Archive for the ‘Illness Prevention’ Category

How to Spot a Stroke

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Submitted by: Christine Stone, RN Clinical Liaison

It cannot be overstated enough – every minute counts when someone is having a stroke. There is, however, an easy way to learn and remember the early warning signs of a stroke. Use the acronym “BEFAST.” If one or more of the symptoms is present – seek immediate medical attention. The sooner treatment is started the greater the chance of minimizing permanent neurological damage.

Balance     Loss of balance, dizziness or headache.
Eyes           Blurred vision, loss of vision in one or both eyes.
Face           One side of the face is drooping. Try to smile – if the face looks “lopsided.”
Arms         Arm or leg weakness or numbness. Feeling “uncoordinated.”
Speech      Slurred speech, difficulty speaking or understanding what is being said to you.
Time         Time to call 911 immediately for an ambulance. Never drive yourself to the

Your Flu IQ!

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

By Christine Stone, RN, BSN

Just like clockwork, the influenza virus starts showing up every October. And it makes millions of people miserable until sometime in May.   Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, muscle aches, headache and fatigue.   These are all annoying in and of themselves. But did you know that flu can be deadly?   Each year the flu and related symptoms send 200,000 plus people to the hospital. And if left untreated some people can die!   It’s estimated that 400,000+ deaths have been prevented thanks to the flu vaccine (between 2005 – 2014).

So What Can You Do?

It’s easy – get the flu shot!   It’s the single best way to protect yourself.   Even if you do get the flu (yes it is possible!) your symptoms will be much less severe and serious.

How Does The Flu Shot Work?

The vaccine triggers your system to produce flu-fighting antibodies.   This year (2016) there is high-dose vaccine which is 24 percent more effective. The high dose vaccine is recommended for those over age 65.

If you are one of the many people who fear needles, ask your doctor about an option for a “jet injector” which delivers the vaccine via a narrow stream of liquid.   Call your doctor’s office ahead of time to see if they provide this option.

“I Got The Flu AFTER Receiving the Flu Shot”

Is this possible? Unfortunately yes it’s possible, but NOT a good enough reason to NOT get a flu shot. Why?

  1. You may have already been exposed to the flu virus BEFORE receiving the flu shot.
  2. You may have become ill from other (non-flu) viruses or bacteria which cause cold-like symptoms or GI (gastrointestinal) symptoms.
  3. The protection from the flu shot can vary widely depending in your general health and age.

Who Should NOT Get the Flu Shot?

Any person with a severe egg allergy should not receive the flu shot.

What Else Can You Do To Protect Yourself?

  1. Wash and thoroughly dry your hands – frequently. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use a good quality hand sanitizer.  Look for hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol. Keep a bottles of hand sanitizer in your car, in your purse, and around your house.
  2. Use the sanitizing wipes provided in supermarkets to cleanse the handle of the shopping cart.   Keep a package of sanitizing wipes at your desk or work station.   Wipe down your phone and keyboard first thing before beginning your work day.
  3. Stay away from sick people.   People with the flu are contagious for 5 – 7 days after getting sick. Sick people should NOT go out in public until they are fever-free for 24 hours.
  4. Stop touching your face!   Studies have shown that the average person touches their face (mouth and nose) 3 – 4 times per hour.   When you touching a contaminated surface (doors, handles, doorknobs) then touch your face, you’re hanging out a “welcome sign” for flu viruses and other bacteria.
  5. If you think a friend or co-worker is sick, express your concern and suggest they go home and take care of themselves.

Finally, always check with your primary health care provider to make sure you should receive the flu shot.

If you’re worried about the cost, more than likely it will be covered by your medical insurance.

Just about every hospital, pharmacy and supermarket will be providing FREE flu shots through the fall months. Check your local newspaper for listings of locations, dates and times of free immunizations.   And if by some chance you didn’t get your shot in the fall, January is not too late to protect yourself against the flu for the new year!

The Sun

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015


That luminous circle of light that ascends into the sky every morning can be just as good for your health as it is damaging. In fact, some experts now believe that the sun’s rays provide more benefit than harm—provided you get the right dose.

Even dermatologists, who worry about the sun’s ravaging effects on the skin in the form of cancer, age spots, and wrinkles, acknowledge that we could all use a little sun exposure. “Being out in the sun boosts our mood, improves sleep, and promotes vitamin D production,” says James Spencer, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York. “There’s no controversy about that.” Still, he emphasizes, the operative word is little when it comes to exposure. “The majority of people aren’t putting on sunscreen every time they step outside, and that 5 or 10 minutes a day of casual exposure is probably all you need.” Much attention has been paid to the benefits of vitamin D, which is manufactured when the sun’s UV-B rays hit the skin and which protects against cancer, bone brittleness, heart disease, and a host of other ills. But there are other payoffs to a small daily dose of sunlight, including:

  • Better sleep. Natural daylight helps shut off your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone produced at night that makes you drowsy. This can help you maintain a normal circadian rhythm, so you’re more likely to feel tired at bedtime when it’s dark outside. Going outside for 15 minutes at the same time each day, preferably in the morning, gives your body a clear signal that it’s no longer night. Also, forgo the sunglasses if possible, since this will enable sunlight to pass unhindered through your eyes to the brain’s pineal gland, triggering the gland to stop releasing melatonin.
  • Happier outlook. A type of depression called seasonal affective disorder affects some people during the winter when they don’t get enough sunlight. Experts now believe that sunlight has widespread mood-elevating effects, possibly because the “happy” hormone serotonin increases when nights are short and days are long. In fact, psychiatrists often recommend that depressed individuals go outside in the sun for 30 minutes a day. Bonus: You can slather on all the sunscreen you want and still reap the mood benefit.
  • Protection from autoimmune diseases. Exposure to UV radiation appears to suppress an overactive immune system, according to an April report published in Environmental Health Perspectives. This could explain why exposure to UV rays may help with autoimmune diseases like psoriasis and lupus; one recent study also suggests it might help alleviate asthma.
  • Lessening of Alzheimer’s symptoms. Elderly Alzheimer’s patients exposed to bright lighting during the day—from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.—got better scores on a mental exam, had fewer symptoms of depression, and lost less function than did those exposed to dim daytime lighting, according to a study published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The researchers attributed the improvement to more-regular circadian rhythms, which are thrown out of whack when advanced dementia sets in.

AHRQ Safety Program for Long-Term Care: CAUTI

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

By Diane Orzechowski, NHA

LifeQuest Nursing Center is pleased to be able to participate in a program that is being led by the Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET). HRET and its partners are developing and implementing an infection prevention and safety program to support long-term care facilities in adopting evidence-based infection prevention practices. Participating facilities will also learn how to use teamwork and communication tools to improve safety culture in their facilities.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is funding this national long-term care (LTC) safety program to reduce catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) and other hospital acquired infections (HAIs) in Long Term Care Facilities across the country.

According to the Patient Safety Authority this program is important because research tells us that the rate of hospital-acquired infections in long-term care facility (LTCF) residents is between one and three million annually in the US.,  contributing to  400,000 deaths per year. In addition, re-hospitalizations from LTCFs are increasing, with urinary tract infections (UTIs) being the second most common reason. This program emphasizes evidence-based infection prevention practices and antibiotic stewardship to help eliminate (CAUTIs) and improve resident safety culture overall, which is  believed to  lead to improvements in other areas such as, C. difficile and multiple-drug resistant organisms (MDROs).

Anticipated benefits to the facility and residents include:

* Reduced morbidity and mortality from CAUTIs through improved infection prevention practices

* Reduced morbidity and mortality from C. difficile and other MDROs through appropriate antibiotic prescribing

* Reduced staff burden of admitting, readmitting and caring for residents with infection

* Improved safety culture through enhanced teamwork and communication

The project kickoff is scheduled for August 25 – September 5, 2014

Preventing Norovirus Infection

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Preventing the Norovirus Infection is a challenge in nursing facilities, day care centers, schools and other environments where people live, work, or spend their days in close proximity to others.

The best way for everyone to prevent getting the Norovirus Infection is to follow the following guidelines recommended by the CDC.

Practice proper hand hygiene
Wash your hands carefully with soap and water especially after using the toilet, changing diapers and always before eating, preparing or handling food.

Noroviruses can be found in your vomit or stool even before you start feeling sick. The virus can stay in your stool for 2 weeks or more after you feel better. So, it is important to continue washing your hands often during this time.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing. But, they should not be used as a substitute for washing with soap and water.

Wash fruits and vegetables and cook seafood thoroughly
Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them. Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them.

Be aware that noroviruses are relatively resistant. They can survive temperatures as high as 140°F and quick steaming processes that are often used for cooking shellfish.

Food that might be contaminated with norovirus should be thrown out.

Keep sick infants and children out of areas where food is being handled and prepared.

When you are sick, do not prepare food or care for others who are sick
You should not prepare food for others or provide healthcare while you are sick and for at least 2 to 3 days after you recover. This also applies to sick workers in settings such as schools and daycares where they may expose people to norovirus.

Many local and state health departments require that food handlers and preparers with norovirus illness not work until at least 2 to 3 days after they recover. If you were recently sick, you can be given different duties in the restaurant, such as working at a cash register or hosting.

Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces
After throwing up or having diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces. Use a chlorine bleach solution with a concentration of 1,000 – 5,000 ppm (5 – 25 tablespoons of household bleach [5.25%] per gallon of water) or other disinfectant registered as effective against norovirus by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Wash laundry thoroughly
Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool (feces).

You should handle soiled items carefully without agitating them, wear rubber or disposable gloves while handling soiled items and wash your hands after, and wash the items with detergent at the maximum available cycle length, then machine dry them.

For additional information, you can go to the CDC at