Archive for the ‘Patient Education’ Category

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.

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