UK HealthCare leader honored as one of Most Powerful Women in Healthcare IT

One of UK HealthCare’s own is being recognized on a national level as one of the Most Powerful Women in Healthcare IT.

Dr. Carol Steltenkamp, professor of pediatrics at the UK College of Medicine and UK HealthCare’s first chief medical information officer, will be honored in May by Health Data Management  the information resource for medical and information technology professionals, executives and administrators  along with 74 other women from across the country.

As the chief medical information officer at UK HealthCare, Dr. Steltenkamp selected and led implementation of an electronic health record system across our clinical enterprise. She then became a leader for health information technology in Kentucky and was named chair of the Kentucky eHealth Board, where she successfully launched and maintains the Kentucky Health Information Exchange.

She also is the principal investigator for more than $10 million in health care information technology grant funding including the foundational grant establishing the Kentucky Regional Extension Center from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

“Dr. Steltenkamp is a shining example of excellence within the UK HealthCare enterprise,” said Dr. Michael Karpf, UK executive vice president for health affairs.

Congratulations Dr. Steltenkamp!

UK HealthCare staff members take home Supervisor of the Year Award

The Supervisor of the Year Award recognizes employees at the University of Kentucky who make a difference in the lives of their employees. This year, the prestigious honor was given to two UK HealthCare staff members: Angela Dalton, practice manager in General Surgery, and Kristy McMillan, radiology technical manager in Imaging Services.

Nominated by their employees, both Dalton and McMillian were celebrated for creating a positive work environment that has led to improved patient care.

“(Angela) is a team player,” one nominating employee said of Dalton. “When my clinic is short-staffed, she is always one of the first managers to respond to send aid immediately so our patients’ care is not disrupted. The attention she dedicates to her providers, staff and patients is one to be model for UK excellence.”

McMillan, too, was lauded for her emphasis on improving the patient experience.

“(Kristy) is always thinking about her staff and patients and how to improve everything that surrounds them,” the nomination said. “She is a very strong believer in keeping a well-balanced work and home life for her staff as well has creating the best experience for our patients. … It shows because our patients love coming here for their exams.”

Angela and Kristy embody the compassionate, patient-first environment we strive to create every day here at UK HealthCare. Their employees love the work that they do and it shows in the excellent care our patients receive.

Congratulations to Angela and Kristy!

Check out a photo gallery below for pictures from this week’s award ceremony.

Understanding the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease

Know the signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

Forgetfulness is something many of us will experience as we get older. It’s a normal part of aging. But when memory loss starts to interfere with daily life, it can be a sign of a more serious issue such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia, a group of conditions that affect mental capability and can cause memory loss. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, one way to limit its effects is to identify it as early as possible.

Alzheimer’s usually affects people who are 65 or older, so if there’s a senior in your life, be aware of these signs and symptoms.

  • Forgetting important information: It’s normal for someone to forget a date or a name but suddenly remember it later. However, pay attention if they ask for the same information repeatedly or struggle to recall important dates (like their own birthdate).
  • Lack of problem-solving skills: Are they having trouble following a recipe? Problem-solving skills can deteriorate in someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks: Do they get lost when driving to a familiar location? If they have difficulty completing familiar tasks, it might be a sign of Alzheimer’s.
  • Using incorrect words: Healthy people can occasionally a struggle to find the right word, but using the wrong word – particularly if they call something by the wrong name – merits further scrutiny.
  • Poor hygiene. Is the person suddenly displaying odd behavior related to clean clothes, bathing, oral health or shaving? It’s not uncommon for a person with Alzheimer’s to lose interest in personal hygiene.
  • Personality changes: Are they suddenly irrational, fearful or suspicious?

If a loved one in your life is experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with a doctor.

And be sure to check out our infographic below for more information about Alzheimer’s disease in Kentucky.

Alzheimer's infographic

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lawn mower safety

Mowing the lawn? Keep these safety tips in mind

Even though it’s easy to forget when you’re using it week in and week out, your lawn mower is actually dangerous and potentially deadly piece of equipment.

Each year 20,000 people are injured in the U.S. due to mower-related accidents, and 75 are killed. One in five of those deaths involves a child, and more than 600 children will lose a limb this year as a result of a preventable lawn mower accident. While it’s important to be extremely cautious when cutting your yard, one of the safest things you can do for your family is to keep your children inside while you’re operating a lawn mower. In many cases where children were injured, the adults involved didn’t know they were near the mower when the injuries occurred.

