Be Mindful, B-WELL

Authors: Jennifer Hughes, Ph.D. (UMC Trauma Psychologist), Alisha Bowker (UMC Licensed Clinical Social Worker)iStock-639641818 (1).jpg

Mindfulness is defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

Do you feel burnt out? Are you overworked? Do you feel as though you are at a crossroads in life? Are you happy?

Practicing mindfulness can help anyone who experiences stress, feels overwhelmed or battles with despair. It is proven to help many patients, too – especially those who have experienced trauma — learn how to cope with physical and emotional pain.

It also benefits healthcare professionals as they cope with stress after providing care to others, connect with patients, and work improve their quality of life.

For mental health professionals, this awareness helps reduce negative emotions and anxiety, and increases their positive emotions and feelings of self-compassion.

Research through Harvard University, the National Institutes of Health, and other leading healthcare agencies have shown that mindfulness can be effective, additionally, in reducing stress, symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improving sleep and pain management.
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Starting a mindfulness practice can be as simple as following these steps:

  • Choose a specific time: Set aside a time and space each day to practice mindfulness. It can be the same time everyday or different times, whatever is best for you. Find a quiet place with few distractions and take a comfortable seat in a chair or on a pillow on the floor.
  • Observe the here and now: The goal of a mindfulness practice is not to quiet the mind; in fact, our mind is made to wander, so why fight its natural instincts! Instead, set the intention of paying attention to the present, the here and now, without judgment.
  • Allow your judgments to come and go: When your mind inevitably begins to wander, some of those thoughts may be judging the current situation (for better or worse). When these thoughts arise, make a mental note of their presence and let them pass, and return back to the here and now. Don’t get bogged down in the power of judgment!
  • Be kind to your wandering mind: When we practice mindfulness, it can be helpful to begin by welcoming all of ourselves, including our pesky wandering mind. When your mind begins to drift away from the present moment, don’t judge it or yourself. Practice noticing those thoughts and returning to the here and now. Welcome your mind just as it is. iStock-584608574.jpg

 Mindfulness can also help with:

  • Physical Pain: One of the most effective mindfulness practices to help ease physical pain is the body scan, which allows us to identify and “dive into” different body sensations. By first focusing on specific body sensations and then widening our awareness to our body as a whole can help us to identify less with our pain.
  • Stress, Anxiety/Trauma, and Depression:
    • Stress: mindfulness can reduce stress in the moment and give you skills that will help decrease the impact of stress in the future
    • Anxiety and Trauma: Mindfulness can help the brain respond to traumatic memories in less painful and more helpful ways. This helps reduce the negative impact of traumatic events and improve overall functioning
    • Depression: Mindfulness can help ease the symptoms of depression by decreasing the cycle of negative thought patterns, feelings, and behaviors. It can even help to improve relationships with others through breaking these cycles

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At University Medical Center New Orleans, we are working to address burnout and compassion fatigue by focusing on mindfulness and other wellness initiatives through B-WELL: a new program that aims to give back to our employees and encourage them to remember to take care of themselves.

Our advice to you?: Be mindful to work toward B(ing)-WELL.

For more information on mindfulness, check out these resources:

Online

Books

  • Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook by Bob Stahl, Ph.D. and Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Free Smartphone Apps

  • Stop, Breathe & Think
  • Insight Timer
  • PTSD Coach
  • Mindfulness Coach
  • Headspace (Paid)

 

Hidden Scar Surgery: It’s No Secret

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Scars on your soul

Scars on your skin;

Some on the outside

Some are within;

Some have a story;

Some are unwritten;

Some you can see

But most are quite hidden.

-EP

Each year, more than 400,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer that requires surgery, and each year, these women carry with them burdens of fear, sometimes hair loss and, most noticeably, surgical scars.

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When considering breast procedures, many are unaware of the number of surgical options that are available: mastectomies, lumpectomies, reconstruction and, now, Hidden Scar Breast Cancer™ Surgery – a minimally invasive approach aimed to help women restore their self-image and begin the emotional healing process.

UMC New Orleans is among the first of hospitals in the Greater New Orleans area to offer this procedure, which is an advanced approach that hides incision scars and minimizes the daily emotional reminder of a breast cancer diagnosis for patients.

Adam I. Riker, MD, FACS, LSU Health New Orleans, breast surgical oncologist at UMC New Orleans, has been recognized as a Hidden Scar trained surgeon.

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 “In many instances, the incisions cannot be seen at all, as it is hidden in the inframammary fold of the breast,” Dr. Riker said, “and in select cases, the nipple can be completely preserved. This technology is exciting because it allows me to truly hide, as best as possible, the incisions that must be made for a particular breast operation.”

Breast cancer can be traditionally removed with a mastectomy procedure (in which all of your breast tissue is removed) or a lumpectomy procedure (in which only part of your breast tissue is removed).

With a Hidden Scar Approach to these procedures, Dr. Riker can place an incision in a location that is hard to see, so that the scar is not visible when your incision heals. As a result, you have little to no visible reminder of the surgery.

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The Hidden Scar approach can be performed for a nipple sparing mastectomy or a lumpectomy procedure. Patients who undergo the Hidden Scar approach do not have a higher risk of cancer recurrence than patients who undergo any other type of technique.

You may qualify for Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery based on the size and location of your tumor, your breast shape, and your breast size.

To learn more about Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery and other Services we offer for patients with cancer, visit www.umcno.org/hiddenscar

Have Your Cake…and Your Hair, Too!

UMC Offers FDA-Cleared DigniCap Scalp Cooling System to Minimize Hair Loss During Chemotherapy

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For patients recently diagnosed with cancer, it often feels like there is much to lose: time, energy, money, perhaps hope. Hair doesn’t have to be among the mix. Because of the DigniCap scalp cooling treatment, cancer patients across the United States are undergoing chemotherapy and seeing less hair loss. Now patients at University Medical Center New Orleans can do the same.

If you’re a patient looking to have your cake, and your hair, too, here’s what you need to know:

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How It Works

The DigniCap scalp cooling treatment is a proven approach to reduce chemotherapy-induced hair loss that has been used successfully by tens of thousands of patients worldwide. The reduced temperature results in a reduced blood flow to the scalp area so that less chemotherapy reaches the hair cells. Hair cells are therefore not exposed to the full dose of chemotherapy and may be able to survive the chemotherapy treatment. In addition, cellular metabolism within the hair cells is slowed down.

As a result, hair is less likely to fall out.

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How It Feels

We sat down with one of our patients, and the term she used was “pain-free.” The DigniCap is designed to comfortably fit patients’ heads and comes in varying sizes. Although it can get a little cold at times, most patients tolerate scalp cooling with DigniCap® scalp cooling system very well because the system cools the cap down gradually from room temperature. The cap temperature never drops below freezing to help make the treatment more comfortable for patients.

Common Side Effects

Side effects, as a result of the DigniCap, are minimal. They include feelings of coldness, headaches, scalp pain and/or light-headedness, which is rare. Your doctor can provide a pain reliever if you develop a headache.

What It Costs

Scalp cooling costs roughly $350-400 per treatment. The number of treatments required is determined by a patient’s physician.

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How You Can Receive Treatment

For more information, or to express your interest in being treated with the DigniCap scalp cooling system, contact the UMCNO Cancer Center at (504)702-3113 or visit www.umcno.org/dignicap.

Stop the Bleed, Save a Life

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Authors: Jen Avegno, MD (LSU Emergency Medicine Physician) & Rebecca Schroll, MD (Tulane University Trauma Surgeon)

A nightclub. A country music concert. A Congressional baseball field. These are normally places of leisure and entertainment, but in the past year, they have become scenes of unimaginable tragedy where innocent victims have been targeted for mass murder and injury.

As doctors at University Medical Center’s renowned Level 1 Trauma Center and Emergency Department, treating victims of violent injury is our job and something we do every day. With our fellow dedicated team members, we are proud to serve our fellow Louisianans on what is often the worst day of their lives.

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Although we are professionals who are trained to handle anything that comes our way, it affects us personally, too.

We are mothers, wives, neighbors, and citizens of this great city – and it’s hard not to put ourselves in the shoes of the grieving family members and friends we see after a violent trauma.

When we talk to others about high-profile tragedies like the recent Las Vegas concert shooting or the Washington, D.C. shooting of Representative Scalise and others, we often hear remarks like “I feel helpless” or “there’s nothing I can do to help.”

And yet … there is.

Anyone can save a life – and UMCNO is making it easy to learn how.

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Through partnerships with our two medical schools, we are proud to bring the national Stop the Bleed program to our community. New Orleans has long held the dubious distinction of having one of the highest rates of violent trauma from shootings and stabbings; now it’s our turn to lead the way in turning the tide. Stop the Bleed was developed by the Department of Homeland Security and American College of Surgeons to teach anyone – especially non-medical personnel – the basic skills needed to identify and control life-threatening bleeding in any emergency situation.

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Imagine you’re jogging in the park and you come across someone with a badly broken leg who is losing blood rapidly. With Stop the Bleed training, you can quickly and easily stabilize the victim while EMS is on the way.  It’s an empowering feeling to know that YOU can save someone’s life, and a natural way to prove we are a community that cares for each other.

The only thing more tragic than a death is a death that could have been prevented.

Because we believe so strongly in this program, UMCNO is hosting FREE community classes every two weeks – open to anyone. Or, if you’d prefer, UMCNO medical staff can come to you and give a free training in your school, business, church or other organization.

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We have also put together special Bleeding Control kits containing the supplies that can be used to help stop bleeding.

Our goal is to put a kit in every school, place of worship, large building, and public space in the city.

Since the program started, UMCNO has trained nearly 1,000 of our neighbors, colleagues and friends. We’ve given the training in schools, organizations, security agencies – to anyone who’s asked.

In partnership with Ceasefire New Orleans, we have set up a great community training kick-off event October 16 at Kermit Ruffin’s Mother-in-Law Lounge. Come eat some great food and second-line while you learn some valuable skills!

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To learn more about Stop the Bleed at University Medical Center New Orleans or sign up for a class, visit: www.umcno.org/stopthebleed.

We lead the nation in celebrating life in New Orleans … together, let’s lead it in saving lives, too!