Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

Holiday Shopping Safety Tips
from the ECHD Police Department

  • Do not have purchased items visible in your vehicle. Place them in the trunk or cover them with another object such as a blanket.
  • When shopping during evening hours, park in a well-lit and heavily traveled area.
  • When possible, avoid shopping alone.
  • Carry a minimal amount of cash. Instead use checks or debit/credit cards to make purchases.
  • Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused. Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
  • Be aware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, people try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking money or belongings.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. If you see any suspicious activity, notify the police, security or appropriate store personnel.
  • Do not leave your purse/wallet unattended for any amount of time.
  • Avoid overloading yourself with packages. Instead make frequent trips to you vehicle to lessen your load.
  • Be extra cautious using ATMs. Use machines located in highly populated areas and be aware of your surroundings.


Diabetes – Which is the best meter?

Diabetes – Which is the best meter?

by Ryan O. Baldomero DNP, MSHS, APRN, ACNS-BC, AACC
Director of Chronic Disease Management
MCHS Diabetes Center and Cardiac & Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Different meters are being presented with different positive selling points such as:

  • Speed in checking your blood sugar
  • Accuracy based on their studies
  • Smaller sizes for portability
  • Even color and design to appear to style and fashion

If you are a person with diabetes, having a meter is a must because a LOW blood sugar can kill. Still, we ask, “which is the best meter?”

The answer is simple. The best meter is the one that you use.

As technology adapts to the dynamics of the changing times, blood sugar meters in general still have that need for a sample of your blood. It is a must to interact with your meter in order to obtain the most accurate result. It starts with clean hands, finger prick and testing. These are the basics.

Meters can store your blood sugar readings, upload to your computer. Some are so sophisticated that they can upload results to the cloud for you to access anytime, anywhere. Some meters offer reminders on when your blood sugar tests are due. Others come with an automated alert for live customer service support which calls you on your cell phone if the blood sugar readings are out of range.

Technology in a blood sugar meter is great, but it is not as smart as the person who operates it. Remember – Knowledge is Power and Prevention is Wisdom.

Learn the Signs of Stroke

Learn the Signs of Stroke

by Karry Morris MSN, RN-BC

Cardiovascular Nurse – Medical Center Hospital Cardiovascular Services

Medical Center Health System wants you to learn the signs of stroke and Act FAST! Learn the warning signs of stroke listed below. If you spot them, call 911 right away. Responding quickly can be the difference between recovery and disability, or even death.  

 Learn the acronym F.A.S.T. for stroke:

  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech difficulty
  • Time to call 911 if you see any of these symptoms.

Symptoms can include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or -both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

Did you know?

  • Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of disability. Stroke is the number two cause of death worldwide.
  • In the U.S., someone has a stroke every forty (40) seconds and someone dies from one every four (4) minutes.
  • Studies show stroke patients arriving by ambulance are more likely to receive treatment in the recommend amount of time. Nothing is more important than a life. Call 911 at the first sign of stroke.

Today, stroke is more treatable than ever, but time is critical. Know the signs and act fast. A few seconds could save a life, possibly your own.


Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice!

Pumpkin, Spice and Everything Nice!
by Mia Gibson RD, LD, CDE
Dietitian at Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab at the MCHS Center for Health and Wellness

The signs of Fall are cooler weather, falling leaves and of course pumpkins. That bright orange pumpkin may mean Fall is here, but that orange color is a signal for a healthy food choice too. Deep red and orange foods are good sources of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene can be converted to Vitamin A in the body and is an antioxidant. Antioxidants may reduce risks of cancers, reduce signs of aging and may protect your heart.

Pumpkins are low calorie and high in fiber. They are also a good source of potassium. Pumpkins are 90% water and are technically a fruit.

Instead of just carving your pumpkin, try a new pumpkin recipe using fresh pumpkins. It doesn’t have to be just pumpkin pie … try roasting the seeds or baking fresh pumpkin bread. Fresh pumpkins can be cooked by boiling, steaming or baking.

Pie pumpkins, or sweet pumpkins, are smaller ones used for cooking. A good pumpkin should be heavy and free of soft spots. A five-pound pumpkin yields about four cups of pumpkin puree. The puree can be frozen and used at a later date. Before cooking, remove stem and seeds and stringy material inside then cut into wedges. The pumpkin can be peeled before or after cooking.

