June 2012

June 2012 posts

The Unheard Minority

We’ve all had our issues with healthcare—from trying to read through your bill to understanding the instructions your doctor is telling you to navigating through automated phone trees finding someone who can answer your health questions. There are many frustrations that we as patients deal with. Now imagine you’re missing one of your five senses, such as hearing. All of a sudden, those challenges seem much bigger.

A recent study published in The Lancet medical journal suggests that people who are deaf or hard of hearing have worse healthcare and less access to health services. And it makes sense when you think about it.

  1. Hearing loss is not often a “visible” handicap so healthcare providers may not know their patients have it. Patients may not even know they have hearing loss!
  2. Even if patients do know they have hearing problems, most healthcare providers do not have training on how to effectively communicate with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  3. Lastly, those frustrations we just talked about keep many of us from accessing healthcare the right way. People who cannot hear well may experience even more difficulties which could keep them from going to the doctor or asking the questions they need to have answered.

The effect on healthcare quality and access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing ...

COPE-ing with Childhood Health Issues

Most of us are lucky enough to only need to visit the doctor for our yearly check up. For others, chronic conditions may be daily health struggles. With guidance from health care providers and a care plan in place, these conditions can often be managed and life can go on as normal. But what about children with chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, epilepsy and even cancer?

As parents, it’s often difficult to understand where your child may be coming from—why the temper tantrum? Is blue hair really necessary? Do you have to sleep until noon? This is only heightened when a child has a chronic health issue that you don’t have and therefore can’t fully understand. Healthcare is confusing enough, and it’s even more so for children whose brains may not be developed enough to understand what is happening to their bodies. As a result, it can be challenging for parents to balance empathy with the need to provide structure and discipline ...

Webinar: The Many Faces of MCA Aneurysms

The Brain Aneurysm Foundation presents a monthly webinar series targeted toward their large patient population. This week, Dr. David Newell presented The Many Faces of Middle Cerebral Artery Aneurysms in a live webinar.

The Swedish Cerebrovascular Center staff works with the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, and holds a monthly support group meeting for patients, families and caregivers of survivors of aneurysms, AVM, Moyamoya, cavernous malformation, and other cerebrovascular disorders. Dr. Newell serves on the Medical Advisory Board of Directors for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.


Swedish's Perspective on the SCOTUS Ruling of the Affordable Care Act

As you have likely heard by now, the Supreme Court this morning issued a landmark decision that will allow implementation of the new health-care law to move forward.

Swedish aligned with the Washington State Hospital Association in support of the passage of the Affordable Care Act because it provides for better access to care for more individuals throughout the country. We recognize there are many supporting and opposing voices around this topic, and while not a perfect piece of legislation, the law will provide coverage for 30 million people who otherwise have no access to insurance by 2014.

While the Court’s decision brings additional clarity to national health reform, our commitment to improving health care regionally remains the same. For the past six years, Swedish has worked diligently to improve quality, reduce costs and increase access to health care, and we are fully committed to continuing down this path. We also remain committed to serving all those in need. Last year alone, Swedish provided $146 million in community-benefit activities.

Here is a summary of the ruling on the Affordable Care Act:

The Supreme Court ruled this morning on the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148). The Court ruled 5-4 that the Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. While the Court did not find that the law was constitutional under the Commerce Clause, as argued by lawyers representing the federal government, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if they refuse to buy insurance is a tax and that Congress has the authority to impose such a tax.

According to the SCOTUS Blog: “Because the individual mandate survived, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn't comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.”

The court’s ruling gave President Obama a victory of sorts on a law whose most controversial provision — the individual mandate — is not set to take effect until 2014. Some popular provisions, such as family coverage for children up to age 26, have already taken effect. Congress gave the bill final approval in March 2010 on the strength of a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate; Republicans gained control of the House in November 2010 in part by capitalizing on opposition to the mandate and vowing to try to repeal the law in its entirety.

Below is a synopsis of some of the key provisions that remain law after today’s court decision...

Pain after surgery

If you are scheduled to have surgery, it is normal to be concerned about pain you may experience after surgery.

The best time to talk about post-surgical pain is actually before your operation. Make sure you:

  • Talk to your surgeon about your experience with different methods of pain control.
  • Bring a current list of all your medicines and any drug allergies with you to your appointment.
  • Be honest about your alcohol and drug use. If you are abusing alcohol or drugs, you may experience withdrawal from these substances making your postoperative recovery difficult. If you are a recovering from alcohol or drug abuse we can design a pain management plan to reduce the chance for relapse.
  • Ask questions about the post-surgical pain: the severity, how long it will last, how it will be treated, what medications will be used, how they work, and their possible side effects.
  • Discuss any concerns you have about taking pain medications.

Surgical pain is common and should be expected after your procedure. Luckily, modern pain medications and anesthesia can minimize surgical pain. While we cannot eliminate all pain, we want to make you as comfortable as possible. Our pain management goals are simple:

Summer, sun, and why you still need sunscreen in Seattle

Summer is almost here, so this is a good time to talk about sunscreens.

We all get excited when the sun comes out in our area, but it is always important to remember that everyone should avoid direct sun exposure when it is the harshest -between 10am and 4pm during the summer months,. Everyone should wear sunscreen, hats and covered clothing when exposed to the sun. Cloudy days do not offer too much protection as the UV rays can penetrate through the clouds and affect the skin the same way. Children and adolescents in particular should avoid tanning beds.

What you should know about different types of sunscreen:

No One is Too Young for a Hearing Test!

How young is too young for a hearing test?

Your child is never too young for a hearing test! Different ages require special considerations, but children of all ages can have their hearing tested. Most children born in Washington State receive a hearing test before being discharged from the hospital.

Hearing tests are painless and encouraged for all newborns. According to statistics, approximately 3 in 1000 births will result in permanent hearing loss. Additionally, chronic ear infections, speech and language concerns and some illnesses and infections may lead your child to need a test.

You may remember having your hearing screened as a child at school. Hearing tests have come a long way from the traditional method of wearing headphones and raising a hand in response to a tone! Hearing is assessed using different tools and techniques based on the age of a child...

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