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Dos and Don’ts for Preventing Teen Obesity

Posted by | Posted in Bariatrics, Parents, Pediatrics, Physician Services | Posted on 29-06-2012

Teen obesity is becoming an epidemic. In the past 25 years, the number of teenagers who are considered overweight or obese has tripled.

Dr. Ashish K. John, a pediatrician with Memorial Physician Services’ Koke Mill Medical Associates, said this can largely be attributed to two factors: Healthy eating habits have decreased as more unhealthy, convenience foods have become available, and activity level among children also has decreased.

Obesity is determined by a person’s Body Mass Index (BMI), which factors both weight and height. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also has available a BMI-for-age tool for children that provides a BMI percentile. Anything over the 95th percentile is considered obese. In more simple terms, a person who is more than 20 percent over their ideal weight for their height and age is obese. Read the rest of this entry »

6 Ways to Avoid Injury on July 4

Posted by | Posted in Burn Center, Emergency Department, Expert Tips, Safety, Summer | Posted on 27-06-2012

Glowing sparklers, massive booms from afar, and collective “oohs” and “ahhs” are familiar sights and sounds to most Americans. Yes, the Fourth of July will soon be upon us. And once again, Memorial Medical Center is preparing for an influx of firework-induced, avoidable injuries and burns.

“We typically see a spike in burns and firework-related injuries during this time of year,” says Doug Gregory, RN, nurse manager of Memorial’s Regional Burn Center.

Sara Plunk, RN, nurse manager, MMC Emergency Department, says, “Our goal this year is to keep everyone harm-free and inform the public of safe ways to enjoy fireworks this season.”

Fireworks should be handled delicately and cautiously. They have the potential to cause serious harm, even death, if not handled properly. Read the rest of this entry »

Nominate a Breast Cancer ‘Super Survivor’ by July 20

Posted by | Posted in Cancer Care, Events, Women | Posted on 26-06-2012

Do you know a breast cancer survivor who has been an inspiration to others? Memorial Medical Center’s Be Aware Women’s Fair committee is accepting nominations for its annual Super Survivors program, which pampers and honors three such women each October.

Nominations will be accepted until July 20 at or by mailing a completed nomination form to Super Survivor, c/o Memorial Medical Center Foundation, 701 N. First St., Springfield, IL 62781.

Three nominees will be selected in a random drawing on July 23. Each will receive a makeover that includes a visit to BJ Grand Salon the day before and on the morning of the Be Aware Women’s Fair, free admission to the women’s fair, a new outfit to unveil during a fashion show on the day of the event and other gifts. Memorial’s third annual Be Aware Women’s Fair will run from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Orr Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Read the rest of this entry »

How a Boy and Fishing Solidified a Nursing Career

Posted by | Posted in Burn Center, Memorial Medical Center, Nursing | Posted on 22-06-2012

Doug Gregory, RN, Nurse Manager, Regional Burn Center

Nursing is more than a profession. It’s a calling. A desire to help, care and serve those in a time of need. 

Each day, nurses make a difference in the lives of their patients. But most will tell you that sometimes, it’s the patient who leaves a lasting impact.

Doug Gregory, RN, nurse manager for Memorial’s Regional Burn Center, has been a nurse for eight years. Below, he recalls one of his first patients, whose personal story validated his career choice:

“When I was working at a children’s hospital in St. Louis, I met a 12-year-old boy named Kenny.  He had a congenital defect with his liver and it caused a big, protruding belly.

He had been on a transplant list, on which he was waiting for a very long time. So we got to know Kenny very well. The thing that stands out the most is how throughout all his hospitalizations, he just wanted to be a teenage boy and do teenage boy things.  Read the rest of this entry »

6 Coping Strategies for Dealing with the Effects of Trauma

Posted by | Posted in Mental Health | Posted on 20-06-2012

Traumatic events happen every day – car accidents, physical abuse, divorce, natural disasters and even death. No one is immune to traumatic events.

These experiences can affect a person on many levels — emotionally, physically, socially and spiritually. And unfortunately some traumatic events can be dehumanizing and terrifying and happen multiple times during a person’s life. 

“Trauma creates feelings of helplessness, and as a result a person can feel very overwhelmed. Individuals often face challenges in coping with day-to-day life,” said Linda Nowack, a licensed clinical professional counselor at Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois. “Traumatic events can significantly alter an individual’s perception about the world around them and subsequently their own personal identity.”  

Many people who experience trauma and are unable to function in their daily life find support by talking to a mental health professional.

“As a counselor, I can guide people so they are empowered to change their life and feel in control again,” Nowack said. “Coping strategies are necessary if a person struggles to deal with the emotional impact of a traumatic event. When a person is able to identify their triggers and warning signs that lead to strong emotional reactions or crisis situations, they are typically more successful at implementing coping strategies to alleviate symptoms.”

  • Coping strategies Nowack recommends include:
  • Reading
  • Journaling
  • Going for a walk or exercising
  • Listening to music
  • Calling a friend or family member who has a positive outlook
  • Spending time alone

“Everyone deals with traumatic events in their own way. If one coping method doesn’t work, I encourage people to try something else,” Nowack said. “Often professional help is needed to deal with trauma and regain emotional well-being and a sense of control. It’s important to know that you are not alone and help is available.”

Vacation Bound? Don’t Forget a Medical Kit!

Posted by | Posted in Expert Tips, Safety, Summer | Posted on 19-06-2012

Before you hit the road or fly the friendly skies this summer, remember that packing for a trip involves more than the right clothing and shoes. A comprehensive medical kit will help ensure your vacation doesn’t include a sight-seeing excursion to the nearest drugstore.

