Healthy Active Living with St. Joseph Healthcare

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Hernia Awareness Month – What you need to know!

This month is Hernia Awareness Month and Dr. Pedro Gomez, St. Joseph General Surgery has some helpful medical information about types, symptoms and suggestions to follow when facing hernia surgery.

First, what is a hernia? A hernia is “a protrusion of an organ or tissue through an abnormal opening in the body.” Some hernias are present at birth, some come on suddenly, and others develop slowly over a period of month or years.

Some common types of hernias:

  • Umbilical (belly button)
  • Inguinal / femoral (groin)
  • Abdominal (ventral)
  • Incisional (resulting from an incision)
  • Hiatal (diaphragm / stomach)

What are the symptoms of a hernia?

  • An obvious swelling or “mass sensation” beneath the skin or the abdomen or groin that might disappear when you lie down.
  • Sensation of abdominal fullness with or without constipation
  • Discomfort in the groin or abdomen when bending over or lifting

Call your doctor if you suspect you have a hernia. Sometimes hernias require urgent medical care. An accurate diagnosis is important!


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St. Joe’s SAFE Program Treats More Than 150 Patients in 2018

SafeNurse2St. Joe’s Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Program cares for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking. Team leader Michelle Markie (RN, SAFE-A-ME) says 2018 has been busy year for her team of SAFE Nurses.

Last year St. Joe’s SAFE Nurses completed 69 forensic exams. They estimated in 2018 that 100 patients in need of a SAFE Nurse would come to St. Joe’s. The numbers, however, have been much higher: as of December 10, they had seen 152 patients.

Michelle explains that rates of sexual assault are not growing, but more people are coming forward to seek treatment — a sign that St. Joe’s SAFE outreach is working. Outreach includes spending time with community organizations, advising on how to respond sensitively to incidents of sexual assault and sharing resources on what support is available to victims. This year, St. Joe’s SAFE Nurses trained Resident Advisors at University of Maine’s Orono Campus, travelled state-wide to train Police Departments on strangulation injuries, and presented at a conference for Public Housing Directors from throughout New England.

The SAFE team are also constantly learning so they can provide the best and most appropriate care to their patients. Two more ED Nurses have trained as SAFE nurses and will be fully certified by March 2019. This will mean five SAFE Nurses will be able to share the 24/7 on-call responsibility, on top of their usual full-time ED shifts.

All five nurses completed a workshop on forensic photography, which is an important element of evidence, should a patient wish to move forward with a legal case. SAFE nurses are often called to provide expert witness testimony in court.

Generous response to our SAFE Nurse appeal earlier this year has helped fund crucial outreach programs, training of additional SAFE Nurses and allow the purchase of a new camera and lighting for evidence collection. Thank you!

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Medical Image Files Disposal

Attention St. Joseph Healthcare Imaging Patients:

Did you know that improper disposal of photographic or x-ray film can result in the release of silver into the environment? In high concentrations, silver is considered hazardous waste and harmful to humans.

St. Joseph Healthcare strives to protect the environment for generations to come by reducing our impact on Maine’s natural resources. One way we can do this is by properly disposing of printed imaging films.

Starting December 10, 2018, in accordance with State and Federal regulation, our Medical Imaging and Medical Records Departments will begin disposing of printed imaging files taken between January and July of 2006.

If you would like to keep your 2006 printed films, please call the Medical Records Department at (207) 907-3648 to submit your request prior to December 7, 2018.

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Who’s At-risk of Developing High Blood Pressure

We recognize High Blood Pressure Awareness Month in May, so we asked Dr. Jims D. Jean-Jacques, a cardiologist at St. Joe’s, to answer the question: “Why is it important to know your blood pressure numbers?”

Many individuals simply don’t know they have high blood pressure. The best way to know if you have high blood pressure or not it is to have your blood pressure checked.
Some Americans are more at risk to develop hypertension than others. These groups would include:

  • People with family members who have high blood pressure, diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases
  • Women who are pregnant or taking birth control
  • People who are overweight
  • People who are inactive
  • People who consume a lot of alcohol
  • People who smoke
  • People who eat foods with too much sodium (salt)

Also, African-Americans tend to develop high blood pressure more often. It also tends to be more severe than people of any other racial background in the U.S.

Again, the best way to know if have high blood pressure is to have it checked. Currently, there is no cure for hypertension. However, if you are diagnosed with this disease, using medications as prescribed and making lifestyle changes can help to reduce your risk of stroke, heart disease, kidney disease and other complications.

For more details about high blood pressure and what you can do, I recommend you visit the American Heart Association’s website at  For more information, contact Dr. Jims D. Jean-Jacques, St. Joseph Cardiology, at (207) 907-1771 or learn more here.

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Managing Arthritis Symptoms with a Walking Program

There are no sure-fire ways to prevent chronic diseases, like arthritis. However, there are some activities that you can do to help manage your symptoms.

Walking to Ease Arthritis Symptoms

Now that the days are longer and warmer, it’s the perfect time to start a walking routine. You may not think walking is the best thing to do when your joints are painful, but exercise is an important part of managing arthritis symptoms and your overall well-being.

All adults, including those with arthritis, should aim for 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Taking a brisk walk for 30 minutes, 5 days a week, will help you meet your aerobic activity goal. Consider bringing a friend along to help maintain your commitment.

Exercise is beneficial to strengthening your muscles and increasing your range of motion. It also can help improve your sleep quality, boost your self-esteem, and help shed excess weight that adds to more stress on your painful joints.

May is National Arthritis Awareness Month

This month, St. Joe’s is working to spread more awareness about arthritis with self-care tips to help you manage your disease and improve your health. But know you don’t have to do this on your own. There are resources to help!

If you or someone you love is suffering from joint pain, you’re not alone. Call St. Joseph Rheumatology at (207) 907-3370 or visit our website for information.

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What is Skilled Nursing Care?

Amy_ShawleyThis month, we celebrate National Skilled Nursing Week. Amy Shawley, Operations Manager, for St. Joseph HomeCare and Hospice tells us more about the support and services they provide:

National Skilled Nursing Care Week is May 13-19. We are so pleased to have this opportunity to recognize and thank those clinicians providing skilled nursing care to patients in need. The St. Joseph HomeCare and Hospice team, including our skilled nurses, work hard to support patients in their homes. We want to enable patients to heal in the comfort of their home after a surgery, illness or injury.

Skilled nursing care is a high level of medical care provided by registered nurses for those who need long-term nursing care or for those who need short-term concentrated rehabilitation while recovering from a surgery or an illness. St. Joseph HomeCare provides high-quality home care services that are tailored to each patient’s individualized needs. We have many options for care, including:

  • Skilled Registered Nurse Services
  • Physical Therapy Services
  • Occupational Therapy Services
  • Home Health Aid Services
  • Speech Therapy Services
  • Medical Social Workers

Our skilled nursing team offers a variety of services, including diabetes education, wound care, post-surgical care, medication management and education, and 24-hour on-call nursing care.

For more information about St. Joseph HomeCare and Hospice, call us at (207) 907-1810 or click here.

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What Is High Blood Pressure?

We recognize High Blood Pressure Awareness Month in May, so we asked Dr. Jims D. Jean-Jacques, a cardiologist at St. Joe’s, to answer the question: “What is high blood pressure?”

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a very common condition in which the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels is too high. According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 75 million American adults (about 32%) have hypertension. That is about 1 in every 3 American adults.

For the most part, individuals with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms. For some individuals, they can have dangerously elevated blood pressure for many years without experiencing any symptoms. That is why high blood pressure also is called the “silent killer.”

Unfortunately, even without symptoms, damage affects the heart and overall health of the body. High blood pressure substantially increases the risk of serious health problems, including heart attack, kidney problems, stroke and many other conditions or diseases.

Measuring Your Blood Pressure Numbers

In 2014, high blood pressure was the primary cause of death for more than 410,000 Americans. That’s more than 1,100 deaths each day. Since many individuals don’t know they have high blood pressure, the best way to know if you’re at-risk is to have your blood pressure checked. The American Heart Association recognizes 120/80 mm Hg as normal. Stage 1 hypertension is consistent measurements ranging from 130-139 systolic or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic.

Jims-D-Jean-Jacques-for-blogFor more information, contact Dr. Jims D. Jean-Jacques, St. Joseph Cardiology, at (207) 907-1771 or click here.