News/Blog

Keep the Flu to Yourself, Please

Getting the flu can be an unpleasant event for even the most stoic among us. But for a hospitalized patient with a medically complex condition, it could pose a serious threat.

These patients often are receiving critical care services while recovering from conditions such as heart failure, respiratory failure, complex wound care, infectious diseases, and more. So if one of these individuals catches the flu, it could take an already serious situation and make it much worse.

Because they can’t limit contact with others who may be carrying the flu virus, these patients are at a disadvantage. With their health and immune systems already compromised, it can present these patients with a higher risk of getting the flu. This then can result in flu-related complications like pneumonia that can become severe and even life-threatening.

So, the bottom line?

If you’re visiting someone in the hospital, be cognizant of how you feel health-wise before you go. If you feel under the weather, stay home. And, if you feel healthy, stay that way. Get a flu shot. Wash your hands and cover your cough.

Prevention can go a long way in helping everyone this flu season.

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Diabetes and Nerve Damage

Diabetes is a disorder where there’s too much sugar in the blood. Often times, diabetes can be treated with exercise, a healthy diet and medication. But, complications can develop.

A common complication of diabetes is neuropathy, or nerve damage. According to the American Diabetes Association, about half of all people with diabetes have some form of nerve damage.

This damage often occurs in the nerves of the legs or feet. Symptoms can range from tingling, pain or numbness in the body’s limbs to problems with the digestive system, urinary tract, heart and blood vessels.

Because nerve damage can cause a lack of feeling in the limbs, especially the feet, injuries such as cuts can go unnoticed, which can become serious. Not only does a person not feel if a foot becomes injured, but now if it is injured, the risk of infection is higher because diabetes restricts blood flow to the area.

However, if you keep your blood glucose levels on target, you may help prevent or delay nerve damage. If you already have nerve damage, this will help prevent or delay further damage.

There are also other treatments that can help, be sure to ask your doctor.

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Mesquite Specialty Hospital Earns National Certification

Recognized for higher quality of care provided to respiratory failure patients:

Mesquite Specialty Hospital has earned The Joint Commission’s national disease-specific certification in respiratory failure. This means the hospital is providing the highest level of care available in the nation to its patients.

Certification is voluntary and given after a rigorous on-site review of the hospital’s practices, programs, and outcomes in treating patients with respiratory failure. It is available only to acute care hospitals that are accredited by The Joint Commission.

“Respiratory failure can be serious and life-threatening,” says Michael Ridgeway, Chief Operating Officer of Mesquite Specialty Hospital. “We know it’s our responsibility to ensure our patients are provided with the best possible chances of recovery. The review and certification provided by The Joint Commission lets us – as well as the community – know that we are setting a new standard of care for individuals who suffer from respiratory failure. We’re providing nationally recognized care right here to patients in the Mesquite and Dallas-Fort Worth area.”

Respiratory failure occurs when there isn’t enough oxygen passing from the lungs into the body’s bloodstream, thus creating the potential to critically harm the body’s organs like the heart and brain.

“Oxygen-rich blood is needed to help the body’s organs function properly,” explains Dr. Ike Osuji, Medical Director of Mesquite Specialty Hospital. “Respiratory failure also can occur if a patient’s lungs can’t remove carbon dioxide from the blood. Carbon dioxide is a waste gas that also can harm a body’s organs.”

Different types of diseases can cause respiratory failure, including lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, or cystic fibrosis. Respiratory failure also can be caused by conditions that affect the nerves and muscles that control breathing such as strokes, spinal cord injuries, and muscular dystrophy.

“It’s our goal to get oxygen into the lungs and other organs while treating the underlying cause of respiratory failure,” Osuji says, “To get the most successful results for our patients, we use best practices and follow evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. This helps us provide not only the physical, but the emotional healing our patients need.”

“By implementing these guidelines into our respiratory failure program, we’ve been able to improve how quickly and safely we can wean patients from ventilators,” Osuji continues. “These guidelines also help us successfully prevent hospital-acquired wounds and pressure ulcers.”

Osuji says that family involvement also is promoted in conjunction with the clinical practice guidelines. “Family involvement is key to a patients’ recovery process,” he says. “Engaged family members help increase the chance that patients will be discharged back to home, as we’ve seen through our program.”

