Do you know a child who is grieving the loss of a parent or other close loved one?

Do you know a child who is grieving the loss of a parent or other close loved one? Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital is offering a hands-on workshop to help guide children ages 4-17 and their parents or guardians through the grief associated with death. Memorial Chaplain Laurie Oswalt appeared on KIT 1280 on Jan. 27, 2015, to talk more about the upcoming workshop.


The workshop will provide an opportunity for children to express their feelings and thoughts through creative activities and meet others who have experienced a similar loss. While children are participating in activities to assist their recovery, parents and guardians will be involved in their own grief recovery program geared for adults.


Key points about grieving children:

  • Every kid grieves differently. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
  • Can be feelings of anger, sadness, worry, relief, fear or numbness.


How a child or teen grieves varies depending on a number of factors:

  • what social support systems are available – family or friends
  • the circumstances of the death – how, when and where the person died
  • the nature of the relationship with the person who died – harmonious or conflicted
  • the child or teen’s involvement in the dying process
  • previous experiences with death


This workshop is intended to help children and teens work through these feelings and safely share them in a safe environment. Activities include writing, drawing, team-building and art.


This workshop will be held:


Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015

11:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Children’s Village, 3801 Kern Road, Yakima


Lunch will be provided for every family, and parents are encouraged to enjoy lunch with the children before the activities begin. This workshop is provided at no charge to participants.


For more information or to register, contact Denise Mitzel at 577-5062 or


Registrations will be accepted until Friday, Feb. 6.

Optimists may enjoy better heart health

Jan. 27, 2015—Are you a “glass half-full” type of person? That attitude may be good for your heart health, according to a study in Health Behavior and Policy Review.

Researchers found that people with a generally optimistic outlook on life tended to measure better in specific areas of heart health than their gloomier counterparts.

The research

The study involved 5,134 people ages 45 to 84. Participants took surveys to assess their mental health, physical health and levels of optimism.

In addition, researchers looked at several measures of heart health, such as body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diet, physical activity and tobacco use.

Based on the recommendations of the American Heart Association, participants were rated on each measure as poor, intermediate or ideal.

When researchers compared heart health scores and optimism levels, they noted a correlation between increased optimism and higher heart health scores. Compared to the more pessimistic participants, the optimists:

  • Had higher odds of having ideal cardiovascular health
  • Had significantly better blood sugar and cholesterol levels
  • Were more physically active
  • Had lower body mass indexes
  • Were less likely to be smokers

What’s a pessimist to do?

While researchers noted the link between optimism and heart health, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact relationship between them. For instance, earlier studies have shown that optimistic people are more likely to exercise more and have healthier diets and are less likely to smoke—all of which can affect heart health. Or it could be that optimists are better-equipped to face adversity and stress, making them less likely to engage in unhealthy coping behaviors, such as drinking alcohol or smoking.

Whatever the case, if you tend to have a pessimistic view on life, you may want to pause for a moment to take stock of your heart health. Changes in lifestyle, such as eating better and quitting smoking may help protect your heart. Talk with your doctor and find out where you stand—and what you can do to help your heart stay healthy.


Folic acid important for all women who could become pregnant

Jan. 25, 2015—January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reminding women about the importance of folic acid.

Getting enough folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida, a problem that occurs when the spine and skull aren’t completely closed. According to CDC, 50 to 70 percent of neural tube defects could be avoided if all women who could become pregnant took 400 micrograms of folic acid each day, before and during pregnancy.

Taking folic acid is important even for women who don’t plan to become pregnant.

Half of all pregnancies are unplanned, according to CDC. And a woman may not yet know she is pregnant during those early weeks when folic acid is so crucial to the growing baby.

According to CDC, there are 2 easy ways to make sure you get enough folic acid:

  1. Take a daily vitamin that contains 100 percent of the daily value of folic acid (400 micrograms)
  2. Eat a bowl of breakfast cereal each day that has 100 percent of the daily value of folic acid


Advance Directives Five Wishes

Five Wishes is more than a living will. It lets you choose the person you want to make health care decisions for you if you are not able to make them for yourself. It 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.

