Monthly Archives: May 2013

Simple Summer Skin Care

Playing in the summer sun can be fun, but it can also take its toll on your skin. Don’t let hot-weather skin hazards drive you indoors. Arm yourself with simple skin care remedies to get you back in the summertime swing.

Bug off
There’s no escaping it. Whether you live in the city or the country, if you spend time outside during the summer, you’re bound to be bitten by some type of insect. Luckily, most insect bites and stings heal by themselves, and you won’t need to visit a doctor.

If a bee stings you, remove the stinger by swiping at it with a hard-edged object such as a credit card or a fingernail. After cleaning the area, apply ice to reduce any swelling. Use hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, a local anesthetic containing benzocaine or a baking soda paste to soothe the sting. Try an antihistamine to relieve itching, redness and swelling. (Do not give antihistamines to children under age 2 without consulting your doctor.)

Caution: If you’re allergic to bee stings, seek medical help immediately. For pesky mosquito bites, apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to reduce itching and redness. For most people, mosquito bites are annoying but harmless.

Too hot to handle
By now, you should know the harmful effects of the sun. While baking your body on the beach may feel good, overexposure to the sun is also the leading cause of skin cancer. Of course, the best treatment is prevention.

Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and protective clothing and use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Reapply sunscreen often throughout the day.

Cool, wet compresses; baths; and soothing lotions with aloe vera provide some relief for minor burns. Topical steroids, such as hydrocortisone cream, can help reduce pain and swelling.

A severe sunburn accompanied by fever, chills, upset stomach and confusion means you should see a doctor right away.

Prickly situation
Heat rashes are common when the weather is hot and humid. You might find tiny, red pimples in the crook of your arm, under your chin, behind your knees or on your chest or back.

To relieve discomfort, dry your skin thoroughly after you bathe. Sprinkle yourself with a body powder made from cornstarch. Apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to relieve itching. Call your doctor if the rash doesn’t go away within a few days or if you develop an infection.

A raw deal
Hives are another itch irritant caused by the sun. These raised red welts can form on any part of your body. Whatever you do, don’t scratch! This will only make them worse—and can lead to scarring. An antihistamine can help. Avoid harsh soap and vigorous towel drying. The good news is that most hives only last about 24 hours.

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My First Sprint Triathlon: Part Two (Rodney’s Perspective)

Post by Rodney Jenkins, a Group Exercise Instructor at the Rex Wellness Center of Garner. He is also a business teacher, a soccer coach and an athletic trainer with the Wake County Public School system. Rodney, our “Garner Ironman,” is helping first-time triathlete-in-training, Theresa, achieve her goal of completing our July 14th Sprint Triathlon. Follow Rodney and Theresa’s journey through their blog posts over the next few months.

Training a Newbie Triathlete

One Sunday morning back in January, I was watching Dr. Sanja Gupta’s Fit Nation series on CNN. The focus of that day’s show was the formation of their triathlon training team. As a triathlete, the story immediately caught my attention. CNN follows the training of six lucky people as they take on the challenge of their lives and train for their first triathlon. They come from different backgrounds and all are new to the sport. They are given bikes, wet suits, gym memberships, personal training and nutrition coaching.

After looking at this story, I immediately thought about our inaugural Rex Garner triathlon. Why couldn’t we do the same thing that CNN was doing? As a Rex Garner Group Exercise Instructor, I have been fortunate to meet, observe and workout with a great number of dedicated athletes. We have runners, cyclists and swimmers who are dedicated to their training. We also have professional trainers and registered dietitians. It quickly became clear to me that we- Rex athletes and co-workers- could in fact take on the task of training someone that had a desire to become a triathlete.

Theresa (right) and Rodney’s wife Angie, both Garner Wellness members, go for a run as part of Theresa’s triathlon training.

