water safety

Going to the pool? Keep the kids safe with these tips

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, and pools everywhere will be opening this weekend.

Swimming and water recreation can be great fun, but they can also be dangerous. So before you and your family hit the water, check out these tips for keeping the kids safe.

Water safety tips to teach your children:

  • Learn how to swim.
  • Always swim with a buddy.
  • If you can’t swim, don’t get in water deeper than your shoulders.
  • Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vest when you are playing water sports, when you’re near an open body of water or when you’re on a boat.
  • Never run, push or jump on others around water.
  • If you see someone struggling in the water, shout for help. Don’t try to rescue the person yourself.

Water safety tips for adults to keep in mind:

  • Never leave children alone near water – adults must supervise at all times.
  • Never let children swim alone – no exceptions to this rule, ever.
  • Children in baby bath seats and rings must be within arm’s reach every second.
  • Teach children to swim after age 4.
  • Never substitute a flotation device for supervision.
  • Do not allow children to run, push or jump on others around water.
  • Learn CPR for infants, children and adults.

In case of drowning

According to the CDC, two children 14 and younger in the United States die by drowning every day. And for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.

In a drowning accident, seconds make the difference between survival, recovery or death. Drownings occur when a child is left unattended, even for a brief moment. If a child is missing, always check the water first before looking elsewhere. Wading pools, swimming pools, spas, hot tubs, lakes, rivers, oceans, bathtubs, buckets and even toilets all pose a risk of drowning.

If you see someone struggling in the water:

  • Shout for help immediately.
  • Find something you can throw out to the person to pull him or her to safety, such as a life preserver, rope or towel.
  • If you can’t reach the person, throw out a floating object he or she can hold onto until additional help arrives.
  • Never swim right to the person. He or she is scared and may accidentally hurt you.
  • If no one hears your shout, call 911.

Next steps

Hip or knee pain? Know when to see a doctor

Written by Dr. Stephen Duncan, orthopaedic surgeon at UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine.

Dr. Stephen Duncan

Dr. Stephen Duncan

In the past four weeks, more than one-third of people over the age of 55 in the United States have complained about hip or knee pain to their physician. In a lifetime, our hips and knees get a lot of use. There are various ways individuals can reduce the strain placed on their joints to maintain the health of their hips and knees.

Preventing knee and hip pain

Individuals have some ability to reduce the strain put on their knees and hips. The relationship between being overweight and joint pain is a contentious one. If joint pain is rooted in being overweight, it is important to healthily lose weight. Developing a stronger core can also lessen the strain placed on joints.

People who engage in “high impact” activities, like running, basketball or Zumba, can take steps to prevent joint issues like torn ligaments and inflammation. Physical therapy, to strengthen the muscles surrounding the hips and knees, can do wonders in reducing and preventing joint pain.

Supplements can aid in improving joint health and reducing pain. Omega 3s block inflammatory cytokines and prostaglandins, reducing joint tenderness and stiffness. Also, ginger has been shown to be a natural anti-inflammatory while Capsaicin reduces substance P, a pain transmitter.

Treatment options

In the United States, nearly 30 million people are treated for joint pain in their knees and hips each year. Too often, joint pain is considered part of aging, and if a person has suffered over a long period of time, it can be considered part of life. Persistent joint pain, which lasts more than six months and is not responding to activity modification and/or anti-inflammatory medicines, means it’s time to see an orthopedist.

Common treatments for knee and hip joint pain are arthroscopy and joint replacement. Arthroscopy can be done for patients with mild arthritis to remove a torn meniscus in the knee or a labrum in the hip. Recovery from this procedure is typically four to eight weeks. Hip or knee replacements are done for more advanced arthritis. Recovery for hip replacement is typically four to eight weeks, but is largely dependent on the patient’s health. Partial knee replacement recovery lasts approximately four to six weeks; a total knee replacement has a recovery time of six to 12 weeks.

Reducing the chances of needing orthopedic surgery is possible, but knowing the signs of pain that may require medical intervention is vital.


Next steps

mindful eating

Mindful eating can help you lose weight permanently

Losing weight is difficult, and keeping it off can be even harder. Many people regain the weight because typical weight loss diets involve drastic, unsustainable changes. But, learning to eat “mindfully” can fundamentally shift our relationship with food for long-term weight loss maintenance.

