Cured of Hep C

Angel Perez and Macayla Smith work out at the gym. They try to eat a low-carb diet. They have two cars, a nice apartment and enjoy spending their weekends with the kids.

Just another typical Yakima Valley family, right? Not even close.

“It’s so awesome getting up and not chasing the dragon,” says Angel.

The dragon was heroin.

“We were very active in the drug scene,” Angel says. “I was in gangs. I’ve been in prison twice. Macayla and I were on the streets; We were homeless. We used everything from heroin to methamphetamines to alcohol, but heroin was our drug of choice.”

That was almost three years ago, when the couple began their long journey to get off the streets and out of addiction.

“We’d hit rock bottom; I was done,” Angel says. “Ever since they took my little boy it kinda woke me up and opened my eyes. I told Macayla, ‘No, the streets ain’t nothing for us. Our son is our little angel, and we’re going to get him back.”

Angel and Macayla got themselves into out-patient treatment; they go to classes, see counselors. As Angel says, “Whatever it takes, we did it and we did it as a couple. We set some goals and . . .”

“We met them one by one,” says Macayla, finishing Angel’s sentence, holding his hand.

One of those goals included dealing with Hepatitis C. Angel long knew he had Hep C, but “I was kinda scared, and when you’re using you don’t care.”

His doctor referred him to Virginia Mason Memorial’s Liver Clinic, and now the couple can add being Hep C free to their list of accomplishments.

“In the beginning it was hard,” says Macayla of their transformation from homelessness and addiction to being the parents of three with playdates and jobs.

How did they do it? “Well, we fell in love, that’s for sure!” she says, laughing. “We’ve had each other’s backs ever since.”

“We go to Planet Fitness,” says Angel. “I go five days a week. It gets your body back. I feel so good to be getting my health back, you know what I mean? Now, instead of smoking, I get ready for the gym.

“We did an awesome thing. We showed them. We tell other people, you got this, you can do this, too. We got rid of our old friends, but whenever they see us they say ‘Good job!’ ”

Improving your relationship with food…

Are you struggling with healthy eating? Do you find that you are an emotional eater?

Virginia Mason Memorial will be offering a night with licensed expert on intuitive eating. You’ll learn ways to create a healthy relationship with food and with yourself.

Chelsea Buffum, MS, LMHC works with people who want to improve their relationship with food and their bodies.

Space is limited. Please call to register at 509-249-5317. Cost is $5.

May 22, 2018
6-8pm
Memorial’s Education Center, 2506 West Nob Hill Blvd.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day: Saturday, April 28

Properly dispose of old medications in Yakima
on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day: Saturday, April 28

YAKIMA – There often is confusion about whether old or unused medications should be thrown out in the trash, put down the sink, etc.  But on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, Saturday, April 28, anyone with expired or unused medications is invited to bring them to Memorial Cornerstone Medicine, 4003 Creekside Loop, so they can be properly discarded.

The medication take-back program, sponsored locally by Virginia Mason Memorial and the Yakima Police Department, is part of a national initiative to provide a venue for safe disposal of unneeded medications. This effort prevents prescription drugs from entering the local water supplies and landfills.

The drug take-back event will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot at Cornerstone.

For more information on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day go to: https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html

 

Virginia Mason Memorial recognized as among most sustainable health care facilities in the country with four awards

Virginia Mason Memorial recognized as among most sustainable health care facilities in the country with four awards

Practice Greenhealth Emerald Award honors Virginia Mason Memorial for its superior sustainability programs

(YAKIMA, WA) – In recognition for outstanding accomplishments in sustainability, Virginia Mason Memorial has received four awards this year from Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care. The awards are given each year to honor environmental achievements in the health care sector.

The Greenhealth Emerald Award is presented to hospitals that demonstrate superior sustainability programs. The award recognizes Virginia Mason Memorial’s ongoing commitment to improving its environmental performance and maintaining a top standard of excellence in sustainability.

The Circles of Excellence Award, given to Virginia Mason Memorial for Healthy Food in Health Care, honors hospitals for outstanding performance in one specific area, such as reducing use of toxic chemicals or sourcing food sustainably. These awards highlight hospitals that are driving innovation in sustainability. There can be up to 10 designees selected for each Circle of Excellence category.

