Monthly Archives: March 2014

Recipe: Sunshine Salad

Brighten up your day with a salad that’s colorful and sweet—and good for you!


  • 032714_sunshinesalad5 cups spinach leaves, packed, washed and dried well
  • ½ red onion, sliced thin
  • ½ red pepper, sliced
  • 1 whole cucumber, sliced
  • 1 whole tomato, slided
  • 2 oranges, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces
  • ⅓ cup of bottle light vinaigrette dressing

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss again. Serve immediately.

Makes 5 servings. Per serving: cholesterol: 0 mg, fiber: 8 g, sodium: 200 mg, calories from protein: 18 percent, calories from carbohydrate: 62 percent, calories from fat: 20 percent.

Recipe courtesy of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

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What you need to know about AEDs

Post Glenn W. Barham, EMT-P and Coordinator for the Emergency Response Team at Rex Healthcare.

032714_AED1Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are literal lifesavers, delivering a shock to restore a heart’s normal rhythm following sudden cardiac arrest. But would you know how to use one in an emergency situation?

AEDs are available in many public places, including malls, grocery stores and airports, and are actually very user-friendly. While there are several AED brands on the market, they all work similarly.  The first thing to do is turn it on, and then just follow the voice and visual prompts.  They are designed to be used by untrained lay people.

Here are some pointers, courtesy of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, to keep in mind if you ever find yourself in an emergency situation requiring an AED:

  • 032714_AED2Before using an AED, check the person to make sure there is no response (shout at or shake him or her; if the person is a child, pinch instead).
  • Call 911; if more than one person is present, have one person call emergency services and get the AED while the other person begins CPR.
  • Check the breathing and pulse. If breathing and pulse are irregular or not present, get ready to use the AED as soon as possible.
  • Turn on the defibrillator, which will give you step-by-step instructions via voice and screen prompts.
  • 032714_AED3Make sure the wires from the electrodes are connected to the AED, and that no one is touching the person, then press the “analyze” button, which will allow the machine to check the person’s heart rhythm.
  • If the machine tells you a shock is needed, stand clear of the person before pressing the “shock” button.
  • Start or resume CPR until help arrives or the person begins moving. Stay with the person.

The residents of Raleigh and Wake County enjoy one of the best out-of-hospital cardiac arrest resuscitation rates in the country. Early CPR and defibrillation are cornerstones of that success. Every Emergency Response Team that works an event in our community is equipped with an AED, and their use has been instrumental, along with rapid CPR, in several successful resuscitations. While we don’t have to use them often, we realize they are one of the most vital pieces of equipment we have.

I encourage everyone to take a CPR class which includes the AED training. Do it for your family, your friends, and your neighbors.

If your company,  church, or other facility outside of Rex has an AED, please make sure that the local 911 center is aware. In cases of emergency, they can instruct the caller on its location. If you have a heart condition that puts you at risk for sudden cardiac arrest, talk with your health care provider about purchasing one for home use.



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10 Springtime Outdoor Activities for Toddlers

032514_toddleractivity_biopicKaylee Schatz-Berg is a blogger in Raleigh. When Kaylee is not blogging, she is finding healthy recipes for her family and enjoying warm days when she can play with her toddler, Asher, outside. She is the force behind Her Heel Flops, a blog exploring travel,food, fashion, entertaining at home, and of course, mommyhood. Follow her on Twitter: @kayleeraleigh

Finding outdoor activities for toddlers in Raleigh can sometimes present a challenge. How can you keep curious little minds occupied in a safe environment while on a budget? As a mom here in the Triangle, I have found many answers to this question. Instead of leaving home, I created a list of affordable and fun things to do with young children right in your own backyard:

  1. Kaylee and her son Asher paint with elements they collected in the yard

    Kaylee and her son Asher paint with elements they collected in the yard

    Paint With Plants: Use finger paint and “paint” with natural things you find. Instead of brushes, grass is fun to make whisker marks, and leaves make great stamps.

