Wait at Home, Not in the ER

Chances are, you've been there
- a sports game gone wrong that
leaves your child with a broken...

read more

When Period Pain is
More than PMS

For most women, their monthly
period is a time of discomfort
and maybe mood swings...

read more

Fight the Flu!

With our unseasonably mild fall
weather, you may not have
noticed the arrival of one of the
most dreaded times of the year...

read more

Focus on Family Moments
this Holiday Season

For many of us, November ushers
in not only the start of fall and the
change in weather, but also...

read more

Celebrate Your Skin
this Month!

November is National Healthy Skin
Month - a great time to take a
close look at your skin and see...

read more

Infuse With Care

If you were one of the nearly 1,000
women who attended this year's
Care Begins With Me event...

read more

Wait at Home, Not in the ER

Chances are, you've been there - a sports game gone wrong that leaves your child with a broken bone; a cough that turns into something much worse in the middle of the night; an abdominal pain that suddenly feels like it could be something serious... All of these are life experiences that typically land families in the middle of the nearest Emergency Room. While these are emergencies, they are not worthy of an ambulance ride or a 911 call. And unfortunately, that can sometimes mean hours spent in the ER waiting room, waiting for your turn to be checked out.

Now, Dignity Health is offering residents throughout the Sacramento region a solution - it's called InQuicker™ and it's reinventing the way patients access emergency and urgent care services.

With the newly implemented service, a patient can check-in for a projected treatment time at one of Dignity Health's five Sacramento area hospitals - Mercy General Hospital; Mercy San Juan Medical Center; Methodist Hospital of Sacramento; Mercy Hospital of Folsom; and Woodland Memorial Hospital. The patient simply logs onto to their hospital's website and selects a treatment time. When the patient arrives at the hospital or urgent care center at the designated time, the patient will be promptly seen by a health care professional.

Once a prospective patient receives a projected treatment time on the website, he or she can wait at home rather than sitting in the waiting room. That can be an immeasurable benefit to someone who is in pain or is sick. When the patient arrives at their designated time, it is the hospital's commitment to make sure that the patient is seen within 15 minutes of their scheduled time.

InQuicker™ is not an appointment or reservation service, as the nature of emergency rooms does not allow for the scheduling of medical treatment. InQuicker™ estimates treatment times based on current facility conditions and allows its users to wait from the comfort of their home, rather than the waiting room. Because there may be unforeseen circumstances that may cause projected treatment time delay the InQuicker™ users may be sent notifications via phone call and email so they can continue waiting at home.

It is important to note that InQuicker™ is intended only for individuals with non-life-threatening or debilitating medical conditions. It's a simple and convenient way for people with busy lives and families to conveniently access care.

If you're in doubt about the severity of your condition, you should always seek immediate care by calling 9-1-1 or by going to the nearest emergency room.

Learn more about how you can avoid long lines in the waiting room when your family needs emergency care. Click here.

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When Period Pain is More than PMS

For most women, their monthly period is a time of discomfort and maybe mood swings or similar mild side effects. But for some women, their menstrual cycles involve pain, excess bleeding or a number of other serious symptoms. If your period falls into that category, you may be suffering from what is known as a menstrual disorder.

A menstrual disorder is a medical condition that causes a change in a woman's menstrual cycle. It can be caused by a variety of conditions including, hormonal imbalances, infections, cancer, medical diseases, trauma, and medications. There are three main categories of menstrual disorders - metrorrhagia, menorhagia, and dysmenorrhea.

Metrorrhagia bleeding is when a woman's period is absent, infrequent or extremely irregular. The causes for metrorrhagia can include uncontrolled diabetes; eating disorders; hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism; perimenopause; or PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome).

Menorrhagia is heavy or unusually prolonged bleeding. Causes of menorrhagia can include uterine fibroids; polyps; bleeding disorders; thyroid disease; PCOS; and certain medications.

Dysmenorrhea is a period that is accompanied by extreme pain. Causes of dysmenorrheal can include endometriosis; ademyosis (the presence of endometrium outside the lining of the uterus); uterine fibroids; uterine polyps; and certain medical conditions.

Diagnosing Menstrual Disorders

If your doctor suspects you are suffering from a menstrual disorder, he or she will first do a thorough medical history and physical exam. You might also be asked to have blood tests done, as well as an ultrasound exam. Depending on the initial findings, as well as your symptoms, your doctor may perform an endometrial biopsy (in which a small sample of the endometrial lining of the uterus is removed to be examined) or a hysteroscopy (in which a diagnostic scope allows the physician to examine the inside of the uterus). Additional diagnostic procedures may include a saline infusion sonohysterography (ultrasound imaging of the uterine cavity while it is filled with sterile saline solution) and transvaginal ultrasonography (ultrasound imaging of the pelvic organs including the ovaries and uterus, using an ultrasound transducer that is inserted into the vagina).