At the hospital, an interdisciplinary respiratory failure team creates a personalized plan of care with the patient and family members that is tailored to the complex needs of each patient. Members of the team include physicians, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, case managers, dietitians, and other medical professionals. All patients receive 24-hour nursing and respiratory care services with daily physician management. The hospital consists of all private patient rooms with available sleeping accommodations for families, including a 6-bed intensive care unit and 9-bed high-observation unit. Every room is monitored and includes any specialty equipment needed such as ventilators and cardiac monitoring equipment.

“The interdisciplinary approach – which heavily involves patients’ families – allows us to minimize the risk of complications and maximize patient outcomes and quality of life,” Osuji says. “In addition to educating our patients and families, we also assist with the patient’s healing by coordinating services that the patient may need after being discharged from the hospital. This can include specialized rehabilitation, home health, or other home assistance as needed.”

“Respiratory failure is an extremely stressful time for patients and their family members,” Ridgeway says. “That’s why we’ve gone the extra mile to earn The Joint Commission’s certification. We want to provide better outcomes to our patients and offer hope and quality of life through the highest level of physical and emotional care available.”

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Hospitals and Disasters

Are hospitals prepared for disasters?

The short answer is…yes.

All hospitals are required by laws, regulations, or accreditation requirements to plan for disasters.

Hospitals prepare for both internal and external disasters. Internal disasters are events that occur inside the hospital building like a fire, flood, or power outage and have potential to affect services.

An external disaster is one like Hurricane Harvey or Irma that occurs outside the hospital. This includes severe weather conditions, chemical incidents, or large-scale community accidents. In these situations, the disaster can affect the operations of the hospital or cause an influx of patients to a hospital, depending on the situation and type of hospital.

Every disaster is different. Hospitals prepare for a variety of situations through ongoing planning and practice. This helps everyone understand what to do and how to do it to ensure patients’ safety and well-being.

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Catch Your Zzzzz’s for Good Health

Over the years, the understanding of sleep has evolved from being a basic function of our day-to-day activities to an important part of physical and mental health.

The quality and quantity of a person’s sleep influences the body’s ability to:

  • Repair and grow tissue
  • Build bone and muscle
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Strengthen cognitive abilities

A person transitions through the five stages of sleep about every 90 to 110 minutes — as long as his or her sleep isn’t interrupted. The health benefits mentioned above typically occur during the 3rd and 4th stages of sleep, which are called deep sleep.

The average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep, which means they will fall into the deep sleep cycle about four times a night. If a person’s sleep cycle is continuously interrupted throughout the night, he or she will miss the stages of sleep that are important to health and healing.

So, shut off the lights and noise, and catch some Zzzzz’s for your health!

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Immunizations: Not Just for Children

Adults, take heed. The need for immunizations doesn’t end in childhood.

According to the National Public Health Information Coalition, tens of thousands of adults in the United States needlessly suffer, are hospitalized, and even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccinations every year.

Even if you were fully vaccinated as a child, you may be at risk from other diseases based upon your age, lifestyle, occupation, travel destinations, medical conditions, or health. In addition, the protection from some vaccinations wears off over time.

Vaccinations can prevent serious diseases such as the flu, whooping cough, tetanus, shingles, and pneumococcal diseases. Immunizations can protect not only the person being vaccinated, but it also helps prevent the spread of diseases to others – especially those who are most vulnerable to serious complications. This includes young children, older adults, and adults with chronic conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, and diabetes.

Some folks hesitate to get vaccinations because they are concerned about the safety of the vaccination or the side effects. But vaccinations are tested before licensing and monitored even after they are licensed to ensure ongoing safety. And usually side effects are mild and temporary – any serious or long-term side effects are rare.

Talk to your physician to see what immunizations are recommended for you.

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Scratches, Cuts and Scrapes…Oh My!

Whether the knife slipped while you were cutting vegetables, or your child fell off a bike…we’ve probably all dealt with our fair share of cuts, scrapes and scratches.

There can be risk of an infection any time the skin is broken. It’s always important to clean the site, apply an antibiotic cream, and cover it with gauze or a bandage if necessary. These steps should help prevent an infection because most infections occur when germs have gotten into the area where skin is broken. If a wound isn’t healing as expected, however, keep a close eye on it.

