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 Breidegam Family Birthing Center: Families welcome personalized approach to care

Following a tour of the Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Breidegam Family Birthing Center, Kelsey Seyler quickly decided that the center, which is nestled inside a hospital wing on the Bern campus, was where she wanted to deliver her first child.

“It doesn’t even look like a birthing center. It looks like a hotel,” says Seyler, whose son was born two years ago. “It felt more comfortable, more like home.”

Moms and their support person stay in the same room during labor, delivery and recovery. Each room also includes a whirlpool tub that can be used during labor or after delivery, something that appealed to Seyler, whose goal was to deliver naturally.

“I didn’t want to take any drugs,” she says. “I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I wanted to be as open as possible.”

Seyler and her husband would learn everything they needed to know about the services available to their family from Kimberly Hunter, the center’s OB nurse navigator, who serves as a personal concierge for moms-to-be.

“I provide an added layer of education and support for a woman throughout her entire pregnancy,” says Hunter, explaining that she meets with moms at various points to understand their needs and concerns and get them comfortable with what to expect. “You don’t realize how valuable that role is until you are in it and need it. So many women never have that added connection or support. I value that opportunity to be that for them.”

Having moved from Colorado a few years prior to her first pregnancy, Seyler had yet to establish a strong support system in the area and welcomed the help.

“I really didn’t have a community. I didn’t know that many people,” she admits. “When Kim suggested enrolling in the Centering Pregnancy program, I thought that sounded like a cool way to meet other moms.”

The unique program allows women to experience pregnancy with other women due about the same time and to support one another through the pregnancy journey. Together they attend 10 prenatal sessions that include individual, private exams with a midwife. After the exams, they come back together for group discussions on pregnancy-related topics, such as common discomforts, stress management, labor and delivery, nutrition and breastfeeding.

“It is a way of streamlining and centering care in a group model. The women absolutely love it,” says Hunter, explaining that the same midwife runs the sessions. “Unless something arises in the pregnancy where the midwife recommends seeing the doctor, the midwife will provide the care.”

For Seyler, the true value in choosing the birthing center to meet her needs was evident when it was time to deliver her baby. With her labor stalled, she found relief by sitting on a birthing ball, which opens the pelvis and allows the baby to drop.

“At one point, they thought they may have to give me Pitocin, but they were able to move my labor along naturally by hooking me up to a breast pump,” she says. “My contractions were pretty consistent after that, and I went and sat in the whirlpool tub. The hot water really helped me.”

True to her plan, Seyler delivered her son without the use of pain medication, following her midwife’s instructions to trust her body.

“I felt very empowered and proud of myself for doing it,” she recalls. “It was such a beautiful experience.”

Now pregnant with her second child, Seyler is once again participating in the Centering Pregnancy program and hopes to deliver the same way.

“I had such a great experience the first time. Everyone was so nice and so attentive,” she says. “I feel confident that I can trust the team to listen to what my birthing needs are. If something goes on that is not normal, I trust them to make the best decision for how to proceed.”

Breast Care Patient Navigators Help Ease the Burden for Women in our Community

Featured in Palo Magazine

Anyone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer or informed of an abnormal mammogram can tell you those experiences are frightening and raise many questions.

Will I require surgery? Do I need radiation or chemotherapy? Who will care for my children? How will I get to appointments? What will my insurance pay for or not pay for? Am I going to be okay?

Navigating the healthcare system can be a daunting task under any circumstances, and language and cultural differences can make it even more difficult. That’s why Penn State Health St. Joseph has expanded its team of breast health care navigators to provide personalized services in both English and Spanish.

Ready to assist patients with every step through diagnosis, treatment and recovery, navigators counsel patients regarding care they’ll receive and what they might expect during treatment. They discuss treatment options, help women find insurance or financial assistance and coordinate medical appointments. They make referrals, help uninsured women get breast screenings and fit mastectomy patients with special undergarments and clothing.

Most importantly, St. Joseph navigators provide emotional support and understanding that, in some cases, comes from first-hand experience.

“I tell women that I understand exactly what they’re going through, because I do,” said Patient Navigator Maria Jimenez, a breast cancer survivor. “I am with them every step of the way because I went through the same thing they are going through.”

Other Penn State Health breast care navigators are Lisa Spencer and Anne Welsh, who supervises mammography at the hospital.

Spencer, the original oncology patient navigator, recognized that she needed help to effectively serve Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Hispanic patients.

