Archive for the ‘Patient Education’ Category

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.

Thinking About a Joint Replacement?

Over the past few years, a lot of things have changed about getting a hip or knee replacement—including the amount of time that you will spend in the hospital! According to the Center for Disease Control, ten years ago, the average patient hospital stay for a hip replacement was nearly five days. Now when you choose to have your hip or knee replacement surgery at Herrin Hospital’s Joint Camp, the average length of time that you can expect to spend in the hospital is only about two days!

So What Has Changed?

Advancements in Surgical Methods

Over time, there have been advancements in medical technology and refining of surgical methods that have benefited the patient.

One example is the anterior hip replacement.

An anterior hip replacement allows Herrin Hospital Joint Camp surgeons to replace the joint without distressing or detaching muscle from the pelvis or femur during surgery. Patients may be able to immediately bend their hips freely and bear full weight when comfortable, enabling a quicker return to normal function.
Rehabilitation Begins Shortly After Surgery

Another improvement is that rehabilitation starts shortly after surgery. A study shows that beginning physical therapy for both knee and hip replacement patients as soon as the same day of surgery can benefit your recovery and reduce potential issues such as stiffness and swelling.

So shortly after surgery, you will receive physical and occupational therapy from a team of Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) trained therapists. The team reviews exercises that will assist you with your recovery from surgery. Therapists will also provide you with useful tips for everyday activities—covering everything from safely entering and exiting a car, to laying and raising from a bed.

Herrin Hospital’s Joint Camp is the only Joint Commission accredited program for hip and knee replacements within a 100 mile radius. It also has an accreditation from the Joint Commission for hip fracture rehabilitation—making it one of only 26 programs nationwide!
Care After You Leave the Hospital

Most folks aren’t ready to run a marathon upon leaving the hospital. Instead there are several recuperative options available to you while you work to regain you strength and get back to the things you love!

During your stay at the hospital, case managers will talk with you and assist you in setting up your care for when you leave the hospital. Depending on your specific needs, there are several options available to you including the Acute Rehabilitation Center at Herrin Hospital, the Swing Bed program at St. Joseph Memorial Hospital and outpatient rehabilitation through Rehab Unlimited. In fact, our Joint Camp has the ability to preschedule outpatient therapy appointments even before you have your procedure!

Click here to learn more about SIH hip and knee replacement surgery and Joint Camp.

Allergy Sufferer: Enjoy the outdoors again!

Spring allergies are right around the corner…surely your itchy nose, eyes and throat have already made you aware. Did you know that SIH Medical Group has two board certified allergists/immunologists? Some of their services include:

  • Allergy shots and desensitization to seasonal allergens, pet dander, dust mites, molds
  • Evaluate medication reactions/allergies
  • Antibiotic desensitization
  • Asthma diagnosis and medical management
  • Adverse food reaction evaluation and management
  • Chronic eczema evaluation and management
  • Diagnose and manage Mammalian meat allergy following tick bites

Dr. Ronald Mings is located at:

1001 E Main, 2A Prof Pk E
Carbondale, IL 62901 | 618.549.9385

Dr. Jeffrey Lehman is located at:

Center for Medical Arts | 2601 W Main Street
Carbondale, IL 62901 | 618.549.5361

Back Surgery Made Safer

Surgical Relief from Back Pain Made Safer

Today’s back pain may be tolerable; then tomorrow comes and you are “down in the back.” Neurosurgery crosses your mind, but spine surgery sounds so scary, with a long road to recovery.
At the SIH Brain & Spine Institute, new image-guided 3D navigation technology is the latest extension of surgical services at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale. It allows for a safer spinal surgery and a faster road to recovery.

If you are thinking about neurosurgery, you want exceptionally trained physicians with extensive knowledge about anatomy and precision with the scalpel. Image-guided, 3D-technology is the extra safeguard tool to help doctors be even more precise.

“The technology actually allows us to pre-plan your surgery in a 3-dimensional virtual reality environment,” said Dr. Eugenio Vargas, neurosurgeon at SIH Medical Group. “It’s really similar to a sophisticated 3D GPS system.” It helps neurosurgeons know precisely where to make incisions and where to concentrate.

Benefits to image-guided spine surgery

According to Vargas, doctors utilize the technology in the operating room for real-time navigation. “When the patient is on the table, you register the patient with the pre-planned operation now in the system. It then knows the exact point in space where, for instance, a tumor is located. It even visualizes your instruments.” Before they even open the skin, neurosurgeons know where to make a precise incision.

