Fun with Flu Season!

Maureen Caro

By Maureen Caro, FNP-BC, Family Nurse Practitioner, Health Partnership Clinic

This is usually the time of year that flu and cold season really starts picking up! The holidays are in full swing, and there’s the rest of winter to get through. This post will look at some common concerns and discuss some pointers about the flu I have encountered.

“How often should I wash my hands?”

Before, during and after preparing food, as well as before eating food. After using the toilet or changing a diaper. After touching pet food or waste, and after handling any trash. Before and after taking care of someone who is sick, as well as before and after taking care of any injuries. And most definitely- after coughing or sneezing!

“Do I need to have triclosan in my hand soap?”

Nope! Triclosan used to be found in many over the counter antibacterial hand soaps, but they were cut out in 2017 as they need more study to be determined to be safe. As long as you are washing for enough time with hot water and soap (20 seconds!) triclosan is not necessary.

“What about alcohol hand sanitizers?”

I love them! Make sure you allow them to dry (also 20 seconds). Be aware that they need to be at least 60 percent alcohol, and they are not to be used if hands are visibly dirty. They do not remove any substances, and do not kill all kinds of germs, so washing with antibacterial soap and water is preferred when available.

“My hands get so dry with washing them! Do you have any creams you recommend?”

Unfortunately, as a nurse, this is a personal issue that I share! I do not have a specific brand, but when you look at the ingredient list, look to avoid fragrance/perfume and denatured alcohol. Cetyl alcohol is a moisturizer, so it is fine. A very good ingredient to see is hydroxyethyl urea (yes, like urine- it’s synthetic, so don’t be grossed out!) which I find really helps, especially if it is used with the first three ingredients.

Now, let’s get to the flu vaccine!

Fun with the Flu!

I encounter a lot of misconceptions about the flu vaccine very commonly. When in doubt- ask your provider!

“I missed the flu shot in October; I shouldn’t bother to get it now.”

January and February are often peak flu season times. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Seasonal flu viruses can be detected year-round; however, seasonal flu activity often begins as early as October and November and can continue to occur as late as May.” I can personally attest…I have had people with flu in May! I offer the vaccine to my patients all the way to the end of March, or as long as there is flu vaccine circulating in the community, in accordance with vaccine recommendations.

“I already had the flu this season; I don’t need the vaccine.”

This goes into another common misconception of the flu. Many people equate it with stomach viruses. I do often see diarrhea, especially more in children than adults, and occasionally vomiting, but influenza is a respiratory illness that is spread primarily by nasal secretions (coughing, sneezing) and is not solely intestinal. Sometimes people will get a stomach virus or a severe cold and say, “It’s the flu.” Influenza is characterized by abrupt onset of chills, muscle aches, high fever, nasal congestion and is best diagnosed by a professional. Even for my patients who have had diagnosed flu earlier in the season, I still recommend the vaccine. The vaccine has three to four strains of flu virus, A and B, so even if you have been sick before with one strain you should still protect yourself against other strains. I have personally taken care of many people that were sick with different strains of flu different times of the year.

“Even if I get sick with flu, antivirals (tamiflu) will cure me.”

Leaving aside the sheer inconvenience and financial problems of missing work or obligations by being sick (and possibly a bacterial infection as a complication, extending your sick time) antivirals are not a wonder drug. Do I prescribe them? Yes. But antivirals really just lessen the course of the illness, usually by about a day. You have to start Tamiflu within 48 hours of your first symptom, which is usually when people are feeling their worst and least inclined to go in. They lessen the likelihood of death, either from flu infection or from a serious bacterial infection as a sequelae of the original infection- NOT fix flu symptoms themselves. Many people expect Tamiflu to act the same way that amoxicillin does for strep throat. Tamiflu is NOT an antibiotic and are not curative in the same way. The cash price for adult flu vaccines with a good coupon is $43, and children’s liquid medication, even with the coupon, is still $101.

“I’ve had the flu shot before and still gotten sick. It’s not worth it.”

Again, many people think they had flu when they didn’t, but sometimes people still get the flu even after having a vaccine. In the event someone still catches the flu it is likely that the symptoms were lessened, the person recovered quicker, and most importantly the vaccine reduces chances of death. Vaccines are a victim of their own success. Because they have made many vaccine-preventable diseases so much rarer, we get a false sense of security. We think that it is unnecessary to get the shot, but if we don’t get it, we are unprotected.

