Archive for the ‘Patient Education’ Category

MHC among first in Illinois to offer new, advanced procedure for carotid artery disease

Memorial Hospital of Carbondale is the first and only hospital in Illinois south of Chicago to offer an innovative new treatment for patients at risk for stroke due to blockages in the neck arteries known as carotid artery disease. The minimally invasive procedure is called TransCarotid Artery Revascularization or TCAR, and involves temporarily reverses blood flow in the artery. Dangerous bits of plaque and blood clots that could dislodge and otherwise travel to the brain and cause a stroke are safely diverted away, while a dedicated transcarotid stent is inserted to open and stabilize the blockage.

SIH Medical Group Vascular and Endovascular Surgeon, Mohammed Al Zoubaidi, MD, performed the first two TCARs in MHC’s hybrid operating room in May 2017. In doing so, Dr. Al Zoubaidi became the first vascular surgeon in the state of Illinois to do so.

“TCAR is an important new option in the fight against stroke, and is particularly suited for the large portion of patients we see who are at higher risk of complications from carotid endarterectomy due to age, other medical conditions, or anatomic issues. Because of its low stroke risk, we think TCAR has the potential to become the standard of care for all patients,” said Dr. Al Zoubaidi.

The minimally invasive nature of TCAR means a quicker recovery for the patient, coupled with less pain.

“It represents the modernization of carotid repair,” said Dr. Al Zoubaidi.

Latex Balloon Ban

For the safety of our patients, visitors and staff at our hospitals and clinics, SIH will adopt a latex balloon ban on May 1, 2017.

While many patient care areas have had latex-free zones in place for quite some time, growing concerns involving latex balloon allergies and exposures prompted this formal, system wide change. Latex balloons contain a powder that can cause a severe, even life-threatening, allergic reaction in some people.

Those at highest risk for latex allergy* are:

  • Children born with spina bifida
  • Individuals who have had multiple surgeries
  • Work exposures
  • People allergic to bananas, avocados, kiwi, chestnuts, apple, carrot, celery, papaya, potatoes, tomatoes and melons

We encourage anyone sending or bringing gifts to patients or staff to select gift items other than latex balloons. Mylar balloons, which are filled with helium, are a safe alternative.

*Source: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) More information at

Celebrating 20 years of collaboration between RIC and SIH

April 17th, 2017 marks the 20th year of collaboration between the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) and Southern Illinois Healthcare. Top quality physical rehabilitation services are available in southern Illinois through the long-standing alliance between RIC and SIH.

SIH-RIC provides a range of care that includes acute, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services to treat all levels of injury- from back pain to more severe conditions like stroke.


Herrin Hospital’s Acute Rehabilitation Center (ARC) is one of only 26 nationwide that are certified for hip fracture rehabilitation by The Joint Commission.

To date, almost 12,000 patients have been discharged from ARC at Herrin Hospital since its inception in 1997.

Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) has been ranked the #1 Rehabilitation Hospital in America for 26 consecutive years

RIC provides world-class care to patients from around the globe for a range of conditions from acute brain and spinal cord injury to chronic arthritis, pain and sports injuries. Founded in 1954, RIC has earned a worldwide reputation as a leader in patient care, scientific discovery and the education of health professionals in physical medicine and rehabilitation. It has been designated the “#1 Rehabilitation Hospital in America” by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1991 and attributes its leading standard of care in part to its innovative research and discovery, particularly in the areas of bionic medicine, robotics, neural regeneration and pain care.

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

On March 25th, 2017 RIC moved to 355 E. Erie Street in Chicago and became known as the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab.

AbilityLab President and CEO Dr. Joanne Smith said the old name didn’t fit the new mission. “We knew the right words would help us to shift our focus from a process of rehabilitation to real tangible outcomes for patients. We declared that our vision would be to advance human ability,” she said.

The new location is the largest freestanding rehabilitation hospital in the United States. The massive rehabilitation hospital has 1.2 million square feet and 800,000 square feet are dedicated to clinical/research. “The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is the only hospital in the world where doctors focused on solving patient challenges now work side-by-side with scientists focused on finding cures,” said Jude Reyes, chairman of the Board of Directors for the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab.


Connecting the AbilityLab to southern Illinois

The research done at the AbilityLab will positively influence the outcomes of patients at SIH. Research can drive better care, increase patient engagement and helps the AbilityLab understand how patients respond to rehabilitation therapy and treatments. SIH is the only hospital system in the southern third of the state with a 20 year partnership with AbilityLab; the nationwide leader in rehabilitation.