In the first Thanksgivings, Pilgrims prepared the pumpkins by scooping out the insides and filling with cream, honey, eggs and spices. The top was replaced and the pumpkin was buried in the hot ashes of a campfire for cooking. It made excellent custard!


Smoke Signals

Smoke Signals
Fact Sheet

The dangers of cigarettes and other tobacco products have had health professionals sending up smoke signals for years. Although smoking rates have declined, nearly 18 percent of people 18 and older in the U.S. still currently smoke, and nearly half a million Americans die every year from smoking-related disease. In fact, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.

Did you know?

  • Cigarettes contain more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 69 are known to cause cancer.
  • On average, cigarette smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.
  • Smoking is directly responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths.
  • For every person who dies from smoking, at least 30 (more than 16 million Americans) are living with a smoking-related illness.
  • Secondhand smoke causes ear infections, asthma attacks, and respiratory symptoms and infections in children and raises their risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In adults, secondhand smoke causes heart disease, lung cancer and stroke. In fact, living with a smoker increases nonsmokers’ chance of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent by ex­posing them to many of the toxic chemicals released from burning tobacco products and exhaled smoke.
  • Smoking raises blood pressure and stresses the heart, increasing your risk for heart disease.
  • Health experts are concerned that electronic cig­arettes are “a gateway to nicotine addiction and, ultimately, smoking, particularly for young people.” Electronic cigarettes pose a risk to unborn babies whose mothers smoke (or vape) and increase nonsmokers’ exposure to nicotine and other toxins, according to a report by the World Health Organization.
  • More people are addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes than to any other drug. Nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine or alcohol.

Stopping smoking is the single most important step you can take to improve the length and quality of your life. It’s never too late to quit! In fact, you cut your risk for heart disease in half just one year after quitting. Even quitting at age 50 reduces your risk of dying from a smoking-related disease by 50 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Do One Thing: Although many people quit on their own, it generally takes multiple tries. You’re more likely to be successful if you get a little help. So send up your own smoke signal: Declare your inten­tion to quit and tap into one of these proven quit-smoking resources.

  • The Ector County Health Care Coalition offers FREE Tobacco Cessation Classes! They occur at 6pm every Tuesday at the MCHS Center for Health & Wellness, Classroom B. (8050 E. Hwy 191 at Faudree Rd.) Call 432-640-2026 to get started.
  • Call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 1-800-QUIT-NOW hotline (800-784-8669) or visit the CDC’s Quit Smoking Resources or I’m Ready to Quit resources page
  • Join the American Lung Association’s Freedom from Smoking program
  • Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation medications and local quit-smoking programs 


© 2016 Spirit Health Group. All rights reserved.

I’m too tired to get up!

“I’m too tired to get up!”
by Pediatrician Dr. Kevin Benson

It’s a phrase that many of us parents hear on those school mornings.

It is an age old example of cause and effect, stay up too late and pay for it the next morning. Many adults try to beat the system with caffeinated beverages every AM but those things are not recommended for our kids (and probably aren’t really good for us in the long run either).

How much sleep do my kids need?  The National Sleep Foundation provides the following chart:

Age Recommended May be appropriate Not recommended

0-3 months


14 to 17 hours 11 to 13 hours

18 to 19 hours

Less than 11 hours

More than 19 hours


4-11 months


12 to 15 hours 10 to 11 hours

16 to 18 hours

Less than 10 hours

More than 18 hours


1-2 years


11 to 14 hours 9 to 10 hours

15 to 16 hours

Less than 9 hours

More than 16 hours


3-5 years


10 to 13 hours 8 to 9 hours

14 hours

Less than 8 hours

More than 14 hours

School-aged Children

6-13 years


9 to 11 hours 7 to 8 hours

12 hours

Less than 7 hours

More than 12 hours


14-17 years


8 to 10 hours 7 hours

11 hours

Less than 7 hours

More than 11 hours

Young Adults

18-25 years


7 to 9 hours 6 hours

10 to 11 hours

Less than 6 hours

More than 11 hours

As anyone care see, the recommended hours of sleep are always more than we expect.