“I am concerned about mercury in the flu vaccine. I don’t like the idea of injecting mercury in my body.”

Neither do I! The preservative of concern is called thimerosal. It contains a chemically bound form of mercury in trace amounts. While thimerosal is not an active form of mercury, if you are concerned about this please ask for a preservative free vaccine. Allergic reactions to it are very rare but do exist. The other common exposure to thimerosal is in eye contact solution, so be sure to tell your provider if you have an allergy to this. It is becoming more and more standard. The routine childhood vaccines have been thimerosal free since 2001. I prefer to use the preservative free flu vaccine for children and pregnant women, just to decrease any concerns.

As always, if you have any concerns, call us and schedule an appointment to discuss it with your healthcare provider! Stay healthy and safe this winter!

To schedule an appointment with Maureen or one of our providers, call 913-648-2266.

References:

1 https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html When and How to Wash Your Hands

2 https://www.fda.gov/drugs/information-drug-class/qa-consumers-health-care-antiseptics Q&A for Consumers: Health Care Antiseptics

3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21219730 Outbreaks where food workers have been implicated in the spread of foodborne disease. Part 10. Alcohol-based antiseptics for hand disinfection and a comparison of their effectiveness with soaps.

4 https://escholarship.org/uc/item/11x463rp Urea: a comprehensive review of the clinical literature

5 https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season.htm When is flu season?

6 https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/viruses/types.htm Types of Influenza Viruses

7 https://www.goodrx.com/oseltamivir

8 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28525597 Influenza Vaccination Modifies Disease Severity Among Community-dwelling Adults Hospitalized With Influenza.

9 https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Concerns/thimerosal/ Thimerosal in Vaccines

Suffering with viral sinusitis? Beware Antibiotics. You need time.

Jennifer MillerPost by Jennifer Miller, FNP-BC, Health Partnership Clinic

It’s that time of year again, stuffy, runny noses, sinus pressure, low grade fevers and just feeling sick. Do you need an antibiotic or not? Do you need to go to see your health provider? You know you have a sinus infection. Do you need an antibiotic?

Most cases of sinusitis are caused by viruses, not requiring antibiotics.

The symptoms of viral and bacterial sinus infection are similar:

  • nasal congestion
  • thick, discolored nasal discharge, this can be white, yellow, or green
  • sinus pressure and facial pain that may worsen with bending over
  • teeth hurting
  • headache
  • decreased smell or taste
  • ear pressure or fullness
  • bad breath
  • fever less than 102 degrees

With viral sinusitis, the symptoms typically will resolve in 10 days. Often with bacterial sinusitis, the symptoms will seem to improve and then worsen again. You should see a provider if these symptoms have gone on for more than 10 days, you have a fever of 102 or higher, you have sudden or severe pain in your face or head, you have swelling around one or both of your eyes, you have a stiff neck, you have trouble seeing or thinking, or you have a prolonged sore throat for more than three days.

 Things you can do to to help feel better on your own include taking:

  • ibuprofen or naproxen
  • acetaminophen
  • pseudoephedrine, if your blood pressure is normal <140/90
  • antihistamines including cetirizine, loratadine, or fexofenadine
  • guaifenesin to help thin the mucus, must drink a lot of fluids with this
  • dextromethorphan for cough

Be sure to follow the bottle directions for each of these. It is important when you are ill to increase your fluid intake. Drink 64 ounces of fluids with at least half of this as water.

Antibiotic Resistance

Beware AntibioticsBecause of the problems with antibiotic resistance, it is very important to only use antibiotics when necessary. Taking antibiotics will not prevent a bacterial infection. Often people think that antibiotics are the only way to get rid of the symptoms because they get an antibiotic and they get better.

Keep in mind that most antibiotics last seven to ten days at which time the symptoms would have gone away on their own. It is usually time, not antibiotics that make you feel better. It is always okay to ask your provider questions when you have them. There are no stupid questions.

Wash your hands frequently, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and stay well this fall and winter!

To schedule an appointment with one of our providers, call 913-648-2266.

HPC Celebrates Physician Assistant Week

Dr. MouradPost written by Wael S. Mourad, MD, MHCM, FAAFP, Family Physician and Chief Health Officer

“Always learning… our scope of practice is a delegatory one where you can find your niche… building that team… never stagnant,” said Joe Clark PA-C, Health Partnership Clinic Physician Assistant, when asked about his favorite part of being a Physician Assistant.

