Flu season unusually hard on young and middle-aged adults

This year’s flu season has been uncharacteristically tough on young and middle-aged adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the last three seasons, about one-third of people hospitalized for influenza were ages 18 to 64. This season, they have accounted for 61 percent of flu-related hospitalizations.

A similar trend is being seen in deaths. Three flu seasons ago (2010–2011), 18 percent of all flu deaths occurred among people ages 25 to 64. The season after that: 30 percent. But the 2013–2014 season has seen about 60 percent of flu deaths occurring in this age group.

“Younger people may feel that influenza is not a threat to them, but this season underscores that flu can be a serious disease for anyone,” said Tom Frieden, MD, director of CDC.

One reason may be the re-emergence of the virus subtype H1N1, which hasn’t been the predominant virus since the flu pandemic in 2009. People ages 50 to 64 were hit hard that year, according to CDC. The theory at the time was that people 65 and older carried some protective immunity because of past infections with related viruses.

A second reason: Adults 18 to 64 are less likely than other age groups to get flu vaccinations. Just under 34 percent of those 18 to 64 sought vaccinations this season, according to CDC. That compares to about 41 percent of people ages 6 months to 17 years old and nearly 62 percent of people 65 and older.

Reports from physicians’ offices and clinics found that those who were vaccinated against the flu this season were 60 percent less likely to have to see their doctor for flu illness than people who didn’t get shots.

“It’s important that everyone get vaccinated,” said Dr. Frieden.

Flu activity is likely to continue for a number of weeks, according to CDC.

IHOP restaurants in Ellensburg, Pasco offer free pancakes March 4

IHOP restaurants in Ellensburg, Pasco offer free pancakes March 4

to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals 

IHOP restaurants in Ellensburg and Pasco will offer free pancakes to the public March 4 in exchange for a donation to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Your contribution helps to support the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit and Pediatric Department at your Children’s Miracle Network Hospital: Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital. Your contribution also benefits Children’s Village, serving Central Washington children with special health care needs and their families.

So if you’re in the area, stop by for some pancakes and donate to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Memorial is one of 170 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in the U.S. and Canada. This money stays in our local community to help local kids. You can help change a life!

For more information, visit The Memorial Foundation’s website at www.memfound.org or call (509) 249-5330.

Making successful lifestyle changes…

Mary Zylstra, a behavioral health specialist for Comprehensive Mental Health who is working in partnership with Memorial Cornerstone Medicine, appeared on KIT 1280 on Feb. 25, 2014, to discuss ways to make successful lifestyle changes. Whether it’s improving your eating habits or getting more exercise, changing old habits can be hard. Mary has a background in counseling psychology, and she talked about the psychology of behavior change – how people can successfully make changes that sometimes seem overwhelming.

A few key points to remember:

  • You’re not going to be 100 percent perfect. No one is. There are steps you can take to make positive lifestyle changes to improve your health if you approach these changes with patience.
  • Dieting vs. diet – Dieting implies that a change is temporary. We look at is a temporary restriction. Improving our eating habits or diet is a lifestyle change, which is about making permanent lasting changes to our health.
  • It’s easier to take an action than to avoid one. For example, look at a meal that’s problematic, and try to modify that. Add a vegetable, as opposed to eliminating something else. Unhealthy foods sometimes tend to fall away naturally when you add healthy foods.

Steps for a healthier you:

  • Identify the reasons the change is important to you.
    • Change is easier when it is something that is important to us.
    • Is it because you want to be around for your grandchildren? For your children? Whatever that reason is, keep it at the forefront of everything you do.
  • Build confidence. We often fail to make changes because we lack confidence we can do so.

Ways to build confidence:

  • Start small, set reasonable expectations.
    • Break a bigger goal into smaller steps. We lose confidence when we try to overhaul everything overnight. If you need to improve your eating habits and get more exercise, focus on one area first.
  • Be specific.
    • Write down your plan. There’s something powerful about writing things down or telling someone. It has more meaning.
    • You’re more likely to stick with it if it is something that can be measured.
  • Track your progress. Keep it visual.
    • Keep a tally sheet for the week. Put it next to you during the day to show you were active, if getting exercise is your goal.
  • Identify your triggers – things that suck you into unhealthy habits – and find ways to reduce their hold on you.

I need to lose weight and improve my health. How do I get started?

First, it’s important to consult with your physician before starting any new diet or exercise regimen. Your physician can help to determine the best approach for improving your health.

How do I jumpstart my diet and fitness routine? I feel like I’m not making any progress.

It’s important to set reasonable expectations, and to break your goals into small steps to allow you to gain confidence. Write down your goals, make them measurable and track your progress. Also, identify your triggers, those things that make you fall back into unhealthy habits, and find ways to reduce their hold on you.



Eat fish for a healthy heart

Here’s a no-fuss way to help your heart: Make a point to eat fish—especially fatty fish—at least twice a week.

