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Greenville Health System (GHS) has been advancing health care for generations. The stories below provide an inside look into GHS and how we’re transforming health care for the benefit of the people and communities we serve.
Greenville Health System (GHS) has been advancing health care for generations. The stories below provide an inside look into GHS and how we’re transforming health care for the benefit of the people and communities we serve.
On April 22, GHS and others around the globe will celebrate Earth Day. For us, Earth Day is a time to reflect on what we as an organization are doing to protect the environment. GHS is growing by leaps and bounds, affecting many lives throughout the Upstate, and our impact on the environment is significant.
Our mission is to heal compassionately, teach innovatively and improve constantly. Using energy and water more effectively while managing waste is an area in which we strive to improve constantly. Smart buildings and innovative technology certainly play a role in this, but the most important resource we have at GHS is our staff. Our choices and decisions shape our impact on the resources we have available here in the Upstate, and it’s our job to use them wisely.
Here are just some of the ways we saved resources in 2013:
GHS’ Vehicle Committee converted three vehicles to use propane gas. Also called liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), propane is domestically produced, clean-burning and distributed through an established infrastructure.
Using propane is one way to diversify U.S. transportation fuels. It increases energy security, provides convenience and performance benefits, enhances public health and the environment, and reduces dependence on foreign oil.
Waste disposal helps reduce further consumption of natural resources while lowering the need for future disposal itself. Proper disposal of waste or waste management relocates waste to areas where it can be left, incinerated or disposed of safely. Removing waste from public areas helps reduce risks to overall health, decrease exposure to biohazards and decrease pest infestation.
GHS waste reduction efforts in 2013 resulted in the following:
• 3,592,641 pounds of general waste diverted from landfills
• 544,589 pounds of controlled waste properly disposed of per EPA guidelines
• 2,954,433 pounds of waste recycled
Energy efficiency refers to products or systems using less energy to do the same or better job than conventional products or systems. Studies show that such efforts could reduce the nation’s total energy demand by 20% by 2025.
GHS energy reductions are equal to:
• 1,609 cars removed from the highway or 1,063 home electricity usage saved or 17,963 barrels of oil consumed
• 24 passenger cars removed from the highway or 1,519 home electricity usage saved or 268 barrels of oil consumed
While we are making progress on the energy conservation and waste management front, there is still much more work to be done. We will continue to seek ways to reduce transportation, waste and energy needs in 2014, and we will share the results of our efforts with you on Earth Day 2015.
In the mean time, we invite you to join us in celebrating Earth Day on April 22 by bringing paper for recycling to the Greenville Memorial Medical Campus between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. A confidential document shredding truck will be parked in the Facilities Development parking lot (#25 on this map). A mixed-stream recycling container for cardboard, glass, plastic and metal cans will also be available.
As a kid during World War II, I listened to news about the war on a battery-powered radio. I wondered what it was like to be a soldier in war, while wishing I was old enough to serve.
I was in awe of the soldiers who returned to the small community of Marietta, S.C., where I grew up. I also have memories of a few who didn’t come home. Those were sad days.
All of the men serving in WWII were my heroes then and today.
Next week, I will spend a day with WWII veterans and Korean War veterans, like myself, during Honor Flight Upstate. This is the first year that Korean War veterans will participate in the flight.
I was delighted when I first learned that WWII veterans were participating in Honor Flights to Washington, D. C. to see the WWII Memorial. I thought it was a great tribute to those men. We can’t honor them enough. They are truly the “Greatest Generation.” What they and their families endured is unimaginable to most of us.
At the same time, I thought of all the work, effort, fundraising and coordination required for these flights and recognized that’s no easy task. I personally want to thank all the volunteers and contributors that make this day possible for our veterans.
However, I must admit that I felt a little left out initially. The Korean War was dubbed “Police Action” and the “Forgotten War.” By and large, Korean War veterans were ignored as well.
I was barely 16 years old when I enlisted in the Army. It was a month after North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950. I was scared to death, but I remembered WWII. I wanted to be a part of this war. You’ve probably heard the saying, “God takes care of dogs and soldiers.” Well, God sure took care of me.
Long story short, my unit was sent to California in preparation for shipping out to Korea in 1952. But, we were shipped to Germany instead. Some of us were really disappointed by the decision, but just as many, or more, were very pleased that we were not going to Korea.
So, I didn’t get to go to Korea during my first three-year stint in the Army. Although the armistice had been signed, I still wanted to go to Korea, thus I re-upped (Army slang) for three years and was sent to Korea in January of 1954. I spent 18 months in Korea. At the end of my service, I was a sergeant first class.
When I learned that Korean War veterans would be eligible for the “Honor Flights,” I was ecstatic. I immediately got on the phone to call everyone that I thought could help me apply for the flight. I completed an application and sent it in. I called and emailed the volunteers so much they probably thought I was a pain.
