Will you be in Ellensburg or the Tri-Cities on Feb. 1?

On February 1st,  the Children’s Miracle Network balloon campaign starts up at the IHOP restaurants in Ellensburg and Tri-Cities.  If you are in the area make sure you stop by and get some yummy pancakes and donate $1 to the Children’s Miracle Network.

Your contribution to the Children’s Miracle Network helps support the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Pediatric department at Memorial Hospital and will also benefit Children’s Village.  The money stays local!!! Memorial is 1 out of 170 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in the US and Canada.

Buy a balloon. Change a life.




Part II: A New Normal: Ten Things I’ve Learned About Trauma

by Catherine Woodiwiss 01-13-2014

1.  Grieving is social, and so is healing.

For as private a pain as trauma is, for all the healing that time and self-work will bring, we are wired for contact. Just as relationships can hurt us most deeply, it is only through relationship that we can be most fully healed.

It’s not easy to know what this looks like — can I trust casual acquaintances with my hurt? If my family is the source of trauma, can they also be the source of healing? How long until this friend walks away? Does communal prayer help or trivialize?

Seeking out shelter in one another requires tremendous courage, but it is a matter of life or paralysis. One way to start is to practice giving shelter to others.

2.  Do not offer platitudes or comparisons. Do not, do not, do not.

“I’m so sorry you lost your son, we lost our dog last year … ” “At least it’s not as bad as … ” “You’ll be stronger when this is over.” “God works in all things for good!”

When a loved one is suffering, we want to comfort them. We offer assurances like the ones above when we don’t know what else to say. But from the inside, these often sting as clueless, careless, or just plain false.

Trauma is terrible. What we need in the aftermath is a friend who can swallow her own discomfort and fear, sit beside us, and just let it be terrible for a while.

3.  Allow those suffering to tell their own stories.

Of course, someone who has suffered trauma may say, “This made me stronger,” or “I’m lucky it’s only (x) and not (z).” That is their prerogative. There is an enormous gulf between having someone else thrust his unsolicited or misapplied silver linings onto you, and discovering hope for one’s self. The story may ultimately sound very much like “God works in all things for good,” but there will be a galaxy of disfigurement and longing and disorientation in that confession. Give the person struggling through trauma the dignity of discovering and owning for himself where, and if, hope endures.

4.  Love shows up in unexpected ways.

This is a mystifying pattern after trauma, particularly for those in broad community: some near-strangers reach out, some close friends fumble to express care. It’s natural for us to weight expressions of love differently: a Hallmark card, while unsatisfying if received from a dear friend, can be deeply touching coming from an old acquaintance.

Ultimately every gesture of love, regardless of the sender, becomes a step along the way to healing. If there are beatitudes for trauma, I’d say the first is, “Blessed are those who give love to anyone in times of hurt, regardless of how recently they’ve talked or awkwardly reconnected or visited cross-country or ignored each other on the metro.” It may not look like what you’d request or expect, but there will be days when surprise love will be the sweetest.

5.  Whatever doesn’t kill you …

In 2011, after a publically humiliating year, comedian Conan O’Brien gave students at Dartmouth College the following warning:

“Nietzsche famously said, ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ … What he failed to stress is that it almost kills you.”

Odd things show up after a serious loss and creep into every corner of life: insatiable anxiety in places that used to bring you joy, detachment or frustration towards your closest companions, a deep distrust of love or presence or vulnerability.

There will be days when you feel like a quivering, cowardly shell of yourself, when despair yawns as a terrible chasm, when fear paralyzes any chance for pleasure. This is just a fight that has to be won, over and over and over again.

6.  … Doesn’t kill you.

Living through trauma may teach you resilience. It may help sustain you and others in times of crisis down the road. It may prompt humility. It may make for deeper seasons of joy. It may even make you stronger.

It also may not.

In the end, the hope of life after trauma is simply that you have life after trauma. The days, in their weird and varied richness, go on. So will you.

Catherine Woodiwiss is Associate Web Editor at Sojourners. Find her on Twitter @chwoodiwiss. This piece originally appeared in Catapult magazine’s January issue, Ten Things

Food industry markets poor health to students

poor healthWhen kids are in school, parents expect them to be exposed to subjects like history, science, English and maybe even volleyball. But a study in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that most students also are learning to eat unhealthy foods.

A large number of schools—from elementary through high school—sanction some sort of food industry marketing, such as advertisements, coupons, event sponsorships and sales of brand-name foods. The number and size of schools involved means that the majority of students in the country are exposed to commercialism.

