Tuesday, April 30, 2013

15 Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Instead of making a last-minute dash to the store for your Mother's Day present, consider one of these DIY or store-bought gifts, suitable for any budget or skill level.

1. Spice Jars (DIY)

5. Bath Fizzies (DIY)

10. Matching Bath Jars (DIY)

11. Mother Daughter Letter Book - 40 Cards to Send and Share ($38)

13. Pendant Necklace (DIY)

14. Tea Cup Candle (DIY)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Ask Us Anything: What Treatments are Available for Fibroids?

"What treatments are available for fibroids? Would you suggest a hysterectomy for someone approaching 50?"

Dr. Scott Zuccala Responds:

Treatment for fibroids, also referred to as smooth muscle tumors of the uterus or leiomyomas, varies. If they are asymptomatic, no treatment is needed as the risk of becoming malignant is very low.

If a person has symptoms, such as bleeding issues, or compression symptoms, such as pressing on the bladder or impacting urination, then the treatment options vary.

If a person is done with childbearing, then most people will opt for hysterectomy, as it carries less risk than myomectomy (just removeal of the fibroid), in most circumstances. Other options are:
  • Uterine artery embolization – small non-absorbable pellets are injected into the blood supply to the fibroid, causing it to "die off"
  • Exablate – using radiofrequency waves to "melt" the fibroid
  • Electromyolysis – laparoscopic approach using electro-cautery to shrink the fibroid
If you are approaching 50 and the fibroid is causing signifigant bleeding or pain and a cause and effect can be established, then hysterectomy would be a reasonable option. Many of theses can be done with a minimally invasive approach with good recovery.

– Dr. Scott Zuccala

Dr. Zuccala is a gynecologic surgeon at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo. He practices obstetrics and gynecology, including minimally invasive surgery, and vaginal and pelvic reconstruction for prolapse and urologic incontinence surgery. He was one of the first surgeons in the Buffalo area to perform minimally invasive gynecological surgery for non-cancerous conditions using the da Vinci® Robotic Surgical System.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Financial Planning for Long-Term Care

Decisions about long-term care can be emotional and complex for everyone involved. Financial worries are a common source of stress when planning for the care of a family member or when planning for your own.

Knowing your options can help to provide peace of mind when it’s time to make your final decision.

Government Programs Can Assist with Costs

If you cannot afford long-term care, two government health insurance programs are available to provide assistance.

Medicare is a federal program available to persons over the age of 65 or to younger persons with disabilities. To learn if you’re eligible, call 1-800-772-1213 or visit your social security office.

Medicaid is a state program for persons who cannot afford medical care. You may qualify based on income, if you receive social security, or if you have medical bills that you cannot afford to pay, regardless of your income.

If you're applying based on income, income requirements vary depending on the number of persons in your household. For example, if you live alone and are over the age of 65, your income must be $792 or less in order to qualify for Medicaid.

For more information about Medicaid eligibility in Erie County, call (716) 858-8000.

Services Covered by Medicare and Medicaid

Medicare will cover care in a nursing home, where care is provided by registered nurses, only if it is medically necessary. The amount covered by Medicare depends on your length of stay:
  • First 21 days: all costs are covered by Medicare
  • 21 days-100 days: you pay up to $144.50 each day
  • 100+ days: you pay for all costs
Medicare does not pay for custodial care, which is help with daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing or eating.

Medicaid is more comprehensive and pays for long-term nursing home care, assistance with activities of daily living and for some services at home and in the community.

Medicaid requires that you use your income (except for $50 per month) to pay for your long-term care, and Medicaid will pay the balance.

How to Protect Your Assets

Most insurance plans do not cover long-term care, but you can buy long-term care insurance to help with the costs.

Depending on the plan you choose, long-term care insurance should cover the average cost of home care, assisted living or skilled nursing. Plans have a maximum dollar amount that they will cover each day and overall.

Long-term care insurance is best for people who have assets to protect, such as retirement savings and investment plans.

The American Association for Long-term Care Insurance recommends applying for insurance in your mid-50s, when you are less likely to have an existing health condition.