The Healthy Food category award highlights leaders in sustainable food services, including meat and sugar-sweetened beverage reduction, healthier meat procurement, local sourcing, food waste prevention and management. Top hospitals have written policies and an educational strategy that addresses the food system as a critical component in an overall sustainability plan.

The Greening the Operating Room Recognition Award acknowledges hospital sustainability programs that drive environmental stewardship within the surgical suite.
The Making Medicine Mercury-Free Award, new for Virginia Mason Memorial this year, is
given to health-care facilities that have virtually eliminated mercury and have policies in place to prevent it from re-entering the facility. Mercury is one of the most hazardous chemicals and is associated with many health risks.

“We are proud to be named one of the top 10 hospitals in the country for our work toward providing healthy food for our patients, employees and visitors. We will continue to make sustainability a top priority everywhere we can, from eliminating mercury from our facilities to greening our operating rooms and more,” said CEO Russ Myers.

“We embarked on our environmental sustainability journey four years ago, and I’m really proud of our staff and leadership,” said Kate Gottlieb, Sustainability Program coordinator. “I can’t wait to see how our work impacts Yakima and the health of our community.”

Virginia Mason Memorial strives to serve food to patients, visitors and staff that is local, organic and sustainable whenever possible. Memorial buys meat and marine-certified seafood that are free of antibiotics and hormones when possible. In the past three years, Virginia Mason Memorial’s garden, on the hospital campus, has provided 12,000 pounds of produce that was used in the cafeteria and served to patients.

In addition, Virginia Mason Memorial collected over 250 tons of recycling on the hospital’s main campus in 2017. Energy use was reduced 3.2 percent.

In 2017, the Memorial OR diverted 16,498 pounds of medical waste from landfills  through reduction and reprocessing devices with Stryker’s Sustainability Solutions. Also, a sock recycling program, in which lightly used socks are washed and donated to the Union Gospel Mission, was also started.

The awards will be presented at the Practice Greenhealth Environmental Excellence Awards Gala on May 9 in San Diego at the CleanMed Conference & Exhibition.

For more about sustainability efforts at Virginia Mason Memorial go to https://www.yakimamemorial.org/sustainability.asp.

 

About Virginia Mason Memorial

Part of the Virginia Mason Health System, Virginia Mason Memorial is a 226-bed, acute-care, nonprofit, community hospital serving Central Washington’s Yakima Valley. Virginia Mason Memorial includes primary care practices and specialty care services including high-quality cardiac care; cancer care through North Star Lodge; breast health at `Ohana Mammography Center; acute hospice and respite care at Cottage in the Meadow, winner of the Circle of Life Award from the American Hospital Association for innovative palliative and end-of-life care; pain management at Water’s Edge; an advanced NICU unit, the only place in Central Washington that offers specialty care for at-risk infants; advanced services for children with special health care needs at Children’s Village; and The Memorial Foundation, a separate 501c(3) organization that raises funds for innovative health care programs in the Yakima Valley.

 

 

About Practice Greenhealth

Practice Greenhealth is the nation’s leading health care community dedicated to transforming health care worldwide so that it reduces its environmental footprint, becomes a community anchor for sustainability and a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice. To learn more about Practice Greenhealth visit www.practicegreenhealth.org.

 

 

 

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“David knew something was horribly wrong. His daughter called 911”

David Jones is an area manager for Goodwill, and sometimes his job requires that he drive to Tacoma for meetings. One Sunday, about four years ago, he did just that, heading out from his home in Yakima early, so he could be ready to go early Monday morning.

On the drive west, however, David didn’t feel well. “I thought it was indigestion, heartburn. And I was a little nauseous,” he says.

But David, 59, had a job to do. He attended the meeting and drove himself back to Yakima afterward. By this time, though, David was quite ill. “When I got home I was vomiting. I was white as a sheet, and I was in a cold sweat.”

David knew something was horribly wrong. His daughter called 911, but she couldn’t get through. All the circuits from her cell network provider were busy. David and his daughter began to panic.  “We could have used my phone, but we weren’t thinking,” he says. “I drove myself in. I wouldn’t even let my daughter do it. But, I have to say, if you want service in the Emergency Department, go in there clutching your chest,” he says, finding a sliver of humor in the most frightening day of his life.

