Your Practice Transformation Companion

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Seasonal Flu Vaccination: Put It On Your List and Check It Twice

Winter is here! With an earlier than expected winter season upon us in Michigan, it’s important to keep preventive health care at the top of your list. This list starts with thinking about the seasonal flu. Millions of people get the flu each year. It can be mild or severe and can even kill you.

Flu is listed as an immunization that should be received annually on preventive care lists for children, adolescents and adults. Children younger than 5 years old, adults over 65, pregnant women, chronic disease patients, people who are immunocompromised, nursing home residents and long-term care facilities are especially vulnerable.

The flu is linked to between 3000 and 49,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalization each year in the United States. Pretty scary statistics. The flu vaccine was created to try and stop this epidemic.

There are 3 types of flu with Influenza A being the one constantly changing from year to year and being the worse. Different strains of the flu mutate over time and that’s why there is a different vaccination every year so your body can develop immunity to the most recent strain of the virus.

It can sometimes be hard to distinguish between the cold and the flu because they share many of the same symptoms. See the chart below to compare.

But one thing is certain and that is the flu can be a lot worse than having a simple cold. It comes on fast and furious and can cause serious health problems.

Like a cold, the flu is spread by tiny droplets when people sneeze, talk or cough. It is also spread by touching a surface or object with the flu virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

Complications of the flu can include:
·        Bacterial pneumonia
·        Sinus infections
·        Worsening of chronic medical conditions (congestive heart failure, heart disease, diabetes)

The key to preventing seasonal flu is to get an annual flu shot each year. Getting the flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu-related illnesses and helps reduce the risk of serious complications that can result in hospitalization or even death. Work on using preventive care in your everyday life such as staying away from people who are sick, covering mouths and noses when sneezing or coughing, and the mainstay of preventive action - frequent handwashing to help stop or slow the spread of germs.

Take action now to prevent the flu by getting your immunization. Don’t wait any longer. It’s time. Get your annual flu shot at your local pharmacy, your health care provider’s office or health department. With December 2-8 being National Influenza Vaccination Week, put it on your list and check it twice.

PTI wishes you and your family a healthy, happy and flu-free holiday season.


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

National Hospice and Palliative Care Month

By Carla Irvin, RN, BSN
I recently had a death in my family. My dear mother-in-law, Marilyn, had dementia and lived in an assisted living facility for the last four years. Marilyn was in a wheelchair and required 24-hour care from the staff. She had been placed on hospice once she was found to be in multiple organ failure due to numerous medical problems and, thus, was considered terminal.
But what does hospice care do if she was already getting 24-hour care in a facility? My mother-in-law’s assisted living facility had a contract with a southeastern Michigan hospice. The hospice had nurses who came to visit, did physical assessments, made recommendations, and answered questions from both the staff and the family on how to best meet Marilyn’s, the family’s, and the staff’s needs at this difficult time. There was a chaplain who was available to our family and the facility staff for support as the end grew near. The chaplain and one of the hospice nurses were even there with the family when Marilyn passed. In the days afterward, we received calls and a letter offering services of a bereavement coordinator and referrals to support groups if needed. They told us that we’ll continue to receive informational mailings on grief and loss, and they’ll be available to us for questions or support for a year.
November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month where awareness is raised about caring for people who have an advanced or life-limiting illness. Providing quality, compassionate end-of-life care is what a hospice does. Every single day. What an amazing group of people with a noble goal. Hospices give that care to people not only in their homes, but in long-term care facilities, nursing homes, hospitals and free-standing hospice facilities. They are committed to enhancing the quality of life. Services are available to people of any race, religion, age or illness with a team oriented approach. The cost is covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid (in most states) for people who meet certain criteria. Care can be available after hours if needed, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Hospices and palliative care programs provide:
·         Regular visits and consultations for medical care
·         Pain management
·         Symptom control
·         Psychosocial support
·         Spiritual and emotional support to patients and their families
·         Education
The statistics say that every year in the United States more than 1.6 million people receive care from a hospice. Hospice care is a tough job. I’m thankful there are people out there who want to be in that line of work.
For further information, check out the website for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Their mission is to lead and mobilize social change for improved care at the end of life. Their vision is a world where individuals and families facing serious illness, death, and grief will experience the best that humankind can offer.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Patient-Centered Care Awareness Month

With the month of October being Patient-Centered Care Awareness Month, this is the perfect time to remind all healthcare stakeholders to keep advancing patient-centered approaches to care. PTI’s Michigan partners have been working hard on this for years and patients have already benefited from the hard work and accomplishments in these offices. We want to continue to deepen the skills and strengthen the partnerships offices have with patients and their families.