I first found a good training program for first time triathletes. I then had to find a way to virtually share our training program with everyone involved, so I created a Google training calendar. Last but not least, I had to recruit Rex volunteer athletes to support and train our prospective triathlete. That was the easy part, because everyone that I spoke with expressed support and excitement about having an opportunity to help someone else meet their personal fitness goals. Now it was time to select someone to train!

Our lucky candidate turned out to be Theresa. When Theresa and I met, we discussed the training program at length and how she would partner with Rex members who would serve as her support team. She was very receptive to the idea and I knew we could make this program work.

So here we are on week 4, and Theresa has embraced the challenge. I know that with her determination, and help from our training and support team, Theresa will be a triathlete. Stay tuned for future blog posts from Theresa and me as we work toward her first triathlon at Rex Wellness Center of Garner on July 14!

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Vicky’s Story Part 1: Ruses and Excuses for My Bad Habits

Post by Vicky Coerper, a Rex bariatric surgery patient and Rex co-worker. Vicky had bariatric surgery 5 and half years ago, and is writing about her journey through this blog series in order to share her struggles and triumphs on her path to good health.

Life before my bariatric surgery was so difficult, challenging and fake. First of all, have you ever pretended to be happy? It’s a mental game I played when hitting the scales at over 300 lbs. At that size, it’s hard to feel like you fit in to society’s norms, so you say things like “fat people are jovial people”, or “I’m overweight because I’m big-boned”, or “I’m like this because of my mom and great grandma… it’s in my genes; I can’t help it!” But underneath it was all a ruse meant to divert attention away from people seeing the real me, and a ruse to prevent me from accepting responsibility for my poor eating habits.

Vicky before her weight loss, June 2009

I grew up in Wisconsin where our family lifestyle was always centered around what’s cooking in the kitchen. We loved to visit my mom because we knew we’d have the best food, and there was always something good in her kitchen. We knew we’d find “Sock-it-to-me” cakes, Danish pastries, Sweet Potato pies, and an assortment of ice creams in the freezer. Many people from church would follow us home on Sunday because they knew my mom was always going to have some terrific and tasty food cooking, and who didn’t want to be a part of that? It was the culture.

For me, that’s when the weight gain started. From there it seemed like life was always centered around food and eating, because there were great memories associated with eating and entertaining. When life got hectic with the family and then with teenagers, we felt like we needed quick and easy meals because everyone was always on the run.

The weight gain was slow and manageable at first, but things really took a downturn while I was working on my online Masters Degree. I’d work 8-10 hours a day, come home and sit at my computer for another 4-6 hours while my daughters kept the house running, made meals and brought me a plate convincing me that I had to take time to eat! I’d have lots of unhealthy snacks while studying, nicknaming the snacks “brain food.”

I felt like I had this shelf on by backside from all the weight in my hips. I was self conscious getting on a plane; would I still be able to fasten the seat belt?  I always made sure I went to the bathroom before boarding the plane. Trying to get 300+ lbs in those tiny toilet areas was difficult and uncomfortable. I was even embarrassed walking down the aisles because I often bumped into people who were seated in the aisle seats.

Once I hit the point where I didn’t even want to know exactly how much I actually weighed (knowing I was well over 300 lbs), I made a decision that something needed to be done to get a handle on this weight issue because I was so embarrassed.

I’m sure my husband was embarrassed as well, although he’s such a sweetheart that he never voiced what he may have been thinking, but was extremely supportive when I suggested that we attend an information session at Rex for Bariatric Surgery. I’m sure he was thinking maybe I’ll finally get my wife back- I’d gained 170 lbs since we met. I needed to make a plan and work on my plan. I had to find me again and real happiness and stop pretending that life was all good!

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My First Sprint Triathlon: Part 1

Post by Theresa, a member of Rex Wellness Center of Garner. Theresa completed her first half-marathon about six months ago! Her next goal is to compete in Garner’s Inaugural Sprint Triathlon on July 14th, with the guidance of Rodney Jenkins, our “Garner Ironman”. Theresa is blogging about her experiences as a first-time triathlete-in-training to hopefully inspire others to try it! When she has time off from work and isn’t at Rex Wellness Center, Theresa likes to go to the beach and hang out with friends.

“Garner’s Ironman” Rodney Jenkins, Theresa’s trainer for the Rex Wellness Sprint Triathlon in Garner on July 14.

When I was asked to train with Rodney and blog about my experiences in training for my first triathlon, I have to admit I was a bit nervous. One of my fellow members, Lisa, encouraged me to do it, even though I had just recently learned proper swim technique (thanks to another fellow member, Jim).

Although I could swim, I wasn’t exactly what I would call proficient at it yet! Nervousness subsided and excitement took over. After all, who wouldn’t want to train under the guidance of an Ironman?

I met with Rodney last week and we went over the training calendar and he answered all the questions I had. He was confident that if I stick to the calendar I will be okay. Though I was intimidated at first, I look forward to working with Rodney and the others he’s recruited to help me along the way.

Week one of training went off without a hitch. The weather was cooler this week which made it nice to be outside, though that will soon change. That Sunday morning wind in a wide open neighborhood made for a little tougher bike ride! I’m looking forward to week two. I know there will be challenges along the way, be it weather, work, personal, or whatever — but I can’t worry about those things. That’s just life. I’m going to give it my all!!

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Get the Most out of your Produce with Smart Food Storage

Post by Aaron Hoag, Dietetic Intern at Rex Wellness Centers. Aaron is currently working toward becoming a Registered Dietitian in Summer 2013.

Tis’ the season for farmer’s markets, community picnics, sunshine, and plentiful seasonal produce! Let’s look at a few rules and guidelines for maintaining the shelf life and quality of your seasonal bounty:

Breads, Cereals, Flour and Rice:
Breads should be stored in the original package at room temperature and used within 5 to 7 days. When bread is stored in the refrigerator it will have a longer shelf-life due to delayed mold growth. Expect a 2 – 3 month shelf-life of bread stored in the freezer. Cream style bakery goods can be refrigerated when they contain eggs, cream cheese, whipped cream and/or custards, but no longer than 3 days.

Cereals may be stored at room temperature in tightly closed containers to keep out moisture and insects. Whole wheat flour may be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to slow the rancidity of the natural oils.

Store raw white rice in tightly closed containers at room temperature and use within one year. Brown and wild rice stored at room temperature will have a shorter shelf-life (6 months) due to the oil becoming rancid. Rice shelf-life may be extended by refrigeration. Cooked rice may be stored in the refrigerator for 6 to 7 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Fresh Vegetables:
Removing air (oxygen) from the package, storing the vegetables at 40°F (in the fridge), and maintaining optimum humidity (95 to 100%) may extend shelf-life of fresh vegetables. Most fresh vegetables may be stored up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Always wrap or cover fresh leafy vegetables in moisture proof bags to retain product moisture and prevent wilting. Root vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, on- ions, etc.) and squashes, eggplant, and rutabagas should be stored in a cool, well-ventilated place be- tween 50°F and 60°F.

Remember- tomatoes continue to ripen after harvesting and should be stored at room temperature. Remove the tops of carrots, radishes, and beets prior to refrigerator storage to reduce loss of moisture and extend shelf-life. Corn and peas should be stored in a ventilated container. Lettuce should be rinsed under cold running water, drained, packaged in plastic bags, and refrigerated. Proper storage of fresh vegetables will help maintain their quality and nutritive value.

Fresh Fruit:
In general, store fresh fruit in the refrigerator or in a cold area to extend their shelf-life. Reduce the loss of moisture from fresh fruit by using covered containers. Always store fresh fruit in a separate storage area in the refrigerator because fresh fruits may contaminate or absorb odors from other foods. Prior to consumption, rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under cold running water to remove any possible pesticide residues, soil, and/or bacteria. Peeling, followed by washing of fresh fruits and vegetables, is another effective method to removing residues.

