In this issue
- Up front: Excellence recognized in national rankings
- Discoveries: Screening for anxiety; detecting breast cancers missed by mammograms; fetal alcohol exposure
- Health spotlights: Act fast when you suspect a stroke; Medicare enrollment; time for flu shots; patient safety during COVID-19
- Q&A: Your questions, expert answers
Up front: Excellence recognized in national rankings
OHSU Hospital ranks among the best in the country and No. 1 in Oregon, according to U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals 2020-2021.”
“At a time of unprecedented challenge for health care workers dealing with a global pandemic, these rankings reflect the hard work, talent and dedication that our exceptional faculty and staff deliver to the people of Oregon day in and day out,” said John Hunter, M.D., FACS, executive vice president and chief executive officer of OHSU Health.
Six adult specialties at OHSU ranked among the nation’s top 50:
- 47th in Cardiology and heart surgery
- 20th in Ear, Nose & Throat
- 34th in Gastroenterology & GI Surgery (tie)
- 27th in Geriatrics
- 37th in Neurology & Neurosurgery
- 37th in Pulmonology & Lung Surgery (tie)
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital also ranks as one of the best children’s hospitals in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2020-2021 Best Children’s Hospitals. Six pediatric specialties at OHSU Doernbecher ranked among the nation’s top 50:
Catching anxiety disorders early
A study led by OHSU has resulted in new guidelines to include anxiety disorders as part of routine screening for teen girls and women.
Breast cancers missed by mammogram
Scientists are studying the biology of tumors not detected by mammograms to understand how they are different.
Dangers of alcohol early in pregnancy
A study at OHSU in rhesus macaques simulated binge drinking in early pregnancy to understand impacts on fetal brain growth.
Act fast at warning signs of a stroke
Time is critical in a stroke, so getting someone medical assistance is urgent. Dr. Helmi Lutsep, an OHSU neurologist who specializes in stroke, says the longer you wait for treatment, the more likely damage to the brain will be permanent.
“Though there is a lot of worry about the new coronavirus, stroke is an emergency condition, so don’t delay,” she says.
“Call 911. The medical community is taking all possible steps to ensure patient safety. The risk of an infection is less likely than the danger of permanent paralysis and speech or vision loss without urgent treatment.”
BE FAST: Spot a stroke
- Balance: Sudden loss of balance
- Eyes: Blurred or loss of vision
- Face: One side is drooping
- Arms: Weakness in either arm
- Speech: Slurred or trouble speaking
- Time: Call 911 immediately
Turning 65? Review your Medicare options
For people 65 and older, the federal government provides a health insurance program known as Medicare. You can enroll in Medicare anytime between three months before your 65th birthday and seven months after.
Unless you are already on Social Security, you will have to sign up during this window of enrollment for the best and most timely coverage and to avoid penalties for late sign-up.
When you sign up, you will make decisions about original Medicare plans that include hospitalization (Part A), routine medical (Part B) and prescription drug benefits (Part D). Or you may choose a Medicare Advantage Plan that is a bundled option provided by a private company.
Once you are signed up, Medicare’s open enrollment period each year is Oct. 15-Dec. 7. This means that once a year you can change your plan without penalty.
It’s important to review your options during this time period, as Medicare health plans and prescription plans may change prices and coverage. To be a smart consumer, compare plans to best fit your needs for the next year.
What to consider in choosing a Medicare plan:
- Your health status and any upcoming health treatments, including medications
- Total costs of premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses
- What services are covered by the plans you consider
- Choices and availability of providers, hospitals and health networks
- Quality of the options in providers, hospitals and health networks
- Dental, vision, hearing aids and other needs not including in original Medicare
Easy and healthy recipes for a happy heart
What if there was a way to easily reduce your risk of heart disease, like a magic pill?
It may not be magic, but you do have control over an important way to improve your odds for overall good health by what you put in your body for fuel.
The OHSU Center for Preventive Cardiology has created The Heart Protection Kitchen cookbook with 100 mouthwatering recipes to help prevent and reverse heart disease. From healthy versions of well-known classics to more adventurous dishes to spice up your weeknight menu, this cookbook teaches how to cook delicious meals that are quick, affordable, healthy and perfectly balanced to protect the heart. Additionally, the book includes heart-healthy information, strategies for meal planning, and tips for healthy cooking.
Flu season in the time of COVID-19
Every year, a wave of the influenza virus circles the globe, bringing with it fevers, coughs, muscle aches and stomach woes. Usually the peak season for flu is November through January.
“Fortunately, we will have an annual flu vaccination that can help prevent illness or reduce the symptoms,” says Dawn Nolt, M.D., M.P.H., a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. “We also have treatment options to improve symptoms.”
This year, the annual flu season will likely happen at the same time the community is still coping with the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Both are respiratory viruses, so they will have some similar symptoms,” Nolt says. “The same precautions in place to avoid COVID-19 will also help people avoid the flu, because both spread mostly by droplets from coughs and sneezes.”
Testing is available for both the flu and COVID-19.
“The best thing we can all do is to get a flu shot,” Nolt says. “If we can limit the spread of the flu, we can lessen the burden on the health care system and the anxiety for us all.”
How we’re protecting patients and visitors
At OHSU Health, you can get the highest level of care while staying safe. We quickly adapted how we are providing care during the new coronavirus pandemic.
- We are connecting with most of our patients through virtual visits by telephone and video.
- At all of our clinics and hospitals, we check patients for symptoms and require that they wear masks if over age 2.
- All staff are screened daily for symptoms and wear masks and protective equipment.
- We’re limiting visitors at our hospitals to increase safety for everyone, following Oregon Health Authority guidelines.
- Cleanliness is always important in health care, and we’ve increased the frequency of our cleansing processes.
- Any patients with COVID-19 are kept apart from other patients.
- We encourage you to get your annual checkups and screenings, well-child checks and chronic illness management. All of these prevention and wellness efforts are still important.
To learn more, please visit ohsu.edu/patient-safety.
Q&A: Your questions, expert answers
Regular well-child checkups are essential. Even though these are unusual times, your children have ongoing needs to keep them healthy and developmentally on track. At a well-child checkup, we look for signs of disease and provide important preventive care. Visits often include giving vaccinations, vision tests, tracking growth, answering questions and checking in with your child’s mental health. A visit may also include healthy lifestyle counseling, lab work or a sports physical. If you have any concerns about your child’s health, we have experts in our clinics to help. Our clinics are also great places to learn about resources in your community. We want to ensure your child is physically, mentally and socially ready for the year ahead. Please come see us so you can relax, knowing your children won’t fall behind in getting the care they need.
The good news is that the new habits you learned through caregiver training will also reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 for you and your loved one. People undergoing cancer treatment are often more at risk for illness because of weakened immune systems. Caregivers worried about bringing home germs should follow good habits for handwashing, cleaning surfaces and social distancing when out of the home. To protect patients, caregivers can’t visit clinics with their loved ones right now. However, we are providing telehealth for medical check-ins, education and even support groups. You can participate with your loved one in our support programs that are now all online, including mindfulness and yoga classes and journaling workshops. Patients say that they appreciate virtual options, and attendance is higher than ever. I find caregivers are a motivated group who want the best for their loved ones and understand the need for extra precautions.
Severe COVID-19 infections can impact the heart. Among patients hospitalized for COVID-19, about 25% have new onset of heart failure. In some cases, the virus directly affects the heart muscle, causing a condition called myocarditis. For others, overall inflammation in the body from the virus damages the heart muscle. (This can happen with other serious viral infections too.) Severe COVID-19 infections also produce more blood clots than other virus-related illnesses. People who already have heart failure have a higher risk that a COVID-19 infection will become severe and possibly fatal. Having heart failure reduces your ability to fight off germs. If you or someone you love has heart failure, follow precautions to avoid exposure to COVID-19, such as wearing a mask, avoiding crowds and frequent handwashing. Make sure to keep your medical appointments, and it is more important than ever to contact your provider if you develop new symptoms.
Neuroendoscopy is a surgical method that uses small, keyhole-sized openings in the skull to insert an endoscope. An endoscope is a thin tube with a camera. This method allows us to get to deeper regions of the brain without disturbing critical brain structures. We use instruments through the endoscope to treat the patient’s problem. We use this method to treat various conditions, such as brain tumors, cysts, bleeds, fluid buildup and nerve compression. This minimally invasive option has excellent outcomes. Patients recover quickly with short hospital stays. OHSU has an international reputation in neuroendoscopic surgery. We offer this at the OHSU Marquam Hill campus and at the OHSU Health Hillsboro Medical Center (formerly Tuality Healthcare). Not every brain issue is suitable for this approach. We tailor our treatment to the individual. You can be confident that we offer the most up-to-date breadth of options for brain surgery.
Kids should aim for 60 minutes of activity daily, even as six 10-minute sessions. Consider scheduling physical activity into the day for everyone in the family. Find lots of options online for free, family-friendly videos to encourage fitness and movement. Use balls, skates, bikes, jump ropes and game equipment to make it fun. Older kids may be trusted to walk dogs, mow yards or garden. Having an exercise or group challenge to stay fit may motivate teens. Young children are learning motor skills, balance and coordination, so lots of physical movement is critical for their development. It's important to see what works for each family and do it together when possible. When parents join in, they model positive behaviors and encourage children and teens to participate in the activity. Schedule family walks, bike rides or sports games to keep everyone active for general health and wellness.
Ankle implants and surgical techniques are better than ever. If you were told even five years ago that you weren’t a candidate for an ankle replacement or had a previous surgery that didn’t help, we may be able to get you back on your feet. Orthopedic foot and ankle surgeons have expertise in working with the most difficult problems and complications. The improvements in implants and techniques now provide additional options for active, healthy people because there is less bone loss, a more natural fit and faster recovery. Only two weeks after surgery, you start range of motion exercises and will be walking at six weeks. Most ankle procedures only require a one-night stay in the hospital. Currently, we are helping new and existing patients through telehealth, including physical therapy appointments and new surgical consultations. OHSU is following all pandemic best practices to ensure patient safety.