health

OHSU Massive Donor Revealed

Still0903_00000PORTLAND, Ore. — The Columbia Sportswear founder revealed her soft side.

Gert Boyle confirmed she was the anonymous donor who gave $100 million to the Oregon Health and Science University for cancer research. Boyle says she slipped the OHSU leader a note in June about the donation.

“Then he called Phil, and I talked to Phil and said I just want you to know that the little old lady down the block also has gives money,” Boyle said.

Boyle says this donation is in memory of her older sister who was a researcher and died of brain cancer.

FBI Investigates Cover Oregon

3-3 cover oregonMEDFORD, Ore. — The FBI is investigating how the Cover Oregon web site was built and paid for.

In 2011, then state Representative Patrick Sheehan sent an email to the governor accusing Cover Oregon officials of lying and wasting tens of millions of dollars in payments, to developer Oracle.

Rep. Sheehan said an FBI agent followed up with him in February about those allegations.

State Representative Dennis Richardson says he also warned Governor John Kitzhaber about Cover Oregon. The governor’s office says he’s not making any comments on the matter.

Eugene Urgent Care to Open New Location

4-7 urgent careEUGENE, Ore. — Eugene Urgent Care hopes to have a new location up and running in July. It’ll be located at the intersection of 27th Street and South Willamette Street.

Eugene Urgent Care currently has locations on Coburg Road, near the University of Oregon campus and in the Thurston area of Springfield.

Doctors say they’re excited to expand to the south part of town.

“We think it’s the last underserved area in Eugene that needs medical care,” said Dr. Alex Morley, Eugene Urgent Care Medical Director.

The clinic will offer primary care, urgent care and lab services.

Leap. Flip. Twist. Balance.

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"Gabby" 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist
“Gabby” 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist

Gymnastics is an absolutely fascinating sport, and easily one of the oldest.  As far back as 7,000 years ago, Egyptian royalty was treated to watching high flying acrobats for entertainment.  In Ancient Greece, young people would create and perform athletic feats with rules and moves completely made up on their own.  They were encouraged to mix both amusement and physical activity (even back then, they knew sports should have a healthy sense of fun and lightheartedness!). They would spend their time practicing these sports during their “scholarly” period.  Eventually, these activities became common and popular.  In every Greek city there were courtyards specifically designated for running, jumping and wrestling.  In time, after the Roman Empire took over and military training began, the Romans created and introduced what is now the modern day vaulting table.

Coach Rosen Manolov ~ USGA Eugene
Coach Rosen Manolov ~ USGA Eugene

Like with all sports, gymnastics provides a wide variety of mental and physical benefits, along with multiple life skills to learn.  Children who participate in gymnastics tend to have a longer attention span and are better at solving problems and making their own decisions.  They have higher self-esteem, are incredibly independent and know they can make up their own minds without feeling the need to “fit in” and be someone they’re not — generally not allowing others to badly influence them.  They have the confidence not to follow others and be leaders in numerous situations in life.  With the commitment and discipline gained from participating in gymnastics, they’re also a lot less likely to smoke, drink or do drugs and would rather feed their bodies with healthy fuel than fill it with junk.  Their bodies are like their prized possession and will do anything they can to keep it in top shape!

Ian ~ Courtesy of USGA Eugene
Ian ~ Courtesy of USGA Eugene

Gymnastics is a strenuous activity – so much so that it helps you to meet the amount of exercise recommended by the American Heart Association, and is an activity that teaches you to have great control over your body and the way it moves.  It helps develop motor skills, balance and coordination since gymnasts learn over time how to precisely move certain body parts while doing those impressive flips, jumps, twists and tumbles.  Your body benefits from gymnastics internally, as well.  Since gymnastics is such great exercise, it makes you a much healthier person and, as we all know, being healthy helps prevent things such as heart disease, obesity, cancer, asthma and diabetes. Gymnastics has also been proven to help increase bone density since it’s considered a weight bearing activity, and increasing bone density is crucial in preventing osteoporosis when you’re older.

Gymnastics are great for anyone and everyone, but are especially beneficial for children with disabilities such as ADD/ADHD, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome and Autism.  Gymnastics instructors tend to work with their students individually, so they can easily tailor the lessons to suit different disabilities while helping each child build confidence and social skills.  At an early age, gymnastics can even open pathways in the brain and help with a child’s reading ability!

Courtesy USGA Eugene
Courtesy USGA Eugene

Children who just want to have fun with gymnastics can still get the great benefits of the sport without having to do gymnastics competitively.  Recreational gymnastics is a fun way for your child to make like-minded friends or spend more time with their parents, depending on the class they take. There are classes for different age groups and skill levels, plus “Mommy and Me” classes for children as young as 18 months who want to bond with their beloved mama!  It’s a great way to become closer and have fun while burning off excess energy. Tumbling is a lot of fun and great for toddlers who want to join in on the gymnastics activities.  What could be better and more amusing for them than rolling around on soft mats while laughing and having fun while making new friends?  It doesn’t matter what age or skill level, any child is more than welcome to join a class and have a great time walking on a balance beam, jumping on the trampoline and playing on the uneven bars.

For those who do want to practice gymnastics competitively, there are plenty of classes to choose from that cater to all ages and skill levels.  They’ll get to learn discipline and find out first hand that hard work and dedication really do make a difference and are worth any sore muscles they may have or any disappointment they may experience!  While making friends and having fun, they’ll learn how to follow directions and wait patiently while others are practicing their moves.  There will most likely be a limited amount of equipment, so this will allow them to learn how to take turns and respect others as they take the time they need to safely and accurately learn their gymnastic moves.  While speaking with their instructors, they’ll get an idea of how to speak with other adults which will help them learn how to speak with all types of people throughout their lives. Since there are very specific rules and codes of conduct, they will learn the importance of safety and taking orders from anyone who is in charge. After all, listening and obeying could always come in handy, or even be life saving!

Villa West Dance  & Aerobatics
Villa West Dance
& Aerobatics

There’s something about gymnastics that is awe inspiring.  Gymnasts have a massive sense of control over their body and the fact that they maintain the ability to focus on what they’re doing – even with a crowd of people watching and cheering them on – is nothing short of impressive.  While jumping on a trampoline, they can manage to twist and turn and perform perfectly while listening to an audience clap and yell and not get distracted.  This kind of concentration is highly beneficial.  Imagine how well those who participate in gymnastics do while taking tests or during job interviews!  What would cause a lot of people to fall apart under pressure is no sweat thanks to years of practicing concentration and learning to focus on what needs to be done.

Have you ever been to one of those beautifully artistic circus shows (Cirque du Soleil my favorite comes to mind), or even just seen the commercials for their upcoming live performance on TV?  Those men and women we see in those circuses who do tricks while hanging on a strip of cloth are practicing what is called Aerial Contortion or Aerial Silk, depending on where you’re from. They make millions of people happy by doing what they love and trained hard for.  It’s an impressive activity and there’s a way for you to experience something similar without needing years of practice.  It’s called Aerial Yoga or Anti Gravity Yoga and it’s a somewhat new way to tone your body while combating cellulite and enhancing your mental abilities and creativity. There are many classes available in countless cities, so enrolling should be a breeze.  Those who already take yoga classes would be particularly interested since it’s basically standard yoga, with the added excitement of being in the air!

Courtesy of USGA ~ Eugene
Courtesy of USGA ~ Eugene

Gymnastics is a fantastic way for adults and children of all ages to learn beneficial skills that will help out in everyday life.  If your child decides to do gymnastics recreationally or competitively, they will learn things like coordination and balance along with discipline and strength – both mental and physical.  These skills along with many others will help aid in their mental, emotional and physical development which will make for a mentally well-rounded, successful and success driven adult.

Ready to flip-twist-leap and get balanced? The United States Gymnastics Academy (USGA) here in Eugene is for kids of all ages and abilities.  Students come for recreation, fun, fitness, self confidences, coordination, social development, competitive training, and overall outlet for all that extra energy.

The important mission at USGA is to develop a students’ positive self-esteem by instilling the values of good sportsmanship, self discipline, respect and accountability.  The staff believe that if they can teach your children that they can achieve, they will remember these lessons for life.  At the USGA, you will find “World Class” Coaches that are enthusiastic and care deeply about developing your child’s self-confidence and sense of achievement.  At USGA watch your child’s confidence grow as they experience many small successes.

The gym area is over 10,000 square feet.  It’s filled with a full line of developmental gymnastics equipment as well as full sets of men’s and women’s apparatus.  Additionally they have several large foam pits to allow students to develop new skills in the safest way possible.

United States Gymnastics Academy ~ Eugene
United States Gymnastics Academy ~ Eugene

USGA offers many great programs eugenegymnastics.com including Zumba for parents who want to get a little exercise. This is a great way to have some fun and get fit at the same time. Don’t forget to ask about their FREE gymnastics classes offer! If you need more info: [email protected]

The USGA is located 4540 Commerce Street (near Wal-Mart west 11th) – Suite B Eugene, OR 97402 – 541-255-2883

CoachMOM
Simply ExtraOrdinary Coaching

Let’s get on that Horse and Ride Like The Wind

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kidsandponies

I think we can all agree that animals are wonderful creatures. Cute, cuddly and sometimes fearsome, each animal has something special to offer. Out in the wild, they do their thing to contribute to our ecosystem and, when domesticated as pets, they can teach us responsibility and what it means to have a true friend and companion. And most kids say if they could have any “dream” pet regardless of cost it would often times be a horse they call their own.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Sports are a great way to learn useful life skills and gain qualities such as responsibility and self-reliance — all while teaching you how to communicate with people to get a certain goal accomplished, which may make you wonder… What happens when you take sports and add an animal to the mix? I’ll tell you what you get…. You get Equestrianism! A fun and interesting group of sports that help you grow mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

There are many forms of Equestrianism (which basically just means a sport involving horses). From Horse Racing to Haute Ecole, Calf Roping to Bronc Riding, there are plenty of ways to train with this beautiful and majestic beast. However, I’m going to focus on the basics of horseback riding because who doesn’t love the romantic or rugged idea of settling into a saddle riding a great steed galloping across the wide open plains or the shoreline of the beach? It’s a fun and kid friendly activity that allows you to spend quality time with a beautiful creature while simultaneously receiving numerous benefits and gaining skills you possibly wouldn’t learn otherwise. Horse-crazy kids grow up to be horse-crazy adults.

pirouetteCompetition in horseback riding is called “Eventing”, and it’s as interesting to watch as it is  to participate. Watching those gorgeous horses run and jump and their riders wearing their fancy gear is captivating, to say the least and conjures up images of sophistication (sounds strikingly like the Swan Lake ballet on pointe!) The show is made up of three phases – Dressage, Cross Country and Show Jumping — and lasts three days. Each day is a new set of intricate tasks for both rider and horse to perform, and takes such discipline and determination to get it right that it’s no wonder Eventing has been part of the Olympic Games since 1912!

Usually when people hear the word “sports” they imagine big teams working together to win. But sports don’t always use teams – sometimes it’s a pair or partnership. Horseback riding is an interesting sport in that you have a partner, but your partner is an entirely different species from yourself. Of course it’s common for there to be trouble communicating with your partner in any sport, but this takes communication issues to a whole new level! The good thing is, though, that horses are very intelligent and love to learn and please their masters. This means that once you start to understand your new equine partner’s way of thinking, training will be fun and easy and will soon become something both of you look forward to.

Best Friends ForeverWorking so closely with your horse creates a special bond between human and animal. You get to know each other on a very deep level that is hard to compare to any other type of human-animal relationship. Imagine if your pet, your best friend and your teammate merged together and became one — they would be someone who understands you and is loyal, who will stick by your side and remain patient while you’re both learning new strategies and moves, and wants to accomplish the exact same thing as you. Since you both have the same goal in mind (to win and have fun while doing it!) and it’s just you two who will need to work together to achieve it, you begin to depend on your horse and will start to know each other inside and out, which makes you form a sense of trust in each other. This is an incredibly important development since it can strengthen your human relationships and help you trust others, as well.

Admittedly, riding seems like it would be less physical of an activity than, say, soccer or ballet. It seems like it’s just a person riding a horse, with the horse doing most of the work. This is where looks can be deceiving! Riding is in fact very much a workout – both mentally and physically – for the rider and the horse. My now 18 year old daughter remembers as a kid being more exhausted from an hour in the ring with “Zeb” as a full afternoon rehearsal at the ballet studio her current love. Riding (ballet too!) improves your cardiovascular and respiratory health while teaching coordination, balance and even helps correct your posture (which is something a lot of people can benefit from. How many times in your life have you been told to stop slouching?).

Along with posture, it also helps with something called “core strength”. Have you ever   jumped over something while riding your bike? That tension you feel in your abdomen when your bike is in the air is what happens when you use “core strength”, which is something you really need when riding a horse. Since your horse will be jumping over bars, you will quickly improve your core strength, which helps with balance and stability – something you’ll find especially useful when riding. Stability and core strength are what keep you from falling off the sides of your horse when it runs or jumps, and also helps with everyday tasks such as bending to tie your shoe or pick up a ball.

Just like with other sports, horseback riding instills a sense of pride and increases your self-esteem. Working with such a beautiful creature and knowing you have a special bond with it is bound to make you happy and feel good about yourself! But horseback riding is a unique sport that will teach you some useful skills that you wouldn’t learn with other sports like football or basketball.

Since horses scare easily, you’ll quickly realize that you need to be gentle with the way you speak and with your movements (which is definitely not something you’d learn with football!). This is a way of learning empathy and understanding different needs, which will help you learn how to speak and interact with different people. Some people can’t hear well and need you to be a bit louder than usual, while some people prefer a softer voice. Some people can take jokes while others are sensitive. Learning how to speak and act with your horse will help you understand how to adjust your way of speaking and acting with others.
Horseback riding has many mental benefits.

Special Needs ChildOnce you start learning about horseback riding, it’s almost like you never stop. There is so much to learn that from the moment you take up this fun and exciting sport, your mind is constantly working. It makes you more mentally alert, which means you can react much more quickly to any situation. From emergencies to math problems, you’re able to react swiftly. And since you’re constantly learning new things while riding (whether it’s new terms or how to groom your horse), your memory will improve which will keep you sharp, focused and ready for anything!

With all these amazing benefits, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to find out that horseback riding isn’t used strictly for sport – it’s also used as a form of therapy. Therapeutic horseback riding is often used to help aid people with disabilities, veterans and at-risk youth. Whether for physical, emotional or mental problems, horses provide a calming and enjoyable way to deal with a number of disabilities.

Horseback riding increases motor skills – both fine and gross – and can even help with social skills. Something as simple as holding the reigns can help with flexibility in your joints and improve hand-eye coordination. Brushing your horse is something that can help fine tune your motor skills over time while giving you an opportunity to bond with your new best friend (your horse, of course!).

Many veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have greatly benefited from horseback riding. Since they sometimes avoid social situations due to fear or paranoia, horseback riding helps because they are able to interact with a gentle horse in a peaceful environment, which eases them onto the road to recovery. Depending on the level of disability, some people may need to have an assistant help them with their horse. This will allow them to interact with others and, if needed, help with speech and language — which is one of the reasons why therapeutic horseback riding is strongly encouraged for children with autism. Some autistic children feel a stronger bond with animals than they do with people, so having your child interact with a horse will allow them to feel a closeness with someone and hopefully help them eventually feel more comfortable and bond with other people.

Whether for sport or therapy, horseback riding is an incredibly enjoyable activity for people Veternan Riderof all ages that gives an opportunity to take a break, get out and enjoy nature. Improved fitness, flexibility and respect for the great outdoors is something everyone could benefit from, so why not take up horseback riding and make a new friend in the process? Horses are intelligent, intuitive and gentle animals who want nothing more than to make people happy – all of which are qualities of a great teammate and friend forever!

Let’s Ride Like The Wind,

CoachMOM

A Recipe For Success

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by Sandi Thompson, guest contributor

Have you seen this quote before: Failure to plan is planning to fail.
I’m a nutritional therapy practitioner and a wellness coach and I find this quote to be valid for anyone trying to achieve an improvement to their overall health. Personally, when I plan ahead it makes all the difference between having enough energy to get through my day or needing to take a mid-afternoon nap! Simply carrying an apple and a few nuts in my car can do the trick.Whether it’s weight loss or adding exercise to their lives, people need to set their goals and then make a plan – a recipe – to create success so they can achieve their goals.

Here is the basic recipe to help you achieve your goals and dreams.

Stick closely to the formula and you will have success. Leave out any steps and you’ll have a flop. It really is like baking a cake or a batch of cookies!

  • – Be as clear and specific as possible about your goals. I like to state clearly whether they are goals for health, finances or family. Having different categories is helpful.
  • – Be passionate about your goals. Attach a strong emotional component to them. Emotions lead to action and action is what you will need to take to reach your goals. For example, I’m passionate about eating really tasty AND healthy food. One of my goals is to spend a little more time planning meals ahead of time that are going to pack a big flavor punch. I get excited thinking about the possibilities and how I’m going to make it happen.
  • – Decide on the ways that you will measure your success: inches lost, IRA contributions or photos of family fun time. I like to use a calendar and make a notation when I reach any of these goals. With all the great technology available for smart phones, iPads, and computers this is really very easy. If you like handwritten notes, that’s fine too. The idea is that you measure your success in a tangible manner that works for you.
  • – Specify all the strategies and tactics that will lead you to accomplish those goals. What new habits will you need to create to meet your goals successfully? One of my goals is to have a writing schedule that I can follow by mapping it out for the entire year – before January hits. That means one of my new habits will be to make time daily to check in with my progress. Making it a daily ritual at the same time each day will turn this activity into a habit in a short period of time. Repetition becomes ritual – which is what a habit really is.
  • – Describe the specific action steps that you will commit to do. Either write them down or make a video so that you can watch yourself make a strong commitment to your goals.
  • – Will you commit to reducing your sugar intake? Maybe going to the gym 3X a week? Perhaps you will plan a family outing to the beach? Whatever it is that you are going to commit to – record it and refer to it often.
  • – Create a timetable for your action steps so you can monitor your progress. As I mentioned, I’m creating a timetable for a writing schedule that I will follow throughout 2012. Whenever I complete each assignment, I will have a way to monitor my progress.
  • – Finally, REWARD yourself when you reach your milestones:  better blood work, savings accrued or any mini-goals achieved. Since I’m all about health and wellness, I try to make my rewards non-food items – or at least not a sugar-bomb treat. When I complete my writing assignments on time I will treat myself to a movie or a pedicure or perhaps even a day at the coast. All those are meaningful and fun for me, reinforcing my desire to keep on track with my goals.

What will you do differently in 2012 to help you reach your goals? Let’s have a dialog here and help keep each other on track.

Sandi Thompson, NTP, Certified Wellness Coach, Expert in Healthy Weight Management
Sandi Thompson at Solutions Through Nutrition specializes in weight management and lifestyle changes for better, lasting health. Discover your individual nutritional needs and learn the steps to keep moving forward along the path to exceptional wellness. Sandi works primarily with those who are motivated to succeed and achieve their weight loss goals using real whole foods. She works with couples and families to build lasting change through mutual support to reach a common goal of better health. Sandi also speaks professionally to groups, companies and as a keynote speaker.

The vision of Solutions Through Nutrition is, “Improving the way America eats, one dining room table at a time.”

Sandi can be reached through her website and at 541-953-8715

Changes being made to Medicare Annual Election Period for 2012

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Jake Gariepy, EDN

The Medicare program has instituted an important change to the Annual Election Period for 2012 and many beneficiaries aren’t aware of it. The Annual Election Period (AEP) is the time that Medicare allows members to make changes to their health plan choices for the next year.

The Medicare AEP for the 2012 year began Oct. 15. Unlike past years, this AEP ends Dec. 7, which may leave procrastinators in a scramble. 

If Medicare recipients are not aware of the current changes, they could be left out in the cold. Photo courtesy of Medicare.org

Also, options for Medicare Advantage plans in Lane County have expanded. In addition to the stalwarts such as Providence, Regence and Health Net, local health insurer PacificSource is entering the market.

Like its competitors, PacificSource offers a variety of plans with varying monthly premiums, from zero to $78. 

Since Medicare plans vary, recipients must weigh their options to choose the right plan for their circumstances.

The two different plans are called Medicare Supplement/Medigap and Medicare Advantage and are used in conjunction with the original Medicare benefits.

With Medicare Supplements, plan benefits will be the same regardless of which insurance company you choose. The alphabet soup of standardized plans differs only in premium and in some joining requirements.

Also, Medigap plans do not include prescription drug coverage. Patients with Medicare Supplement may also wish to select a separate prescription drug plan (PDP) at an additional expense.

Medigaps allow patients to see any US doctor who contracts with Medicare. But it is not without its problems.

Some doctors don't accept Medicare patients. Photo courtesy of Medicare.org.

Continuous cuts in Medicare’s reimbursement to providers have resulted in some doctors refusing to see patients who only have Medicare or Medicare/Medigap plan.

But with a Medicare Supplement, aside from the premium, most members do not have additional cost-sharing. As long as it is a Medicare-covered benefit, the Medigap plan pays the remainder after Medicare has paid its portion.

People who have significant health problems and who know that they may require expensive procedures in the coming year may benefit from this option.

Medicare Advantage plans are very different from Medigap. 

Some Medicare Advantage (MA) plans have no premium. Unlike Medicare Supplement plans, MA plans are paid each month by Medicare, which covers the services that original Medicare covered.

MA plans that offer no-premium options have generally arranged the benefits and co-pays in a way that makes it financially feasible to do so. Many of these plans also include prescription benefits, and can be a good choice for consumers seeking to cut costs.

Some patients may have to pay more out-of-pocket fees if their doctor doesn't follow their particular plan. Photo courtesy of Mobilityspecialists.net.

MA’s co-pays for each service or benefit include daily charges for hospitalization, skilled nursing services, emergency room visits and ambulance transport.

Starting at the beginning of 2011, Medicare began requiring all providers to offer preventive services like routine physical exams, colorectal screenings and mammograms, at no cost to members.

Some MA plans require patients to choose one of its preferred providers. Such is the case, too, with many Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), which may also demand your primary doctor refer you in order to see a specialist. HMOs will not, in most cases, pay for doctors who are not on their list.

Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) work very differently.

If you choose a PPO, you may see any doctor anytime, as long as they contract with Medicare. If you see a doctor that contracts with your particular health plan, you may be entitled to lower co-pays.

Patients who see a provider not affiliated with their plan may have to pay more out of pocket. However, PPOs do no require a referral to see a specialist.

One of the greatest advantages of choosing an MA plan is that most include prescription drug benefits, and there is no additional premium for this benefit.

People who want to change their plan or simply want to get more information should contact the individual health plans, a licensed insurance agent or a SHIBA volunteer. SHIBA volunteers are impartial volunteers who offer assistance to Medicare beneficiaries and can be contacted through the Campbell Senior Center or the Willamalane Adult Activity Center.

NEXT INSTALLMENT:  Who needs a plan in addition to Medicare?  How do I choose a Prescription Drug Plan?

High tech medical scans clear way for better local diagnoses

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by Sarah Nicholson, EDN

A newer, safer type of medical imaging has made its way to the Eugene area, and those in the medical field are seeing promising returns.

Oregon Imaging Centers recently received a three-year approval for PET/CT imaging from the most highly-regarded accrediting body, the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Nuclear Medicine Laboratories (ICANL).

PET/CT imaging and scanner from Oregon Imaging Center

Positron Emission Tomography and Computed Tomography, or PET/CT imaging, is a combination of two scans
that allow medical practitioners to pinpoint the location and extent of cancers, dementias and cardiac illnesses by looking at metabolic and structural changes in the body. 

Oregon Imaging Centers is the only center in Oregon approved for both oncological and neurological diagnoses, and only center approved by ICANL, which is considered the gold standard of nuclear medicine accreditation providers.

In 2007 an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine publicized the overuse of CT scans in the US, and the related cancer risk of exposing organs to low doses of radiation. Since then, media reports fraught with information about the dangers of high radiation levels have caused fear in many people about being overexposed.  The FDA also acknowledges that CT scans are associated with a higher risk of lifetime cancer and says the usage of adult-sized radiation doses in children can be particularly harmful.

The combined PET/CT scan delivers less radiation than a regular CT scan, so the danger of radiation is greatly diminishedAnd in the event that cancer is already suspected, the fear of low-dose radiation pales in comparison to other disease-related complications. Additionally, over 90% of the radioactivity from the PET portion of the scan is gone by the time the patient leaves the exam.  The only populations this diagnostic tool is contraindicated for are pregnant and lactating women, but even in lactating women the radiation is thought to be cleared from the breast milk within twelve hours of the test.

An example of (A) CT imaging, (B) PET imaging, and (C) combined PET/CT imaging. From Wikipedia/Renato M.E. Sabbatini, PhD

 

The PET/CT process uses an injected radioactive substance called fluorodeoxyglucose (or FDG) to highlight abnormal areas within the body. Similar to glucose, which fuels tissues throughout the body, FDG is taken up more eagerly by high-metabolizing abnormalities in the body. So areas that are more metabolically active, like cancerous tumors, draw attention to themselves through their greediness.

Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases respond similarly in the brain. With an injection of FDG, the compound will accumulate in certain areas, which will then be highlighted on the PET scan images. Add the CT component (Computerized Tomography,) and you have a very specific picture of the disease.

PET(-only) scanners, which Oregon Imaging Centers used before receiving the new accreditation, can differentiate between malignant and benign lesions, and determine the spread of disease. Adding the CT component is incredibly helpful in identifying specific anatomic locations. The dual imaging technique of the PET/CT provides a much more specific picture of disease, especially when it comes to detecting cancer.  

The PET/CT scan is of enormous assistance in both diagnosis of cancer, and in evaluating the effectiveness of therapy.  Luke Breazeal, manager of the PET/CT Department at Oregon Imaging Centers said there are four key times to perform a scan: 

(1) When something malignant is detected or highly suspected
(2) to identify the extent
(3) in the middle of chemotherapy
(4) after completion of chemotherapy 

With just one scan, you can identify cancer, determine its extent in the body, and stage (or esta
blish how far the cancer has progressed.)  For many types of cancer a PET scan can show if a therapy is effective: If a significant decrease in the tumor burden is not seen after a few rounds of chemotherapy, the therapy can be switched, saving valuable time, reducing cost, and increasing life expectancy.

PET image of a brain with Alzheimer's

Although over 90% of PET/CT scans address oncological disorders, it’s an incredibly helpful tool in neurological diagnosis and treatment planning.  In “dementia imaging,” Breazeal said, “we see characteristic metabolic patterns for each specific type of dementia.”   Each of the dozens of different types of dementia displays a unique pattern of glucose (and thus FDG) uptake, and identifying the correct type puts doctors on the right track to choosing a treatment plan. Before PET scans, the only way to definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s was through autopsy.

With the green light from ICANL, Oregon Imaging has seen about a 50% increase in volume for PET/CT imaging.  According to Breazeal, the clinic does about 80-100 scans a month, mostly for oncological purposes.  More information about Oregon Imaging Centers and its new accreditation can be found on its website at www.oregonimaging.com.

Another example of PET/CT fusion imaging of the whole body

 

 

Supporting Natural Health Care in the New Oregon Health Plan

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In anticipation of federal mandates from the Affordable Care Act (AKA, “Obamacare”), the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is preparing to develop an integrated healthcare delivery system, with special attention to enrollees of the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) and Medicare. The stated goal of this program (accessible here: CCO Charter) is to create a “health care system where Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs) are accountable for care management…for each organization’s members.” These CCOs are to be guided by the “Triple Aim”:

1) improve the lifelong health of all Oregonians;
2) improve the quality, availability, and reliability of care; and
3) lower or contain the cost of care.

However the new CCOs are organized, ensuring an adequate primary care workforce will be a critical requirement for success. Primary care providers (PCPs) form the backbone of healthcare, and provide basic healthcare services – including initial assessment and treatment, referral to specialists, prevention counseling, and vaccination. In the last several decades, however, the percentage of physicians entering primary care has steadily declined. The lack of these providers has been directly related to how much less they are reimbursed than MDs and DOs (doctors of osteopathy) that choose to enter specialties (surgery, radiology, anesthesiology).

To help fill the gap, nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants have been trained at higher levels of knowledge and responsibility, and now offer primary care with varying levels of independence. In Oregon, nurse practitioners may practice independently but physician’s assistants are required to have a portion of their charts reviewed by supervising physicians. Regardless of their degree or level of training, all PCPs are expected to recognize situations beyond their scope and training, and to refer to other providers as needed.

Naturopathic physicians are similarly licensed by the state of Oregon to act as independent primary-care providers, and have authority and responsibility to diagnose and treat disease, order lab tests, refer to specialists, prescribe pharmaceuticals, and administer vaccinations. In addition, NDs have significant training in evidence-based botanical medicine, mind-body interactions, nutrition, and physical medicine that few MDs, nurse practitioners, or physician’s assistants have ever been exposed to. Training is a 4-year program, and requires all of the same pre-medical sciences that MDs and DOs take before starting their programs.

Recognizing the training NDs have undergone, the state of Oregon gives NDs broad authority and responsibility to practice independently.

Currently, the Oregon Health Authority credentials naturopathic physicians to act as primary care physicians through the Oregon Health Plan’s “Open Card” program. In most counties, however, the Oregon Health Plan is administered through local managed-care organizations. Despite ND’s legal authority and the recognition of the Oregon Health Authority, most of these local managed-care plans do not cover NDs in any capacity.

There is some logic to this resistance – most NDs offer therapies that are outside mainstream medical thought. Whether these therapies have evidence to support their use, have fewer side effects, or are less expensive, it is understandable that publicly-funded health plans might be reticent to cover such “alternative” therapies. Naturopathic doctors are also trained and licensed to provide “conventional care,” and naturopathic licenses hold NDs legally responsible for the patients that seek care. If somebody has a urinary tract infection and cranberry juice hasn’t solved the problem, NDs will call in the prescription for an antibiotic.

And what about those “alternative” therapies that NDs are so (in)famous for?  Debate certainly rages about the validity of many approaches, especially more esoteric approaches such as homeopathy and acupuncture, but when researchers have asked “real-world” questions about how NDs perform when managing patients (which is really where the rubber hits the road), results are almost uniformly positive – and include tremendous cost-savings. A 2010 study conducted by researchers affiliated with the University of Washington, found that patients using alternative therapies for such common conditions as fibromyalgia, menopause, and back pain spent up to $1410 less on healthcare for their conditions than on patients that didn’t use alternative therapies.

Several studies conducted by the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and sponsored by the Canadian Postal Service have found that postal employees offered care by naturopathic doctors had comparable costs when working with an MD, but frequently had greater productivity at work and fewer side effects from conventional pharmaceuticals. Conditions studied so far have included rotator cuff problems, back pain, anxiety, and heart disease risk factors (blood pressure and high cholesterol) – all very common conditions seen in primary care.

Naturopathic physicians have the numbers to play a significant role in helping to alleviate the primary-care shortage. There are presently about 700 naturopathic physicians licensed in Oregon, and 22 in Lane County alone (most of those 22 are doing primary care in one form or another). The naturopathic college in Portland graduates about 80 new NDs each year – approximately the same number of primary-care MDs that graduate from OHSU. With increased opportunities to offer care within the state of Oregon, many NDs that would otherwise leave will be more likely to stay within the state.

There would be other benefits to incorporating NDs into the new Coordinated Care Organizations. It would become easier to share ideas and knowledge with other providers already firmly ensconced within the conventional medical world. Best practices from the realm of “alternative” medicine will have a better chance of saving the system money. Most importantly, the goal is to see patients living healthier lives.

On Wednesday, October 12, from 6-8pm at Campbell Senior Center (155 High Street), the Oregon Health Authority is seeking input from citizens in Eugene and surrounding areas about the future of publicly-funded healthcare in Oregon.  Give your support to the inclusion of NDs as primary-care providers in the new system.

– Bill Walter ND

Dr. Bill Walter, ND

In addition to his private practice at Golden Apple, Dr. Walter works with Lane County Community Health and HIV Alliance to provide wound care to underserved individuals on the streets of Lane County. 

Health Advisory Still in Effect for Cougar Lake

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Thinking of getting out of town this next weekend?  Cougar lake is still currently at risk for toxic algae blooms.

High levels of blue green algae have prompted a warning to be issued by the Oregon Department of Public Health and the Lane County Health Department for Cougar Lake, north east of Eugene on Highway 126.

Blue green algae are water born bacteria which contains neuro toxins that may be life threatening to humans and animal life.

Oregon Public Health officials advise campers at visitors to the lake that toxins of blue-green algae cannot be removed by boiling water, filtering or other treatment.  Drinking of the water is considered dangerous.

Before you finalize your plans, further information is available by telephoning the Harmful Algae Bloom Surveillance Program on 971-673-0400 or on the internet at www.healthoregon.org/hab.

The Oregon Public Health Division also matins a toll free number for this and other health inquiries at 877-290-6767.