Author Archives: Rex Healthcare

Kristie’s Rex Sprint Triathlon Experience

Post by Kristie, Rex Wellness Center of Garner Member


Kristie on Race Day morning

My triathlon journey began two years ago when I attended my friend’s triathlon. I just went to support her, but when I left her event, I caught the “bug.” At the time, I was pregnant with my twin boys and I remember thinking, “just let me get these boys out and settled – I’m doing that!” After they were a year old, I thought I would start to prepare myself for the triathlon, but I knew I needed a pool and the gym fees discouraged me. So I just signed up for a half marathon instead. While this was fun and definitely a bucket list item, my heart still wanted to do a tri.

I ultimately joined Rex Wellness Center and began the road to the triathlon. I had NO idea what I was doing. I was already a runner so I felt the most comfortable with this portion. My bike purchase was only a few months earlier and had only logged greenway miles because of my fear of the road. I knew how to swim from childhood lessons, but somehow felt that meant nothing competitively. So I decided to spend the most of my time in the pool and on the bike.


Kristie and her fellow Rex Tri trainees

Right around the time I began my membership, I started receiving the weekly newsletters from the wellness center. In one particular newsletter, I read that you could submit your name to potentially win triathlon training from a well-known triathlete!   My initial thought was I NEVER win anything, but I signed up anyway because I knew if I didn’t sign up I CERTAINLY wouldn’t win. Let me just say, when I got the email that I was one of the ones chosen, I just about exploded with excitement because now I KNEW that my goal could be achieved now. The best part was knowing who would be training me- the infamous Rodney Jenkins!

We met initially and he asked me if I had support at home because training for a tri would take commitment. With 3 kids at home and working full time at night, I knew I had my work cut out for me. I discussed this with my husband Jason and my parents, and they supported me fully. Rodney ran through all the things I needed, and I went out and got everything required for the tri.

I looked the part, now I had to train for the part. I soon met Theresa, last year’s Rodney-triathlon-protege and Angie, Rodney’s wife, and these two would help me a lot along my journey with their encouragement. We were all able to get some road miles in on the bike and I continued the swim journey on my own. I was introduced to Shannon Thomsen and he helped me tremendously on shifting gears and hill work. I was able to learn from him how to use the terrain to my advantage with the hills. His patience and confidence in me boosted my confidence level and I thank him for that.


Swim portion of the Mock tri

The mock triathlon occurred one week before the Garner Triathlon and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. We all went out and I got to experience how it might be on race day, and it taught me several things. First, I now knew it was possible because I completed it! Secondly, it taught me what it feels like to be in the pool with others that have varying skill levels. I got to feel what it was like to pass someone and have someone pass me. Lastly, I learned what a great supportive family there was in our own Rex family of triathletes. Everyone had wonderful things to say. While I felt slower than them, they all said I did a great job. No one ever made me feel like I was wasting their time. It was a great feeling.

On race day, the adrenaline was definitely pumping! I arrived at 5:45 and Shannon and Theresa helped me set up. Body marking was next. Afterwards, it became a waiting game. As I got in the water, it really sank in, and all I could say was here goes nothing!


Kristie crosses the finish line faster than her goal time!

At this point I had to trust my training. I estimated that I could swim in 7 minutes and I did just that. The bike transition happened faster than I had anticipated, and because I had ridden the course a few times, I knew what to expect. The run transition was fast and the brick training helped me get on the road without feeling too tired. I actually ran my 2 miles faster than I had anticipated. I finished the whole thing in 1 hour and 12 minutes. I was shooting for 1 hour 15 minutes so I was very excited.

To anyone who wants to do this, you can do it! It is possible. After all, I am a mom of three young kids and a full time nurse who works nights. It is possible. You just have to believe in yourself and run your own race! I am signed up for the second and third part of the Rex Triathlon Series and hope to do an Olympic Distance Triathlon next year. It is my ultimate goal to do a 70.3 Half Ironman. Then maybe, just maybe take it even further. We will see! Thank you Rex Wellness Family for the opportunity and the support!

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Prevent Foodborne Illness

072514_foodborne4Picnics, grilling, camping — summer was made for dining outdoors. But outdoor cooking experiences can also present unique challenges for food safety. Don’t let foodborne illness ruin your summer fun. Follow these safety tips to ensure your summer cookouts go off without a hitch.