In our busy, convenience-oriented lives, eating has become an automatic behavior. Research shows we make more than 200 eating decisions daily, but we sometimes don’t take time to think about them. Instead, we often eat mindlessly, or out of habit. In a culture where we are surrounded by unhealthy food options, this has understandably led to a lot of weight gain.

Mindfulness means paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment — without placing judgment. Mindfulness-based approaches have been used with success in the treatment of health issues like stress, depression, eating disorders and chronic pain. When we apply mindfulness to eating, it helps us support our long-term health and well-being, because we learn to slow down and recognize when we’re truly hungry and when we’ve had enough to eat.

It’s not about meditating over breakfast — but about continually paying attention to how food affects us, so that we can make better eating choices. With gentle and attentive practice, we can reprogram the behaviors and reactions that cause us to eat mindlessly. This can lead to lasting changes from to how we react when there’s food in social situations to how we shop for and prepare food.

It might seem daunting to learn eat mindfully, but with practice it can become a habit. Here are few tips and resources to get started:

  • Before you eat, stop and ask yourself why you’re eating. Is your body actually hungry?
  • Your stomach is about the size of your clenched fist, so try to eat just that amount at one time. It actually takes 20 minutes for the brain to recognize that you are full, so try to wait before getting a second helping.
  • Pay attention to physical signs of hunger and fullness. Eat when you’re slightly hungry (not starving), and stop when you don’t feel hungry anymore (not full or stuffed).
  • Take time to look at your food, smell your food and taste your food more slowly to really experience it.
  • Minimize distractions (like screens) while eating. Sit down and focus your attention only on your food and your body.

For more information, some useful resources include The Mindful Diet from Duke Integrative Medicine and the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Program.

Written by Teresa Lee, RD, LD, a teaching assistant in the University of Kentucky Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition.


Next steps:

  • Researchers at the University of Kentucky are looking for people who are interested in participating in a study about how mindfulness affects weight loss. For details, please contact Teresa Lee at 859-619-3640 or teresalee@uky.edu or visit ukclinicalresearch.com.

Appalachian Research Day shows community-based health care efforts

For many UK researchers who study health in Appalachia, the Center of Excellence in Rural Health (CERH) is an indispensable partner in conducting community-based research. The Center, located in Hazard, connects researchers with the local community and provides necessary infrastructure, from conference rooms to a team of community health workers, called Kentucky Homeplace, who engage participants and gather data.

This week, researchers shared the findings from these community-based studies at the second annual Appalachian Research Day.

“Today is an opportunity for people who do research with the Center to report back about their findings, and see what we can come up with together to better our lives here in Appalachia,” said Fran Feltner, director of the CERH.

Addressing Appalachian health issues

Rural Appalachian communities in Eastern Kentucky experience some of the nation’s most concerning health disparities, including elevated rates of obesity, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, depression, and cancer incidence and death. Residents of Appalachia might also face challenges in accessing health care, such as distance from providers, lack of insurance, or socioeconomic barriers.

Community-based research is essential in addressing disproportionate rates of poor health by collaboratively identifying problems and developing shared solutions that are a good fit for communities. For this type of research to succeed, it must begin at the local level, built upon the foundation of relationships with individuals, neighborhoods and groups who have common questions and concerns. In Eastern Kentucky, the CERH has enabled community-based studies since 1990, when it was founded to improve health through education, service, and research.

In 2015, the CERH launched Appalachian Research Day as an opportunity to share and discuss research findings with the communities that were involved in the studies. Feltner describes the day as an invitation for everyone involved in community health research to “come sit on the porch” of the Center and talk about their work and ongoing needs. More than 100 researchers, coordinators, community health workers, community advisory board members, students, and staff participated this year, with four podium presentations and 13 poster presentations.

“These research findings drive new and exciting health initiatives that are transforming lives across our rural Appalachian region,” Feltner said.

Researching change

The presen­tations focused on community research related to healthy lifestyles, depression, lung cancer screening, drug use and risk behaviors in Appalachia.