  2. Magazine Collages: Roll out a blanket in the shade and offer kids scissors, magazines, and you can even try creating a homemade paste of flour, water, and salt. Cutting and mixing is good for motor skill development. Try a collage based on colors, animals, or places. Whatever makes your child smile!
  3. Dry Pasta, Corn or Rice: As with any toddler activity—make sure these little pieces don’t find their way to kiddies’ mouths! Roll truck toys out in the yard and let your toddler start loading the ‘pasta freight.’
  4. Stickers!: Stickers are always fun and a great way to teach hand-eye coordination. Draw different shapes or subjects (circle, house, or car) on white paper and then “color” or fill in with a stickers.
  5. 032514_toddleractivity8Gardening: Your little one can put on some gloves and help with the potting soil. My son’s favorite garden activity is watering. We usually keep a chart of when we’ve watered or “fed” each plant.
  6. Tower Time: Make castles and towers by stacking plastic cups and bowls. (This would be a great pre-water table activity!)
  7. Water Table: Gather sponges and plastic buckets, bowls, and cups. Use a garden hose to fill up the buckets, or simply fill everything up indoors first. Make sure kids are wearing clothes or smocks that you don’t mind getting dirty. There are organic food coloring recipes that use common household spices and vegetables (like carrots). Although they are non-toxic, these recipes can’t promise they won’t stain clothes. Add colors to each bowl and mix and match. This is a great way to reinforce colors with your little ones.
  8. Balloon Badminton: Just because there is a helium shortage doesn’t mean your kids need to miss out on balloons! Fill up a balloon with air and tap it back and forth with your toddler to try and keep it from touching the ground.
  9. 032514_toddleractivity10Scavenger Hunt: Hide a new toy in the yard and leave clues for your toddler to find it. To get even more activity out of this one—draw the clues earlier and have your little one color them in. Draw a picture of the mailbox, hide a drawing of a tree there, hide a drawing of a swing, and so on and until your child finds the hidden prize.
  10. Glitter Jar: Have old jars from honey or pasta sauce? Line them with glue (or the homemade paste recipe above) and fill them with sequins, glitter, beads, and have your toddler shake it up. Dump the excess back into your craft collection and now your toddler has a new piece of art!

Several of these toddler activities above work well indoors too. Yes, spring gives us warm days, but it also brings us spring showers. Pick and choose as the weather suits you. It’s much nicer to make a mess outside and not worry about getting glue or paint on furniture and glitter stuck in the carpet!

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25 Years of Cardiac Surgery at Rex

Written by Betsy Kelley RN, MS, GNC; Cardiovascular Clinical Nurse Specialist at Rex then (1989) and now (2014).


CTRU and OR5 staff, March 1989

March 15, 2014 will mark 25 years since the first cardiac surgical procedure at Rex Hospital was performed. After months of preparation and planning by physicians, nurses, administrators, and a host of other disciplines, our first patient left OR5 after a “rolling call” to the new Cardiothoracic Recovery Unit (CTRU) on March 15, 1989.

Many things have changed at Rex since that day, including Rex becoming a part of the UNC Health Care system, CTRU’s name (now the CTICU) the length of time our heart patients are hospitalized, the variety of procedures performed, and most of the faces associated with the program. However, there are a few Rex co-workers who were part of that auspicious day, that are still working in their heart-related service areas at Rex.

As the first Clinical Nurse Specialist hired at Rex, and the person charged with educating and orienting all CTRU and 4W nurses, I was nervous on 3/15/89, hoping for a smooth start to our program, and a successful outcome for our patient.


Nurses tending to the first heart patient, March 1989

Our first patient did extremely well, but our CNO at the time, Patti Fralix, wanted to make sure he continued to do well post-discharge and asked me to make a “home visit” to him. I met him at his bait and tackle shop in Fuquay-Varina, where I was pleased to see he was progressing satisfactorily. I’m sure such a visit by a non home-health nurse would never be allowable in this day and age!

My office was in the current Room 8 in CTRU, so I was close at hand for support of the staff. I slept in CTRU several nights in the first couple years of our program. The Clinical Manager Cheryl Batchelor and I were not both allowed to be on vacation at the same time during the first year. I worked with the cardiac surgery program for 11 years, and then left Rex.