The result? Three days in the hospital. Two stents (installed by Dr. Thomas McLaughlin of the Yakima Heart Center). 99 percent blockage in the main artery. David had a heart attack.

“It really changes your life,” he says quietly over a cup of coffee. “Before this I used to think, how do I get more money in my 401K? How do I get a bigger boat? And afterward I thought, when was the last time I told my wife I love her?

“It changed my whole perspective.”

David’s two daughters and a Virginia Mason Memorial nurse, who was now off-duty, stayed with David until his wife, Lori, could get to the hospital.

“The key takeaway for me was life-changing,” he says.

David, a longtime heavy smoker, immediately quit cigarettes. It was also discovered that he was prediabetic. But, he said to himself, “that’s one pill I’m not going to take.” David and Lori, in support, started attending Virginia Mason Memorial’s year-long Diabetes Prevention Program. They learned how to calculate the fat grams, and to incorporate more fruit, vegetables and yogurt into their diet.

They got hooked on the program, and then became competitive in their quest for good health.

“We didn’t start exercising right away, but then we started going to the YMCA three or four times a week, working out on the treadmill, track and with weights. I lost 35 pounds, and my wife lost over 40!

“We swear by the Diabetes Prevention Program.

“What happened to me was a gift, because I had the classic widow-maker. If you’re anybody — man, woman — and you have symptoms, go to the Emergency Department.

“I had no pain in my arm, but it felt like a cramp in my chest. The doctor asked me when the pain started, and I told him, “About two weeks into Mariners season.” Then I was out, in full cardiac arrest. We joked that those would have been my final words.

“But that was four years ago.”

Nash stands 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed 280 pounds. He knew he was overweight, but he still didn’t think he could have a heart attack.

Nash Mazza was used to working long days jam-packed with a hefty load of stress. But this one day, Feb. 26, 2016, (he’ll never forget it) Nash felt a sharp pain in his left arm. Tightness and pain in his chest. Nash, 41 years old, was having a heart attack.

“At my age, you don’t think about that,” he said.

Fortunately, as the director of environmental services for Virginia Mason Memorial hospital, he didn’t have far to go for help. Staff called a Code Blue and, using his office chair as an ambulance, wheeled him directly from his office into the Emergency Department.

Nash made it. However, doctors discovered he was suffering from severe blockage in his coronary arteries. On March 3 he had open-heart surgery, a quintuple bypass.

Nash got the message. “If I had this at home, I probably would have died,” he says.

Then he made a plan. Almost 12 months later he’d lost 70 pounds and became that guy who begins his days with an hour of cardio, heads to the gym after work and plans healthy menus for every meal.

Nash’s cardiologist, Dr. Dave Krueger of the Yakima Heart Center, is passionate about drilling home his message of a healthy lifestyle as the best way to ward off heart health issues. “I like preventing sudden death,” he says.

Major cardiovascular diseases – heart disease and stroke – are the leading cause of death in Yakima County and throughout the United States. High cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure are the three leading factors.

“We exercise less than we think. We eat more than we think,” says Krueger. “But you really do need to change your life. That means 45 minutes of exercise every day, eating a healthy diet – and absolutely no smoking. I don’t care if you’re 18 or 80! If you exercise every day you’ll feel better, live longer and happier, and, you’ll be more aware of how you feel.”

Of the 1,000 people who die suddenly in America of cardiovascular disease each day, half had warning signs. Nash had a big one in autumn 2015. He went to get a new prescription for his glasses and the exam showed eye trauma. “Hardening of the arteries,” says Krueger. “The back of your eye has small arteries; you can actually see the hardening.”

Mazza knew he should go see his doctor. But he was busy. He had a staff of 90 and hardly enough time to eat. When he did, it was fast food and Coke Cola. He also knew about his family history: A grandmother and two uncles died of heart attacks. His birth mother has diabetes.

Nash stands 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed 280 pounds. He knew he was overweight, but he still didn’t think he could have a heart attack. But the signs were there. The day before, Nash woke up with a heartburn kind of feeling. The day it happened, he felt “weird.”