The practice offers extra money to cash-strapped schools. But it also exposes a captive and impressionable young audience to commercials that encourage them to buy the kinds of high-calorie, sugary foods that contribute to poor health, according to both the study and an accompanying editorial.

“To our knowledge, [this] article is the first to quantify food marketing in a national sample of schools and to measure changes over a six-year period,” the editorial noted. “Many of the findings are surprising and disturbing.”

About the study
The study included information garnered from two parallel surveys conducted from 2007 through 2012. In one, done at the University of Illinois at Chicago, researchers collected data from a nationally representative sample of elementary school administrators. The other, conducted at the University of Michigan, gathered similar data from middle school and high school administrators.
Among the findings:
• Food coupons were the most common type of advertisement at elementary schools. Nearly 64 percent of students at this level received coupons for pizza, sugary drinks or fast food products—often as rewards for learning.
• Almost 50 percent of middle school students and nearly 70 percent of high school students attended schools that had exclusive contracts with beverage companies in 2012. Those numbers actually represent a decrease from 2007, when they were 67.4 percent and 74.5 percent, respectively.
• Fast food was available to students at least once a week in schools attended by about 10 percent of elementary students, nearly 20 percent of middle school students and 30 percent of high school students in 2012.
Schools are an attractive target for food marketers for a number of reasons, the authors wrote. Schools and teachers are seen as trusted role models and sources of learning, all of which lends credibility to marketing. The school-based commercialism increases direct sales of products and increases brand recognition, which has been linked to brand loyalty.

The take-home message

Children already consume too many calories—including empty calories from food and beverages high in sugar and fat—which increases their risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer, noted the editorial.
“School property should be a place where messages to young people strengthen their bodies as well as their minds,” its authors wrote, and they urged parents and school leaders to push for changes in marketing to students.

Two “Harts” Beat over Common Thread

Elmer-and-EstherBy: Branden Johnson, Hospice Volunteer Coordinator

When I visit Elmer and Esther Hart I usually bring gifts such as material for quilt tops, batting, and muslin.  These gifts are donated by fellow hospice volunteers, patient’s family members, and hospice staff that have seen and appreciated the Hart’s work.    Elmer and Esther’s quilts are donated to the Memorial Foundation and allocated throughout Memorial’s Family of Services to facilities such as Cottage in the Meadow, Memorial’s inpatient hospice facility, which is given to patients and their family members after their stay at the Cottage.

This 2-person quilting operation and assembly line takes place in the Hart’s home.  Each room in their home has a dedicated, quilt making purpose.  We began in their spare bedroom contained with boxes filled to the top with fabric that has been graciously donated.  The dining room table was transformed into a quilt-like cutting board and had measuring tools and quilt fabric laid across the table ready to be cut. The garage housed not only their vehicles but also precut quilt fabric cut into 5-inch squares.  The dining room floor is dedicated to laying out the precut 5-inch squares on the floor in a 13-row patterned design. Their bedroom is also their sewing room and includes two sewing machines.  Lastly, their living room contained a handmade wooden table where pinning and tying quilt tops, batting, and muslin take place.  After touring their assembly line, we discussed their passion for quilt making.

Esther began sewing as a teenager and made her own clothes and clothes for her children.  In 1995, Ether began making quilts for her church.  Once Elmer retired from his private medical practice, he needed a hobby and took an interest in Esther’s quilt making.  As an experienced quilter, Esther taught Elmer how to make quilts.  Elmer was a quick study and they began making queen size quilts together which were donated to their church.  In addition, they made 45’’x 65’’ quilts for Yakima County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). CASA volunteers help to ensure that the needs of abused and neglected children are met, while advocating for their best interests in dependency court.  As the years progressed, they continued to give to those in need and began to wonder if there was anyone else in the Yakima community who could use the quilts that they were making.

Elmer called Memorial and asked if we could use any of their quilts.  He was directed to Memorial’s Home Care Services where there was a need for their service.  So, Elmer’s busy hands began making around 75 quilts per year when he first started volunteering.   In 2003, Elmer divided the quilts between CASA and Memorial’s Home Care Services.

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and made national news.  Elmer’s next door neighbor had a trucking business and he asked the trucker where he was headed and the reply was “New Orleans.”  Elmer loaded up 25 quilts that were sent down to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Over the last four years, Elmer made 105 quilts per year which he donated the majority to Memorial’s Home Care Services.

Esther and Elmer have made over 160 quilts together.  146 quilts were donated to The Memorial Foundation and distributed throughout Memorial Family of Services.  The remainder of the quilts went to CASA and to family members.  In a given week, Esther and Elmer Hart can make about 3 quilts.

Making quilts is a labor of love.  The Hart’s quilts contain 117 5-inch blocks that make up the quilt top.  The quilts have a total of 96 ties.  The Hart’s quilts take 35 minutes to pin the edges and 25 minutes to fancy-stitch and finish the edges.  The entire quilt making process takes about 10 hours per quilt.  In 2013, Elmer and Esther made a total of 146 quilts which equates to 1,460 hours.

Elmer and Esther Hart have dedicated the past two decades to donating quilts locally and nationally.  For January 2014, the Hart’s have already donated 14 quilts and have no intention of taking their foot off the gas.  Elmer is a WWII Veteran who will be turning 91 in April of 2014.  Esther will be turning 88 in March.

Elmer said it best at the end of the interview, “As long as you have something of value to give to someone else…this is what keeps life going.”

Five Wishes

Dr. Tim Melhorn, Medical Ambassador for Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, appeared on KIT 1280 on Jan. 28, 2014, to discuss end-of-life care and Five Wishes, a document that allows you to choose the person you want to make health care decisions for you if you are not able to make them for yourself. It also lets you say exactly how you wish to be treated if you get seriously ill. It’s easy to use – all you have to do is check a box, circle a direction or write a few sentences. And it’s recognized in 42 states – including Washington – and the District of Columbia.

So what are the five wishes?


Wish No. 1: Who do you want to make health care decisions for you when you can’t make them for yourself?

This allows you to designate a durable power of attorney, which is legal in Washington. Choose someone who knows you very well, cares about you and who can make difficult decisions. A spouse or family member may not be the best choice because they are too emotionally involved. Sometimes, they are the BEST choice. It depends on the situation. But choose someone who is able to stand up for you so that your wishes are followed.


Wish No. 2 is your wish for the kind of medical treatment you want or don’t want.

Wish No. 2 is the living will that describes acceptable and unacceptable medical treatment. Life support treatment means any medical procedure, device or medication to keep you alive. It includes medical devices to help breathe, food and water supplied by tube, CPR, major surgery, blood transfusions, antibiotics and anything else meant to keep you alive. This wish allows you to choose if you want life-support treatment, if you don’t want it or want it stopped if it has been started, or if you want it only if your doctor believes it could help your condition.


Another two-page form allows you to summarize your wishes for end-of-life treatment, to be kept in your file for the future. The Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment – or POLST form – lists a set of medical orders that are intended to guide emergency medical treatment for people with advanced illness.


Wish No. 3 is your wish for how comfortable you want to be.

Do you want your doctor to administer medicine to relieve your pain? Do you want your caregivers to do whatever they can to help you if you show signs of depressions, nausea, shortness of breath or hallucinations? Do you want your lips and mouth kept moist to stop dryness? Do you want religious readings and well-loved poems read aloud when you are near death?


This is about exactly what it says: making you as comfortable as you want to be when you are near the end of your life.


Wish No. 4 is your wish for how you want people to treat you.

Do you want people with you? Do you want to have your hand held, even if you don’t seem to respond to the voice or touch of others? Do you want people nearby praying for you? Do you want to die at home?


Wish No. 5 is to ensure your loved ones know what you want them to know when your time is near.

You wish for your family and friends to know that you love them, and for them to respect your wishes even if they don’t agree with them. You want them to respect your choice to be buried or cremated.


Frequently asked questions:


How do I get a living will?

Washington state recognizes Five Wishes, which allows you to choose a durable power of attorney – the person you want to make health care decision for you if you are not able to make them for yourself – and what treatment you want at the end of your life.  Five Wishes is recognized in 42 states and the District of Columbia. Copies are available at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital.


What qualifies as life support?

Life support treatment means any medical procedure, device or medication to keep you alive. It includes medical devices to help breathe, food and water supplied by tube, CPR, major surgery, blood transfusions, antibiotics and anything else meant to keep you alive.


What is a POLST form and how do I complete one?

This two-page form allows you to summarize your wishes for end-of-life treatment and can be kept in your medical file for the future. Called the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment – or POLST – form, it lists a set of medical orders that are intended to guide emergency medical treatment for people with advanced illness. They are available in your doctor’s office.

