Secret Life of the Clinical Lab

By Erin Lamson, Grace Cottage Lab Technician

Have you ever visited a lab for blood tests and wondered what happens to your specimen? If you have, you’re not alone. Lab testing happens behind closed doors for obvious safety reasons, leaving the clinical laboratory nearly invisible to the public eye. As a result, clinical lab professionals have one of the least understood roles in health care, even though a recent estimate suggests there are roughly 300,000 laboratory professionals in the United States.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) claim over 7 billion clinical lab tests are performed annually in the U.S. Tests range from relatively simple ones like finger-stick glucose tests, to highly complex ones requiring special expertise, such as molecular diagnostics. Most tests are considered moderately complex, including common tests like cholesterol levels. Regardless of complexity, test results provide helpful, sometimes critical information to healthcare providers and their patients.

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Diabetes and the Holidays? Be Sure You Have a Plan

By Deborah Brown, Grace Cottage Diabetes Educator

It’s true that the holiday season presents extra challenges for diabetics and others with food restrictions, but it’s possible to enjoy the special foods you love and keep your sugar in balance, if you go into it with a plan.

Perhaps it was easier for some people in years past, when there were clear boundaries regarding “naughty” foods a diabetic shouldn’t eat. Now, healthy eating is all about making good choices. This is an important part of taking care of diabetes.

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Need Basic Resources? I Can Help!

Jane Wheeler

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, and you live nearby or are a Grace Cottage patient, I want to talk to you.

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At Grace Cottage, Good Food is Good Medicine

Staff With Local Produce

By Denise Choleva, CDM-CFPP, Grace Cottage Dietary Director

You hear the phrase a lot these days: “Food is medicine,” and it makes a lot of sense. We know there are plenty of foods that can make us sick because they have too much sugar, artificial ingredients, or fat. So the opposite has to be true too, that food can help make us well.

Healthy food in a healthcare setting makes good sense, for patients as well as for employees and community visitors. That’s why I signed the “Healthy Food in Healthcare” pledge in 2012, and that’s why I’ve been so committed to using the freshest, locally produced food here ever since.

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Living Well Through the Ages

By Dr. Jesper Brickley, Grace Cottage Family Health

Fall is a time to reflect on transitions in life. In the words of Albert Camus, “autumn is a second spring, when every leaf is a flower.” It is a time of transition and reflection. The measure of time bears little importance compared to what fills the time being measured. We pass through time like rays of light through crisp autumn trees. We are enriched by the process of aging and reflect that which we absorb and find meaning in.

Grace Cottage’s Healthy Aging Conference, to be held Nov. 15-16 in Grafton, Vermont, will give us time to reflect on these ideas and to share a wealth of information about how to celebrate the accumulation of years and to age healthfully.

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Grace Cottage Adds Lymphedema Therapy

Abby Abbot

By Abigail Abbott, Grace Cottage Physical Therapist

The bad news first, and then the good news: most women dealing with breast cancer are so focused on getting rid of the cancer, thinking if they achieve that, it will be the end of the experience. Lymphedema is probably the furthest thing from their minds. But there’s a high probability they’ll have to deal with this disease, as high as 50-50, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The good news is that specially trained physical therapists can make this experience much less traumatic. And further good news: help is nearby! Grace Cottage now has two physical therapists certified to provide this therapy, Cindy Kenyon and me.

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Grace Cottage Now Offers Pediatric Occupational Therapy

Jen and Melinda

By Jen Studin and Melinda Roy, Grace Cottage Pediatric OTs

The word “occupational” might lead you to think that Occupational Therapy (OT) is job-related, but really, it’s much more than that. And when it comes to kids, OT is not focused on work at all — unless you consider it work for kids to learn to play, to take care of themselves, and to develop social skills.

OT helps people of all ages to attain and refine the skills they need to participate in daily life: things they need to do to take care of themselves, and things they do for enjoyment. Pediatric OT focuses on skills required to play, bathe and dress, interact with peers, and fulfill student and family responsibilities.

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Is Your Child Developing Normally?

Natalie Harding

By Natalie Harding, Grace Cottage Hospital PA-C

It might seem like just another chore on the back-to-school task list, but there are plenty of good reasons why your child’s required yearly physical is a wise investment.

Children with chronic health challenges like asthma, allergies, or diabetes obviously need to be watched closely for any changes in their conditions, but “well” kids need watching too. The yearly physical provides a structure for regular check-ups to ensure that your child is developing normally.

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What to Expect When Your Doctor Refers You to a Warfarin Clinic

By John Kim, PharmD

If you or a family member has been recently diagnosed with irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) or a blood clot, your doctor may prescribe a medication called warfarin and refer you to a warfarin clinic.

What is warfarin, you might ask? It is a medication classified as an oral anticoagulant (often called a blood thinner) used to treat and prevent blood clots.

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Plants to Avoid This Summer

Parsnips

By Danny Ballentine, Grace Cottage Emergency Department Physician Assistant

If you grew up in this country, you’ve probably somewhat familiar with our three most common poisonous plants: poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. We don’t have to worry about poison oak in the Northeast, as it generally grows only in the Southeast and along the West Coast. But poison sumac and poison ivy are both native here, so they are definitely plants to look for and to avoid.

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