Archive for the ‘Patient Education’ Category

Managed Medicaid- Enrollment Period Closes June 30, 2018

The deadline to select the Managed Medicaid plan of your choice is June 30, 2018. SIH is not participating in the Harmony Medicaid Health Plan. If you choose to continue with your Harmony plan going forward, you may experience delays while we attempt to obtain an approval for coverage from Harmony. This approval process can take as long as two weeks to complete. If you would like to avoid delays and continue to see your SIH provider, please use your re-enrollment period to select another in network Medicaid plan.

SIH hospitals and providers are in network with the Medicaid plans listed below:

  • Blue Cross Community
  • Molina Healthcare
  • IlliniCare Health
  • Meridian Health Plan

For existing Blue Cross Community plan members waiting to select a PCP, many of the providers in the region have now been added to the HFS website, and are available for selection. Unfortunately, the Blue Cross Community plan is not taking new members at this time.

Under Illinois guidelines, we cannot advise you on which plan provides the best fit for you and your family. It’s important for you to know if the physician and services you desire are considered in network for the plan you choose. For questions regarding which plan is right for you, or to enroll in a Medicaid plan, please contact the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services at 877-912-8880 or visit

It is our understanding that the state’s HFS website has recently been updated. Thank you for your patience as we all acclimate to the new Medicaid process.

Please send an email to if you would like someone to reach out to you personally to discuss further.

Managed Medicaid Update: Blue Cross Plans Currently Unavailable

We want to share an important update with you involving your choices for Managed Medicaid (HealthChoice Illinois). Illinois Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) closed enrollment for Blue Cross Community plans on April 11, 2018. At this time, we do not know if Blue Cross Community plans will become available again during this enrollment period, which ends June 30, 2018. Fortunately, you still have three options to choose from to remain in network with SIH hospitals or physicians:

  • IlliniCare Health
  • Meridian Health Plan
  • Molina Healthcare

If you successfully enrolled with one of the two Blue Cross Community plans prior to April 11, there is no reason for you to be concerned. Your selection is locked in for a year and you’re still in network with SIH hospitals and physicians. Due to uncertainty surrounding the future availability of the Blue Cross Community plans, we recommend selecting one of the three options listed above.

For questions regarding enrollment, please call the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services at 877-912-8880 or visit

Injections for Back & Neck Pain

Keith Burchill, MD, DC, FAAPMR is board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and is board-certified in Spinal Cord Injury Medicine. Dr. Burchill is now providing injections for neck and back pain at Herrin Hospital.

  • Epidural steroid injections
  • SI (sacroiliac) joint injection
  • Medial branch blocks
  • Radiofrequency ablations

Neck and lower back epidural steroid injections are an effective way to relieve pain that is “radicular,” meaning it radiates from your spine to an arm or leg, and is typically the result of a herniated or slipped disk in the spine.

Injections not only work for lower and mid-back regions but can also relieve pain due to pressure on the sciatica nerve.

Though epidural steroid injections do not “cure” the underlying cause, the injections are often used to treat radicular pain (AKA sciatica) from a pinched spinal nerve.

How they work:

  • An injection delivers steroids directly into the epidural space in the spine.
  • Steroids inhibit the inflammatory response of the body, reducing swelling and irritation in the area of the injection.
  • Effects can last from a week up to 1 year, and may need to be repeated.
Radiofrequency ablations help with local low back or neck pain.

Conditions treated:

  • Diabetic neuropathy, sciatica, pinched nerves in the back, neck, and hip are just a few of the most common conditions.
  • Patients who suffer from long-tern, chronic pain caused by an old injury or a progressive health condition like fibromyalgia, arthritis, or neuropathy.

When used with physical therapy and exercise, radiofrequency ablations can be extremely effective at offering long lasting results. Pain relief is expected to last for 6-18 month. Radiofrequency ablations provide longer term pain relief than injections or nerve blocks.

