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62 posts from March 2011

03/31/2011

The veil of sugar.... #RochMN

You never know when a team of emergency responders and your landlord and your neighbor and your boss (and a few others along for the ride) will spill into your living room after an ambulance crew gets called on your behalf.

I write from home after awakening from what I at first thought was a dream.

"Mr. Hansel, how long have you had diabetes...?"

"Um, it'll take me a minute to figure that out...."

That's my first awarenss after what I'm told was a rather combative performance I gave when first responders arrived and tried to raise my blood sugar.

I fell asleep last night after taking the first dose of a medication I won't ever take again. It was intended to decrease pain from teeth grinding, something I apparently do while sleeping.

Unfortunately, the medication prevented me from awakening when my glucose monitor sounded an alarm that my sugar was low -- and I never awakened for an important work-related meeting.

Thus began a scramble at the newspaper to figure out what happened to Hansel. Not like him to disappear for something this important, editors reasoned.

The kind Gold Cross crew (the only name I caught was Jeff, because I began answering every time someone asked the paramedic of the same name a question) allowed me to express my preference to get a little extra IV fluid before disconnecting and made sure I had an escort to a nearby restaurant for a full meal.

And even though I apparently fought quite well when they first arraived, they treated me as if I'd been my normally pleasant self the entire time.

Kudos to them.

It's a strange feeling to know that so many people saw the midst of my rearrangement process that I started about six months ago, meaning there are still piles of books here, piles of clothes there, my great grandmother's wooden stool disconnected in pieces on the living room floor with sandpaper swatches scattered across the living room, a shelf that's not been dusted in two weeks and the kitchen rug which hasn't been laundered longer.

On the one hand, I wonder why I didn't have this company two weeks ago when my place was quite spiffy, considering. But, on the other hand, I'm quite glad that I took out the trash yesterday, that I'd done the dishes (except the bowl and spoon from last night's dinner still sitting on the end table).

My point, I guess, is that emergency responders must see quite surprising things when folks aren't necessarily expecting company. And they're quite kind. Also, a simple pill could have ended my tenure on earth, when combined with my normal medication.

Do your coworkers know who to call if you're found at  home unresponsive?

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the Post-Bulletin newspaper, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

Mayo Clinic: Tell us what you want at Mall of America.... #RochMN

Mayo Clinic leaders really don't know yet what to build at the Mayo Clinic Gateway at the Mall of America.

"We need your help to find out how Mayo Clinic can best meet your health care needs at Mall of America," a clinic announcement says online. "We want to hear from you: What could Mayo Clinic offer you at MOA?"

The mall has likened the Mayo plan as similar in scope to a Radisson Blue planned for construction at the site over the next two years. Mall officials have said that the Mayo Clinic Gateway will be a main anchor in the mall's expansion.

Mayo has made several forays into the mall itself, hosting healthy cooking demonstrations, opening the Mayo Clinic Mile marked fitness path and offering a touch-screen game to entice shoppers to connect with the clinic and learn about health.

But few details have emerged about what services Mayo will offer at the mall and what the new facility planned for the site will look like. It remains unclear whether Mayo will pay for construction itself, or if the mall will fund construction and work out a financing agreement with Mayo.

Either way, all signs point to a major Mayo presence at the mall within a couple of years, and a likely expansion of the number of referrals coming to Mayo in Rochester for specialty care. Mayo has made clear that it does not expect to duplicate services it already offers in Rochester.

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the Post-Bulletin newspaper, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

03/30/2011

How county health measures up.... #RochMN

The University of Wisconsin and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have released their annual ranking of the nation's counties and how those counties rank in terms of the health of their residents.

This allows counties to compare their performance within individual states.

Our local counties surrounding and including Rochester, Minnesota rank this way:
• Dodge, 43rd in the state
• Fillmore, 8th 
• Goodhue, 36th
• Houston, 41st
• Mower, 42nd
• Olmsted, 19th
• Steele, 3rd
• Wabasha, 66th
• Winona, 13th

Each county's performance gets broken down by category to highlight areas that need improvement.

