Are you up to date on your vaccines?

This is our nurse Melissa’s first blog post! Yay!

August is an exciting month here at Family Care because August is National Immunization Awareness month! This includes two of my favorite things: vaccines and patient education! I love vaccines so much that I spent three days of my vacation at the Clinical Vaccionology Conference last fall to learn more about vaccines. Once I get started talking about vaccines, why they are needed, and how they work, it’s hard for me to stop.

Why do I do get so passionate about vaccines? The main reason is because they prevent diseases and it’s probably the quickest and easiest way to improve your health. There are so many stories of people who have severe complications from diseases that could have been prevented – take polio, for example. Almost every adult over the age of 40 knows someone that was affected by polio but, now in 2016, it’s almost entirely eradicated in all but three countries in the world as a result of vaccinations to prevent the disease.

I also enjoy having conversations with patients regarding their fears and concerns about vaccines and giving them the information available to make educated decisions regarding their health. Throughout the month we’ll have different posts that focus on different vaccines and the concerns that surround them.

This week, our focus is on adult immunizations.

The need for vaccines does not end in childhood. All adults need vaccines based on their age, lifestyle, occupations, travel plans, and medical conditions. Adult vaccinations include Influenza, Tetanus/TDaP, Shingles, Pneumococcal, HPV, and Hepatitis A and B.

Each year thousands of adults are hospitalized or die from vaccine preventable diseases. According to the National Public Health Information Coalition an average of 226,000 people are hospitalized due to influenza and between 3,000 and 49,000 people die of influenza and its complications, the majority are among adults. 900,000 people get pneumococcal pneumonia every year, leading to as many as 400,000 hospitalizations and 19,000 deaths. In the U.S., HPV causes about 17,000 cancers in women, and about 9,000 cancers in men each year. About 4,000 women die each year from cervical cancer. All of these incidents could be prevented with proper vaccination.

It is not only important for adults to receive vaccines to protect themselves, but also to protect others in the community by preventing the spread of disease to those with weakened immune systems that may be more susceptible to the disease. If you aren’t sure if you are up-to-date on your vaccines, you should contact your healthcare provider today to help protect yourself and decrease the prevalence of these preventable diseases.

For additional information the CDC has great website on vaccines and the diseases they prevent. You can even take a quiz to find out what vaccines you might need. Feel free to leave your questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them! #VaxWithMe #NIAM16

August is National Immunization Month!

During National Immunization Awareness Month, the Family Care blog will be featuring several resources on vaccines and why it is important to stay up to date with all recommended vaccinations, for everyone from children to adults.

From the National Public Health Coalition:

National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is an annual observance held in August to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. NIAM was established to encourage people of all ages to make sure they are up to date on the vaccines recommended for them. Communities have continued to use the month each year to raise awareness about the important role vaccines play in preventing serious, sometimes deadly, diseases. NIAM is sponsored by the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC). For more information on the observance, visit NPHIC’s NIAM website.

All adults should get vaccines to protect their health. Even healthy adults can become seriously ill, and can pass certain illnesses on to others. Everyone should have their vaccination needs assessed at their doctor’s office, pharmacy or other visits with healthcare providers. Certain vaccines are recommended based on a person’s age, occupation or health conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes or heart disease. Vaccination is important because it not only protects the person receiving the vaccine, but also helps prevent the spread of disease, especially to those that are most vulnerable to serious complications such as infants and young children, elderly, and those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems.

All adults, including pregnant women, should get the influenza (flu) vaccine each year to protect against seasonal flu. Every adult should have one dose of Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis or whooping cough) if they did not get Tdap as a teen, and then get the Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster vaccine every 10 years. In addition, pregnant women are recommended to get the Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks.

Adults 60 year and older are recommended to receive the shingles vaccine. And adults 65 and older are recommended to receive one or more pneumococcal vaccines. Some adults younger than 65 years with certain high risk conditions are also recommended to receive one or more pneumococcal vaccinations.

Adults may need other vaccines – such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B and HPV – depending on their age, occupation, travel, medical conditions, vaccinations they have already received or other considerations.