A 25-year veteran neurosurgeon, Vargas has experienced this sophisticated evolution of spine surgery technology. “Before 3D navigation was available, we would rely on pre-surgery X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs to create an image in the surgeons mind as to what the patient’s anatomy looked like, as well as where and what the problem was. At the time of surgery, we relied on our knowledge of anatomy and the information obtained from the pre-surgery studies to perform the procedure.”

Vargas says that today, in addition to using their knowledge of anatomy, doctors use the 3D navigation to show them a computerized, virtual reality image of the patient’s anatomy and the problem that needs to be addressed. Without necessarily making big incisions, the surgeon can, through smaller incisions, get precisely down to where the problem is. That translates into a safer surgery.

For the patient, that means recovery time is usually reduced by one or two days, which can be significant. There’s also generally less pain.

When Back Pain is Too Much, Let Us Help You Decide What to Do

At the SIH Brain & Spine Institute, you will have the full gambit of specialists to help you feel better. Along the way other abnormalities of the spine may be discovered. They may or may not be what is producing the pain.

“We all have degenerative changes as we age, changes which most of the time don’t produce symptoms,” said Vargas. “Based on your specific symptoms, examinations and studies, the goal is to gather all the information, analyze it and determine where the pain is coming from.”

A diverse array of physician specialists (neurologists, pain management specialists, physician extenders, neurosurgeons) at SIH Brain & Spine Institute allows a team-approach to patient care. Together, they pool their knowledge and examine all the pieces of the puzzle. Then the plan of care is made.

Today’s back pain may simply require medication. The next time it may be a different problem and require physical therapy, injections or surgery.

“A good spine team like ours has different physicians, physical therapists, physician extenders, etc. all working your case together,” claims Vargas. “Seventy percent of patients may not need surgical care to relieve the pain.” Often it can be treated and made better without surgery.

Is it time for you to take action?

Contact the SIH Brain & Spine Institute
618.351.4972. Learn more.

Beware the ‘Frigid Four’ When Competing Outdoors

Winter is here, but that doesn’t mean outdoor activities need to come to a halt. The National Athletic Trainers Association has provided the information that is below, which highlights four common environmental cold injuries: hypothermia, frostbite, chilblain (trench foot) and immersion foot. Take a look at the chart to learn about safety precautions you can take when competing during cold, wet and windy weather and signs to watch for if you need help.

  • Hypothermia occurs when the core body temperature reaches below 95 degrees.
  • Frostbite is the freezing of body tissue and a localized response to a cold, dry environment that can be worsened by sweat cooling the tissue.
  • Chilblains is a nonfreezing injury of the extremities that occurs with extended exposure to cold, wet conditions.
  • Immersion Foot is a nonfreezing injury of the extremities also known as “trench foot.” It occurs with prolonged exposure to cold, wet environments.

cold Download full size infographic

This information has been brought to you by Sportsology. Sportsology is the collaboration between certified athletic trainers from Southern Illinois Healthcare’s Rehab Unlimited and Sports Medicine physicians and fellows from SIU School of Medicine.

Questions? Call Sportsology at 877.656.4999 or get more information at

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm – The Ticking Time Bomb

What do Albert Einstein, Lucille Ball, Conway Twitty, and George C. Scott all have in common? They each died from a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). An aneurysm is an enlargement of a blood vessel. The most common place for one to occur is in the abdominal aorta – the largest blood vessel in your body.

“Aortic aneurysm is a silent illness,” said Prairie Cardiologist, Dr. Raed Al-Dallow. Like a ticking time bomb, there are no symptoms until they rupture. According to Al-Dallow, its rupture is usually fatal.

AAA’s are twice as common in men as in women. Risk factors are having a first degree relative with an aneurysm, smoking, coronary artery disease, high cholesterol, and chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease. If you are a man or woman who has had a coronary artery bypass operation and you continue to smoke, your chance of having an AAA is nearly 20%.

AAA’s are easily identified with a simple, noninvasive ultrasound. If identified early, aneurysms can be followed and treated with very little risk. A single screening ultrasound in high risk individuals has been shown to reduce the chance of dying from an aneurysm by 70%.

“If you are at risk, don’t wait,” urges Al-Dallow. “Screening is the best way to find out.” With some very specific criteria, you may be eligible for a Medicare screening abdominal ultrasound at no cost to you.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Preventative Screening

Are you:
  • A man age 65-75 years of age who has smoked 100 or more cigarettes in your life?
  • A man or woman with a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms?

If the answer is “yes” you should request a FREE Medicare® abdominal ultrasound AAA screening from your physician. There is no time limit to obtain this exam and there is no Part B deductible or coinsurance/copayment applied to this benefit.

Test Performed at
Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center
618.549.0721 ext 65282

Learn from Gordon’s Story

Diabetes and Joint Pain Linked?

Many people don’t know that having diabetes and joint pain can be linked. But a article shared a CDC finding which states: “Diabetes is associated with widespread symptoms and complications in your body. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 52 percent of people with arthritis also have diabetes. There is an undeniably strong link between the two conditions.”

Read about the different types of diabetes-related joint pain.

If you and your physician have explored your treatment options and have discussed surgery, Herrin Hospital’s Joint Camp offers hip and knee replacement.

Southern Illinois Healthcare offers the only Joint Commission accredited Joint Camp in southern Illinois, which combines surgical expertise, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago affiliated therapy and valuable education to give you a better experience and faster recovery when facing joint replacement surgery.

Learn more about Herrin Hospital’s Joint Camp

Flu: Protecting you and your family

Flu, or influenza, outbreaks can happen as early as October and as late as May, so now is the time to protect yourself and your family.

Dr. Adam Henson, a family practice physician with SIH Medical Group in West Frankfort, recommends the vaccine for anyone from the age of six months to end of life. The vaccine is available via the flu shot itself or a nasal spray (the spray is not recommended for children younger than two and adults older than 50). While last year’s flu vaccine was not as effective because of the way the virus changed, experts at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have much more confidence in this year’s vaccine, which has been updated to better match circulating viruses.

And, is it flu or not? Dr. Henson recommends against self-diagnosis. “See your doctor, because flu symptoms like fever, cough and muscle aches are often confused with the common cold.”

A quick test can determine your best, and fastest, course of treatment, and stop the spread of the disease in your home and community.

Demystifying Interventional Radiology

Interventional Radiologists at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale and Herrin Hospital provide a number of minimally invasive procedures that, over time, have replaced many open procedures. These minimally invasive procedures provide you with surgical solutions that offer less pain, fewer risks and reduced recovery time.

Interventional Radiologists are physicians that use their expertise in diagnostic imaging—such as reading x-rays, ultrasound and other medical images—to accurately guide their medical instruments through tight spaces throughout the body in order to treat a variety of health problems.

An example of one such minimally invasive procedure performed by interventional radiologists is renal cryoablation. If diagnosed with a kidney tumor, our IR physicians would use their skills to guide their instruments to the exact location of the tumor to simply freeze and destroy the tumor tissue. Typically patients have a shorter recovery time and a quicker return to normal activity than with traditional kidney tumor-removal surgery.

An interventional radiologist performed a renal cryoablation procedure on patient Robert Bordenave. Robert underwent his minimally invasive cryoablation procedure at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale and was home by that evening. He was able to get back to his normal routine in just a few days.

“It was a quick outpatient procedure and the biopsy I had of the tumor came back as benign—and that was a big relief.” expressed Robert. “I was very impressed by the interventional radiologist before and after the surgery. Everyone who was on the team was very helpful.”

About his procedure, Robert added, “I would definitely choose this option again. I really think it’s a great procedure and I think others should be aware of this option.”

Interventional radiologists offer a number of other procedures including:

  • Angioplasty
  • Chemoembolization
  • Embolization
  • Kyphoplasty
  • Needle Biopsy
  • Port Placement
  • Stents
  • Tumor Ablation Therapies
  • Uterine Fibroid Embolization
  • Varicose Vein Treatment
  • Venous Access (Port, Hickman, PICC)

To learn more about our Interventional Radiology team and the conditions that they treat, visit Interventional Radiology or talk with your physician about a referral.

9 Concussion Signs and Illinois’ NEW Guidelines

Recently, Illinois passed a law titled Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act. This new law will go into effect after January 1, 2016. It mandates all Illinois schools to have a concussion oversight team that will develop a return to learn and return to play protocol. This affects all athletes that may sustain a concussion in their school sport, regardless of age.

According to the CDC, supporting a student recovering from a concussion requires a collaborative approach among school professionals, health care providers, and parents, as s/he may need accommodations during recovery.

Students who return to school after a concussion may need to:
  • Take rest breaks as needed
  • Spend fewer hours at school
  • Be given more time to take tests or complete assignments
  • Receive help with schoolwork
  • Reduce time spent on the computer, reading, or writing
Do You Know The Signs Of A Concussion?


It is normal for students to feel frustrated, sad, and even angry because they cannot return to recreation or sports right away, or cannot keep up with schoolwork. A student may also feel isolated from peers and social networks. Talk with the student about these issues and offer support and encouragement. As the student’s symptoms decrease, the extra help or support can be removed gradually.

Questions? Call Sportsology at 877.656.4999 or get more information at the Illinois Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act.

You can also find more information by viewing this PDF from the CDC.