Take the 2 + 3 Challenge

By Cheryl Shaw, Grace Cottage Family Health & Hospital Health Coach

Winter. Fresh fruits and vegetables. When gardens and farmland are buried under snow, it’s easy to think these two don’t go together, but actually, winter offers us a wide array of super healthy, budget-friendly fruits and vegetables to enjoy.

Why is it so important to get plenty of fruits and vegetables year-round? These two categories of foods are powerhouses for the essentials vitamins and minerals that perform hundreds of roles in the body. They are important for growth, healing, repair and maintenance of all of the body’s systems. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals can lead to fatigue, illness and disease. Experts suggest we eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day in order to stay healthy.

It’s best to eat the whole plant foods themselves. They provide natural, not synthetic, vitamins and minerals, plus fiber, and disease-preventing phytochemicals not generally available through multi-vitamin pills.

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Time is of Essence During a Heart Attack

By Lisa May, RN, Clinical Nurse Educator, Grace Cottage Hospital

What is the difference between a heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest? One of the biggest differences is time. A person having a heart attack may have time to get help.  

One out of four deaths in the U.S. is caused by heart disease. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women. The term “heart disease” actually refers to a variety of conditions. The most common one is coronary heart disease, when plaque builds up in the arteries, narrows them, and restricts the flow of blood. A heart attack occurs when an artery becomes blocked, restricting blood flow and oxygen to an area of the heart. Without blood and oxygen, that area of the heart becomes ischemic and dies. 

Time is of the essence during a heart attack, but depending on how severely the blood flow is compromised, the person having a heart attack may have enough time to get help, as long as early warning signs are heeded.

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SAD: Don’t Suffer, Get Help

By Benjamin Wright, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Grace Cottage Family Health

Do you have the winter blues? Winters can be long and difficult here in Vermont. The most recent weeks of temperatures well below zero certainly gave our community a spell of hard New England weather. Cold weather and heavy snow falls can limit outdoor activities. With less time spent in outdoor activities, less exercise, long nights and less time in the sun during the winter months, some people experience sad moods.

When the symptoms of the winter blues become severe, they could mean the person is experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a serious medical condition and is best treated by a medical provider. The symptoms of SAD include depressed mood, low energy, too much or too little sleep, change in appetite and weight, diminished interest in things that were once enjoyed, poor concentration and, in some cases, thoughts of suicide.

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What Does Your Thyroid Do?

Lucian Devan

By Devan Lucier, Grace Cottage Family Health AGNP

One of the first health promotions for 2018 is National Thyroid Awareness Month. That’s appropriate, considering how vital your thyroid is for all of your body’s functions.

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck (just below the Adam’s apple). I have heard this gland compared to a car engine because, just as the engine controls when and how fast the car runs, likewise, the thyroid gland produces hormones that control everything that happens in your body. These hormones determine your adrenaline and dopamine levels, and therefore, your responses to fear, excitement, and pleasure. They also control metabolism–how fast your heart beats, how calories are burned, how your body uses food, and a number of other important actions. If your thyroid is not working right, all kinds of things will go wrong.

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Have Fun on the Slopes, Not Accidents

By Dr. Kimona Alin, Medical Director, Grace Cottage Emergency Department

I love skiing. Anyone who knows me, knows that’s true. There’s nothing I like better than putting on my skiis and helmet and heading down the slopes on a beautiful bluebird day.  

You do wear a helmet when you ski or snowboard, don’t you? As much as I love skiing, I also know it can be dangerous. I work in the Emergency Department at Grace Cottage Hospital, so I see what can happen. I’d like to share some information about the most common injuries and some tips for preventing them.

Let’s start with head injuries…

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Grace Cottage Provides a Safe Place for Victims of Sexual Assault

by Christine Morris, RN, Pediatric/Adult SANE and Lisa May, RN, Clinical Nurse Educator, Grace Cottage Hospital

Sexual assault has been much in the news lately, and it’s more common than most people realize.
On average, there are over 380,000 victims of rape and sexual assault each year in the U.S. Over 60,000 of these attacks involve children under the age of 12. Also, it’s a common misconception that only women fall victim to sexual assault. According to the Department of Justice, 1 out of every 10 rape victims are male.

These statistics are frightening. Even more concerning is that these numbers only reflect those that have the courage and support to seek help following an attack. Not knowing where to go, plus feelings of fear, guilt and shame, as well as the stigma associated with rape often prevent victims from receiving necessary medical attention and emotional support.

Grace Cottage Hospital has two registered nurses on staff who are specially trained by the Vermont Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program to provide confidential, compassionate care and emotional support for patients during an extremely traumatic, frightening time.

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Nurse Practitioners: Providing Personalized Care, Improving Accessibility

By Louise McDevitt, Nurse Practitioner, Grace Cottage Family Health   

National Nurse Practitioner Week, Nov. 12-18, is a good time to highlight the unique role that Nurse Practitioners have played in the evolution of today’s health care system, helping to focus the system on self-care and prevention as well as on treating disease. 

The education of a Nurse Practitioner starts with the same training that every Registered Nurse acquires. In fact, only those who have passed the RN certification and have earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing can apply for an Advanced Nurse Practitioner program. NPs must have at least a master’s degree, plus 500 hours of clinical training, before they can sit for NP certification. Many NPs have a doctorate, as well as advanced education and clinical training. Like physicians, they have yearly continuing education requirements in order to refresh and advance their skills.

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Need Basic Resources? I Can Help!

By Jane Wheeler, Grace Cottage Patient Resource Advocate

It’s getting cold out there. This is the time of year when people stockpile wood, fill their oil or propane tanks, and put extra food in their cupboards and cellars. With winter coming on, everyone has resource challenges that need to be addressed.

Winter also brings on health challenges, as colds and flu go around, and slippery conditions make accidents more likely.

Peace of mind comes with having needed resources in place, and peace of mind is important to your health.

Are you prepared for winter? If you have any questions about how you’ll meet your health and household needs this winter, if you live nearby or are a Grace Cottage patient, I want to talk to you. I work at Grace Cottage in Townshend as part of the Community Health Team, and my job is to help people get the resources they need to live healthy lives.

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Bone Density and the Silent Disease

By Emma Higley, Grace Cottage Diagnostic Imaging Manager

Has someone you love ever bumped themselves lightly or had a simple stumble that caused a bone fracture? If so, this may be an indication that they have a bone disease called Osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is the most prevalent bone disease, one in which the bone mineral density and the stability of the bone are reduced, making the bone porous. Osteoporosis is commonly referred to as the “silent disease” because this process often occurs over time with few or no symptoms, and so the patient doesn’t know it is happening. The most common areas for a patient to acquire fractures due to Osteoporosis are the lower back, hip and wrist.

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How’s Your Healthcare Vocabulary?

By Claire Bemis, RN, Grace Cottage Care Coordinator

Have you ever heard your healthcare provider use a word you don’t understand? Most of us have. Like other specialized fields, medical professionals use a lot of jargon to communicate with each other. They all understand these words, and sometimes they forget these terms are not familiar to the general public.

How is your healthcare vocabulary? I get lots of questions about the following terms. See if you can define them yourself, and if not, look to the end of this column for the answers.

Advance Care Directive versus Living Will
Care Coordination
Contusion versus Abrasion
Critical Access Hospital
Hypertension
Mid-level provider
Patient-Centered Medical Home
Primary care
Swing Bed
Thrombosis
Ultrasound versus MRI versus CT Scan

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