In Olmsted County, for example:
• 10 percent of adults were uninsured (vs. 11 percent statewide).
• There was a population of 250 people for every primary health provider in the county (in the U.S., there are 631 people per provider).
• 93 percent of Medicare enrollees had lab tests to screen blood sugars, an indicator for diabetes.
• Eight in 10 female Medicare enrollees had had mammograms.
• Nine in 10 high school freshmen graduated from high school.
• 78 percent of adults had some education after high school.
• 9 percent of children younger than 18 lived in poverty.
• 14 percent of adults smoked.
• 23 percent of children lived in single-parent households.
• 78 percent of the population had access to healthy foods.
• 6.2 percent of people 16 and older were unemployed but seeking work.

In today's print edition of the Post-Bulletin, read the Olmsted County Public Health director's description of the four things that influence health and the importance of the yearly rankings.

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the Post-Bulletin newspaper, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

MRI predicts cognition in MS....

French researchers followed people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) and learned that they can predict a person's cognitive outcome based on the findings of MRI scans.

According to MayoClinic.com, MS is a condition "in which your body's immune system eats away at the protective sheath that covers your nerves. This interferes with the communication between your brain and the rest of your body."

The journal Neurology says 44 patients were followed and cognitive evaluations were conducted at the start of the study, and at one, two, five and seven years afterward.

Patient results were compared with 56 matched healthy controls who underwent the same cognitive testing. 

Study participants with MS showed "deficits of memory, attention, and information processing speed" at the start of the study. Those deficits worsened over time. 

Half of the individuals declined after seven years on "memory cognitive domain." And 22.7 percent declined in information processing speed.

"The main predictors of cognitive changes over seven years are baseline diffuse brain damage and progressive central brain atrophy over the two years after MS diagnosis," the researchers report.

In other words, if a person with MS experienced either wasting away of the central brain or widespread brain damage, cognitive changes were more likely.

Not very comforting if you have an MS diagnosis. But if health providers begin to be able to offer such a prognosis, it allows the individual and families to make plans accordingly. 

And, each research result is a step toward greater understanding of the condition.

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the Post-Bulletin newspaper, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

03/29/2011

USA Football taking youth football surveillance proposals...

USA Football has announced that it's taking proposals for surveillance of youth football safety.

"USA Football will sponsor a full-season research study in 2011 to examine player health and safety in organized youth tackle football," the organization says in an announcement. "USA Football is accepting proposals from groups or institutions through May 2 seeking to receive the study grant."

The research is expected to "document player health and estimate the injury rate in youth football by following a national sample of players during the course of the 2011 season."

The study results will be used to update the youth football rulebook's recommendations for youth football league practice. 

Research goals include:
• The incidence and severity of injuries in organized youth tackle football;
• Playing standards (player age; player age and weight) that account for the safest play;
• Observations about player safety at different ages and at game vs. practice situations.

Interested?

Contact USA Football at [email protected].

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the Post-Bulletin newspaper, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

03/28/2011

Pfeifer gets top coroner job in Oklahoma... #RochMN

Dr. Eric Pfeifer has been named the new chief medical officer for the entire state of Oklahoma.

Pfeifer, former Olmsted County coroner, left Mayo Clinic abruptly this year. 

"… Pfeifer has accepted the position and his hiring is pending approval of an Oklahoma Medical license, which could take four to six weeks," says KTUL ABC TV.

Pfeifer resigned from Mayo on the last day of a murder trial in Rochester, in which Pfeifer had testified, and stepped down as county coroner the next day, according to Post-Bulletin archives, which note he cited health reasons for for resigning the county position.

in his "handwritten letter of resignation" to Mayo, he gave no reason for resigning, the Post-Bulletin archives note.

Now, Pfeifer is set to become the top pathologist in Oklahoma.

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the Post-Bulletin newspaper, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center expansion.... #RochMN

My colleague Jeff Kiger of Kiger's Notebook fame has quite a story for you in today's print edition of the Post-Bulletin.

The Mayo Clinic Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center, 565 First St. S.W., will expand — this time to serve patients who desire preventive-health fitness plans that match their personal health needs.

The center drew a Mayo-estimated 12,000 people — a number equal to 11 percent of the current Rochester, Minnesota population — to a tour the day before it opened (during a 4-hour period on a Friday afternoon/evening).

Imagine 3,000 people per hour attending any sort of pre-opening tour and you'll better understand the splash the center made.

