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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:

Best seats in the house…or in this case, the OR

If you’ve ever wanted to sit in the gallery of Grey’s Anatomy and watch a surgery, we have something for you that’s a little more powerful. On Friday, we invite you to tune in to a livestream of a procedure that changes patients’ lives.

On Friday, Dec. 16, 2011 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (PST), Drs. Ron Young and Ryder Gwinn, surgeons from the Swedish Neuroscience Institute, will host a livestream on this page to discuss the affects of Essential Tremor (ET), the Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgical procedure used to treat ET and the other innovative treatment options for ET available at Swedish and throughout the country.

ET is a progressive neurological condition that causes a rhythmic trembling of the hands, head, voice, legs or trunk. It is often confused with Parkinson’s disease and is often un-diagnosed.

The livestream will feature a video stream of a recorded DBS surgical procedure performed at Swedish, accompanied by a live web chat led by Drs. Young and Gwinn. The DBS device is like a pacemaker for the brain. During the surgery, a tiny wire is implanted in the area of the brain that controls abnormal movement. This wire modifies the brain’s electrical signals to help control tremors and other abnormal movements.

It gets better

Not only will you have a front seat (from the comfort of home or wherever your mobile device is) to see a life-changing surgical procedure, but you can also ask questions live to our surgeons about the surgery, essential tremor, and any other related questions you may have (like what is Gamma Knife?). And, we’ll have patients who will share their stories about the procedure and how it has changed their lives – for the better.

Tune in on Friday

You can watch the livestream ...

Whooping cough and the TdaP vaccine

There has been a recent outbreak of pertussis, a disease also commonly known as whooping cough, around the country. In the state of WA there have been 58 infants less than 1 year of age diagnosed with whooping cough; among these cases, 22 were hospitalized and 2 have died.

What is pertussis?

Pertussis is a highly contagious disease that is particularly severe in infants. . It is an infection of the airways caused by bacteria. More than half of infants younger than 1 year of age who get the disease must be hospitalized

In infants and children, the disease usually begins with runny nose, low grade fever, and mild cough that last for about 7-10 days. The cough usually worsens and infants may develop bursts of numerous rapid coughs. These bursts of cough are accompanied by sweating, facial flushing, and sometimes vomiting. With this disease, about 1 in 5 infants may develop pneumonia, about 1 in 100 will have seizures, and in rare cases whooping cough can lead to death.

Adults and adolescents also acquire this infection but do not have as a prolonged course as infants.
They usually have a prolonged, persistent cough that is often confused with acute bronchitis.

Whooping cough is most contagious before the coughing starts. Vaccinations are the best way to prevent the disease. 2 vaccines are available – the childhood vaccine is called DTaP vaccine and the booster vaccine for adolescent and adults is called the TdaP vaccine. Although both these vaccines protect against Pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria, the immune response can fade with time.

It is important as parents and caregivers that we are all immunized in order to prevent the spread of the disease to infants and children, who are most vulnerable. The vaccine recommendations are as follows:

It's always a season of caring

Talking about end of life is never easy and usually occurs when everything else has been tried. When making the shift from cure to comfort you want people who know how to make this part of life’s journey as supportive as possible. The compassionate care team at Swedish Hospice can help make the remaining time of a loved one’s life rich with dignity and compassion.

There can be a misperception that being on hospice means giving up. However, hospice care can actually improve the quality of life and perhaps even prolong the lives of some people receiving hospice care.

The care team works with doctors and hospitals, assesses care needs and coordinates insurance coverage – all in addition to addressing patient and family needs. They help the patient understand their illness and what care options might be available. The care team also makes the patient’s wishes a priority and assures they get the care they want and deserve.

Swedish provides services in pain management, symptom control, psycho-social support, home health aides for personal care, comfort therapies such as music and massage, volunteer support for caregivers and spiritual care to patients and families. All the necessary medicines and equipment needed to keep a patient comfortable can be brought right to the home, adult family home or skilled nursing facility.

What families say about hospice at Swedish:

“I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to witness your personal relationship with and interest in both of us.”

“I cannot thank you enough for the care and compassion you provided to my wife. Your staff brought her comfort and peace in the final days of her life.”

What people should know about hospice at Swedish:

Swedish Named a 2011 Top Hospital

Our medical director for quality and patient safety, Mary Gregg, MD, MHA, blogs about Swedish's Top Hospital Award:

Of all the awards Swedish has won over the years, the most meaningful is the Top Hospital Award given by the Washington, D.C.-based Leapfrog Group. I am very proud to announce that Swedish has earned the award once again this year: The Leapfrog Group today named Swedish First Hill among the nation’s 2011 Top Hospitals.

Dr. Mary GreggThe reason this award is such an honor for us is that our physicians, nurses and other staff have been working tirelessly for years to develop a culture of safety and quality on behalf of our patients. This award validates their efforts because it is based on performance on key quality and safety metrics. Of 1,200 hospitals nationally, Swedish is one of only 65 in the country that are meeting these standards.

I want to use this opportunity to acknowledge our staff for their commitment to quality and safety and to thank them for everything they do for our patients on a daily basis. I also want to acknowledge our hospital in Ballard. Although that campus is not eligible for a Leapfrog designation because it doesn’t provide intensive care services, Swedish/Ballard also scored in the top 10 percent of all Leapfrog hospitals for the second year in a row.

The Leapfrog Group is a coalition of public and private purchasers of employee health coverage founded a decade ago to work for improvements in health care safety, quality and affordability. The annual survey is the only voluntary effort of its kind. To learn more, read our news release or visit www.leapfroggroup.org.

6 Simple Steps to Prevent Medication Errors

Our medical director for quality and patient safety, Mary Gregg, MD, MHA, blogged for the Washington State Medical Association about medication safety - what we as patients can do to help keep us safe:

Medications fight illnesses, prevent disease and help improve quality of life. But it’s important to take them safely and as directed.

Dr. Mary GreggAs a cardiac surgeon, I’ve seen the consequences of not taking medications properly. I once had a heart attack patient come to the hospital. After a successful surgery inserting a stent to prevent blockage in his artery, he was discharged with a prescription for a medication to prevent clots. For one reason or another, the patient didn’t fill his prescription as instructed for several days and he ended up in the ER for emergency heart surgery.

Some easy simple steps to prevent medication errors:

Medicine comes in many forms

It's a well known fact that animals can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and promote healing. The Swedish Edmonds Therapy Pups (STP) program, which began in early 2008, has expanded to include more than 10 teams of volunteer handlers and their Pet Partners®. Presently, the teams visit patients on surgery floors, but they can be stopped for a visit any time you see them in the halls. While their primary purpose is to see hospital patients, they often visit patients’ family and friends too – and our staff!

So what do handlers and their therapy pups do during a visit? I asked a few of our teams to share their stories. Also, make sure you watch the ‘dog cam’ below!

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