Mark Dignan, professor in the UK College of Medicine and director of the UK Prevention Research Center, discussed his work with faith-based communities to study energy balance, obesity and cancer in Appalachia.  According to the CDC, the national obesity rate in adults is about 29 percent, while in Appalachian states the rate is 31-35 percent. Dignan was particularly interested in how to help people re-engineer their lives to include more physical activity.

“When you do research in the community, hopefully you’ll make change that will be lasting,” he said.

Rates of depression are also higher in Appalachia than the rest of the country. For Appalachian women, the rate of depression is four times higher than the national rate. They are also less likely to receive adequate treatment, according to Claire Snell-Rood, PhD, who shared her research on adapting treatment options for rural settings where the traditional mental health system is both inappropriate and inadequate.

“This research focuses on how to adapt evidence-based programs to address not only limited treatment options in rural areas, but the substantial social and health challenges that impede Appalachian women from obtaining the care they need,” she said.

Snell-Rood worked with Kentucky Homeplace community health workers to conduct interviews with women, and she is currently adopting a collaborative, peer-based practice to support rural individuals in developing their own processes for wellbeing.

Roberto Cardarelli, DO, MPH, professor and chief of community medicine in the UK College of Medicine, also presented his research project, the Terminate Lung Cancer study, which aims to understand the knowledge and attitudes of lung cancer screening among high-risk rural populations. Kentucky’s lung cancer mortality rate dramatically exceeds the national lung cancer mortality rate, with 73.2 deaths per 100,000 in Kentucky versus 49.5 nationally. Cardarelli and his team conducted focus groups in order to develop an effective campaign to promote lung cancer screening in the region.

“We like to focus on research that’s important to communities, and we couldn’t find a more important topic than tobacco cessation and lung cancer screening,” he said.

The final presentation of the day addressed drug use and prescription opioid use in Eastern Kentucky. Michele Staton-Tindall, PhD, associate professor in the UK College of Social Work, conducted research in jails to learn about drug use and health-related risk behaviors among rural women in Appalachia. She said that rates of drug use are “alarmingly high” in this area of Appalachia, with many users injecting.

“Injection is the preferred route of administration, which is coupled with increased public health risks including HCV and HIV,” she said.

Solving problems together

The event was supported in part by the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science, which aims to accelerate discoveries that improve human health, with particular focus on the Appalachian region.

For Feltner, a nurse who has worked in rural health for 35 years, Appalachian Research Day represents the best qualities of the place she calls home.

“What I love most about Appalachia is the fellowship we have together, as neighbors and friends, working together to solve problems.”

Weekend of cycling events reflects doctor’s passion for Markey

For Dr. Jonathan Feddock, cycling isn’t just a hobby – it’s a way to save lives.

Dr. Jonathan Feddock

Dr. Jonathan Feddock

Feddock is a radiation oncologist at the UK Markey Cancer Center and also an avid triathlete and cyclist. Two years ago, Feddock combined his passions by competing in the Louisville Ironman competition while simultaneously raising more than $142,000 for patient care and research at Markey.

Ignited by the success of his personal fundraising efforts, Feddock wanted to do even more. Last year, he partnered with Markey to host the Healthiest Weekend in Lexington, a two-day event promoting healthy lifestyles that also raised money for cancer care at UK. The weekend event included the first-ever Survive the Night Triathlon, an overnight team relay covering 140.7 combined miles of swimming, biking and running.

“After seeing the success I had raising money racing in triathlons, a lot of people expressed an interest in helping raise money for Markey in a similar way,” Feddock said.

This year, the Survive the Night Triathlon is back, and Feddock is working with Markey and the Lexington Cancer Foundation to once again support patient care, research and outreach at UK through a weekend of cycling.

Survive the Night begins Friday, June 17, at 7:30 p.m. at Commonwealth Stadium on the UK campus. Registration is $500 per team.

Following Survive the Night, the Lexington Cancer Foundation hosts the Roll for the Cure bike event on June 18. Participants can choose the length of their ride: 10, 35, 50 or 95 miles through Kentucky horse farms, or a short Family Fun ride around Commonwealth Stadium. The longer rides will include rest breaks at Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve distilleries. Registration for the longer rides is $75 and the Family Fun ride is $10.

All proceeds from Survive the Night and Roll for the Cure will benefit cancer research and programs at the Markey and the pediatric oncology clinic at Kentucky Children’s Hospital. Feddock said participating in either event is an easy way to make a big difference.

“Every single dollar we raise helps,” he said. “By participating in our events, you’ll be making a huge impact on cancer care for women, men and children across Kentucky.”


Next steps:

Dr. Evers highlights Markey’s accomplishments in ‘State of the Cancer Center’ address

Dr. Mark Evers, director of the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, gave his annual “State of the Cancer Center” address today at Markey Research Day, highlighting the center’s major accomplishments in patient care, recruitment, research and outreach from the past year.

“Markey is making great strides in both clinical care and research, and we plan to continue that trend moving forward,” Evers said. “Kentucky is still home to the worst cancer rates in the country, and we will continue to expand our reach and provide acute-level cancer care for not just Kentuckians, but patients from neighboring states and even across the country who are seeking services only we can provide.”

Patient care at Markey

Patient growth continued to increase in the past year, with more than 94,000 outpatient visits, a four percent increase over 2015 visits and a 42 percent increase since Evers’ arrival in 2009. In addition, the number of analytic cancer cases seen by Markey doctors has nearly doubled – 49 percent – since 2009.

Markey’s five-year survival rates for lung, brain, prostate, liver and ovarian cancers are higher than the SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results) Program national average. In particular, Markey’s liver cancer survival rates are outstanding, with a 27 percent five-year-survival rate versus the SEER Program national average of 16 percent.

Cancer research

Cancer funding continues to increase, with Markey bringing in $43 million in funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, and other peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed sources – a $5 million increase in research funding over the previous year.

Under a new partnership with the NCI-designated cancer center at The Ohio State University, Markey will be a phase I and II trial site for OSU’s NCI-sponsored UM1 grant, providing access to new clinical trials for Markey patients. The goal is to develop the most effective dose and schedules for further therapeutic investigation of new anticancer agents that will be tested in late phase clinical trials by the National Clinical Trials Network

In early 2015, the cancer center launched the Markey Cancer Center Research Network (MCCRN), a new initiative conducting high priority cancer research through a network of collaborative centers with expertise in the delivery of cancer care and conduct of research studies. Medical centers participating in the MCCRN will have the opportunity to either conduct appropriate clinical trials for their population on-site or have a quick line of referral to Markey for trial participation.

Currently, the MCCRN has four sites on board, with several more to join over the next year:

  • King’s Daughters Medical Center, Ashland
  • Hardin Memorial Health, Elizabethtown
  • St. Claire Regional Medical Center, Morehead
  • St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center, Huntington, W.Va

Markey’s reach across the state

Though based in Lexington, Markey also strives to provide access to top-notch cancer care across the state and beyond through the Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network (MCCAN). The MCCAN is a group of healthcare facilities that provide high-quality cancer services and programs in their communities with the support and guidance of the UK Markey Cancer Center, allowing patients to receive their care closer to home.

Currently, the MCCAN comprises 16 medical centers across the state of Kentucky:

  • Clark Regional Medical Center, Winchester
  • Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center, Danville
  • Frankfort Regional Medical Center, Frankfort
  • Georgetown Community Hospital, Georgetown
  • Hardin Memorial Hospital, Elizabethtown
  • Harlan ARH Hospital, Harlan
  • Harrison Memorial Hospital, Cynthiana
  • Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center, Hazard
  • Methodist Hospital, Henderson
  • Norton Cancer Institute, Louisville
  • Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, Ashland
  • St. Claire Regional Medical Center, Morehead
  • Rockcastle Regional Hospital, Mt. Vernon
  • The Medical Center at Bowling Green
  • TJ Samson Community Hospital
  • Tug Valley ARH Regional Medical Center, South Williamson

Additionally, evaluations are under way for several other hospitals, further establishing Markey as the destination cancer center for the region.

The future of cancer care in Kentucky

The faculty and staff at Markey have a busy few years ahead of them, as the cancer center prepares to submit its application for an NCI designation as a comprehensive cancer center in 2017. Currently, 45 of the 69 total NCI-designated cancer centers in the country hold a comprehensive cancer center status.

To earn this top level of designation, cancer centers must show a depth and breadth of research in each of three major areas: laboratory, clinical, and population-based research, as well as substantial transdisciplinary research that bridges these scientific areas. Additionally, outreach is especially important, and comprehensive cancer centers must demonstrate professional and public education and outreach capabilities, including the dissemination of clinical and public health advances in the communities it serves.

“Earning a comprehensive cancer center designation from the NCI would be another giant leap forward for Markey,” Evers said. “We’ve already established ourselves as the destination cancer center for the state, and moving forward, we will continue to push to become a leader in cancer clinical care and research across the country.”

 

Research shows exercise may prevent Alzheimer’s

A group of researchers led by Nathan Johnson, Ph.D., of the University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences, found a positive correlation between fitness and blood flow to areas of the brain where Alzheimer’s disease is usually first detected. This suggests that exercise might provide some measure of protection from Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Thirty men and women ages 59-69 were given treadmill fitness assessments and ultrasounds of the heart. Then they received brain scans to look for blood flow to certain areas of the brain.

“We set out to characterize the relationship between heart function, fitness, and cerebral blood flow, which no other study had explored to date,” Johnson said.  “In other words, if you’re in good physical shape, does that improve blood flow to critical areas of the brain? And does that improved blood flow provide some form of protection from dementia?”

The results showed blood flow to critical areas of the brain was higher in those who were more physically fit. This means that the supply of oxygen and vital nutrients is also higher. Essentially, this study indicates that regular exercise at any age could keep the mind young, said Johnson.

“Can we prove irrefutably that increased fitness will prevent Alzheimer’s disease?  Not at this point,” Johnson said.  “But this is an important first step towards demonstrating that being physically active improves blood flow to the brain and confers some protection from dementia, and conversely that people who live sedentary lifestyles, especially those who are genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s, might be more susceptible.”

Since people who exercise frequently often have reduced arterial stiffness, Johnson and his team believe that regular physical activity maintains the integrity of the “pipes” that carry blood to the brain. Their study is taking great steps in the right direction. And that’s what it’s all about – taking proactive measures to combat diseases like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.


Next Steps

Epilepsy

13-year-old boy enjoys being “normal kid” again after epilepsy surgery

Anyone who’s 13 years old – or who was once 13 – can relate to the embarrassment of a parent insisting on sitting in the room while they showered.

Unfortunately, that was the reality for 13-year-old Joey Maggard until a delicate surgical procedure eliminated his epileptic seizures this past January.

At the time of his surgery, Joey’s seizures were so frequent and unpredictable – about 20 to 30 per month – that his mother, Erin Smith, would sit in the bathroom in case he seized while showering.

“It was so frustrating for him and heartbreaking for me,” Erin recalls. “He wanted so much to be ‘just a kid,’ but the reality was that being ‘just a kid’ could have been dangerous for him.”

Adding to the disappointment were the other restrictions imposed upon Joey. He could no longer play his beloved sports or have sleepovers with friends. He was forced to follow a restricted diet and reduce Xbox and electronics use. After his seizures increased in frequency, his school district asked that he be tutored at home for the last half of his sixth grade year.

A very understanding doctor

“Epilepsy is often misunderstood by the lay public, and epilepsy patients are often teased or shunned, particularly when they are younger,” said Dr. Meriem Bensalem-Owen, director of the Epilepsy Program at the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute at the University of Kentucky. “As a result, they often isolate themselves for fear of losing control in public, and depression and anxiety commonly go hand-in-hand with the stigma of epilepsy.”

Bensalem-Owen considers it part of her responsibility to reassure patients that they are not alone in their journey.

“More than 150,000 Kentuckians are living with epilepsy today,” she explains. “I think many patients are surprised when I tell them that.”

Even more reassuring, Bensalem-Owen believes, is the fact that she has a personal experience with epilepsy.

“My son had seizures few years ago, and I literally told myself ‘OK, so now I have to be as brave as the parents of my patients and do what I tell them to do.’ So I understand, not just as an epileptologist but as mom, what Joey and his family were going through and I can reinforce with them that there is a team with them step of the way.”

An epilepsy center to get the job done

Joey’s odyssey began when he was 9. Erin said that while Joey’s birth was stressful, otherwise “he was great, he hit every milestone.” With no family history, his first and second seizures – about six months apart – were a shock to his family. After Joey experienced a grand mal seizure – considered the most violent and dangerous of all seizures – a CAT scan at a hospital close to their Lincoln County home found a lesion in his brain. He was referred to Dr. Qutubuddin G. Khan, a pediatric neurologist at the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute (KNI).

The Epilepsy Program at KNI is accredited by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC) as Level 4 Center — its highest designation. A Level 4 center provides more extensive medical, neuropsychological, and psychosocial treatment, including thorough and highly technical evaluation for a wide range of surgical treatment for epilepsy. Since 2003, US News and World Report has included NAEC Level 4 adult epilepsy centers as a part of its ranking criteria.

“Level 4 epilepsy centers have the professional expertise and facilities to provide the highest-level medical and surgical evaluation and treatment for patients with complex epilepsy,” said Dr. Larry Goldstein, chair of the UK Department of Neurology and KNI co-director. “To achieve this designation is an apt reflection of our institutional commitment to provide the best subspecialty care to the people of Kentucky and beyond.”

At first, Khan tried a variety of medications, alone and in combination. Each time, says Erin, they would work for a while, but Joey’s seizures would eventually return.

“One of the things I loved most about Dr. Khan was how candid he was,” said Erin. “After each setback, he’d sit with us and explain patiently what our next options were and the pros and cons of each option.”

Based on initial testing to determine what areas of the brain Joey’s seizures came from, Khan felt Joey was a good candidate for surgery, and referred him to Bensalem-Owen for further evaluation.

A crucial step in the process of assessing Joey’s seizures — and a hallmark of centers with NAEC Level 4 accreditation — is invasive brain monitoring, where the skull is opened and a delicate web of electrodes is placed directly on the brain. Over a period of days Joey was monitored and brain mapping was performed to pinpoint exactly which parts of his brain controlled essential functions like speech, and those points were compared to the areas were his seizures arose. It’s a painstaking and uncomfortable process.

“I asked Joey if he was ready for this, and he looked me straight in the eye and said YES,” said Bensalem-Owen. “He said he was tired of missing school and having poor grades. I was impressed by how determined and brave he was.”

Brain mapping indicated three small areas that were leading to Joey’s seizures. Two areas were perilously close to the part of Joey’s brain that controlled vision and motor function; Bensalem-Owen knew that precision was critical to a successful outcome for Joey.

Once the doctors knew which parts of Joey’s brain to target and which parts to avoid, KNI neurosurgeon Dr. Thomas Pittman performed the surgery to remove the lesions that were causing his seizures. Then began the waiting game.

“Joey’s been seizure-free since his surgery,” said Amy. “He now can take showers and be alone outside without my constant supervision. I know we’ve got a ways to go before we’re out of the woods, but this has been a huge burden lifted.”

Furthermore, says Bensalem-Owen, Joey’s vision and other motor function have remained intact. “We couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome,” she said.

Surgery shouldn’t be treated as a last resort

Bensalem-Owen stresses that while surgery isn’t an option for everyone, there are large swaths of individuals with epilepsy who either don’t know about or are afraid of surgery, and those people are suffering needlessly.

“In the U.S., there are more than 100,000 patients who are candidates for surgery, and only about 2,000 people elect to have the surgery every year,” she said. “We need to educate patients and healthcare providers that surgery shouldn’t be treated as a last resort, that patients don’t need to suffer from the physical and emotional effects of epilepsy for ten or twenty years. If someone has uncontrolled epilepsy for more than a year, they should seek an opinion at an accredited epilepsy center.”

In a post-surgery appointment with Bensalem-Owen, Joey was bouncy and talkative. His hair was growing back, mostly covering the scar that extends from the top of his head to just behind his ear. His grades have rebounded since his return to school in March and he has been cleared to play sports in June. He will continue epilepsy medication as an added precaution, but Bensalem-Owen predicts a complete return to the life that allows kids to be just that — kids.

“On my first day back to school, as I was going down the hall teachers were shrieking and kids were hugging me,” Joey recalled with a smile. “I was back with my buddies again, and I was so happy.”


