your results are, so that you can be heart and brain healthy. Remember, as medical professionals, we are here to help, but your health is up to you!
J.D. Eiman, PA-C is a physicians assistant at the OCH of Gravette Clinic. J.D. sees patients of all ages for primary care needs and is also certified to perform DOT physicals. She received her education and training from Texas A&M University and Harding University and is currently a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, Arkansas Association of Physician Assistants, Christian Medical and Dental Association/Fellowship of Christian Physician Assistants and the California Association of Physician Assistants. To contact J.D. at the clinic, call (479) 787-5221.
If you’re like many individuals, you started the year off with a New Year’s resolution (or two). Now that January is over, take a moment to evaluate your progress. Are you still sticking to your goal? What positive changes have you noticed? If you didn’t stick with it, do you still have a desire to make a change?
If you answered yes to this last question, it’s not to late to start (or restart). OCH psychologist Dr. Erin Golden reminds us that resolutions are difficult to keep because, more often than not, we set ourselves up for failure from the beginning. It’s not too late to start again and make healthy resolutions for you or your family.
Here are three ways in which you can realistically integrate resolutions back in to your and your child’s life:
In helping your child set a resolution, keep in mind that it should be realistic, positive, and age appropriate. Also, keep in mind that children, especially younger children, will need assistance in setting goals for themselves.
Parents can start by helping set reasonable expectations. A good resolution should be specific, positive, future-focused and only just challenging enough. While working toward good grades in math, eating more fruits and vegetables, learning how to knit a scarf, reading 10 books in five months are all admirable goals, they can be difficult to achieve. Parents need to strike a balance between concrete plans and the need to be spontaneous.
Take a fresh sheet of paper and have your child write down his or her top three resolutions, leaving a large space between each one for inserting smaller steps. Help your child make them realistic and age-appropriate. Be concrete, specific, and manageable. As is with adults, vague but good-sounding resolutions don’t make for change. For example, ‘I will behave better’ is too general and will be forgotten quickly. Encourage goals that are within their reach, so they don’t get discouraged. Some realistic resolutions for children might be “I’m going to keep my room neater,” “I’m going to be a better friend,” “I’m going to read more,” or “I’m going to get better at tennis.” Even these are broad resolutions that need to be broken down into doable, step-by-step pieces.
If adults put resolutions in a punishing, preachy way, children will be turned off. Start by going over the positive things your children accomplished last year. Instead of pointing out shortcomings, be the historian of their previous successes. Point to the bright spot where they’re doing something well. Have them think of things they can do now that they couldn’t do last year.
For example, perhaps your 10-year-old taught themselves to play a difficult song on the piano. Did that success come about because he pushed himself a little harder? Remind him how far that little bit of extra effort took him. Ask your child, “How can you transfer your success on the piano to something else?” You’ve set the stage. Next, look ahead and ask, “What are some of the great things you want to do this year? What do you want to improve? What will make your life better and happier?”
The big question parents have at this point: Should you make resolutions for your child? Most experts say no. You can guide and suggest general categories for change, help your child clarify goals, and make sure they’re age-appropriate, but children should come up with resolutions themselves. This is how they take ownership of their goals and learn to plan.
The first step is to listen – Ask them what they want for themselves. If it is your agenda that’s driving the conversation, you are not really listening. Still, most children need a little guidance. Come up with three or four broad categories — such as personal goals, friendship goals, helping goals, and school goals — and let them fill in the specifics. You may ask your child: “Are there things that you could do better or differently? For instance, how should you take care of yourself or treat other people?” If they draw a blank, you could offer some examples, such as being nicer to siblings, sharing better with friends, or helping more at home.
What is Age Appropriate?
It is also important help children chose resolutions that are tailored to their age. For the 10 and younger crowd, it’s about keeping it simple and applying resolutions in bite-size chunks. Set one to no more then three resolutions at a time so a child can actually complete them and reap the rewards of resolutions that include feeling successful, proud or healthy. Younger children also may require some changes in their resolutions on the fly to make the resolution clearer or easier to do. Parents need to reassure children that this is OK, and does not mean they have failed, but they have learned a valuable lesson about themselves.
Children ages 7-12 are at the ideal stage to learn to make resolutions but this does not stop children of all ages from making, and keeping!, good resolutions. Children are beginning to be mindful and to understand others’ perspectives. They’re doing more independently, and they’re starting to open up to broader goals of how to become their best selves.
For children 11 and older, resolutions can provide a way to take inventory and find a balance between what’s healthful, fun, and necessary versus what may not be necessary or productive, such as signing up for five after-school programs just to build up a résumé for college. Because they are older, these children should be able to come up with specific, clear and achievable resolutions. At the same time, adolescents may be so busy they often forgo chances to just have fun, play, and develop ways to manage their stress. Stress reduction is important at that age, so resolutions could focus on finding ways to manage it on a daily basis, like listening to music, keeping a journal, or going for a run.
Erin Golden, PsyD is a psychologist at OCH Christian County Clinic in Nixa and at OCH Polk County Clinic in Bolivar. She offers evaluation and counseling for adult and pediatric patients. Dr. Golden worked as a psychologist in Arkansas since 2011. She received her education from the University of Michigan and the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology. Dr. Golden is currently a member of the Missouri Association of Play Therapists and the American Psychological Association. Visit http://www.OCHonline.com to schedule an appointment.
EXEMPTIONS EXIST: Consumers are required to have health coverage in 2015 or you may pay a penalty fee. However, you may qualify for an exemption or a special enrollment period. Find out if you are exempt here: https://www.healthcare.gov/fees-exemptions/
PENTALTIES ARE EXPENSIVE: In 2015, penalties will be $325 per person, or 2% of your income (whichever is higher). Ouch!
YOU MAY ALREADY BE COVERED AND NOT KNOW IT. You’re considered covered if you have Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, any job-based plan, any plan you bought yourself, COBRA, retiree coverage, TRICARE, VA health coverage, or some other kinds of health coverage.
TIME IS RUNNING OUT! The Marketplace Open Enrollment deadline for 2015 coverage is February 15, 2015, unless you qualify for an exemption or special enrollment period.
Have questions, or need assistance enrolling? OCH of Gravette has local, trained enrollment staff (CAC’s) on hand in Gravette, Ark. to address questions and assist with enrollment before the Feb. 15 deadline.
CALL OUR GRAVETTE, AR REPRESENTATIVE FOR HELP!
Call Melissa at 479-344-6724 or email ARmarketplaceinfo@ochonline.com to ask questions, set up an appointment or sign up! Ozarks Community Hospital is located at 1101 S. Jackson Street SW in Gravette, Ark.