Tips to Keep Your Family
Out of the ER

It's hard for anyone to avoid the
various cold and flu germs floating
around during the winter months...

read more

Get Down with
Downton Abbey

After months of waiting, fans of the
PBS television series Downton Abbey
will finally get their fix this month...

read more

Achieve a Healthier You
in 2014

By now you've probably made
your resolutions - and, who knows,
you may have already broken one...

read more

Tips to Keep Your Family Out of the ER

It's hard for anyone to avoid the various cold and flu germs floating around during the winter months but it can be even more difficult if your children are in school or daycare or if you work in an environment where you interact with a lot of different people. Unfortunately sometimes those germs find their way to us and when they do, they hit hard. If it is late at night or on the weekend, such illnesses can leave you wondering whether you need to visit the Emergency Room. Here are some important things you can do now to avoid having to make that trip to the ER the next time you are sick.

  1. Establish a relationship with a primary care physician (known as a PCP) for both you and your children. Make an appointment with him or her, especially if it has been a while since your last visit.

  2. Call your PCP for advice if you or your child has an injury or illness that you think may require immediate attention. Talk to your PCP about whether a visit to an urgent care facility might be appropriate or whether you may be able to wait and be seen during office hours.

  3. For accidental injuries or conditions that are not life-threatening, see if you can get a same-day or next-day appointment with your PCP.

  4. Non-emergency conditions like earaches, colds, flus, minor burns, fever, sprains or strains, sore throats and non-severe headaches can typically wait until office hours.

  5. Especially if you are a new parent, consider talking to your PCP (or your child's pediatrician) about what situations would require an ER visit.

  6. Make sure everyone in your family has regularly scheduled physicals and well-child exams. Preventative health is the best thing you can do to keep your family out of the ER!

If you or a loved one do find yourself in need of emergency care, know that Dignity Health wants to make the process a little easier for you. Now, Dignity Health is offering residents throughout the Sacramento region 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 and then waits at home rather than sitting in the waiting room. 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.

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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Achieve a Healthier You in 2014

By now you've probably made your resolutions - and, who knows, you may have already broken one or two as well! But don't be too hard on yourself. The New Year is indeed a time for a fresh start but this year all of us here at Care Begins With Me encourage you to make some small and simple changes rather than the huge, daunting promises to ourselves that often end up broken.

Planning to change your life overnight rarely, if ever, works. If New Year's resolutions have left you feeling disappointed in yourself in years past, try instead to integrate some simple suggestions (NOT radical changes!) into your lifestyle. Here are a few that we at Care Begins With Me think can make a big difference.

  1. Move a Little Every Day: Rather than promising yourself that you will spend 60 minutes at the gym every day of the week, just strive to move at least a little every day. Focusing on "movement" (or "activity") rather than "exercise" opens the door to all kinds of healthy opportunities. Take a bike ride with your kids where you focus on the fun rather than the miles. Work in your yard and enjoy the sweat and grime. If you're at the mall, take an extra 30 minutes to power walk the corridors. Just try to get your body moving in a strong and healthy way every day. Some days you may move longer and get your heart rate higher than others - always remember any amount of activity is better than none!

  2. Drink Water: Start your day with a tall glass of water. Drink a glass of water with every meal. Keep a water bottle handy throughout the day. Drinking water is one of the best - and easiest! - things you can do for your body and your health. Hydration is key for our body's systems and for the health of our skin and hair. Drinking plenty of water can also help prevent a number of illnesses, including urinary tract problems. It is good for you inside and out! If plain water doesn't excite you, try out a water infuser and use a variety of fruits, herbs and flavors to spice up your beverage. (See how you can win a Care Begins With Me infuser here!)

  3. Add a New Food: While we may encourage our kids to try new foods most of us are not very good at incorporating new foods into our own diet. Trying some new foods - especially super foods that are packed with nutrients - is a fabulous way to kick start your health. Some good foods to try are kale (or any leafy green); anything high in Omega 3s, such as salmon; quinoa, a grain that is actually protein-packed; anything that is packed with color - eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables with vibrant color ensures you get a variety of nutrients.

  4. Plan for Down Time: We all talk about reducing stress but how often do you actually plan and carry out a stress reducing activity? This year, find opportunities for down time and take advantage of them! If you are a calendar-focused person, then schedule yourself some meditation or reading time. If you feel relaxed after yoga, then sign up for a weekly class. Or, simply look for 5 or 10 minutes a day where you can do something that you know will recharge your batteries. Consider it an investment in your well-being.

  5. Step Away from the Screen: Whether it's your phone or your tablet or your computer, you probably spend a significant amount of time in front of a screen every day. Given our technology driven world there is nothing wrong with that. But this year look for opportunities where you can step away from the screen a little. Instead of emailing an old friend, pick up the phone and call her. Instead of reading the news online, pick up a newspaper. Instead of spending endless hours on social media, limit yourself. Cutting back (even just a little) on screen time is good for your eyes, good for your body (less time sitting!) and good for your psyche.

Whatever goals you set for yourself this year, we hope that you will make them attainable and satisfying. Don't expect perfection from yourself. Focus on your journey and enjoy life along the way!

Having regular check-ups and preventative care are an important proactive step toward achieving health. If you are looking for a doctor to help you manage your well-being, visit the Dignity Health physician finder.

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Get Down with Downton Abbey

After months of waiting, fans of the PBS television series Downton Abbey will finally get their fix this month. The period piece set in early 20th century England has become an international hit. If you are one of the many who are counting the hours until the premier of season five (on January 5), here are some ideas for planning the perfect Downton premier party!

  1. It's all about the invitation: During that era, invitations were formal and elaborate - stay true to this wonderful tradition by hand writing onto cardstock using calligraphy. Adorn the invitation with lace and ribbon and hand deliver, if possible!

  2. Request formal attire: The early 20th century was marked by long dresses, corseted tops, hats and lots of lace. Ask your guests to dress the part! Most costume rental places will have appropriate period costumes, but putting together an outfit from the thrift store can be even more fun.

  3. Set your table properly: Given that this era was all about formality, why not set your table with your china and silver? Use lace table cloths and paper lace doilies as placecards. Decorate with fresh flowers.

  4. Consider a tea party: Although a formal dinner could be fun (eight courses would not be unusual during that era), it would also be fun to treat your girlfriends to a formal tea. Use a real tea pot with a variety of loose teas and serve a selection of sweet and savory finger foods - all cut to bite size portions, of course!

  5. Choose your foods carefully: Fresh produce and herbs was plentiful during this time in England, so consider items like cucumber bites topped with herbed cream cheese; celery or tomato soups (in shot glasses to keep things petite!); apple charlotte; tea cakes made with Earl Grey tea; watercress sandwiches; and lemon bars.

  6. Collaborate: One fun way to keep the vintage vibe going is by asking guests to bring a few pieces of their most antique-y china - the mixture of patterns will be fun and a conversation starter! Plus, that will ensure that you have enough plates and tea cups to go around!

  7. Frame it up: To have fun with the decorations, gather up your silver and glass picture frames from around the house and insert printed black and white photos showing the Downton Abbey characters. (You can find lots of images on

  8. Test Your Downton Knowledge: Plan a few Downton-related games before the big show... You can test your guests' trivia knowledge and also have each guest repeat a few well-known quotes from the show, using their best British accent of course! Best accent (and highest trivia score) win prizes!

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