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New Washington State Law to Help Children with Food Allergies

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Gastroenterologist

It is with great happiness that I update an earlier blog posted several months ago with the news that patients with food allergies now have a law that helps them afford their treatment.  On Friday March 28th, Governor Jay Inslee signed a law that makes Washington the most recent state in the country to set a mandate for medical coverage of elemental formulas in the treatment of Eosinophilic GI disorders (EGIDs).  EGIDs are a severe form of gastrointestinal inflammation that results from food allergy. 


An innovative solution for the un (and under) insured

Colleen Bromen

Colleen Bromen
Assistant Director of Major Gifts, Swedish Foundation

Health-care reform is a big, confusing, emotionally-charged topic. Now that 2014 is underway and the Affordable Care Act is beginning to take effect, many more Americans will have greater access to health insurance than they had before. It is estimated that 180,000 people in King County alone will become newly insured this year.

Still, there will be many people in our community – and throughout the country – who will continue to face barriers to accessing care. Some of them will be considered underinsured because they can’t afford to fill the gap in medical expenses not covered by their insurance. Others receiving Medicaid may find it difficult to locate a physician who is willing to take them on as a patient, as doctors are not required to see Medicaid patients, and many don’t. And then, there will probably always be those people who don’t have any insurance at all because, for one reason or another, they can’t sign up: the homeless, the chronically mentally ill, those who can’t read or write English, to name just a few.

Community clinics scattered throughout the nation, including several in our community, help address this problem on the primary care end. But access to specialty medical care for low-income patients facing barriers to care like the ones described above is likely to remain extremely difficult.

Fortunately, an innovative program pioneered at Swedish is addressing this effectively, and is likely to become a national model.

The Swedish Community Specialty Clinic (SCSC) was expanded and moved to the Swedish/First Hill campus in  ..

FDA declines approval of Lemtrada for the treatment of MS

Pavle Repovic, MD, PhD
On December 30, 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration declined to approve the use of alemtuzumab (Lemtrada) for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. The FDA stated that the manufacturer of Lemtrada “has not submitted evidence from adequate and well-controlled studies that demonstrate the benefits of Lemtrada outweigh its serious adverse effects.” This was a surprising decision to some, as only a month earlier an advisory panel of experts convened by the FDA, while raising some objections, voted to have this medicine approved. The manufacturer of Lemtrada, Genzyme, a Sanofi company, intends to appeal this decision.
 
In response, a number of MS organizations and experts have voiced their concerns that with this step, MS patients are left without a potential choice in therapy. This decision is particularly difficult for ...

How to make healthy substitutions

Sarah Lawson, RD

Sarah Lawson, RD
Registered Dietitian

This week for National Nutrition Month, we featured how to make healthy substitutions to your cooking techniques. Easy swaps can help reduce calories, fat, sugar, and sodium from your diet without noticing a change in flavor.
 
We demonstrated this by featuring our Low-Sodium/Low-Fat Banana Bread recipe. Many of you loved the taste better than higher sugar, higher fat versions! You can halve this recipe to make 1 loaf. I have made this recipe using 1 cup Greek yogurt in place of the buttermilk and vegetable oil. You could make this gluten free by using a brown rice flour or gluten-free flour blend!

Also, see below for some other tips on how to slim down your favorite foods without sacrificing flavor:

Information on emergency birth control

Anita Tourigny, ARNP

Anita Tourigny, ARNP
Nurse Practitioner, Minor & James OB/GYN

Oops, the condom fell off or broke. Oops, you went away for the weekend and your birth control pills stayed home. In the past, women ran the risk of an unintended pregnancy when birth control was not used or failed.
 
Emergency birth control has been available for many years, starting with medicine approaches that were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. In 1999, Plan B, levonorgestrel pills taken by mouth, was approved for use by prescription and in 2006 was approved without prescription for women 18 years old and over. It was approved for those 17 and older in 2009 without prescription. In late February, 2014, FDA approved over the counter sales of generic emergency contraceptives without proof of age.
 
Another  ...

How to get the most out of your OB/GYN appointment

Emma Grabinski
Unless you are having a baby, seeing an OB/GYN often makes women feel very nervous.  This can lead to forgetting questions, forgetting important information about your condition and leaving feeling dissatisfied.

In order to get the most out of your appointment here are some simple tips:

1. Come prepared!
  • Bring a list of your medications; this can help us be sure that anything we prescribe will be safe for you.  Your problem may also be related to your medication – for example, blood thinners can cause heavy periods.
  • Know your family history. Things that are important for OB/GYNs to know include family member with blood clots, recurrent (more than 3) miscarriages, family members with cancer of the breast, ovary, uterus or colon (bowel.)  It is also helpful to know the age they were diagnosed.
  • Bring a list of questions! The more you ask, the more you’ll know.  We want our patients to be well informed so that we can help you make the right treatment plan for you. Also, there may not be time to go over everything in one appointment so make sure you start with what is important to you.
2. Check your inhibitions at the door!
  • Trust me, we have seen and heard everything and there is very little than can shock us! It is important that you are open and honest so that we can make sure we understand exactly what is going on to come up with the right diagnosis. 
  • It is likely that ...

New nutrition labels, same healthy eating advice

Dinesh Thekke-Karumathil, MD

Dinesh Thekke-Karumathil, MD
Pediatric Hospitalist

We all know that as a nation, we are getting bigger and heavier. Worse still, our future - our children- are becoming obese and unhealthy at increasingly younger ages. For decades, the scourge of obesity was blamed on a high calorie, high fat diet. Turns out, we have probably been doing it wrong all these years and our bulging waistline attests to this colossal failure. Research and the medical community now have increasing evidence that the real villain of the story is a very sweet little molecule called fructose. Fructose is what gives us the sweetness in table sugar (sucrose)…also in brown sugar, honey, agave, and of course, high fructose corn syrup. Call it by any name, but sugars are dangerous to our health. Fructose is addictive, much in the same way as alcohol and illicit drugs are. In fact, sugar (fructose) metabolism closely replicates alcohol metabolism except for the acute effects on brain. Sugar has been likened to alcohol without the buzz!

You may already have heard about First Lady Michelle Obama’s work with the FDA which has led to newly proposed changes to nutrition labels on packaged foods. The amount of sugars, specifically, “added sugars” will be part of that new label. I am not implying that a zero added sugar diet will be the panacea for the pandemic of obesity and ill health. We still need to eat healthy and exercise right. There is no magic pill, no startling new advice. Remember what our grandmothers used to say:
 

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