Ways to improve sleep (especially with school starting):

  • Start bedtimes earlier. Avoid dramatic changes, if you’ve let the children stay up a little later during the summer, start weaning bedtime back to acceptable times by 15 minutes each night until you are back in the zone which provides adequate sleep.
  • Stop electronics at least an hour before bedtime. TV, video games, texting, etc are stimulating to the brain and make it more difficult to fall asleep.
  • Establish a bedtime routine. Routines make most of us feel more relaxed and doing the same thing before going to sleep helps us prepare for a more restful night.  Bathing, reading, praying can all be part of a family sleep routine.
  • Eat right! Avoid caffeine and sugar before bed; kids are less likely to “bounce of the walls” without the stimulation of many carbonated beverages and the quick energy boosts of high calorie snacks and desserts.
  • It’s always easier to sleep when you are physically tired.
  • Maintain consistency. Many kids stay up late on weekends and then drag through Mondays and Tuesdays, start to feel better by the hump of Wednesday and then repeat the whole thing again as the weekend comes.  Maintaining bedtimes AND awakening times during the weekend will tend to help those who struggle on those dreaded blue Mondays.

Following these guidelines will make getting back to school a little less stressful for you and your family.

Kevin Benson, M.D., Board Certified in Pediatrics who specializes in:

• Comprehensive Pediatric Care
• Care From Birth to age 18 (Newborns/Infants/Toddlers/Adolescents)
• Allergy & Asthma Care Referrals
• School, Sports, Camp Physicals
• Sick Child Visits
• Routine Wellness Exams
• Health Education
• Immunizations

MCH Family Health Clinic 6030 West University Odessa, TX 79764
Office Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
Same Day Appointments Available Call (432) 640-6600 for more information or to make an appointment.

World Breastfeeding Week 2016

World Breastfeeding Week 2016

by Candy Powell BSN, RN, IBCLC, RLC – MCHS Lactation Consultant

During World Breastfeeding Week 2016, we celebrated all the support that women receive – from partners, grandparents, IBCLC’s, breastfeeding specialists and voluntary support organizations.

The aphorism “it takes a village to raise a child” seems applicable to breastfeeding in this society, where families often lack cultural and practical knowledge.

Most women stop breastfeeding reluctantly, feeling that they have no other choice. Others start using formula but continue some breastfeeds. That is why MCH invests in support services, drops-ins, Baby Cafe, peer support and free lactation consults for patients that deliver here both during the prenatal period and after delivery of their baby.

The value of social support

Social support is vital in enabling breastfeeding; it is far more than just chatting. Breastfeeding depends on motivation, confidence and resilience as well as accurate practical information. Mothers often derive these most effectively from other mothers. The Baby Café model integrates skilled specialist care with social support. A recent evaluation of women’s experiences of breastfeeding support found reasons for attending varied from a need for general support, particularly for isolated women, to help with breastfeeding ‘crises’.

Research shows that women value authentic support, so they can develop trust in supporters, who listen with empathy, take time and affirm mothers’ own abilities.

I always get the help I need. Always. No matter how silly the question is, they’ve always got an answer… it’s nice because they do remember your name, they do remember your baby, and it just feels, it feels nice.

Partners and families can have a strong influence on decisions to breastfeed and can support women to continue, especially when they encounter breastfeeding difficulties.

They kind of supported my husband to support me; he helped me once we got home with positioning and, you know, he would say, oh you remember about this position, why don’t you try that?

The evaluation found that effective social support, combined with help from skilled practitioners, can enable women to overcome difficulties and continue feeding for as long as they would like.

Peer support: Helping mom on her road

In keeping with enhancing community support, the MCH Baby Café has partnered with WIC to train peer counselors, who provide one-to-one and group support and influence the perception of breastfeeding in communities.

We place high value on a non-judgmental, listening approach, enabling women to do what is right for them and their family. To make this a reality for more families we need a supportive culture so we will continue to work to change wider perceptions of breastfeeding and offering family-centered support.


For more information on Baby Café and breastfeeding assistance, please contact MCHS Lactation Consultant Candy Powell BSN, RN, IBCLC, RLC at (432) 640-1714 or Ashley Harry, RN at (432) 640-1784.

Firework Safety

Firework Safety
by Cindy Burnette MSN, RN, CA-CP SANE

MCHS Trauma Outreach Coordinator for Education & Injury Prevention

Please take a minute to read through these firework safety tips. We want everyone to have a safe Fourth of July Holiday!

  • Always read cautionary labels and instructions before lighting.
  • Use fireworks only outdoors and ensure that the area is clear and away from buildings and vehicles.
  • View fireworks from at least 500 feet away from where they are being lit.
  • Always have a bucket of water or a water hose nearby to quickly extinguish any fires that may start.
  • Never light fireworks with an open flame such as a cigarette lighter, use appropriate lighting equipment supplied by firework manufacturers.
  • Never light fireworks while holding them, always place them on the ground as per their instruction.
  • Do not light more than one firework at a time or “tie” fireworks together.
  • Never try to relight a “dud” firework.
  • Expose of used fireworks by wetting them down and placing them in a metal container away from any combustible materials.
  • A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities and never allow children to light fireworks.


by James Willhelm, RN – Infection Prevention

Salmonella is a bacterial infection which is estimated to cause one million food-borne illnesses a year in the US. Salmonella is typically caused by eating undercooked meat, poultry or eggs, lack of work space hygiene or lack of personal hygiene when preparing foods. Symptoms of Salmonella, including diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps, may appear 12 to 72 hours after infection. The infection typically lasts between four and seven days. While most people don’t require treatment, sometimes the diarrhea can be severe enough to require hospitalization. If a suspected salmonella infection is present, see a doctor and drink plenty of fluids.

Quick tips for prevention of Salmonella include:

Cook meat, poultry and eggs thoroughly. Do not eat or drink foods containing raw eggs or unpasteurized milk. (If you receive undercooked food in a restaurant, don’t be afraid to send it back!)

Wash hands prior to, during and after food preparation as well as all cook/preparation surfaces.

Also, please note that reptiles can carry salmonella on their skin. Avoid handling turtles, lizards, etc., or make sure to wash your hands after handling them.

For further information visit the Center for Disease Control website at


Get Relief!

Your chest feels like it’s on fire, and you have a sour taste in the back of your throat. Ugh—it’s heartburn. Next time, you’ll think twice about that meat-laden pizza and chocolate cupcake dinner.

The occasional bout of heartburn, while uncomfortable, isn’t a cause for worry. But if it happens on a regular basis, it may be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a serious but treatable condition.

Heartburn basics

“It may be called heartburn, but it’s not your heart that’s the issue,” says Ashutosh Gupta, MD, with ProCare Gastroenterology. Instead, it’s the esophagus—the tube that connects your throat

to your stomach. When you eat, your stomach produces acid to digest your food. If that acid backs up (refluxes) into your esophagus, it can trigger that classic symptom of a burning sensation in the chest or throat. You’re more likely to have reflux if you:

  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Are overweight
  • Wear tight clothes
  • Eat too close to bedtime
  • Eat chocolate; citrus foods; or spicy, greasy or acidic foods—such as tomato sauce
  • Drink beverages with caffeine or alcohol
  • Are pregnant

Lifestyle changes, such as avoiding foods that trigger reflux and quitting smoking, may help relieve heartburn, Dr. Gupta says. So may:

  • Eating smaller, more frequent meals
  • Losing weight
  • Wearing loose clothing
  • Elevating the head of your bed
  • Not eating for at least three hours before you go to bed

When to see a doctor

For occasional reflux, over-the counter (OTC) antacids or H2 blockers (such as famotidine or ranitidine) can help. But if you’re taking OTC remedies two or more times a week, it may be a sign of GERD—and a sign that you need to see a doctor. Your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes, prescribe one or more medicines, or recommend surgery to strengthen the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus.

Without treatment, GERD can have serious consequences. It can cause changes to the esophagus that make swallowing difficult. It may also make asthma symptoms worse, cause chronic coughing and cause tissue changes that can lead to cancer. So, if skipping the pizza doesn’t prevent your reflux, it may be time to get help, Dr. Gupta says.

Your doctor can tell you: You don’t have to put up with GERD!

If you or a loved one has chronic GERD, please seek professional medical attention. If you need assistance finding a physician, please call 432-640-6000.

Sources: American College of Gastroenterology; National Institutes of Health and Ashutosh Gupta, MD with ProCare Gastroenterology.