Wash your hands and all cooking surfaces and utensils. If you are going to be camping somewhere without safe water, bring your own water and soap. Do not assume fresh water from lakes or streams is safe just because it looks clear — always disinfect water first by bringing to a rolling boil for one minute (longer if camping at high altitudes). You can also use disposable wipes for washing hands and quick cleanup.

072514_foodborne2Keep perishable food cold. Pack meats and other frozen products directly into a cooler without thawing first to keep them cold longer for picnics and camping trips. Try to pack food that will be cooked later toward the bottom of the cooler. Use a separate cooler for beverages that will be opened more often. Pack coolers as full as possible to help keep items cold, and fill extra space with large blocks of ice or frozen gel packs. Keep coolers out of the sun and covered with a blanket or tarp if possible.

Marinate the right way. To ensure your food is safe, marinate only in a refrigerated environment. Poultry and cubed meat can be marinated for up to two days. Beef, pork, steaks and lamb can be marinated for up to five days. If you plan on using the marinade in cooked food, keep a portion separate from the raw meat to use later. If you do serve marinade you’ve used to marinate the raw meat, it should be boiled first to destroy bacteria.

If you do suspect food poisoning, don’t hesitate to to go to your nearest Rex Express Care for treatment.


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Make a Splash with Water-Based Exercise

072514_swimming1If you find that activities like running or biking put too much strain on your body, or if you’re ready for a change in routine, water-based exercise may be the answer you’re looking for. From water aerobics to hydrotherapy, aquatic activities have many positive health benefits for individuals of all ages and abilities.

As a low-impact physical activity, water-based exercise allows you to reap the aerobic benefits of high-impact physical exercise without the wear and tear on your body that traditional aerobic exercises may cause. Water-based physical therapy (hydrotherapy) can help individuals with chronic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, improve the use of affected joints without aggravating symptoms.

072514_swimming3Individuals dealing with chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, may find that exercising in water relieves their anxiety about being active and may even relieve pain by increasing blood flow to the muscles. If you don’t suffer from chronic disease, but still cope with joint or muscle pain, you may also see health improvements when changing from a land-based to a water-based exercise program.

Water aerobics and other water activities can also be beneficial to your mental health. Swimming can improve your mood by reducing stress and aiding relaxation. Exercising in warm water may also help relieve symptoms of depression in people with fibromyalgia.

Make it a family affair

072514_swimming2Besides being beneficial to your physical and mental health, recreational water activities are fun for the entire family and can help you forge stronger family connections. From going to the beach to playing on the water slide at your community pool, there are a variety of ways to enjoy the water with your family. Just be sure to follow safety rules and keep a sharp eye on small children and non-swimmers.

Take the plunge

Whether you’re looking for a low-impact exercise, an easy way to relax or a fun activity that can be enjoyed by the entire family, jumping in the water may be just what you need.

Float the idea by your doctor

Talk to your doctor to determine if aquatic exercises or hydrotherapy may benefit you. All five of our Wellness Centers have indoor swimming pools available for members, and all wellness centers offer a variety of aqua group exercises classes. Check them out today!

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Keep Bugs at Bay

If the warm temperatures and sunshine beckon you outdoors this summer, don’t let biting bugs drive you back inside. Wearing insect repellent is one way to help protect you and your loved ones from the bite of pesky — and sometimes dangerous — bugs.

Why repellent?

062414_bugtbite1Some mosquitoes and ticks transmit viruses or bacteria that may cause diseases like Lyme disease, West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis when they bite you. In addition to wearing long sleeves and long pants and avoiding bug-friendly habitats like tall grass and standing water, applying insect repellent to skin can keep bugs from landing on you. To choose the best repellent for you, consider the insects you’ll be exposed to, the length of protection you need and the active ingredient. The higher the concentration of the active ingredient, the longer the protection.

Active ingredients

The most common and effective active ingredient is DEET. An EPA data review in 1998 confirmed that when users follow product label instructions, DEET poses no health concerns to humans. Many products promise protection of about two and a half hours, depending on concentration. Experts suggest that a concentration higher than 30 percent offers no additional protection.