When I got notice that I had been selected for this first flight with Korean War veterans, I was absolutely on cloud nine for days. I thought, “My goodness, what could be better than this?” I will see the Korean War Memorial and spend a whole day with men who had many of the same experiences as me. But, it does get better.
I had mistakenly thought this flight was for Korean War veterans only. But to my delight, I learned that WWII veterans would also be aboard the flight. Now, I get to meet and talk to some of the greatest of “The Greatest Generation.”
Many people have heard me talk about the benefits of a plant-based diet for cancer prevention. There is a lot of information available about the benefits of decreasing our intake of animal products and increasing our fruit, vegetable and whole grain intake.
According to a study published in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, a higher fruit and vegetable intake has been associated with fewer cancer deaths and longer life. However, a survey recently conducted by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) shows that most Americans still don’t know that what they eat can help prevent cancer.
According to the AICR, Americans can prevent approximately 374,000 cases of the most common cancers per year by eating a healthy diet, being physically active and staying a healthy weight. This includes about 90,000 cases of breast cancer, 25,000 cases of prostate cancer and 68,000 cases of colorectal cancer. I find those numbers staggering!
I believe telling Americans to “eat a healthy diet” is much too vague. What we need are specific guidelines on what a healthy diet looks like. Here are my suggestions:
Cruciferous vegetables. Broccoli, kale, spinach, green leafy vegetables like collards and mustard greens, bok choi, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, arugula and many more are packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and cancer-kicking phytonutrients. Some studies show that sulforaphane, one of the phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables, can stimulate enzymes in the body that can detoxify carcinogens before they damage cells. Sulforaphane also helps your liver do its job of detoxifying your body 24/7. The better you chew cruciferous vegetables, the more beneficial they are. Fortunately, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and collards are some of my favorite veggies. I eat them at least five days a week.
Get an oil change. Replace saturated fat and delete trans-fats, which are found in primarily animal fats and baked goods, and add small amounts of unsaturated fats to lower caloric intake to help reduce inflammation. But, remember, so-called “healthy” fats like olive oil are still fat and should be used sparingly in the diet.
Colorful fruits and veggies. Increase your intake of berries, yams, melons, apples, tomatoes, peaches, papayas, greens, etc., to make sure you have a variety of different colors every day.
Nix the liquid calories. I let sodas, flavored coffees, sweetened drinks and most juices go by the wayside. They add a lot of calories and don’t give much nutrition in return. That includes diet drinks also. I don’t need to encourage my sweet tooth by using artificial sweeteners. My beverage of choice is water.
Muscle building protein. Protein is found in plant foods and in animal foods. Plant sources of protein include beans, peas, grains, nuts and lentils. Have smaller portions of all meats – including chicken and fish – and add some plant proteins in their place. The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) recommends focusing on plant proteins rather than animal sources.
There is POWER in plant foods. I can’t stress the importance of plant foods enough. Eating a diet rich in plant foods is the best defense against chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure. They also help fight inflammatory diseases like arthritis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and more diseases than I have room to list.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on vitamin pills, herbs or a fancy blender to have a healthy diet. Real food is always the best choice. Click here to check out the PCRM power plate. You don’t have to be a vegan to start adding power plate foods to your daily diet. This diet, coupled with regular exercise, will put you on the path to maintaining a healthy weight. Diet, exercise and weight management are three giant steps to a healthier lifestyle for you and your loved ones.
Guidelines from the previous panel in 2003 defined high blood pressure in older adults as 140/90 or above, meaning that’s the threshold for taking medication to bring those numbers down. The new guidelines change nothing if you’re younger than 60. But, if you’re 60 or older, the target has moved up. Your goal is now to keep your blood pressure at 150/90 or lower. If you have kidney disease or diabetes, your target used to be 130/80 or lower; now it’s 140/90 or lower.
Hypertension is one of the most common medical conditions, affecting approximately 33% of Americans and over a billion people worldwide. The condition is considered the largest risk factor for cardiovascular disease, causing more death and disease than any other condition or factor.
We know that, as we age, the prevalence of hypertension increases, with more than 60% of the U.S. population that is over the age of 60 having hypertension. We also know that people who have blood pressures closer to 120/80 mmHg have a much lower incidence of cardiovascular disease.
So, why did the expert panel go against what would seem intuitive and actually raise the blood pressure goal for those over the age of 60 from 140/90 to 150/90 mmHg?
To put it simply, as we age, our bodies can become more delicate. For example, our kidneys may not filter as much, and our arteries may get stiffer, and the mechanisms that keep us from passing out when we stand up from sitting don’t always work as well. Because of these changes, among others, we end up having a higher likelihood of developing problems from having a lower blood pressure and more side effects from the medications.
The previous guidelines aimed to get everyone’s blood pressure under 140/90 mmHg because it made sense based on the idea that a lower blood pressure meant less risk for cardiovascular disease, but the problem was that it didn’t differentiate based on age. This blanket recommendation for all ages appeared to have missed the important fact that, as we age, our bodies change quite a bit. The new guidelines address this fact.
As an internist, it’s my job to help each individual patient find the right balance, encourage a healthy lifestyle, and weigh the risks and benefits of treatment. For those wanting to reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease and slow their aging, the best advice, tried and true, is to live a healthy lifestyle, which includes reducing stress, eating a portion-controlled plant-rich diet, and exercising regularly. These new guidelines for hypertension are helpful because they bring to light the need for patient individualization and a greater awareness of the risks and benefits of treatment.
For an older person, admission to a hospital can be a time of difficult, major medical decisions and a time of diminished capacity to make decisions. Frequently, frail elderly persons need help to make important medical decisions when they are hospitalized. A study published online in January in JAMA Internal Medicine documented how often older persons admitted to the hospital had to make major medical decisions and how often they needed help in doing so. In the study of 1,598 persons age 65 and older who were admitted to two hospitals in a Midwestern city, the researchers defined a major medical decision as (1) life-sustaining care such as CPR, (2) a procedure or operation that required informed consent, or (3) hospital discharge to a nursing home. They found that two thirds (1,083) faced a major decision.
Of those making major decisions, 47% depended in part or completely on a surrogate, such as a spouse, son or daughter. Of those who were transferred to the ICU at some time during the hospital stay, 71% depended on a surrogate. It is clear that spouses, sons and daughters had to make a lot of important decisions for patients with diminished capacity. Of the 1,083 patients, only 7.4% had a living will and only 25% had a healthcare representative document. It is also clear that these spouses, sons and daughters usually had to figure out what the patient wanted and/or what was best for the patient without a living will or a healthcare power of attorney.
My experience over the past 30 years of taking care of seriously ill persons in the hospital is consistent with the statistics in this report. I regularly see patients and families in distress in the hospital struggling with major medical decisions. I can offer a few suggestions that may help to reduce the distress for all concerned. First, every adult should designate a surrogate for medical decisions and fill out the paperwork for a healthcare power of attorney. Forms are available in hospitals, physician offices, attorney offices and online at www.scha.org/shared-decision-making. The form is short and simple.
Second, when a person has a number of interested family members, designating a single surrogate as power of attorney makes it clear to the surrogate and to others who the patient wanted to make his/her decisions. Third, everyone should discuss their health, outlook and preferences with their surrogate and other family or friends. This means discussing one’s health condition, considering one’s life expectancy and weighing the benefit of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
The seventh annual National Healthcare Decisions Day will be observed on April 16, 2014. This day comes right after income taxes are due and was chosen to remind us of two certainties in life: death and taxes. I encourage everyone to plan ahead, for the sake of your loved ones if not yourself, and to designate a surrogate for medical decisions and to complete a healthcare power of attorney.
Infertility Awareness week is April 20-26, and I think this is a good time to review some of the myths and facts about infertility.
Myth – Infertility is a woman’s problem.
Fact – Infertility is sometimes simple, but often complex problem with no immediately obvious cause. In about 10 percent of cases, infertility is due strictly to a male problem, too few sperm, or sperm not swimming well enough. In another 20-30 percent of cases male factor issues contribute to the cause of infertility. Testing for male factor infertility is easy and relatively inexpensive. A semen analysis can be performed in a specialized infertility lab for under $100 and is often covered by insurance. If the test results are abnormal, many treatment options are available.
Myth – Infertility treatment is not a medical problem, and is not covered by health insurance.
Fact – Infertility is a medical problem. In fact I have never met a patient who ‘chooses’ to be infertile, the way some people “choose” to have other diseases by smoking cigarettes or over eating or failing to exercise. Those types of “choices” sometimes lead to serious diseases such as lung cancer, heart disease or diabetes, yet we never hear of insurance companies failing to cover costs related to them. In fact, many patients have coverage or partial coverage for infertility services. Coverage can be for diagnostic tests and procedures, medical or surgical treatment, and even for in-vitro fertilization if needed. Most patients are successfully treated with therapy that is not very expensive.
Myth – Infertility treatments are not very successful.
Fact – Most couples who seek infertility treatment are successful in having a child. A small number of patients will require advanced reproductive techniques such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to have a child. Pregnancy rates for IVF are well above 40 percent for most couples and above 50 percent for couples with certain profiles.
Myth – Infertility treatment is very stressful.
Fact – Stress sometimes contributes to the cause of infertility. At the Fertility Centers of the Carolinas, we strive to provide care for our patients in an environment that is low stress. The care is personalized and specific to each couple. Our team of physicians, nurses, and staff provide an atmosphere of caring and comfort by making every effort to see our patients on time, speak in language that makes sense, and by recognizing the very personal nature of infertility diagnosis and treatment.
Many people were taken by surprise when Academy Award-winning actor and producer, Michael Douglas, revealed that his throat cancer was caused by human papilloma virus (HPV), a cancer causing virus that is sexually transmitted. HPV is most commonly associated with cervical cancer in women, but did you know that it is also poses a serious threat to men?
HPV has recently emerged as a leading cause of oropharyngeal (tonsil and base of tongue) cancer, particularly in younger age groups and non-smokers. While the majority of all head and neck cancers are linked to tobacco and alcohol use, over half of tonsil and base of tongue cancers are linked to HPV.
Oral, head and neck cancer (OHNC) is a common form of cancer affecting any part of the oral cavity, pharynx, throat, thyroid and larynx (voice box).
Some risk factors include:
Some early signs and symptoms include:
According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 118,000 new cases of head and neck cancers will be diagnosed in 2014, resulting in an estimated 14,000 deaths. OHNC can significantly impact a person’s ability to eat and drink safely and to communicate with others. However, if diagnosed early, these cancers can be more easily treated with less significant complications and better chance of survival.
Regular check-ups can detect the early stages of OHNC or conditions that may lead to it. Several treatment options are available for those cancers caught at a later stage, and may include various combinations of surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy. More information regarding signs, symptoms, and risk factors associated with OHNC can be found at www.headandneck.org.
Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week (OHANCAW), coordinated by the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, is a week dedicated to promoting education, prevention, screening, and early detection of mouth and throat cancers. The 17th OHANCAW will be held April 20-26, 2014.
The physicians of Greenville, Ear, Nose & Throat Associates of Greenville Health System invite you to a FREE oral cancer screening on Friday, April 25th from 1-4 p.m. at Greenville, Ear, Nose & Throat- Cancer Treatment Center, 900 West Faris Road 2nd Floor, Greenville, SC. Although FREE, an appointment is required. Call 864-455-5300 to sign up. The screening is painless and takes only about 10 minutes.
“I know from my own experience that early diagnosis of throat cancer is vital to successful treatment and survival of this disease,” said Michael Douglas. “I urge the public to take advantage of the free screenings being held through the country during Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week.”
I have worked for years with parents and their newborns, the last five with the Children’s Advocacy Program at GHS Children’s Hospital. Today I still find parents eager to understand their child’s growth and development, including their crying pattern.
Healthy babies cry more in the first five months of life than any other period of their lives. This crying is considered normal development and is referred to as “The Period of PURPLE Crying.” The Period of PURPLE Crying was developed as a moniker to explain infant crying based on years of child development research, and it explains that all babies cry, some a lot more than others, and that soothing methods don’t always work.
The letters in PURPLE stand for:
We now know that it’s normal for babies to experience different levels of crying starting at two weeks and ending around four to five months. It is my hope that with the how and why of crying through The Period of Purple Crying Program parents will experience less frustration if they are not always able to soothe their crying baby. For more information on The Period of PURPLE Crying, visit dontshake.org and purplecrying.info.
In 1930, a biologist named Clarence B. Birdseye perfected a commercial method of flash freezing vegetables, such that large quantities of quality frozen vegetables became available in the U.S. and around the world. Since then a huge industry has grown up and Americans can buy frozen vegetables and serve them at home year-round. Despite this success, many people avoid serving frozen vegetables because they perceive lesser quality or lesser taste. Indeed, frozen vegetables seem often to not get the respect that they deserve.
In our enthusiasm to promote fresh, local produce, we can forget some of the virtues and advantages of frozen vegetables. They are many: 1) they offer availability of favorite vegetables and variety of choice throughout the year, 2) they are relatively inexpensive, 3) they are convenient and easy to cook, and finally, 4) they are usually as nutritious and vitamin-rich as fresh vegetables.
An academic review article in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that frozen fruits and vegetables are as nutritious as fresh, raw vegetables. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have also found frozen and fresh fruits and vegetables to be nutritionally equivalent. One study found that, in some cases, frozen produce had more nutrients than fresh produce stored in the refrigerator for five days.
Why am I making such a big deal out of frozen vegetables? It is because most of us are still not getting in at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Frozen vegetables are convenient and inexpensive and sometimes all that a household can afford. We should not let the perfect (organic, fresh, local) be the enemy of the good (frozen). If frozen foods can help us serve our household a good and tasty variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the year, we should use them!
How about you? What are your favorite fruits and vegetables? How do you feel about frozen?
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Highlights from our milestone year of Advancing Health Care for Generations.
Friday, May 2nd at 6:30 p.m in Travelers Rest.
Saturday, April 26, 2014 at Heritage Park.
New center significantly expands options for cancer patients.