Dennis Danner, a registered nurse for 35 years who works at Memorial’s ExpressCare at North Dirksen, is a frequent traveler, including at least two overseas trips a year as part of his role as president and co-founded of ER Abroad, a locally based charity that helps needy orphanages and medical clinics in Guatemala and Kenya. He suggests the following supplies when assembling a traveling medical kit.

  • Travel Medical Kit Supplies:
  • Baby aspirin — If you are flying or taking a long car trip during which you’ll be seated for a long period of time, it’s a good idea to take a baby aspirin before each trip. This natural blood thinner could help prevent a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot that travels to the lungs and typically forms in the lower extremities). Before taking an aspirin, however, check with your physician to make sure there are no contraindications based on your personal medical history.
  • First Aid creams and bandages — This should include Band-Aids, 4×4-inch gauze pads, nonstick Telfa pads, a couple rolls of two- and four-inch gauze bandage, an Ace bandage, Neosporin and Bacitracin (triple-antibiotic cream).
  • Ice packs
  • Sunscreen
  • A small jar or container of baking soda or meat tenderizer to mix with water to neutralize bee stings
  • Hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to disinfect scrapes or cuts
  • Soap towelettes
  • Tweezers
  • Pepto Bismal tablets
  • Non-latex unsterile gloves
  • Over-the-counter pain killers (for sunburns, use aspirin or Motrin to help reduce inflammation)
  • A small bottle of vinegar if you are traveling to a coastal area, to help reduce jellyfish stings

Danner also recommends vacationers check their health insurance policy to see what is covered where they are traveling. If coverage is poor, considering purchasing trip nsurance to cover unanticipated medical expenses, he said.

Bariatric Surgery Testimonial: Tish

Posted by | Posted in Bariatric Patient Stories, Bariatrics | Posted on 14-06-2012

For many people who struggle with obesity, dieting and exercise alone are not enough to lose and maintain substantial weight loss to improve their health. For some, bariatric surgery, in addition to lifestyle changes, may be the holistic approach to achieving and maintaining great health.

About 700 central Illinoisans have undergone bariatric surgery through Memorial Medical Center’s Bariatric Services program, all with the intended goal of living a more fulfilling, active life after shedding the weight.

One such success story is Tish, who met her goal of losing 50 pounds by her 50th birthday…and kept on going. Read her story in her own words: Read the rest of this entry »

6 Tips for Safe Fun in the Sun

Posted by | Posted in Expert Tips, Parents, Pediatrics, Physician Services, Safety, Summer | Posted on 12-06-2012

As a fair-skinned mom to three fair-skinned children, all of whom love to be outdoors, pediatrician and internal medicine physician Cara Vasconcelles, MD, is particularly attuned to proper sun protection.

“I usually start applying sunscreen whenever the kids can be outside – without a coat on – for longer than 10 to 15 minutes,” said Vasconcelles, who practices with Koke Mill Medical Associates, part of Memorial Physician Services. “If you can be outside for that long without a coat and are comfortable, that means it’s warm enough to get a sunburn.”

Research shows that with each significant sunburn a child experiences while younger than 18, their cancer risk increases greatly in adulthood.

“It’s important not to be afraid of the sun, but to use common sense and practical measures to keep kids and adults from getting a sunburn,” Vasconcelles said. She offers these tips for ensuring you and your children are protected from the sun’s harmful rays. Read the rest of this entry »

Burn Center Gives Young Patient the Royal Treatment

Posted by | Posted in Burn Center, Events, Memorial Medical Center | Posted on 07-06-2012

Austin and one of his Burn Center nurses, Tammy Berry, RN

The day before Thanksgiving in 2011, 11-year-old Austin Bennett of Janesville was playing with a friend when the two came across a can of gas in the friend’s garage. The boys poured the gas into a cup, but before they could do much else with it, the friend’s dad intervened.

How that cup of gasoline spontaneously ignited is anyone’s guess – but that’s what happened next. As the friend dropped the burning cup, the contents were thrown onto Austin’s left pant leg, engulfing it in flames. Austin dropped and rolled, but the flame wouldn’t go out until the friend’s father ripped Austin’s pants off of him. That act likely saved his life.

Burned from his ankle to his knee with third- and fourth-degree burns, Austin’s local hospital in Mattoon determined he needed to be cared for by a Burn Center. He was sent by ambulance to Memorial’s Regional Burn Center, where he immediately underwent skin graft surgery, in which doctors removed healthy skin from the undamaged part of his upper left leg to help heal the damaged part of his lower leg. When a burn reaches third- and fourth-degrees, the skin cells are too damaged to regenerate. Read the rest of this entry »

A Calling, Not a Career – For Most Nurses, It Takes Just One Patient to Confirm Their Career Choice

Posted by | Posted in Memorial Medical Center, Nursing | Posted on 05-06-2012

Mandy Lyons, RN, Memorial Medical Center, Intensive Care Unit

Many say that choosing a career in nursing is more like a calling. It takes a special person to be a great nurse, and each has a story from their early days as a new nurse that confirmed for them that they were indeed in the right profession.

Mandy Lyons, a registered nurse in Memorial’s 2C intensive care unit who began her career 11 years ago, recalls one of her first patients, who validated her career choice:

While a new grad working in the Emergency Department of another hospital, a young mother brought her limp 6-month-old boy to the triage unit. The baby looked lifeless, and I feared it was a grim situation.

I rushed the baby back to a room and yelled for a doctor. I could see how helpless that young mother felt as the ER team was working to revive the boy. The mother cried and prayed that her son would be OK. She looked worn down, her clothes had holes in them, her hair was matted, but her baby boy was perfectly clothed. I could tell she put her son before herself. Read the rest of this entry »