What’s Included in Nursing Home Costs

Basic services included in the cost of your stay are:
  • Room and board
  • Meals
  • Nursing care
  • Pharmacy and diagnostic services
  • Use of equipment and medical supplies such as syringes, needles and dressings
  • Fresh bed linen, which should be changed at least twice a week
  • Hospital gowns, if needed
  • Laundry service
  • Medicine cabinet supplies, including nonprescription medications and personal hygiene items, such as hair care items, toothpaste and skin care items
  • Assistance with daily living as needed, including bathing, feeding and moving from place to place
  • Equipment such as walkers and wheelchairs
  • Social and recreational activities
  • Social services, if needed
  • Optician and optometrist services
Additional medical services depend on the facility. Some are included in the daily cost, while others require an additional fee.

If you or your loved one has any special needs, ask the nursing home if those services are included in the overall cost.

Affordable Alternatives to Nursing Home Care

The national average for a semi-private room in a nursing home is $205 a day. Monthly, the cost can reach over $10,000.

However, for persons needing long-term care, nursing homes aren’t the only option. Alternatives include:

Home Care

Home Care services allow you to live at home and receive healthcare and social services at your place of residence. Depending on your needs, a home health aide may visit your home daily or a few times per week.

Nationally, a home health aide is paid an average of $21 an hour, according to the National Clearinghouse for Long Term Care Information. The length of the home care visit will depend on your needs and condition, but on average, expect to pay about $168 per day.

Click here for more information about home care.


A Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, sometimes known as a PACE program, is available to older adults who quality for nursing home care but wish to live at home.

Catholic Health’s PACE program, called LIFE (Living Independently for Elders), offers medical services at the LIFE center, at your home or at an off-site location. Transportation to and from appointments is included.

LIFE pays for all authorized services for individuals eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. If you do not have Medicaid, you will be charged a monthly premium to participate in LIFE.

Click here to learn more about LIFE.

Medical Adult Day Care

An adult day care program offers many of the services that you could find in a nursing home, such as physical therapy, nursing care and nutritional counseling. Participants are able to live at home while receiving care at the day center.

At this time, Catholic Health charges $133 per day for this service, although prices are subject to change. Medicaid will cover the cost of adult day care, and some long-term care insurance plans will pay a portion of the fee. Medicare will not cover the cost of this program.

Click here to learn about Catholic Health’s medical adult day care program.

The costs of long-term care can be intimidating, but knowing your options and what resources are available to you ahead of time can help to ease the financial burden. Government programs provide medical assistance to those who cannot afford long-term care. Insurance programs and alternatives to nursing homes are also available to help make your long-term care more affordable.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ask Us Anything: What Does My Abnormal Pap Smear Mean?

"I am a 54 year old woman and I recently had an abnormal pap smear for the first time. My doctor repeated the smear and the second one was also abnormal. My doctor recommended that I undergo a colposcopy. What does this mean?"

Dr. Ali Ghomi Responds:

Abnormal pap smears are very common in women of all ages. It is somewhat unusual for the abnormality to present itself at the age of 50.

Having said that, the next step of the management would involve colposcopy, as you alluded to. The physician would look at the cervix under magnification in the office and would take small biopsies of the cervix if there are suspicious areas. This is very important to exclude early cervical cancer, the likelihood of which would be extremely low.

Most likely, the cervical abnormality or dysplasia can be managed by  partially removing part of the cervix (LEEP procedure) or closely monitoring the abnormality in hopes of spontaneous resolution by body's immune system.

In conclusion, it is very important for you to follow-up with your doctor. Based on the information provided, you will be fine and don't let this be a source of anxiety.  Good luck.

– Dr. Ali Ghomi

Dr. Ghomi is the Director of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery and Chair of The Robotic Surgical Committee at Sisters of Charity Hospital. He is the only physician in Western New York who performs Sacrocolpopexy Prolapse surgery using the da Vinci® robot. Sacrocolpopexy is a proven “gold standard” procedure worldwide to repair severe pelvic prolapse. Click here to learn more about Catholic Health's OB/GYN services.

