Start Some Healthy Holiday Traditions


December can be stressful. It often brings, extra social and financial obligations. It can cause a breakdown of healthy eating and exercise habits. It can also leave you feeling lonely or depressed. But you and your family can adopt some new traditions that may help ease the season’s stress and make your holidays healthy and happy.

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Your physical health

When the holidays become more than you bargained for, your health can be compromised. And stress can put extra demands on your body. Here are some tips on keeping up your health during the holiday season:

  • Don’t do too much. Give yourself some time to relax.
  • Share the workload. Let everyone play an active role. Make the holidays a family affair so you’re not burdened with all the work.
  • Set priorities. You can’t do everything. Say no to some of the demands on your time.
  • Simplify your life. Be less elaborate this year. Relax your housekeeping and holiday preparations.
  • Continue to exercise. Don’t let your regular routine lapse.
  • Eat healthy foods. Limit your consumption of high-fat holiday treats. Serve healthy fare at your family’s holiday party.


Your emotional health

It’s easy to become overwrought this time of year, especially if you believe something is lacking in your holiday celebration. Here are some ways to create new holiday traditions that will help level your emotions:

  • Ask yourself if you really enjoy all the rituals. Perhaps they have merely become habits. Try choosing less elaborate traditions of holidays past.
  • Don’t be afraid to scale down gift giving. You’ll probably get a lot of support.
  • If your yearly party is too much to handle, put it off until after the holidays. This will give you more time to prepare. It will also help ease post-holiday letdown by giving you something fun to look forward to.
  • If you can’t be with your family, get out around people. Plan to be with friends or volunteer to help others who also may be separated from their families.

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Happy and healthy kids

Children are especially vulnerable to commercial stimuli during the holiday season. But basically, all kids really need are realistic expectations about gifts, an even-paced holiday season and strong, loving family traditions. Here are some ways to make the holidays special for your children:

  • Spend more time with your kids. Entertain less and go to less parties that exclude children.
  • Watch less TV and do more things as a family.
  • Include your kids in all preparations. Let your children help you decorate and bake, even if it means your creations aren’t perfect.
  • Teach children the meaning of giving. Adopt a needy family and have your kids help you make a meal for them. Suggest that your children buy a gift for an underprivileged child with their own money. Or ask them to donate one of their own gifts to a less fortunate child.
  • Teach your children that gifts don’t have to be tangible. Trade intangible gifts with each other, such as helping with homework, washing the dishes, and mowing the lawn. Let your children come up with their own ideas of what they can offer.

HIV Awareness: Progress and Challenges

Authors: Lauren Richey, MD, MPH, FIDSA and Sadie Beckett, MPH

Scientists and researchers have shown through multiple studies that when people living with HIV take their medicines as prescribed and as a result have no detectable virus in their blood on blood tests that they cannot transmit HIV to their sexual partners.

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This knowledge allows people living with HIV to lead full, unrestricted lives that allows them to safely have sex without condoms.  This also allows both men and women living with HIV to have children without the concern of transmitting the infection to their child.


HIV still remains an important health issue in 2018. While HIV is easy to test for with a simple blood test, many people do not routinely get tested, either because they do not access healthcare or because their provider does not offer them testing.

In 2016, according to the Louisiana Office of Public Health, Louisiana had the third highest HIV diagnosis rate in the United States, with the New Orleans region being the region in Louisiana with the highest diagnosis rate.

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Diagnosis is important because once diagnosed, people will know whether or not they have HIV.  If they learn that they are living with HIV they can access lifesaving medications that improve their health and help them to achieve viral suppression.  When they achieve viral suppression, the virus is then undetectable in their blood and therefore can no longer be transmitted to partners

 University Medical Center New Orleans offers testing in the Infectious Disease Center (Clinic building, Zone C). There is also routine HIV testing in our Emergency Department. So if a medical condition or any risk of exposure to HIV brings you to the ED, you can get tested.

To find other testing centers near you, you can enter your zip code into: Other places include your primary medical doctor, OB/GYN , or at a community testing event.

HIV and Stigma

One of the greatest challenges for many people living with aids is still the stigma that goes along with the disease.

The Merriam-Webster definition of stigma is “an identifying mark or characteristic.” In the case of HIV and stigma, HIV is the identifying characteristic, and it reduces a person from being whole and usual to tainted and discounted. The effects of HIV stigma on people living with HIV can be deadly.

People living with HIV are less likely to attend their medical appointments, less likely to be adherent to their medication regimens, and are more likely to suffer from mental health conditions.


HIV stigma historically stems from a fear of the unknown. It began in the early 1980s when there were numerous cases of rare cancers, pneumonia and deaths of our patients. No one knew how HIV was transmitted which led to transmission myths creating a negative connotation of the infection.

Some of the more “popular” stigmatizing phrases were (and still are) that it is a “gay man’s disease” or HIV is only associated with sex workers and drug users. Anyone who is sexually active is at risk for contracting HIV. It is important to get tested and practice safe sex.

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In 2018, we now have over 40 medications that are used to treat HIV.   We now know that if people living with aids begin their antiretroviral therapy (ART) shortly after their diagnosis they substantially reduce the risk of their partners contracting HIV- indicating the need to start ART as soon as possible.

It is very important for individuals to receive accurate information so that HIV transmission can be prevented or effectively treated if someone is infected.  Without HIV stigma, more people would get into care and stay in care; the rate of HIV infections would decrease; there would be a substantial decrease in AIDS cases; there would be full participation in HIV testing and, most importantly, everyone would know their status.

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HIV and Stigma Discussion

On December 5, join us for a talk on HIV basics, the history of HIV and stigma and what we can do to end stigma. The talks will be at 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the UMC Conference Center, located on the first floor of the hospital, 2000 Canal Street. Refreshments will be served.

Lauren Richey, MD, MPH, FIDSA, is an Infectious Disease Specialist and LSU Health Sciences Center Associate Professor of Medicine.

Sadie Beckett, MPH, is a Clinical Educator in the UMC Infectious Disease Center/HIV Outpatient Clinic.

Recipe: Seaside Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo


Gumbo is a New Orleans holiday favorite. Try this reduced-fat, reduced-salt version, which uses turkey sausage, fresh shrimp and all the flavors your family will savor.

Serves six; one cup per serving


1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour

Vegetable oil spray

4 ounces reduced-fat smoked turkey sausage, thinly


3 cups frozen bell pepper stir-fry mix (bell peppers and onions)

14.5-ounce can no-salt-added stewed tomatoes, undrained

1 ¼ cups water

10 ounces frozen sliced okra

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (optional)

½  tablespoon sugar

2 medium bay leaves

½ teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled

½ teaspoon red hot-pepper sauce (optional)

¼  cup water

1 cup uncooked rice

8 ounces peeled raw medium shrimp

½ cup snipped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon olive oil (extra virgin preferred)

½ teaspoon salt

Preparation Instructions

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Put flour in Dutch oven and cook for 3 minutes, or until golden, stirring constantly. Pour into a small bowl.

Lightly spray Dutch oven with vegetable oil spray (being,careful not to spray near a gas flame). Increase heat to medium-high. Cook sausage for 3 minutes, or until richly browned, stirring constantly. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Put bell peppers, tomatoes with liquid, 1 ¼  cups water, okra, lemon juice, sugar, bay leaves, thyme, and hot-pepper sauce in Dutch oven, scraping bottom and sides to dislodge any browned bits. Whisk remaining ¼  cup water into flour. Stir mixture into gumbo. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, or until bell peppers are very soft, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, prepare rice using package directions, omitting salt and margarine.

Stir shrimp into gumbo. Cook for 5 minutes, or until shrimp are pink on outside and opaque in center. Remove from heat.

Stir in remaining ingredients, including sausage and rice.

Nutrition Information

1 ½ Starch, 3 Vegetable, 1½ Lean Meat

Calories: 233

Total Fat: 3g

  • Saturated Fat: 0.5g;
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 2g

Carbohydrates: 38g

Sugar 7g

Fiber 3g

Cholesterol 63mg

Protein 13g

Sodium 437mg

This recipe was a project of the Southern University Dietetic Internship class at UMC. 

Antibiotics Aren’t Always the Answer

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Author: Jennifer Lambert, PharmD, MPA

Did you know?

An estimated 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths occur each year in the US due to antibiotic resistant infections.1 Antibiotics are drugs used to treat bacterial infections, not viral infections. Using antibiotics the wrong way can lead to antibiotic-resistant infections that cause illness or death. Therefore, healthcare providers are being more careful when prescribing antibiotics and acknowledging that antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health.

Taking Antibiotics creates resistant bacteria

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria no longer respond to the drugs designed to kill them.  If more and more patients take unnecessary antibiotics, we will soon run out of options to treat the most common bacterial infections.  This is why it is important to only take antibiotics as prescribed by a healthcare professional and to NEVER share your prescription for antibiotics.


Antibiotics DO NOT work on viruses

Illnesses such as colds and the flu ARE NOT treated by antibiotics.  See the chart below to see which of the most common illnesses typically do not need an antibiotic.

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If I don’t need antibiotics, what can I do to help myself feel better if I have a viral illness? Pain relievers, fever reducers, decongestants, saline nasal spray or drops, warm compresses, liquids, and rest may be the best things to help you feel better. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist what symptom relief is best for you.

Help us Celebrate!

Help UMCNO celebrate World Antibiotics Awareness week Nov. 12-18th.

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During this week and throughout the whole year, we encourage patients and families to help us be Antibiotics Aware by doing the following:

  • Get the facts about antibiotics. Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as those that cause colds, flu, bronchitis, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow, or green. When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help you, and the side effects could still hurt you.
  • Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about the best way to feel better.
  • While your body fights off a virus, pain relievers, fever reducers, saline nasal spray or drops, warm compresses, liquids, and rest can help you feel better.
  • If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about your antibiotics.
  • Talk with your doctor if you develop any side effects, especially severe diarrhea, since that could be a Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile or C. diff) infection, which needs to be treated.
  • Do your best to stay healthy and keep others healthy by cleaning hands, covering coughs, staying home when sick, and getting recommended vaccines, such as the flu vaccine.


1 CDC. Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013. 16 September 2013. 32.

The Color Purple: Raising Awareness of Pancreatic Cancer

Author: Jennifer Gnerlich, MD, UMC Surgical Oncologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery at LSU Health New Orleans


While pink may be the rage in October, we find ourselves turning to purple in November to support pancreatic cancer awareness. While not a common cancer, the amount of people affected is increasing every year with an expected 55,500 to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year.

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The hardest part about pancreatic cancer is that there is no screening test, no blood work or X-ray to detect this cancer at an early stage. Instead, every person needs to be aware of warning signs that can suggest they might be at risk for having pancreatic cancer. These warning signs include:

  • Skin or the whites of eyes turning yellow
  • Upper belly/stomach pain or back pain that does not get better with medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • Indigestion or a bad stomach ache that does not get better with antacids
  • Unexplained weight loss when there has been no change in diet or exercise
  • New diagnosis of diabetes late in life



While a person at any age can be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, most people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are between the ages of 55 and 85 years old. If you are diagnosed with diabetes late in life and have no other risks factors for it (obesity, eating food high in sugar/carbs), you may want to ask your doctor if you are at risk for pancreatic cancer.


Along with having no good screening test, there are only two ways to actively prevent the disease. The main one is to stop any tobacco smoking. Through research, we have now learned that smoking is the number one thing a person can do to prevent pancreatic cancer. The second thing is to maintain a normal weight. Obesity is also associated with pancreatic cancer, so make sure to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Also, try to eat healthy with normal sized food portions. A good way to cut out sugar in your life is to remove all juice and soda. Try to drink water, tea (unsweetened), or coffee (no cream or sugar).


To raise support and awareness for pancreatic cancer, the LSU Foundation is sponsoring the first flagship team in Louisiana. PurpleStride takes place on Sunday, November 4th at 8:00am at City Park. Please consider signing up for Team LSU/UMC – Purple Reign. Registration is free with the discount code FLAGSHIP. Click here to register.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) hosts PurpleStride all over the nation, but we are lucky enough to have it in New Orleans this year! Please help us reach our goal by joining the team or donating. Money raised goes for patient support, research, and advocacy in Washington DC. Have your voice heard to wage hope against this disease because we need YOU!

About Dr. Gnerlich


Dr. Gnerlich is a board-certified surgical oncologist specializing in upper gastrointestinal cancers in the pancreas, bile ducts, liver, stomach, esophagus and retroperitoneal sarcomas. Dr. Gnerlich is excited about bringing new procedures like HIPEC (hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy) to UMC for patients with certain types of cancer that have spread throughout the abdomen.

To make an appointment with Dr. Gnerlich or one of our cancer specialists, please contact (504)702-3697 or (504) 702-5700.

Say Hello to Fall with this Healthy Recipe

Author: Laura Kerns, Dietician at UMC


With the fall season upon us, many people start to make a switch from the light, fresh foods of summer to hearty, warm meals that provide lots of comfort (and plenty of extra calories!). With the help of North Oaks dietetic interns Jacob Lalanne and Allison Junca, we are showcasing a delicious fall recipe that uses seasonal produce and packs plenty of flavor!


Spicy Peanut and Sweet Potato Stew


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (optional*)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 jalapeno, cored and finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 large (1-lb) sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened creamy peanut butter
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bunch collard greens, stems removed and chopped
  • fresh cilantro, cooked brown rice, roasted peanuts and lime juice for serving



In a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and bell pepper sprinkle with salt and cook for 3 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic, jalapeño, ginger, cumin and cayenne then stir together and cook for about 2 minutes.

Next add the tomato paste and stir together. Add the sweet potato, peanut butter, vegetable broth and water. Stir together then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add the chopped collard greens to the pot, stir, then cover and continue to cook for another 15 minutes, until sweet potato is tender.

Using the back of the spoon, mash some of the sweet potato to help thicken the broth. Boil uncovered for 5 minutes. Serve warm with rice and garnish with cilantro, peanuts, and lime juice. Enjoy!

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Try this delicious soup for a wide variety of flavors and benefits! This soup contains ginger, which is good for helping nausea when you are feeling sick. It is also a great source of antioxidants along with the carrots, bell pepper, and other vegetables to aid in preventing sickness during this upcoming cold and flu season. The main ingredient, sweet potatoes, has a variety of vitamins including vitamins A, C, and multiple B vitamins. They are about to be in season, so they will be cheaper at a local farmer’s market!

The Lowdown on Depression

Author: Erika Rajo, Psy.D., Trauma Psychologist, UMC

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Depressive disorders can make you feel exhausted, worthless, helpless, and hopeless. Such negative thoughts and feelings may make you feel like giving up.

Major depressive disorder is not the same as feeling unhappy or in a “blue” mood, feelings that can usually pass with time. It is important to recognize the signs of depression and to know that treatment is often needed and, in many cases, is crucial to recovery.

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According to findings from the National Institute of Mental Health, major depressive disorder is a leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15-44 and affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7% of the U.S. population  age 18 and older in a given year.

Specific symptoms include:

  • Feeling sad, down, empty or hopeless
  • Decreased interest or pleasure in activities
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain or decrease or increase in appetite
  • Changes in sleeping patterns, such as fitful sleep, inability to sleep, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much
  • Listlessness or restlessness that is observable by others
  • Fatigue or decreased energy
  • Feeling worthless and/or helpless
  • Lasting feelings of hopelessness
  • Feelings of inappropriate guilt
  • Diminished ability to think, concentrate, or make decisions
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide, wishing to die, or attempting suicide (Note: People with this symptom should seek help right away by calling 911 or going to the nearest emergency room.)

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The Facts

The research shows that depression diagnoses are increasing at a rapid rate in the U.S. One recent study published by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (2018) found that from 2013 to 2016, depression diagnoses increased 63 percent among adolescents (ages 12 to 17) and 47 percent among millennials (ages 18 to 34). Although this rise in depression may seem alarming, the data may reflect a positive trend – an increase in the rate at which symptoms of depression are being recognized.

The bottom line is that increased awareness leads to earlier recognition/identification of symptoms, which then allows for earlier intervention and prevention! On that note, here are a few more facts you should know about depression:

  • While depression can develop at any age, the median age at onset is 32
  • Depression is more prevalent in women than in men
  • There is no clear cause of depression. Experts think it happens because of chemical imbalances in the brain. Many factors can play a role in depression, including environmental, psychological, biological, and genetic factors.
  • Depression and sadness are not one in the same. Sadness is a part of being human, a natural reaction to painful circumstances. All of us will experience sadness at some point in our lives.
  • It’s treatable! You do not need to suffer if you have depression. There are many effective treatment options available, including psychotherapy, medication, and electroconvulsive therapy (used to treat severe, medication-resistant depression).


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When should you seek professional help?

  • If your symptoms are causing notable distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning
  • If self-help strategies or behavioral interventions are not working
  • If your symptoms and associated distress/impairment persist for more than 2 weeks
  • If you have frequent thoughts about self-harm, death, or suicide

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Self-Help Strategies

There are also some strategies you can try on your own. Of note, these strategies can serve as a supplement to professional treatment but not as a replacement.

  • Set realistic goals for yourself each day.
  • Break large tasks into small ones and set priorities. Do what you can at a pace that feels right for you.
  • Avoid the urge to isolate. Spend time with friends and family. Confide in trusted, supportive people in your life and allow them help you.
  • Schedule activities that have boosted your mood in the past, such as going to a movie, gardening, or taking part in religious, social, or other activities. Doing something nice for someone else can also help you feel better.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Write down 3 things you are grateful for at the end of each day. This may help replace the negative thinking that often accompanies depression.
  • Make a list of positive affirmations and recite them to yourself several times a day, especially when you catch yourself having negative thoughts.
  • Stay away from alcohol and drugs, which can make depression worse.
  • People rarely “snap out of” depression. Expect your mood to get better slowly, not right away. Feeling better takes time.
  • Seek professional help. If you think you may be depressed, see a healthcare or mental health provider as soon as possible.

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About the Author


Erika Rajo, Psy.D. is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry for LSU Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) and the Trauma Psychologist at University Medical Center, New Orleans (UMCNO). She earned her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and completed both her predoctoral internship and postdoctoral fellowship training at LSUHSC. Dr. Rajo specializes in the psychological assessment and treatment of patients in an integrated medical setting. She also has extensive training and clinical experience in the treatment of psychological trauma and has been working with patients experiencing trauma-related difficulties since 2011.




Lisa’s Story: The Wake-up Call that Saved My Life

Author: Lisa Miranda, Chief Operating Officer, UMC

In mid 2012, the sudden death of a colleagues’ husband spurred me to do something I had not done in 10 years. I went to the doctor.

I’ve worked in healthcare since 1986, and I fit the stereotype of a healthcare worker who didn’t always pay enough attention to her own health. So, for more than a decade, I hadn’t had a mammogram, blood work, routine checkup or even a sick visit to the doctor. I didn’t even have a regular physician anymore.


But that unexpected death was a wake-up call that made me realize I had better get a physician and get a checkup. I chose a family medicine physician at Touro and made an appointment. She told me what I knew, and that was I really needed to get caught up on all of my screening exams and tests.

I have a history of very dense breasts and had previous biopsies of cysts that were benign, but because of many benign cysts, a physical exam is very difficult.  The doctor wrote my orders and I had a screening mammogram, which turned into a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound on the same day, which I had gone through twice before with benign cysts. This time, the news was serious. A biopsy revealed that I had breast cancer.

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I had always said that if I was diagnosed with breast cancer I would have a bilateral mastectomy to make sure there was no ability for recurrence. I met with my surgeon, who explained that due to the location and the size (very small and on the lower portion of my breast), there was no need for a mastectomy and he would have no problems obtaining clear margins with a lumpectomy.

I had my surgery and doctors found that in addition to the tumor in my breast, the cancer had already progressed to one lymph node.

Had I not had my wake-up call, I would probably had gone another few years without testing and the cancer would have at that time been throughout my body and I would not be here today.


I received chemotherapy and radiation treatment post-surgery which put me into early menopause. Since my tumor was hormone positive, I can’t take hormone treatment for menopause and therefore hot flashes were a huge issue.

Throughout the experience, I was determined to not let my diagnosis rule my life. I went to all of my testing and treatments alone except for the last 3 in which I had neuropathy and couldn’t drive and had what I call “chemo brain.”

I gave myself my own neupegen shots after every treatment to keep my white blood cell count up and continued to work until I was unable to drive.

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During the treatments, I would bring a book, a pillow and a blanket and read until the Benadryl made me sleepy, take a nap, then drive home. One day, when I was receiving my treatment, I heard the patient across from me who was getting her first one (who had 3 people with her) ask the nurse if I was getting Chemo. The nurse later came to me and asked if I could speak to the patient who was very scared. I introduced myself and told her that I was on my 4th of 8 treatments and that I had never been nauseous or sick and used the time to relax and read. She was so surprised because I had “hair”. I laughed and whipped off my wig and showed her that I was bald as a cucumber.

Most people didn’t even realize I was undergoing treatment. My philosophy was to take each day at a time, don’t worry about something that hasn’t happened, and continue living. I feel strongly that the strength to persevere helps outcomes.


I am an example of why it is so important to have your annual exams and testing. I would not be here today if I had waited even another year.


Please join all of us at UMC in saying #YesMamm to an annual mammogram. Scheduling a screening is easy, and if you are over 40 years old with no known breast problems, you won’t need a physician’s order to get your screening mammogram at UMC. For more information, visit or to schedule an appointment, call (504) 702-5700.

Lisa Miranda.jpgLisa Miranda is UMC’s Chief Operating Officer. Prior to joining UMC, she worked for 27 years at Children’s Hospital New Orleans in a number of roles, including Administrative Director of Laboratory Services, Hospital Safety Officer, and Emergency Management Coordinator.

The Importance of Choosing and Using the Correct Child Car Restraints

Author: Bridget Gardner, Injury Prevention Coordinator, UMC 

This week, UMC is participating in National Child Passenger Safety Week.  As motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children and teens, it is important for our community to realize the number one safety feature in a vehicle is a seat belt or child restraint.

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Although so simple to use, many do not take advantage of the engineering properties associated with the life saving measures or bio-mechanics of restraints.  Seat belts or child restraints work in the same way to lessen the impact of force from a motor vehicle crash. There are 5 basic benefits to being restrained prior to a crash.

  1. Keeps you in the vehicle: Being thrown from a vehicle can be deadly.  It’s just too much force on the body and goes back to your old science class about Newton’s Law of Motion.
  2. Restraints cross the bony structure: You are built like a cage, with bony structures that protect the internal organs. Bones can withstand greater forces than internal organs.
  3. Spreads forces: Simple force calculation experienced in a crash is your weight multiplied by the speed of the vehicle. Spreading the force allows a distribution across the body, rather than placing the energy in one place.
  4. Protects the head and spinal cord: Once damaged, injuries can last a lifetime.
  5. Provides ride down: In fractions of a second, seat belts or a child safety seat harness allow a slowing of the force in a crash.

No other devices will offer this type of protection. Children require child safety seats because they are too small to take advantage of the bio-mechanics with a seat belt alone.

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics made a few changes to their child safety seat policy. This caused much attention, however there were very few changes.  In summary, the following are considered best practice:

Infants and Toddlers



  • Rear-facing only
  • Rear-facing convertible

General Guidelines: All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. Most convertible seats have limits that will permit children to ride rear-facing for two years or more.

Toddlers and preschoolers

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  • Convertible
  • *Forward-facing with harness

General Guidelines: Children who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their convertible seat should use a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat manufacturer.

School-age children



  • Booster seats

General Guidelines: All children whose weight or height exceeds the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 through 12 years of age. All children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat.

Older children



  • Seat belts

General Guidelines: When children are old enough and large enough for the vehicle seat belt to fit them correctly, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for the best protection. All children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat.

Let’s take the time to focus on the safe arrival of our friends and family.  After all, working in a Trauma Center, we know that no one is invincible from trauma, and the only way to lessen the number of injuries is through prevention.


National Seat Check Saturday

The community is able to join us this Saturday, September 29, as we have 9 FREE child safety seat events occurring statewide on National Seat Check Saturday! Thanks to our partners at Louisiana Sonic Restaurants, we will also be distributing child safety seats to those in need.  The process is no longer accepting applications at this point, as all requests have been confirmed.  If you are in need of a child safety seat and finances keep you from correctly securing your child in the proper restraint, we will open the link for applications again in March.  Follow us on the UMC Injury Prevention page for upcoming announcements.

Seat Check Saturday takes place from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, September 29 across the state at these locations:

  • Alexandria—Rapides Regional Trauma Center Medical Terrace, 211 Fourth St.
  • Baton Rouge—Baton Rouge Police Dept., 9000 Airline Dr.
  • Houma—Home Depot, 1717 Martin Luther King Blvd.
  • Kenner—Divine Mercy Church, 7337 Sal Lentini Pkwy.
  • Lafayette—Babies R’ Us, 5700 Johnston St.
  • Lake Charles—Southwest Beverage Company, 3860 Broad St.
  • Mandeville—Church of the King- Little Creek Campus, 22205 Little Creek Rd.
  • Monroe—Hixson Ford, 6300 Frontage Rd.
  • Shreveport—Sheriff’s Safety Town, 8910 Jewella St.


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Bridget Gardner, RN, is a registered nurse and coordinator of the Community Injury Prevention Program at UMC New Orleans. The Louisiana Passenger Safety Task Force is a network of certified child passenger safety technicians throughout the state, directed by the UMC  Trauma Program.


Yoga: An Exercise for Every Body

Author: Maryann Vicari, UMC Physical Therapist

In honor of September being National Yoga Awareness month, we wanted to shed some light on the practice of yoga and the many benefits it has for those who partake in it.

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Yoga, a series of stretches and poses associated with breathing techniques, offers the powerful gains of exercise. Some yoga styles are intense and vigorous while others are relaxing and meditative. No matter which type you choose, yoga is a great way to stretch and strengthen your body, focus your mind, and relax your spirit.

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Yoga can aid in strength and flexibility, as well as allow you to feel more focused and alert. In addition, a regular yoga practice (3-4 days/week) can improve functional mobility in activities of daily living (ADLs) and decrease fall risk. Moreover, yoga has been found to help improve these specific conditions:

  • Poor blood circulation
  • High blood pressure
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Limited mobility
  • Lower back pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Headaches
  • Tension or stress
  • Depression


Yoga’s gentle movements are a one of the main reasons for its growing popularity.

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Yoga is great for people who have not been active for some time. It is also helpful for people who have certain health conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis because it does not require your joints to move through their full range, which can sometime be painful. Most importantly, you can modify the exercises/poses to fit your needs/abilities. At the same time, yoga is also great if you’re already fit and want a more challenging workout. As you become stronger and more flexible, it’s easier to do other kinds of exercises/activities like dancing, walking, or swimming.

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Yoga can help:

  • Reduce your risk for injury. Each yoga pose targets specific muscles. This helps you increase your flexibility and reduce your risk for injury.
  • Reduce stress and increase concentration. Yoga can help soothe/focus the mind and lower stress levels. It does this by encouraging you to tune into your breathing which helps to focus your mind on the moment and poses.
  • Understand the mind and body connection. Yoga requires you to focus all your energy on each movement or pose exactly. This can help you tap into the connection between your mind and body.
  • Gain strength and stamina. More vigorous styles of yoga promote strength and stamina.
  • Improve balance and stability. Balancing poses require you to use your core muscles. This can help you improve your overall stability and decrease risk of falls.
  • Improve posture. Yoga poses strengthen and open tight areas of the body like the shoulders and muscles of the upper back. This can help you keep good posture throughout your day.
  • Develop body awareness. Yoga requires you to contract or relax specific muscles as you stretch into each pose. This can help you become more aware of your body’s strengths and weaknesses.

How Do I Start?

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It’s easy to find a variety of yoga classes. You can check with your local community centers, such as the Y or look at nearby gyms, dance studios, and health clubs. There are numerous yoga studios in the greater New Orleans area, many of which, offer specials (Groupon, etc) for new students. Finally, you can look up Yoga Journal’s Yoga Teacher Directory to see regional and national lists of yoga teachers and associations.

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It is important to find the right yoga style for you and a teacher you like. It’s hard to know what a class is like until you attend it. Even when two teachers use the same terms to describe their classes, the classes may be quite different, so feel free to experiment with different types of classes at different studios.

As always, be sure to talk with your health care provider before you begin yoga or any other kind of exercise. It’s a good idea to take a class with an experienced teacher. Let the teacher know about any health conditions you may have like high blood pressure or arthritis. Tell him or her about any injuries or physical problems. A good teacher will know which exercises are best for you and tell you which poses to avoid.

Give It a Try!

Yoga can help you get fit for life. It helps you deal with stress, pick up your child, control your dog, carry groceries, or work in your garden. It also can help to prevent or ease back pain and muscle or joint injury and give you self-reliance and self-esteem.


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Most important to keep in mind, the yoga routine is more than just physical — it involves the quieting of the mind. The bottom line is learning to pay attention. You fine-tune your attention, beginning with the body, and then moving to the mind. As you get deeper into your practice over the years, you start to see the mental and spiritual benefits. Namaste!

Maryann Vicari

I have a personal soft spot for yoga, as I have been practicing it consistently for the past two years.  I recently became certified to teach yoga this past spring because I wanted to deepen my personal yoga experience and help bring awareness of yoga to my patients and others in the community. I’m currently teaching classes at Balance Yoga and Wellness Studio, and I sometimes lead my coworkers at lunch when we have time. Yoga has had a profound effect on my life, both physically and mentally, as well as spiritually.  I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a new exercise routine or a way to improve functional mobility and general quality of life.