To raise awareness about the dangers lawn mowers pose to children, The Amputee Coalition and Limbs Matter, a group of parents whose children have undergone an amputation because of a lawn mower accident, have partnered on national safety initiatives.

Kids aren’t the only ones at risk from lawn mowers. Here are some personal safety tips to keep in mind:

Wear the right clothing. Avoid shorts or sandals. Long pants will protect your legs and closed-toed shoes protect your feet and provide better traction.

Survey the yard. Before mowing, pick up any sticks, rocks or other debris that could become dangerous projectiles if hit by a mower blade.

Tell somebody. Before you begin mowing, be sure to tell a family member or neighbor that you’re going to be working outside in case an accident happens.

Mow across the slope. If you have to mow a slope, always mow across the slope and never up and down. This removes the risk of the mower rolling back on you.

Don’t mow at night. You should only use your mower in daylight or good artificial light.

Beware the sun. If it’s hot outside, be sure to take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water. Don’t forget the sunscreen.

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Learn more about the importance of lawn mower safety by watching the “Limbs Matter” public service announcement.


Don’t let taxes stress you out

Tax Day is fast approaching. If you’re like millions of other Americans who haven’t filed their taxes yet, you’re probably starting to get stressed out worrying about the April 18 deadline.

Stress can quickly have serious effects on your health, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, an upset stomach and tightness in your chest.

Keep these tips in mind to manage your Tax Day stress so you can stay healthy and productive while getting the job done on short notice.

  • Be calm and face the challenge. It may seem hard to in times of stress, but try to resist the temptation to ignore the problem and decide how you can face it head-on. Tax Day is an annual thing that everyone deals with, and it’ll be over the sooner you work on it.
  • Put the extra time to good use. Tax Day is three days later this year, so plan your best course of action to be done by April 18. If your problem is sitting down and filing all of your taxes at once, consider spreading that work out over the extra days.
  • Feeling overwhelmed? Remember to keep yourself in the present. The present is rarely as stressful as how you may imagine the future, so try focusing on your breathing or calming sounds to keep things in perspective.
  • Reach out for help. Talk to your friends and family about how they’re handling their taxes. If you still have questions, you can always hire a tax preparer or use tax prep software that will help resolve any issues that are causing you stress.
  • Avoid fighting over money. The last thing you need to do is argue when you’re already stressed out. If others are worried about how you’re spending, or vice versa, keep things civil by finding ways to discuss without an accusatory tone. You can work to find better spending strategies after you’ve filed your taxes on time.
  • Find time to relax. It won’t be much easier to file your taxes if you’re completely bent out of shape, so at least once or twice a day, spend time helping yourself unwind. Once you’ve finished some work on your taxes, reward yourself by taking a walk, reading a book you enjoy or exercising.
  • Plan for next year. Scrambling to meet a deadline is never fun. Since you know that you’ll go through this process again next year, consider how you can keep track of spending better and be ahead of the deadline next time around.

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Before you head outside, think about your skin

Race day hat? Check. Bowtie? Check. Sunscreen? Check.

Whether you’re heading out to Keeneland this weekend or just spending time outside enjoying the spring weather, make sure sunscreen is a part of your wardrobe.

Even when temperatures are mild or skies are overcast, a day outside can still result in sunburned skin if you don’t take the proper precautions. Using sunscreen is the first step. It protects you from sunburn and limits suntan by reflecting ultraviolet rays.

Before you go outside, take a look at our tips for protecting your skin:

  • A sunscreen with SPF of 20 to 30 offers substantial protection against sunburns and usually prevents tanning.
  • The phrase “broad spectrum” on a product’s label means the sunscreen filters out ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation exposure. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and are mostly responsible for premature aging and skin cancer. UVB rays affect the surface of the skin and cause sunburn. Be sure to pick a sunscreen that protects against both.
  • People with fair skin, especially those with blond or red hair, should be especially cautious. They are at the greatest risk of developing skin cancer, but all people are at some risk.
  • Use sunscreen on all exposed areas of skin. Don’t forget easily overlooked areas such as the rims of the ears, lips, back of the neck and feet. And if you don’t have a full head of hair, don’t forget the top of your head, either.
  • Make sure to use sunscreen liberally and rub it in well. The recommended dose is one ounce per full-body application (about the amount in a shot glass).
  • Apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors. It needs time to absorb into the skin.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially if you’re sweating.
  • Seek shade if you need to, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are at their strongest.
  • Your race day hat and sunglasses aren’t just fashion statements: They can also help protect your face from excessive sun.

