A doctor’s diary from a pandemic: “To don and to doff”

“Here ye, here ye, a decree has gone out to all ye who hath ears, that thou shalt don and doff personal protective equipment with alacrity but not beforeth thou shalt have cleansed thy hands for a greatly long time whilst humming a jolly ditty for 20 seconds, lest thou besmirch thy garments and thy personhood with the dread pestilence”

March 21, 2020

Such is the state of affairs at the hospital. Healthcare workers have always worn protective equipment when dealing with germs and diseases and other nastiness, but we’ve taken it to a whole new level now. People around the hospital now throw around terms like PPE (personal protective equipment), don (to put on), and doff (to take off) like they are some new millennial-inspired texting shortcuts. We don and we doff like champs – but you may be surprised to learn that there is a right way and a wrong way to put on a gown. Turns out many of us need a bit of a refresher course, so at Hennepin Healthcare we have a pedal-to-the-metal education campaign in full force, headed up by our awesome in-house educational team (thanks, Chris, Steph, and Dr. Meghan!).

Every day during our COVID madness I find people who are contributing to keeping us prepared. Our donning and doffing educational plan involves a) posters around the hospital campus, b) high-quality training videos produced by our in-house team, and c) people roaming the halls to do real-time, in-person, and supportive education to all of us about how to put on (don) and take off (doff) our PPE.

Hand hygiene. Mask. Gowns. Gloves. Face shields. Who wipes down the doorknob. Who goes in the room. Who stands outside with a donning-doffing checklist to make sure we do it right. How to take the darn gown off (it isn’t as simple as you think!). This is what we talk about every day.

Some are born to doff, some achieve doffing, and some have doffing thrust upon them.

We even have a PPE Conservation Team who is tasked with safe-guarding our limited supply of protective gear. We struggle with the lack of adequate supplies. Our hospital carefully counts and controls how many masks we have left, how many gowns, how many gloves. Some of it is locked up in a secret location. And my friends, hospitals do not have enough for now.

So we have all become expert donners and doffers (OK, are those really words?) at the hospital. Doing our best to stay safe all while conserving what we have. Yup.

It isn’t for lack of trying, or lack of willingness to buy more gear. Supplies are just not available in our country in the amounts we need them. We should all take a collective sigh at that fact. And then we should all insist of our national leaders that they correct that. Masks are not rocket science. We can do this.

To don or not to don, that is the question.

Actually, there is no question. We don. We doff.

OK, I actually wrote a post about the exciting world of putting on gowns. If you made it this far, thanks!

In the end, I believe this pandemic will make our communities stronger. Check back often for more of my random thoughts from a hospital in the midst of a pandemic. Subscribe by e-mail to get notifications if you wish.

David

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A doctor’s diary from a pandemic: “This too shall pass”

Hi, friends –

Today I am starting a new regular feature on myhealthymatters.org.  I, like you, have found life turned upside-down as we collectively struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic. In my role as a physician in a safety-net hospital, it has consumed my time as well as the mental and emotional energy of all 6,000 Hennepin Healthcare employees.

I offer this series, “A doctor’s diary from a pandemic” to you for some perspectives from inside a US healthcare system.  This will not be a data-packed feature (go to cdc.gov for reliable COVID-19 information).  Rather, it will be my barely-edited reflections in real-time.  Hopefully you will find it informational, perhaps a source of solace, or at least mildly amusing.  Read on and look for posts nearly daily.
David Continue reading “A doctor’s diary from a pandemic: “This too shall pass”” Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

COVID-19: What it’s all about?

On our Sunday, March 8 show Dr. Caitlin Eccles-Radtke joined us for a conversation about COVID-19. She’s an infectious disease and infection prevention specialist at Hennepin Healthcare. You can listen to the entire show via podcast using this link: https://wccoradio.radio.com/media/audio-channel/healthy-matters-3-8-20

David Hilden, MD:

I have Dr. Caitlin Eccles-Radtke in the studio in Minneapolis. Dr. Eccles-Radtke is an infectious disease expert and has been helping lead our COVID-19 efforts at Hennepin Healthcare. So Caitlin, thank you for being on the show and welcome.

Caitlin Eccles-Radtke, MD:

Thanks for having me, Dave. Continue reading “COVID-19: What it’s all about?” Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Shingles! Complete with Greek art.

Public domain, from the National Historic Museum of Greece

Hi, friends!  If you are wondering why I inserted the cool-looking Greek dude in the picture here, then read on.  It has something to do with his belt. . . 

It has been a while since I have posted here on MyHealthyMatters blog.  That’s because I have been lying on a beach in the South Pacific, drinking cocktails with little umbrellas in them and in general being slothful.

