¿Por qué son importantes los exámenes anuales y las pruebas de rutina?
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and we want you to receive the best preventative care possible. Early detection can help prevent serious illness, yet many people still choose to skip their annual exams and routine screenings. Bonnie Ferrara, MD, MPH, Section Chief for Primary Care at Renown Medical Group, further explains the importance of this simple, easy way to stay healthy. Why are annual exams so important? The benefits of early detection and prevention to save lives and reduce the impacts of disease have been proven. These exams are the perfect opportunity to get your health questions answered. “This is your chance to sit down with your provider and talk about your overall health and your family’s health history as well as your concerns for the future,” says Bonnie Ferrara, M.D., family medicine. “It’s the opportunity for your provider to talk with you about your lifestyle, tobacco use, exercise and alcohol use, all of which make a difference in your future longevity.” The annual wellness exam is also an ideal time for most adult patients to discuss health screenings. In addition, these visits are the perfect time to address issues that may not directly relate to a particular medical problem or immediate illness. A good rule of thumb is to schedule these appointments around your birthday each year to make sure you and your provider are both updated on your care. Why would you need an annual exam if you aren’t feeling sick? According to Dr. Ferrara, seeing your care provider when you aren’t sick is one of the best times. “It is better if you try to arrange this visit when you are not feeling ill,” she says. “It is an opportunity to talk about wellness. Not only how to contribute to your wellness but also the changes that you can make that will make huge dividends in the future for your wellness. In addition, it allows us to do some education about what to expect in the coming years as far as your health and lifestyle changes.” What can you expect at an annual exam? Annual exams usually check your: History – lifestyle behaviors, health concerns, vaccination status, family medical history Vitals – blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate and temperature General appearance – your care provider can find out a lot about you just by watching and talking to you Dr. Ferrara adds, “If this is a Medicare annual wellness exam, it is an opportunity to talk to your provider about depression and dementia as well as be tested for those.” You can also leverage your annual exam to speak to your provider about managing your chronic health problems. "As a provider, these visits give us the opportunity to hear how the medications and lifestyle changes we have recommended are working and if you are having problems with these, we have the opportunity to make suggestions of how to do things better for the future," Dr. Ferrara.
Read More About Why are Annual Exams & Routine Screenings Important?
Crustless Quiche Muffins
Are you looking for a new recipe to add to your healthy brunch menu without all the hassle? This muffin is perfect for hosting or keeping in your refrigerator and reheating whenever you need a protein-packed snack. Now, aren't eggs high in cholesterol? According to the American Heart Association, egg whites provide plenty of protein without the yolk's cholesterol. That's why our dietitian masters a lower-cholesterol egg muffin by combining eggs with an egg white substitute.
11 Tips Caregivers Need to Know
Becoming a caregiver or playing a more active role in another’s healthcare is a big responsibility. At some point, almost all adults will support an aging parent or a loved one in need. Keeping track of their needs and wellbeing, while also prioritizing your own can become overwhelming. It’s important to know: you are not alone, and help is available. Read on for 11 tips to help you manage your time, your own wellbeing and your loved one’s care. Self-care comes first. When your main priority is the person in your life who needs care, it’s easy for your own needs to take the backseat. Give yourself time each day to focus on your personal wellbeing. It’s hard to give a loved one the care they need if your own needs are not met. Prioritize the Activities of Daily Living (ADL). Make a note of what ADLs your loved one can do alone, what they need help with and what activities require the most help. This will help you work through the day with them, as well as plan out how the day’s activities will go. Do a home safety audit. Do showers, bathtubs and steps have safety grab bars? Look around the house for additional tripping hazards, like rugs or electrical cords. If your loved one struggles with day-to-day navigation of the home, consider scheduling an occupational therapy appointment. This type of therapy helps a person develop or maintain the motions required to accomplish daily tasks. You might also qualify for a referral to in-home healthcare, such as Home Care. Have the hard conversation. The best time to discuss views about end of life care and to learn what choices are available is before a life-limiting illness or crisis occurs. With advance care planning, you can help reduce the doubt and anxiety related to decision making at the end of life. Completing an Advance Directive is a great tool to sort out all these decisions before they’re needed. Attend a free workshop to learn more and complete this important document. Identify when you need respite. Respite care involves receiving a short-term break from caregiving. Organizing in-home care for your loved one will allow you to step away and tend to your needs. By identifying what kind of respite care you are seeking, you can find the right person to provide you with that much-needed break. Don’t wait until you feel overwhelmed, plan ahead. Write down insurance contact information. Have a direct connection to the right insurance professional for support and advice. If your loved one is eligible Medicare, this is a good opportunity to review their current selections and if they would benefit from a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Supplement Insurance. Seeking out expert advice or information on Medicare options is a great way to navigate this. Consider calling a broker, or attend a free educational seminar with Senior Care Plus. Gather legal and financial information. Make a list of all existing legal documents and financial accounts that your loved one has. These might include a will, advance directive, power of attorney, bank accounts or investment accounts. If you have questions about how to manage them, or need assistance in setting up additional framework, reach out to a lawyer, legal service, financial adviser or bank representative. Create an inventory of medical information. Identify where all of your loved one’s medical records are, as well as a list of providers or healthcare practices where they have received care. Consider if you should have your loved one give you Proxy Access in MyChart, which allows you to access all the features in MyChart on their behalf, including viewing upcoming appointments, viewing test results and emailing a doctor on their behalf. Make a list of what others can do. Think about all the little (and big) things that need to happen, and write down tasks that others could take care of you. When someone says “let me know what I can do” you’ll be ready with a pre-written list of items they may be able to assist with. Tasks could include tackling around-the-house repairs, scheduling lawn work, helping to walk the dog, taking a car for an oil change and cleaning. Find programs and events for social enjoyment. If and when possible, seek an activity outside of the home. Look for community centers that have programs for seniors, recreational activities or meals that you can patriciate in together. If leaving the home is not an option, arrange for visits or in-home activities, such as movie nights, card games or time to visit with family. Research long-term options. If you will be considering a nursing home or assisted living, make a list of amenities that you and the person you are caring for would like. Take this list with you when visiting potential locations to make sure you don’t forget to ask about each item.
Understanding the Risks of Colon Cancer
Colorectal cancer is the second-deadliest cancer in the United States – largely because it goes undiagnosed. Dr. Christi Matteoni, Division Chief of Gastroenterology at Renown Health, discusses the symptoms and key screenings used to detect this type of cancer, along with risk factors and lifestyle changes that could affect the likelihood of getting the disease. What are some of the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer? Many cases go undiagnosed because polyps can develop and become cancerous without any symptoms. Additionally, since colorectal cancer begins as small polyps, symptoms usually aren’t seen until later stages. This is why screenings are especially important. For those who do experience symptoms, the signs are often tied to your bowel habits. This can include changes such as constipation or diarrhea, narrow or dark stool, rectal bleeding, abdominal cramping, weakness and fatigue or unintended weight loss. What are some of the risk factors associated with this type of cancer? There are risk factors that can and cannot be controlled. Uncontrollable factors include age, race, personal and family histories as well as certain genetic syndromes that are important to discuss with your provider. This type of cancer is more common in people over the age of 50, African Americans and those of eastern European Jewish (Ashkenazi) descent. This type of cancer is also more common in those who have been diagnosed with polyps, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and long-term inflammatory bowel disease. important to discuss any of these risk factors with your provider. There are also lifestyle factors that can help reduce your risk. Factors include being overweight, having a diet high in red and processed meat, as well as smoking and consuming excess alcohol. Conversely, diets high in fruits and vegetables and a regular exercise routine can help lower your risk. If someone has some of these risk factors, what should they do? Do they need to get tested? If you are 45 or older and have any of these risk factors, we recommend you speak with your primary care provider about a formal colorectal risk assessment. The most common form of screening is colonoscopy. This screening lets your doctor examine the length of your colon, map out any potential problem areas and remove polyps. For most people, colonoscopies are recommended every 10 years starting at age 50. However, depending on your results and risk factors, you may need to begin screening sooner or get screened more frequently. What do diagnosis and treatment look like for this type of cancer? There are several diagnostic options for colorectal cancer, including endoscopic ultrasound; CT, MRI and PET scans; and biopsy and pathology reports. These technologies allow your doctor to get images of your colon and evaluate what treatment is needed, as well as how the treatment is progressing. Treatment varies for each individual working with their doctor. In the case of colorectal cancer treatment, the William N. Pennington Institute for Cancer offers chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and clinical trials.