How can offices do this? The answer is to take PTI’s outstanding Care Coordination and Care Management Training. This training is designed to educate care team members with a knowledge base and skill set to enable high quality chronic disease care. There are a variety of topics that will boost self-management skills of the entire team with two onsite training days and eight on-demand training courses. This is the most comprehensive course out there!

The training has nursing, dietetic and social work continuing education credits available. PTI is also an approved State Innovation Model (SIM) vendor and SIM PCMH will fund training for those who are eligible and are providing services to SIM PCMH patients.

With our November onsite training already full, there is still time to register for January 16-17, 2019. Don’t delay as classes fill up fast. See our website for more information at and contact Yang Yang at (248) 475-4839 or

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Is It Too Heavy To Carry?

How safe is your child’s backpack? As we run around getting our children ready for another school year, sometimes there are items we don’t think about through no fault of our own. The hustle and bustle of getting school schedules, sports decisions, physicals and clothes ready can take a giant dent out of our free time, especially if we work outside the home. But think about this for a moment. Is your child’s backpack too heavy? If it’s too heavy for you, it’s too heavy for them. School Backpack Awareness Day is September 19 and chances are that the backpack is more than the recommended 10 percent of his or her body weight. It’s not just the young kids. How about the high school or college-aged ones? They are probably carrying even heavier back packs.

This overweight issue isn’t just for backpacks. Purses, briefcases/laptop cases and suitcases also qualify. Let’s discuss those other items where we pack too much.
  • Purse. Ever pick up your purse and have trouble lifting it? What do you have in there? A brick, half the stuff from your makeup drawer or your entire life? A purse contains our daily load of what we can’t do without. Purses come in many sizes and some of us buy the largest one we can. But the future awaits and with it comes back, shoulder and neck problems if we persist on this path. 
  • Briefcase/laptop case. Is it ever so heavy that you feel your shoulder being weighted down on the side you’re carrying it on? That you can barely walk out to the car to throw it in the back seat? It may contain a computer, documents, files and books that are improperly packed. It might be heavier on one side of the case than the other. Not good for your shoulders, back and neck as you lean over to one side and use poor body mechanics to protect yourself. 
  • Suitcase. Have you ever dragged a suitcase around an airport wondering what the heck was in it as you get ready to depart home? You slog it over to the check-in counter and can barely lift it onto the scale as you await the news. Yes. You’ve gone over on the allotted suitcase weight allowance and are now forced to pay an extra $100. Ugh! But I’ll never be to Hawaii again you whine at the check-in counter, as you reluctantly hand over your credit card for processing. That suitcase was too heavy and the airline suitably punished you in the way they know best. You’re also lucky you didn’t lose your balance and fall.

The point of all of this is to be more careful. Choose, lift, pack and carry wisely. These are some of the decisions we make now that could affect our body for the rest of our lives.
  • Figure out how your kids don’t have to carry around so much and stick with the essentials. If your child weighs 100 pounds, they should not be carrying more than 10 pounds in their backpack. Place heavier items in the back center and lighter ones out front. Secure items in their allotted compartments so they don’t move around. Use both straps to even out posture. You could always get the kids a wheeled book bag, too. 
  • Leave some of those heavy purse items at home. You don’t need to carry a pound of makeup, five hair brushes, a computer and that brick in your purse. 
  • Use a rolling briefcase/laptop case instead of one that goes over your shoulder. It is so much easier as the weight is evenly distributed. 
  • Take a carry-on along with that suitcase to check-in at the airport. Lift with your legs and not with your back as you pull suitcases out of the car or set them on the weight scale. 

