How to know where to go

Medical PerspectiveDr. Gerald Russell has seen his share of medical emergencies in 24 years of emergency room work – real emergencies like heart attack, stroke and life-threatening injuries.

He and the Baptist Health Paducah team clicked into action recently when a school bus overturned and sent 13 high school girls into our department at one time – all while victims of two other accidents and assorted other emergencies were being treated.

RussellUnfortunately, he also has seen sore throats, aching backs and plenty of other conditions that no one can really call an emergency. Those complaints fill emergency departments, causing people to spend more time and money than they would if they’d sought treatment from more appropriate providers.

“It’s frustrating when you’re trained in emergency care,” he said, “to see people misuse the emergency department, when they really need to go to a walk-in clinic or perhaps just to the pharmacy.”

Such misuse is rampant.

England has an attention-getting ad campaign, “You can choose better,” making the same point quite graphically. Five folks are in line for the emergency department, each with a description of their symptoms, ranging from sore throat to minor cuts, and a notation that they should have sought treatment elsewhere. The last one in line is a wreath with the notation: “Severe chest pain. Should have been at the front of the queue.”choose better

Of course, chest pain, stroke and other life-threatening conditions or injuries are moved to the “front of the line” in our triage process.

But people with non-life-threatening conditions could have saved time and trouble by seeking more appropriate treatment, such as:

SELF CARE for sore throats, colds, upset stomachs, minor cuts

The sore throat should have been treated at home. One should keep fever/pain reducers, such as acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen, at home, along with anti-diarrheal medication, heartburn remedies, bandages and a thermometer. The old adage of “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” works surprisingly well for most minor illnesses and injuries.

ASK US OR YOUR PHARMACIST when you’re unsure

Those unsure or confused about an illness should talk to one of our Baptist Health Line nurses – free, anytime 24/7 – at 270.575.2918. Also, your pharmacist can provide helpful information and treatment suggestions for minor complaints, such as coughs, colds and toothaches.

SEE A PROFESSIONAL if you don’t get better

You need a primary care physician, who keeps your records and knows your history. If you don’t have one or can’t see yours when you need to, you can visit a walk-in clinic, such as Baptist Health Prime Care (open late during the week and on Saturdays) to see a doctor; or you can see a nurse practitioner for minor complaints at Baptist Express Care in the local Walmarts – all for non-life-threatening conditions.

CALL 911 AND GET TO THE ER for life- or limb-threatening emergency

When should you go to the ER? If the condition is life- or limb-threatening (or could be), such as chest pain or stroke symptoms, inability to breathe, uncontrollable bleeding, unconscious, the sudden onset of severe headaches or neurological issues.

Why shouldn’t you drive to the ER? EMS can begin treatment immediately while their drivers get you safely through traffic quickly. They can even transmit vital information – EKG results, blood types and other data – so the emergency department is ready to begin appropriate treatment when you arrive.

In life or death emergencies, seconds matter. Trained emergency professionals, like Dr. Russell, can offer timely treatment to preserve precious heart muscle or brain tissue to reduce the effects of heart attack and stroke. They can save your life. Really, do you want to take your sore throat to them?

Make the right choices about your medical care, so they can help you when a true emergency hits.

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Myth vs. truth about preventing heart disease

AnAppleADayRebrand2By Lorrie Terry, Western Baptist dietitian

Heart disease is responsible for approximately 25 percent of deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Behavior and lifestyle choices, including smoking and eating fast food at least twice a week, increase your risk of developing heart disease.

Oftentimes, people research their symptoms and risk factors on the Internet, but the information may not be reliable. The February issue of “Today’s Dietitian” shared the following myths vs. facts concerning heart disease:

Myth 1: Everyone experiences the same heart attack symptoms.

Fact: Men and women can experience different symptoms of a heart attack. Most often the feeling of a crushing sensation and radiation to the arm is common. However, women may experience more subtle type of symptoms or signs, such as jaw aches, nausea, vomiting, breathlessness and decreased energy.

Myth 2: Chocolate is good for your heart.