062414_bugtbite3Other EPA-approved active ingredients include picaridin and several plant-based oils. Picaridin may be as effective as DEET according to recent studies, but there is no data showing long-term safety results. Further research is needed to understand how well the active ingredient repels ticks, as well. Plant-based insect repellents are made from the essential oils of citronella, cedar, eucalyptus and soybeans, with oil of lemon eucalyptus being the most effective. These products may offer protection for up to two hours. There are also citronella-scented candles that you can put outside of your home to make sitting outdoors more enjoyable.

062414_bugtbite2Application safety

  • Always read the product label and follow the directions.
  • Use just enough to cover exposed skin. Do not apply under clothing.
  • Avoid applying on or near eyes, mouth, ears and open sores.
  • Do not spray directly to face or in an enclosed area.
  • Wash skin and clothing with soap and water once you return indoors.

If you do get a bug bite that needs to be treated, Rex Express Care Centers are the perfect place to go. Check out our list of locations to find the nearest Rex Express Care to your home.

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Recipe: Fruit Pizza

Are you a pizza lover? Add more fresh fruit to your day with this fruit-inspired dessert pizza.

Number of servings: 12


  • ½ cup margarine
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg (large)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, nonfat or light
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced (or kiwi, bananas, pears, peaches or blueberries)


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. To make the crust: Cream margarine, sugar, vanilla and egg until light and fluffy.
  3. Add flour and baking powder, mixing well.
  4. Spread mixture about 1/8-inch thick on a pizza pan, baking sheet, or 9-inch by 13-inch pan.
  5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool.
  6. Mix together cream cheese and sugar. Spread on cooled cookie crust.
  7. Arrange fruit on top of pizza. Refrigerate until serving time.

Serves 12. Per serving: 240 calories, 8 g fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 310 mg sodium, 36 g total carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 19 g sugar, 6 g protein, 8 percent vitamin A, 15 percent vitamin C, 10 percent calcium, 6 percent iron.

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Get Fired Up about Safe Grilling

052814_grill2When summer winds come blowing in, you can bet the aroma of grilling will be in the air. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, three out of four households own grills. Ensure your backyard barbecues are safe for your family and friends by sparking your knowledge about food and grill safety.

Make sure frozen meat, poultry or seafood is thawed before grilling so that it cooks evenly. The refrigerator works best for slow, safe defrosting. You may also place sealed packages of frozen meat in cold water to thaw. Never defrost meat at room temperature, as this can promote bacteria growth and foodborne illness.

052814_grill4Marinades can boost the flavor of meat and help keep it moist. You can marinate meat for several hours or a day or two in the refrigerator. As with defrosting, the kitchen counter is no place to marinate meat. If you plan to use a portion of the marinade for cooked food, make sure to boil the marinade for at least three minutes to kill any bacteria.

Marinade bonus: Not only can marinades enhance flavor, they may provide health benefits. Marinating meats before grilling may reduce cancer-causing substances that occur when meat is charred over high heat. In addition, some marinades contain antioxidants and vitamins that may offer protection against heart disease and cell and tissue damage.

052814_grill3Scrub the grilling surface with a wire grill brush to remove any charred food. Have plenty of clean grilling utensils and platters on hand, and prevent the spread of harmful bacteria by using different platters and utensils for raw meat and cooked meat. Thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water after handling raw meat.

Instruct children to stay away from the grill, and keep pets away from the grilling area. Set up your barbecuing station in a well-ventilated area and only use approved fire starters with a charcoal grill. Let the starter fluid burn off before putting food on the grill, and keep a squirt bottle of water nearby to douse any flare-ups. When heating up the grill and flipping food, wear flameproof mitts and use cooking utensils with long handles.

Heat meat to a safe internal temperature to kill bacteria. Use a food thermometer and place it in the deepest part of the meat to determine if it’s done (see chart). Turn meat at least once during the cooking process, and make sure it is no longer pink inside.

052814_grill1When food has reached a safe temperature, remove the meat with clean tongs and place it on a clean platter. Serve food as soon as possible after cooking. In hot weather, food should never sit out for more than one hour. Immediately refrigerate any leftovers in shallow containers.

Now you’re ready to make grilling season a breeze! By following these health and safety tips, you’ll know your grill has the sweet smell of success.

Ready to Serve?

Food                                                                                        Cook to at Least…

Whole poultry and thighs                                                           180°F

Poultry breasts                                                                          170°F

Ground poultry                                                                         165°F

Pork (all cuts), ground beef hamburgers                                     160°F

Beef, veal, lamb steaks, roasts and chops, fish and seafood       145°F


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The Sun’s Out: Seek Protection and Be Sun Smart!

052714_meridethprofilePost by Meredith Brown, Rex Wellness Centers intern for the Summer of 2014. Meredith is a senior at East Carolina University majoring in Public Health with a concentration in Community Health.

The summer is just around the corner and for most of us that means weekend trips to the beach, hanging by the pool, evening walks, and grilling out with family and friends. While the summer brings fun in the sun it can also bring some not so fun times – SUNBURN.

052714_sunscreen1As a child, my mom would apply the sunscreen every hour. I was taken care of and had no need to worry. As I reached my teenage years, sitting by the pool or beach getting bronzed became fun and something I loved about summer months. In high school, I went on a beach trip with friends.  At this age, I rarely bothered with using sunscreen because I only wanted darker skin and I thought sunscreen was blocking the sun from me altogether-I was very wrong! Needless to say, I got burned. Severely burned! Sitting out in the sun for 7 hours with no protection in my cute bikini was not the best idea.

I still love being in the sun as it gives me time to relax and read – two things I rarely have time for these days!  Although now, I have learned from many severe sunburns that not using sunscreen all can be very damaging to my skin and my future.

Here are some helpful tips for beach trips, pool days, and days out in the sun during the summertime:

  • 052714_sunscreen2The experts say that using the ridiculously high SPF sunscreens are useless. Instead, go for a SPF between 15 and 60.
  • Remember to reapply every 2-3 hours. Many sunscreens rub off and fade away after periods of time so continue to reapply throughout the day, especially when jumping in and out of water.
  • Pay attention to the ingredients in your sunscreen products.
  • Always protect your face.  Apply sunscreen and pack a hat or umbrella to seek coverage when you need an escape from the sun.
  • Each sunburn can double your chance of skin cancers, especially sunburns in your youth.

Always remember to be responsible when enjoying the sun this summer. Use sunscreen and have fun!


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Rex Encourages the Breastfeeding Journey

Jennifer Majors, IBCLC, RN, is a Lactation Consultant at Rex Healthcare. Prior to being an IBCLC, she was a Pediatric RN. Jennifer and her husband have three boys.

Breastfeeding is a hot topic these days, from the rise of milk banks to Gieselle Bundchen’s instagram photo that shows that supermodels can breastfeed too. There was also a recent report that announced that only 16.4% of U.S. mothers exclusively breastfeed for at least 6 months.

At Rex, our most important goal is that your baby is getting the nutrition he or she needs. We want to support EVERY Mom (and dad) and their feeding goals no matter what they are- as long as the baby is getting fed!

With that being said, we do encourage breastfeeding as much as possible. Here are some things we at Rex do to help moms reach their breastfeeding goals:

  • 050514_breastfeeding1Automatic visit from an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) for all first time moms, moms with multiples, and moms with late preterm or small for gestational age newborns. Any routine experienced mom can easily request a consult with an IBCLC.
  • The staff nurses go through yearly training and check-offs on basic breastfeeding skills that are relevant to their working area
  • There are numerous IBCLC’s staffed during the day, and Rex even offers night shift IBCLC’s every night of the week!
  • Rex is working on protocols to help specific groups of babies based on gestational age
  • We have developed a protocol for supplementation if it happens to be needed and will speak with the parents at length regarding any need for supplementation
  • We absolutely do not give out goodie bags stuffed with formula
  • We try to encourage rooming in with the baby for better reading of baby’s hunger cues
  • If you are having difficulty once you go home, call Rex Lactation at 919-784-3224, for any questions/concerns, or to schedule an outpatient visit with one of our IBCLCs
  • 050514_breastfeeding2We can give you info on additional services as well that can improve the breastfeeding relationship. We have a list of support groups such as Le Leche League, and Nursing Mothers of Raleigh. We also have lists of private practice IBCLC’s in the area that can come to your home and spend a lot of focused one on one time with and mom/baby.
  • We have an office down on the first floor that handles pump rentals and sales. It also carries nursing bras and other breastfeeding necessities and gizmos. They are open 9-12 Monday-Friday.

The bottom line is that Rex is happy to support all moms who feed their babies! We hope our new moms and dads will use our resources to help them as much as possible on their new journey.


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Rex turns 120: Co-Worker Ginny Martin Reflects

Post by Ginny Martin, Application Coordinator and Project Analyst at Rex Healthcare. In honor of Rex’s 120 Anniversary on May 1, Ginny reflects on her 34-year career at Rex.

Rex Hospital at it's 'new' location at Lake Boone Trail, 1981

Rex Hospital at it’s ‘new’ location at Lake Boone Trail, 1981

I was born at Rex in the St. Mary’s street hospital, and I started working at Rex in 1979. My records would show that I have been with Rex since 1980- my first son was born before I had been an employee for a year, and I was re-hired after a 4-week maternity leave.

I was back at Rex by September 1980 when we moved from the St. Mary’s street location to the ‘new’ hospital on Lake Boone Trail. I remember that when we moved here, everyone was amazed how big it was- we thought there was no way we would use all the space!

All of my children, and now both of my grandchildren, were also born at Rex. Over my 30+ year career here, I have loved my family and friends at Rex so much that I wanted my youngest son Jason to be a part of Rex family as well. Jason joined Rex a few years ago as a Project Coordinator- my former title- and it is such a joy to share this experience with him.

Another blessing I’ve had in my long career at Rex is that I’ve been able to watch so many of my friends grow their careers here. Not only am I blessed with my family, but I am blessed with an extended family here at Rex. I’ve watched friends date, get married, have kids, and then become grandparents!

Rexie with friends at the Wakefield Open House, 2009

Rexie with friends at the Wakefield Open House, 2009

Rex has always encouraged me to fulfill my dreams and offered me the opportunity to make them come true. I’ve worked in the same department my entire career. I’ve never even transferred to another position within my department. I’ve been blessed that my job evolved like it has. I started out using a number 2 pencil, abstracting general demographics and ICD codes in block formation for statistics to building a second EMR, and now I am working on the EPIC implementation. Talk about a technology jump!

Six years ago I was given the opportunity to be Rexie, and it has enabled me to meet other mascots and share my love for Rex. Working with kids as a mascot is one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences that a person could ever imagine. I will tell you that everyone that meets Rexie is convinced that it is a guy in the suit. I’m constantly getting chest bumps which is an experience all by itself! My husband has also been a major part of the Rex experience. He has been by my side for every event that I’ve done as Rexie.

From 1979 to 2014, a lot has changed at Rex, but the caring and compassion of its co-workers has remained steadfast. It is an honor to work for an organization that takes care of its community as well as we do. Happy anniversary, Rex!


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The Mental and Social Benefits of Volunteering

Post by Kerry Grace Heckle, Director of Community Relations and PR at Rex Healthcare.

As Raleigh turns its eyes to the Rex Hospital Open next month, May 22-25 at TPC at Wakefield Plantation, the tournament would not be possible without the help of over 400 volunteers. The volunteers are the glue that holds the tournament together- they dedicate countless hours in over 15 different committees that attribute to much of the success of the Rex Hospital Open.

So why volunteer?


Dedicating your time as a volunteer is a great way to make new friends, expand your network, and boost your social skills. One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to commit to a shared activity together. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, especially if you are new to an area. Volunteering also strengthens your ties to the community and broadens your support network, exposing you to people with common interests, neighborhood resources, and fun and fulfilling activities.


Volunteering is both good for your body and mind. Volunteering can provide a healthy boost to your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. Doing good for others and the community provides a natural sense of accomplishment. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.

Volunteering is a fun and easy way to explore your interests and passions. Doing volunteer work you find meaningful and interesting can be a relaxing, energizing escape from your day-to-day routine of work, school, or family commitments.

Volunteering at the Rex Open comes with a lot of perks in addition to the health benefits listed above! So what does a Volunteer for the Rex Hospital Open receive?

  • 042414_volunteerOne Tournament polo shirt
  • One Tournament ball cap or visor
  • Free breakfast and lunch on the days that you volunteer
  • Tournament Volunteer badge, which is good all week for free admittance
  • Up to six free weekly Guest badges- give to family or friends
  • Free parking in the volunteer parking lot with frequent shuttles to and from the course
  • And one voucher for a free round of golf at TPC at Wakefield Plantation (cart fee not included) if you work three or more shifts!

Volunteers are still needed for the Rex Hospital Open and we want you to join us!  Please visit the tournament website for more information and to sign-up.

Hope to see you there!



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