Ripe eating apples should be stored separately from other foods in the refrigerator and eaten within one month. Apples stored at room temperature will soften rapidly within a few days. Remember to remove apples that are bruised or decayed prior to storage in the refrigerator. *Do not wash apples prior to storage.*

Green pears and apricots should be ripened at room temperature and then stored in the refrigerator. Expect up to a 5-day refrigerated shelf-life for these fruits. Unripened peaches may be ripened at room temperature and eaten after 2 days. Store ripe peaches in the refrigerator but consume at room temperature. Grapes and plums should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten fresh within 5 days of purchase. Store unwashed grapes separately from other foods in the refrigerator and wash prior to consumption.

Ripe strawberries can be stored in the refrigerator separately from other foods for approximately 3 days. Citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, and ripened oranges, can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Grapefruit may be stored at a slightly higher temperatures, up to 50°F.

Melons, such as the honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and watermelon, may be ripened at room temperature for 2, 3, and 7 days, respectively. Store ripened melons in the refrigerator. Avocados and bananas should be ripened at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. Never store unripe bananas in the refrigerator, since cold temperatures will cause the bananas to rapidly darken.

Use these helpful tips to maximize the shelf life and freshness of your spring/summertime bounty! Be sure to check out the NC specific seasonal Fruit and Vegetable Availability chart for reference as well.


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AAA: Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm and How It’s Treated

Post featuring Jason K. Kim, M.D. Dr. Kim is a vascular surgeon and a member of Rex Vascular Surgical Specialists. He is double Board Certified by the American Board of Vascular Surgery and American Board of General Surgery. 

The aorta is the largest artery in the body. It carries blood from the heart to all the vital organs in the body and to the legs and feet. An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) can occur when the wall of the aorta weakens and it begins to bulge. If undetected, this bulging aorta can grow larger, silently and without symptoms, and eventually rupture. The risk of rupture is related to the size of the AAA, and rupture of the AAA can lead to severe internal bleeding and death.

If detected early, AAA can be permanently cured. It is estimated that more than a million people are living with undiagnosed AAA, and over 95 percent of these can be successfully treated if detected prior to rupture. AAA causes very few symptoms, but some patients may feel a pulsing sensation in their abdomen, or severe unexplained pain in their abdomen or back. Nearly two-thirds of patients who suffered a ruptured AAA never knew they had the aneurysm until it ruptured.

Risk factors for AAA include age over 60-years old, history of smoking, family history of AAA, high blood pressure, and COPD or chronic lung disease. A painless and risk-free ultrasound based screening can diagnose AAA and determine the need for treatment. Men who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes, and men and women with a family history of AAA should undergo a screening ultrasound.

Once diagnosed, treatment options include medical management, minimally invasive endovascular stent graft repair, and open surgical repair of the aneurysm. The safest and most appropriate treatment of the AAA will depend on the size, location, and other anatomical factors that will be determined by your vascular surgeon. The vascular surgeons of Rex Vascular Surgical Specialists at Rex Healthcare have undergone specialized training and have full access to the most advanced endografts and tools available to successfully treat AAA.

Call 919-784-2300 to schedule your screening AAA ultrasound with Rex Vascular Surgical Specialists.

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Nurse’s Week: What Will a Year Bring?

Elizabeth Rochin, MSN, RN, is the clinical manager of 7 East at Rex Hospital. Her “Nurse’s Week” blog posts bring you a series of reflections on being a nurse at Rex.

Another Nurse’s Week has come to a close, but perhaps what we don’t realize is that every week is Nurse’s Week. Every week, we provide outstanding care to our patients and remind ourselves of the pact we have with our patients, families and communities. That pact assures our readiness to restore our patients to their optimal level of health and well-being.

So, what will another year bring us as nurses at Rex? What accomplishments and contributions do you see yourself making to continuously improve nursing care? Perhaps your path may be found in one or more of the areas below:

  • Becoming involved in Magnet Re-designation within your unit or department
  • Becoming certified in your specialty
  • Participation in the Clinical Ladder
  • Returning to school to advance your education or career
  • Coming up with strategies to reduce the risk of falls
  • You fill in the blank!