Warning signs of problems are not only pain, but tingling, numbness, strap marks, posture changes and muscle strains. Take care of yourself and your family to prevent future pain and injury that might have long-lasting effects. A little precaution before a crisis occurs is always preferable.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Hot Fun in the Summertime!

I certainly love Michigan’s whole three months of summer - June, July and August - where we can count on warm weather almost every day and aim for fun in the sun. In fact, I’m always wishing for more summer weather than we usually get. It’s nice not to wear a coat or boots and have the glorious opportunity to get out our summer clothes.

This year we’ve already gotten our share of the hot, sticky days of summer for more than the usual amount. These days seem to have continued in a cooling down, then extreme heat kind of pattern for 2018. The “dog days” of summer have hit us earlier than usual. With the intense heat we’ve been experiencing, it’s important to remember how to take care of ourselves and our families. Too much heat can make us sick if we’re not careful. 

As we sweat in the warm weather, our body naturally cools itself as the sweat evaporates. When the weather is extreme, it’s difficult for the sweat to evaporate very well. This can cause our bodies to get too hot. 

There are four different types of heat-related illnesses:
  • Sunburn – red, painful and warm skin. Sunburn can damage the skin and cause a loss of fluids.
  • Heat cramps – muscle spasms are from the loss of salt and fluids from our body. This can also be one of the signs of heat exhaustion. Rest right away and hydrate with water or electrolyte sports beverages, but not anything with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Heat exhaustion – can be a milder form of heat-related illness. This can develop after a few days of being in the high temperatures without drinking enough fluids. 
  • Heat stroke – this is the most severe and occurs when the body temperature rises quickly to over 103 degrees and our body fails to cool itself. Symptoms can include hot/dry skin, headache, dizziness, fast pulse, confusion and unconsciousness. This is a medical emergency, so call 911 or get the person to the hospital immediately.
Some people may be at greater risk for high temperature illness. These include:
  • Babies and children
  • Older adults
  • People who have chronic illness such as respiratory conditions, diabetes and heart disease
  • People who overexert themselves
  • People who are overweight 
Ways to stay healthy when it’s hot include:
  • Drinking lots of fluids
  • Avoid exercising and being outside during the hottest time of the day
  • If you must be outside, make sure to take breaks and sit in the shade
  • Wear loose, light-weight, light-colored clothing
  • Stay as cool as possible. Use an air conditioner, take a cool bath or shower, use cool wet cloths, hang out in the basement or at the mall.
  • Our pets need to be taken care of, too. Make sure they’re not in the sun too much and always have cool water to drink. Don’t let them stay outside during the extreme days.
  • NEVER, EVER leave a child or pet in a parked car even with the windows cracked for a short period of time. Cars get hot quickly and we’ve all heard the horrific stories. 
When we hear yet again that the weather might be extreme for the next couple of days, remember that hot fun in the summertime will only happen during our brief three months in Michigan. Embrace 2018 for all its worth. It will be September soon.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Cord Blood Awareness Month

Many people have no idea how important a newborn’s umbilical cord blood can be due to the stem cells the blood contains. These young, immature stem cells are found in the blood of the umbilical cord and placenta after the birth of the baby. Most of the time the cord and placenta are discarded as medical waste after a baby’s birth. But, in fact, the medical value and potential of the stem cells is a true medical frontier.

Cord blood stem cells are similar to the cells found in bone marrow where human blood is produced. These cells can grow into blood and immune system cells, as well as other kinds of cells. They have been found to help cure certain diseases of the blood and immune system in children and adults. Cord blood stem cells are now often used as a substitute for bone marrow stem cells in stem cell transplants. Cord blood doesn’t need to be a 100% match as bone marrow does.

Currently over 80 diseases can be cured by cord blood transplant, including certain leukemias, lymphomas, anemias and inherited disorders. New clinical trials are done all the time which bring more hope for the future for autoimmune disorders (such as Crohn’s Disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), cardiovascular (such as heart attack, cardiomyopathy, heart failure), diabetes, and many other diagnoses in the fields of orthopedics, genetics and neurological disorders.

How is the umbilical cord blood collected? After delivery of the baby and the cord has been clamped and cut, the blood is taken from the cord. Remember that this is blood that is normally disposed of after the birth and doesn’t hurt the mother or the baby. The blood is shipped to a cord blood bank to be cryopreserved for later use.

The cord blood can be stored in a private or public cord blood bank.
  • Private cord blood bank 
    • The stem cells could be used for the child, siblings, parents or other relatives of the baby for future medical purposes 
    • There is a collection fee and yearly fee associated with a private cord blood blank 
  • Public cord blood bank 
    • The stem cells are donated and would be listed in a registry for people who may need stem cell transplant and are a close match 
    • Donor is anonymous 
The choice to do nothing and let the cord blood be discarded after birth or save it is for the parents of the baby to make. However, this decision can’t be made at the last-minute before the baby is born. It needs to be looked at ahead of time as the mother needs to meet certain eligibility criteria, such as a health history screening, be registered between the 28th and 34th week of pregnancy, and already discussed with the cord blood bank.

Cord blood has the power to save lives and is readily available. More people need to know about the potential of this for their families or public donation. With education and accurate information being out in the public domain, hopefully, they will.


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Back from Atlanta and Emory University!

My coworker, Harmony, and I had the wonderful opportunity to fly to Atlanta in May to the Diabetes Training and Technical Assistance Center (DTTAC) at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health.

What were we doing at Emory? We were picked to attend the two-day Master Trainer Select Program for the National Diabetes Prevention Program. Meeting the list of eligibility criteria that included already being a Lifestyle Coach with direct experience leading the year-long program, we were selected along with other qualified national candidates from a variety of organizations.

What does being a Master Trainer Select mean? The training we attended is for organizations who want to be able to increase their capacity and sustainability in implementing the National Diabetes Prevention Program while maintaining a high standard of quality assurance. We can now provide in-person Lifestyle Coach Training for the National Diabetes Prevention Program within our organization and network.

What did we learn? Over the two training days, we learned what we needed to do to be an effective Master Trainer Select along with having to demonstrate specific competencies. We studied the Lifestyle Change Program Guiding Principles and went over the DTTAC training materials. As a Master Trainer Select, we will participate in ongoing quality assurance managed by DTTAC.

This was a great learning experience for us as we discovered many tools and techniques that can be implemented in the future. We enjoyed the opportunity of meeting other professionals from around the country and look forward to rolling out this evidence-based program as Master Trainers.

If you have any questions about the National Diabetes Prevention Program or any other programs that PTI has to offer, please send us an email or give us a call.

Have a wonderful summer! ~Carla Irvin, RN, BSN

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

It’s National Nurse’s Week!

What is the most trustworthy, honest and ethical profession in the country? Could it be a politician, a lawyer or a car salesperson? Um, no. Drum roll, please. It’s nurses who are listed as the top profession for these attributes by the Gallup Organization for the last 16 years in a row!

Nurses promote health, teach prevention of illness and care for people who are physically ill, mentally ill and/or disabled. Nursing is one of the few professions with jobs in every part of the health care delivery system. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the community, hospital, health plan, physician organization or education arena, the skills a nurse possesses are needed everywhere.

Nursing is a strong career path to pick for the undecided high school or college student who likes science. The demand will always be there. It is a profession where you can change the type of nursing that you practice over the course of your career countless times. How many professions can say that? Although I started out as a hospital nurse for many years and loved it, I eventually moved to other types of nursing that worked out better with my family.

National Nurses Week this year is from May 6 – 12.  Take the time to celebrate the role that nurses play in delivering high quality care no matter where they work. Encourage younger people on the college path to consider nursing as a profession as there has always been a nursing shortage and will continue to be. It’s a great job with lots of opportunity, pays well and it feels good helping people. Nursing has been good to me and I’ve never regretted picking it as a profession.