“I found I could not serve the Hispanic community well,” said Spencer, who speaks limited Spanish. “But, Maria, who is a survivor herself, can offer services in a patient’s own language and that makes people very comfortable.”

Spencer and Jimenez are both trained mastectomy fitters and work closely with patients who have undergone surgery, are anticipating surgery or are in need of other, related services.

All the navigators work closely with Nancy Fonseca, St. Joseph’s oncology social worker and care manager, who also speaks fluent Spanish.

One of the most important parts of Fonseca’s job is helping women obtain some form of health insurance.

“We’re trying to help people to get onto some kind of insurance so they can take care of themselves,” she said.

She also works to assure that patients have the support they need during and after treatment, and to remove obstacles that may make it difficult for a woman to get the care that she needs.

Working together, Fonseca and the breast health care navigators care for the particular needs of each patient.

“As a team, we work to see how we can pool our resources to help patients,” said Fonseca, who also is a breast cancer survivor. “We feel proud of what we do because we are very personal with each patient. No patient goes home without the assistance that they need.”

Lisa Spencer, M.Ed., BSRT(T), OPN-CG, CN-BI, Breast Care Patient Navigator | Maria Jimenez, Patient Navigator

If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and would like the support of a Patient Navigator, contact Lisa or and let her be your personal guide. 610-378-2959 | lspencer2@pennstatehealth.psu.edu mjimenez1@pennstatehealth.psu.edu

Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Chronic Affliction

By Amal Kebede, DO, Penn State Health St. Joseph Rheumatologist
This article appeared in Women2Women Magazine, Fall 2018 edition

More than 20 years ago, I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Today, I am a rheumatologist who helps others manage their own chronic rheumatologic illnesses, including rheumatoid arthritis. While no one wishes to have a chronic disease, my diagnosis dramatically shaped my life choices as I experienced the medical system firsthand at an early age and decided to pursue a career in medicine. My experience has also given me perspective and a unique insight into the kind of obstacles my patients experience daily. While dealing with a chronic disease like rheumatoid arthritis, can be enormously challenging, I believe that all things are possible when we work together, and I want to empower my patients to believe this, too.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in joints. Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system, which is the body’s defense system, loses its ability to differentiate between what is part of its body and what is foreign. This results in the immune system attacking the body. It is believed that genetics and environmental factors both play a role in developing autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. While rheumatoid arthritis can develop in a person of any age group, it is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of forty to sixty years of age, with a higher proportion of women as compared to men.

In rheumatoid arthritis, the body attacks the lining of the joint, which is called the synovium, causing swelling, redness, and pain of the affected joints. This is different than osteoarthritis, which is the wear and tear related arthritis that we will all develop if we become old enough. Rheumatoid arthritis typically involves the small joints of the hands, wrists, and feet, but can progress to involve other joints. Although rheumatoid arthritis is primarily a joint disease, it can also involve other internal organs such as the eyes, heart, lungs, and kidneys. Rheumatoid arthritis can have other complications including osteoporosis – thinning of the bones which increases the risk of breaking a bone, rheumatoid nodules – lesions under the skin, dry eyes and mouth, carpal tunnel syndrome – numbness and tingling in the thumb, index, and middle fingers, and lymphoma – a blood cancer.

Patients usually present to their medical providers with complaints of pain and swelling. The patient’s history, physical exam, and additional data such as laboratory tests (rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrinillated peptide antibodies) and x-rays can help to make this diagnosis. Many pieces of the puzzle have to fit together in order to be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Treatment usually involves medications, lifestyle modifications, and therapy.

Medications are often required to control rheumatoid arthritis. Over time, inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis can cause joint deformity. Early aggressive treatment is required to help reduce the risk of irreversible joint damage which can cause pain, decreased mobility, and disability. There have been dramatic advancements in the medications for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis over the past twenty years, with many additional medications in the pipeline. The major classes of medications include Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARD’s) and biologics. Many treatment options are available – but each treatment plan needs to be tailored to each patient’s specific needs. Working together with your healthcare provider is critical to obtaining successful treatment outcomes.

Additional treatments such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, exercise, adequate rest, and counseling may also be needed. As with any chronic illness, getting a new diagnosis can be challenging – both physically and emotionally. Addressing both the physical and emotional aspects of the disease is integral to any treatment plan. Unfortunately, the emotional and mental components of these illnesses are often overlooked in favor of more tangible treatment options. Often, consulting a psychologist to help discuss fears and concerns as well as develop coping skills is helpful in processing the diagnosis and managing the treatment of any chronic illness, including rheumatoid arthritis.

