The Magic of Imaging

Ever wondered how the exerts in our Radiology Department can give you such detailed, accurate results from an X-ray, CT scan and other imaging tests? Culbertson Imaging Manager Christy Sims gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the imaging process to help you understand what happens when you come in for a test — and what comes next.

How do I get an imaging exam?

If you’re having an exam, such as an X-ray, CT scan or ultrasound, your doctor will schedule an appointment for you. Your exam will be sent digitally for interpretation by Clinical Radiologists in Springfield, one of the country’s leading radiology groups with more than 70 radiologists covering all subspecialties. “That helps ensure maximum accuracy, and you can be confident your exam is read by specialist who focus on that type of physiology every day, from pediatrics to neuroradiology to mammography,” said Sims. Typically, your exam’s interpretation is complete and your doctor has a report and results within 12 hours.

What if I need an emergency imaging exam?

If you come into the emergency room, your exam also goes to Clinical Radiologists for interpretation, but with a STAT tag. Radiologists will read and return a report within 30 minutes. STAT stroke patients — patients showing symptoms of a stroke — receive even more priority, with results back in less than 15 minutes.

If you’re a patient at Culbertson, your doctor will order the exam. Your results will typically be in your doctor’s hands within two hours, depending on your condition and the type of test your doctor ordered.

How long does it take to get mammography results?

Patients who arrive for a diagnostic (symptomatic) mammogram and/or breast ultrasound can be assured they will be given their results before leaving the Imaging Department that day. The mammography technologist is in direct contact with the radiologist in Springfield during your exam. The radiologists who is viewing and interpreting your breast images has had extensive training in breast imaging. “We feel so fortunate to have this capability for our patients. As you know, it can be very scary and stressful for women experiencing symptoms to come in for breast imaging,” said Sims.

The imaging department also performs screening mammograms, which are often read and reported to your doctor within 24 hours. Patients receive a letter of their results from the Imaging Department. If you would like to schedule a mammogram, please call 217-322-4321, ext. 5279. A physician’s order is required.

When are imaging exams available?

Whatever test you need, Culbertson Memorial Hospital and our partners at Clinical Radiologists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We’re focused on providing the highest level of care and comfort for you. If you have any questions before your test, our Imaging Department encourages you to ask by calling 217-322-4321, ext. 5279.

Enjoy the outdoors, not the Emergency Room!

You wouldn’t venture out into a blizzard without taking precautions, and you shouldn’t venture out into extremely hot and humid weather without doing so either.

Temperature extremes can be deadly, particularly for babies, children, the elderly, obese people or anyone with a health condition. But even the healthiest among us can fall prey to things like dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. In fact, heat-related illnesses are the most frequent cause of injury treated in emergency rooms during summer months, along with lightning injuries, drowning and sunburn.

How to hydrate

Normally, drinking plain water to thirst is sufficient. But if you’re exerting yourself in hot, humid weather, that might not be enough. Whether you’re working outside or playing sports, any prolonged exertion that causes heavy sweating can get you into trouble. Keep up the plain water, but incorporate a sports drink, too, to replace electrolytes you lose by heavy perspiration. Whatever you do, don’t drink alcohol while dehydrated! And keep in mind that soda and other sweet drinks are not as ideal as plain water. Save the caffeinated drinks for a time when you aren’t sweating heavily.

How cool are you?

If you can take breaks by entering an air conditioned area, do so. If you’re in a situation where that isn’t possible, you can do things like periodically wet your hair, or wet a bandana and place that on your head. Plunging your head under running water will make your whole body feel cooler. Take breaks from exertion and go to a shady area. And dress for the weather! Loose, light-colored clothing and a wide-brimmed hat can help protect you.

What are the differences between heat exhaustion and heat stroke?

Watch for symptoms of heat exhaustion, which can include things like weakness, very heavy perspiration, a weaker pulse, nausea, loss of consciousness and cold, pale, clammy skin. Even more serious is heat stroke, in which the body temperature is elevated above 103 degrees, the heart rate is rapid and the skin is hot and red. Loss of consciousness may occur. If suspected heat exhaustion doesn’t improve after measures like drinking a sports drink and soaking in a cool bath, or if heat stroke is suspected, seek emergency medical attention. A heat stroke can cause organ damage and even death.

The Emergency Room at Culbertson Memorial Hospital is equipped to treat heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Don’t hesitate if you suspect heat stroke!

There’s a Test for That!

Because medical laboratory testing plays such a crucial role in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of disease in patients; prompt, accurate lab results can make a marked difference in treatments and outcomes.

Studies show 70% of doctor’s decisions are made based on results from lab tests.

Here are some of the most common tests performed in medical labs and why.

  • Coagulation – Protime testing for monitoring of Coumadin dosages.
  • Chemistry – Routine chemistry test that includes glucose, lipid profile and cardiac testing.
  • Hematology – Routine blood cell count including hematocrit and hemoglobin.
  • Histology – Surgical pathology of tissue specimens.
  • Microbiology – Studying of microorganisms.
  • Nuclear Medicine – Nuclear scans, including bone and cardiac exams.
  • Serology – Testing for various diseases, including allergies.
  • Transfusion Services – Pre-transfusion services of blood products for inpatients and outpatients.
  • Urinalysis – Examination of urine specimens for infections, etc.
  • Urine Drug Testing – Collection of urine specimens, licensed DOT and Non-DOT Collectors.
  • Wellness Screenings

Lab services allow your doctor to provide the results needed to confirm a diagnosis, complete a screening or find the cause of your symptoms.

Are Your Children Ready for School?

For children heading back to school, a proper checkup is important to evaluate any issues your growing child may have. Regular physicals are a chance for healthcare providers to discuss important health issues with children and their parents or guardians. These exams can make sure your child is healthy and physically prepared to participate in school activities or sports.

Back to school physical exams vary based on age, but typically include:

  • Recording your child’s height, weight, blood pressure, pulse and BMI
  • Checking your child’s heart, lungs, lymph nodes, abdomen, skin, eyes, ears, nose and throat
  • Evaluating your child’s vision, joints, muscles and spine
  • Discussing the medical history of your child and your family
  • Administering vaccines and required immunizations

Vaccines for Children

Vaccines are not only beneficial to your child’s health… they must have them before they go off to school. Babies, kids and adolescents will gain protection against 16 diseases, including:

  • Diphtheria
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Mumps
  • Pertussis (whopping cough)
  • Pneumococcal disease
  • Polio
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella (German measles)
  • Tetanus (lockjaw)
  • Varicella (chickenpox)
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Kids generally receive these vaccines during their well-baby, well-child, yearly or physical exams but school physicals are a good time to keep your child’s records current and up-to-date.

Up at Night?

A sleep disorder may be to blame.

Is Mr. Sandman ignoring you? Many people have trouble sleeping from time to time, but if the problem is lingering night after night, you may have a sleep disorder. Sleep disorders are conditions that affect how well and how much you sleep.

Struggling through the day with less sleep isn’t the answer – insufficient sleep is a serious problem that can take a toll on nearly every aspect of your daily life. Research has linked sleep deprivation to car accidents, relationship issues, poor job performance, work-related injuries, memory lapses and mood disorders. Studies also suggest sleep disorders may contribute to health problems such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Poor bedtime habits, such as coffee too late in the afternoon, eating heavy foods before bed or falling asleep with the TV on could be to blame. However, sometimes medical problems that disrupt your sleep cycle are the culprit.

When to call the doctor

There are steps you can take to combat sleep disorders on your own, but some situations require medical attention. Call your doctor if you snore loudly or gasp during sleep, if you think a medical condition is keeping you up at night, if you’re tired all the time or if you fall asleep during daytime activities. Your doctor can recommend a sleep study to get you back to snoozing well.

Sleep studies analyze your body’s sleep patterns throughout the night. This involves the placement of special sensors that record the activity of your heart, lungs, brain and muscles during the study. The sensors also monitor the air flow from your nose and mouth, as well as the level of oxygen in your blood.

Most sleep disorders are easily treated and can greatly improve your quality of life. Sleep studies are usually covered by insurance as an outpatient procedure and is completed with a short stay in the sleep lab.

Make a Splash with Good Water Safety

There’s nothing like a dip to beat summer’s heat. Good water safety practices ensure a good time for all at the water’s edge. Whether pool, beach or even a hot tub, a good offense is the best defense. Learning how to swim is the best way to keep you and your family safe. These tips from the American Red Cross will also help you make water safety a priority:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not let anyone swim alone, even when there’s a lifeguard.
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child’s life to another child.
  • Teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear life jackets around water, but don’t rely on life jackets alone.
  • Establish rules and enforce them. Set limits based on ability. Ban play around drains and suction fittings. Forbid breath-holding contests.
  • Even if you don’t plan on swimming, be careful around natural bodies of water like rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into the water dangerous.
  • If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
  • Avoid alcohol use. It impairs judgment, balance and coordination and affects swimming and diving skills.

For other tips to enjoy the water while remaining safe, please talk to your Culbertson healthcare provider.

Heading Off Heat Stroke

When the weather heats up, things can get really fun outside, but it’s important to be aware there’s a very real risk, too. Heat stroke claims lives every year, and it’s preventable. When physical activity in hot weather and prolonged exposure to high temperatures cause the body temperature to reach 104°F, heat stroke occurs. Medications, health issues and age can all increase risk – the very young and old are especially vulnerable.

Cramps may be the first sign, but many symptoms can warn of heat stroke. Here’s what to watch for:

  • High body temperature
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • No sweating
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Flushing (red skin)
  • Racing heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Rapid or shallow breathing
  • Headache
  • Passing out (or even coma)

Lack of treatment can mean serious complications or even death. You can prevent heat stroke with a few precautions, especially in the hottest part of the day:

  • Wear lightweight, loose and light-colored clothes.
  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Know whether your medicine makes you more prone.
  • Avoid strenuous activity outside.
  • Take it easy if you have a health issue that puts you at risk.
  • Don’t leave children (or anyone) in parked cars.

For other tips on preventing heat stroke, speak to your Culbertson healthcare provider.

A Shot of Sunscreen

Look around… find five people. One of them has or will have skin cancer in his/her life. Make sure it’s not you or your kids – be smart and you can still have fun in the sun. Make sunscreen a must when you step outside, much like seatbelts in cars. Aim for an SPF of 15 or higher, and look for what’s called broad-spectrum sunscreen – one that protects from ultraviolet radiation rays (both UVA and UVB). This should be clearly marked on the label.

A few easy keys to good sunscreen application:

  • Apply to all exposed skin.
  • Don’t be stingy – use an ounce (a shot glass) of sunscreen every application.
  • Hit the most-missed spots: neck, scalp, around eyes, lips, ears, hands and feet.
  • Reapply – at least every two hours (and more often if swimming or sweating).
  • Get the right product – waterproof, sweatproof, hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, spray, lotion, stick. Finding the right one ensures it sticks with you and does the job.

And remember summertime is critical, but it’s not the only time you need sunscreen. The sun’s out there 365 days a year, so be smart!

Bike Safety

Use your head; wear a helmet. Bike accidents account for most sports-related emergencies for kids ages 5 to 14. Many can be prevented with a helmet. Having one that fits properly is just as important as wearing it.

  • Look up – if you see the bottom rim, it fits.
  • Check your ears – if the straps form a “V” under your ears when buckled, it fits.
  • Open your mouth – if the helmet hugs your head when you open your mouth, it fits.

Simple Safety Tips

  • Wear bright-colored clothing.
  • Dress for the weather.
  • Never ride with headphones.
  • Use a backpack to carry items.
  • Ride with a friend.
  • Make sure someone knows where you’re going.
  • Make sure tires are properly inflated.
  • Use lights at night.

Rules of the Road

  • Look both ways before crossing traffic.
  • Obey traffic signs and signals – just like other vehicles.
  • Follow lane markings – don’t turn left from the right lane or go straight in a “right turn only.”
  • Scan the road behind you – look over your shoulder without losing balance or swerving. Consider using rear-view mirrors.
  • Keep both hands ready for braking.
  • Use hand signals to advise others of your intentions.
  • Choose the best way to turn left – like an auto: signal to move into the left turn lane, then turn left; like a pedestrian, ride straight to the far-side crosswalk, then walk your bike across.
  • Make eye contact with drivers.
  • Watch for road hazards – like sewer grates, gravel, ice, sand or debris. Cross railroad tracks at right angles.

Building a First Aid Toolbox for Summer

child playing at the beach

It’s nearly summer! Time for fun at the beach, the playground and the ball field… and unfortunately, also time for bug bites, cuts, scrapes and sunburn. To make sure your children enjoy summer as safely as possible, stock your first aid toolbox so you’re ready for anything summer can dish out. Keep it in your car so it’s always available and consider stocking separate kits for each family vehicle. If you haven’t checked your kit recently, be sure you have plenty of the most-used items, like adhesive bandages, and that none of the medications have expired. Replace and replenish as necessary.

Starting from scratch? We’ve put together a list of things to keep stocked and handy. Naturally, if your child has special medical considerations, such as severe allergies or a chronic illness, you’ll also want to make sure you’re equipped to handle those situations. Check with your doctor if you’re not sure. Ready-made first aid kits are available too. Check to see what items are included, and be prepared to add items as needed.

Start with this list and customize to fit your family’s needs:

  • Gauze, tape, adhesive bandage assortment
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Benadryl
  • EpiPen (for those with a history of severe allergic reactions)
  • Extra prescription medications, such as an inhaler, where needed
  • Ibuprofen and/or acetaminophen. (If you have a child young enough to require liquid, make sure you have it in that form, along with tablets for older children.)
  • Dramamine
  • Sunblock
  • Bug spray
  • Hydrocortisone ointment
  • Baby wipes (handy for quick clean-ups for any age)
  • Lip balm
  • Alcohol wipes
  • ACE bandage
  • Small scissors
  • Tweezers