Several types of fatty fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids decrease triglyceride levels, slow the buildup of artery-clogging plaque and lower blood pressure. Research also shows that omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of dangerously abnormal heartbeats.

Fatty fish that are particularly good sources of omega-3s include salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna. For a full serving of these fish, you’ll need to eat 3.5 ounces cooked—or about 3/4 cup of flaked fish.

Other food sources of omega-3s include flaxseed and walnuts.

Boosting your omega-3 levels by eating foods is generally preferable to taking supplements. However, people who already have heart disease and those with high triglycerides may not get enough omega-3s by diet alone, and they should ask their doctors if they might benefit from supplements.

One final caution: Pregnant women, nursing mothers and children should avoid certain fish that are high in mercury, including shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.

Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; American Heart Association

Raegan’s Heart for Hospice

By Branden Johnson



I had the opportunity to observe Raegan Ramynke during her senior project. Raegan’s senior project was to increase community awareness about hospice care and to raise money for end-of-life care services in our community. Her senior project was held at one of the basketball games in East Valley, WA b1which raised $457.30. She auctioned off five handmade bracelets each with their own theme and design. Most of her work was done at home; unsupervised and unmonitored. Raegan demonstrated a strong work ethic and determination to meet and exceed specific deadlines and fundraising goals. She surpassed her fundraising goal by over $350.


Hospice is a program of care and support for patients and families who are faced with a terminal illness.

Hospice helps terminally ill people live their best lives, as comfortably as possible. The focus is on comfort, not on curing an illness. Hospice care is provided to those with a diagnosis of six months or less to live. End-of-life discussions can be difficult due to cultural and taboo beliefs surrounding death and dying. Our youth can be sheltered and withdrawn from these conversations with family, friends, and others in the community. However, there are a few students, like Raegan, who are committed to the increasing awareness about the health care continuum, ranging from birth to death. Raegan Ramynke has exemplified her commitment to serving our community by her involvement in Memorial Hospital’s YouthWorks program. YouthWorks assists youth in the development of lifelong and community service skills through programs associated with Memorial Family of Services.


Currently, Raegan has a cumulative GPA of 3.958 and is the co-captain of the East Valley girls’ basketball team. In addition to academics and athletics, Raegan is the treasurer for our YouthWorks program and oversees the financials relating to fundraising. For the past three years, Raegan has been actively involved in Teens Against Tobacco Use and Georgetown University’s Pre-Med Immersion Program. She also mentors children with special health care needs during sporting and holiday events which allow them to participate in the activities.

Raegan is a well-rounded student and cares deeply for her community.  Raegan would like the money to go to Cottage in the Meadow’s charity fund that allows patients who have limited financial resources to stay at the Cottage.  Raegan has been accepted to Gonzaga and University of Oregon to name a few.  Without a doubt, her future is bright! Thank you Raegan!


Yakima facility offers end of life comfort for Hospice patients

By Julia Hart – Daily Sun News

Carol Louden of Yakima became aware of a need for a quality hospice care facility when her son-in-law was suffering from a terminal disease.

The need to have a place where caregivers can feel comfortable giving over the care of their family members for a few days led her to volunteer to be a member of the Yakima Memorial Foundation’s drive to create Cottage in the Meadow, a full-care hospice facility for individuals facing terminal diseases.

Two years ago Cottage in the Meadow opened with 12 beds for hospice patients, Louden told the members of the Nouvella Club, which met yesterday (Thursday) at Sunnyside’s Snipes Mountain Brewery and Restaurant.

The facility, located on Tieton Drive in Yakima, is only one of two such facilities in the Central Washington, said Dottie Hildebrand, development coordinator for the facility program.

It currently has contracts with hospice agencies in Yakima and Kittitas counties. The Lower Valley’s Heartlinks program is one of the agencies with a contract with the Cottage, Hildebrand said.

In addition to offering end of life hospice care, the facility’s medical staff is available 24/7 to help individuals manage their medications and to provide respite care for family caregivers.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is hospice?

Hospice is a program of care and support for patients and families who are faced with a terminal illness. Hospice helps terminally ill people live their best lives, as comfortably as possible. The focus is on comfort, not on curing an illness.

Where is hospice?

Hospice is not a place or a location; it’s a healthcare option. The best “place” for hospice is the place that the patient calls “home.” Care can be delivered in private residences, nursing homes, assisted living and retirement communities and in hospitals.

What’s the Cottage in the Meadow?

Cottage in the Meadow is a wonderful, Medicare-approved hospice-care facility that addresses particular needs for the hospice patient. It is not where a hospice patient typically moves to once admitted to hospice (because the best place for hospice is the place the patient calls “home”).

Hospice patients are usually admitted to the Cottage for one of these reasons:

  1. Symptom Management
    The patient’s symptoms can’t be managed well at home and the patient needs to be admitted to this hospice-care facility until symptoms are managed.
  2. Respite
    You can receive respite care if your usual caregiver (such as a family member) needs a rest. You can stay up to 5 days each time you receive respite care.

For more information about Memorial’s Home Care Services please visit yakimahomehealthhospice.org/index.asp or call 574-3600.

Just for women: New guidelines for preventing stroke

For the first time, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association has released stroke prevention guidelines specifically developed for women.

On average, women in the United States have 55,000 more strokes every year than do men. That’s partly because women live longer, and the risk of a stroke increases with age, according to the guidelines. But women also have unique stroke risks.

“If you are a woman, you share many of the same risk factors for stroke with men, but your risks are also influenced by hormones, reproductive health, pregnancy, childbirth and other sex-related factors,” said Cheryl Bushnell, MD, who wrote the guidelines published in the journal Stroke.

Pregnant women, for example, can develop pre-eclampsia, a complication characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. It doubles the risk of a stroke later in life—a risk that can persist up to 30 years after childbirth, according to the guidelines. Taking birth control pills raises stroke risk in women who already have high blood pressure.

Moreover, several of the stroke risk factors that men and women do share either occur more often in women or are especially dangerous for women. These include high blood pressure, migraines with an aura, diabetes, depression and an abnormal heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death for women. In an effort to reduce that number, the guidelines recommend that:

  • Women with a history of high blood pressure before pregnancy should be considered for therapy with low-dose aspirin or calcium supplements, either alone or in combination with each other, to lower the risk of pre-eclampsia.
  • Pre-eclampsia should be recognized as an independent risk factor for stroke later in life.
  • Women should be screened for high blood pressure before taking birth control pills.
  • Women over 75 should be screened for atrial fibrillation.
  • Women who have migraine headaches with auras and who smoke should stop smoking.
  • Pregnant women with moderately high blood pressure (150 to 159 mm Hg systolic or 100 to 109 mm Hg diastolic) may be candidates for blood pressure medication, and those with more severe high blood pressure should be treated with medicine.

You can find out your risk factors for stroke by taking this risk assessment.

Big drop in child deaths from car crashes

Riding in a car got dramatically safer for kids from 2002 through 2011 with a big drop in child passenger deaths. That’s the good news.

The bad news: More than 9,000 children died in traffic accidents during those 10 years, and many of them were not properly buckled up.

“No child should die in a motor vehicle crash because they were not properly buckled up, and yet, sadly, it happens hundreds of times each year in the U.S.,” said Tom Frieden, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which published the findings. “Many of these tragedies are preventable when parents use age- and size-appropriate child restraints every time their child rides in a motor vehicle.”

About the study

The numbers come from the Feb. 4 issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Researchers reviewed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 2002 through 2011 to find out how many children ages 12 and younger died in crashes, as well as how many of those children were secured in safety restraints like seat belts, booster seats and child safety seats.

Some of the most vital numbers:

  • 9,182. The total number of child passengers who died during that time period.
  • 43 percent. The decrease in death rates during those 10 years. Rates fell from 2.2 per 100,000 children to 1.2 per 100,000.
  • 3,308. The estimated number of children from birth to age 4 who lived because they were properly restrained.
  • 1 of every 3. The number of unrestrained children in a crash who died in 2011, the last year of the study.

Pharmacies must ban tobacco from stores, says editorial

It’s long past time for pharmacies to separate themselves from the sale of tobacco products, especially now that many chain pharmacies are offering immunizations and other health care services, according to an editorial in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

The editorial was co-authored by Troyen A. Brennan, MD, who works for CVS Caremark. CVS announced it would be phasing out the sale of tobacco in its stores over the next year.

“This action may not lead many people to stop smoking,” wrote Dr. Brennan and Steven A. Schroeder, MD, of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California, San Francisco. “Smokers will probably simply go elsewhere to buy cigarettes.”

However, they added, continuing to sell tobacco products “would appear to sanction the most unhealthy habit a person can maintain.”

Pharmacies themselves don’t sell tobacco products but are often part of a grocery or other retail store that does sell cigarettes. That puts these stores in the business of promoting health, wrote Drs. Brennan and Schroeder, which is incompatible with tobacco sales.

The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) urged pharmacies to stop selling tobacco products in 2010. It also asked state pharmacy boards to stop issuing and renewing the licenses of pharmacies that didn’t comply, according to the editorial. The APhA’s statement was directed at both independent pharmacies and all retail stores that have a pharmacy.

The American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association also have asked pharmacies to take action.

After CVS announced its decision to cease tobacco sales, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius applauded the move.

“We need an all-hands-on-deck effort to take tobacco products out of the hands of America’s young generation, and to help those who are addicted to quit,” she said. “If we fail to reverse course, 5.6 million American children alive today will die prematurely due to smoking. This is unacceptable.”

“If pharmacies do not make this effort voluntarily, federal or state regulatory action would be appropriate,” the editorial concluded.