Overall, although having rheumatoid arthritis can be challenging, it is important to note that people with rheumatoid arthritis can still live productive, independent lives.

Tips for all patients:

  • Be involved in your healthcare. Take the time to learn about your disease process, the treatments you’re on, and the natural course of the disease.
  • Be your own advocate. Speak up about your symptoms and concerns.
  • Ask questions. Medicine is a different language. If there’s something you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
  • Have a positive attitude. Studies show that positive attitudes improve outcomes and life satisfaction. Not always seeing the glass half full? Try simple things like recognizing a positive event each day, recognize and practice small acts of kindness daily, and smile.

Amal Kebede, DO, Rheumatologist If you are experience pain, swelling and stiffness in your joints, contact Penn State Health St. Joseph Rheumatology for an appointment with Dr. Kebede at 610-378-2996.

2D vs. 3D Mammogram: When to Have the Upgrade

The latest mammogram technology for breast cancer screening is now available at Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Bern and Exeter locations, providing patients with an additional option for their care.

St. Joseph’s offers 3D mammography, also known as breast tomosynthesis, an advanced technology that takes multiple images of breast tissue and recreates a 3D picture of the breast. 3D mammograms have higher cancer detection rates than standard 2D mammograms, and also result in fewer patient callbacks.

Dr. Steven Chmielewski, a radiologist with Penn State Health St. Joseph, explained that 3D tomosynthesis provides multiple thin slice images of the breast, enabling radiologists to view each image separately. That avoids the issue of overlapping tissue, which can hide small cancers in a conventional mammogram.

“By minimizing the effects of overlapping tissue with 3D tomosynthesis, we can provide a more accurate, confident and earlier diagnosis,” Chmielewski said.

Because the images produced with 3D mammograms are clearer and easier to read, there is less need to bring patients back in for further screening.

“We’re finding that with 3D mammograms the recall rate is less because we can see more,” said Lynn Kaufman, director of imaging at Penn State Health St. Joseph.

The process for a patient getting a 3D mammogram is no different from that of getting a 2D, although the 3D does deliver a bit more radiation. The radiation dose from a 3D mammogram, however, is still well within FDA approved limits. Both 2D and 3D mammograms are low-dose x-rays.

3D mammograms are particularly important for women who have dense breast tissue, meaning that their breasts contain more glandular tissue compared to fatty tissue.

While fatty tissue appears gray on a mammogram, glandular tissue appears white – as does cancer. This means that women with dense breast tissue experienced more frequent callbacks because the x-rays were often difficult to read. Radiologists can get a much clearer look at the breast with 3D mammograms, making it easier to differentiate glandular tissue from cancer cells.

Reducing the number of callbacks for patients with dense breast tissue not only increases the comfort level of those patients, but may make women more likely to get mammograms on a regular basis.

“Since we will be reducing the callback rate for screening studies, particularly in patients with dense breast, I hope to lessen the anxiety associated with mammography, and improve compliance with this improved screening tool,” Chmielewski said.

It’s important for patients to understand the differences between 2D and 3D mammograms, because they typically will decide which type of x-ray they will receive, explained Kaufman. While most insurances now cover 3D mammograms, some do not, meaning that patients could be charged a fee for the advanced technology.

“Patients should always check with their insurance providers to make sure that they’re covered,” Kaufman said.

Women undergoing screening mammograms – those that are routinely administered to detect cancer in patients who have no symptoms – are given the option of having either a 2D or 3D procedure. Anyone who has experienced a problem and has been referred for a diagnostic mammogram, however, will be very strongly encouraged to opt for a 3D mammogram.

“If diagnostic is needed, we will definitely recommend that women do a 3D,” Kaufman said.

Mammograms are an essential – although sometimes underutilized – part of routine health care. According to Kaufman, Penn State Health St. Joseph is looking to reduce or remove barriers such as language, transportation, time constraints and immigration status that sometimes prevent women, both insured and uninsured, from getting mammograms.

“We’re going to work on ways to get more women to be compliant for screening,” Kaufman said.

Regardless of whether a woman chooses 2D or 3D technology, mammograms are an important piece of a woman’s health care, said Anne Welsh, lead mammography specialist at Penn State Health St. Joseph.

“Mammography is still the gold standard in breast imaging, and it is the first step in the screening process,” Welsh said. “2D is, and continues to be a benefit to patients, while 3D tomosynthesis is an advantage that makes the gold standard even more important, especially for women with dense breasts.”

In addition to the 3D systems in place at St. Joseph’s Exeter and Bern locations, patients may also have access to systems at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Efforts also are underway to make 3D screening available at St. Joseph’s Downtown Campus.

Ready for a Mammogram? Call 610-378-2100 to schedule an appointment.

Penn State Health St. Joseph Offers Free Breast Screenings

What began at Penn State Health St. Joseph as an annual event is now held monthly to provide breast health care for women who do not have access to health insurance.

Free screenings are provided one day a month at St. Joseph’s Downtown Campus, according to Lisa Spencer, Breast Care Patient Navigator. Most women get routine screenings, but if a problem is detected, further diagnostic screening is available.

Education about breast health also is provided. “We’ve had a number of women who have had issues, and we were able to get them additional imaging,” Spencer said. “Several ladies have been diagnosed with cancer, and we’ve been able to get them into care so they receive the appropriate treatment.”

The program is administered by Penn State Health St. Joseph, and funded by a national grant from the Prevent Cancer Foundation®, based in Alexandria, Virginia. The program, which has been in place for about 10 years, formerly was funded by grants from Susan G. Komen – Philadelphia, Susan G. Komen- National and the American Cancer Society.

For many women without health insurance, a mammogram would not be an option without such a program. The screenings are advertised on the hospital’s website, Facebook page, Hispanic radio, and BCTV. Mostly, however, word gets out when one woman tells another that they are available. “A lot of news about our services spreads through word of mouth,” Spencer said.

In addition to the screenings, St. Joseph staff members can work with women who are uninsured to help them locate other services. Staff might help a patient apply for Medicaid, or identify another source of care.

Bilingual social workers and a “promotora” community health worker are available to help those who do not speak English.

“We are committed to helping these women and their families access the healthcare that they need,” Spencer said.

Hundreds of clinical breast exams, screening mammograms, diagnostic mammograms, and breast ultrasounds have been provided, as well as biopsies, genetic testing and treatment. Under the Prevent Cancer Foundation® grant, Penn State Health St. Joseph will work to reduce cultural, linguistic and socioeconomic barriers and improve breast health for Latinas.

In addition to the monthly breast screenings, Penn State Health sponsors annual prostate and oral cancer screenings. Penn State Health St. Joseph offers free breast screenings at the Downtown Campus on monthly basis for women without health insurance. This is an invaluable service to detect issues and get them into care. Bilingual social workers are also on hand to assist with locating other services. Call 610-378-2959 for more information! #PSHSJ

Penn State Health St. Joseph – A Key Supporter of Women2Women

Healthcare providers and staff at Penn State Health St. Joseph understand the strength that can be found in a community of women. That understanding, along with an ongoing, overall commitment to women’s health, were driving factors when St. Joseph stepped up to become a founding presenting sponsor of Women2Women (W2W), an organization managed by the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance that works to help empower women to become leaders in our community.

“We believe in the power of women connecting with each other and supporting each other,” said Julia Nickey, Director of Patient and Organizational Engagement at Penn State Health St. Joseph and a member of the W2W Advisory Board. “With that support and camaraderie, women can lead more satisfying and healthy lives.”

In addition to providing key financial support, St. Joseph is active in W2W programming and has provided presenters for events since the organization’s founding eight years ago.

Dr. Jessika Kissling, an Obstetrics & Gynecology Physician presented “Hey Ladies . . . Here are the Top Five Reasons You Need a Primary Care Physician and a Gynecologist,” and Dr. Krista Schenkel, Family Medicine Physician, Penn State Health St. Joseph Strausstown, spoke on “Women & Anxiety, What Your Body is Telling You.”

Karen Marsdale, President of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry, praised St. Joseph’s commitment to the Women2Women organization.

“Penn State Health Saint Joseph was one of the very first W2W investors,” Marsdale said. “Not only do they believe in our goals to grow more women leaders, they have provided so many resources to help our organization grow and thrive, including experts to provide education for our members. We are truly grateful to this institution.”

Fear of Missing Out Can Negatively Impact Your Life.

