Prostate Cancer Screening? It Depends

By Dr. Moss Linder, Grace Cottage Family Health

Sometimes, a doctor can give medical advice that fits everyone, things like stop smoking, get regular exercise, and eat a healthy diet. Other times, a medical issue can’t be decided with a one-size-fits-all approach. Prostate cancer screening recommendations are one of those topics.

The prostate is a gland in a man’s body that surrounds the urethra, the tube through which urine flows. Prostate cancer is a disease that causes the gland to grow abnormally. Most prostate cancers have no symptoms at all, and the cancer grows so slowly that it does not cause any major problems. Some men may have urinary frequency or urgency or waking up at night to urinate.

Prostate cancer is the most common solid organ cancer in men and, behind lung cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death.

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Heading Out Into the Sun? Read This First!

By Natalie Harding, PA-C, Grace Cottage Family Health

We waited so long for summer, and now it’s time to get outside and go biking, hiking, get work done on the house or garden, or spend time on the beach. Maybe you earn your living working outdoors. Did you pack the sunscreen?

“Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun,” says Rudyard Kipling in his poem “Gunga Din.” There’s wisdom in that. The welcome, warm light from the summer sun carries a risk — UVA and UVB radiation. The risk is there all year, but in the summer we tend to be outdoors longer, have more skin exposed, and the days are longer, extending the risk. 

Ultimately, UVA and UVB can damage the skin and cause skin cancer. Here’s a mnemonic to help you remember the difference.

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How Can I Sleep Better?

Tips from the Medical Providers of Grace Cottage Family Health

Do you have trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep throughout the night? If so, you are not alone. In Vermont, more than one-third of adults report that they get less than the recommended seven-plus hours of sleep per night.

If you are among that 30 percent, you might benefit from learning about sleep hygiene. No, that doesn’t mean brushing your teeth and washing your face at bedtime. The term “sleep hygiene” actually refers to various lifestyle habits and the environment in which you sleep.

No doubt, some of the principles of sleep hygiene are familiar to you, but it’s worthwhile to review them and to keep them in mind.

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What is a Patient-Centered Medical Home?

By Elaine Swift, Grace Cottage Family Health Practice Director

Sometimes the language used by government agencies obscures the goal. The term “Patient-Centered Medical Home” is like that. People ask me all the time, “What does it mean, and why is it important?” I’d like to explain some of the ways that being a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) helps Grace Cottage provide the best care for our patients.

First, it’s helpful to know that, while all of the various services offered at Grace Cottage are important, the PCMH designation applies specifically to primary care practices. It is Grace Cottage Family Health, the part of Grace Cottage where patients go for their regular checkups and other primary care needs, that has received the PCMH designation. In fact, Grace Cottage Family Health was recently awarded Level 3 PCMH recognition, the highest level possible.

What does that mean for our patients?

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Alcohol and Your Health

By Louise McDevitt, Nurse Practitioner, Grace Cottage Family Health
as originally appeared in the April 21 Brattleboro Reformer Graceful Health column

Let’s start by looking at some common beliefs about alcohol. How would you answer the following questions, true or false? A moderate amount of alcohol each day is good for your health. The United Nations has established a standard portion size for alcoholic drinks that is honored in most countries worldwide. Drinking may decrease the risk of heart attack and strokes. Drinking decreases a woman’s risk for getting breast cancer. Women who are pregnant should not drink. Wine is better for you than other alcoholic beverages. Your chances of having a car accident are doubled even if your blood alcohol limit is only half the legal limit.

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Tips for Relieving Stress

By Elizabeth Harrison, Grace Cottage Health Coach
as originally appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer’s Graceful Health column, April 7, 2017

You probably know already that too much stress can make you sick. Chronic stress puts a tremendous load on our bodies, increasing our risk of getting a whole host of diseases, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and digestive troubles, to name a few.

And no doubt, you have direct experience with stress. We all lead busy lives, and it can be challenging to take time for self-care. It’s important, though, and I would like to offer a few simple stress reduction techniques that can make a huge difference. None of these are time-consuming or costly, and they don’t require any special equipment.

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How Do You Know if You Have Diabetes?

By Deborah Brown, Grace Cottage Family Health Diabetes Educator
as originally appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer’s Graceful Health column, March 24, 2017

Do you have diabetes? If you said no, how do you know?

As many as 8 million Americans have this disease without knowing it. And even without obvious symptoms, undiagnosed diabetes can still be ruining your health.

Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S. Heart disease and stroke are two-to-four times more common in those with diabetes. It is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults, and of end-stage kidney disease. More than half of the amputations of feet and legs are due to diabetes; 60-70 percent of those with diabetes have some nerve damage; and diabetes contributes to serious infections and gum disease.

Diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to produce or use insulin—the hormone that helps move glucose inside the cells to provide energy.

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Caring for Your Heart

By Dr. Maurice Geurts, Grace Cottage Family Health

February is the month of Valentine’s Day, when we focus on emotions of the heart. February is also American Heart Month, a time when we are encouraged to consider the mechanics of this important organ.

Fortunately, most of the time, our hearts do their work silently and reliably, without any effort on our part. We shouldn’t take them for granted, though. Our hearts do need our attention, as certain lifestyle behaviors do often lead to malfunction.

The most common disease of the heart is the one over which we have the most control.

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Challenge Yourself: Get Ready for the 5K

By Jorda Daigneault, Grace Cottage Family Health Nurse Practitioner

Think you can’t run a 5K? You’re not alone. And yet, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise.

Take, for example, this story from the home page of the “Couch to 5K” website:

“With the help of the Couch to 5K program, in less than seven months, I went from a 47-year-old, 104kg, 30 cigarettes a day sort of guy, to an 82kg, 0 cigarettes, running 45 to 50 kilometers a week sort of guy. Ten months after finishing C25K I completed my first marathon. Since then I have run another 5 marathons, as well as 9 ultra-marathons including three over 100km.”

Maybe you think this is all hype, some marketer’s made-up story to sell the program. I know otherwise—because I’m a success story too.

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Careers in Nursing

Lisa May

By Lisa May, RN, Grace Cottage Clinical Nurse Educator

Nurses are an integral part of the healthcare team, and this is a career with many opportunities, both in terms of jobs available, and of the many specialties within the field.

As the population ages, our need for nurses is growing, but surprisingly, enrollment in nursing schools is down. I want to encourage those considering this field by providing helpful information and by sharing some of my own story.

Career opportunities for nurses exist in hospitals, clinics, schools, long-term care facilities, and in community health. Emergency, trauma, cardiac, pediatrics, mental health, and oncology—these are just a few of the healthcare areas that need nurses.

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