Health Matters Blog

Doulas and Midwives: How Each Can Help You Have the Birthing Experience You Want

Published April 21, 2016

By: Erinna Cooper, RN Doulas and midwives have been providing critical childbirth support for centuries, yet some confusion remains about their respective roles. In thinking about your birth plan, it’s important to understand the difference between doulas and midwives so you can make an informed decision about the caregivers you would like to attend your birth. It’s also important to remember that while doulas and midwives have different training, certification, and responsibilities, you don’t necessarily need to choose one over the other. With their complimentary skill sets, doulas and midwives often work in partnership to support y...

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Advanced Directive (sometimes called a Living Will)

Published April 1, 2016

By Patty Dunn, Hospice Program Coordinator There has been a lot of publicity lately about advance care planning and advance directives. Simply put, advance care planning is a process of thinking about, discussing, and creating a written healthcare plan (advance directive) that tells others what you would want if you couldn’t tell them yourself. Why do you need one? If you had a serious illness or accident and couldn’t communicate, those closest to you -- your spouse, your children, as well as your doctor -- would have to make healthcare decisions for you. An advance directive helps them know what you would want. Despite growing awar...

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Bicycle Helmet Safety

Published March 17, 2016

As the days become longer and winter jackets are traded in for sweaters, kids and parents alike are taking their bikes off the hooks and filling up the tires. Before hitting the road, don’t forget the most important piece of equipment: your helmet. More children between the ages of 5 and 14 are seen in emergency rooms for injuries related to biking than any other sport. Helmets can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by 88 percent, yet only 45 percent of children 14 and under usually wear a bike helmet. Helmet use is the most effective way to reduce bicycle related fatalities. Bike helmets are so important that the U.S. Gover...

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The Picky Eater – Tried and True Solutions

Published March 10, 2016

By Susan S. Slowinski, MD I am a pediatrician. I spend my days with children and I spend a lot of time discussing the ordinary things that affect their health. [caption id="attachment_14154" align="alignright" width="200"] Dr. Susan Slowinski[/caption] More than half of parents report problems with their toddlers’ eating habits and food choices and seek advice from their pediatrician about their “picky eaters”. Many children refuse new foods and turn down familiar, once-liked foods. Others willingly eat white foods (noodles, potatoes, chicken nuggets, bread, cheese) and refuse the rest. This pickiness may disrupt family meals, ...

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Coumadin Clinic at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital

Published February 25, 2016

Phaedra McDonough, APRN By: Phaedra McDonough, APRN and Tonia Smith Coumadin (also known as Jantoven or warfarin) is a common medication used to prevent blood clots and strokes. Unlike many other drugs, however, it requires careful monitoring by the prescribing medical provider to keep it in a target range. When well managed, Coumadin is a safe and very effective medication. Coumadin is an antithrombotic, or “blood thinning” medication. Medical reasons for prescribing treatment with Coumadin include: atrial fibrillation (when rapid, disorganized electrical signals cause the heart's two upper chambers to contract very quickly and irregularly), mechani...

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Published February 11, 2016

By: R. Mark Burke, MD, FACC and Phaedra McDonough At the Center for Cardiovascular Health at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital we take high blood pressure seriously. We know that 1 in 3 Americans will develop high blood pressure over their lifetime and half of those people don’t have it under control. Many of the symptoms that bring people to the Center originate from high blood pressure. Sometimes our patients are resistant to having their blood pressure treated, as they perceive the risk of blood pressure lowering medications to be higher than that of having high blood pressure. There is also the misperception that if you don’t have s...

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Personalized Medicine and Breast Cancer

Published February 4, 2016

Joseph Rosen, MD by: Dr. Joseph Rosen, MD, FACS As noted in Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book, “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer”, it is very difficult to treat a problem when you don’t understand the cause. Although we have been treating cancer for millennia, it is only very recently that our understanding of genetics and molecular biology, the true cause of the problem, is beginning to provide us with information we can act on. We are now beginning to understand why some families with an inherited gene mutation have a much higher incident of cancer. Once those families are identified, we can institute customized prevention and risk re...

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The role of the midwife in primary care

Published January 28, 2016

Heather Ferreira By: Heather Ferreira, CNM References to the practice of midwifery have been found as far back in history as notations on an Egyptian medical papyrus dated 1900 BC. Throughout human history midwives have attended to the healthcare needs of women, focusing primarily on labor and delivery, but over time the role of the midwife has expanded to include routine gynecological and primary care for women. Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) are registered nurses who have graduated from a nurse-midwifery education program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education and have passed a national certification examination to receive ...

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Published January 14, 2016

Judith H. McBean, MD by: Judith McBean, MD Millions of women in the United States will face difficulty in conceiving each year. While we are hearing a great deal more about infertility in the news these days, the incidence has not actually increased in the past few decades. Greater awareness of the issue, advances in treatment technology, the increase in the number of baby boomers and a greater openness in discussing infertility have drawn greater attention to the issue in recent years. What is infertility? Infertility is a common condition, affecting approximately 1 in 10 couples. The World Health Organization defines infertility as “the failure to a...

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Who will speak for you when you are unable to speak for yourself?

Published January 11, 2016

By Martina Sczesny, MD “Expect the unexpected,” goes the old saying. Despite this, most of us prefer not to think about life-changing events like a serious illness or accident. Yet a vehicle could come out of nowhere, perhaps with a drunk driver at the wheel, or a slippery New England road might spin an 18-wheeler’s tires out of control. In an instant, your life could be on the line. An unexpected illness could suddenly change your life and your ability to think for yourself, or a progressive, debilitating condition could eventually compromise your control over decision-making. If you were unable to speak for yourself, who would y...

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