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June 12, 1948. A day that changed the course of history with the passing of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act. This act would allow for women to serve in an official capacity in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.
While it took until 1948 for women in service to be recognized by law, women have been making invaluable contributions during war times through much of American history. From sewing uniforms, to providing medical services, to forming all-female units to help fight the war, women were integral members of the military as early as the Revolution and continued to serve in the Civil War and the World Wars. Today, they are legally and rightfully permitted to serve in the Armed Forces and continue to be a vitally important component.
Despite women being the fastest growing group of veterans, with approximately two million residing in the United States today, they experience a disproportionate amount of challenges compared to their male counterparts both during their time in service and upon returning to civilian life. At present, they continue to face a higher risk of harassment and sexual violence during service, homelessness following their duty, difficulty finding employment, and social bias upon reintegration to society. The Armed Forces have always been and remain a male biased organization and the struggles for women because of this bias continue to negatively impact our female veterans. The Center for Women Veterans (CWV) was established in 1994 to address
some of these disparities between women and men in service. The CWV continues to be a leading organization whose mission it is to ensure that female veterans are treated with respect and equality. While there are scattered efforts across the nation and within communities to address the needs of female veterans, we are far from a point at which we should be satisfied. Women’s Veterans Day was first recognized just four years ago on June 12, 2018. This day was established to highlight female veterans and the struggles they face in hopes of addressing them with lasting solutions. We, as a society informed of the struggles these brave women face, must continue to raise awareness on their behalf.
To the women that have served this country and to those that continue to serve, we see you and we thank you.
For more information regarding the resources available to you as a female veteran, you can visit the National Veterans Foundation’s website for a categorized list of resources depending on your specific needs. https://nvf.org/women-veteran-resources/
VAntage Point – https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/89813/origin-women-veterans-day/
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – https://www.va.gov/womenvet/resources/index.asp
VAWnet – https://vawnet.org/sc/challenges-specific-female-veterans National Veterans Foundation – https://nvf.org/women-veteran-resources/
By: Laura Mantine, MD
“Wear the white coat with dignity and pride, it is an honor and privilege to get to serve the public as a physician.”― Bill H. Warren
Physicians display heroism and courage every day in hospitals, nursing homes and clinics. National Doctors’ Day, celebrated on March 30th, is an annual observance aimed at appreciating physicians who help save lives everywhere. The holiday first started in 1933 in Winder, Georgia, and since then it has been honored every year. The idea came from Eudora Brown Almond, wife of Dr. Charles B. Almond, and the date was chosen as it marked the anniversary of the first use of general anesthesia in surgery. This month, National Doctors’ Day continues to highlight many questions, concerns and fears about what the future of medicine holds. The COVID-19 pandemic has already left its indelible mark on American’s health and well-being. Many doctors have courageously set aside their own fears to help those in need, lend a hand to an overburdened colleague, gather supplies and equipment for those who may soon go without, and accelerate the research to develop a vaccine or medication that may bring an end to this pandemic once and for all.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold and upend American life, physicians, nurses, and the health care workforce are leading a remarkable response effort by putting their health and safety on the line every day. There have been many cases in the U.S and around the globe in which physicians have fallen seriously ill or died after treating patients for COVID-19. The physical toll alone is daunting with extremely long and taxing hours at a patient’s bedside. The emotional toll is just as significant, and enough to overwhelm even the most seasoned and experienced doctor. Ultimately, no one can say for sure how long this health threat will last or how much more our nation’s physicians will be asked to give.
The COVID-19 pandemic reminds physicians of the obligation to place a patient’s welfare above our own, the need to protect and promote public health, and the ethical considerations involved in providing care under the most urgent and trying circumstances. Physicians embrace all these responsibilities and more as a routine part of their professional lives. This fact does not diminish the burden a physician will undertake on a patient’s behalf. The selflessness displayed in the face of a deepening health crisis is truly extraordinary.
When physicians are asked why they chose their profession, answers will of course vary. One theme tends to underlie all the responses: a profound commitment to helping others. Physicians are called upon to help in moments like the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Patrice A. Harris, former president of the American Medical Association, said in her inaugural address “Physicians don’t run from challenges. We run toward them.” Physicians undertake these efforts because they are called to do so, not to earn public recognition or thanks. People should thank them and offer heartfelt gratitude and praise, not on National Doctors’ Day but every day.
By: Dr. Laura Mantine
Love is all around this month, especially on Valentine’s Day, when we take time to turn to those closest to us and say those three magical words. However, if you have a loved one who suffers from advanced cardiac disease, one of the best ways to show how much you care may not come in a sentimental card or a box filled with chocolates. Instead, it may come from calling hospice. Oftentimes, people don’t realize that hospice care is an option for people who suffer from advanced cardiac disease. Instead, these patients often spend their final days and months in and out of the hospital, receiving treatments that do little to improve the course of the disease. Hospice offers a supportive program of holistic care designed to help patients manage symptoms, forego emergency room visits and receive convenient, compassionate care right in their places of residence.
The estimated annual cost of heart disease is about $200 billion each year. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States across all demographics. Heart disease accounts for 17.8% of hospice deaths, second only to cancer (30.1%). During hospice care, cardiac patients are monitored by a team of physicians and nurses, who administer medications and treatments to keep them as comfortable as possible. Social workers can access valuable community resources. Chaplains and counselors provide emotional and spiritual care for the patient and family. Volunteers can sit with patients, read to them or help them with light household chores, and allow caregivers to get some much-needed respite.
End-stage heart failure is often marked by an abrupt, dramatic decline, followed by recurring recovery and stability until sudden death. Patients are ideal candidates for goals-of-care conversations when they have severe refractory heart failure or extensive symptoms of cardiac insufficiency, have tried or cannot tolerate maximum medical management and are not candidates for curative therapies or surgical interventions. Hospice care addresses a wide range of symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest pain, weakness and functional decline. Eligibility for hospice may require documentation of progressive loss of functional capacity over years, progressive failure to respond to therapies and a desire to discontinue curative treatment. Patients should check with their physician to see whether they are eligible for hospice based on their history of congestive heart failure, arrhythmias or heart attacks. The physician may also consider any coexisting diseases like HIV, diabetes, respiratory illness or kidney disease when transitioning a patient to hospice care.
In addition to increasing a cardiac patient’s quality of life, hospice often increases the cardiac patient’s quantity of life as well. In a study reported in the March 2007 Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, congestive heart failure patients who chose hospice survived 81 days longer than those who did not. Even when modern-day technology or surgery can no longer offer hope, patients with late-stage cardiac disease need to know that help is always available. Hospice allows these patients to experience as much joy as possible in their remaining days while minimizing their discomfort and pain.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. (2016). Multiple Cause of Death 1999-2015 on CDC WONDER Online Database. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2015, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program.
Benjamin EJ, Blaha MJ, Chiuve SE, Cushman M, Das SR, Deo R, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2017 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017;135:e1–e458. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000485.
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. (2018). NHPCO Facts and Figures 2018 edition.
Ziaeian, B., & Fonarow, G. C. (2016). The Prevention of Hospital Readmissions in Heart Failure. Progress in cardiovascular diseases, 58(4), 379–385. doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2015.09.004
By: Angelique Riley
My name is Angelique Riley, and I have been at Grane Hospice Care, King of Prussia (an Abode Healthcare and BrightSpring Health Services company), for a little over two and a half years. I joined Grane after spending twenty years managing Life Enrichment in Continuing Care Retirement Centers. I found Life Enrichment rewarding, but it was time to hang up that hat and move on to another venture.
I chose to work in Hospice Care to share my natural gift of helping people during the most difficult time of their lives. I take pride in sharing compassion, support, and a great deal of care with our patients. It is a great honor to be spotlighted in our employee newsletter, and to share what Black History Month means to me.
Black History Month is an annual observance originating in the United States, where it is also known as African American History Month. It began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. Now that you have the Wikipedia definition of Black History Month; let me tell you what Black History Month really means…
Black History cannot be contained or limited to a single month. I grew up in a family where we honored and embraced our heritage year-round. My siblings and I were educated by our father on the rich history of African Americans. He taught us about inventors, writers, educators, musicians, and other notable Black figures.