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UK HealthCare celebrates 25 years of live-saving heart transplants.

Celebrating 25 years of heart transplants at UK HealthCare

On April 2, 1991, Dr. Michael Sekela performed the first heart transplant in the University of Kentucky’s history.

It’s been 25 years since that first operation, and we’ve been saving lives through heart transplantation ever since. In fact, we now do more than 40 heart transplants each year, and in 2015 we set a single-year record for the most heart transplants at one hospital in Kentucky.

While much has changed since Dr. Sekela’s first transplant, one thing has stayed the same: our commitment to providing the best care for patients with heart failure.

That commitment was on display earlier this week when patients gathered with staff and doctors from the UK Gill Heart Institute and the UK Transplant Center to celebrate 25 years of heart transplants at UK HealthCare.

“It’s so rewarding to see how our program has evolved,” Sekela said at the celebration. “We want to take care of our patients, and that’s always been the driving force of our program.”

Jim Holdiness, who received his new heart on Aug. 24, 1995, said UK HealthCare gave him a second chance at life.

“If hadn’t been for those people, in this hospital, I wouldn’t be here today,” he said.

Daniel Garcia received his new heart just earlier this year, but echoed Holdiness’ sentiment.

“I haven’t had this much energy in 25 years,” he said. “When I think of UK, I think of excellence and compassion. Everyone had my well-being in mind.”

Check out some photos from the event below and visit the UK HealthCare Facebook page for a full gallery.

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Tom and Nancy Conley

Family takes action to help fight Alzheimer’s disease

Nearly 68,000 Kentuckians today are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, but the emotional and financial tolls are much higher. That’s because, in the words of Linda Van Eldik, Alzheimer’s is a “family disease.”

“Alzheimer’s affects the patient, of course, but as the disease progresses, it is also devastating for the people who love and care for that patient,” said Van Eldik, director of the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.

While a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other age-related dementias brings an incredible amount of uncertainty to patients and their families, the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging (SBCoA) provides information, support and hope. So say Tom Conley and daughters Terri and Susie, whose wife and mother Nancy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2009. The Conley family hails from Louisville, but they found care for Nancy in Lexington at UK.

“The care Nancy got while she was at Sanders-Brown and the clinical trials she participated in, I think slowed the disease down,” Tom said.

Nancy passed away from breast cancer in November of 2014.  Looking back the Conley daughters feel grateful that their mother’s last years were full of good memories.

“I got my mother — my real mother — a few more years than I probably would have if she had gone untreated,” Terri said.

SBCoA was established in 1979 and is one of the original 10 National Institutes of Health-funded Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers. It is internationally acclaimed for its work in the fight against age-related diseases.

Faculty and researchers work together within the framework of the Center’s mission to explore the aging process and its implications for society. Research spans bench to bedside, from defining disease mechanisms in the brain and exploring cellular changes that lead to AD, to studies exploring healthy aging and ways to lower risk of dementia, to clinical trials testing potential new therapies that slow or stop the progression of age-related diseases of the brain.

“We are trying to cure Alzheimer’s and we know that here at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging we will be part of that cure,” said Dr. Greg Jicha, professor of neurology at the UK College of Medicine and SBCoA. “Whether it comes next year or comes five years from now or 20 years from now, we will be playing a central role in that ultimate goal.”

Tom Conley hopes he’ll have a role, too. He continues to volunteer at Sanders-Brown and encourages others to donate their time and resources, all in the name of providing support for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and their families.

Watch this video to learn how Sanders-Brown helped the Conley family extend Nancy’s quality of life and why philanthropy is so integral to ensuring that UK researchers contribute to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease while also helping other Kentucky families.

As Tom puts it, “You have a jewel right here in little old Lexington and we need to keep polishing it.”