Next steps

Clinician notes now available via our portal

We’re very excited to announce that, as an added benefit to our patients, UK HealthCare is now making clinician documentation from most outpatient and inpatient visits available via patients’ My UKHealthCare portal accounts.

Discharge summaries from inpatient hospital stays that ended after Feb. 15 and clinician notes from outpatient clinic visits after March 15 now can be viewed in patients’ portal accounts after they’ve been approved by the clinician.

To find your clinician notes, click on the Documents tab in the top right of your portal account’s home screen. Remember that if you have not had a recent appointment, no notes will be visible.

(Please note that it may take up to 30 days after a visit for notes to be available.)

Most clinics are included.

Like all other medical record information, documentation will not be released electronically for any patient age 12-18, due to federal and state privacy laws.

Only notes created after the Feb. 15 and March 15 start dates (respectively) will be available to patients electronically. Notes will not be released for earlier appointments.

As always, complete patient medical records for all dates of care, including clinician notes, are available in hard-copy form from our Health Information Management office. For information on how to request a hard copy of your medical record, visit ukhealthcare.uky.edu/med-records.

Clinician notes will only flow to active portal accounts. Patients who do not currently have an account can get more information and sign up at myukhealthcare.org. Once an account has been set up, notes from future inpatient and outpatient visits will be available.

Once you register for the My UKHealthCare patient portal, you can also:

  • Request prescription renewals when it’s convenient for you, not just when our offices are open.
  • Request, cancel or reschedule appointments.
  • View lab test results, radiology reports and office visit summaries.
  • Get health maintenance reminders.
  • View your immunization record and allergies.
  • View your hospital discharge instructions.

Patients are encouraged to review these notes and bring any questions to their next appointment.

Technical support for the My UKHealthCare patient portal is available weekdays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. by calling 859-218-6221 or 844-820-7344 (toll free).

The decision to make providers’ notes available to patients electronically was made based on a 2010 study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The study, known as Open Notes, concluded that access to provider notes significantly increased patients’ engagement in their own health and treatment.

As a result of this study, 5 million patients (and growing) nationwide now have access to their clinicians’ notes. UK HealthCare is proud to be adding our patients to these ranks.

 

 

New FDA rules spotlight e-cigarette safety claims

Think e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to tobacco? You may want to think again.

Just last week the FDA announced new rules for e-cigarettes, which had been unregulated since they first became available in this country in 2007.

The new rules, which go into effect in August, treat e-cigarettes very much like the real thing. That’s because the two have a lot in common.

Unlike tobacco cigarettes, e-cigs do not burn. They use a battery to heat a cartridge containing nicotine and other chemicals, including flavorings, until those chemicals become a vapor that can be inhaled. The vapor from an e-cigarette does not contain the toxins and tar that tobacco smoke contains, but it does contain nicotine, one of the most addictive known substances.

And, at least until now, there was no way to know what other harmful substances the vapor contained. These could include formaldehyde, which is known to cause cancer, and the flavorings may themselves contain harmful toxins.

One of the biggest fears with e-cigarettes is that their flavorings will attract non-smokers, particularly teenagers, and lead to a lifelong nicotine addiction. Ask any smoker who’s tried repeatedly to quit and they will tell you they wish they’d never started smoking in the first place.

Another danger is nicotine poisoning in young children, who might be attracted to the e-cig flavorings.

The new rules prohibit misleading advertising, require health warnings on e-cigarette packaging and forbid sales to anyone under age 18.

Ellen Hahn, a professor at the UK College of Nursing and co-chair of the UK Tobacco-free Task Force, was quoted in a USA Today story about the regulations, saying the new rule is a good first step toward controlling e-cigarettes. “From a health perspective, to reduce the social acceptance of them is good because frankly, it’s the Wild, Wild West out there,” she said. “Vape stores are everywhere.”

Some fans of e-cigarettes say they can help smokers quit tobacco, but there’s not enough research at this point to know whether that is true.

The bottom line is it’s better not to smoke at all. If you’re a smoker trying to quit, be sure to seek out support to help you along the way. (See our list of resources below.) And if you’re a non-smoker, remember, that first e-cigarette could lead to a lifetime of trying to quit.

Next steps: