Family Care Nurse Shares Her Experience of Becoming the Patient

By Guest Blogger: Ashlie Gates, RN

I am a family care nurse at Swedish Medical Center. Each day, I get the chance to teach eager and excited parents how to care for their new baby. I enjoy building relationships with these patients and their families and helping them feel confident and ready to care for their child when they leave the hospital. Recently, I got to experience the other end of this nurse/patient relationship. Nine months ago, I gave birth to my first child at Swedish Medical Center. I chose to deliver my daughter at Swedish because I just couldn’t imagine trusting anyone else with such a big moment in my life. It was the best decision I could have made.

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I knew my co-workers were great, but I truly didn’t understand how great they were until I became their patient. My nurses were fabulous in both the Labor and Delivery and Family Care units. My labor and delivery nurse talked me through each procedure and helped me explore relaxation and pain management techniques during my labor. She was a wonderful cheerleader and helped boost my confidence to get through it.

My nurses in Family Care were there to assist me with my every need. It would have been easy for them to leave me alone assuming I knew what I was doing but they made sure they were there assisting me along the way. They also really took my husband under their wing. This was his first experience with a baby; they were patient and caring with him in showing him how to care for our daughter from changing her diaper to swaddling her for
the first time.

Experiencing the Women’s Services Department at Swedish Medical Center from the patient’s perspective has given me a whole new respect for my coworkers and I believe it has truly made me a better family care nurse. Because of my experiences as a nurse and a patient, I know that I can say with confidence, when you
deliver your baby at Swedish you will be getting the best care possible!  I often find myself telling people that I have the best job in the world!

Day of Dance 2013

Swedish Medical Center Physician Breaks New Ground In Cochlear Implants

A Swedish Medical Center physician is breaking new ground in the area of cochlear implants with his recent surgery on a 9-year-old girl who received the medical implant for single-sided deafness.

Daniel Zeitler, M.D., a neurotologist and skull-based surgeon is one of only a few medical professionals in the United States to perform the procedure for this population
and diagnosis. According to Zeitler, the young patient’s deafness was beginning to take its toll on her both academically and socially. “Although Claire is an excellent student, she had to sit strategically in the classroom to be able to hear. She was having a hard time enjoying music, couldn’t enjoy birthday parties, and often felt socially isolated during basketball practice and games or active family outings such as bicycle rides. Basically, all the things that a 9-year-old girl likes to do were slowly taken away from her because of her deafness,” Zeitler says.

Dr. Zeitler

Young Claire received the cochlear implant on November 26. The MED-EL device will be activated on Dec. 18, however Zeitler says early testing during surgery indicated it was working properly. The use of cochlear implants for single-sided deafness, and for patients as young as Claire, is an emerging practice in Europe, but is extremely rare in the U.S. In fact, the FDA has not yet approved the device for single-sided deafness, says Zeitler.
So why did Dr. Zeitler agree to this rare procedure? Because he feels Claire can benefit greatly from this technology, and rather than wait for other options to emerge or trials to be conducted, he is confident the cochlear implant will dramatically improve the quality of life for this youngster sooner rather than later. “There’s a huge push to initiate clinical trials for its use in these circumstances in the U.S., but only a few anecdotal reports and small objective studies currently exist. Unfortunately, there is no good data or large-scale subjective experiences to make it the norm yet,” Zeitler says.

Claire began losing hearing progressively in her right ear at the age of 5 and tried a number of alternative hearing devices, including a traditional hearing aid. However, when her hearing loss became profound, she could no longer obtain any useful benefit from its use. Additionally, she attempted to use an FDA-approved bone-anchored hearing device, but was denied by her insurance. Her insurance is, however, paying for the cochlear implant. Zeitler is skilled in pediatric cochlear implantation, but his clinical interests also include bone-anchored hearing aids (Baha), benign and malignant tumors of the ear and skull base, facial nerve disorders, cholesteatoma and chronic ear disease, ear infections and hearing loss. Zeitler also frequently collaborates with neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists in the treatment of a variety of ear diseases and is an active member of the Colorado Neurological Institute.

MED-EL’s MAESTRO™ Cochlear Implant System has proven to be an effective solution for individuals with bilateral severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss. According to Zeitler, the device is expected to last a lifetime. Zeitler and his team of medical professionals at Denver Ear Associates will evaluate the quality of sound Claire experiences once the device is turned on December 18th. “Before surgery, Claire was excited and apprehensive, but she was ready,” Zeitler says. “My hope is that Claire’s story can be shared with other children and adults suffering the same disability, and Claire can be a champion of cochlear implantation for these patients in the future.”

Understanding Good vs. Bad Fats

Many people are under the impression that all dietary fats are bad. This notion, however, is incorrect—and may even be harmful. Watch this video clip about eating a healthy diet and what to avoid in order to learn more.

Sources of good—or healthy—fats include foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, avocado, olive oil, almonds, and walnuts. These fats are good for you and supply you with valuable nutrients that clear and strengthen your arteries. Bad fats are commonly found in vegetable oils and animal fat. Fats from these sources can clog your arteries and lead to weight gain.

For top-quality hospital care in the Denver, Colorado area, come to Swedish Medical Center. We diagnose and treat a wide array of medical disorders and problems, and we are a Level I Trauma Center. To learn more, please call (303) 788-5000.

A Mission to Help Others

Serving others has always been a life mission for Bert Bertapelle, Director of General Surgery. Prior to working at Swedish he traveled the world as a nurse in the United States Navy. After ten years of active duty service, Bert decided to join the Navy Reserve where he could continue serving the country along with having his civilian job at the hospital. “I loved my time in the Navy. I’ve been to countries such as Morocco and Japan. It was an amazing experience,” he explains.

Recently, Bert joined 250 other enlisted and commissioned military medical professionals on a mission right here in our own country.  Alabama Care 2012 was one of several outreach missions executed to provide assistance to underserviced communities.  Supported by the Department of Defense, Alabama Care 2012 also served as an initiative designed to improve military readiness, bringing together members from the Navy, Army and Air Force. “It’s always interesting to see how we can all work together. We all brought a different tool box to the game,” says Bert.

Bert served for two weeks in Selma, Alabama. Teams there provided free medical, dental, pharmaceutical and ophthalmology services to over 30,000 men, women and children. “It was hugely humbling. Patients had tears in their eyes and were so appreciative of our service,” says Bert.  “It really reminded me of why I became a nurse in the first place,” he explains.

Alabama Care 2012 marks the first time some of the military professionals were exposed to working with different branches of the military.  “Working side by side with other military professionals was great training. Being able to help others together made us realize what we each do for our country and how we need to continue to work together,” says Bert.

Bert also received the chance to speak to local high school students about military healthcare careers. He says he is looking forward to his next assignment.  “I would absolutely love to do another mission. These type of missions need to continue to happen here in our own country.”

Understanding the Symptoms of Asthma in Your Child

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that can lead to frightening symptoms and emergency trips to your Denver hospital. This condition is very common among children living in the United States, affecting an estimated 7.1 million individuals under the age of 18, according to the American Lung Association. Of these, 4.1 million suffered from an asthma attack just in the year 2009. During an asthma attack, the airways leading to the lungs become narrowed due to inflammation and mucous production, obstructing the passage of air. This is not only frightening for a child, but can also lead to serious complications and even death if left unmanaged.

Is your child suffering from asthma? In most cases, allergenic triggers or various environmental factors such as dust mites, pollens, cigarette smoke and chilly air are responsible for causing an asthma attack. Exercise, strong emotion, or respiratory infections, such as the flu, are also known to cause asthma exacerbations. Although your child’s breathing may appear normal between attacks, you may notice the following symptoms when asthmatic triggers are present:

  • Shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing that can wake the child at night.
  • Gasping for air or having difficulty breathing normally.
  • A higher respiratory rate than normal.
  • Dark bags under the eyes and chronic fatigue.
  • Chest tightness and sucking in of the chest and neck when trying to breathe.
  • Life-threatening airway obstruction and breathing problems.

“The optimal care for asthma requires a combination of cares from the patient, family and physician, and involves both preventing episodes (and flare-ups) and then treatment should an exacerbation occur”, explains Dr. Martin Alswang, Swedish Pediatrician.

Although there is no known cure for asthma, an experienced pediatrician can help your child manage the condition effectively. Treatment often involves avoiding triggers, carefully monitoring any developing symptoms and taking prescribed medications as needed.

To find an experienced pediatrician in the Denver area, contact the healthcare professionals at Swedish Medical Center. We understand that children require special attention, treatment and care. Call us at (303) 788-5000 for more information about our comprehensive services for children of all ages.

A Look at Your Diet with Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus is a condition that affects how your body makes or utilizes insulin, a hormone that enables glucose (sugar) to enter the cells of the body. When left unmanaged, diabetes can result in dangerously high blood glucose levels that can adversely affect almost every organ and tissue in the body. If you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, you can manage your condition more effectively and avoid emergency visits to your Denver hospital by carefully monitoring your diet. Read on for some tips for eating well and staying healthy with diabetes.

Choose the right foods. Although eating a varied and nutrient-rich diet is important for everyone, it becomes even more crucial for those diagnosed with diabetes. Focus on making fresh vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy products the key parts of your daily meals. Avoid processed foods, as they are often high in sodium and fats. Not to mention, processed foods high in fat and sodium can increase your risk of other health conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Plan your meals around their glycemic index. The glycemic index (GI) of a carbohydrate-rich food describes its ability to raise your blood glucose levels. A food with a high glycemic index, for example, will raise your blood glucose much higher than a low or medium GI food. As a habit, plan your meals around foods that are low or medium GI rated, such as lean meats, non-starchy vegetables and whole grains. These will help to keep your blood sugar stable and lower your risk of diabetes-related complications.

Snack wisely. Snacking between meals can be a great way to keep your blood sugar stable and curb your hunger throughout the day—but only if you choose your snacks wisely. Instead of high-sugar or high-fat options, consider leaner foods with protein such as celery sticks with peanut butter or a hardboiled egg. “Snacking is not a must and really depends on your weight loss goals. If you are going to snack, aim for 15-30 grams of carbohydrates per snack and include a protein.” Amy Vance, Registered Dietitian.

At Swedish Medical Center, we are proud to offer exceptional family medicine and primary care services. If you or a loved one is in need of assistance with diabetes management, let us help. Call us at (303) 788-5000 to find an experienced and knowledgeable physician in the Denver community.

Diabetes Overview

Diabetes is a chronic illness that affects how your cells use glucose (sugar). Men and women with poorly managed diabetes typically suffer from higher than normal blood glucose levels, which are caused by the inability of their cells to absorb sugar from the bloodstream. By watching this video, you’ll learn more about diabetes and how this condition affects the body’s ability to function. The video’s host also discusses the complications associated with the disease and the importance of proper management.

With help from a dedicated medical professional, diabetes can be managed successfully. If you would like to learn more about staying healthy with diabetes, contact the healthcare experts of Swedish Medical Center by calling (303) 788-5000.  At our Denver area hospital, our experienced physicians strive to provide the highest quality of medical care in the area.

Concussion Warning Signs

Concussions are potentially severe brain injuries that are caused by trauma to the skull. In the United States, sports-related concussions are extremely common, affecting more than 300,000 American athletes annually according to the University of Pittsburgh Brain Trauma Research Center.

By watching the video above, you can learn more about the symptoms of concussions. You can also find out when parents should consider seeking professional medical help for an injured child.

If you suspect that you or your child may have a concussion, the professionals of Swedish Medical Center are available to answer your medical questions, so call us today at (303) 788-5000. Our hospital is the region’s referral center for neurotrauma and is a recognized leader in the treatment of neurological conditions.

What is a Concussion?

“Believe it or not, many (if not most) concussions are preventable. Precautions like wearing a helmet or buckling up can decrease your risk of concussion injury.”—Phyllis Uribe, Swedish Trauma Supervisor. 

A concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that results in the temporary loss of normal brain function. Concussions can be caused by a fall or blow to the head that causes the brain to move quickly back and forth. Although most concussions may be considered relatively minor brain injuries, these events can cause long-term changes in the way that the brain functions and may require treatment at a hospital.

The symptoms of concussion are normally categorized into four groups, depending on how they affect brain function.

  • Thinking/Remembering: These symptoms can include difficulty thinking clearly, concentrating or remembering new information. Some sufferers also feel as if their thinking process has slowed down.
  • Physical: Depending on the area of the brain affected by the concussion, patients can experience a variety of physical symptoms. Headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and fatigue can all occur as the result of concussion. Victims of concussion may also experience sensory difficulties such as light sensitivity and blurry vision.
  • Emotional/Mood: Concussions can also affect a person’s mood by causing irritability, sadness, stress, anxiety or nervousness.
  • Sleep: After a concussion, a victim can have difficulties maintaining healthy sleep patterns. Some sleep more than usual, while others do not sleep enough or have issues falling asleep.

Normally, the symptoms of concussion only occur briefly and resolve completely after a short time. In some cases, however, the symptoms require a much longer recovery period. Some symptoms may also appear long after the injury occurred.

In rare cases, a concussion can lead to serious and life-threatening symptoms that require immediate attention from a hospital’s emergency department. Some of the severe danger signs of concussions include seizures or convulsions, a worsening of symptoms, loss of consciousness, an inability to be woken up, slurred speech and decreased coordination.

The Level I Trauma Center at Swedish Medical Center is available 24 hours per day, seven days a week to provide expert care to you and your loved ones when every second counts. Contact our staff today by calling (303) 788-5000 for more information about our comprehensive medical services.