Archive | June, 2018

Addressing Suicide

Two celebrity suicides occurred this month – fashion designer Kate Spade and TV personality and chef Anthony Bourdain. These tragic deaths have brought public attention to mental health issues, a topic addressed every day in the Lexington Medical Center Emergency department.

Daniel L. Avosso, MD, medical director of Lexington Medical Center’s ER, says his staff sees five to 10 patients daily with mental health concerns. In addition, clinicians screen each patient in the ER for mental health issues.

“Whether a patient comes in for a toothache or a heart attack, we will ask if they are considering harming themselves,” Dr. Avosso said.

If patients share they are considering self harm, social workers and clinicians perform further screenings.

According to Dr. Avosso, most individuals considering suicide will show warning signs such as:
-Changes in sleep patterns.
-Changes in diet.
-Increased alcohol consumption.
-Personality changes.
-Increased feelings of hopelessness.

There are also factors that put individuals at a higher risk of becoming suicidal. Risk factors include:
-Chronic pain.
-Bullying.
-Mental health conditions such as PTSD or bipolar disorder.
-Previous suicide attempts.

Dr. Daniel Avosso

If you have concerns about a friend or family member, it’s important to address the issue.

“If you are worried about someone in your life, one of the most important things to do is ask them if they are considering harming themselves,” Dr. Avosso said. “It’s a tough conversation to have, but we have that conversation with every one of our patients. It’s worth it to be aware of the problem now.”

He also urges anyone considering suicide to contact a mental health professional.

“It is always okay to ask for help,” he said.

If you are considering taking your own life or are worried about a loved one, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Oh, Baby! Lexington Medical Center Doula Participates in 1,500 Births

Dianne Pound knows a thing or two about how to help families welcome a new baby. Last month, she participated in her 1,500th birth as a Lexington Medical Center doula.

“I can’t believe that time has moved so quickly, and I have supported 1,500 families in their births. That’s enough to fill up a school! To be a part of those families’ birth stories is a great honor,” Dianne said.

Dianne Pound celebrated her 1,500 birth with Tiera and Phil Rollins, and baby Emma Sydney.

A doula is a birth coach who offers mothers comfort and reassurance during labor and delivery. In addition to understanding the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of women in labor, doulas facilitate communication between parents-to-be, help prepare birth plans and provide information about birth and delivery options. Postpartum doulas offer education, support and assistance to the new family once they return home.

“Doulas meet wonderful families and are a part of one of the most important days in a family’s life,” said Dianne. “We have a strong sisterhood of doulas here at Lexington Medical Center.”

Lexington Medical Center began its doula program in 1994. At that time, it was the first of its kind in the Southeast. Dianne started working at the hospital as a doula in May 1998 – more than 20 years ago. A lot has changed for expectant families at LMC since then.

“Labor and Delivery has added new and larger rooms, and we have made ongoing improvements to provide the best care to our patients and their newborns, including skin-to-skin contact after any birth, delayed bathing for 24 hours, Halo® sleep sacks and parent education concerning back sleeping,” said Dianne.

Because of support from the hospital’s Foundation and its donors, doulas are a free service for any woman having a baby at our hospital.

Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion

The heat index will be between 105 and 100 degrees in the Midlands this week! Wow, that’s hot! When temperatures are this high, the Lexington Medical Center Emergency department sees at least five people a day with heat-related illness. That number grows when there are young athletes at sports camps.

These illnesses have a broad spectrum. They can begin with muscle cramps or muscle spasms.

According to Daniel Avosso, MD, medical director of Lexington Medical Center’s Emergency department, patients with heat exhaustion have a core body temperature up to 104 degrees.

“They also may exhibit cardiovascular symptoms such as an increased heart rate or not being able to maintain their blood pressure,” Dr. Avosso said.

Heat stroke is more serious. It’s often defined by a change in behavior, confusion, unsteady gait or seizures. In this case, it’s important to cool the body very quickly. Heat stroke is most likely to affect people who are exerting themselves outside such as on the football field or in outside construction work.

It’s also important to know that some blood pressure medications and antihistamines can increase the risk of a heat-related illness. That’s because some of these medicines limit our ability to sweat – the body’s mechanism for cooling itself. Other risk factors include being sick, dehydrated or out of shape.

“Keep a close eye on children and the elderly during extreme heat. They may have a lowered sensitivity to thirst. And, in some cases, they may not be able to communicate they don’t feel well,” Dr. Avosso said.

Daniel Avosso, MD

If the person seems confused, if they’re sweating profusely, or if they’re not sweating at all, check their pulse and take their temperature. If those numbers are elevated, take them to a doctor right away.

Until the heatwave breaks, stay well hydrated with water and drinks that will replace electrolytes. Dr. Avosso recommends Pedialyte™, which he says offers more comprehensive electrolyte solution than sports drinks. And come inside to take breaks when possible.