A Physician Assistant, or PA for short, is a health care provider who practices medicine in collaboration with a supervising physician. That supervision can be remote, such that the collaborating physician does not have to be onsite.

Assistants to Doctors

Physician Assistant WeekIn 1961, a recommendation was made to the American Medical Association (AMA) for the creation of assistants to doctors. Dr. Eugene A. Stead of Duke University Medical Center brought together the first class of physician assistants in 1965, composed of four former US navy Hospital Corpsmen. He is known as founder of the PA program; and graduated his first class in 1967. He based the curriculum of the PA program on his first-hand knowledge of the fast-track training of medical doctors during World War II.

October 6th – Physician Assistant Day

National PA day is celebrated on October 6th, Dr. Stead’s birthday. Dr. J. Willis Hurst started the Emory University Physician Assistant Program in 1967, where Dr. Stead had also served as a faculty member. The profession has since expanded globally, and can now be found in Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Germany, Ghana, India, Israel, Liberia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom. Physician Assistants are trained under the medical model, like physicians, to deliver high-quality medical care. They can specialize in many different areas of medicine, including acute medicine, primary care, emergency medicine, surgical specialties, psychiatry, and a host of other specialties. By 2003, nearly 60% of physician assistants in the United States were women.

Joe Clark

Joe Clark

Joe Clark

Since 2016, Joe has been taking care of patients at Health Partnership Clinic with a range of acute and chronic medical conditions while doing office procedures to help them get better. He started off in family medicine, then went into trauma surgery, then to critical care medicine, and then back to family medicine. Starting this October, his career path will take him to a cardiothoracic surgery practice, where he will bring his wealth of experience and knowledge to benefit his new specialty care team to provide excellent quality care.

We thank Joe and all physician assistants who have answered the call to help others through healing.

Tips to Avoid Influenza

Dr. MouradPost written by Wael S. Mourad, MD, MHCM, FAAFP, Chief Health Officer, Health Partnership Clinic

Influenza (flu) is an illness with a long history in the United States. It is caused by the influenza virus of which there are two main types that cause the seasonal flu — types A and B. The influenza virus causes respiratory infections, which means that it infects the nose, throat, chest and sometimes the lungs.

Since 2010, there have been several thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of expensive hospitalizations in the United States due to the flu. It is an illness that can be especially hard on children, pregnant patients and older adults. The best way to fight against the flu is to get an influenza vaccine. What is the “second best” way to fight against the flu? To be with others who received the influenza vaccine.

Influenza Stats

Figure 1.  Estimated Range of Burden of Influenza in the U.S. since 2010.

The flu is different from the common cold. It typically comes on suddenly and you feel more feverish, although it is possible to not actually have a documented fever. Other symptoms include muscle and body aches, sore throat, cough and runny or stuffy nose. Diarrhea is more common in children.

How the Flu Spreads

InfluenzaImagine a busy airport, and someone feels that they are coming down with a cold and runny nose when they are beginning to have symptoms of the flu. That person is in a rush to catch a flight and quickly touches his nose with his hand. Because the flu virus was present in his nose, it is now on his hand. Now imagine that he is coming down an escalator and puts his hand on the handrail. The virus is now on that handrail! The influenza virus can live on hard surfaces for up to several hours.

Now imagine that a young mother traveling with her two small children are coming up the same escalator and she puts her hand on the same spot as the previous gentleman. Now the flu virus is on her hands. While she is waiting for her flight at the gate, she scratches an itch on her nose, which causes the flu virus to infect her nose. And because she has two small children that she needs to hold, their hands and noses may be infected as well. Now imagine that they all board the plane together, and all the surfaces and other people that are now exposed to them.

This is a good example of how quickly the flu virus can spread.

There are three main ways to avoid getting a severe case of the flu:

1) Healthy Habits:  This means staying home when you are sick. It is also important to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. If you must leave the home, wear a mask to prevent spread of the virus. Washing your hands is a very important and effective way to prevent the spread of the flu virus. Use soap and water, and if that is not available, then an alcohol-based hand rub would suffice.

2) Get Vaccinated: Everyone six months and older should receive the flu vaccine every year. The flu vaccine has been shown to reduce how severe the illness becomes, the number of doctors’ visits, missed work and school days and flu-related hospitalizations. It has also been shown to be lifesaving in children. Getting the influenza vaccine also protects those who are around you because if you are less likely to get the flu, then they are less likely to get it from you. This is called “herd immunity.”