Memorial Chaplain Laurie Oswalt talked about advance directives and the 5 Wishes during an appearance on KIT 1280 on Jan. 20, 2015.

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.


Trying to lose weight? Do some calorie math

It isn’t easy to lose weight. Let’s acknowledge that right up front.

However, the math behind weight loss is not complicated: You have to use more calories than you take in.

You use—or “burn”—calories through physical activity. You take in calories through eating.

It’s not that difficult to figure how many calories you’re eating every day. You can check the calories-per-serving information on a product’s nutrition label. There are also a multitude of “calorie counter” books available.

Calculating how much physical activity you need to lose a certain number of pounds? Not quite so black-and-white. In fact, it can vary greatly from person to person.

Just to maintain your current weight, you probably need to engage in about 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise every week. You’ll likely need to increase that if you want to drop pounds.

We have a couple of calculators that can help you learn more about your calorie and exercise needs:

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Memorial offers children’s bereavement workshop

Do you know a child who is grieving the death of a parent or other close loved one?

Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital is offering a hands-on workshop for children ages 4 to 17 to help guide children through the death of a loved one. This workshop will provide an opportunity for children to express their feelings and thoughts through creative activities and meet others who have experienced a similar loss. Parents and guardians also will participate in their own grief recovery program geared for adults.

The workshop will be from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 8, at Children’s Village in Yakima.

Lunch will be provided for every family, and parents are encouraged to enjoy lunch with the children before the activities begin. This workshop is provided at no charge to participants.

For more information or to register, call 577-5062.

Smartphones may reduce kids’ healthy sleep

Jan. 20, 2015—A smartphone—or another device with a small screen—in the bedroom can shorten a child’s sleep by as much as half an hour every night, according to a recently published study.

The study found children who slept near their smartphones went to bed later than kids without bedroom phones. Children with bedroom phones also felt significantly more tired during the school week.

Having a smartphone in the bedroom was even more disruptive to sleep than having a TV in the bedroom.

Big screens, little screens and sleep

The study involved 2,048 children who attended public schools in Massachusetts from October through December 2012. Most of the children—1,194—were fourth-graders and around age 9. The remaining 854 were in 7th grade and about age 12.

Slightly more than half of all the children said they kept their smartphone nearby when they slept—such as next to the bed or in the bed. And 75 percent said they slept in a room with a TV.

Researchers asked the children a series of questions about their sleep habits during the previous week, such as: When did you go to bed? When did you wake up? Did you feel rested the next day?

Compared to kids who didn’t sleep near a phone, children who slept near their smartphone slept an average of 21 minutes less every night. In addition, this group went to bed an average of 37 minutes later than children who didn’t sleep near phones.

Children sleeping near smartphones were more likely to feel increasingly unrested during the week than those who didn’t sleep with a phone. TVs weren’t significantly associated with kids feeling tired.

Why would small smartphone screens affect sleep more than big TV screens? One reason may be that TVs don’t beep, ring or play a short tune whenever a message arrives like a smartphone does.

Another possibility from the researchers: Screen light may interfere with the body’s release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Although TVs have a bigger screen, smartphones are held next to the face. The closer the screen light, the greater the interference.

Learn more about the research online in Pediatrics.

The take-home message
Children ages 5 to 12 need about 10 or 11 hours of sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

The NSF recommends designating bedrooms a “no-screen zone,” no matter how big or small the screen may be. To help kids get enough healthy sleep, the NSF also suggests:

  • Limiting caffeinated drinks, especially late in the day.
  • Making sure that a child’s bedroom is sleep-friendly, which means dark, cool and quiet.


Memorial joins the Healthier Hospitals Initiative and signs Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge

YAKIMA – Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital and Memorial Family of Services have joined the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, a national campaign to focus on sustainability in health care and improve the health of communities, reduce environmental impact and decrease overall health care costs through better public health.

Launched in April 2012, the Initiative urges hospitals to commit to improve the health and safety of patients, staff and communities by using free, step-by-step guides to implement up to six challenges that focus on sustainability. Memorial has committed to meet three of the six challenges over the next three years:
• Engage leadership on environmental health and sustainability;
• Serve healthier foods and beverages;
• Leaner energy challenge.