It was important to my father that we had knowledge of our own history. We grew up as military children and were exposed to many different cultures and environments. My father prided himself in educating us on African American studies because he knew our schools and society, would more likely teach us an inaccurate version of our history, if they mentioned African Americans at all.
American schools teach students about Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and the enslavement of African American people in the US. Those are important topics to cover, but that barely scrapes the surface of African American contributions to our society. Sparse lesson plans fail to mention the large numbers of African American scientists, physicians, attorneys, and professors who have made huge contributions to American progress.
A quick funny story: When I was in World History Class my junior year in High School in Lawton, Oklahoma, the teacher presented a lecture about religion in the African American community. I remember cringing in my seat, my spirit stirred with frustration because the lesson was filled with errors about my history and my culture. I could not remain silent.
Each time that the teacher mispronounced a name, gave an inaccurate date, or worse, attributed an accomplishment to the wrong person, I spoke up and corrected him. After I contradicted him four or five times, the teacher grew so frustrated that he shouted,
“DO YOU WANT TO TEACH THE CLASS?”. I rose to my feet and said, “Yes, I do”.
It did not end well for me that day. I was sent to the office immediately and punished with an In-House Suspension. Despite the repercussions, I never regretted what I did.
My experience confirmed my father’s prediction that the school was not going to teach the proper information on African American History. Since my father took the time to teach me, I knew my history and had the conviction to share it with my peers.
I shared this story to illustrate the importance of teaching African American History and embracing it as an ongoing celebration in the African American Community. I am grateful to see schools, businesses and the community recognize Black History.
The month of February is a time to honor our ancestors and their hidden or overlooked contributions. It is also a time to reflect on the work still to be done.
Black History Month is a reminder that Black Is Love. I love being an African American woman and getting to reflect with others who are also proud to be African American. Black History Month is an invitation for others to join in the ongoing celebration of black excellence. It is unity in its highest form.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! 🎄
Hospice of North Alabama is excited to be sponsoring a tree in the Christmas on the Square tree trail in Moulton this year!
Want to know which of our favorite characters will be featured on our tree? Click here to read all about it!
By: Genna Hulme, Certified Nursing Assistant
Today is National Relaxation Day; and while we could talk to you about reading your favorite book in a bathtub full of bubbles, we are instead going to share with you an ancient healing and relaxation practice that is becoming widespread again: Reiki.
Reiki is a very unique form of energetic healing. Using the body’s natural energy flow, it has the ability to balance out disrupted or distorted energy in and around the body’s energetic field. This makes the client feel generally better all around. Reiki is used in multiple health fields around the world making it a fast-growing treatment for therapy purposes as well as a great way to compliment current treatment for many ailments.
Reiki is an ancient form of Japanese healing. It is said to have been passed down for thousands of years from teachers to students. The word itself means Source Light Energy, “Rei” meaning source light and “Ki” meaning energy. Much like other forms of energy-based healing, such as the well-known Tai-Chi, Reiki is learned in a form that is more of a private setting between the teacher and the student. In these classes, the student learns the history of Reiki and how it became widespread today. The student also learns certain hand techniques that help them smooth out the energy, and ways to feel energy as well as its disruptions.
We now live in a world of burnout, leaving people feeling drained, depressed, stressed out, etc. Every day, we as humans are set up to operate in a way that brings us many challenges. These challenges may cause stress, leaving our thoughts and emotions in a cloud, creating depression, and other mental health issues. If one has a physical health issue, it could have been rooted into the stress of environmental factors. These physical and environmental issues can create some distortions causing a person to have judgmental impairment of basic life decisions. When there is impairment, it plays a domino effect making that person’s thought processes chaotic, hence bringing chaos in their life.
During this process, it is important that we keep up with self-care and restoration. Using Reiki is an excellent way to help! During a typical session, the Reiki Practitioner has the client relax in a sitting or lying position. The client will be instructed to take a few deep breaths as the room is filled with aromatherapy and soothing music. This will help the client physically start to relax. The practitioner will scan their hands over the client feeling for energetic disruptions in their field. When there is a disruption, the practitioner will then meditate and breathe as the “clouded” energy dissipates leaving the client feeling relaxed and stress free. This can last for as long as the client needs. Reiki sessions may last anywhere between 45-120 minutes.