3) Antiviral Medications: If someone is very sick from the flu, or they are in a high-risk group then it is important to visit a health care provider. Antiviral medications are very effective when taken during the first 72 hours of the illness. High risk groups include being pregnant, or having asthma, diabetes or heart disease.

The flu is a very contagious disease and can make us and our loved ones very sick if not attended to properly. A great resource for more information is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.

Immunizations Save Lives – Protection for Adults and Children

Mayra LemusPost written by Mayra Lemus, Lead Pediatric Medical Assistant, Vaccine Manager, Health Partnership Clinic

Vaccines help prevent dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases. In recent years, we hear of more and more cases of measles and mumps in the United States which is scary. The exact reason for the rise and fall of diseases can be complex and difficult to pin down as there are many contributing factors. Through education, we hope to curb these resurgences.

The month of August is recognized as National Immunization Awareness Month. The goal is to help get the word out about the importance of vaccines, not only for children but also for adults.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your child’s first vaccines protect against seven childhood diseases that can be prevented:

Diphtheria (the ‘D’ in DTaP vaccine)

Signs and symptoms include a thick coating in the back of the throat that can make it hard to breathe. Diphtheria can lead to breathing problems, paralysis and heart failure.

About 15,000 people died annually in the United States from diphtheria before there was a vaccine.

Tetanus (the ‘T’ in DTaP vaccine; also known as Lockjaw)

Signs and symptoms include a painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body. Tetanus can lead to stiffness of the jaw that can make it difficult to open the mouth or swallow.

Tetanus kills about one person out of every 10 who get it.

Pertussis (the ‘P’ in DTaP vaccine, also known as Whopping Cough)

Signs and symptoms include violent coughing spells that can make it hard for a baby to eat, drink or breathe. These spells can last several weeks. Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, or death. Pertussis can be very dangerous in infants.

Most pertussis deaths occur in babies younger than three months of age.

Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b)

Signs and symptoms can include fever, headache, stiff neck, cough and shortness of breath. There might not be any signs or symptoms in mild cases. Hib can lead to meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings); pneumonia; infections of the ears, sinuses, blood, joints, bones and covering of the heart; brain damage; severe swelling of the throat, making it hard to breathe; and deafness.

Children younger than five years of age are at greatest risk for Hib disease.

Hepatitis B

Signs and symptoms include tiredness, diarrhea and vomiting, jaundice (yellow skin or eyes) and pain in muscles, joints and stomach. But usually there are no signs or symptoms at all. Hepatitis B can lead to liver damage and liver cancer. Some people develop chronic (long term) hepatitis B infection. These people might not look or feel sick, but they can infect others.

Hepatitis B can cause liver damage and cancer in one child out of four who are chronically infected.

Polio

Signs and symptoms include flu-like illness, or there may be no signs or symptoms at all. Polio can lead to permanent paralysis and death.

In the 1950s, polio paralyzed more than 15,000 people every year in the U.S.

Pneumococcal Disease

Signs and symptoms include fever, chills, cough and chest pain. In infants, symptoms can also include meningitis, seizures and sometimes rash. Pneumococcal disease can lead to meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings); infections of the ears, sinuses and blood; pneumonia; deafness and brain damage.

About one out of 15 children who get pneumococcal meningitis will die from the infection.

VaccinesVaccines

Children need immunizations at birth, two, four, six and 12-15 months, and one to two years of age to protect them against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases. Now is a great time to double check your children’s immunization records to make sure they are up to date. Make sure your children are protected!

But vaccines are not only for children! Adults should be vaccinated to stay protected from serious illnesses like the flu, measles and pneumonia.

According to the CDC, throughout your life you need immunizations to protect against:

  • Seasonal influenza (flu) for adults of all ages
  • Shingles for healthy adults age 50 and over
  • Pneumococcal for adults 65 years or older or with risk conditions such as decreased immune function, cigarette smoking or chronic heart, lung, liver or renal disease
  • Hepatitis B for adults who have diabetes or are at risk of diabetes
  • Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whopping cough) for all adults who have not been previously received a Tdap vaccine
  • Other vaccinations you may need include those that protect against HPV (human papillomavirus, which can cause certain cancers), hepatitis A, meningococcal disease, chickenpox (varicella), and measles, mumps and rubella.