Memorial CEO Russ Myers signed the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge on Tuesday, Jan. 13 – the first hospital in Central Washington to do so – kicking off Memorial’s participation in the Healthier Hospitals Initiative.

“As a health care leader in the Yakima Valley, Memorial must be in tune not only with the health care needs of individual patients, but with the greater needs of our community. We must be a community role model for healthy living, environmental stewardship and fiscal responsibility,” Myers says. “And having clearly defined goals for healthier food, engaged leadership and leaner energy use aligns with our strategic vision: to create healthy communities one person at a time.”

Roughly 75 percent of all health care costs nationally are for the treatment of chronic diseases, according to the Healthier Hospitals Initiative. Nationally, the United States spends an estimated $147 billion to treat obesity alone, another $116 billion to treat diabetes, and hundreds of billions to treat cardiovascular disease and cancer. By addressing the root causes of disease, health care providers and patients together can reduce the burden of chronic disease in their communities.

Yakima County exceeds the Washington state obesity rates, with one in every three adults and one in six children or adolescents identified as obese. Obesity contributes to high rates of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, which are among the leading causes of death in Yakima County.

Memorial has consistently worked to improve access to care and to educate the community about obesity and chronic diseases that are prevalent in our community, including diabetes, offering comprehensive diabetes education and prevention programs and a nutrition and fitness education program for at-risk children and their families, among other programs.


The new Initiative includes changes that enable Memorial to create a healthier workforce, as well as a healthier community, while reducing our carbon footprint and operating more sustainably.

Memorial also will be making significant changes to serve healthier food and beverages, including:
•    Decreasing the amount of meat purchased by 20 percent within a three-year period, subsequently reducing fossil fuel use and modeling healthy eating behaviors;
•    Increasing healthy beverage purchases, with healthy beverage purchases accounting for 80 percent of total beverage purchases over three years, helping to reduce rates of obesity and chronic illness, as well as associated health care costs;
•    Increasing the percentage of local (within 250 miles) food purchased by 20 percent annually.

“So much of what we eat isn’t nutritious anymore. People are busy. They don’t cook healthy meals and they eat a lot of processed foods, which contributes to health problems in our community,” Memorial Community Health Director Bertha Lopez says. “We have a responsibility to set a good example for our community, whether it be nutrition, waste or energy use, because a healthy environment contributes to a healthy population, which builds a healthy economy.”

Memorial has appointed an executive sponsor for the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, and Memorial’s leadership commits to creating an environmental sustainability plan, measures and reports, starting in 2015.

In addition, Memorial has agreed to take on the “Leaner Energy” challenge – specifically, to reduce greenhouse gases from metered energy use by 3 percent from baseline. Initially, Memorial will be looking to determine its baseline for energy use to determine specific areas for improvement, then developing strategies to reduce energy use. These activities will occur over time in the coming months.

In 2016, Memorial will take on the remaining challenges of the Initiative: reduction of waste and increased recycling, use of safer chemicals and purchase of environmentally preferable products.

About Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital and Memorial Family of Services
Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital and Memorial Family of Services employ roughly 2,500 people, making Memorial the largest employer in Central Washington’s Yakima County, with a core purpose to inspire people to thrive. Memorial Hospital is a 226-bed, acute-care, nonprofit community hospital. Memorial Family of Services includes primary care practices and specialty care services, including high-quality cardiac care, a continuum of cancer care, nationally-recognized home health and hospice care, and advanced services for children with special health care needs. Visit Memorial online at or on Facebook (, Twitter ( or Pinterest (

About the Healthier Hospitals Initiative
The Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) is a national campaign to implement a completely new approach to improving environmental health and sustainability in the health care sector. Eleven of the largest, most influential U.S. health systems, comprising over 500 hospitals with more than $20 billion in purchasing power, worked with Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), the Center for Health Design and Practice Greenhealth to create HHI as a guide for hospitals to improve sustainability in six key areas: engaged leadership, healthier foods, leaner energy, less waste, safer chemicals, and smarter purchasing. More information is available at


In kids, too few ZZZs could mean too many lbs

Jan. 11, 2015—Poor sleep habits can do more than leave your little one cranky and bleary-eyed come morning. According to a study, chronic lack of sleep could significantly raise a child’s risk for becoming overweight or obese later in life.