So why delay? Become a nurse today. Go nurses!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Split a Gut for National Humor Month

Everyone can benefit from appreciating a little humor. It has been proven to be therapeutic as it lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, stimulates our nervous system while boosting that all-important immune system. Yes, just twenty minutes of laughter has value.

Humor can be especially helpful during the last three months of the year when the pressure of the upcoming holidays cause stress for a whole lot of us. We are adding more and more into our already busy schedules and may have trouble mentally and emotionally assimilating year after year. The holiday blues could use a little laughter to help us get through them.

For those of us with seasonal affective disorder due to the winter blues, laughing (along with light therapy, eating well, increasing activity) can help as we wait for the increased natural light of spring to come back into our lives and make us whole again.

The real world has become an increasingly scary place every day. Sometimes we need a little respite. Turn off the television news or stop reading it on your phone, and turn on a comedian that you enjoy.

What about our jobs? Increased pressures, not knowing what’s coming next, worry about finding the time to do everything, too many emails and thinking about what our future holds. Oh my! I’m stressed just thinking about those stressors!

There is a class called “laughter yoga.” For real. Laughter yoga involves prolonged, voluntary laughter along with some stretching and body movement. Breathing exercises prepare the lungs for the laughter activity. Forcing oneself to laugh turns into real and contagious laughter. Studies have shown that this yoga raises mood and may have some cardiovascular benefits similar to exercise. It may also help people who live with chronic pain.

Let’s start right now and celebrate laughter for all its beneficial purposes. Put a little laughter into your life. Let it improve your morale, well-being and enrich the quality of your life. If you’re lucky, it will have the added benefits of reducing anxiety, stress and depression. Laugh as often as possible and let laughter put you back in control. As is always said, laughter is the best medicine, so I’ll take a boatload. It’s no joke! So laugh it up and see what it will do for you. Haha, hoho, hehe! Okay, I got it. Let’s lift our ailing spirits by splitting a gut. It’s better than any drug.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Learn to Eat Right During National Nutrition Month

Making informed food choices and developing good eating and activity habits are all a part of staying as healthy as we can. Who doesn’t want that? Sometimes, however, this is easier said than done. We may have good intentions, but life sometimes gets in the way of our plans. What’s a person to do?

Consulting the Eat Right® website from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is a step in the right direction. Not only are there general and specific topics on food, health and fitness, there is information related to a person’s age and sex with these topics. As I sifted through this website, I found that the United States Nutrition Facts label was updated and features information based on the latest scientific evidence to help consumers make better informed food choices. That is great news for label readers like myself who try to get the most information we can from our food label. Check out this great website at

If you’ve been told by your health care provider that you are also at risk for diabetes or have been called “pre-diabetic” due to a high fasting glucose, hemoglobin A1C, BMI or family history, learn about the Diabetes Prevention Program. This evidenced-based, year-long program has a healthy eating and physical activity focus where you’ll learn how to eat right. PTI has a program starting March 6 and it’s not too late to join! See our website for more information at Research has shown that by eating healthier, increasing physical activity and losing a small amount of weight, a person with pre-diabetes can prevent of delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.

As we strive in our daily lives to eat right for health and, in the process, reduce our chance for diabetes, we are taking positive action to keep ourselves and our families healthy. Pat yourself on the back and give yourself a thumbs up. You deserve it.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Know Your Numbers

Heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States. Pretty scary. With February being American Heart Month, PTI wants to encourage you to “know your numbers” so that you understand your heart disease risk. If you don’t know those numbers, ask your health care provider at your next visit and start keeping track.

But what are the numbers that show if you’re a heart disease risk? The four items below hold that important information:

  •         Blood Pressure
  •         Cholesterol
  •         Blood Sugar
  •         BMI (Body Mass Index)

Some of these risk factors can be managed or controlled with diet change, increase in activity, daily medication and other guidance from the health care provider. Others can be related to family history, gender and age which are risk factors out of our control. But most often these risk factors can make a change for the better with modifications to lifestyle.

Start some kind of physical activity at least 30 minutes for most days of the week. If you’re a newbie and have been given the all clear from your health care provider, start walking. Regular exercise is a great way to start living healthy. You will get yourself accustomed to activity and make it a habit. Walking on a treadmill at the gym or at home, walking at the high school track near you, walking at the strip mall at work, walking at the inside mall, walking on vacation, walking on a trail in your city, walking around your house or in your basement. How many different places can you find to walk? Look for fitness classes or gyms in your area to increase your commitment. Being physically active can lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and BMI.

Learn to eat healthy. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fish, poultry, legumes and nuts. Limit red meats, sweets and sugary beverages. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated. Healthy eating can also lower blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and BMI.

Maintain a healthy weight. Coordinating physical activity and eating healthy are the gold standard to helping with weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. You have a good chance that all four numbers listed in the beginning of this article will go down. For sure, you will feel better!
If you’ve been told by your health care provider that you are also at risk for diabetes or have been called “pre-diabetic” due to a high fasting glucose, hemoglobin A1C, BMI or family history, learn about the Diabetes Prevention Program. This evidenced-based, year-long program has a healthy eating and physical activity focus and can give the double whammy of reducing your heart disease risk along with your diabetic risk! PTI has a program starting March 6. See our website for more information at

Make it a habit to ask your health care provider at office visits for those all-important numbers so you can keep track of them. Be open to making healthy changes in your life. Some people start an Excel file to track their numbers at every health care visit or keep their office print-outs in a hard copy file. Others find an app for their phone or start an ongoing phone note they add to when needed. However you choose to do it, learn to self-manage the risk factors you have control of. Get support from your health care providers, family, friends and co-workers.

It is easy to know your numbers. Now do something about the ones that need help. Make a commitment and an action plan for better health. You will be on your way to preventing heart disease and a whole lot more!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Get Your Continuing Education Credits at PTI!

Welcome to 2018! Are you a nurse, dietitian or social worker in need of continuing education for your professional license this year? If so, Practice Transformation Institute (PTI) has a great program with upcoming dates scheduled for January and March.

Our Care Coordination and Care Management Training supports the patient centered medical home by educating health care professionals in the specifics of primary care management. This training is a blend of 8 on-demand courses and 2 onsite training days. Whether you’re new to your job or simply want to boost your expertise as a valued member of the interprofessional team, this training is for you.

Expand your knowledge base on the following topics:
  •      Introduction to Care Management Principles
  •      Communication and Team Building
  •      Evidence-Based Guidelines Across the Life Span
  •      Motivational Interviewing to Enhance Self-Management Support
  •      Health Coaching
  •      Care Coordination and Transitions Management
  •      Integrating a Care Management Team into a Practice
  •      Shared Decision Making
  •      Health Literacy, Cultural Competency and End of Life Care
  •      Patient Centered Medical Home and Patient Centered Medical Home-Neighbor

PTI’s Care Coordination and Care Management Training is approved by 4 different entities for continuing education:                                                                                                                         

Nurses. The Michigan Nurses Association, an approver of continuing nursing education by the Michigan Board of Nursing, has approved this program for 20 contact hours.                                                                                                         

Dietitians. Practice Transformation Institute is a Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Accredited Provider with the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). CDR Credentialed Practitioners will receive 12.5 Continuing Professional Education Units (CPEUs) for completion of this program.                                                                                                                                       

Social Workers. This course is approved by the Michigan Social Work Continuing Education Collaborative for 12.5 CE Hours-Approval #122117-01. The Collaborative is the approving body of the Michigan Board of Social Work.                                                                                               

IACET. Does your professional organization accept IACET Continuing Education Units (CEUs)? PTI also provides IACET CEUs for this program. IACET CEUs are recognized by a wide range of organizations, including professional associations, regulatory boards, corporations and universities. Check with your organization to see if they qualify for you.

There is still time to register for the January 17 & 18 program at or the March 21 & 22 training at If you have any questions, please contact Yang at (248) 475-4839 or email her at

Training and education for health care professionals is what PTI does best. It is our mission and vision to Prepare, Transform and Improve in order to provide meaningful change at the practice level.

Happy New Year from all of us at PTI!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Winter is Coming! Wash Your Hands!

While “Winter is Coming” may mean different things to different people (I’m with you fellow Game of Thrones fans!) we can all agree that to promote health and stop the spread of infectious disease during winter, we need to keep washing our hands. To prevent a seasonal epidemic, protect our vulnerable populations and be an all-around clean person, hand hygiene is a responsibility for all to share.

Wash your hands! How often did we hear that when we were kids? How often do we say that to our kids or grandkids? You’re a pretty normal parent or grandparent if you admit you say it all the time. There is a great reason for this being a part of our vocabulary. Hand washing plays a significant role in stopping the spreading of infection. Grocery carts, doorknobs, escalators, oh my! If you’re a germaphobe like me, the disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer stay pretty close-by.  

Employees must wash hands before returning to work! Geez, I hope so. I actually get a little spooked when I read those signs in restaurants or grocery stores. Are there people who actually don’t wash their hands after using a restroom? Ugh! Seriously? The sign is there for an unfortunate reason. A scary, germy, gross reason. Wet hands, apply soap, rinse well, dry hands. It’s not that hard.

But, unfortunately, people don’t always wash their hands and “Winter IS Here” as Game of Thrones only has six episodes left for their final season. Anticipate the destruction of treacherous Queen Cersei! Fight the Night King and the White Walker invasion! Beware the Ice Dragon and its magical zombie breath! Impart strength to our beloved characters and two remaining dragons as they battle to save humanity! But in the meantime, what will happen with the wild romance of our gorgeous power couple, Daenerys and Jon, especially since the viewers know the blunt facts of Jon’s parentage? So you ask me, what do dirty hands and Game of Thrones have in common? Not much, except there isn’t a whole lot of hand washing going on in Game of Thrones. In their defense, it was a tough time to live so I’ll cut them some slack. But I won’t cut you any slack!

The game-changing twists are what have kept us tuning into Game of Thrones. Thank goodness our personal winter doesn’t have to be a complex weave of story line with a huge cast. And although I’d love my boring Michigan winter to be spent in breathtaking locations such as where Game of Thrones was filmed, I’ll ultimately be happy to get through the winter without getting sick. I’ll also be watching Game of Thrones reruns in the comfort of my warm home in my favorite chair with a lit candle and glass of wine…with clean hands.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Making the Case for Diabetes and Prediabetes Education

One of our nation’s most prevalent and serious diseases is diabetes. With November being National Diabetes Month, bringing this disease to the forefront by focusing on control and prevention is of the upmost importance. Diabetes costs millions of dollars in medical expenditures every year. It impacts many different areas of the body. Not only is diabetes disabling and costly, it can be life-threatening.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the longer you have diabetes, the higher the risk of complications. These complications include:
  • Cardiovascular disease – coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy) – injury to the tiny blood vessels that nourish your nerves
  • Kidney damage (nephropathy) – harm to the waste filtering system
  • Eye damage (retinopathy) – impairment of the retinal blood vessels
  • Foot damage – poor blood flow, nerve damage, healing poorly, toe/foot amputations
  • Skin problems – more susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections
  • Hearing impairment – more common to diabetics
  • Alzheimer’s disease – diabetes increases the risk

There is also a diagnosis effecting pregnancy called gestational diabetes that can cause serious problems for the baby and the mother.

If you have diabetes:
  • Follow your health care professional’s advice
  • Be proactive and get your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist to protect your vision
  • Work with a diabetes educator to get your questions answered
  • Learn what you can do to self-manage your disease such as healthy eating, being active, monitoring your blood sugar, taking your medication correctly and problem-solving to live the healthiest lifestyle you can
  • Take a 6 week Diabetes PATH workshop to learn the self-management tools above and more. To find a Diabetes PATH workshop near you check out the following link:

Prediabetes is also a huge issue that is characterized by blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to warrant a diabetes diagnosis. People diagnosed with prediabetes are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes unless they make an active attempt to change their lifestyle. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) facts on prediabetes are staggering:
  • 86 million adults have prediabetes
  • 9 out of 10 people with prediabetes don’t know they have it
  • Without weight loss and moderate physical activity, 15%-30% of these prediabetics will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years

With the above information in mind, the CDC developed the National Diabetes Prevention Program. This evidence-based program showed losing a modest amount of weight (5-7% or 10-14 pounds for a 200 pound person) and increasing physical activity (150 minutes or more a week of brisk walking or something comparable) lowered the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This year-long lifestyle change program starts with sixteen weekly core classes to learn about healthy eating and physical activity. Participants are weighed each week and turn in food and activity trackers that show what their food intake and activity minutes have been for the previous week. Other class subjects include how to problem solve, stay motivated and manage stress. Bimonthly and/or monthly post-core sessions reinforce and build on what was taught in the weekly classes.

PTI has trained lifestyle coaches who can bring this program to your organization. If you’re interested, contact us for more information. Health insurers and employers are starting to add this program as a benefit. Medicare has also made this program a benefit for Medicare patients starting in April 2018.

The old Benjamin Franklin axiom, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” will always be a thing. Keeping that in mind, diabetes education helps with control for those already diagnosed and prediabetes education lowers the risk for getting type 2 diabetes. With winter on its way, a focus on healthy eating and physical activity can help everyone stay at the top of their game. Happy November!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Make Fire Prevention a Fall Habit

As we move into our fall season, evening campfires may be something your family and friends look forward to. Who doesn’t love hanging around a cozy campfire wrapped in blankets, roasting marshmallows and having an adult beverage? As you enjoy the sounds, smells and colors that the fire makes as it blazes safely inside the fire ring, let those sparks be the spark that reminds you to think about home fire prevention.

The theme for this year’s Fire Prevention Week of October 8-14 is “Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out.”  What an important message to plan two ways out of a fire. It makes sense that one of the ways you had planned to use may not work out when the urgency of this situation presents itself. How scary. It is hard enough to think when something like this happens. Your brain is in shock. Your body moves by reflex. It makes sense to have two ways figured out ahead of time that can jolt you into action.

The website for the National Fire Protection shows the key messages for this year:
  • Draw a map of your home with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
  • Practice your home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.
  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
  • Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.
  • Close doors behind you as you leave – this may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.
  • Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building

Take advice from someone who has had a house fire. Me! My house fire nightmare was seven years ago in the middle of the night. My husband and I were sleeping in our second floor bedroom until I was first awakened by the sound of our smoke alarm. As I awoke from sleep, I immediately noticed the smell of smoke. I jumped out of bed, turned on the light and hollered at my husband to wake up. Our bedroom had a light layer of smoke in it and so did our hallway. As we ran downstairs, we could see there was even more smoke on the first floor. Once my husband opened our basement door, thick smoke poured out and made us realize that the fire was in the basement. Then we saw the fireball. To this day, that fireball was one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen in my life. We got lucky. Thankfully, the fire was put out quickly and we didn’t have much damage to our home. After investigation of our fire by the house insurance company, they figured out the fire was from a blown seal on a spray paint can that blew toward the pilot light on our hot water heater. It caused other spray paint cans located in the same plastic milk carton crate to start burning and blowing up, too. Paint was everywhere and that entire area of my basement looked like a Jackson Pollock painting. What did we learn from this freak accident? Don’t keep anything like spray paint cans near something that has a flame, like a hot water heater or furnace. Go home and check where your spray paint cans are located. Seriously. Get them away from a fire source.

We were fortunate in that we had numerous ways to get out of our home on the first floor. Our second floor has the stairway and windows to attach a home fire escape ladder. This ladder helps exit an upper floor of your home in a fire. It stays folded up neatly for compact storage in a box under a bed or in a closet. But if needed, this steel ladder with rungs can be quickly hung over a window sill to allow getting out of the second floor safely if the stairs are inaccessible. Look into them. There are many different types on the market.

Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record. Make this a time, along with changing the batteries in your smoke detectors or getting your fireplace cleaned, that you work on a family plan for fire safety. Let’s all make fire prevention a fall habit.