Our Passion, Your Health

Our Passion | Your Health features stories on the latest happenings at Penn State Health St. Joseph. Check out our blogs, recipes, patient stories, program highlights, and new services that represent our passion...your health.

Penn State Health St. Joseph Launches SelfCare for Healthcare for Nursing Employees

As the pace and complexity of nursing has intensified, it’s more important than ever for nurses to practice selfcare by tending to their physical, mental and spiritual health.

That was the message last week from LeAnn Thieman, a nationally acclaimed author, speaker and nurse who kicked off Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Nurses Week activities with a talk in the Franciscan Room.

“Nurses are heroes, and I applaud you,” Thieman told a group of nurses and other St. Joseph employees. “But, as you know, it’s stressful work. Sometimes it’s so stressful that we get into distress.”

During her talk, which emphasized the vital need for nurses to nurture their physical, mental and spiritual health, Thieman applauded Penn State Health St. Joseph for its decision to become a SelfCare for Health Care hospital.

Under that designation, St. Joseph has enacted a yearlong program for nurses that employs Thieman’s guidebook, SelfCare for Health Care: Your Guide to Physical, Mental and Spiritual Health, to promote their health and well-being.

Program participants each will have a copy of the book and concentrate on one chapter a month over the course of one year. Each chapter emphasizes certain aspects of selfcare, including the need for laughter, reducing and coping with stress, forgiveness, the value of exercise, getting enough sleep, relaxation breathing and determining priorities.

The SelfCare for HealthCare program also includes live presentations, monthly inspirational videos, nursing unit activities and weekly motivational emails for nurses.

The interactive guidebook is based on lessons that Thieman learned from a 1975 trip to South Vietnam, where she participated in Operation Babylift, a mission to remove 100 babies from the country before its capital, Saigon, fell to North Vietnamese forces.

The mission was successful, and Thieman and her husband adopted one of the Vietnamese children who had been taken out of the country.

Sharon Strohecker, Vice President of Clinical Operations and CNO at St. Joseph, said the hospital is grateful to its nurses and committed to helping them stay energized and healthy.
“Our nurses are really our foundation here,” Strohecker said. “And, we want them to know how important to us they are.”

Nursing is an honorable, but difficult profession, Strohecker noted, and nurses must be mindful not only of caring for others, but for themselves.

“Sometimes we need to stop and really think about taking care of ourselves,” she said.

Chelsea Robbins, a registered nurse at Penn State Health St. Joseph, said following the program that Thieman’s talk was exactly what she needed to hear.

“She said everything that nurses need to hear,” said Robbins. “We love to care for others, but sometimes we really need to be reminded to just stop and care for ourselves. I’m very glad I was able to be here today.”

Thieman encouraged those at her talk to embrace the SelfCare for HealthCare program, promising that it can help them to find balance in their busy and often stressful lives.

“And when you find that balance, you bring that balance to the workplace, and you have that balance in your life,” she said. “When that happens, it’s good for you, it’s good for those you love, and it’s good for the patients you care for every day.”


In addition to SelfCare for HealthCare, Thieman has written and co-authored 15 previous books, including 12 volumes of the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series.
 

Activity on Social Media can Help Older Adults Feel Less Isolated and More Empowered

In a study of Facebook use, older adults who posted a lot of personal stories on the social networking site felt a higher sense of community, and the more they customized their profiles, the more in control they felt, said S. Shyam Sundar, Penn State distinguished professor of communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory. He added that the study suggests that using social media is not a uniform experience that is either all bad, or all good, but offers multiple functions for diverse users.

“People tend to think of Facebook as a black box that either has an overall positive effect or a negative effect, but what distinguishes this study is that it makes an effort to go in and see what people do in Facebook — and that’s what matters,” said Sundar. “So, in other words, social media, by itself, is neither good, nor bad, but it’s how you use it.”

For older adults, who may be less mobile, Facebook and similar social networking sites could play a critical role in easing isolation and making them feel like they are part of a large community, according to the researchers, who report their findings in the journal New Media & Society.

“This is important, especially for older adults who might be aging in place, because they have mobility constraints that limit their ability to socialize,” said Sundar. “And, for the last ten years or so, we’ve been looking into how social networking sites can enhance the social life of older adults and reduce the social isolation that they might feel. These are more fine-grained findings that say certain things you do on Facebook can give you gratifications, like fulfilling the needs for activity, having interactions with others, having a greater sense of agency, and building community.”

The researchers also suggested that commenting on and responding to posts gave older users a feeling of social interaction.

Eun Hwa Jung, formerly a doctoral student at Penn State and currently assistant professor of communications and new media, National University of Singapore, who worked with Sundar, said older adults are increasingly adopting social media, in general, and are a growing number of Facebook’s total membership. According to Pew research, 34 percent of Americans aged 65 years and older use social networks in 2017, an increase of 7 percent from 2016. Facebook is considered the most popular social network among older adults, the researchers add.

Given the widespread diffusion of Facebook in this group, understanding what gratifications older adults derive from particular technological features helps designers develop better user interfaces suited for them, Jung said.

“It can improve online interactions between individuals from different generations,” she added.

According to Sundar, developers of social media networks should consider the needs of this growing group of users. For example, they should create features that enhance the identity of older adults while simultaneously protecting their privacy. More features that encourage older adults to exchange and visualize messages with others could also make sites more interactive for this group.

To collect the data, the researchers recruited 202 participants — 79.7 percent female and 20.3 percent male — who were 60 years and older and used Facebook for at least a year. The participants were recruited from 27 retirement centers throughout the United States.

The researchers “friended” the participants on Facebook so they could count the number of times they used the various tools in the site during the past year. The participants were also asked to respond to a questionnaire that captured the gratifications they obtained from Facebook.

Future research may look at whether these positive interactions on Facebook could lead to the enhancement of well-being for seniors, Sundar said. The researchers also suggested that the effects of other social media outlets, such as Twitter and Pinterest, as well as other mobile and wearable devices, on older adults should be investigated.

Test the study for yourself by connecting with Penn State Health St. Joseph on social media! Meet us on Facebook, Linkedin, or Twitter.

150 Minutes to a Healthier Life

Who is ready to hang up the winter coats, put away the snow boots and get off the couch? It’s hard to believe that spring is here, but it is. This is the perfect time to get outside and restart our New Year’s resolution to exercise.

Penn State Health St. Joseph is here to help! We created a program, FIT150, that encourages everyone to “fit” in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (or

75 minutes of vigorous exercise) every week as recommended by the top heart and cancer research centers. 150 minutes is only 2 hours and 30 minutes – less than the time it takes to binge 3 episodes of This Is Us!

This formula has the following benefits:

  • Reduces the risk of some cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes
  • Reduces high blood pressure
  • Reduces cholesterol
  • Helps with weight loss
  • Elevates your mood
  • Increases your energy levels
  • Strengthen bones and muscles.

How does this break down?

  • At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150. If your time is limited, split the 30 minutes into a 15 m
    inute morning and an evening session.
    OR
  • At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
    AND
  • Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.

What is Moderate Aerobic Exercise?

Moderate aerobic exercise includes activities such as brisk walking, tennis doubles, spring cleaning, swimming, and mowing the lawn.

What is Vigorous Aerobic Exercise?

Vigorous aerobic exercise includes activities such as running, cycling, tennis singles, and playing soccer and basketball.

There is an exercise routine for everyone. Find something you like to do, and it suddenly doesn’t feel like a dreaded activity. You will see results and feel good about those 150 or 75 minutes a week.

Hard to get started? Engage a friend, family member or a co-worker to take the FIT150 pledge with you. Together, you will be on the road to fitness and improved health.