It gives you a little idea of how interested folks were in the new center, designed for Mayo volunteers, staff, retirees, spouses and domestic partners.

 

• Center staff gave away 1,000 T-shirts in fewer than 20 minutes during the open house. 

• The initial crowd of more than 1,200 people snaked around both sides of the building before the doors even opened (yes, I actually counted, basing my estimate on groups of 100 people at a time). 

• Construction was estimated to cost $22 million.

• The project was funded by Dan Abraham.

Dan Abraham kk
[Dan Abraham at the Healthy Living Center dedication. Post-Bulletin photo by Ken Klotzbach. Copyright.]

• The facility opened Sept. 4, 2007, with construction starting in 2006.

• During a four-hour period on a Friday evening, Mayo Clinic estimated that nearly 12,000 people attended a pre-opening tour.

• The center was designed with
- a three-lane track
- the "Center Cafe" serving locally grown produce and low-cost meals portioned to meet dietary guidelines for adults (in other words they're not "jumbo sized" by any stretch of the imagination)
- “spa-like" locker rooms
- child care center
- a four-lane, 25-yard lap pool
- another pool for water-exercise classes
- multiple exercise areas

Former President Bill Clinton attended the dedication ceremony on behalf of his friend, Dan Abraham.

Bill clinton 10:23 kk
[Former President Bill Clinton speaks at the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center dedication ceremony in October, 2007. Post-Bulletin photo by Ken Klotzbach. Copyright.]

 

Please read today's print edition of the Post-Bulletin to find out what Jeff Kiger learned about construction, timing and details of how the facility will be used for preventive patient care. You'll find the information he got from Mayo of interest, I'm certain.

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the Post-Bulletin newspaper, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

Artists leave homelessness selling paintings....

Here's a fascinating story about the gift of creativity, and a healthy way to be creative.

If you're homeless in Atlanta, Georgia, you must remain drug free and follow other requirements. But, if you do, you can apply for free studio space to paint.

Paintings led two featured men in a CNN piece to enough income (combined with part-time work) to get their own place to live. Their work is high-end, in my opinion, and the CNN narrator says they sell their paintings even to passersby who stop by the art studio.

I wonder if this might be an option for local people here in Rochester, Minnesota who are homeless. Atlanta's program appears to be small for a large city (seven artists using the studio). So perhaps it takes a larger city to end up selling paintings for as much as $2,000.

I wonder….

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the Post-Bulletin newspaper, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

03/27/2011

Do diabetic eyes foretell amputation risk...?

Australian researchers at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane have come up with a novel idea. 

About half of people with diabetes end up with nerve damage, says a New Scientist article by Wendy Zuckerman

"Diabetes affects peripheral nerves, but (researcher Nathan Efron) suspected that it might also leave a signature in the cornea – the most densely innervated tissue in the body," Zuckerman writes.

According to MayoClinic.com, "diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy), potentially leading to blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of other serious vision conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma."

Indeed, Efron discovered "the corneas of diabetic people with nerve damage have a lower density of nerve fibres, and nerves are shorter than in healthy controls."

So imagine if your doctor could take an image of your eye and help you gage exactly how severe your nerve damage is. 

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the Post-Bulletin newspaper, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

Holy yoga...!!!

There's a new concept in yoga for the southeast Minnesota region called "Holy Yoga." 

"Church basements aren’t just for bake sales and bible studies anymore.  Come to St. Elizabeth's Health Care Center on any given Monday and you’ll find a group of smiling faces rolling out their yoga mats, and welcoming in a unique form of worship through Holy Yoga," says an announcement from the center. 

Holy Yoga instructor Christina Mroz Master is quoted as saying that Holy Yoga is the "physical practice of aligning the body combined with breath work and mindful intention of reliance on God."

Local instructors and students plan to attend a "Jesus at the Core" workshop in the Twin Cities led by Holy Yoga founder Brooke Boon.

Dates

Friday, April 15 (2011), 5 to 9:30 p.m. 

Saturday, April 16, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Location: Christ Presbyterian Church, 6109 Normandale Road, Edina, Minnesota.

A tax deductible donation of $75 for both days, or $50 for one day, is suggested.

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the Post-Bulletin newspaper, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel