Mercy expansion plans in Northwest Arkansas

Here they grow again! Mercy, which is one of the amazing sponsors here on nwaMotherlode, is experiencing huge growth. They recently announced a $247 million expansion plan here in Northwest Arkansas.

That means we’ll have even more medical care options available in our area as well as growth in health care jobs. Here are a few of the things we’ll be seeing soon as the expansion plans get underway.

  • MERCY2A new patient tower that will take Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas from 200 beds to 300-plus beds.
  • Addition of multiple primary care and specialty clinics in Benton County and north Washington County.
  • Creation and recruitment of new health care jobs, including physicians, advanced practitioners, nurses and other health care co-workers.
  • Enhancements to the hospital’s already robust areas of specialty care, including the heart and vascular center and women’s and children’s services.
  • Establishment of a University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences community internal medicine residency program in partnership with the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville. The program will provide training to eight doctors the first year, growing to 24 doctors in three years.

Some of the expansion plans are already in progress. For example, there’s an interim renovation of the Level IIIA Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) which is great for babies born in Northwest Arkansas. There’s also a renovation going on for the 7th floor of the hospital, which will mean the addition of 24 inpatient beds.

NWA is also getting a new hybrid cardiac catheterization lab which provides technology for advanced heart procedures that weren’t currently being done in our area.

And good news for hospital visitors… the parking lot is getting bigger, too, by 500 spaces.

Stay tuned for more exciting additions coming soon.

Summer snacking and childhood obesity

quick tip mercyMost school-age kids are officially home for summer now, so you may find that your refrigerator and cabinet doors are opening a LOT more often these days as kids have all-day access to snacks. We asked Dr. Cassie Dyer, a pediatrician at Mercy, to give us some tips on how to help kids avoid an unhealthy weight gain that might be triggered by summertime grazing habits.

Do kids tend to gain more weight during summer break when they’re home for most of the day and able to “graze” on snacks and drinks instead of eating primarily at meal times?

bikeKids can certainly gain more weight during the summer months if they’re increasing intake through more snacks, sugary or fatty snacks, or if they’re decreasing activity. Grazing behaviors in kids can go both ways as far as weight change. Some kids may add on to their normal daily calorie intake (and gain weight) by grazing, while other kids may actually eat less during the day if they only graze rather than eat meals. Often the types and amounts of calories kids get through snacks aren’t as balanced as those we get at meal times. Try and maintain a normal meal and snack schedule during the summer months and encourage lots of activity!

What kinds of snacks should and should NOT be within reach during summer break? Should parents discourage snacking altogether?

Try and include fruit and vegetable snacks in addition to whole grains as much as possible when your child needs a snack. Processed snacks and sugary snacks can absolutely add unwanted calories to your child’s food chips-448746_960_720intake without adding much else! Chips, candy bars and ice cream should be given few and far between! Depending on the age of your child, they may still require a small morning or afternoon snack to keep them going during the day, so eliminating snacks all together isn’t always the right answer. The closer you stick to a routine involving set meals and snack times, the better!

Should we be teaching kids to focus on a snack’s caloric content or the sugar content? Does the sugar content pose a bigger risk of weight gain?

strawberryThe sugar content as a component of calories in a specific snack should definitely be something parents take into account when making good choices. Snacks that have a balanced mix of protein, fats and sugars are the best. Many snacks that are “low-fat” have a much higher sugar content to make up for that lost flavor. For example, flavored “low-fat” yogurts have large amounts of sugar in them to make them taste good. You can avoid this by buying unflavored/plain yogurt and add a little honey or cinnamon and fresh fruit to make it taste a little sweeter without adding as many calories. Making your own snacks from raw ingredients is a great way to avoid unhealthy additives in processed/packaged foods.

Elementary school-age children are at a great stage to learn about eating healthy. You can talk about the difference in snacks (healthy vs. unhealthy) without getting into too much detail as far as calories and sugar content and still make an impact in their future choices. As kids get older, to middle school or high school age, being more specific about calories and where we get our calories (i.e. from fats, sugars, proteins) can be good lessons.

cassie dyerIf you’d like to talk to a doctor with in-depth knowledge about childhood weight issues, you can schedule an appointment with Dr. Cassie Dyer by calling the Mercy pediatric clinic in Bentonville at 479-636-9234 or click HERE for more clinic info.

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

quick tip mercy

What’s the best way to prevent the progression of pre-diabetes to Type 2 diabetes?

Working towards achieving a healthy body weight through diet and regular exercise, particularly a diet low in carbohydrates. Your healthcare provider may recommend a consultation with a certified diabetic educator to bananadiscuss this type of diet. “Crash” or “fad” diets will likely NOT set you up for long-term success. Staying active is also key. Look for realistic ways to implement physical activity that you enjoy and work with your lifestyle.

For example, if you’re a busy mom who spends lots of time at the ball field, make a commitment to walk briskly around the outside of the field between innings. Also be sure to pack a cooler of healthy snacks so you don’t find yourself snacking on ballpark food. There are some medications that are appropriate in pre-diabetes that your healthcare provider may recommend.

For more info on the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes as well as the latest treatments, click HERE.

Healthy Mama: Focus on Diabetes

diabetes word cloud2A diabetes diagnosis can turn a family’s life upside down. We interviewed Kayla Crow, a nurse practitioner with the Mercy Endocrinology Clinic, to learn more about pre-diabetes, the big differences between Type 1 and Type 2, common misconceptions, as well as the latest advancements in the treatment of diabetes.

What is pre-diabetes?

Pre-diabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes yet. The pancreas is having a hard time producing enough insulin to keep the blood glucose in normal range. Taking action at the time pre-diabetes is diagnosed can help prevent the progression to Type 2 diabetes.

Who should be tested for it?

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends screening for adults ages 40-70 who are overweight or obese. People with a family history of diabetes, a personal history of gestational diabetes or polycystic ovarian diabetes-777002_640syndrome, and those of certain ethnic groups (Hispanic, African American, Native American, Pacific Islander) may be at an increased risk of diabetes at a younger age or lower body mass and their healthcare provider may consider earlier screening. Pre-diabetes can be diagnosed with a fasting glucose of 100-125 mg/dL or HemoglobinA1c of 5.7-6.4%. Anything 6.5% or higher is considered diabetes.

What’s the best way to prevent the progression to Type 2 diabetes?

Working towards achieving a healthy body weight through diet and regular exercise, particularly a diet low in carbohydrates. Your healthcare provider may recommend a consultation with a certified diabetic educator to discuss this type of diet. “Crash” or “fad” diets will likely NOT set you up for long-term success. Staying active is also key. Look for realistic ways to implement physical activity that you enjoy and work with your lifestyle. For example, if you’re a busy mom who spends lots of time at the ball field, make a commitment to walk briskly around the outside of the field between innings. Also be sure to pack a cooler of healthy snacks so you don’t find yourself snacking on ballpark food. There are some medications that are appropriate in pre-diabetes that your healthcare provider may recommend.

What are some of the major differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

While they may seem similar, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are two completely different processes. Type 1 diabetes is caused by autoimmune destruction of the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin and the onset is typically in childhood or early adulthood. Those with Type 1 diabetes will always require treatment with insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is a disease that develops over time after years of increased workload on the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Medications along with weight loss, a low carb diet, and physical activity can help stave off the progression of Type 2 diabetes. These medications are not appropriate for those with Type 1 diabetes. While maintaining a healthy body weight and active lifestyle are important for those with Type 1 diabetes, neither has contributed to the development of the disease.

How is someone with gestational diabetes treated differently?

The treatment for gestational diabetes is dependent upon how high blood glucoses actually are. Many patients can be managed with diet alone, but some will require treatment with medications or insulin during their pregnancy. Those with gestational diabetes should work closely with their healthcare provider to determine the best treatment options as many medications are contraindicated in pregnancy.

candy2What are some misconceptions about Type 1 diabetes?

- “Eating too many sweets caused the diabetes.” As mentioned previously, this is more so the case for Type 2 diabetes, but is not so in Type 1.

- “Only kids get Type 1 diabetes.”  Type 1 diabetes can be diagnosed in adulthood, which is why Type 1 diabetes is no longer referred to as “juvenile-onset.”

- “Diabetes is reversible.” Again, while this may be true for type 2 diabetes, it is not so for those with type 1.

- “People with type 1 diabetes shouldn’t play sports.”  Those with Type 1 diabetes have the ability to take part in the same activities others do. They will just require an extra degree of preparation and awareness.

What are some good local resources (or online) for children with Type 1 diabetes? Type 2?

Children with Type 1: Northwest Arkansas branch of JDRF (Click here to visit the website.)

Type 2 diabetes: American Diabetes Association www.diabetes.org

Here’s an amazing story about some of the exciting medical advances on the horizon for Type 1 diabetes:  Click here to watch a video about Lauren Sivewright, a Fayetteville woman who is one of only 10 people in the world who have been given an opportunity to test the effectiveness of a new artificial pancreas, which could transform the treatment for Type 1 diabetes.

For more information about Kayla Crow, APRN and the Mercy Endocrinology Clinic, click HERE to visit the website. Kayla’s office is located at 3333 Pinnacle Hills Parkway, Suite 30B, in Rogers, Ark. The phone number is 479-338-4600.

MERCY2

Today is National Doctors Day!

Did you know that today is National Doctor’s Day?

MERCY2If your doctor or pediatrician takes great care of you and your family, take a minute to send him or her a quick note to express your thanks or post a sincere shout-out on social media. We want to say a big THANK YOU to the doctors at Mercy who answer our interview questions for the monthly health articles we publish here on nwaMotherlode.com. We appreciate your time and expertise, doctors! Thank you!

If you’re looking for a new doctor or specialist, remember that Mercy offers a free online doctor-finder service. Click HERE to check it out.

Happy National Doctor’s Day!

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