We are proud to be partners with some local fitness centers YMCA, BLDG. 7 Yoga and Corps Fitness. If you take our FIT150 pledge, we’ll email you free gym passes.  Put your sneakers on, take the pledge and get moving! http://www.thefutureofhealthcare.org/fit150/

Support Groups Provide Hope, Encouragement for Patients and Their Families

A brain tumor can be an especially difficult diagnosis to face – both for the patient and family members and friends.

Nearly 80,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with primary malignant and non-malignant brain and spinal cord tumors each year, according to the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States.

Brain tumor symptoms and treatment often are difficult to cope with, but patients and family members can find encouragement at a Brain Tumor Support Group offered by Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Department of Neurosurgery.

According to Christine Hess, CRNP, Neurosurgery, the support group, which was started in 2017, features speakers and programs meant to educate patients and caregivers about brain tumors and how to best cope with the condition.

“We know that a diagnosis of a brain tumor can be very frightful and distressing,” Hess said. “We try to gear patients and families toward optimizing wellness while living with that diagnosis.”

Discussion topics have included: nutrition while in treatment for a brain tumor; the pathology of a tumor; the power of prayerful, healing touch; caring for the caregiver; and others.

Some of the sessions are led by Dr. Kenneth Hill, a neurosurgeon at Penn State Health St. Joseph, while others feature outside speakers.

“The more education a person can get, the less fearful the situation can seem,” Hess said. “Education is extremely empowering.”

The recently formed Brain Tumor Support Group is one of numerous groups the hospital offers. Others include:

  • Breastfeeding Support: The Baby Bistro
  • Stroke Support Group: Learn | Share | Connect | Inspire
  • Bereavement Support
  • Strength for the Journey (Cancer Support)
  • Managing Diabetes Course
  • Diabetes Wellness Group
  • Alzheimer’s Association’s Caregiver Support Group
  • Preparation for Childbirth

For more information about support groups at Penn State Health St. Joseph call 610-378-2000 or go to http://www.thefutureofhealthcare.org/support-groups.

Working to Overcome Antibiotic Resistance Program Aims to Trump Overuse of Antibiotics

With its new Antimicrobial Stewardship Program, the Penn State Health St. Joseph pharmacy has created a multi-disciplinary team focused on curtailing the routine-and oftentimes uncalled for-use of antimicrobial agents – known to most people as antibiotics. It is one way St. Joe’s is working to address the concern for a growing number of patients who are resistant to these bacteria fighting medications.

The stewardship group was founded in August and is led by Evan Slagle, PharmD, BCPS, St. Joe’s Antimicrobial Stewardship Pharmacist. Physician oversight of the program is being provided by Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Deb Powell.

Slagle says the group’s objective is to develop strategies to work on the optimal selection, dosage and duration of antimicrobials within St. Joseph.

He says antibiotic resistance is growing faster than the new drugs becoming available. And, as resistance grows, meaning antibiotics are not the effective treatment for some people they used to be, it can lead to severe consequences including higher mortality rates, increased lengths of stay and growing costs of care.

Slagle noted the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug administration, as well as Congress and the White House also are advising and monitoring how the healthcare system is addressing the issue.

Slagle is working with the stewardship group and caregivers on a number of pharmacy driven initiatives which are in place, and others will be coming, he added.

“Most of the immediate focus of our group has been to make sure we are meeting the stewardship standards of our accreditation/regulatory agencies,” says Slagle. “Our infection rates have been very good. Many of the strategies we have been enforcing are supporting this positive trend.”

Berks Medical Equipment Offers New Service, Diabetic Shoe Fitting

For most people, an ingrown toenail or small cut on the foot is nothing to be alarmed about. For a diabetic patient, however, a cut or ingrown nail can be the beginning of a much greater problem.

Proper foot care is extremely important to diabetic patients, who are more prone than non-diabetics to develop calluses, dry skin and foot ulcers due to damaged nerves or poor circulation.

Diabetic patients also have a much greater risk than non-diabetics of requiring a foot or leg amputation.

Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Berks Medical Equipment now offers the services of a licensed fitter to assist diabetic patients with getting a specially fitted shoe that will protect their feet while providing comfort and stability.

Stefanie Orender received training and was licensed in May to fit diabetic patients with shoes that feature insoles that are specially molded to their feet. The shoes are deeper and wider than regular shoes, she explained, and the specially fitted insole assures that no part of the shoe will rub against the foot, which could cause skin to become irritated or opened.

“Diabetic patients have to be extra careful with their feet, and be sure to find shoes that fit them correctly,” Orender explained. “If a shoe causes a sore to develop on the foot, it can take a really long time to heal and can cause a lot of other problems.”

The insoles are customized by heating them until they are pliable, and then molding them around a patient’s foot. That assures the most comfortable and stable fit, Orender said.

In addition to fitting shoes, Orender is qualified to check patients’ feet for problems and advise them regarding the care of their feet.
“It’s really nice to be able to help people learn how to care for their feet, and to try to help ease any pain they might have,” she said.
In addition to fitting shoes for customers at Berks Medical Equipment’s Tuckerton store, Orender also works two days a month with Dr. Jeffrey Stringer, a podiatrist, at St. Joseph’s Community Campus in Reading.

“There are a lot of people who could benefit from this service,” she said. “It’s just so important for diabetic patients to have shoes that fit them properly and that can protect their feet.”

Shoes that are prescribed by a doctor often are covered by Medicare or other insurances.

Non-diabetics who have trouble with their feet, such as bunions or hammertoes, also may benefit from the special shoes because they are roomier inside, noted Orender.

In addition to special shoes for people who have problems with their feet, Berks Medical Equipment carries neck, back, knee and ankle braces; foot care products such as toe spaces, toe and heel pads; walkers and accessories; compression stockings; wheelchairs; oxygen; power chairs, nebulizers, hospital beds and many other medical items.

Berks Medical Equipment has been serving Berks and surrounding counties for more than 20 years, according to Mim Lambros, Director of Materials Management for Penn State Health St. Joseph.

The shoe fitting service is offered to customers throughout the business’ service area.

“We know that there’s a need for this service locally, and hopefully we’re going to get this message out in the Hershey and Lancaster area, as well,” Lambros said.

Stefanie Orender, Fitting Specialist
Are you interested in a specially fitted footwear? Contact Stefanie and let her help you find the perfect fit. 610-916-1871 | sorender@pennstatehealth.psu.edu

A Proven Approach to Stop Smoking

Thinking about quitting but don’t know where to start?

Our Smoking Cessation Group has had great outcomes because we support you through the difficult process. Learn more about this multi-week group beginning September 19th.

Is Your Student in Need of a Physical Exam?

School and Fall sports are quickly approaching. Back to school and sport physicals are available at our Urgent Cares! Costs are $30 for Sports School Physical Exam and $45 for School Physical Exam. Your student must bring up to date immunization record. No appointment necessary.

For a list of our Urgent Care locations and hours, click here.

Hydrate to Feel Great!

Staying hydrated is especially important throughout the summer months. There is little, good research on exactly how much you should drink each day, but an easy rule to follow for adults is to drink at least eight 8 ounce glasses (64 fluid ounces) daily. If you’re active or work outdoors, you will need to drink more and should try to drink water before you go outside into the heat to prevent dehydration. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to start drinking because you’re already a little dehydrated if you do.

Water is the best choice for a drink. Sports drinks contain excess sugar, so they should be avoided unless you are exercising in the heat for a long period of time. Limit alcohol & caffeine which can cause extra fluid loss. For every alcoholic drink you consume, try to drink a glass of water.

Consuming fruits and vegetables is another way to keep hydrated. About 20% of your daily fluid intake comes from your food. Watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit, and cantaloupe are fruits that have a high water content. Vegetables with a high water content are cucumbers, lettuce, zucchini, radish, celery, tomato, and green cabbage. In addition to extra water, they are packed with nutrients our bodies need. Most people don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, so try to get a variety of them every day.

7 ways to increase your fluid intake:

  • Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day
  • Drink a glass of water before each meal
  • Set a goal you want to drink by the end of the day & work towards it
  • Set reminders on your phone to remind you to drink
  • Track your fluid intake on an app
  • Add slices of fresh fruit, cucumbers, or mint to flavor your water
  • If you’re tired of water, try sparkling or seltzer water for some added carbonation without the calories

Frozen Fruit Sparkling Water

Ingredients

  • Two 12-ounce bags frozen mixed berries
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • Four 25.3-ounce bottles sparkling water
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, torn

Directions

In a large punch bowl, combine the frozen berries, lemon slices, lime slices, orange slices, sparkling water and basil leaves. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine.

Recipe courtesy of: Food Network’s Giada De Laurentiis

Nicole Rhoads, RD, LDN, Registered Dietitian If you are interested in individual outpatient nutrition counseling, contact Nicole at 610-378-2489 or NRhoads@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or schedule an appointment at 610-378-2100.

Penn State Health St. Joseph Working to Raise Awareness of Sexual Abuse

A case of sexual assault occurs every 98 seconds in America, according to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.

Tina Roman-Rios, a community health worker in the OB/GYN Department at Penn State Health St. Joseph’s downtown campus, is working to change that.
“My mother raised me to know that I’m important enough to not be in an abusive relationship,” Roman-Rios said. “And I want to let others know that they are that important, too.”

Working toward that end, Roman-Rios created a display at Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Family and Women’s Center at the Downtown Campus. A large bulletin board provides information and facts in English and Spanish, urging people to recognize and take action against domestic violence and sexual assault.

“I designed it so it’s eye-friendly and easy to read,” Roman-Rios said. “You don’t need to understand big words or medical terms to understand what it means.”

The board, along with an information table that Roman-Rios tends to, will remain in place throughout April and into May. April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

Safe Berks donated items and information packets that Roman-Rios distributes to people who visit the Downtown Campus.

“I think it’s important to keep this issue in the public eye,” she said. “Sexual violence isn’t something that we can keep quiet about. We get a lot of people coming into this clinic who can learn if we provide information for them.”

In addition to educating patients and their families about sexual assault and prevention, Roman-Rios and others in the OB/GYN and Women’s Care group encourage women to seek help, when necessary.

“We see patients who, for various reasons, are reluctant to call the police in cases of domestic violence or abuse,” she said. “And, that is a problem.” However, she explained, there are other sources of help. “If someone is afraid to call the police, they should call the Safe Berks hotline,” Roman-Rios said. “And, if they can’t call, they can text. The important thing is to seek help. Someone who is abused needs counsel.”

Victims need to remember that sexual abuse happens among every socio-economic group, ethnic group and religion, and that they are not to blame.
“Abuse is never the victim’s fault,” said Roman-Rios, who is studying to be a nurse. “That’s something that everyone needs to remember.”

Roman-Rios admitted that, as a teenager, she did not understand the mentality and circumstances that cause some people to remain within abusive situations.

“I was little judgmental,” she said. “But people should never judge. Abuse very easily can be mistaken for love.”

The OB/GYN and Women’s Care clinic is a safe place where patients who are experiencing difficulty can talk to someone who cares about them, Roman-Rios noted.

“We understand the perils that some of our patients face and we do whatever we can to help them,” she said.

Roman-Rios, who has lived in Reading her entire life, is committed to bringing positive change to the city and her patients that live there.

“I care about this city, and I’m working to make a difference,” she said. “And, I’ll teach my children to work to make a difference, too. I think that we can change things for the better, even if that change starts with a simple board in a downtown clinic.”

How to Find Help

If you, or someone you know, is a victim of domestic abuse or sexual violence, there is help available.

Safe Berks offers a 24-hour, toll-free hotline at 844-789-SAFE (7233). You also can text SAFE BERKS to 20121 for help, or contact by email at peace@safeberks.org.

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) also offers a 24-hour, toll-free hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673). Or, you can live chat online in English or Spanish on RAINN’s website at rainn.org.