It is important to note that if you received certain vaccines as a child, you may no longer be protected. Vaccines such as whopping cough or tetanus require a booster. Getting vaccines helps protect your children, especially babies who are too young to be vaccinated.

If you are planning to travel to certain parts of the developing world, you may encounter an illness that you would never find at home such as yellow fever. You can check the CDC’s website for details about what immunizations you may need for your destination.

During National Immunization Month, you are urged to talk to your health care provider about your specific vaccination needs.

Tips to Stay Safe this Fourth of July

The Fourth of July holiday is often filled with lots of family fun including activities such as pool parties, barbecues, outdoor games and fireworks.

Amid the holiday festivities parents may overlook important safety precautions. By keeping a few key Fourth of July safety tips in mind, parents can help keep children safe while still enjoying the holiday fun.

Fourth of July Safety TipsLeave the Fireworks to the Experts

The National Safety Council (NSC) advises everyone to stay away from all consumer fireworks and to only enjoy fireworks at a public display conducted by professionals.

Fireworks can result in burns, scars, disfigurement and even death. In 2017, eight people died and 12,900 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks related incidents according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Every year sparklers can be found in the hand of children along parade routes and at festivals, but they are a lot more dangerous than people think. Many parents don’t realize that they burn at about 2,000 degrees-hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing and many children have received severe burns from dropping sparklers on their feet.

  • Families should attend community fireworks displays run by trained professionals rather than using fireworks at home.
  • Be sure to stay at least 500 feet away from the show.

Be Vigilant About Water Safety

Another common Fourth of July activity is swimming in pools and lakes. It is important to remember to never leave children unattended around bodies of water. According to the NSC approximately 19 children drown during the Fourth of July holiday each year.

  • Children should always be monitored while in the water. Adults should take turns watching the children in 15-30-minute intervals.
  • Sign your children up for age appropriate swimming lessons, but keep in mind even with swimming lessons children should still be monitored closely.
  • Never use floatation devices or water wings when swimming or teaching your child to swim.
  • Learn CPR and rescue techniques.
  • Establish and communicate clear rules for the pool such as:
    • Do not push or jump on others, no diving or running, etc.
  • Children should always wear life jackets while on a boat, personal watercraft and in open bodies of water.
  • Never consume alcohol when operating a boat, and always make sure everyone is wearing U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
  • Sunblock, hydration and supervision are all essential water safety precautions that help keep the day fun and safe.

4th of July Safety Tips - 2019

Barbecue Grill Safety

Nothing beats a barbecue with friends and family.  Just remember these tips to keep everyone safe.

  • Create a barbecue only zone. Children and pets should not come within three feet of the barbecue grill once it is turned on. Remind your children that the barbecue is just like the stove, it gets extremely hot and they can be burned. Keep pets contained away from the grill while it is in use.
  • Grill in a well-ventilated area, away from your house and deck. Every year grills and smokers cause thousands of fires, hundreds of injuries and deaths and millions of dollars in damage.
  • Be prepared for an emergency by keeping a fire extinguisher and a spray bottle of water nearby.
  • Use long handled barbecue utensils to keep the chef safe.
  • Always follow manufacture’s instructions when using grills.

Fourth of July Safety TipsProtect Your Skin and Avoid Dehydration

  • Limit your sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 30 which will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. Reapply sunscreen often.
  • If you are swimming you should reapply sunscreen hourly or at least every two hours.
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid drinking beverages that are caffeinated or contain alcohol.
  • During hot weather, watch for signs of heat stroke-hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid shallow breathing. If it’s suspected someone is suffering from heat stroke:
    • Call 9-1-1 and move the person to a cooler place.
    • Quickly cool the body by applying cool, wet towels to the skin (or misting it with water) and fanning the person
    • Watch for signs of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear. Keep the person lying down.

National Volunteer Week, April 7-13, 2019

National Volunteer WeekBy Bev Dudley
HPC Volunteer since 2018

HPC Celebrates Volunteers

This year, the theme for National Volunteer Week, which is April 7-13, 2019, is Celebrate Service – an opportunity to shine a light on the people and causes that inspire us to serve. And Health Partnership Clinic (HPC) is shining its lights on five volunteers with a lunch, recognition in the clinic’s Heartbeat newsletter and a small gift.

“National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to recognize and thank volunteers who lend their time, talent, voice and support to causes they care about in their community,” says Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing and Outreach. “Their stories serve to inspire others to take action and discover their collective power to unite in making a difference.”

HPC’s Volunteer Program

Colin PeckHPC’s non-clinical volunteer program began in April 2017 with one volunteer. Since then, four additional volunteers have been recruited. These regularly scheduled volunteers work in Marketing, Human Resources and Behavioral Health and on special projects, like patient experience reporting and painting. In addition, a handful of individuals volunteer for one-time projects, such as our November luncheon fundraiser, labeling dental bags, etc.

In 2017, volunteers donated 126 hours, amounting to $3,111 worth of work. The following year, we quadrupled the hours to 519 hours, amounting to $12,814 worth of work. The estimated value of volunteer time is determined by Independent Sector, a coalition of individuals, charities, foundations and corporations that publishes research important to the nonprofit sector.

Mark Gray“We have a small but mighty group of dedicated volunteers at HPC,” Catherine says. “In Marketing, it would be very difficult to achieve everything we do without our volunteers. They are trained to pull together community outreach supply boxes, organize files, track and develop reports and a host of other responsibilities. Volunteers provide a real value to HPC – and we’re able to quantify it, which many funders like to see.”

She adds, “As the clinic expands and works toward enhancing its patient experience, the need for volunteers will likely grow. Today’s volunteers bring a wealth of experience, skills and energy to organizations such as HPC, and it’s a win for everyone involved.”

National Volunteer Week

National Volunteer Week was established in 1974 and has grown exponentially each year, with thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled throughout the week. This signature week is about honoring the impact of volunteers in our communities and inspiring others to serve.

Bev Dudley and Judy JanesFollowing are some of the reasons for volunteers to connect with an organization:

  • Help People/Make a difference
  • Gain Perspective on different health care settings possible for future career decisions
  • Fill in Extra Time
  • Feel Useful
  • Apply Work Skills in New Ways
  • Self Esteem
  • Connect with Different Professionals as a volunteer
  • Flexible hours mutually agreed upon

When an organization seeks volunteers, it seeks a fit with organizational goals.  What the organization gains must fit with what the volunteer has with time and expertise to give. Because volunteers are part of an organization, volunteers should be able to meet similar expectations for their service as those of any employee.

Why do I volunteer? (By Bev Dudley)

Bev Dudley

Bev Dudley
HPC Volunteer since 2018

I don’t know why I first started volunteering. I recall volunteering to help challenged youth with swimming lessons one summer. With retirement came the time to create my own new goals and volunteering has a place in those endeavors for me.

When I got in touch with HPC, I didn’t know what my volunteer role would be, but Catherine felt like I would be a fit for her department. After nearly a year of volunteering, I’ve found my “volunteer” home. I am responsible for the monthly volunteer hours report, assist in research, make calls, handle other office work and help represent the clinic at marketing outreach events. I know that what I do each Wednesday indirectly supports the clinic’s mission of serving our community. It’s very rewarding!

Want to Get Involved?

Everyone who seeks volunteer work has their own motivations and needs. Long term or short term, thinking about future careers or being retired and having the flexibility to do things which fit their present needs and desires, there are opportunities out there to explore.

To learn more, visit us at https://hpcks.org/volunteer-information/, or call Catherine at 913-730-3680.

Prevention Tips for the Common Cold

Emily Bush

Emily Bush

Post written by Emily M. Bush, MD
Board Certified Physician in Pediatrics
Health Partnership Clinic

The common cold is the main reason that kids miss school and adults miss work. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are millions of cases of the common cold in the United States each year with adults averaging two to three colds per year and children averaging even more.

The common cold is a viral infection of your nose and throat and is usually harmless. Many types of viruses can cause the common cold, but Rhinovirus is usually the culprit. A cold virus enters your body through your mouth, eyes or nose. The virus can spread through droplets in the air when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes or talks. It can also spread by hand to hand contact with someone who has a cold, or by sharing contaminated objects such as utensils, towels or the telephone.

People usually get colds in the winter, but it’s possible to get a cold at any time during the year. Symptoms of the common cold usually appear one to three days after exposure to a cold causing virus.

Symptoms of a cold vary from person to person but may include:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Slight body aches or a mild headache
  • Sneezing
  • Low-grade fever
  • Generally feeling unwell

Here are a few tips to keep your kids healthy during the cold season:

  • Cold Prevention TipsHave your kids wash their hands frequently, at home and at school. Kids often touch their mouths and faces. Make sure your kids wash their hands with soap and water before eating, after using the bathroom and when they come inside from playing. If soap and water aren’t available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Disinfect your stuff. Clean your kitchen and bathroom countertops with disinfectant, especially when someone in your family has a cold. Wash your children’s toys periodically.
  • Get active! Kids should get regular, moderate exercise to help boost their immune systems. Studies have shown that being active can help reduce cold and flu episodes.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Children need between nine and 14 hours of sleep a day, depending on their age. Not getting enough sleep can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of getting sick.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Provide meals for your children that include plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables to help boost their immune system. Avoid foods that are high in additives, preservatives and sugars.
  • Decrease stress. Give kids plenty of down time for rest and creative play to help lower their stress levels and keep them from getting sick.
  • Avoid sharing items that pass germs. Teach your children to never share straws, cups, hats, scarfs or anything that comes in to contact with their mouth and faces. These items can be a breeding ground for germs.

If you do catch a cold, most people will recover within seven to 10 days. People with weakened immune systems, asthma or respiratory conditions may develop serious illness, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

You should call your doctor if your child has one or more of the following conditions:

  1. Symptoms that last more than 10 days.
  2. Symptoms that are severe or unusual.
  3. If your child is younger than three months of age and has a fever or is lethargic.

Remember to schedule regular checkups with your child’s health care provider. Pediatric appointments are available by calling 913-648-2266. HPC has a Pediatric Walk-In Clinic in Olathe that is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. No appointment is necessary.

Community Based Clinics: It Takes More Than Just a Great Idea

(Editor’s Note: Dr. Mourad’s interest and passion with community-based clinics spurred him to cofound the Medina Clinic in 2009. The clinic is a not-for-profit charitable medical clinic serving the residents of Jackson County and surrounding areas. He currently serves as the volunteer medical director. The clinic is located in Grandview, Mo. and provides affordable primary care and women health services. To learn more, visit https://www.themedinaclinic.org/.)

Dr Wael Mourad

Wael S. Mourad, MD, MHCM, FAAFP | Family Physician | Chief Health Officer

Post written by Wael S. Mourad, MD, MHCM, FAAFP
Family Physician
Chief Health Officer, Health Partnership Clinic

I attended the Kansas City Medical Society Annual Meeting at the Marriott in Overland Park a few weeks ago. The featured speaker was the current and 20th Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Jerome Adams.

His speech was broad-ranging and personal. He talked about his family, his colleagues and his home state of Indiana. He recalled instances that called for working directly with local community leaders to address serious public health challenges.

His take-home message was that local community institutions are critical to addressing addiction and chronic disease epidemics that profoundly burden our health care systems.

And he reinforced what we have often heard before: that 80 percent of health outcomes in the United States are determined by social determinants of health.

These social determinants include income, education, employment status and conditions, food insecurity, housing, discrimination and other factors.

In light of this, the concept of community-based clinics has frequently occurred to many of us working in the FQHC space as an ideal solution. Think of it! What if a primary care clinic was actually embedded in a community center, a grocery store, or a church, mosque, or synagogue?  Access to care is addressed in that these locations are where our patients may already visit and feel comfortable.

There are ancillary resources in the form of other organizational contacts and peer support that can be galvanized in ways not available to the brick and mortar stand-alone medical clinic.  What better way to address the social determinants of health, but to bring care to that patient’s community and society?  This idea simply cannot fail!

What I have learned from five experiences in attempting to establish community-based health care delivery services is that while a great idea, just being a great idea is not enough to guarantee or even make likely that the project will be successful.

mourad and teamMy five experiences over the past 10 years are as follows:

Case #1:  Establishing a weekly telehealth service onsite in a women’s homeless shelter in Raytown, Mo. to address refills and referrals. These patients had significant mental health conditions.

  • Outcome: Utilization was low and the contract was not renewed.

Case #2:  Establishing a full-time primary care clinic staffed by a nurse practitioner within a community action agency in Belton, Mo.  This clinic was funded in part by a grant from the Health Forward Foundation.

  • Outcome: Volume was not as high as expected and cuts in grant funding resulted in the service being terminated.

Case #3:  Working with a large church in Independence, Mo. to establish as telehealth service onsite.

  • After accumulating survey data from congregants, church management decided that they were not ready to proceed with implementation.