But that’s all behind him now, and Nash’s cardiologist, Dr. Krueger, would like everyone to know that even with inherited traits for heart disease, “You can change your life. A healthy lifestyle is the best medicine.”

“We can talk while I ride the exercise bike,” he says into the phone. “I do at least 30 minutes a day.”

It just didn’t make sense to Roger Yockey. How could he be so overweight when the people that he and his wife were meeting on volunteer missions around the world had so very little?

“Marilyn and I have done a lot of volunteer work in Central America, Portugal, the Caribbean, and the United States. We usually work with children who may have been abandoned or have special needs that cannot be met by families because they are very poor,” says Roger.

“I have photographs next to where I eat and next to where I watch TV of a child who has this look on his face like ‘What am I going to eat? Where am I going to sleep? Where am I going to live?’ I tell myself, ‘Roger, why should you be overweight, grossly so, when so many people are starving, especially children?”

Roger’s a little bit out of breath right about now. “We can talk while I ride the exercise bike,” he says into the phone. “I do at least 30 minutes a day.”

Roger Yockey, and his wife, Marilyn, both 78, moved to Yakima from Seattle when they retired. They wanted to be closer to the grandkids. Roger was a journalist and a journalism teacher at Seattle University. He also worked in communications for labor unions and in community organizing. Roger also ran a micro loan program for women, people of color and displaced workers.

As the Yockeys grew older, their waistlines grew larger. Roger went to the doctor. “Thanks to a wonderful physician at Virginia Mason Memorial, Dr. Silvia Labes (a primary care provider at Memorial Cornerstone Medicine) she saw indications that I was pre-diabetic and recommended the program.”

Roger is referring to Memorial’s Diabetes Prevention Program, a year-long series that teaches participants how to incorporate a healthy diet and exercise into their lives. The result is . . . well, as Roger says, “when I first went in I was what they call ‘morbidly obese.’ I weighed in at 295 pounds and I’m 5-feet, 9- inches tall.

“But somewhere along the way through the program I was told not only was I not diabetic, I was not even pre-diabetic. I weigh now about what I did when I was married and in the Marine Corps Reserve, 192. I went from a size 52 waist to a 40.”

For Roger, having his wife as his partner in the program made all the difference. “The two important things for us: It really helps if you have a partner. Marilyn and I tracked what we ate with a focus on calories and fat. That’s our guide. And the group sessions, you’re talking to other people and they’re telling you what their experiences have been. And then you weigh in.

Marilyn, who’s lost about 65 pounds, walks at least 30 minutes a day, rides the bike for 30 and goes to aerobics class twice each week.

The Yockeys, who have shed about 168 pounds between them, are Diabetes Prevention Program graduates now. But they still show up to weigh in, because, like with everything, there are always challenges.  “Eating out is a problem,” says Roger. “Red Robin and Red Lobster are great for working with you on dietary restrictions. The wonderful thing about the Café at Virginia Mason Memorial is they list the calories in the entrees, and I think the food there is just delicious.”

Temptation is everywhere. But the Yockeys are knowledgeable and prepared. “I love coffee and a cookie with it,” says Roger. “So I pick out a cookie that’s pretty low in fat and calories, and I just eat one.

“Last July we went to Guatemala for a week, and we’re already investigating where we’re going this year. Thanks to Marilyn, a cane and God, I make it. I just wish I had done this years ago.”

“All of my doctors said I was overweight, but when I requested my medical records it said, “obese.

MaryKathleen Carpenter did not like going to the doctor. A lot. “All of my life I’ve hated going. My back and my knee go out occasionally, and I have a bad hip. But no matter what problem I had – my knee, whatever – the doctor would say it was because of my weight. They wouldn’t even consider anything else.”

MaryKathleen felt dismissed. And judged. But her health problems persisted, and her family convinced her to try again. “They said, if you don’t go to the doctor you won’t ever find out.”

So, reluctantly, she went. And, boy, was it an eye-opener. “All of my doctors said I was overweight, but when I requested my medical records it said, “obese.