All moms-to-be need diabetes testing

pregnant diabetesAll pregnant women should be screened for gestational diabetes after 24 weeks of pregnancy, according to updated guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

The update replaces a 2008 opinion in which the USPSTF found insufficient evidence to recommend for or against routine screening. Studies since then have found enough benefits to recommend screening after 24 weeks, the USPSTF noted, but not sufficient evidence to recommend testing every woman earlier in pregnancy.

Physicians may want to do earlier screenings for women who are at high risk for developing the disease.

Gestational diabetes is diabetes that begins during pregnancy. According to background information in the USPSTF’s statement, it occurs in about 6 to 7 percent of pregnancies. Gestational diabetes usually disappears after childbirth, but it raises the mom’s risk for type 2 diabetes later in life.

Gestational diabetes has become more common in recent decades, due in part to the rising numbers of women who are overweight or obese when they become pregnant. Excess weight is a major risk factor for gestational diabetes, along with a family history of the disease.

Studies since the USPSTF’s 2008 statement have found that treating women for gestational diabetes after 24 weeks of pregnancy can lessen the risk of health complications for both the mother and the infant.

The current USPSTF recommendation does not apply to women already diagnosed with diabetes.

You can find more information about gestational diabetes, including additional risk factors, here.

Part 1: A New Normal – Ten Things I’ve Learned About Trauma

by Catherine Woodiwiss 01-13-2014

Courtesy of “Sojourners: Faith in Action for Social Justice” at sojo.net

I wasn’t really expecting painful things to happen to me.

I knew that pain was a part of life, but — thanks in part to a peculiar blend of “God-has-a-plan” Southern roots, a suburban “Midwestern nice” upbringing, and a higher education in New England stoicism — I managed to skate by for quite some time without having to experience it.

After a handful of traumas in the last five years, things look different now. Trauma upends everything we took for granted, including things we didn’t know we took for granted. And many of these realities I wish I’d known when I first encountered them. So, while the work of life and healing continues, here are ten things I’ve learned about trauma along the way:

1. Trauma permanently changes us.

This is the big, scary truth about trauma: there is no such thing as “getting over it.” The five stages of grief model marks universal stages in learning to accept loss, but the reality is in fact much bigger: a major life disruption leaves a new normal in its wake. There is no “back to the old me.” You are different now, full stop.

This is not a wholly negative thing. Healing from trauma can also mean finding new strength and joy. The goal of healing is not a papering-over of changes in an effort to preserve or present things as normal. It is to acknowledge and wear your new life — warts, wisdom, and all — with courage.

2.  Presence is always better than distance.

There is a curious illusion that in times of crisis people “need space.” I don’t know where this assumption originated, but in my experience it is almost always false. Trauma is a disfiguring, lonely time even when surrounded in love; to suffer through trauma alone is unbearable. Do not assume others are reaching out, showing up, or covering all the bases.

It is a much lighter burden to say, “Thanks for your love, but please go away,” than to say, “I was hurting and no one cared for me.” If someone says they need space, respect that. Otherwise, err on the side of presence.

3.  Healing is seasonal, not linear.

It is true that healing happens with time. But in the recovery wilderness, emotional healing looks less like a line and more like a wobbly figure-8. It’s perfectly common to get stuck in one stage for months, only to jump to another end entirely … only to find yourself back in the same old mud again next year.

Recovery lasts a long, long time. Expect seasons.

4.  Surviving trauma takes “firefighters” and “builders.” Very few people are both.

This is a tough one. In times of crisis, we want our family, partner, or dearest friends to be everything for us. But surviving trauma requires at least two types of people: the crisis team — those friends who can drop everything and jump into the fray by your side, and the reconstruction crew — those whose calm, steady care will help nudge you out the door into regaining your footing in the world. In my experience, it is extremely rare for any individual to be both a firefighter and a builder. This is one reason why trauma is a lonely experience. Even if you share suffering with others, no one else will be able to fully walk the road with you the whole way.

A hard lesson of trauma is learning to forgive and love your partner, best friend, or family even when they fail at one of these roles. Conversely, one of the deepest joys is finding both kinds of companions beside you on the journey.

5.  Grieving is social, and so is healing.

For as private a pain as trauma is, for all the healing that time and self-work will bring, we are wired for contact. Just as relationships can hurt us most deeply, it is only through relationship that we can be most fully healed.

It’s not easy to know what this looks like — can I trust casual acquaintances with my hurt? If my family is the source of trauma, can they also be the source of healing? How long until this friend walks away? Does communal prayer help or trivialize?

Seeking out shelter in one another requires tremendous courage, but it is a matter of life or paralysis. One way to start is to practice giving shelter to others.

50 years later, smoking still reigns as top killer

smoking1Smoking rates among adults and teens are less than half of what they were in 1964, when the U.S. surgeon general released the first report linking smoking to serious health problems. However, 42 million American adults and about 3 million middle and high school students continue to smoke, according to The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General.

“Over the last 50 years tobacco control and prevention efforts have saved 8 million lives, but the job is far from over,” said Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH, assistant secretary of health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “This report provides the impetus to accelerate public health and clinical strategies to drop overall smoking rates to less than 10 percent in the next decade. Our nation is now at a crossroads, and we must choose to end the tobacco epidemic once and for all.”

About 500,000 Americans die prematurely every year because of smoking. That keeps tobacco sitting at No. 1 on the top causes of preventable death.

Any report that spans 50 years will include a lot of numbers and comparisons. This 32nd tobacco-related report from the Office of the Surgeon General is no exception.

So what’s happened since that first report?

  • More than 20 million Americans have died due to smoking
  • 2.5 million of those who died were nonsmokers exposed to other people’s smoke
  • More than 100,000 babies have died from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) related to parental smoking
  • The risk a female smoker will develop lung cancer has increased tenfold
  • The risk a male smoker will develop lung cancer has doubled

The report also examines the current smoking situation and what it may mean for the future:

  • About 5.6 million children alive today—1 of every 13—will die prematurely unless current smoking rates drop.
  • For the first time, women are as likely as men to die from such smoking-related diseases as lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiovascular disease.
  • At least $130 billion in direct medical costs for adults could be saved every year if all smokers quit and young people were prevented from starting smoking.
  • Strategies that have proven effective at reducing rates of smoking are not being used enough. These include smoke-free policies, comprehensive statewide tobacco control programs and tobacco taxes that are high enough to deter young people from the habit.

You can download a guide to the report here.

Learn more about the health effects of smoking and tips for quitting in the Smoking health topic center.

Mammograms after 75? Women should know pros and cons

mammogramWomen 75 and older often decide against having a screening mammogram when they’re given detailed information about the benefits and risks of the procedure, according to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Both the American Cancer Society and the American Geriatrics Society recommend not screening older women who are in poor health and have short life expectancies, and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has found little evidence in favor of screening women 75 and older. However, guidelines do advise informing older women of risks and benefits of mammography.

But few women in this age group get adequate information, according to the study’s authors. Benefits are often overestimated and risks understated, they wrote, resulting in older women making decisions that may not be medically appropriate for them.

The researchers decided to develop an easy-to-read decision aid for women 75 and older who are contemplating whether to have a mammogram. It included information about breast cancer risk factors, life expectancy, risks and benefits of having or skipping a mammogram, and treatments for breast cancer. It also offered a values exercise to help women clarify their feelings about testing.

About the study

The study involved 45 women ages 75 to 89 who had scheduled appointments with their doctor between July 2010 and April 2012.

The women completed a questionnaire about mammograms just before seeing their doctor. They then read the decision aid. The women completed another questionnaire after their appointment was over.

The doctors were given the opportunity to read the decision aid before the appointments, but they were not required to talk about mammography with their patients.

Researchers followed the women through medical records and physician notes for 15 months.

Among the study’s findings:

  • The women answered more questions correctly after reading the decision aid than before reading it.
  • 82 percent intended to have screening mammography before reading the decision aid and 56 percent still wanted screening after reading it. Before the study ended, 60 percent underwent screening.
  • 93 percent of the women said the decision aid was helpful and would recommend it to others.
  • 30 percent of the women said the decision aid caused them anxiety. Many said they feared their doctor would be disappointed if they didn’t get a mammogram.
  • 73 percent of the doctors said the decision aid would help their patients make more informed decisions, and 93 percent said it would be useful to patients.

Limitations of the study include its small size and use of a single medical center. The authors also noted that some doctors believed the decision aid emphasized risks of screening over benefits. The authors noted they planned to revamp the decision aid and test it in a larger clinical study.

The take-home message
Women 75 and older should ask their doctor for a thorough review of the risks and benefits of having a screening mammogram, and the discussion should include topics like life expectancy, treatments for breast cancer and the woman’s personal values.