FirstCase_DrsChaurdry_Davis_March and Jenny Monaco023

Doctors operate on the first heart patient, March 1989

Two years ago I had the opportunity to again work with the cardiothoracic surgeons and staff. One of my first tasks was helping our physicians and support staff to get our TAVR program up and running. It was a “mini” revisit to the excitement of 1989! Our heart program has outdone every expectation I ever had for it. The original open heart OR staff called our group “pioneers.” We are proud to have cleared a path for others to follow.

For those of us that were a part of the events that day, it is gratifying to see the growth of our heart services and cardiac surgery program, and there is much anticipation for our new North Carolina Heart and Vascular Hospital scheduled to open its doors by the end of 2016. We never would have imagined such a culmination to our work back in 1989. We are so proud of our program’s history, and our contributions to the excellent care provided to cardiac surgery patients at Rex.


RNs Patricia Sloan, Betsy Kelly, and Vickie Alston, some of the original nurses still at Rex since the first heart surgery, March 2014

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Running in the Dark

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.

031214_runner5A couple of nights ago, my wife Angie and I were driving home from a local restaurant after a late workout at the gym. We were caught up in our conversation so as we pulled into the neighborhood, two of our neighbors, Patty and Chastity, seemed to suddenly appear out of nowhere. I literally swerved to avoid hitting them.

Patty and I talked later that evening and as it turns out, we were all a bit shaken up. Our conversation had a double purpose. First of all, I wanted to apologize and secondly, I was curious about what they were wearing. Patty told me she was wearing a light colored jacket so she thought she was visible to oncoming traffic. Unfortunately, she was not. It made me wonder how many of us go out onto dark roads without reflective clothing or a light to walk, run or walk our pets.

Like most runners/walkers or pet owners, Angie and I frequently run in morning or evening darkness because we simply do not have a choice. In the summer, we want to beat the heat and in the winter, there is so little evening sunlight that we have little choice other than the dreadmill, that is treadmill. So I decided to do some research to find out what runners and walkers can use to make themselves more visible to traffic. Here is a small list of items to consider:

  1. 031214_runner1Headlamps: The key is to find one that is comfortable and also allows you to adjust the angle of the light. We own several and never run in darkness without one.
  2. Glowing armbands: I wrap mine around my upper arm to increase my visibility to traffic in front of me as well as behind me.
  3. Glow Gloves: We have some that have an LED light in the knuckle area. They do not project much light but they do increase your visibility to vehicular traffic.
  4. 031214_runner2Reflective vest, caps and clothing: We always wear reflective ankle bands. A vest is great for walking but I do not care to run in them. I find them a bit too bulky.
  5. Knuckle lights: They are so comfortable that it is easy to forget they are on your hands. An added bonus is that you can direct light in any direction.
  6. Light belts: I do not own one but I want one. You can adjust the angle and intensity of the front light and there is a red flashing LED in the back.
  7. 031214_runner3Reflective shoes: Make sure your shoes have reflectors on them, and you can add additional reflectors or light sources to your running shoes as well. Sketchers makes a glow shoe that is activated by a light source. I have not seen them but there are plenty of online reviews.

The list goes on and on. So, if you are like me and frequently run in the dark, do yourselves a favor and find a way to make yourself more visible to traffic. Your life could depend on it.

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How to Lose the Baby Weight

Jeanie StaskoJeanie Stasko is a Health Educator for Rex Wellness Centers who blogs about fitness, exercise & overall healthy lifestyle topics. This is the third installment in her blog series about exercise and new moms. This summer, Jeanie wrote about Exercise for Moms-to-Be, and earlier this winter she wrote about Before You Lose the Baby Weight.

Now that you’ve settled into a great routine with your baby, you are probably itching to get back to your old self. Keep in mind that it took 9 months for your baby belly to grow, so start by setting realistic expectations and give yourself the time you need to achieve your post-partum goals. Some women have a much easier time kicking their pregnancy weight to the curb while others have to go the extra mile to make progress.


All weight loss, post-partum or not, is really a matter of calories in and calories out. If you want to lose weight you’ve got to decrease your calorie consumption, increase your calorie output through exercise, or both!

Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. If you’re like me, you’re probably racing to the coffee pot in the morning but it takes extra discipline to make and enjoy a balanced breakfast while juggling young children and trying to get ready for the day. A breakfast that includes lean protein and some whole grains will really help get you going in the right direction. If it’s 10 AM before your eating anything, this is your first habit to alter.

Take notice of any bad habits that might be left over from those seemingly innocent pregnancy cravings. Make sure you’re eating for one! If you’re breastfeeding add an additional 300-500 calories; a diet less than 1500-1800 calories per day may put your milk supply at risk.

030614_babyweight3Fill your plate with veggies and fruits to help keep you feeling nourished and satisfied. Often times we mistake thirst for hunger so keeping well hydrated will help curb cravings too. Spreading your calories out throughout the day rather than sitting down for one big meal will also help keep your energy up.

Finding time for exercise is challenging but certainly not impossible. One of my favorite things to do is take my little ones for a stroll. The afternoon doldrums hit my house around 4 o’clock and everyone benefits from a change of scenery. Strapping the kiddos into the stroller is a great way for Mom to get some exercise while the kiddos enjoy the sights and sounds of the neighborhood. You can also check out the Mommy and Me Yoga classes at Rex Wellness Center of Raleigh.

030614_babyweight4If you want your exercise time to be your “me time” make an appointment for your child to enjoy the Child Activity Center at Rex Wellness. You can exercise in confidence knowing your child is engaged in play and safe under the supervision of our caring staff. Remember that exercise is cumulative and any exercise is more than none at all.

If you’ve got a good handle on your diet and exercise program and still seem to be struggling to get the weight off, it’s time to call in a professional. Make an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians and Personal Trainers. They are ready to help you with a personalized approach and will employ tried and true methods to get you where you want to be on the timeline that’s  right for you.


Jeanie’s daughter (3) and twin sons (7 months) out for a walk in the exercise stroller


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The Best Plate Scenario

012414_AnnaGraceRotskoAnna Grace Rotsko is a Dietetic Intern at Rex Wellness Center through North Carolina Central University. She is passionate about delicious foods that are also good for your health.

012414_faddiet1It can be hard to know if you are getting enough of the right foods to give you the right nutrition so you feel your best. Though understanding nutrition can be difficult, it doesn’t have to be. A simple trick to getting the nutrition you need is to follow “The Plate Method.”

This method consists of eating lean proteins (poultry, fish, pork, beans, tofu), whole grains (brown rice, whole grain breads, corn, sweet potatoes), and an assortment of vegetables (cooked in small amounts of plant based oils if necessary) with a side of low-fat dairy and/or fruit.

Try baking, grilling, or sautéing your lean protein, for example, and include three different colors of vegetables on your plate. A quarter of your plate should be lean meat or other protein of your choice, a quarter of your plate should be a carbohydrate of your choice, and the rest of your plate should be vegetables (try not to drown them in butter or cheese sauce)! Don’t forget your side of fruit or low fat dairy of choice with your meal.

This is how your plate should look:030314_foodplate

If you get tired of monotony, do not fear! You can still follow the plate method with sandwiches, pastas, salads, tacos, and almost anything. Just make sure you are getting about the same portions of lean protein, whole grains, and vegetables that you would if they were simply on your plate. You can also add the  low-fat dairy or fruit to your meal (reduced fat cheese, non-fat yogurt) but keep it in the quantity of a side dish… don’t let it take over the meal.

By following the plate method you will be getting the protein, carbohydrates, fiber, fats, vitamins and minerals you need for your body to function optimally!

If you are interested in learning more about bettering your nutrition, you can schedule a private nutrition consultation with one of our registered dietitians at the Rex Wellness Centers. Visit our site for more information!

Caution:  If you gain weight while following the plate method, start using a smaller plate and re-evaluate your cooking methods to find hidden fats that can add up quickly.

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