Fact: Not all chocolate is created equally. A Swedish study found small quantities of dark chocolate helped improved blood pressure control. Why? Dark chocolate contains a higher percentage of flavonoids to benefit heart and vascular benefits. The key is SMALL amounts. The saturated fats can outweigh the benefits, if you overindulge. Eating a variety of heart healthy foods, such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains, is beneficial for heart health and can be low in calories.

Myth 3: Eggs can be eaten with abandon.

Fact: The opinion on the consumption of eggs has varied over the years. Overall, experts continue to agree egg whites are very healthy. A whole egg with the yolk contains more cholesterol because of the cholesterol in the yellow or yolk of an egg. The American Heart Association recommends that anyone wishing to lower their LDL cholesterol or overall heart disease risk should limit cholesterol intake to 200 mg, and just one egg contains more than this.

Myth 4: Only a regular, strenuous exercise program will improve heart health.

Fact: Consistent, regular exercise is beneficial. Spending just 15 minutes of walking is better than not doing any exercise at all. Walking, jogging, biking and swimming are very important for heart disease patients because it strengthens the heart and lowers the amount of work the heart has to do.

Myth 5: Heart Disease is in my genes, so I can’t prevent it.

Fact: Family history does increase your risk of having to deal with a heart disease issue sometime in your future. Your risk of heart attack and stroke can be decreased if you focus on risk factors earlier than later in life.

The facts:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Limit salt and alcohol
  • Avoid tobacco and tobacco products
  • Exercise consistently
  • Control stress

Send us your health and nutrition questions, and our team of dietitians will answer them in an upcoming blog.

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How do you know if you’re having a heart attack?

24-7 NurseRebrandHeart attack symptoms are not always obvious. The signs can often begin subtly with chest discomfort that comes and goes. Many people brush off the symptoms as indigestion or anxiety, but you should seek medical attention if symptoms persist for more than 15 minutes.

What are the symptoms?

Heart attack symptoms vary from person to person. Typical heart attack symptoms are:

  • Pressure or crushing pain in chest, which may radiate into left arm or jaw
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath

Women may have symptoms without chest pain, such as: 

  • Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort
  • Chest discomfort, commonly mistaken as heartburn
  • Unusual or unexplained fatigue

Risk factors

Family history is vital when evaluating cardiac risk. The risk for heart disease can increase even more when heredity is combined with unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking cigarettes and eating a poor diet. Other risk factors include physical inactivity, obesity, excessive alcohol use, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Chest Pain & Stroke Hotline

When you need help identifying the signs of a heart attack or stroke, phone Baptist Health’s award-winning Chest Pain and Stroke Hotline at 1-800-575-1911 to speak with one of our registered nurses. It is free and available 24/7

Phone the Baptist Health Line 24/7 at (270) 575-2918 if you have other health questions, even if you’ve never been a patient at Baptist Health Paducah. Our nurses also can answer your questions here.

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Blind Spots

Spiritual Prescription horizontalBlind Spots image_2I get about a 30-minute warning.

Blind spots.

Many of you already know what I’m talking about. It’s the first indication that millions of us get that we’re about to have a whopper of a headache. The first time it happened I was in my mid-twenties and was literally bumping into the wall I couldn’t see while walking down a narrow corridor. Convinced I was having a stroke, I called Blind Spots image_3an ophthalmologist friend who calmly asked if I had a history of migraines. I answered “no,” and he apologetically said, “you’re about to.” Boy was he right.  The blind spots quickly transformed into daggers to the eye!

Blind spots in our spiritual lives can be much more difficult to discern, but not impossible. They also serve as a warning, lest we become daggers to the body of Christ.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, let me take the speck out of your eye, when at the time there is a plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:3-4

Blind Spots image_4This passage is speaking to the issue of critical Christians- spiritual planking, if you will, that occures when we become rigid and quick to criticize the faults of others. A critical spirit is a warning – a blind spot that, left without a remedy, can transform into something ugly.

Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. Romans 2:1

We aren’t supposed to just look the other way in the face of wrongdoing, but the critical Christian often is unaware that she has a problem with the very same issues. I recognize this tendency in myself and I don’t like what I see. Thankfully, the scriptures provide a clear three-step remedy found in Luke. The beloved physician is quoting the great physician in this passage:

Blind Spots image_2_2Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure-pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.  Luke 6:37-38.

