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What to do when Seattle gets hot

The area is heating up. The National Weather Service has announced an excessive heat watch for this Thursday and Friday, with temperatures that will rise into the low to mid 90s. When outside temperatures are very high, the danger for heat-related illnesses rises. Older adults, young children, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at particularly high risk.

Here are some safety tips to avoid overheating and things to consider for the weekend:

Stay cool:

  • Spend more time in air conditioned places. If you don't have air conditioning, consider visiting a mall, movie theater or other cool public places.

  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun.

  • Dress in lightweight clothing.

  • Check up on your elderly neighbors and relatives and encourage them to take these precautions, too.

Drink liquids:

  • Drink plenty of water; this is very important. Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol and large amounts of sugar because they can actually de-hydrate your body.

  • Have a beverage with you as much as possible, and sip or drink frequently. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink.

If you go outside:

  • Limit the time you're in direct sunlight.

  • Do not leave infants, children, people with mobility challenges and pets in a parked car, even with the window rolled down.

  • Avoid or reduce doing activities that are tiring, or take a lot of energy.

  • Do outdoor activities in the cooler morning and evening hours.

  • Avoid sunburn. Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating.

  • Wear a hat or use an umbrella for shade.

What test is best for breast screening?

I often get asked why can’t a woman just get a breast MRI rather than a mammogram. The imaging tests that we do for breast cancer screening and evaluation of abnormalities have different strengths and weaknesses.

Mammograms are very useful as a screening tool. They can be done quickly and read efficiently by the breast radiologist. They have minimal radiation exposure. They can be done by a mobile coach in locations that are more convenient to patients. They are excellent for identifying abnormal calcium deposits within the breast tissue and for seeing disrupted tissue and masses. They may be less effective in women who have dense breast tissue but the digital techniques have helped some with that. 

Ultrasound is a great tool for evaluating a mass or tissue asymmetry found on mammograms. It can distinguish between a benign appearing solid mass, a fluid filled cyst, a mass that is suspicious for cancer, or normal appearing breast tissue. There is no radiation exposure. It is less reliable as a screening tool because it can be dependent on the skill of the physician or technologist doing the procedure. It is possible to miss abnormalities or to mis-interpret normal findings as abnormal. There are studies underway evaluating using an automated version of ultrasound as a screening test but the results are not conclusive and this is not considered ready for standard practice.

Breast MRI is a highly sensitive test that is very dependent on...

Getting a mammogram

Frequently women will ask me: Where should I get my mammograms? There are several things to think about.

First, you want to go to a Center that is accredited by the American College of Radiology. This means that they have high quality images and well-trained radiologists. It is preferable to have a digital mammogram but if that technology is not available, then film mammograms are better than not having one done. While it is not clear that digital mammograms improve survival, they do allow the radiologist to examine the images more clearly and to use computer assisted diagnostic tools.

The radiologists’ experience is also important. Dedicated breast centers usually have radiologists who are specialized in breast imaging. These sub-specialized radiologists are very experienced in using mammograms, ultrasound, and breast MRI to diagnose breast disorders and are less likely to miss abnormalities.

Convenience is also a consideration. You want to make it easy to get your mammograms. Some Breast Centers will have mobile mammography programs that will bring mammogram screening to your place of work, local community or senior center, or even your church or synagogue. If possible, it is a good idea to get your mammograms at the same Center or within the same hospital system every year. That way the radiologists have easy access to your prior studies and can compare them to the current ones.

Here are some other things to know about getting mammograms:

Happy Doctors' Day, and thank you to all doctors!

Doctors' Day was officially designated as a national day of recognition in 1990 to honor our physicians.  We thank the members of our talented medical staff for their compassionate care of patients and their enthusiastic pursuit of safety, quality and the highest standards in the delivery of medical care.

I want to thank all of our doctors for what they do, and give special thanks to those who are blogging and providing information online.

Here are some of my personal favorite videos by our physicians from our YouTube channel:

And of course, the physicians who participate in our livestreams are pretty incredible as well:

I've also captured a few tweets and Facebook posts from people who wanted to thank our doctors - see below, and if you want to share any, comment here or on Facebook, and we'll share them with our amazing doctors!

Swedish introduces new specialty dental clinic

(Ed. note: A version of this will appear in the Spring/Summer issue of Impact.)

Access to specialty dental care for the uninsured and underinsured in our community took a significant step forward with the recent opening of the Swedish Community Specialty Clinic dental program, the first of its kind in the Puget Sound area.

Oral health services have become less available to low-income individuals since the state funding of adult Medicaid dental programs was cut in January, 2011. The funding cuts have also affected dental-care access for developmentally disabled and elderly populations. These reductions have led to an increase in hospital visits, as severe dental pain is among the top five reasons underserved patients utilize the emergency room.

In response to this critical need, Swedish began brainstorming new ways to address the gap in care offerings. In September, 2010, Swedish opened the innovative Swedish Community Specialty Clinic (SCSC) as part of its more than 100 year commitment to providing excellent medical care to all in need, regardless of their ability to pay. The SCSC is designed to treat low-income uninsured or underinsured patients with services including orthopedics, dermatology, cardiology, gynecology, neurology, occupational therapy, podiatry and many others. Adding a dental program was a natural next step for the SCSC. In collaboration with Seattle Special Care Dentistry and Project Access Northwest, Swedish embarked on a plan to install three new procedure areas, fully equipped for specialty-care services, within the SCSC.

At the January 17 ribbon cutting. From left to right: Amy Winston, DDS, Bart Johnson DDS - both from Seattle Specialty Dental Program. Jerry Retsema- Burkhart Dental Supply. Princy Rekha, DDS – Seattle King County Dental Society & Foundation. Dan Dixon – Vice President, External Affairs at Swedish. 

The dental clinic is designed as a referral-based service for patients who are at or below 200 percent of poverty level. Patients are referred to the clinic through Project Access Northwest. Swedish estimates some 30 volunteer dental professionals will see up to 450 patients in the first year of the clinic’s operation. As many as 45 volunteer dentists and oral surgeons will treat an estimated 2,000 patients in its second year. The initial focus of the clinic is difficult tooth extractions with plans to include endodontic and periodontal services in the future.

Where to Receive the Right Level of Medical Care

 When you are ill or injured, where should you go to receive the right level of medical care?

Top Four Innovations in Health Care Reform in 2012

What are the top four innovations in health care reform in 2012? 

1. Innovative changes in health benefit packages
2. Increased focus on primary and preventive care
3. Affiliations and data sharing between health networks
4. Personal health coaches

What exactly does this mean? Watch the video below to find out:

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