About the study

Researchers collected periodic parent-reported data on sleep habits of 1,899 children from birth through age 6. Parents reported how long their child slept as well as symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), a cluster of sleep-related breathing problems including snoring, sleep apnea and mouth breathing. The children’s body mass indexes were measured at local clinics through age 15.

Lack of sleep (less than 9 hours for school-aged children) and SDB were both likely to increase a child’s risk for becoming overweight or obese by age 15. Children with the worst cases of SDB had double the odds of becoming obese at ages 7, 10, and 15 compared to kids without SDB.

The study reaffirms the importance of healthy sleep habits for young children. Experts have long known that the road to obesity often begins early in life, and sleep may play a crucial role in helping kids maintain a healthy weight.

Learn more about this research online in The Journal of Pediatrics.

The take-home message
As of 2012, more than one-third of U.S. children were overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And for many of them, poor sleep habits may play a part. For healthy development, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends kids ages 5 to 12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night.

To help your child establish healthy sleeping habits, the NSF encourages:

  • Setting an appropriate bedtime for your child, and encouraging him or her to stick with it
  • Keeping your child’s bedroom dark, cool and quiet, with no TV or computer
  • Avoiding caffeine in your child’s diet

Sleep-disordered breathing—such as snoring, sleep apnea or mouth breathing—can also lead to poor sleep. If you think that your child may be experiencing sleep-disordered breathing, talk with his or her pediatrician to learn about available treatments.


Tips for knowing if you have flu…

It’s definitely flu season. Dr. Tanny Davenport of Memorial’s Healthy You Clinic offered tips Jan. 6, 2015 on KIT 1280 for knowing if you or your loved ones have the flu, how to treat it, and whether the illness warrants a trip to the doctor’s office or the hospital Emergency Room.

What are the symptoms of flu?

You may have the flu if you have some or all of these symptoms:

fever – though it’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever

sore throat
runny or stuffy nose
body aches
sometimes diarrhea and vomiting

How should I treat the flu?

The best way to treat flu: stay at home and rest. Avoid close contact with people in your house so you won’t make them sick. Wash your hands frequently and drink plenty of water and other clear liquids to prevent dehydration. Treat fever and cough with medicines you can buy at the store.

When is flu serious enough that I should seek medical attention?

Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care. Generally, if you get sick with flu symptoms, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people to avoid spreading the illness.

Some people are at high risk of serious, flu-related complications. They include young children, people age 65 and older, pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions. If you or someone you love is at high risk, or you start to experience more serious symptoms, contact your primary care provider.

What are some of those symptoms?

For children, it’s a concern when they have fast breathing or trouble breathing, when they are not waking up or interacting, of if they’re so irritable that they do not want to be held.

Other symptoms:

  • bluish skin color
  • not drinking enough fluids, unable to eat
  • flu-like symptoms improve, but then return with fever and worse cough
  • fever with a rash

In adults, it’s a concern when they have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, and flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough.

Do I need to go the emergency room if I am only a little sick?

The emergency room should be used for people who are very sick, not if you are only mildly ill. If you get sick with flu symptoms and are at high risk of flu complications or if your symptoms worsen – such as difficulty breathing and some of the other symptoms we mentioned – then it’s time to seek medical attention.

How long should I stay home if I’m sick?

CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities. Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol®. You should stay home from work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings.

Frequently asked questions:

How do I know if my child needs to go to the doctor or emergency room?

Parents should make some simple notes tracking the child’s condition, and if you think you’re dealing with an emergency, contact your pediatrician or primary care provider.

If I think my child requires medical attention because of the flu, what information should I have for my pediatrician?

Things to look for include your child’s temperature and when the fever began, a detailed list of any medications you have provided, the last time your child had something to eat and drink, how often the child is vomiting or experiencing diarrhea, and the last time the child went to the bathroom or the last wet diaper.

Are there doctors on call to answer questions after regular business hours?

Every medical clinic has someone to answer questions in the middle of the night or on weekends. Please contact your primary care provider to find out how to get in touch with that person for questions.