Dr. Ghomi sees patients at the M. Steven Piver, M.D. Center for Women’s Health & Wellness in Buffalo.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

When and How to Use Spices: Rosemary

Written by Meaghan Maess, Buffalo State College student and communications intern at Catholic Health

Over a three week period, we will be looking at different spices and how they can benefit your health. So far we've covered how and when to use oregano and basil. This week we will be looking at rosemary.

What is Rosemary?

Rosemary is a herb in the mint family that has a minty, pine-like taste.

What Rosemary Can Do for You

  • Provides small doses of vitamins A, C, B, riboflavin and folate
  • Contains fatty and amino acids, the building blocks of proteins
  • Provides small doses of calcium, iron and potassium
  • Contains anti-inflammatory antioxidants

How to Buy Rosemary

When buying fresh rosemary, make sure it is a deep sage color without yellow or dark spots. Fresh rosemary can be found in the produce section of grocery stores, or you can buy dried rosemary from the spice section. You can also grow your own rosemary.

Rosemary leaves should be stored in a plastic bag or glass of water in the refrigerator. You can also dry rosemary by hanging it in a warm, dry space and then storing it in an airtight container.

Cooking with Rosemary 

Rosemary does not lose much of its flavor when it is dried. The leaves can be sharp, so crush dried rosemary before using it.

You can use whole sprigs of rosemary when cooking, but make sure to remove the sprig before serving.

Sprinkle Rosemary On:

  • Breads
  • Lamb, chicken and game
  • Fish
  • Casseroles
  • Sauces
  • Salad dressings
  • Vegetables such as tomatoes, peas, zucchini, cabbage and brussels sprouts

Recipes that Incorporate Rosemary

Rosemary Pork Loin

Rosemary Roasted Almonds

Rosemary Turkey Breast

Rosemary-Onion Green Beans

Grilled Salmon Skewers

Rosemary Lime Chicken

This article was reviewed and approved by Deborah Richter, a registered dietitian at Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph Campus in Cheektowaga.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Ask Us Anything: What Do I Need to Know About Blood Testing?

"What is the best way to prepare for getting blood work done? What do I need to know about blood testing?"

Beth Nicastro, Corporate Nurse Educator, Responds:

 Hello and thanks for the question!

Blood tests help doctors check for certain diseases and conditions. They also check your organ function and how well treatments are working.

Specifically, blood tests can help providers:
  • Evaluate how well organs, such as the kidneys and heart, are working
  • Diagnose diseases and conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and coronary heart disease
  • Determine whether you have risk factors for heart disease
  • Check whether medicines you're taking are working
  • Assess how well your blood is clotting

Blood tests are commonly ordered. When you have routine checkups, your doctor may recommend blood tests to see how your body is working. The physician may also order labwork when you are not feeling well.

Many blood tests don't require any special preparation. However, you may need to fast (not eat any food) for 8 to 12 hours before some tests. Your doctor will let you know how to prepare for bloodwork and if a prescription is required.

To draw blood, a band is put around your arm. This helps your veins to become large. Your arm is cleansed with a product to kill germs and a small needle is used to draw blood. The blood travels through the needle and into a tube. A finger prick also might be used. The procedure usually is quick and easy, although it may cause some short-term discomfort. Most people don't have serious reactions to having their blood drawn.

Laboratory workers draw the blood and analyze it. They use either whole blood to count blood cells, or they separate the blood cells from the fluid that contains them. This fluid is called serum.

It is best to make an appointment with the lab for your blood work. Some labs may allow you to drop-in, but you will need to confirm their procedure.

Catholic Health lab testing is performed locally and most physicians receive Catholic Health lab results electronically or by autofax. For more information, please contact us.

– Beth Nicastro

Beth Nicastro, PNP-BC, is a women's health community coordinator/educator. She also sees patients as a nurse practitioner at East Aurora Pediatrics.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Winner of the Fleece Blanket Giveaway

Thank you to everyone who entered our giveaway for the Catholic Health fleece blanket.

A winner has been chosen at random from the comments that we've received.

And the Winner Is...

Debra Lee, who said that this summer, she's looking forward to fresh herbs and tomatoes from the garden.

Debra, please contact me at akirst@chsbuffalo.org to arrange for delivery of your prize. Congratulations!