Actually, no, I’ve been around doing my usual doctor stuff at Hennepin Healthcare.  If you click on that link and scroll down just a bit you’ll find a picture of me and WCCO radio host Denny Long taken in the WCCO studios.  I usually don’t like pictures of myself but I rather like this one!  Check it out. 

Of course, we’re still streaming on wccoradio.radio.com with our live Healthy Matters radio broadcast every Sunday morning at 7:30 Central time and also at 830 on your AM radio dial.  I hope you tune in.  

I’m going to resume posting so look for topics from the broadcast.  We’ve recently done great shows about leukemia, hearing loss, kidney transplant, preventing foot amputations, skin cancer, and more!  In the meantime, I recommend you listen to the podcasts of any of our previous shows at wccoradio.radio.com

For now I’m going back to last Sunday, June 30, where I did an open lines show and the overwhelming topic of the day seemed to be shingles.  So read on to hear more about:

  • What is shingles?  (Yes, it is grammatically correct to use “is” and not “are”).
  • Clinically, what does shingles look like?
  • Who gets shingles?
  • What is post-herpetic neuralgia?
  • Maybe most important, I’ll answer the common questions about the shingles vaccine at the end.
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Five tips for staying healthy in 2019 with Natalie Ikeman

 

Natalie Ikeman PA-C outside the WCCO studios in Minneapolis

Hey what’s up Healthy Matters people!

On the Healthy Matters radio broadcast this week, my colleague Natalie Ikeman, MPAS, PA-C from Hennepin Healthcare’s Golden Valley Clinic joined us by phone to offer some tips for staying healthy in 2019.

You know what is really cool about her advice?  It is achievable even for people like me and you!  She doesn’t tell you to go to the gym 7 days a week.  Or run 10 miles.  Or eat nothing but pine cones every day. She gives advice that real people can follow.

I asked Natalie if she would be guest write this blog post and she agreed so most of this post is her words.

To listen to the podcast of the show (Healthy Matters show #523, January 20, 2019), including Natalie’s portion at time 22:05, click the logo here:

In this post you will find:

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Start 2019 with zero gravity . . . and some physical therapy tips

Me in the “Zero-G” harness. This is literally what I do at work.

Hello, friends!

I’ve been on a two month hiatus from writing but I’m back.  Of course, I’ve still been filling the airwaves with medical shenanigans every Sunday morning on Healthy Matters (which you can hear at wccoradio.com at 7:30 Central Time).  In fact, last Sunday was the first show of our 11th year broadcasting Hennepin Healthcare‘s brand of accessible, accurate, and hopefully lighthearted medical information.  To all of you who listen to the show, THANK YOU!

We started 2019 by talking about Physical Therapy and what it can do for you and your painful and sore bodies.  It turns out that Hennepin (my health system) has probably Minnesota’s most technologically-advanced Physical Therapy gym.  That’s me in the zero-gravity harness which helps people with stroke, traumatic brain injury, or other injuries safely learn to walk again.  The PT department also has a dizzying (pun intended) range of services.

I encourage you to check out the Hennepin Healthcare Department of Physical Therapy and learn about treatments for:

  • Dizziness/vestibular problems
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Women’s prenatal, post-partum, and incontinence issues
  • Orthopedic therapies
  • Stroke care
  • Lymphedema
  • Mobility issues, including canes, walkers, and wheelchairs
  • Pediatric physical therapy
  • And much more!

Kelly Rettman DPT and Beth Stegora DPT in the WCCO studios

But more than machines and technology, the Physical Therapy department at Hennepin has awesome people.  So to launch our 11th year, I invited two of them to help listeners navigate Physical Therapy (I’ll call it PT from now on).  Joining me in studio were two Doctors of Physical Therapy, Beth Stegora and Kelly Rettman.

That’s the two of them in the WCCO studios

 

If you missed the show, check out the podcast of Healthy Matters show #521, January 6, 2019 here with all commercial interruptions conveniently removed.

In this post, I’ll summarize a couple topics that we covered on the show, like how physical therapy can help people with rotator cuff injuries, knee injuries, and even women with incontinence.  Read on for just a few words to get you thinking.

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Aspirin for people over 70? New science right here.

Photo: NIAID

I know many people who take a daily aspirin in an effort to stay healthy.  I even know many doctors who recommend it.  But you may be surprised to know about what the actual medical science says about aspirin.

Back in 2016, I wrote a post that proved to be one of the most-popular that whole year.  In that post I described the guidelines for who, and who should not, be taking a daily aspirin.  Fortunately, that post is still largely accurate and these guidelines have not changed in the past two years.  You can read that 2016 post here.

But there is now a massive new study about a group of people for which there was no medical science one way or the other.  The new study, called ASPREE (ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly) was just published in September 2018 and it specifically looked at healthy people over age 70.

The one thing you need to know

There is no data to support healthy people 70 and older for taking a daily aspirin, and in fact, it likely has more risks than any potential benefit.

I will expand a bit on this new data in this post.

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Music and wellness

In this post I’m going to diverge slightly from my usual medical writing to talk about a different part of being healthy and well.  So I’m going to ask you to read an essay I wrote this past summer for the Minnesota Orchestra.  The link is repeated below after a few introductory comments.

How does music – or art in general –  relate to health and wellness?

There is a notion in healthcare that I think we need to explore further.  In brief, it is likely true that stress in our lives may lead to health problems, probably via some complex inflammatory changes in our bodies.  So reducing stress in our lives is probably a good idea.  Art can certainly do that.

But beyond that rather nerdy physiologic reason, I think it is vitally important that each of us find beauty in our world.  Our national discourse is so ugly and uncivil that it is making us sick.  Our daily lives are filled with screen time, busy schedules, bills to pay, and the daily tasks of life.  All of this makes music and art and beautiful things all the more important.

I often turn to orchestral music.  I spend lots of evenings at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis and I am privileged to have met some of the talented people at the Minnesota Orchestra.  They have graciously published my thoughts on music on the orchestra’s website and I invite you to read it by clicking below.

For my essay, click on “A Life with Music” at the Minnesota Orchestra website.

I also wrote a piece in August 2016 about my trek to Europe with the Orchestra in which I talk about saunas full of naked people, Beethoven, bicycles in Europe and my thoughts on being abroad with a world-class orchestra.  Read about all that in “The Finer Things” here.

Comments are welcome below.  Subscribe by e-mail to MyHealthyMatters if you wish to receive non-commercial health and wellness info!

David

 

 

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OK what’s a hernia and how do you get rid of it

Anybody know what a hernia is and how to get rid of it?   Well, I’ll tell ya!

Many think of hernia as something old men get.  Reminds me of a TV show that I watched repeatedly years ago.  The show was “Cheers” and it followed the gang from the Boston bar where “everybody knows your name.”  In one episode, Sam Malone (played by Ted Danson) develops a hernia and he’s struggling since he considers it a condition old men get and it called into question his youthful virility.  There must be something with men and aging and our fragile egos.  Or so says my wife.

Technically speaking, and I know how smart and techy all you MyHealthyMatters readers are, a hernia is when an organ or other body tissue gets squeezed through a weak spot in the surrounding tissue or muscle.  This can happen in lots of places in your body, among them (warning the following few sentences may make you go “ewwww”):

  • Intestines poking through a weak part of the abdominal wall (inguinal, umbilical, abdominal hernia).
  • Stomach getting pushed through the diaphragm so part of it lands in the chest instead of the abdomen (hiatal hernia).
  • Even the brain can herniate, which is a fatal condition in which the stem of the brain gets forced out of the base of the skull due to swelling, inflammation, bleeding, or trauma.

I’m going to focus on the first kind of hernia.  I’m doing so because on a recent Healthy Matters broadcast, we had a great discussion about hernias with my two guests, both terrific surgeons at Hennepin Healthcare.

Read on to meet those surgeons, to learn a bit more about hernia, and especially to learn of a great opportunity to attend an event in Minneapolis.  For the aurally inclined, you can listen to our hernia show via the podcast here:

See that 16th century hernia surgery in the picture above?  Thankfully, hernia surgery is much more civilized now.  Read on . . .  Continue reading “OK what’s a hernia and how do you get rid of it” Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

No amount of alcohol is safe. Oh, c’mon now.

Hi, friends!  I’ve been gone on a bit of a hiatus but am back and ready to weigh in on the health care news of the day.  Like this eye-catching headline I recently read:

“No amount of alcohol is safe, health experts warn”

A new study was recently published that pretty much came to that conclusion.  The authors did a big retrospective look at previous medical research into alcohol use and concluded that there was no amount of alcohol consumption that could be considered safe.  This really made the news all over the place, like this sobering 30-second blurb:

Due to my unending dedication to finding sound medical advice . . . and even more because I had just enjoyed a nice glass of a dry rose wine on a hot summer evening and didn’t want a bunch of egghead researchers to spoil it for me . . .  I had to investigate further.   Read on for my take on the latest alcohol brouhaha. Continue reading “No amount of alcohol is safe. Oh, c’mon now.” Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail