Flu Season Is Still Here: What You Need To Know

coldHere’s some good news: This year’s flu season is turning out to be among the mildest on record.

So far in our flu season, which extends roughly from November to April, five deaths have been reported and 925 cases have been confirmed in the United States. At this point in 2015, nearly 40 deaths had been recorded and more than 4,000 cases of the illness were reported, according to the federal department of Health and Human Services.

Even with the relatively low number of cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommends flu shots annually for everyone over age six months. The vaccination helps prevent the flu and is especially important for anyone with a damaged immune system or is at higher risk.

The milder flu season is attributed to a warmer-than-normal winter — so far. Officials also report that the vaccinations developed for this year have been a good match with the strains reported in circulation.

But, the CDC also notes that the numbers of flu cases across the country are on the rise — the season typically peaks after the second week of February.

So, it’s still important to take precautions during flu season to stay healthy. Best bets:

  • Get a flu shot! Call 816-923-5800 to make an appointment. You can even call for a same-day visit.
  • Wash your hands! Use soap and water, and wash thoroughly — long enough to sing “Happy Birthday” to yourself. You can also use hand sanitizers in between washings.
  • Avoid contact with people who have flu-like symptoms. If you’re not feeling well, cover your cough and stay away from others to avoid spreading germs. Don’t share your symptoms with schoolmates or your co-workers.
  • Take care of yourself! Get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and liquids, and eat healthy foods. Exercising regularly helps, too.

Let’s do our part to make this the healthiest flu season ever!

Do you have a question about the flu or the getting a flu vaccination? Call us at 816-923-5800 or leave a note in the comment box below.

Get Your Kids Involved in Planning Their School Lunches!

ChooseMyPlateGovBy Ozella Jones, Nutritionist

We are well into the new school year. Chances are, your kids might be getting tired of their school lunches.

Here are some tips to spice them up: Start by engaging your kids in the planning. Let them help!

I always like to ask kids what they like to eat, and then I help them put their own lunches together. I can also offer suggestions to help balance out the package, making sure to always include the fruits or vegetables that might not be top of mind to them.

I like to give out this simple page that helps kids and parents plan a balanced meal. This shows a sample meal with fruits, grains, protein, vegetables and dairy — I use that as a guide and let the kids pick their favorites in each category. Point out the portion sizes, too.

If the kids are included in the planning, they are more likely to enjoy the meal. They will feel like they have choices and are an important part of it all — which they are.

A good place to start is with a plan. While you’re shopping, ask the kids what they like or what they’d like to try. You might be surprised! Here are some suggestions for easy additions to the lunchbox or paper bag:

  • Low-fat multigrain nutrition bars — instead of cookies
  • Flavored rice cakes — instead of chips
  • Applesauce or fruit cups — instead of puddings
  • Fruit, like apples, tangerines, grapes, or vegetables like baby carrots — instead of candy

For the main part of the meal, you might suggest peanut butter bagel bites, or lean meats like turkey or chicken. They might like to assemble their own cheese and crackers.

The key is bringing the kids into the planning — get them to think about what they’re eating and how much. Start them out with good information to make good choices throughout the day.

If you’d like some additional tips on building balanced meals, check out my two favorite resources for guidance and recipes:

Questions? Please come visit me at SHS Central Facility.

How YOU Can Prepare for Flu Season

It is impossible to predict specifics, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 5 to 20 percent of the population will catch the flu each year.

Every season, that translates into more than 100 million workdays missed, which is estimated to cost $7 billion in sick days and lost productivity nationally.

Last year’s flu season started early and lasted into April, making for a longer-than-average season. It produced 200,000 hospitalizations nationally and 36,000 deaths related to flu complications.

This year, there’s some good news in a slow start to the season. In Missouri, in the month of October, the health department reported influenza-like illness as below baseline with 124 laboratory-positive influenza cases. Nationally, as of Nov. 9, flu activity is low with just 35 states reporting sporadic flu cases. There’s been just one death attributed to flu so far.

Peak season, however, is still ahead of us. It is expected between December and February.

HowtowashyourhandsHere’s what you can do to stay healthy this flu season:

  • Get a flu shot. It’s recommended for everyone who’s more than six months old. And the earlier you get a shot, the better protected you will be once the viruses begin circulating in the community. You can get a flu shot at any Swope Health Services’ location. Call 816-923-5800 to schedule an appointment.
  • Avoid being around people who are sick with the flu. Especially avoid touching and close contact, like sharing foods or drinks, with people who have flu symptoms.
  • Wash your hands! It’s a proven method for reducing the spread of germs. Encourage kids to wash up, thoroughly and frequently.

If you do find yourself sick with the flu, do everyone else a favor and stay home to take care of yourself. Don’t spread it to others at your workplace, on the bus, in stores or at school. You’ll feel better, and so will everyone else.

Need more info? One of the best resources for public health information is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where you can find “What You Should Know for the 2015-16 Influenza Season.

Do you have questions about the flu? Let us know. You can leave a comment here or visit us at any of our locations. For appointments, call 816-923-5800.

Come Join The Fun at the Back-to-School Health Fair on July 25th!

Face paintingMark your calendars and plan on joining us at our second annual Back-to-School Health Fair. Festivities run from at 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 25, at central campus located at 3801 Blue Parkway in Kansas City, Mo.

The health fair will provide information for parents and children, with resource tables featuring staff from SHS and other community organizations. Among those scheduled to join us are:

  • YMCA
  • United Services
  • Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
  • Women & Minority Health Program
  • Reach Out and Read
  • Children’s Community Psychiatric Health programs
  • SHS Pediatrics and Behavioral Health programs
  • Brain Injury Association

Pediatrics Health Fair (2)Visitors to the health fair will receive a “passport” to help them navigate through the fair. Once they receive six stamps at the information tables, the passport can be entered into a drawing for prizes, including backpacks and school supplies, refurbished bikes and new bike helmets (all while supplies last).

Children may also enjoy face painting and balloon animals. A hot dog lunch will also be provided while supplies last.

The SHS Back-to-School Health Fair is sponsored in part by Aetna. Additional support comes from Hot 103 Jamz, the Brain Injury Association of Kansas and Greater KC and the Bike Shop by RevolveKC.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Ped Health Fair

Summer sports? Time for a sports physical.

Britney Lesher, BSN, RN

Britney Lesher, BSN, RN

Post written by Britney Lesher, BSN, RN – Clinic Manager, Pediatrics and OB/GYN clinics – Swope Health Central

If your high school student is signing up for any summer league sports like soccer, baseball or swimming, he or she is going to need a sports physical. It’s not just a good idea — it’s a requirement.

Both Kansas and Missouri require high school student athletes to have a sports physical before they participate in sports. Most school districts and sports teams have the same requirement. It’s also a recommended practice for middle school athletes.

The No. 1 reason why sports physicals are important? To make sure the athlete is healthy enough to compete.

There are two main components to a sports physical: the student’s physical check-up, including medical history, and a review of the family’s medical history.

The student’s physical includes a measure of blood pressure, body mass index and heart activity. The student’s history includes a review of any medications, as well as a review of any surgeries, concussions, dizziness or chest pain.

flag-footballThe second part of the examination is a review of family history, with a particular focus on any member who may have been treated for heart disease, especially if the diagnosis occurred before age 50. This might indicate a higher risk for the student athlete. If there is a family tendency toward heart issues, the physician may request further tests, such as a cardiac screening or other exam.

Since most kids don’t go to a doctor unless they’re sick, the sports physical provides an important opportunity to discuss healthy choices with the student. It’s a great time to talk about adopting good diet habits, preventing injury and avoiding drugs, including performance enhancing drugs or supplements.

Even if your child isn’t participating in organized sports, it’s still a good idea to plan on a well-child visit once a year. Wellness visits provide a general health review and check that immunizations are up to date.

Call us today at 816-923-5800 to schedule your athlete’s sports physical or wellness exam.