Treating Menstrual Disorders

Your doctor will recommend one or more treatment options depending on your specific diagnosis. For pain relief, NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications) like aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen may help. Lysteda is a non-hormone prescription medication that can be used to lighten heavy monthly periods. Oral contraceptives are used frequently for relief of painful, heavy periods.

For more severe cases - or those that do not respond to over the counter medications - implantation of an IUD (Intra-Uterine Device) may be considered. Depending on the cause of the problem, your doctor may also recommend endometrial ablation, a procedure to cauterize blood vessels in the endometrial lining of the uterus which can help with bleeding. Another option, commonly used for treatment of fibroids, is UAE (Uterine Artery Embolization) - a minimally invasive procedure performed by an interventional radiologist. Finally, hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and cervix) is an option for women suffering from several different types of menstrual disorders. There are several different methods of hysterectomies, including surgical, laparoscopic and robotic-assisted, each with its own benefits.

If you have concerns about your menstrual cycle, discuss them with your physician.

To find a doctor who can help you address your menstrual problems, click here to find a Dignity Health physician near you.

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Fight the Flu!

With our unseasonably mild fall weather, you may not have noticed the arrival of one of the most dreaded times of the year - cold and flu season. But regardless of the 80 degree weather we may have enjoyed during September and October, there is no stopping the sniffles, fevers and coughs that seem to come once the calendar turns to November and December.

So are you and your family prepared this year? Other than good personal hygiene (wash those hands!), the best protection you can give yourself is a flu vaccination. According to the Centers for Disease Control, influenza is a serious disease that kills anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 people every year. While the vast majority of those deaths involve people 65 years or older, the flu can make people of any age miserable for days or even weeks.

Flu Vaccine: The Best Weapon

The flu vaccine (either the flu shot or the nasal-spray vaccine) can greatly reduce your chances of contracting the flu and spreading it to others. The more people in a community who get vaccinated, the less the flu can spread through that community.

Flu season typically runs from October through May, so now is the time to get your family vaccinated. Once you receive your vaccination, it takes about two weeks for your body to develop the antibodies necessary to battle the flu virus. The antibodies in the vaccine are customized each year according to which strains of the virus researchers believe will be present that year. Traditional flu vaccines (called trivalent vaccines) are made to protect against three flu viruses; an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus. In addition, this season, there are flu vaccines made to protect against four flu viruses (called "quadrivalent" vaccines). These vaccines protect against the same viruses as the trivalent vaccine as well as an additional B virus.

Flu Vaccine: So Many Choices, Just Choose One!

There are several types of flu vaccines available this year. (The CDC does not recommend one type over another - they say the important thing is that you get vaccinated, period.)

The quadrivalent flu vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. The following quadrivalent flu vaccines are available:

(* "Healthy" indicates persons who do not have an underlying medical condition that predisposes them to influenza complications.)

To learn more about the flu vaccine that would work best for you or your family members, talk to your doctor.

To find a doctor who can care for your family this cold and flu season, click here to find a Dignity Health physician near you.

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Focus on Family Moments this Holiday Season

For many of us, November ushers in not only the start of fall and the change in weather, but also the chaos and stress of the holiday season. While we want to enjoy every moment and make every event picture perfect, sometimes the stress of the season can take over. One way to help combat that feeling this year is to focus on creating small moments for your family. Remove the pressure to manufacture grand, elaborate holiday events and instead seek out small, simple moments that your family can enjoy together.

Keep it Simple:

One of the best ways to do this is to let go of your inner Martha Stewart and log off of Pinterest. While creativity is marvelous, during busy times simplicity is a much better option. Instead of the elaborate family meal, focus instead on the time you spend eating together. Make a pot of soup and pick up a loaf of bread - or better yet, buy a container or two of the wonderful soups most grocery stores now carry in their deli section. Instead of spending your day and evening slaving away in the kitchen, focus on being able to sit and relax with your family. Enjoy their company. Enjoy the conversation.

Look for the Opportunity:

As the calendar begins to fill up with parties, events and activities, try to spot those evenings or afternoons where nothing is planned - and then keep it that way! Use that down time to connect with your husband in front of a fire or to sit and watch the Christmas lights with your kids. While we may have grand ideas of making memories while decorating the tree, the real moments typically happen in the quiet of the days that follow. Allow that down time to happen and then cherish it.

Don't Over Invite:

While the holidays are a wonderful time to reconnect with friends and family, sometimes we need to know when to keep things small. If there is a musical performance or a tree lighting ceremony or something else that has caught your eye, consider asking just one friend or just your immediate family to accompany you. You may find that this one-on-one time gives you the chance to make real connections and have focused conversation.

Make the "Must Do" Fun:

Typically, most women feel there are certain activities that must get done during the holidays - the decorating, the grocery shopping, the gift shopping, etc. Instead of dreading these activities, turn them into an opportunity for fun. Do your gift shopping late at night - somehow stores take on a magical feeling during those special late night holiday hours! Make a special cocktail while you decorate and tell your husband it's a date night. And while most mothers dread grocery shopping with young children, make the holiday grocery shopping special and tell your child it is an incredible treat to help you shop for this most special of meals. Give them their own list of items that they can then help prepare too. They'll be so proud when the big meal rolls around!

Finally, know what your priorities are this holiday season and then stick to them. Say no to invitations that don't work with what is important to you. Appreciate the moments you spend with your family - even if it is just a happy moment by the tree or a quiet evening enjoying the neighborhood Christmas lights. Those are the real memories of the season!

Mark your calendar for the tree lighting ceremony at the Palladio at Broadstone on Dec. 1 from 1-5 p.m. There will also be free carriage rides with Santa, free ornament decorating, and free cookies and cocoa. To learn more about the fun holiday activities at the Palladio at Broadstone, visit their website here.

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Celebrate Your Skin this Month!

November is National Healthy Skin Month - a great time to take a close look at your skin and see what you could be doing better to help ensure your skin stays healthy and vibrant throughout the year. As we age, it becomes more and more difficult to keep our skin hydrated. We also must face the realities of aging, which can include wrinkles, spots or other problems like rosacea. Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to help your skin age gracefully.

First and foremost, you should be using sun protection every day, particularly on your face. It is recommended that all women use either a lotion or makeup with a SPF 15 every day. If you know you will be spending time outdoors, apply an SPF 30 sunscreen that contains either titanium or zinc oxide.

Another important way to help your skin is to keep it hydrated. Aging skin loses its ability to retain water which results in dry and wrinkled skin. Good moisturizing lotion mimics and replaces the normal skin oils and should be used once or twice daily (depending on your skin type).

A great weapon to have in your fight to keep your skin young-looking is an anti-oxidant product. Skin deterioration is due in large part to oxidation - the process of being exposed to oxygen. This is very similar to what happens when metal rusts. Topical anti-oxidants can help protect the skin from this process. Look for a product that is clearly labeled as containing an "anti-oxidant."

If your skin is not responding to these easy, over-the-counter products - or if the damage is already done - you may want to talk to a dermatologist or plastic surgeon about other options. These can include topical treatments like growth factors and/or retinoids. Other options that can be done in your physician's office include exfoliations, facials and chemical peels. There are also a variety of treatments that use lasers to address aging skin issues. Injectables can be used to address deep wrinkles or creases or to help replace the facial fat pad tissue that deteriorates in our face and can lead to saggy skin. Fillers can be used to treat the fine lines that can appear around the mouth as we age.

Of course, the skin on our face isn't the only area of concern as we age. You may also notice the skin on your hands looking more wrinkled, dry or spotted. There are many treatment options for hands as well, including laser treatments, filler, and microdermabrasion.

Caring for our skin is a lifelong process. Regardless of your age, it is worth the time and effort to keep your skin hydrated and protected from the sun. So celebrate your skin with a little moisturizer and sunscreen today!

To learn more about the services and procedures that can help your skin survive winter weather, visit the Mercy Medical Group Plastic Surgery Center website here.

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Infuse With Care

If you were one of the nearly 1,000 women who attended this year's Care Begins With Me event on Oct. 9, then you received a custom Care Begins With Me water infuser. These handy - and pretty! - little bottles are a great way to make your daily water intake more exciting. Simply add fresh herbs, fruit, or whatever you like to the infuser and you have fresh, flavored water!

We all know that drinking plenty of water is one of the keys to good health. So we want to see where you are taking your infuser and how you are using it in your healthy lifestyle as you care for yourself. Take a picture and share it with us! Using your infuser at yoga? Share it! Taking your infuser on a hike? We want to see! Traveling with your infuser? Show us where!

A selection of photos will be shared here on the Care Begins With Me website each month.

If you missed this year's event and weren't able to receive an infuser, or if you know a friend who could use one, simply send us an email and share how you would use your infuser. Two lucky members will be selected each month to receive infusers!

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