Today, Reiki is growing widespread throughout the world. This old/new practice is giving the medical field more options for patients dealing with any life crisis. Cancer treatment centers now include Reiki as a part of the treatments received. It can also be seen in Physical Therapy offices and Athletic Therapy offices. Some Chiropractors also use it as a part of pretreatment for body alignment. Some hospices also use it as a free treatment from a volunteer who is kind enough to offer! Reiki is also being used as an employee wellness practice to aid employees who work in stressful environments. This gives them the opportunity to be able to clear their minds and organize their thoughts, causing them to perform better and be relieved of the stress and “noise”.
Reiki is a very unique process of healing. As an ancient practice, it definitely has potential to help aid us while we go through our toughest times. With just a few sessions, it will aid the body’s natural energetic functions to generate a better flow causing the client to relax and clear their head. Whether it is through a job, ailments, or family dynamics, taking time out for self-care will help make some positive changes in ways of thinking and lives, allowing the client to take back control of their mind, body, and soul. There are many opportunities out there for anyone to receive Reiki since it is our birthright to make time and space for ourselves.
To remember and honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country…this is the meaning of Memorial Day. Without their bravery and true heroism, we would not have the freedoms we do. And it is our responsibility as Americans to remember and honor them each and every day, especially today.
Memorial Day was initially known as Decoration Day and honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a historic speech while 5,000 participants decorated the graves of 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington Cemetery. It was after World War I when the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars. In December of 2000, a resolution was passed that asks all Americans to pause at 3PM local time for a moment of silence.
The poppy became a powerful symbol of remembrance thanks to a famous poem written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. McCrae was a Canadian who served as a brigade surgeon for an Allied artillery unit. He was inspired when he saw the bright red flowers blooming on broken ground; and so he wrote a poem from the point of view of the fallen soldiers buried underneath them.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Summer is just around the corner, which mean barbeques, swimming, and SUN! And while most of us enjoy getting outside and soaking up a little Vitamin D, it is important to remember to be safe when heading outside into the sun. Per the American Academy of Dermatology Association, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and unprotected UV exposure is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer.
With that being said, it is important to follow these three steps to protect your skin:
Finding skin cancer early, before it has spread, makes it much easier to treat. If you know what to look for, you can often spot warning signs early on. Doctors recommend checking your own skin about once a month using a full-length mirror in a well-lit room. You can also use a hand mirror to check areas that are harder to see.
Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer, while basal and squamous cell skin cancers are more common but are usually very treatable. The American Cancer Society’s website discusses these types of skin cancers and what to look out for.
Use the “ABCDE” rule to look for some of the common signs of melanoma:
These types of skin cancers typically grow on parts of the body that get the most sun, such as the face, head, and neck. However, they can still show up anywhere. Here is what you should look for:
Similarly to basal cell carcinomas, these typically grow on the parts of the body that get the most sun but can appear anywhere. You should look for:
Although these are good examples of what to look for, some skin cancers may look different than these descriptions. It is important to talk to your doctor about anything you are concerned about, such as new spots and other skin changes.
Today is National Senior Health and Fitness Day, making it a perfect day to focus on the importance of exercise. There are plenty of benefits of physical activity for people of any age, but let’s highlight some specifically for seniors:
We already know the importance of physical activity, but we also have to remember it is equally important to be safe while exercising. This means choosing exercises that work for you based on your age and physical fitness, while also considering any injuries or physical limitations that may impact your ability. It is also important to talk with your physician before jumping right into a new exercise routine.
Some of the best exercises for older adults include:
Exercising is only part of what it takes to live a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet is another very important part, and the definition of healthy eating changes a little as you age. The National Council on Aging put together a list of six tips for eating healthy as you get older.
Each year, Better Hearing and Speech Month in May provides an opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and other hearing and speech problems. The event also serves as a reminder to people to get their hearing checked. Early identification and intervention is very important, and getting your hearing checked is the first step!
“Building Connections” is the theme for 2021! You can find a variety of resources, broken down by week, on the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s website. Week 4’s focus is “Summer Skill Building, Hearing Protection for School-Aged Children.” Below are some examples of the resources available. Be sure to check out the ASHA’s website for more!
And remember to get your hearing checked as a first step in addressing any potential issues. Early identification is important!