Live Healthier and Lower Your Risk for Heart Disease

Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States?

February is American Heart Month and Mercy Health would like to encourage you to care for yourself, and your loved ones, by reminding you of the importance of preventive care.

The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), according to the CDC. The great news is that you can greatly reduce your risk for CAD through lifestyle changes and preventive care, including embracing a healthier spirit.

To keep your heart healthy, the American Heart Association recommends the following:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke
  • Control your cholesterol levels and blood pressure
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation
  • Get regular exercise and eat healthier
  • Manage stress

While controlling physical risk factors is obviously a great way to help prevent any condition, so is maintaining a healthier spirit. For example:

  • Remain optimistic. Research shows that happiness and a positive attitude are associated with lower rates of disease.
  • Control stress. Stress relievers like deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises, as well as keeping a journal, can be helpful in controlling the impact stress has on your body.
  • Do everything in moderation. Don’t try to do too much at one time — make sure to have time for proper nutrition, sleep, work and play.
  • Create a network. Maintaining a close circle of family and friends can provide you with emotional support when you need it.

Lastly, getting annual physicals and tests from your doctor is key in sustaining your health and preventing heart disease. Having a primary care physician (PCP) who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health. A PCP typically specializes in family medicine, internal medicine or general practice.

If you don’t have a PCP, finding one is easy! Just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.

If you have any changes in your health and you’ve got questions, call the nurse line offered by your medical plan.

Mercy Health is committed to helping you live a healthy life by nurturing well-being through body, mind and spirit.

Go Red for Women National Wear Red Day Helps Fund Cardiovascular Research

You can support Go Red for Women by participating in National Wear Red Day® on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020. By doing so, you help support educational programs to increase women’s awareness and critical research about cardiovascular health.

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women, causing one in three deaths each year. That’s approximately one woman every minute. The good news is that education and lifestyle changes may prevent 80 percent of cardiac events. Go Red for Women advocates for more research and swifter action for women’s heart health.

Go Red for Women is a movement that starts with you. Lead by example and make the time to “Know Your Numbers.” It’s knowledge that could save your life. Numbers that all women should know to take control of their heart health are: blood pressure; cholesterol; blood sugar; and body mass index (BMI). Knowing these numbers can help you and your health care provider determine your risk for developing cardiovascular diseases.

The American Heart Association created Go Red for Women to raise awareness of heart disease and stroke as the number one killer of women, and to encourage action to save more lives. The movement harnesses the energy, passion and power of women to band together and collectively wipe out heart disease.

Having a primary care physician (PCP) who can coordinate your care is vital. If you don’t have a PCP, it’s easy to find one. Visit FindAMercyHealthDoc.com

Mercy Health is committed to helping you live a healthy life by nurturing well-being through body, mind and spirit.

Just the Boost She Needed

Michelle Gephart is thrilled to have “kicked 2019 out the door.” In fact, she is still cleaning out her freezer of meals that friends gave her…they’re reminders of her diagnosis of breast cancer. Now just weeks following her last radiation treatment, she is grateful for the expert medical care she received and is looking forward to a great 2020.

“I was taken aback by the diagnosis of breast cancer,” she shared. “But when I met with Dr. Keto at the Mercy Health Comprehensive Breast Center, she was very kind and explained everything.” Michelle’s care plan included surgery to be performed by Jessica Keto, MD, FACS; chemotherapy under the direction of Thomas Gribbin, MD; and radiation oncology led by ­­­­­­­Derek Bergsma, MD, all at Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center.

Surrounded by an experienced care team, Michelle felt she received wonderful care. But for her, the comfort and pampering she needed on her toughest days came from another member of her care team — Cheri Hulst at the Boutique at Mercy Health.

“The team at Lacks Cancer Center is so nice. The doctors and nurses were encouraging, supportive and kind. I can’t say enough about how positive they were. But when you get this shocking and devastating news, you go through hard times, and you still need to pamper yourself,” she insisted. “Within the first few weeks of chemo, I asked about when I could expect to lose my hair. The people at Lacks Cancer Center gave me quite a bit of information. That’s when they mentioned the Boutique,” she added.

It was Cheri at the Boutique who brightened Michelle’s visits to Lacks Cancer Center.

Some patients, like Michelle, experience painful and discolored fingernails and toenails during chemotherapy. So, she scheduled a manicure or pedicure on days when she was already coming to Lacks Cancer Center for her provider appointments.

“Who knew you could have the spa services during your months of chemo! It was a great feeling.”

Male patients undergoing cancer treatment are also welcome to make appointments a manicure, pedicure or haircut at the Boutique. Some patients schedule these services during their chemo treatments. You’re there for hours anyway, says Michelle. It just makes sense.

“Cheri was so nice. What I love about her is that she was always on time, she understands when you are overwhelmed or exhausted, she is thorough, and she listens. I enjoyed being with Cheri. She was gentle and kind…and very good about educating me and encouraging me to take good care of myself.” Cheri even fitted Michelle for wigs and styled them for her.

Michelle is grateful that the medical community has come a long way when it comes to respecting and understanding what women go through with breast cancer. She also appreciates how much more insurance covers now than it did in the past. She is glad that she and other women can be fitted at the Boutique for post-surgical prostheses and bras too.

“Mercy Health understands what women need. You have it all right there — a way to give that comfort and pampering, which helps patients emotionally move through such hard times. I know It was a big boost and perk to me.”

Polizzi, DO, appointed Chief Health Informatics Officer for Trinity Health Michigan

Trinity Health Michigan has announced J. Polizzi, DO, as vice president and Chief Health Informatics Officer (CHIO). In this newly created role, Polizzi will provide visionary leadership, consultation and coordination for the transformation of care processes and outcomes for Mercy Health and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in the context of Health Informatics.

“We are very fortunate that Dr. Polizzi has agreed to serve in this role as he brings years of relevant experience including his previous and current leadership roles in the implementation and management of both inpatient and outpatient EHRs, including Cerner, Cerner Ambulatory, NextGen and Athena,” said Murielle Beene, RN-BC, MBA, senior vice president and Chief Health Informatics Officer at Trinity Health. “He has also been involved in a variety of related initiatives in digital health, analytics and the innovation space.”

Polizzi currently serves as the Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) for Mercy Health Physician Partners and the Interim CMIO for Mercy Health Saint Mary’s. He is Board Certified in Clinical Informatics as well as his clinical Board Certification in Family Medicine.

Polizzi will report to Murielle Beene, RN-BC, MBA, senior vice president and Chief Health Informatics Officer at Trinity Health, and Trinity Health Michigan’s Chief Clinical Officer, Rosalie Tocco-Bradley, PhD, MD, as he oversees Health Informatics for the Regional Health Ministry.

The statewide CHIO is responsible for defining an effective strategy and a region-wide approach for health information and health information technology (HIT) in order to promote the highest quality and most effective care in alignment with Trinity Health. The VP CHIO leverages people, process and technology to support system and regional initiatives. He will be responsible for ensuring optimization of HIT across all of the clinical disciplines, considers all clinician stakeholders and respective disciplines in offering solutions to meet their needs.

Feeling Overwhelmed? Strategies for Managing a Busy Life

Increasing numbers of women are finding it more and more difficult to achieve a healthier life balance. Juggling a family and a career, while still finding time for social activities and personal time, often means all but the most important things get pushed aside. Women, or the women in your life, may feel that managing it all is a daunting task.

Hectic schedules can lead to minor inconveniences such as missed meals, or more serious issues such as stress and fatigue. All these things can negatively impact a woman’s health. Additionally, health screenings such as mammograms and pap smears often become less of a priority when your to-do list becomes unmanageable.

Research shows more women feel they are too busy with work or family commitments to see their doctor, even when they are not feeling well. It’s important to take care of yourself first, if you are to be the best person possible for the people in your life.

To avoid feeling stressed, broken and not in control of your life, take charge and make some changes. Here are few tips that can go a long way in helping you regain that treasured sense of balance:

  • Strive to live a healthier lifestyle through proper nutrition, engaging in regular exercise and getting enough sleep. This will give you the extra energy you need to tackle life’s daily challenges.
  • Renew yourself by scheduling downtime. Your mind and body need an opportunity to re-energize. The practice of mindfulness — staying in the moment and not worrying about the past or future — is helpful for many.
  • Avoid blurring the boundaries between work and home. In our always-connected world, this can be difficult. However, women who achieve this separation tend to do better in both areas.
  • Make a plan for the upcoming day or week. This will give you a sense of structure and direction. If necessary, write down, or use a planning tool, to enter your tasks and goals.
  • Be realistic about the things you can and can’t do. There are only so many hours in a day and many women overschedule.
  • Learn to say “no” to those demands that don’t align with your goals.

Even though you may have a lot going on in your life, it’s still important to remember that having a primary care physician (PCP) who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health. If you don’t have a PCP, finding one is easy. Just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.

Find a Mercy Health provider

Mercy Health is committed to helping you live a healthy life by nurturing well-being through body, mind and spirit.

Regular Health Screenings Can Help Keep Women Well

Women, or the women in your life, should make time for healthier lifestyle habits including eating well, getting enough exercise and managing stress. Scheduling routine health screenings, which can detect potential problems early, should be one of those habits. Screenings are the key to staying healthy. The earlier a health problem is detected, the more treatable it’s likely to be.

Health plans must cover the following list of preventive services for women without charging a copayment or coinsurance. These services are free only when delivered by a doctor or other provider in your plan’s network.

Covered preventive services for women

  • Breast cancer genetic test counseling (BRCA) for women at higher risk
  • Breast cancer mammography screenings every one to two years for women over 40
  • Breast cancer chemoprevention counseling for women at higher risk
  • Cervical cancer screening for sexually active women
  • Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling for all women
  • HIV screening and counseling for sexually active women
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) DNA test every three years for women with normal cytology results who are 30 or older
  • Osteoporosis screening for women over age 65 depending on risk factors
  • Rh incompatibility screening follow-up testing for women at higher risk
  • Sexually transmitted infections screening and counseling
  • Tobacco use screening and interventions
  • Well-woman visits to get recommended services for women under 65

Services for pregnant women or women who may become pregnant

  • Anemia screening on a routine basis
  • Breastfeeding comprehensive support and counseling from trained providers, and access to breastfeeding supplies, for pregnant and nursing women
  • Folic acid supplements for women who may become pregnant
  • Gestational diabetes screening for women 24 to 28 weeks pregnant and those at high risk of developing gestational diabetes
  • Hepatitis B screening for pregnant women at their first prenatal visit
  • Rh Incompatibility screening for all pregnant women and follow-up testing for women at higher risk
  • Sexually transmitted infections screening and counseling
  • Expanded tobacco intervention and counseling for pregnant tobacco users
  • Urinary tract or other infection screening

Ask your doctor for screening recommendations based on your medical and family history and lifestyle. Your health care provider will personalize the timing of the screening tests you need based on many factors. Having a primary care physician (PCP) who can coordinate your care is vital. If you don’t have a PCP, it’s easy to find one. Just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.

Find a Mercy Health provider

Mercy Health is committed to helping you live a healthy life by nurturing well-being through body, mind and spirit.