Departamento destacado: NICU Transport
Bringing in new life is an exciting and beautiful occasion. The possibilities for the newest members of our world are endless – what will the child grow up to become? What will they achieve in their lifetime? Anyone will agree that a new life is precious and protecting that life by any means possible is a necessity. Sometimes, however, a baby’s journey into our world brings along obstacles. Prematurity, congenital defects and other complications can accompany a birth and the baby’s first few moments of life. But what happens when these complications happen outside of a fully-functioning Labor & Delivery unit, or if the complications need a special level of intervention with a health system capable of caring for their unique needs? Enter the NICU Transport team at Renown Health. As the only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Transport team in northern Nevada, these dedicated nurses, respiratory therapists and neonatal nurse practitioners – who have normal unit duties of their own at Renown Regional Medical Center – step up to the plate to take on this extra duty to support members of their community facing some of the scariest moments of their lives. To them, transporting babies in critical condition and giving them the best chance of life isn’t just a responsibility; it’s a calling. The NICU on Wheels When the Saint Mary’s maternity unit, which was Renown’s partner in NICU transport duties, made the decision to close, our dedicated NICU nurses and respiratory therapists diligently rose to the occasion to fill the demand. Dubbed the “NICU on Wheels,” Renown’s team went from taking on transport duties every other day to 365 days a year – and they are always ready to go at a moment’s notice, whether it’s by ambulance or by fixed-wing aircraft. “When we learned about the closure we knew it was our calling and knew we had to step up,” said Rachel D., Neonatal Transport RN at Renown. “We still have regular days on the floor, and we each switch off being on-call for transport. Once we get a distress call, we have 30 minutes to get to the hospital, grab our gear and go. We have to essentially put a whole room’s worth of portable equipment in one bag.” “I really enjoy being a part of the transport team and making a difference from northern Nevada to northern California,” added Sam V., Supervisor of Respiratory Care at Renown. “We are able to practice at the top of our skill level and use autonomy that not every practitioner gets to use.” Each NICU Transport unit works in teams of three when heading out into the field: one nurse (our bedside experts), one nurse practitioner (our education experts) and one respiratory therapist (our lung and breathing experts). With several years – and in many cases, decades – of experience in NICU nursing, NICU transport duties and respiratory therapy, this team is poised to provide state-of-the-art lifesaving care en route to the hospital. This diverse array of experiences among the team especially comes in handy as they continue to face the increased transport workload. “We are so thankful to have Saint Mary’s employees come over and work on our team after their maternity ward closed,” said Melyssa H., RN, NICU Transport Coordinator at Renown. “Helping the babies, as well as helping the scared families, will always be our top priority.” “I love the complexity that babies provide in the NICU,” added Jennifer J., Neonatal Transport RN at Renown. “Providing hands-on care right at the bedside along other members of the team is such a rewarding experience.” Education is also a crucial tool in NICU care, especially in the field. The nurse practitioners on this team make it their mission to outreach to the community, including our rural health partners, and help them build the tools and skills they need to care for our smallest and most critical patients. “I have been on a few transports where we went out and did not have to bring the baby over to the hospital, and we were able to provide lots of education instead,” said Shiela A., Respiratory Specialist at Renown. “For instance, I was called out to Fallon for a baby that was in respiratory distress. When we arrived, we saw the baby was awake and active although intubated. The tube came out, and we retaped it. While we stayed to observe the baby to make sure everything was okay, the nurse practitioner on the team provided educational tools to the family on what they can improve on regarding their baby’s tubing. Our nurses do such a great job with these teachings.” “When I started, I quickly noticed that more education was needed in the field,” added Jennifer J., RN. “Now I see the momentum we’ve had in these communities really take full force. Because of this education, and the confidence we instill in our patients’ families, each baby’s transition to our team has become so much easier. It has been awesome to watch this progress over the years.” With immense experience, education and a strong commitment to their community under their wing, the NICU on Wheels is only just getting started. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work Running a successful NICU Transport operation, especially as the sole health system participating, takes a village. With only three professionals out in the field, the team leans on their fellow nurses, physicians, surgeons and specialists to make the operation run as smoothly as possible. From REMSA and Care Flight helping load patients in and get them to the hospital safely, to Renown’s Clinical Engineering team who are first on the scene when machines need repairs and troubleshooting, everyone rises to the occasion to achieve the best-possible outcome for our youngest patients at some of the most challenging moments of the beginning of their lives – and they are fully trusted to move those mountains. “Being a part of the NICU Transport team has given us the opportunity to facilitate a deeper, meaningful relationship with providers and a patient’s entire care team,” said Rachel D., RN. “They entrust us with our assessment skills, opinions and skill levels. There is an equal layer of trust between us and them.” Despite the pressure they feel every day, the NICU Transport team never let it overtake them and instead let it empower them. “We are under a lot of pressure and stress regardless of the case, and yet, we all work so well together; the teamwork really is incredible,” said Lisa A., Respiratory Specialist at Renown. “I am very proud of how our team steps up and is very intricate, even down to organization. For example, team members like Shiela arrange all the respiratory bags and make sure they are laid out in a way that makes the procedure as simple as possible to ensure there are no complications.” The nurses and respiratory therapists also partner together on the NICU floor and are always ready to provide coverage when their transport colleagues get a call. Committed to collaboration and ready to jump into action, the NICU Transport team works together to elevate each other and the bottom line for each patient. “This is a full-time gig, and the group works together to make sure everyone is covered; we are all very collaborative,” said Sarah K., Respiratory Specialist at Renown. “We all think of our patients as extra special, and it’s nice to know that you can make a difference in the baby’s life and the lives of the family. We all have a sense of purpose in giving back to the community.” “I am just so thankful to be a part of this team,” added Marcia A., Neonatal Transport RN at Renown. “We really have developed a strong bond.” A Track Record of Success The life-saving measures that each member of the NICU Transport team take surpass hospital walls. The impact they have on each baby are remembered and celebrated for years, and they often develop lifelong relationships with patients and their families after their stay in the NICU. One prime example of this can be found in an impassioned letter from Tess, the mother of a young boy who was in the midst of respiratory distress and needed immediate intervention. Because of the valiant efforts of Renown’s NICU Transport team, her child, Warren, is a healthy and happy baby to this day. She recalls the experience: Warren had stopped breathing while getting routine blood work. He was resuscitated twice while at an area hospital. We made the decision to transfer him to Renown for him to be admitted into the NICU. Within an hour and a half of this decision, Renown had sent a team consisting of a respiratory therapist, nurse and nurse practitioner to come and get him. As soon as the team entered the room, we immediately felt safe and comforted. The team made sure we knew exactly what was going on and what was going to happen in the following hours, and they let us know they would do everything for Warren. He was resuscitated two more times by the respiratory therapist while getting ready for transport. At that time, the decision was made to intubate for a smoother ride to Renown. We knew you all had his best interest in mind, and of course, we trusted you with everything. The intubation went well, and he was packed up and ready to drive. Today, Warren is hitting all of his developmental milestones and is a normal, happy baby in everyone’s eyes. We can’t thank the NICU Transport team enough for taking such good care of Warren and helping him Fight the Good Fight. “This success wasn’t just due to our three-person unit – our manager, Jason, also jumped in and drove all the way to Carson City to stabilize the child,” said Shiela A. “This just goes to show that no matter our title, we are always here to help and make a huge difference in the lives of our patients.” Success stories of children like Warren describe the common mission of the NICU Transport team in detail, and while there are more of these stories to come, the team is always ready to make the necessary sacrifices for the greater good of their patients. “Sarah K. is like Warren’s guardian angel,” said Tess. “We call her ‘Auntie Sarah’ now. He wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her and the entire NICU Transport team. It takes a special kind of person to work in the NICU. I can never repay this team for what they’ve done for Warren and our family.” “I am proud of this team, their flexibility and the sacrifices they have made to do transport 365 days a year,” added Melyssa H., RN.” The remarkable success of the NICU Transport team serves as proof of the unwavering and tireless commitment of each and every team member, bringing hope to families during their most difficult moments. “NICU Transport forces you to be confident in yourself and your abilities and to push yourself a step further,” said Rachel D., RN. “I am a better nurse because I joined the transport team.”
Getting to Know Stephanie Kruse
There are a lot of impressive titles you can use to describe Stephanie Kruse: entrepreneur, marketer, philanthropist, leader, adventurer, nurse. And now with her planned gift to the Renown Health Nursing Excellence Endowment, she can add one more to the list: a member of the Renown Legacy Society – a group of visionary supporters who have chosen to make a lasting commitment to the future health and wellbeing of northern Nevadans. This generous planned gift comes on the heels of a significant cash gift made to the Nursing Education Fund last summer. Stephanie is an inspiring example of someone who has dedicated her life to helping others. The daughter of a nurse and a retired nurse herself, Stephanie knows the hard work, selflessness and dedication it takes to create a successful business and community. As Chair of the Renown Health Foundation Board of Directors, she also understands the importance of attracting and retaining nurses within a healthcare system. As a way to contribute to a cause near and dear to her heart, she decided to include the Renown Nursing Excellence Endowment as a beneficiary of her retirement plans. “I wanted to honor the memory of my mother, who was a registered nurse in a small-town hospital in Iowa.,” said Stephanie. “I was always very conscious of her passion for providing great care to her patients, and I wanted to provide funding for others interested in nursing.” Across the nation, health systems are facing a shortage of nurses and nursing-related professionals. Renown is proactively implementing programs to build our pipeline of potential future nurses and keep those already in the field. Stephanie’s generous gift will help the endowment provide programs such as training, scholarships, loan repayment and professional development to increase retention and recruitment of prospective nurses. “As nurses, we are entrusted with our patients’ lives,” said Melodie Osborn, Chief Nurse Executive at Renown Health. “We have the privilege of caring for people in their most vulnerable time and helping those who cannot help themselves. Stephanie’s generous gift to the Nursing Excellence Endowment Fund will help us develop new nurses for the future so we can continue to provide care to those in need for generations to come.” No Stranger to Healthcare Long before she found herself leading the Renown Health Foundation Board, Stephanie learned the ins and outs of healthcare. She graduated from nursing school and became a part-time nurse in a Sioux Falls, South Dakota nursing home while attending Augustana College to obtain a degree in journalism and a minor in theater. As part of her journalism program, Stephanie completed an internship in the public relations department of a Sioux Falls hospital, and that led to her accepting a position as director of public relations at a sister hospital. She later was recruited by Saint Mary's Hospital and moved to Reno to be the director of marketing in 1981. She stayed at Saint Mary's for almost 10 years before starting her own company in pursuit of her passion for marketing strategy. Since launching her brand, Stephanie has grown KPS3 to a multi-million-dollar firm with more than 60 staff members. Somehow, she is still able to find time to serve on six (!) volunteer boards, most of which are dedicated to improving access to better health and human services. “I have a soft spot in my heart for organizations who strive against all odds to help those with the greatest needs,” said Stephanie.
Senior Care Plus Loves Pickleball
Senior Care Plus is pleased to announce we are now a proud sponsor of Jam On It Pickleball, open to the community seven days a week at the Reno Sparks Convention Center. We’re excited to help promote this fun activity to our members, employees and the public. Pickleball has many wonderful health benefits – particularly for seniors. It’s a low-impact game that raises the heart rate, improves hand-eye coordination and increases mobility. In addition to the obvious physical benefits, pickleball is a great social activity. Getting out of the house and playing a fun, easy-to-learn game with others is a great way to make new friends while improving your physical and mental health! Ralph Barbato, a Senior Care Plus member from Reno, is a huge fan of pickleball and all it has to offer. “Pickleball has made such a positive impact on my life. I love the physical and mental health benefits along with the social aspect – it’s a great way to meet new people and I’m excited to have it in our community,” said Ralph.
Honey Fruit Dip
Take a breather during spring break and make this fun, sweet treat with your kids. We've provided nutritional cream cheese and sugar alternatives to keep your family's health top of mind.
Department Spotlight Cardiac: Catheterization Lab
February is American Heart Month, but our incredible heart heroes are here to serve you all year long. So please join us in honoring the Cardiac Cath Lab team at Renown Health! At the core of who we all are, we find the heart: one of the largest sources of life that gives us the blood and oxygen we need to live full and healthy lives. When the heart doesn’t function to the best of its ability, a delicate approach led by cardiac experts might be necessary. These individuals can not only save lives but also help facilitate a higher quality of life. The team entrusted to protect that vital source of life includes the hard-working and talented individuals in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab (a.k.a. “Cardiac Cath Lab” or “Cath Lab”) at Renown Health. These team members are known for their expertise, precision and quick-thinking in emergencies. When it comes to the function of your heart, you are in the best hands with this team. Their