So, what will we be able to say about this coming year for our Rex Nursing Team? What do we want to be known for?

I can tell you what we are known for: we are known for delivering outstanding nursing care. We are known for ensuring the safety and comfort of our patients. We are known for our keen ability to swiftly change our plan of care based upon a subtle change. We are known for our resilience to constant change. We are known for creating light out of darkness. We are known for nursing excellence.

Let’s make this year the best year yet for Rex Nursing. Your contributions will be critical as we continue through the maze of health care reform, make a move from Cerner to Epic, ready ourselves for our next Joint Commission survey visit and finalize documentation and readiness for Magnet re-designation  just to name a few!  As you can see, we have a great deal ahead of us in the next year. We continue to grow as nurses, both as individuals and as a profession. We are ready for the challenges ahead of us. Our patients deserve our ability to successfully meet these challenges.

I can’t wait to read about our accomplishments and contributions to nursing next year! We will have so many stories to share…what will yours be?

We are grateful to you. Thank you for everything you do for your patients, for your teams, and for Rex Healthcare.

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Nurse’s Week: The Next Generation

Elizabeth Rochin, MSN, RN, is the clinical manager of 7 East at Rex Hospital. Her “Nurse’s Week” blog posts bring you a series of reflections on being a nurse at Rex.

After long days or nights, and years into a career, we as nurses may forget what initially brought us into nursing. If you want to remember, simply ask a student. In fact, I had the opportunity to ask fourteen nursing students just today why they chose nursing as a career path.

Here is a sampling of what they said:

  • “I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life.”
  • “There is nothing more pure than helping someone in need.”
  • “I knew since I was three years old that I wanted to be a nurse. I think I inherited it, my mom and grandmother are nurses.”
  • “This is my second degree. I discovered in myself a very strong need to help others, and went back to school. This was the right decision.”
  • “I was originally in sales and marketing, and realized that I loved making connections and promoting relationships. This was the perfect way to do both.”
  • “The first time a patient said, ‘You’ll make a great nurse,’ I knew I made the right decision.”
  • “I can’t imagine doing anything else. This is the perfect way to give back.”
  • “To use my hands to help heal a patient, I can’t think of anything better.”

Most of us will remember thinking about one or more of the quotes above, and will bring us back to our own days as a student nurse, and renew the passion in our work.

This weekend, colleges and universities throughout the Triangle region will graduate the newest members of North Carolina nursing. We congratulate and welcome you to your new lives and careers. Nursing offers such diversity in career paths, and the opportunities for advanced practice, expert bedside care and leadership roles have never been greater. There has never been a more exciting time to be a nurse!

But it is also important that we understand and remember that at one time or another, we were all new. None of us came into nursing knowing everything. We all needed a hand to hold us steady, and a guide to offer direction and counsel in how to move from new graduate to team member who could safely and effectively care for patients.

Occasionally we forget what it felt like to be new. And we must be willing to remember. The greatest gifts we can bestow upon our newest team members are understanding, time and expertise. We must commit to assisting our new graduates grow and develop, and assist them to make the difference they wish to make.

I would like to thank all of our outstanding preceptors who strive to give our new graduates the best possible experience and learning opportunities. Preceptors are those nursing team members who work with a new nurse for 12-20 weeks, and sometimes longer, to ensure appropriate training for their new role. Preceptors are the “life blood” of our organization, and your effort and dedication to your teams does not go unnoticed.

Rex Healthcare has an outstanding tradition of developing our newest nurses. We thank you all for making Rex the hospital of choice for students across the region. YOU are the reason that Rex is Chosen for Excellence!

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Nurse’s Week: Delivering Quality and Innovation in Healthcare

Elizabeth Rochin, MSN, RN, is the clinical manager of 7 East at Rex Hospital. Her “Nurse’s Week” blog posts bring you a series of reflections on being a nurse at Rex.