First – When you sense the urge to criticize, you’ve possibly just recognized a blind spot.

Second – At the first inclination of a blind spot, generously apply grace and compassion. (This will soften the “plank” for easier removal.)

Third – Gently remove the offending plank and enjoy the full measure of pain relief overflowing in you and to everyone else around you.

That’s a spiritual prescription that we can all use.Blind Spots image

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Enjoy healthy Super Bowl snacks

An Apple A DayWhat’s on your Super Bowl menu? Chips, dips, soda and other high calorie favorites usually go hand-in-hand with the big game. According to modernmom.com, football fans can consume an entire day’s worth of calories during the game. This year prepare healthier versions of your favorite snacks, so you don’t wake up Monday with heartburn and possibly a few unwanted pounds. 

Try a few of these tips so you’ll be a winner, regardless of which team comes out on top.

food_healthy_choice

  • Choose water instead of soda and other high-calorie beverages to avoid belly bloat and empty calories.
  • Serve a fruit platter or fresh veggies with vanilla yogurt instead of fattening cookies.
  • Order a veggie, meatless pizza.
  • Snack on nuts. The magnesium can boost metabolism.
  • Keep food in the kitchen and not in the living room to cut down on grazing during the game.
  • Use smaller bowls for chips and salsa.

Send us your health and nutrition questions, and our team of dietitians will answer them in an upcoming blog. Check here each month for more tips and answers to your questions.

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Cold vs. flu

24-7-Nurse-4Do you have the flu or are you just suffering from a bad cold? We receive lots of calls at Baptist Health Line from people wondering the same thing. The flu and the common cold have similar flu-like symptoms, so it can be difficult to tell them apart based on symptoms alone.

What is the difference?

The flu and common cold are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In general, colds are milder than the flu, and people are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Cold symptoms appear gradually, while flu symptoms can appear within three to six hours. Flu symptoms, such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness and dry cough, are worse and more intense. They also can result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia and hospitalizations. Colds usually last for about a week, while flu symptoms gradually improve after two to five days.

How can you protect against both?

  • Always cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze.
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water.
  • If you are sick, stay at home and avoid others for least 24 hours after fever is gone and/or no longer taking fever-reducing medication for 24 hours.

Phone the Baptist Health Line 24/7 at (270) 575-2918 if you have health questions, even if you’ve never been a patient at Western Baptist. Our nurses also can answer your questions here.

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Family, fabric and fishing bring new doctor to the area

Medical-Perspective-4Frances Horn, D.O., says it was the 3 F’s that pulled her from Oklahoma to Paducah to become a hospitalist at Western Baptist.

“I say I moved here for family, fabric and fishing,” she said. She wanted to be closer to family, she likes to quilt and she enjoys fishing.

She also enjoys taking care of people. She can trace her interest in medicine back to the fifth grade, when she would check the blood pressure for anyone who asked. She became a nurse aide at 15 and a licensed practical nurse by 18.

GHP-3618Later, she earned her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from Oklahoma State University and became board-certified in family medicine. “I like to see the whole picture,” she said. “Family medicine is all-encompassing. My passion to help people is the most important thing to bring to the patient.”

She has a particular passion for caring for those with diabetes. “My family is riddled with it, and it is such a treatable disease if you educate the patient.”

In the first six months of her practice in 1999, she treated a woman who suffered necrotizing fascitis, a rare soft-tissue infection and complication of diabetes. “With the help of my consultants, she lived and still walks. I continued to care for her, her daughter, nieces and nephews, until I moved here. That rocks!”

You can sense her enthusiasm in helping people regain their health.

She now does that at Western Baptist as a hospitalist, a hospital-based physician who cares for patients who don’t have a doctor or whose physician isn’t on the hospital medical staff. The hospitalist returns them to the care of their primary care physician when they leave the hospital.

When she’s not working, she’s enjoying quilting in Quilt City USA and finding new fishing holes in Kentucky’s Western Waterland. She also enjoys photography and church activities.

Welcome, Dr. Horn.

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