If you’re constantly checking Facebook, desperate to see where your friends are and what they’re doing, and then becoming upset when you discover they’re having dinner without you, you may be suffering from a condition known as FOMO, or “fear of missing out.”

Dr. Krista Schenkel, a family practitioner who serves as medical director of Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Strausstown facility, spoke about FOMO recently during a program offered by Women2Women.

St. Joseph is a founding, presenting sponsor of Women2Women, an organization managed by the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry that works to help empower women to become leaders in our community.

FOMO, Schenkel explained, is a form of social anxiety disorder that is becoming increasingly prevalent as use of social media increases. By some accounts, nearly three-quarters of young adults in the United States report experiencing the phenomenon of FOMO.

It is particularly common among those between the ages of 13 and 33.

FOMO can result from the perception that other people are having more fun, or are happier than you are, Schenkel said. In their social media posts, friends may appear to be engaging in exciting activities, seemingly without a care in the world.

However, Schenkel related, social media posts often portray an idealized version of the truth.

“Let’s face it. Most social media posts are not giving the entire truth,” she said. “Anyone can put anything on social media and make their life sound amazing.”
Schenkel referred to her own experience in Disney World, showing a photo of herself with her husband and daughter that she’d posted on Facebook. The photo, she explained, was taken after a very long day. They all were exhausted, with their 3-year-old nearing a meltdown.

In the photo, however, the family appeared to be having a great time.

“We looked so happy, but really we were miserable!” she said.

A danger of the FOMO syndrome is that it tends to cause people to spend more time on social media, taking them away from the really important aspects of their lives.

According to Schenkel, the life of a typical woman contains five priorities: career, sleep, daily obligations, family and social activities.

Once the obligatory parts of a woman’s day are done, such as working, errands, commuting and sleeping, there are not many hours left. That means that it’s really important to carefully consider how those hours are spent.

Using that time for social media can minimize time you spend with your family and friends, and limit activities that you enjoy and make your life ultimately valuable
“Sometimes we get so caught up with what we’re seeing on line that we’re not being involved in the real world,” Schenkel said.

While she is not opposed to Facebook and other forms of social media, Schenkel said it’s important that users are in control of how they use it.

Employing Facebook to organize a hike with friends, and then attending and enjoying the hike is a positive use of social media. However, skipping the hike to stay home and engage in social media is not.

“I’m not saying that Facebook is an evil thing,” Schenkel said. “I’m just saying that you need to be careful about how you utilize it.”

While FOMO seems to be affecting an increasing number of people, there is an opposing movement – JOMO – that also seems to be gaining traction.

JOMO, Schenkel explained, stands for “joy of missing out,” and embraces disconnecting from technology and living in the moment in an attempt to find a balance between the two things.

JOMO allows you to move at your own pace, Schenkel said, and to pay attention to what is happening right now, such as the feel of warm sunshine, the sound of your children’s laughter or the smell of your first cup of morning coffee.

“Those are the things that we should fear missing out on,” she said.

Schenkel reminded the women at her talk that when they are 80 years old and looking back on their lives, they will not regret that they didn’t receive more “likes” on Facebook.

“But, what you may regret is not living out your personal truth or spending more time with the people you love,” she said. “We need to be aware of our priorities so we can all make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Want to find your FOMO score? Take this quiz!

Krista Schenkel, DO Looking for a new family physician that gets what you’re going through? Dr. Schenkel practices at Penn State Health St. Joseph Strausstown and is currently accepting new patients. Schedule an appointment at 610-488-7080.

Prenatal Care Open House Connects Expectant Moms with Health Care

Emily, an Exeter Township woman who recently learned she was pregnant, found a health care home recently when she visited a Prenatal Care Open House at the Downtown Campus of Penn State Health St. Joseph.

“I just wanted to get some more information, because it’s like, ‘we’re pregnant, now what do we do?’” she said. “I didn’t expect to get all this help when I came here today.”

Hosted by Kimberly Hunter, OB Nurse Navigator with Penn State Health St. Joseph, Emily received a tour of the Downtown Campus OB/GYN facilities and learned about St. Joseph’s innovative Centering Pregnancy program.

She was excited to hear about the program, which employs a group setting. With a group size of about six, women who are due within the same month interact with one another by learning together, sharing information and supporting one another.

While participating in the Centering Pregnancy program, expectant mothers also receive private prenatal care from Penn State Health St. Joseph providers.