Do you remember what it was like before cell phones, laptop computers, or Microsoft Word? I can remember pages upon pages ripped out of my typewriter before the final copy of a document was correct. The Erase Tape that was introduced to correct typewriter mistakes was a gift from heaven! Many of the foods we eat today were not even produced before the microwave became a common kitchen appliance. It is these types of innovations that have changed the way we view the world, and conveniences that make our lives easier.

This year’s theme for Nurse’s Week is Delivering Quality and Innovation in Patient Care. The ability to integrate the newest and most advanced technologies, in combination with high caring/high touch, has the capacity to make a tremendous difference in healthcare and the lives entrusted to our care.

Rex RN Ann Robinson visits a community kindergarten class to talk about nursing.

I decided the best way to really define the blend of quality and innovation would best be answered by our patients. So I asked them!

The question I asked was, “What would you consider the best possible care?” I wanted to know if patients considered things like equipment, surroundings/environment or was it the people who cared for them? I was ready for any answer, and interestingly enough, the themes were virtually the same. Here are some excerpts from what they said:

  • “You can have the most amazing things, the freshest paint, but if the caring isn’t there, all you have is an empty shell.”
  • “I’ve come to Rex Hospital all of my life. I was born here, actually, at the Old Rex. Care is all about the people, and you feel that here.”
  • “What would I consider the best possible care? Someone who listens to me, who cares about what I have to say. Who takes my interests seriously, and cares about me as a person.”

As you can see from these three patients’ responses, the definition of care is real and significant. Care is the foundation of what provides a meaningful experience and supports all other facets of treatment. It is about our patients and our responses to their basic needs.

The challenge for us as nurses and health care professionals is to be able to incorporate the most sophisticated and up-to-date technology with the care that patients have come to expect and deserve. Advances have afforded us the ability to locate information in a moment, or send information across the building or to another country in seconds. It is this technology that will continue to advance our understanding of disease, and our ability to restore patients to their optimal level of health.

High tech/high touch is our next frontier. Our patients are ready. Are you?

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Nurse’s Week: Through the Eyes of Your Patients

Elizabeth Rochin, MSN, RN, is the clinical manager of 7 East at Rex Hospital. Her “Nurse’s Week” blog posts bring you a series of reflections on being a nurse at Rex.

Florence Nightingale was a woman before her time. As a nurse, teacher and statistician, she founded modern nursing and designed strategies to ensure a patient’s well-being and improved ability to heal. In her Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not (1859), Florence Nightingale wrote about a patient’s ability to fight infection, the environment which best promoted health and the optimal condition to place a patient into that would result in improved outcomes. In fact, one of her most famous quotes appears in this text:

“Apprehension, uncertainty, waiting, expectation, fear of surprise, do a patient more harm than any exertion.”

So, what would a patient here at Rex feel and experience during a wait? Whether that wait is in the Emergency Room, in the Breast Care Center Waiting Room, or in a hospital bed, what would that wait feel like? The expectation of news, report of a biopsy, the apprehension of what could be… a patient’s life can change in a moment. That life is irreconcilably connected to family, friends, and others that create a structure of support and existence. That support and existence can be quickly compromised with the threat of diminished health.

And that is where YOU come in. As nurses here at Rex, you are able to make that apprehension and uncertainty bearable. You provide an environment of healing and respite, which promotes health and the best condition upon which a patient can be restored to optimal health.

YOU are what makes Rex Healthcare one of the best hospitals in the nation.

Florence Nightingale lives in all of us. With each touch, each word, each moment of silent comfort you offer, she is there.

As we continue to celebrate Nurse’s Week, think about the moments you create that infuse life and meaning into your patients experience. However, just as important, be thinking about the moments you create that infuse life into your units and departments. It is so vitally important to take care of each other, so you can care for your patients. I will be coming around to discuss your thoughts, and look forward to sharing your stories later this week.

Happy Nurse’s Week! Thank you for all you do for our patients, our teams and each other.

“They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel…”
—Maya Angelou


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