Referral Process

Patients need a referral from their primary care doctor to see Dr. Burchill. Patients that have an opioid dependence will need to have their medications tapered before starting injections. Dr. Burchill will work with patients on tapering techniques. For additional information about injections, please contact Dr. Burchill’s office at 618.351.4980.

Quitting Takes Courage

What’s your reason to quit smoking? To save money? Breathe easier? Be a healthy role model for your children or grandchildren? You may find the reasons to quit outweigh the reasons to keep doing it. You don’t have to do it alone! Here’s a workshop to help kick the habit.

Courage to Quit® is a free adult smoking cessation program of the Respiratory Health Association delivered in a group setting. The program is led by trained SIH health professionals who provide information, practice skills, and support to help participants reach their smoke-free goals.

Courage to Quit® classes cover addiction, withdrawal, quit smoking medicines, managing cravings, avoiding triggers, the health benefits of quitting and free quitting resources. Courage to Quit® classes cover addiction, withdrawal, quit smoking medicines, managing cravings, avoiding triggers, the health benefits of quitting and free quitting resources.

The workshop includes recognizing that quitting smoking is saying goodbye to an unhealthy relationship. Helping participants prepare for their Quit Day and offering resources, tips and support for maintaining momentum is all a part of the process.

Tobacco use remains the single most avoidable cause of disease, disability and death in the US. In southern Illinois, incidence of smoking tends to be higher than any other part of our state! SIH has seen the effects of this play out in our Cancer Institute as lung cancer tends to be one of the largest diagnosed cancers in our area.

We ask you to be brave. You have it in you to quit. We’ll help along the way.

Register for Courage to Quit®

Wednesdays, April 11, 18, 25 & May 2, 9, 23 at 9:00 AM
Cancer Institute, 1400 Pin Oak Drive, Carterville

Call 866.744.2468

Guidelines to participate include:

  • At least 18 years of age
  • Interested in quitting smoking
  • A willing participant

Click here for other Courage to Quit classes in the region.

SIH Out of Network with Harmony Medicaid

Confused about selecting a health plan under Illinois’ new Managed Care, or Managed Medicaid, requirement? We understand. This is the first time our area has experienced the Medicaid program operating more like private insurance, and it takes some getting used to.

What’s happening now?

The Illinois program is called HealthChoice Illinois. It requires individuals currently covered by Medicaid to select a primary care physician (PCP) in a managed care health plan. It’s important to know if the physician and hospital services you desire are covered under the plan you ultimately choose.

As of April 1, 2018, SIH physicians and facilities accept the following health plans under this new Managed Medicaid initiative:

Managed Medicaid MCO and Customer Service Phone

  • IlliniCare Health – 866-329-4701
  • Meridian Health Plan – 866-606-3700
  • Molina Healthcare – 855-734-9617
  • Blue Cross Community Family Health Plan – 877-860-2837
  • Blue Cross Community ICP – 888-657-1211

Of note, SIH is not participating in the Harmony Medicaid Health Plan. This may have impacted you if you made your selection in recent weeks based on the health plans listed on the Illinois Healthcare and Family Services website. Unfortunately, the state’s website was not updated in a timely fashion. If you choose to continue with your Harmony plan going forward, you will experience significant gaps in coverage for physicians and hospitals across southern Illinois.

What now?

If you’ve already selected a health plan, you have some time to make changes. The state’s deadline for doing so is June 30, 2018. Under Illinois guidelines, we can’t advise you on which plan provides the best fit for you and your family. For questions regarding which plan is right for you, please call any of the customer service numbers listed above or the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services at 877-912-8880 or visit

New Medicare Cards On The Way

Beginning April 1, 2018, Medicare cards will have a new look. Here are a few helpful items to assist you during the transition.


  • 1. Medicare will REMOVE the Social Security number.
  • 2. Bring your new card with you to every visit.
  • 3. Watch this video to learn more.


Need help understanding Medicare benefits? Get help from a counselor insurance-counseling

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.