Training the Next Generation of Doctors & Nurses

Soon, we could be facing a frightening doctor shortage unlike any we’ve had in recent history. The problem: More people than ever need care, thanks to an aging population of Baby Boomers, but there’s a shrinking pool of qualified health care professionals.  

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7 Fall Foods You Should Be Eating

It’s no secret that eating local brings many benefits. “Local produce is fresh and full of flavor,” says Debbie Cooper, RD, LDN, Network Clinical Nutrition Manager for St. Luke’s University Health Network. “It has higher nutritional value since it is eaten sooner after being picked and retains more nutrients. It also supports our local farmers.”

Despite the cooler weather, lots of fruits and vegetables remain widely available in the Lehigh Valley well into fall. In fact, Lynn Trizna, Farm Project Manager at the St. Luke’s Rodale Institute Organic Farm, which supplies St. Luke’s hospitals with produce, is currently harvesting winter squash, beets, and broccoli. 

But there’s way more than that available at local farms and markets. Here’s a rundown of what’s in season and why you should eat it:

BEETS
Perfect for cubing and roasting with a little oil, beets are loaded with betalains, which help reduce inflammation; and natural nitrates, which reduce blood pressure. 

BRUSSELS SPROUTS
These cruciferous veggies contain the compound sulforaphane, which has cancer-fighting properties. Chop ‘em in half and roast to perfection, or shred and add to a winter salad. 

BROCCOLI
Another cruciferous vegetable, broccoli is also a good source of sulforaphane as well as heart-healthy folate. Try steaming it and blending into a creamy soup, or lightly sautéing in a stir-fry. 

WINTER SQUASH
Acorn, butternut, buttercup, and hubbard squashes are all rich in fiber and beta-carotene which prevents free radical damage and promotes healthy eyes and skin. Steam and blend into a soup for natural creaminess.

KALE
This hardy green is loaded with vitamins A, K, and C, and contains a range of other healthful compounds. Try lightly sautéing it with a little garlic and olive oil.

SWEET POTATOES
One serving has 377% of your daily value for vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, and plenty of heart-healthy potassium. Swap these in for white potatoes whenever you can.

PEARS
Packed with heart-healthy fiber, pears are a nice way to switch things up from seasonal apples. A great snack: pear slices with almond butter. 

Your Fall Allergy Game Plan

You know the routine: nasal congestion, constantly running nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, throat irritation…it’s fall allergy time.

The medical term for your upper airway discomfort is allergic rhinitis, says David Yen, MD, chief of the otolaryngology (ENT) section for St. Luke’s University Health Network, and it’s typically triggered by inhaling substances that activate your body’s immune system.

In our area, ragweed is a significant culprit and will remain so until the first hard frost. “It’s similar in appearance to goldenrod,” Dr. Yen says. “If you’ve ever complained of ‘hay fever,’ you’re really having an allergic reaction to ragweed pollen.”

As the autumn months progress, mold can be more prevalent, too. “Falling leaves create piles of moist organic matter. As it decomposes, mold can develop and act as allergens,” he says. 

Here, Dr. Yen suggests four ways to reduce exposure to allergens and breathe easier this fall.

1. “When you’re outdoors [especially when doing yard work], wear a mask over your mouth and nose,” he says. They’re available in many styles and types. Afterward, get a quick shower and wash your clothes; while a mask may keep you from inhaling the allergens, they’ll still stick to your skin and clothes.   

2. Nasal irrigation can also help because it helps clear away irritants. “This preventative method is underused,” Dr. Yen says. “You can use a neti pot, or a more modern version that uses a squeeze bottle.”

3. Despite our best efforts, we may still end up suffering. In those cases, Dr. Yen says intra-nasal steroid sprays are the most effective medication for fall allergy symptoms. “They’re available over-the-counter, which reflects how safe they are,” he says. “But remember, these medications take time to become effective, so be sure to use them consistently—every day, if necessary.

4. If symptoms persist after all this, it might be wise to arrange for an allergy test. “Then you’ll know whether you really have an inhalant allergy, or if your symptoms are brought on by other factors in your environment,” says Dr. Yen. 

For more information, or to arrange an appointment, contact Bethlehem ENT Associates, 610-866-5555.

4 Ways to Be Healthier and Happier at work

Summer fun often means many great reasons to eat well (fresh fruit and veggies!), move more (walks on the beach, bike riding!), and live healthier. Fall’s cooler temperatures and must-see-TV, on the other hand, bring more reasons to sink into the couch with a tub of ice cream.

But there’s a way to combat this. “Taking short, healthy breaks throughout the day is so beneficial for your health,” says Dalia A. Mohammed, MD, a family medicine physician at St. Luke’s Bub & Associates in Emmaus. With Dr. Mohammed’s help, we cover some easy ways to de-stress and get energized during your workday and combat the natural sluggishness of fall.

1 | Set a timer for every hour or half hour. When it goes off, do something that revs your heart rate—even if it’s just for 30 seconds—such as holding a plank, or doing a set of 10 squats, pushups, or jumping jacks. Not only will this help you stay in shape, but aerobic activity helps clear the stress hormone cortisol from your body faster, so you feel calmer and ready to tackle the next item on your to-do list. 

2 | Do you have a coworker who always makes you smile? Rather than sending her an email, get up from your desk and talk in person. Better yet, ask her to go on a walk around the office building—or the block—during lunch so you can move your body while you catch up. 

3 | Swap that second cup of coffee for some herbal tea. Too much caffeine will only exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety, whereas herbal teas such as peppermint, apple cinnamon, or lemon-ginger can have a soothing effect while keeping you hydrated. Better yet, sip it from a cute mug with an inspirational mantra, like “life is good” or “nothing is impossible.” 

4 | Do a little yoga, without leaving your desk chair! There are dozens of video tutorials on YouTube for desk chair yoga—featuring a combination of breathing techniques and gentle moves such as twists and bends—to help infuse a little movement into your busy day, even if you can’t physically leave the office.

Secrets of the World’s Healthiest People

Some people seem to be walking commercials for good health. They’re strong, vibrant, and energetic­–exactly what we’d all like to display (but often can’t). How do they do it? Steven Bowers, DO, Medical Director for St. Luke’s Wound Management and Hyperbaric Medicine Centers, wondered, too. After interviewing over 30 very healthy and active people ranging in age from 33 to 99 years, Dr. Bowers and his wife Elizabeth discovered several recurring themes. Their new book, Secrets of the World’s Healthiest People (available on Amazon), presents their findings. Luckily, he was nice enough to share some of these “secrets” with us.

Wake up with a purpose.

“My subjects looked forward to getting out of bed each morning. Some were running their own businesses; others were doctors in their 80s; still others were active volunteers. But they were all excited to wake up and get into the things they love to do.” He adds that some people see retirement as “the end,” and go downhill quickly; those that see the coming years as “phase two” tend to thrive.

Live in the moment.

“It’s been said that people who live in the past are depressed and those who live in the future can be anxious. My subjects were neither. They were really living ‘in the moment,’ and that can lead to reduced stress and reduced levels of depression,” he says.

Keep in touch.

“It’s easy to get caught up in daily life and neglect our social network, but having a good support structure really benefits people. Good socialization can lead to lower levels of the inflammatory chemical IL-6–and that can lead to decreased risk of osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, and certain types of cancers.”

Moderate alcohol use can help.

“Several studies have shown that having a daily drink may lead to decreased mortality. But my subjects made their drinking part of their socialization process. They might have some wine at a family dinner or drink a couple of cocktails with friends during happy hour.” But that rule applies only if you already consume alcohol, Dr. Bowers cautions. 

Stop the Bleed, Save a Life

It’s a simple fact: when you control the bleeding of an injury, you increase the victim’s chance of survival. Data shows that 25% of all fatalities from trauma might have been prevented if bleeding had been controlled.

“Since 9/11, there have been two million traumatic deaths in the U. S.,” says Peter Thomas, DO, Director of Trauma at St. Luke’s University Health Network. “Proper training and equipment might have saved a half-million of those people.” 

Last November, Cpl. Seth Kelly of the Pennsylvania State Police was severely wounded in an intense gun battle, yet managed to apply a tourniquet to himself.  Dr. Thomas, one of the surgeons who treated him, credits the trooper’s quick action with helping save his own life.   

Cpl. Kelly’s case is what gave St. Luke’s new “Stop the Bleed” program its impetus. The public health initiative is intended to train and equip civilians and uniformed personnel to handle severe-bleeding situations.

“The concept first grew out of the Sandy Hook school shooting,” says Dr. Thomas. “Experts from trauma, emergency medicine, law enforcement, and other fields came together to devise a strategy to train and equip pre-hospital care providers to control severe bleeding.” 

An essential aspect of the initiative is hands-on training. St. Luke’s offers free in-hospital sessions for interested members of the public, but “Stop the Bleed” is really aimed at larger groups—police, EMTs, schools, and community organizations. “We teach the proper way to apply a tourniquet to an extremity and how to use hemostatic packing for other wounds.” 

St. Luke’s also sells (at cost) bleeding-control kits that include a tourniquet and ample supply of QuikClot® dressings, ranging in size from belt-worn kits to eight-kit packs for school use. 

“You never know where or when traumatic injuries will happen,” Dr. Thomas adds. “The sooner we can control the bleeding, the more lives we’ll save.”   

To register for training, request a kit, or to make a donation, visit stlukesstopthebleed.org

Rebuilding after Breast Cancer

In 2010, Laurie Holland’s world exploded. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. With treatment, she beat it; but after gathering her life and her strength back together, cancer simply blew it up again in 2015 with a second diagnosis. “I was diagnosed very early, which is critical,” says Laurie, who lives in Scranton and works for Sanofi-Pasteur. But still, Laurie learned she needed to have one breast removed. Faced with the decision of whether or not to have a bilateral mastectomy, she chose to have both breasts removed to reduce her risk of a future cancer recurrence.

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