Case #4:  Establishing a weekly telehealth service onsite in a homeless shelter for young men in downtown Kansas City, Mo.

  • Outcome: Utilization was strong, however, the contract was not renewed.

Case #5:  Establishing on onsite primary care clinic staffed by an Assistant Physician in a large church in downtown Kansas City, Mo. The clinic was part of a larger wellness center project funded by a Health Forward Foundation grant.

  • Outcome: Utilization was strong, however, the contract was prematurely terminated with cuts to grant funding.

Looking back and learning from these experiences, I compiled a “checklist” of success factors that must be implemented to ensure the success of a community-based medical service:

  • The project must be a high priority for the leadership of the host organization: In cases #2 and #5, when cuts in funding occur, the project will likely be cut as well if it is not a high priority.
  • There is a legitimate need: In case #4, the population was that of young men, who do not have a strong need for health care compared with older patients or females.
  • Strong marketing: This was an issue in case #5. A strong marketing campaign is needed to ensure growth and volume.
  • Minimal competition: This was an issue in cases #2 and #5. Each had a federally qualified health center site just down the road.  If this kind of competition is present, the wisdom of a community-based clinic should be reconsidered.
  • Provider and clinical staff reflect the community: In case #2, it would have been better if the provider was Hispanic, especially given the competition did not have a Hispanic provider. Also, they will be the primary “champions” of the project and will ensure that things keep moving.

And so, I will be taking this checklist and applying it to yet another attempt at setting up a primary care clinic in a church, this time in Odessa, Mo.  These failures do not mean that a community-based clinic is a bad idea after all.  Only, that like a lot of things in health care, it takes a lot of learning and more than just a great idea to create a successful clinical service.

Holiday Safety Tips

Portrait of three kids and his grandmother next to the christmasKeep everyone safe, healthy and happy this holiday season.

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s important to remember the season can come with hidden dangers for you and your children.

Health Partnership Clinic recommends taking a moment to assess your surroundings to identify any potential hazards and prevent them from harming your children.

So, what can you do to keep your kids safe?

Health Partnership offers the following simple steps to keep everyone safe, healthy and happy this holiday season.

Tips for a Safe Holiday

  • Keep all alcohol out of the reach of children. Clean up immediately to avoid exposing kids to leftover drinks.
  • Do not put potentially harmful gifts (such as perfume/cologne, glass, or any other poison or sharp materials) under the tree where children can get to them.
  • Keep mistletoe and holly berries out of the reach of children; they can be toxic if too much is ingested. The American Association of Poison Control Centers says they’re not poisonous, but can cause nausea, diarrhea, tingling or burning of the mouth when eaten.
  • Avoid using small decorations that could be swallowed by a child.
  • Never leave children in a room with lighted candles. Keep matches, lighters and all flames out of reach of children. Use non-flammable candle holders and avoid glass or breakable containers. Make sure candle holders are out of reach of children and aren’t sitting on a cloth that can be pulled. Consider flameless candles (battery-powered) but makes sure that batteries are secured.
  • Turn off all lights when leaving the house.
  • Do not use indoor lights outside.
  • Funny time during opening christmas giftsCheck all toys for button batteries—the small disc-shaped batteries often found in small toys, cameras, watches, etc. Make sure children can’t remove the batteries from their toys or reach where they are stored. They pose a swallowing risk and can damage the inside of the throat or stomach.
  • Children should not arrange lighting or ornaments without close supervision.
  • If you have a live tree, make sure the stand stays filled with water and never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Artificial trees should be marked “fire-resistant.”
  • All lights should be marked with the UL Seal that certifies that the product has safety tested.
  • Be sure to pick up wrappings, ribbons and bows to prevent possible suffocation, choking and fire hazards.
  • Use precautions with decorations that can irritate skin, eyes and lungs. Artificial snow can have chemicals that can be harmful when sprayed and inhaled, so follow instructions on the can carefully. Be sure to wear gloves when decorating with spun glass angel hair or other potential irritants to protect your skin.
  • Be on the lookout for lead. Strings of lights may be coated in a plastic that contains lead, so be sure to wash your hands after handling lights. Artificial trees made in China or that are older than nine years old may also contain lead or give off dangerous levels of lead dust as they deteriorate. Toss old trees and check labels for new ones about lead content.

Children should always be supervised, but it’s important to be especially vigilant during the holidays. Following these safety tips can help prevent injuries and allow you to enjoy a fun, memorable and safe holiday!