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What you can do to prevent child abuse

Child abuse can happen in any family and in any neighborhood. Studies have shown that child abuse crosses all boundaries of income, race, ethnic heritage and religious faith. The incidence is higher, however, in families in which the parents are in their mid-20s; high school dropouts or lack a high school diploma; below the poverty level or financially stressed; stressed because of a loss of job or home; or have a history of intergenerational abuse, alcohol, or substance abuse problems, a history of depression, or spouse abuse.

Stopping abuse

Prevent Child Abuse America offers these tips for stopping child abuse:

  • Try to understand your children. Learn how kids behave and what they can do at different ages. Have realistic expectations and be reasonable if children fall short.
  • Keep your children healthy. Denying children food, sleep, or health care is abuse by neglect.
  • Get help with alcohol or drug problems. Keep children away from anyone who abuses those substances.
  • Watch your words. Angry or punishing language can leave emotional scars for a lifetime.
  • Get control of yourself before disciplining a child. Set clear rules so the child knows what to expect. Avoid physical punishment.
  • Take a time-out. Stop if you begin to act out frustration or other emotions physically. Find someone to talk with or watch your kids while you take a walk. Call a child abuse prevention hotline if you are worried you may hit your child.
  • Make your home a violence-free zone. Turn off violent TV shows and don’t let kids stay under the same roof with an abusive adult.
  • Take regular breaks from your children. This will give you a release from the stress of parenting full-time.

If you want to go the extra mile for supporting the safety of children, visit the Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky site and join us for the Commit to Prevent 5K Run/Walk on April 10. UK HealthCare is a proud sponsor of this event and we hope to see you there! Also, don’t forget to wear blue April 8 to promote child abuse awareness and stop by the Pavilion A Atrium Lobby at UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital at 1 p.m. for a group photo.

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Colon cancer screening

Should you be screened for colon cancer?

“Challenge accepted” is a series highlighting the work the UK Markey Cancer Center is doing to fight cancer in Kentucky and Appalachia. To learn more about how we’re helping Kentuckians live longer, fuller and healthier lives, read the latest Markey Cancer Center Annual Report. In this entry, we sit down with Melissa Hounshell, Markey community outreach director, to discuss the importance of colorectal cancer screening.

Who should be screened for colorectal cancer?

Melissa Hounshell

Melissa Hounshell

Hounshell: In general, colon cancer screenings begin at age 50 and continue until age 75. If there is a family history, doctors recommend you start earlier. If there are any questions, you should always ask your family physician. There are several different types of screenings available, including fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.

Screening can catch cancer early, when it’s at its most treatable, and it can also prevent the disease by identifying abnormal growths called polyps, which can turn into cancer later on.

What is a FIT and what are its benefits?

Hounshell: FIT (fecal immunochemical test) is a high-sensitivity stool test that you can do at home. It’s used to test the stool for blood that cannot be seen with the naked eye (called occult blood). Once completed, the FIT is then mailed to a lab, where you will get a positive or negative result. If it’s positive, a follow-up colonoscopy will be recommended.

A FIT is often used to detect bleeding in the digestive tract when there are no other signs or symptoms of a digestive problem. Blood in the stool can be caused by a number of conditions, including colon cancer. It is important to remember that a FIT should be repeated each year.

How can people sign up for a screening or learn more about FIT tests?

Hounshell: Most primary care doctors should offer FIT testing. I always recommend starting with your personal physician. They know your health and your family history. Markey also has FITs available at several of our screening events throughout the year. For more information, please call 859-323-2034.

Why is screening for colorectal cancer so important, especially in Kentucky?

Hounshell: Colon cancer is largely a preventable disease. Kentucky has historically ranked very high in incidence rates. However, through the efforts of many organizations and advocates all across Kentucky in the past 15 years, we have seen a dramatic decrease in incidence rates and deaths.

These screenings work! We just have to continue our efforts to educate folks on the importance of getting screened.

How does colorectal cancer screening fit into Markey’s outreach mission?

Hounshell:  I talk about colon cancer screening every place I go. Much of my time is spent traveling the state and talking with people about the importance of cancer screenings, education, and general health and wellness. It is extremely important to open the dialogue with folks and to make sure they understand what types of screenings are available to them. I consider it an honor to meet so many good people and help them better understand screenings.

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