“It said ‘obese.’ “

And that was it for MaryKathleen, 5-feet-11-inches tall and 278 pounds. One of her doctors had recommended Virginia Mason Memorial’s Diabetes Prevention Program, and she went.

“Everybody always said, ‘You’re big.’ That’s just how it was,” she says. “I was 5-11 in fourth grade.

“I’ve tried diets all my life. When I started the program I thought, ‘I don’t know if I can do this the rest of my life. Now I can’t see me not doing it. I promised myself when I started that I wasn’t going to make any changes to my eating habits that I did not want to.”

There’s a bag of broccoli on her desk and a phone in her hand; it’s open to the MyFitnessPal app. “Now I focus on looking at the nutrients I need: potassium, proteins, fiber, calcium and iron. That broccoli, it’s full of potassium and fiber.

“In the program, you need to increase activity by 50 minutes a week, and you’ve got to track fat and calories. I absolutely adore tracking: I did it for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day. I gives me the control I need.”

Also on New Year’s Eve, MaryKathleen, age 46, and her husband went out to welcome in 2018. MaryKathleen, 90 pounds lighter, wore her freshman high school homecoming dress, a form-fitting creamy white number with sequins.

MaryKathleen, however, does not adore physical fitness. That part she’s doing her way. “I don’t care how much you yell at me, I don’t care how much you tell me, I’m not joining a gym. What I do is walk during my breaks and at lunch. And I park in the farthest spot away in parking lots.”

As MaryKathleen closes out her year-long journey through Virginia Mason Memorial’s Diabetes Prevention Program she feels empowered and in charge. “The program gave me direction. It’s given me a method. And I’m not the only one. It gives you other people to share with.

“There aren’t a lot of things I take time away from my family to do for myself. This taught me that if I want to do something, I can do it. I now have the knowledge and power to make a knowing decision.”

 

 

 

“Cured of Hep C after 30 years”

Lisa Jaeger was 26 years old when she found out she was infected with Hepatitis C. She got it from her husband in the late 1980s.

Because there was no cure at the time, Lisa Jaeger lived with the deadly virus for the next 30 years. “I believe it was through drug activity. Billy had gotten in with some people he shouldn’t have,” she says.

Lisa, now 56, knew Billy had Hep C, “but, you know, that was back in the old-school days. Back then you didn’t worry about it. You didn’t know it was going come back and attack you later.”

Hep C is called “the silent killer” because people infected back then might only be showing symptoms now — most often cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hepatitis C was not even discovered until 1989. And that makes people born between 1945 and 1965, the baby boom generation, most susceptible to the disease. Before Hep C, sterilization standards were not what they are today, and donated blood wasn’t screened for the virus until 1992.

Although they had been long divorced, Lisa and Billy remained close — right up until he died of liver cancer about five years ago. “I sat with him and I watched him knowing he had cancer and he was dying,” says Lisa. “I sat with Billy until the day he died.

“Of course, I thought that was my path, too. Of course, I thought my liver would explode. I knew people who had Hepatitis C and they died. Nine years ago a friend of mine died. She said, ‘I so want to live, but my body’s shutting down on me.’

“I’ve seen a lot of people pass and I thought, wow, when is my time coming?”

But that was then. Lisa Jaeger today is cured — thanks to the Liver Clinic at Virginia Mason Memorial, Tanda Ferguson, the nurse practitioner who runs the clinic, and to the drug Harvoni. No longer does the Hep C virus course through her bloodstream.

“Now my whole body is coming together,” says Lisa, a smile of relief spreading across her face. She starts to cry, then stops. “I am blessed. When I went to see Tanda I had tried so many things that didn’t work, I didn’t think she could help me. But Tanda said, ‘No, we got it. I’m not giving up on you.

“When you have Hepatitis C you can’t give blood; you have pains in your stomach; it leads to cancer. Still, to this day I go in every six months to see Tanda because of all the medications I’ve taken over the years. We’re always watching for cancers. She’ll have me for the rest of my life.

“Being cured gives me strength to do things I couldn’t before. Now I can go out and help people, which makes me feel real good. There’s a battle with everything all your life. We all have to worry about what we end up with at the end.”

But for Lisa Jaeger, mother of two and grandmother of four, it will not be Hepatitis C.