 

Insurance Terminology 101: “Approvals” and “Authorizations”

Insurance Terminology 101: “Approvals” and “Authorizations”

One commonly misunderstood concept about insurance coverage is the term “approval.” It seems pretty simple, but many people think that having a service approved by their insurance plan means that they will not have to pay for the service. While that is possible depending on the situation, the most often result is that the patient is left surprised and confused when they ultimately receive a bill for an “approved” service. This post is part of a series to help patients clarify the terminology that your insurance company is using so they can better understand their coverage.

Approval / Authorizations

Approval by an insurance plan means that they will allow you to get something done and will at least consider paying for the test. This does not mean that your health insurance will pay for the test – it means they agree that the procedure will be subjected to the benefits listed on your insurance plan. Authorizations are essentially the same thing as approvals, but you’ll hear authorizations more often with prescription coverage details. Just like approvals, a prescription authorization only means your insurance benefits will be applied to the claim for your prescription and does not guarantee payment.

While you may still be paying for an approved service, your insurance company at least acknowledges that this test or medication is generally recommended for your particular medical situation and should be considered as part of your plan’s benefits. They are not saying they won’t pay yet, but they also aren’t saying they will pay, either. This is the first chance in the claims process for your insurance company to get out of paying for a service, so getting this approval is a good first step.

However, obtaining an approval does not mean you will not still owe up to 100% of the service you are approved to receive. Your benefits for an approved service could include deductibles, coinsurances, copayments, and additional out-of-pocket expenses that you will have to pay the service’s provider. If you have a high deductible that has not been met, for example, you will still incur a large out-of-pocket expense for approved services.

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Let me know what you think in the comments section below. If there are any other phrases or terms that you sometimes get confused, please send me a message and I’ll try to feature your question on a feature post. Thanks for reading!

What can I do to help myself get better sleep?

What can I do to help myself get better sleep?

Keep in mind that you may need less sleep as you age. Some people need only 5 to 6 hours of sleep a night, but most people do better with 7 to 8 hours. Sleep usually occurs in 3-hour cycles, so it is important to get at least 3 uninterrupted hours of sleep.

These tips can help you develop better sleep habits:

  • Go to sleep only when you feel tired.
  • Avoid reading, watching TV or worrying in bed. These can cause your body and brain to associate your bed with these activities, rather than with sleep.
  • Develop a bedtime routine. Do the same thing every night before going to sleep. For example, take a warm bath and then read for 10 minutes every night before going to bed. Soon you’ll connect these activities with sleeping, and doing them will help make you sleepy.
  • Use the bedroom only for sleep and sexual activity.
  • If you can’t fall asleep after 15 minutes, go to another room and return to your bed only when you feel tired. You may repeat this as often as needed during the night.
  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same times each day, even on weekends. This helps your body develop a sleep schedule.
  • Avoid or limit napping, because it can disturb your normal sleep rhythm. If you must take a nap, only rest for 30 minutes and don’t nap after 3:00 p.m.
  • Avoid caffeine from coffee and soft drinks, and nicotine from cigarettes, especially late in the day.
  • Avoid eating large meals or drinking a lot of water in the evening.
  • Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature and as dark as possible.
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark. If noise is a problem, use a fan to mask the noise or use ear plugs. If you must sleep during the day, hang dark blinds over the windows or wear an eye mask.
  • Try eating a light snack before going to bed, but don’t eat too much right before bedtime. A glass of warm milk or some cheese and crackers may be all you need.
  • Exercise regularly, but don’t exercise within a few hours before going to bed.
  • Set aside some time to relax before going to bed. For example, spend 30 minutes after dinner writing down what’s worrying you and what you can do about it.

Another good way to relax is to focus on your breathing by taking slow, deep breaths while counting to 5. Then listen to the sound of your breath as you breathe out. You can also try to tighten and relax the muscle groups in your body, beginning at your feet and ending with your face muscles. A trained therapist can teach you other ways to relax. Relaxation CDs or tapes may also help you relax.

Source

Nonpharmacologic Management of Chronic Insomnia by Parul Harsora, MD and Jennifer Kessmann, MD (American Family Physician January 15, 2009, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20090115/125.html)

Prolia Medication Guide

This page is a handy resource for patients at Family Care who have started taking Prolia. Please use the links below to access patient education materials that are required to be given to our patients before beginning treatment on Prolia. If you have any questions, please call our office and ask to speak with our nurse, Melissa. Thank you!

Prolia Patient Brochure

Prolia Medication Guide

Prolia® is a prescription medicine used to:

  • Treat osteoporosis (thinning and weakening of bone) in women after menopause (“change of life”) who:
    • are at high risk for fracture (broken bone)
    • cannot use another osteoporosis medicine or other osteoporosis medicines did not work well
  • Increase bone mass in men with osteoporosis who are at high risk for fracture
  • Treat bone loss in men who are at high risk for fracture receiving certain treatments for prostate cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body
  • Treat bone loss in women who are at high risk for fracture receiving certain treatments for breast cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body

World Family Doctor Day is May 19!

The first World Family Doctor Day was declared by the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA) in 2010. It has gained momentum globally each year, with activities, meetings, and celebrations planned to:

  • Bring attention to the contributions of family doctors globally;
  • Recognize family doctors;
  • Increase the morale of family doctors, and;
  • Highlight important issues relating to family doctors and the work they perform in supporting health care for people around the world.

From globalfamilydoctor.com:

  • World Family Doctor Day (FDD) – 19th May – was first declared by WONCA in 2010 and it has become a day to highlight the role and contribution of family doctors in health care systems around the world. The event has gained momentum globally each year and it is a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge the central role of our specialty in the delivery of personal, comprehensive and continuing health care for all of our patients. It’s also a chance to celebrate the progress being made in family medicine and the special contributions of family doctors all around the world.
  • We’re very happy for Member Organizations to develop their own theme for FDD, depending on local priorities, but this year we’d especially like to highlight smoking cessation. Smoking is the activity most damaging to health in a whole range of ways, and part of our role as family doctors is to be able to encourage our patients to stop smoking and to provide resources and support to help them.

To help raise awareness for this year’s special topic of smoking cessation, check out this beautiful infographic that describes the short-term and long-term benefits of quitting immediately!

Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive on Saturday, May 14

Tomorrow, May 14, is probably the easiest day all year to donate food to the hungry because the post office will literally come to your house and pick your donation up for you! Every year on the second Saturday in May, the USPS partners with several different food banks across the country to host the “Stamp Out Hunger” Food Drive. Just leave a box of non-perishable food items next to your mailbox tomorrow to help out a family in need!

Here is the full write up from the USPS:

Every second Saturday in May, letter carriers in more than 10,000 cities and towns across America collect the goodness and compassion of their postal customers, who participate in the NALC Stamp Out Hunger National Food Drive — the largest one-day food drive in the nation.

Led by letter carriers represented by the National Association of Letter Carriers (AFL-CIO), with help from rural letter carriers, other postal employees and other volunteers, the drive has delivered more than one billion pounds of food the past 24 years.

Carriers collect non-perishable food donations left by mailboxes and in post offices and deliver them to local community food banks, pantries and shelters. Nearly 1,500 NALC branches in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands are involved.

The United States Postal Service, National Association of Letter Carriers, National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, AFL-CIO, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), United Way, Valassis and Valpak Direct Marketing Systems are all supporting this year’s Stamp Out Hunger food drive.

To donate, just place a box or can of non-perishable food next to your mailbox before your letter carrier delivers mail on the second Saturday in May. The carrier will do the rest. The food is sorted, and delivered to an area food bank or pantry, where it is available for needy families.

With 49 million people facing hunger every day in America, including nearly 16 million children, this drive is one way you can help those in your own city or town who need help.

It’s Opening Day!

Family Care begins our first season in the RTP Softball league today! If you notice everyone wearing the same thing at our office today, its because we have Family Care jerseys now!

If you want to come out and support our team, we play the NCREN Bears at 5:45pm on RTP Field 3. This will also be the first ever softball game for a couple of our employees, so should be a fun time. We have a great mix of players from different teams that Ryan has played with in the past and think we have a decent chance at the championship!

Play Ball!

March 30 is National Doctor’s Day!

“There is no greater reward in our profession than the knowledge that God has entrusted us with the physical care of His people. The Almighty has reserved for Himself the power to create life, but He has assigned to a few of us the responsibility of keeping in good repair the bodies in which this life is sustained.”

~ Dr. Elmer Hess, former president of the American Medical Association.

Primary Care Providers in Durham, NC

Thank you to all three of our providers for working so hard to take great care of our patients every day!

If you are interested, here is the link to President George H. W. Bush’s speech where he designated March 30 to be National Doctor’s Day in 1991.