Note: prizes must be claimed within three weeks.

Get a Fleece Blanket from the Catholic Health eStore

If you didn't win but would like a fleece blanket of your own, you can pick one up at the Catholic Health eStore. Click here to visit the store.

Thank you to everyone who entered our giveaway, and look for our next giveaway next month. Don't miss out: you can subscribe to our blog by email or RSS to receive our latest blog posts. See the sidebar to subscribe.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How and When to Use Spices: Basil

Written by Meaghan Maess, Buffalo State College student and communications intern at Catholic Health

Over a three week period, we will be looking at different spices and how they can benefit your health. Last week we covered how and when to use oregano. This week we will be looking at basil.

What is Basil?

Basil is a herb in the mint family that has a mild peppery flavor with hints of mint and clove.

What Basil Can Do for You

  • Provides small doses of iron, Vitamin C and Vitamin K
  • Provides nutrient lutein, which keeps eyes and skin healthy and combats free radicals

How to Buy Basil

When buying fresh basil, make sure the leaves are a vibrant green and do not have any dark spots or signs of decay. Fresh basil can be found in the produce section of grocery stores, or you can buy dried basil from the spice section. You can also grow your own basil.

Basil leaves should be layered with damp paper towels and stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. It should be used within 4 days. It can also be frozen or dried. You can dry basil by layering it with salt in an airtight container. Dried basil should be used within 6 months.

Cooking with Basil

The stems of basil tend to be bitter, so when cooking with fresh basil only use the leaves. For the most flavor, use fresh basil and wait to add it to your food until you are almost done cooking.

Basil goes well with oregano, rosemary, sage, onion and garlic. Many other herbs and spices overpower the flavor of basil.

Sprinkle Basil On:

  • Tomato dishes (pasta, ravioli, tortellini, tomato soup)
  • Olive dishes
  • Vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant, squash and spinach
  • Poultry stuffing
  • Salads
  • Soups
  • Pasta

Recipes that Incorporate Basil

Basil Tuna Steaks
Green Bean Salad
Fettuccine with Mushrooms
Caprese Salad
Basil Pesto
Basil Chicken
This article was reviewed and approved by Deborah Richter, a registered dietitian at Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph Campus in Cheektowaga.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Ask Us Anything: How Can I Select A Pediatrician?

"I am giving birth at Sisters Hospital. Do we need to have a pediatrician selected before delivery? How can I make sure I select a pediatrician who will work with us from birth?"

Mary D'Angelo, Director of Maternal Child Services at Sisters of Charity Hospital, Responds:

Thank you for choosing to have your baby at Sisters Hospital. It is an honor and a privilege that we do not take lightly.

Most pediatricians see babies at Sisters Hospital or have an arrangement for someone to cover them and see new babies in the hospital.

It is a good idea to make an appointment to meet with the pediatrician you are considering as a kind of interview. This will assure you that you are comfortable with him or her and their practice style. You can also ask whether they would see the baby in the hospital or have someone else do it.

Lisa Smith, Nurse Manager of Newborn Nursery at Sisters Hospital, Adds:

We will need to know who will be taking care of your baby when you go home, as we will be sending your baby's doctor information with clinical tests and exams that were done in the hospital.
Some pediatricians don't come to the hospital, in which case we will have a pediatrician from the hospital see your baby until discharge.

When choosing a pediatrician, it is important to know that they will accept your insurance. Many parents also like to choose a pediatrician that lives close by.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

Visit our website to learn more about childbirth at Sisters Hospital.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Giveaway: Enter to Win a Navy Fleece Blanket

To keep you warm at home or at the office, we're giving away a cozy fleece blanket from the Catholic Health eStore.

The navy blanket is embroidered with the Catholic Health logo and has a stitched hem to guard against fraying. It measures 50" x 60" and is made of 100% spun polyester fleece.

How to Enter

To enter to win, leave a comment below answering this question:
  • What are you most looking forward to this summer?
To enter, you must be at least 18 years of age and a United States resident.

Winner Announcement

We'll choose a winner at random on April 11th. The winner will be announced on the blog.

Don't forget: you can subscribe to our blog by email or RSS to receive our latest blog posts. See the sidebar to subscribe.

Prizes that are not claimed within 3 weeks of the winner announcement will be carried forward to the next draw.

About the Catholic Health eStore

The Catholic Health eStore is your source for Catholic Health merchandise: hats, jackets, lunch boxes and more. Click here to visit the store.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How and When to Use Spices: Oregano

Written by Meaghan Maess, Buffalo State College student and communications intern at Catholic Health

Spices may come in small packages, but they pack a big punch in terms of flavor and health benefits. In the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a look at common spices and how you can incorporate them into your meals, starting with oregano.

What is Oregano?

Oregano is herb in the mint family with a sharp, peppery flavor.

What Oregano Can Do for You

  • Prevent the growth of bacteria, fungus and yeast that lead to infections
  • Protect your cells from damage and slow the aging process

How to Buy Oregano

When buying fresh oregano, make sure that it has no brown spots, is not limp and has a rich green color. Fresh oregano can be found in the produce section of grocery stores, or you can buy dried oregano from the spice section.

Fresh oregano should be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. It should be used within 3 days, but can last up to a week if you store it with a slightly damp paper towel.  It can also be frozen or dried. You can dry oregano by hanging it in a cool, dark place. Dried oregano should be used within 6 months. 

Cooking with Oregano

When cooking with oregano, make sure to taste your dish as you go. If you use too much, it can become overpowering and have a bitter taste.

Oregano goes well with garlic, onion, thyme, basil and parsley.

Sprinkle Oregano On:

  • Tomato dishes (pasta, ravioli, tortellini, tomato soup)
  • Lamb
  • Pizza
  • Chili
  • Souvlaki
  • Fish
  • Pesto
  • Vegetables such as zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower and eggplant 

Recipes that Incorporate Oregano

Curly Endive Salad

Garlic Oregano Zucchini

Oregano Brussels Sprouts

Seasoned Chicken

White Bean & Spinach Pizza

Broccoli, Feta & Tomato Salad

This article was reviewed and approved by Registered Dietitian Ann Marie Smokowski, who provides nutrition counseling at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Ask Us Anything: What Should I Do About Bleeding During Pregnancy?

"About a week after I found out I was pregnant, I started to bleed. It has been going on for about 3 weeks now. What should I do?"

Dr. Lynn-Marie Aronica Responds:

Many women experience bleeding during their pregnancy. Although a common
occurrence, it may mean that there is something happening that needs medical attention. Depending on the gestational age, or how far along the patient is, it may be a serious sign that evaluation needs to happen in the hospital.

If early in pregnancy, the first 13 weeks, bleeding may be a sign of a miscarriage. Prompt evaluation by a physician can put a mother's mind at ease that everything is fine. An exam coupled with a possible sonogram can help determine the location of the pregnancy, and if there is a heartbeat. If this has already been done, then simply listening to the heartbeat in the office can decrease anxiety in the mother.

As the pregnancy progresses, there may be more serious reasons for the bleeding. Placental causes need to be evaluated. Placental previa or a placenta covering the cervix can be diagnosed at the 18 week sonogram. This condition can lead to painless bleeding and pelvic rest is often prescribed. If a woman is diagnosed with a placenta previa she should always contact her physician if there is any bleeding.

Placenta abruption, or separation of the placenta from the uterine wall, can be a life threatening condition for both mother and baby depending on the amount of bleeding taking place. Risks for bleeding from a separation may include smoking, drug use or abdominal trauma like a fall or car accident. A physician will promptly evaluate the amount of bleeding and need for further tests and sonograms.

Overall bleeding is a common occurrence in pregnancy that usually ends with a healthy baby and healthy mom. Rarely it can be life threatening. In all cases a phone call to the physician is the best course of action to help determine the best way to evaluate and treat the patient.

– Dr. Lynn-Marie Aronica

Dr. Lynn-Marie Aronica is board certified in OB/GYN. She sees patients at her office at the Mercy OB/GYN Center in Buffalo. Her interests include family-centered obstetrics and high-risk obstetrics. 

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.
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