passion for Renown’s mission of making a genuine difference in the health and well-being of the people they serve is a testament to what they do every day. Cardiac Champions Whether the procedure is emergent or planned, the Cardiac Cath Lab wears many different hats. The team is a well-coordinated group of nurses, imaging professionals, electrophysiology technologists, interventional technologists and more who band together to provide a diverse array of services, including stent placements, pacemakers, balloon pumps, interventional angioplasties, TAVRs and of course, catheters. “A day in the life in the Cath Lab can go various ways,” said Erica Drummer, RN at Renown Health. “Every day, you are either a part of the electrophysiology team, doing cardiac ablations and placing devises such as pacemakers; the structural heart team, which includes MitraClips for mitral regurgitation and TAVRs; or the heart catheterization team, which includes diagnostic angiograms, heart catheterizations, angioplasties and stents for clogged arteries.” With the wide variety of cases the team sees daily, an average day in the Cath Lab consists of many moving parts. “We handle cases from left and right heart catheterizations, where we can diagnose and fix the artery right then, to electrophysiology cases like heart ablations and pacemaker implants, all the way to emergency STEMI (heart attack) patients,” said Michael Blankenship, Electrophysiology Technologist at Renown Health. “We do so many things in the Cath Lab,” added Laurel Douglas, RN, Imaging Manager at Renown Health. “We ensure we have 24/7 coverage for emergencies, as we often have to act at a moment’s notice to care for emergent situations.” Many of those emergency situations involve heart catheterization. If someone has a heart attack, the team immediately steps in to place stents to open the coronary arteries that are causing the attack. If a patient’s heart needs any assistance during an emergency, the team can place devices such as Impella (temporary ventricular support) or intra-aortic balloon pumps. Renown is a major advocate for advanced medical technology, and the Cardiac Cath Lab team embraces these technologies to perform life-saving procedures, all while working together as a cohesive unit. “We work amongst each other to ensure sterility, safety and the best outcome for each patient,” said Zohra Benbrahim, RN at Renown Health. “We try to fit in as many cases as possible into the workday, and sometimes after hours, so patients can get the care they need.” “Each team usually has 3-4 members, and each member has a critical job to carry out in order to implement excellent cardiac care,” added Erica Drummer, RN. “Many of our patients tell us that we all work well together, and I couldn’t agree more. We have become like a well-oiled machine or a NASCAR pit crew.” Naturally, patients undergoing any heart procedure might feel frightened and anxious. Never fear – the compassionate Cardiac Cath Lab team is here to ease those fears throughout each patient’s entire visit. Their main solution? Communication. “Being a patient in the Cath Lab can be daunting,” said Erica Drummer, RN. “When we have patients who may feel scared or have concerns, we try our best to connect with them, keep them informed and educate them on the procedure and the step-by-step process, including what they may feel before, during and after.” “Overall, we try to keep spirits light,” said Zohra Benbrahim, RN. “Our team is excellent at explaining the procedure as it is happening. We also advocate for comfort throughout the procedure, which helps tremendously with anxiety, including giving patients warm blankets and music of their choice!” Our experts in the cardiac Cath Lab make sure that no stone goes unturned when it comes to optimal heart function for every patient. Together, the team mends hearts and saves lives, day in, day out. A Growth Mindset Always learning, always improving, always reaching new heights – that's the Cardiac Cath Lab team. This team’s accomplishments speak for themselves on both a local and national scale. “Over the years, we have achieved several milestones, including becoming a STEMI Receiving Center, gaining our Chest Pain Center Accreditation (which is achieved by Cath Labs who provide emergent percutaneous coronary intervention for heart attack patients 24/7) and having our accredited electrophysiology program,” said Laurel Douglas, RN. “We also offer services that other facilities do not offer. We have brought in several new procedures to the Cath Lab over the years. This is impactful, as the community members get to stay here for treatment.” The Cath Lab team is anything but ordinary. There is never a dull moment in this department, and despite an ever-growing caseload, the team is always ready to rise to the challenge and continue pushing to surpass the average. “I am so proud of my team for providing care for such sick patients,” said Zohra Benbrahim, RN. “We never really know how the day is going to go because emergencies happen, and things always change. Recently, we had a record high volume of cases, and my team powered through these busy weeks like champs.” “We strive to get our STEMI door-to-balloon times at or below 60 minutes,” added Erica Drummer, RN. “Door-to-balloon time refers to the time from when a patient arrives in the ER to the time the Cath Lab has a catheter guide wire crossing the culprit lesion in the coronary artery that is causing the heart attack. The national average (and current guideline) is 90 minutes, so our 60-minute time is a notable accomplishment for us.” The importance of staying on top of your heart health comes center stage during American Heart Month, which is a prime opportunity for our cardiology professionals to educate the community and help them grow their cardiac knowledge. The cardiac quality team participates in community events throughout the month (and beyond!) to raise awareness for cardiac health. The team also outreaches to other health systems and healthcare partners to highlight what Renown has to offer in the way of heart care. Each Cath Lab team member always reminds patients about lifestyle choices and diet changes that can improve cardiovascular health, and they take this outreach with them all around Renown Regional Medical Center as well, walking through the hallways promoting many different ways of living a heart-healthy life. The journey continues! The team will soon welcome a new Cardiac Cath Lab at Renown South Meadows Medical Center. The new lab will allow our experts in heart care to treat patients at our South Meadows location experiencing a heart attack and needing immediate intervention to open vessels in their hearts. The team is looking forward to embracing even more access to emergent cardiac care for our community at large. Learn more about how Renown is building more ways to care for our community. Now Hiring for Heart Heroes Those looking to join a caring, committed and tight-knit group of cardiac care professionals will be in good company with the Cath Lab team. According to the members of this department, being a quick-thinking, dependable team member is key to predicting a successful Cath Lab professional. “A good coworker communicates with everyone and is able to be flexible when things get hectic,” said Zohra Benbrahim, RN. “Our team stays so close with each other because of everyone’s ability to recognize where help is needed. Especially in the Cath Lab, it is important to be always aware of the patient’s vitals and clinical presentation so you can speak up if you notice changes. There are always new procedures or products coming out that become integrated into our practices, so it’s also good to welcome new policies and be adaptive.” “We are a small team, and everyone sees each other as a friend,” added Laurel Douglas, RN. “We all know we will need help at some point, whether it be covering an on-call shift or helping during a procedure, so we all help each other. Teamwork and positive attitude are really what makes you a good team member.” Not only are these individuals dedicated to impacting the lives of patients with the very organ that beats life into them, but they also are devoted to Renown – and it shows. “I started working for Renown when I was 19 years old, and Renown was the medical system I went to for care; as I spent more time working here and becoming a part of the community, I could not see myself working anywhere else or getting care at any other hospital,” said Zohra Benbrahim, RN. “I truly believe Renown provides the best care and best serves the growing community of northern Nevada.” The Cath Lab team members agree that Renown is a great place to both start and continue your career. Many of them have taken advantage of Renown’s training and educational opportunities, which in turn have helped them expand their knowledge to better serve the community. “I chose to work at Renown because it gave me the place to grow in my career and experience different avenues within my career,” said Michael Blankenship. “I first started off as a student here, and I quickly realized that everybody I worked with genuinely cares for our patients. I started off in x-ray seeing patients and eventually did rotations up in the operating room, and I got hired full time in the Cath Lab. After a short time being here, I was crossed trained in the electrophysiology lab, where I furthered my knowledge in my career.” This dynamic department is actively hiring, and many open positions are sign-on bonus eligible. The team cannot wait to welcome you to their, as Erica Drummer puts it, “well-oiled machine.” “Being a Cath Lab nurse is very rewarding, especially when you’re able to be a part of a team that can save someone’s life,” Erica closes.
Read More About Department Spotlight Cardiac: Catheterization Lab
Learn How to Manage Lymphedema
Katherine Bunker, Physical Therapist and Certified Lymphedema Therapist (PT, DPT, CLT) at Renown, discusses how patients can manage lymphedema with changes to daily routines along with diet and exercise. Lymphedema is a condition that affects millions of people around the world. It is a chronic and progressive disorder that results in swelling of the arms, legs, or other parts of the body due to an accumulation of lymph fluid. Lymphedema can occur because of cancer treatments, surgery, or other medical conditions. Managing Lymphedema Treatments to help reduce symptoms such as pain, swelling and discomfort associated with lymphedema can include compression garments, exercise, skin care, manual lymphatic drainage and pneumatic compression. The goal is to avoid triggering the onset of lymphedema. Lymphedema can present itself immediately after surgery or radiation. It can appear months later or even years later. There are many factors that influence the development of lymphedema which is why prevention is so important. If you have had injury or disruption to your lymphatic system, then: Avoid injuries to the skin near the affected area. For example: wearing gloves during gardening, using bug spray to ward off mosquitos, covering your limbs while playing with pets, keeping nails clean and avoiding cutting too close to cuticle, utilizing electric razors at the armpit (instead of a traditional razor)., Avoid blood pressure readings to the affected limb or request blood pressure to be taken manually, not by a machine. Avoid heat like saunas, hot tubs, sunburns, hot packs, and even massages. Avoid tight jewelry like rings or bracelets, which can be too tight.
Getting to the HEART of Research
In February, we think about hearts not just in honor of Valentine’s Day but because it is American Heart Association Month. This is a great reminder to focus on our personal cardiovascular health. Renown Health helps patients think about their heart health with our world-class providers and cutting-edge treatments through our Cardiovascular Clinical Trials. “Research serves a vital role in the future care of cardiovascular diseases. Being involved in research will help our medical community to further discover new treatment plans in our quest for life preservation and extension,” Dr. Thomas To, Cardiologist and Researcher at Renown Health. For example, let’s talk about atherosclerosis. When our hearts are healthy, they are a strong muscle that pumps our oxygen-rich blood through our coronary arteries. Over time, cholesterol and fats can build up in our arteries. This is a condition known as atherosclerosis. This type of plaque buildup in the arteries can lead to a heart attack or stroke if not properly managed. If you are experiencing chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath or pain in areas of the upper body, these can be the warning signs of a heart attack, and you should call 911. One contributing factor to atherosclerosis is elevated lipoprotein(a) levels and the accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries, which increases the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke. Lipoprotein(a) is tested separately from the standard panel that is completed for cholesterol management, and while your total cholesterol levels may be in a healthy range, lipoprotein(a) levels can still be elevated. "Increasingly we are realizing that lipoprotein(a) levels can be used as an important assessment in more carefully delineating an individual's risk of future cardiovascular events and treatment targets" said Dr. Michael Bloch, Lipid Specialist and Researcher at Renown Institute for Heart and Vascular Health. While it is clear that elevated lipoprotein(a) contributes to atherosclerosis, there are currently no approved medications for reducing cardiovascular disease risk through reducing lipoprotein(a) levels. This is why Renown Health’s Research Office is proud to offer a phase III clinical trial, called the OCEAN(a) study, to our patients with elevated lipoprotein(a) levels as a care option for management of their heart disease risk. Our teams of expert providers and researchers are here to support you on your healthcare journey. “I am thrilled to be able to be part of this study and bring opportunities like this to our patients. The highlight of my day is getting to hear life stories from my patients during our study visits,” Lisa Preciado, Primary Clinical Research Coordinator for the OCEAN(a) study said. Join us in raising awareness around American Heart Month by talking to your provider about lipoprotein(a) at your next appointment. At Renown Health, our goal is to make it easy for patients to access clinical research as a care opportunity where patients can access a variety of standard care treatment options for their health condition or choose to participate in a clinical trial. For more information about clinical trial opportunities available to you or to ask any questions, contact the Renown Research Office at Renown-CRD@renown.org or 775-982-3646.
Your Top 5 Questions about TAVR Answered
Your heart is the muscle in charge of pumping blood to your entire body. This vital organ is made up of chambers, valves and blood vessels. Your heart valves work similarly to a one-way door: they open and close, controlling blood flow in the correct direction through the heart chambers. For patients who have been diagnosed with a heart-related condition like aortic valve stenosis (narrowing), it is important to know treatment options. Most might think open-heart surgery is the only way to treat a heart valve, but many hospitals, including Renown, also offer a minimally invasive procedure called a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). Dr. Abhilash Akinapelli of Renown Institute for Heart & Vascular Health shares his answers to the top five TAVR questions: 1. What causes aortic valve stenosis? Aortic valve stenosis can be caused by a variety of factors. The main reasons being wear and tear of the valve due to aging; genetically abnormal heart valve (bicuspid aortic valve); long-standing high blood pressure; and other reasons like radiation exposure. 2. Am I a candidate for TAVR? Renown’s heart care teams are made up of your primary care provider, cardiologist and cardio thoracic surgeon. They will evaluate if patients are a good candidate for the TAVR procedure by performing a variety of screenings and tests. Some of these include: Echocardiogram Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) Chest X-ray Exercise tests or stress tests Cardiac computerized tomography (CT) scan Cardiac catheterization 3. What are the advantages of the TAVR procedure? The Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure is much less invasive than open heart surgery, otherwise known as a Surgical Aortic Valve Replacement (SAVR). Patients can typically return to their normal lifestyles within a week after leaving the hospital. During the TAVR procedure, a stent valve mounted on a balloon is advanced to the heart through the blood vessels in the groin without any incision. Once in position, the balloon will be inflated to firmly expand the new valve inside the diseased old valve, pushing it away to the sides. Once the new valve is in place, it begins working immediately and the deflated balloon is removed. The surgical procedure is approximately one hour long. Patients can get up and walk after four hours and will be discharged the following day if no complications arise. Compared to a SAVR, recovery time is much shorter and less risky for patients above the age of 75. A big advantage for anyone who fits under the criteria for a TAVR. 4. Is the procedure painful? The TAVR procedure is not surgery, but you will still be asleep during the procedure. Since no incision is made, it is essentially a painless procedure. Patients may experience slight discomfort such as aches and pains at the entry site of the catheter. 5. Can I have an MRI and X-rays done after having a TAVR valve? Yes, patients can have MRI scans and X-rays after TAVR. For further questions and information about the TAVR procedure, please consult with your Renown heart care team at 775-982-2452 or through MyChart.