Here are a few warning signs that a wound may be infected, and that it’s time to contact a healthcare professional:

  • Wound becomes more painful instead of improving
  • Expanding redness around the cut or wound; the red area may feel warm or hot
  • Swelling or tenderness of the wound
  • Yellow or green pus, or other cloudy discharge from the wound
  • A red streak spreading from the wound
  • Fever
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What’s Long-Term Acute Care?

Most people who need inpatient hospital services are admitted to an “acute care” hospital for a relatively short amount of time. But patients with medically complex conditions may be referred to a long-term acute care hospital (LTACH) – which also is certified as an acute hospital – for continued are beyond their original hospital stays.

Long-term acute care hospitals are specialized hospitals that provide extended recovery time for patients.

Typically, patients who are referred to LTACHs may have medical conditions that are too complex to allow them to be transferred to lower levels of care. When patients get to an LTACH, they’re treated by a medical team who provides specialized critical and long-term care (including ventilator weaning if necessary) services, including 24-hour nursing care and daily physician management.

Long-term care can make a difference.

A study published in Medical Care showed that in most cases, medically complex and critically ill patients had better results at a long-term acute care hospital compared with similar patients in other care settings.

So don’t hesitate to discuss options with a physician or healthcare provider and ask for recommendations regarding long-term acute care hospitals. Do your research so you can choose the best facility for you or a family member.

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Diving into Summer

Summer is a fun time — and with a little patience and precaution, it can be kept that way.

When swimming this summer, think before you dive. Diving is one of the most preventable causes of spinal cord injuries there is. Yet more than 1,800 diving accidents occur every year that result in spinal cord injuries, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. The majority of these injuries result in paralysis of all four limbs.

Don’t let one summer-time diving decision change your whole life. Diving injuries can be prevented with a bit of precaution.
Here are a few tips:

  • Always enter water feet first.
  • Never dive head first into shallow water. More than 90 percent of diving accidents occur each year in 6 feet of water or less.
  • Never dive into water that doesn’t have a clear bottom such as a lake or ocean. Rocks, logs, sand bars or other objects could be hidden below the surface.
  • Never dive into an above-ground pool.
  • Make sure you can see the bottom of a body of water at its deepest point.
  • Check the shape and length of the water to be sure the diving area is large enough and deep enough for a dive.
  • Carefully inspect home pools and hotel pools. Many – even those fitted with diving boards – are unsafe for diving. The deep end may be too short, which means the diver could strike his or her head on the slope of the pool leading to the shallow end.
  • Obey “No Diving” signs.
  • Don’t drink alcohol before or during swimming or diving. It affects balance, coordination, and judgment.
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Nutrition Administration and Ventilator Weaning in Long-Term Acute Care

Ernest Health, which includes Mesquite Specialty Hospital, recently was recognized nationally for its work in nutrition management and administration for patients being weaned from ventilators in its long-term acute care hospitals (LTACHs).

The initiative, which was introduced and led by Cindy Tew, Ernest Health’s Director of Clinical Programs and Resources, and Anne Woodbury, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Utah Valley Specialty Hospital, won the 2017 Quality Achievement Award from the National Association of Long Term Hospitals.

“We wanted to see if we could track specific nutritional indicators that could positively influence patients being weaned from ventilators,” Tew says. In particular, the team wanted to find if the level of protein provided to a ventilated patient had any effect on the success of weaning the patient off the ventilator.

“Mechanical ventilation is a life-saving procedure that’s used to support patients who are recovering from critical illnesses or injuries,” Woodbury explains. “Patients who require prolonged mechanical ventilation need specialized medical assistance in healing and weaning from ventilator dependence, and nutrition plays a critical role in this.”

A team of Ernest Health dietitians led by Tew and Woodbury created a nutritional tracking form to collect data from its LTACH hospitals to monitor tube feeding tolerance and nutrition administration. That data was collected from patients who had been on a ventilator longer than 96 hours and were in respiratory failure.

After two years of collecting data from 204 patients, the team found more successful ventilator weaning results when a patient could tolerate 1.6-2.0 grams of protein each day.

“Data of this nature has never been recorded before, so we’re optimistic about the potential impact of our findings,” Tew says. “These are promising results not only for our patients, but for other post-acute hospitals to consider for their patients as well.”

Ernest Health’s LTACH hospitals will continue to collect data and measure protein intake values to substantiate significance with a larger data pool of patients being weaned from ventilators. The intent is to publish the results in the future for other post-acute hospitals to consider.

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