Last week, Verlinda Henshaw, Executive Director of Rehabilitation, Dena Kirk, Administrative Director Occupational Medicine & Rehabilitation Services, Maria Cull, Administrative Director Post-Acute Care Services, Jennifer Colboth, Rehabilitation Manager, Nancy Hayes, Rehabilitation Manager, and Julia Tiu, Rehabilitation Manager visited the new Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. Henshaw said, “This is such an amazing place. Seeing the research and therapy happening in one place is a wonderful thing. I am so fortunate to be a part of this and be able to bring this to Southern Illinois.”

For more information, please call 800.972.8859. “Like” SIH Rehabilitation on Facebook.

So, how much do you know about breast cancer?

Test your knowledge of six common beliefs about breast cancer.

1. You can get breast cancer even if it doesn’t run in your family. True or false?

True. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer – more than 85% – have no family history of the disease. Having a relative with breast cancer does increase your risk. But other factors such as age, being overweight, alcohol use, and hormone therapy after menopause can also increase your risk of developing breast cancer.

2. If breast cancer runs in your family, you’re sure to get it. True or false?

False. Having breast cancer in your family doesn’t guarantee you’ll get it. Many times, cancer runs in families because they have similar lifestyle habits – habits you can control and change to lower your risk of breast cancer. This includes staying at a healthy weight, getting regular physical activity, and not smoking.

If you do suspect you have an inherited gene mutation, talk to your doctor about genetic counseling. The most common defects or mutations that increase breast cancer risk are in the BRCA genes. Knowing your family history empowers you to tackle the risk factors you can control. It should also motivate you to get screened regularly so that breast cancer is caught early – when it’s small, hasn’t spread, and is easier to treat. Talk to your doctor about what your risk is, when you need to start screening, and whether you need extra tests beyond mammograms.

3. You still need mammograms after menopause. True or false?

True. Getting older is not a reason to skip regular breast health checks. In fact, your risk of developing breast cancer goes up as you get older. About 2 out of 3 invasive breast cancers are found in women age 55 or older. As long as you’re in good health and would be a candidate for treatment, you should continue getting mammograms.

4. Men can get breast cancer. True or false?

True. More than 2,000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. Men should not ignore breast lumps and should get any breast changes checked. Still, breast cancer is about 100 times more common in women than men, with more than 240,000 women diagnosed in each year.

5. Surgery and needle biopsies can cause breast cancer to spread. True or false?

False. Needle biopsies to diagnose breast cancer do not cause cancer cells to spread to other parts of the body. Nor does exposure to air during breast cancer surgery cause the disease to spread. Sometimes a surgeon does find more cancer than the imaging scans or X-rays showed, but in those cases the cancer was already there. It just hadn’t shown up on tests that were done.

6. There’s nothing you can do to lower your breast cancer risk. True or false?

False. While you can’t change certain risk factors – like being female and having a family history of breast cancer – you can do a lot to help reduce your breast cancer risk as much as possible. In a word: lifestyle. Exercise more and eat healthier, especially if you’re overweight or obese. Limit or eliminate alcohol and quit smoking. Cancer prevention isn’t fool-proof, but being responsible about your health can go a long way.

Source: American Cancer Society

It’s October! Have you scheduled your screening at The Breast Center?

We know, the breast cancer screening guidelines are confusing. It’s no longer a “one-size-fits-all” recommendation. No one disputes that screening mammography is still the best option for detecting cancer early. Have a good chat with your doctor. It should be a shared decision with your personal feelings, coupled with your personal risk for breast cancer.

Whenever you wish to begin screening, your insurance should cover screening mammograms starting at age 40 nationwide with no deductible.

Peripheral Arterial Disease Awareness

What is Peripheral Arterial Disease?

September is Peripheral Artery Disease Awareness Month. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a common condition that often goes undiagnosed and untreated. PAD is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries to the stomach, arms, head, and most commonly in the legs. This disease is usually caused by atherosclerosis, where plaque builds up in the artery walls. If the plaque formation becomes brittle or inflamed, it may cause a blood clot to form causing the artery to further narrow or become blocked.

What Can You Do To Prevent PAD?

There are uncontrollable risks associated with PAD such as aging and family history of PAD, cardiovascular disease or stroke. However, you can make a difference in your risks by addressing the risk factors you can control:

  • stop smoking
  • have a healthy weight
  • control diabetes
  • be more physically active
  • keep blood pressure below 140/90
  • lower your cholesterol>

Symptoms of PAD

People with PAD often mistake the symptoms for something else or never experience these symptoms at all. However, if left untreated, PAD can lead to gangrene and amputation.
Here are some key symptoms:

  • Pain, cramping, and tiredness in the leg or hip muscles while walking or exercising
  • Foot or toe wounds that won’t heal
  • Decrease in the temperature of your lower leg or foot compared to the other leg or rest of your body.

Physicians Who Treat PAD

Treatment and Prevention of PAD

The disease can be easily diagnosed by your doctor through the ankle brachial index test or through doppler and duplex ultrasound imaging, magnetic resonance angiogram, CT angiogram, or a regular angiogram. PAD can be managed by lifestyle changes and with medication.

Looking for Recovery Options?

Congratulations, you are ready to be discharged from the hospital! So you’re on the mend, but you may need a little more time to regain strength and heal before you can step back into the routine of independent living. Our Upswing Recovery Care program at St. Joseph Memorial Hospital provides short-term nursing and rehabilitation services.

The program provides services for:
  • Recovery from major surgery
  • Recovery from a major accident
  • Stroke
  • Pain management
  • Wounds that are not healing or need special care
  • Nutritional therapy
  • IV therapy or antibiotics
  • Rehabilitation therapy: physical, occupational, speech or respiratory

These services are supported by a team of healthcare professionals from diverse fields. Your care team follows a written plan to help you achieve and maintain an optimum level of independent functioning, with the ultimate goal of preparing you to return home.

Our program is unique compared to most local skilled care facilities because it is located within a hospital. This quick access to a higher level of care can be especially crucial for you if an unforeseen health issue were to arise.

To learn more about the Upswing Recovery Care program and those that may qualify, visit

Stroke: Why Calling 911 Should be Easy

It’s likely you’ve been there. That moment when you must decide. “Do I call 911?”

It’s easy to make that call when you see an accident or a crime in progress. It should also be that easy when you see someone having a stroke.

The American Stroke Association makes it easy for you. Remember the word FAST and look for sudden onset of any one of the following symptoms:

  • F. Facial drooping. It’s typically on one side of the face.
  • DO THIS: Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven? Does one side of the face droop or is it numb?

  • A. Arm weakness or numbness.. It’s typically on one side of the face.
  • DO THIS: Ask the person to raise both of their arms in front of them. Does one arm drift downward or is it numb?

  • S. Slurred speech or inability to speak.. A person having a stroke may not be able to pronounce correctly, or they simply can’t even find the words to speak.
  • DO THIS: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?

  • T. Time. Time is not a symptom, but it’s your reminder that time is of the essence and to take action. There’s a 72% chance that this is a stroke.
  • DO THIS:If any one of the symptoms above last for more than five minutes, call 911.

Are you still unsure about whether to call 911?

Consider this. Maybe it’s not a stroke, but how do you know? Emergency responders and paramedics will know. If you are unsure, let the EMS assess the patient and make the decision. At least you made the call.

911 is critical in the process, because EMS can diagnose the stroke in the field. Also, they can then alert the entire medical team at the hospital—lab, imaging, doctors–all the people who need to be ready for the stroke patient. Imagine the critical time saved when the medical team is ready and waiting for the arrival. That can’t happen without the call to 911.

Driving yourself or a loved one? Not advised.

Driving yourself or a loved one to the Emergency Room during an active stroke is a dangerous risk. Stroke symptoms can progress rapidly. Obviously, if you’re having the stroke and driving yourself, you and other motorists are at risk. Additionally, driving someone to the hospital with stroke symptoms is not recommended. Consider it the worst kind of “distracted driving.” If symptoms got worse, you would be unable to provide supportive care. Plus, without the call to 911, the hospital will not have key personnel ready as quickly.

It takes a village. Stroke lives are being saved in southern Illinois.

We know. Stroke happens in your homes or at work or play. Southern Illinois is spread out. There are a limited number of stroke neurologists available. That’s why the SIH Brain & Spine Institute in Carbondale connected with local hospitals to work together in this effort.

Two area hospitals are designated Advanced Primary Stroke Centers:

  • Memorial Hospital of Carbondale
  • Herrin Hospital

With a little help from technology, the stroke neurologists are also only a click away as they remote in to assess the patient via innovative telemedicine. The following hospitals are in the SIH Stroke Network and can deliver the essential clot-busting medication to save lives and reduce disability:


We all must work together. Do your part and call 911. We’ll do ours. Together, we are allies in the fight against stroke.

2015 Community Health Needs Assessment

What are the top three health challenges facing southern Illinoisans?

Cancer, cardiovascular disease and its contributing risk factors of diabetes and obesity, and mental health.

The SIH Community Benefits department recently completed its 2015 Community Health Needs Assessment. This in-depth, 18 month process involved surveys, interviews and deep dives into data to identify the most pressing health issues in the 7-county SIH service area, particularly for vulnerable and under-represented populations.

Here’s what we found out:

  • Tobacco use is higher than state and national comparisons
  • We have higher rates of colorectal and lung cancer compared to the state/li>
  • Unemployment, poverty, food insecurity, access to care & financial barriers adversely impact health
  • Age-adjusted suicide death rates are higher than the state and the nation

While it doesn’t paint a pretty picture at first glance, what it does do is give SIH and community partners a roadmap to strategically address those needs. And, it helps ensure that programs and services match the priorities and needs of the community.

For a closer look, you can read the report and implementation plan here.

Healthcare Decisions: Q & A

Healthcare decisions always seem too early, until it’s too late. At SIH, we understand the importance for your voice to be heard. Helping you complete advance directives earlier, gives you the opportunity to tell your loved ones what you would want in a serious health crisis.

Why should people care? Because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), restrictions on medical information can be hard to understand. While privacy is extremely important, it can also make it difficult for your loved ones to assist with your medical care. With a Healthcare Power of Attorney, at minimum, plus an Advance Directive, you give your loved ones the opportunity to assist with medical decisions. But, more importantly, you are providing the information for your wishes to be heard.

What is a Healthcare Power of Attorney? It is a written document that you sign. You designate someone as your attorney-in-fact. This person is able to make healthcare decisions for you when you are no longer able to do so for yourself. Your ability to make decisions for yourself is determined by your physician who reports to your POA-HC that you are incapacitated and unable to make sound decisions for yourself.

The other good thing is the POA-HC allows you to choose how much treatment you want. Do you want artificial nutrition? Do you want to be intubated? Do you want to allow the disease progression to happen naturally if you are brain dead? All are things to consider.

What is a Living Will? This document states you do not wish to have heroic measures if you have a terminal condition.

What are these heroic or death-delaying procedures? They are procedures that postpone death. Assisted ventilation, CPR, medication, blood transfusions, tube feedings, artificial kidney treatments are all procedures that may be used to lengthen your life and delay your death.

What is a DNR/POLST? A DNR/POLST is similar to the Living Will. It does not appoint someone to make decisions and applies if you do not have a condition that is terminal, but clarifies what you want to have done in a critical medical event. Do you want CPR if you have no pulse and are not breathing? If you have a pulse and are breathing, do you want everything done, select treatment done, or comfort-focused care only? Do you want medically administered nutrition?

What are 5 Wishes?It is a detailed living will that discusses what you want for personal, emotional, and spiritual needs. It also discusses what you want medically in a variety of situations.

The forms mentioned above are available here.

Fighting Colon Cancer: Keep up the Good Work!

The nationwide effort to prevent colon cancer is making a difference, in large part to people like you, who have taken an active approach to your health.

Since the mid-1980s, the colon cancer survival rate has been increasing for two reasons:

  • More people are getting screened for colon cancer
  • The treatment options have improved

But we can always do better. Colon cancer remains the third most common cancer diagnosis. Here are a few facts at a glance from Colon Cancer Alliance:


Your role in this effort is to continue to be proactive in your health, and to share your knowledge with others. Family members, friends, coworkers—tell them about the importance of screening.

Share this video about the importance.

At Southern Illinois Healthcare, we continue our efforts to provide you access to prevention, diagnosis and treatment of this disease. Here’s how:

  • These days, it should be common to hear your regular physician sharing information with you about colon cancer screening starting at age 50. Take his/her advice, and learn the different screening options.
  • Endoscopy services are available at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale Herrin Hospital, St. Joseph Memorial Hospital and the Physicians’ Surgery Center at Center for Medical Arts. In fact, St. Joseph recently expanded their services. Both facilities aim to make the exams both comfortable and safe.
  • Should you be diagnosed with colon cancer, you have access to a team of physicians who work together to offer the best plan of care. SIH has specialists in the field of gastroenterology, colon-rectal surgery, medical oncology and more who analyze all the aspects of your individual case.
  • With the SIH Cancer Institute, a dedicated treatment facility has made it easier for you to get the care you need, without the long drive to a metro area.