“Centering is unique because there’s a self-care aspect,” Hunter explained to Emily. “I’m really proud of this program, and the women who participate in it really love it.”

The small group setting enables women to bond with one another as they share ideas and concerns and keep each other up to date about what’s happening with their pregnancies.

“It becomes a real feeling of community,” Hunter said. “There’s lots of sharing and concern for one another.”

Low-risk patients are given a choice of participating in the Center Pregnancy program or receiving traditional pre-natal care. About 60 percent choose the Centering option, which is managed by midwives.

“Most women enjoy the bonding and fellowship that happens with that group,” Hunter said. “But the more traditional type of care also is available.”

Before she left the open house that day, Emily was signed up for an intake appointment with a nurse, and feeling far more assured than when she’d arrived.

“This is amazing,” said Emily, who with her husband moved to the Reading area from a small town in Massachusetts. “Everyone here is so friendly and helpful. This place feels like a really good fit for my baby and me.”

Emily was only one of about a dozen women who attended the open house, anxious to learn more about their options for pregnancy care.

“Any patient in the community who appreciates and wants the services of a midwife can come here for those services,” explained Kelly Johnson, Clinic Leader of the Downtown OB/GYN department.

The Downtown Campus also is staffed by physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, medical assistants, community health workers and other staff who assist women throughout their pregnancies.

“Women can get all the care they need here, and then deliver at St. Joseph’s Bern Township hospital,” Hunter explained. “It makes it nice for anyone who lives in the City and might have an issue with transportation. We’ve got a great facility right here, downtown.”

Kim Hunter, MSN, RN, OB Nurse Navigator Planning a pregnancy? Expecting this year? Want to check out our birthing center? Or just have general questions? Call Kim Hunter, MSN, RN, OB Nurse Navigator and let her be your personal guide.
610-378-2569   |   KHunter3@PennStateHealth.psu.edu   |   www.StJoesSpecialDeliveries.org

Hey Ladies…Here’s the Top 5 reasons You Need a Primary Care Physician and a Gynecologist!

By Dr. Jessika Kissling, Obstetrics & Gynecology Physician, Penn State Health St. Joseph OB/GYN Associates

Most women will benefit from having both a Primary Care Physician (PCP) and a Gynecologist, as their specialties cover very important aspects of your health. Many women see only a Gynecologist and consider them their PCP and women also may see their PCP for gynecologic care. But as a practicing Gynecologist, believe me when I say that having both involved can help to make sure you are making the most of your health care. Let me share why.

  1. PCP’s Focus on Preventive Care
    Seeing a PCP regularly, especially for preventive visits will make sure you are receiving the recommended preventive care based on your age, family history, personal history, and risk factors. Emphasis on preventive care will help keep you healthy and identify aspects that need more focus or attention.
  2. PCP’s Offer Personalized Care
    Establishing a PCP allows that Physician or Medical Provider to get to know YOU, your medical history, your needs, your religious or spiritual beliefs, your family, and other aspects related to your care. When you know your provider well, you are more likely to trust their opinions, recommendations, and follow their advice. This allows visits to be more productive as well, as there is less time spent covering topics or history that have been previously discussed.
  3. PCP’s Provide Urgent and Sick Care
    Many PCP offices now are striving to offer ‘same day’ or ‘urgent care’ style visits. By seeing your PCP office they already know your medical history, prior treatments and tests, and can provide better care for you in this urgent setting. If you need follow up they also have the ability to review any prior tests, treatments, and response to help avoid unnecessary costs, repeating of tests, and allow improved diagnosis of conditions with this continuity of care.
  4. PCP’s Collaborate with other Specialties
    PCPs often have close relationships with specialists who provide care outside their expertise, and can help guide you to one that will best meet your care needs. This working relationship helps to improve the quality of care, attention to your medical conditions, and ongoing management of complex medical conditions.
  5. It’ll Result in Lower Costs
    Seeing a PCP and having coordination of care decreases the need for unnecessary tests, visits, and streamlines your care. Typically, care at a PCP office for urgent or sick visits will be much less costly than an ER visit.

Patty Kelly, Physician Referral Specialist Did you like Dr. Kisslings article and want to learn more about her? Or need to find a Primary Care Physician close to home? Call Patty Kelly, Physician Referral Specialist, and let her help you find the perfect fit.
610-378-2001   |   toll free 844-363-0882   |   FindAPhysician@PennStateHealth.psu.edu

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.