Monthly Archives: October 2014

Breast Cancer Awareness By: Dr. David Pomerantz

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Breast cancer is still a leading cause of death among women in America, second only to lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 200,000 new cases of breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed among women in the U.S. this year. Although the disease still affects thousands of Americans, death rates for breast cancer have been steadily declining since the late 1980s. This is largely attributed to improvements in treatment options and increased awareness regarding the importance of early detection.

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, the physicians at HealthCare Partners Nevada would like to emphasize the importance of yearly screenings such as breast exams and mammograms to safeguard the health of women throughout Southern Nevada.

According to the National Cancer Institute, a yearly mammogram can help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer among women ages 40 to 74. Although recommendations differ, organizations such as the Mayo Clinic and the American Cancer Society recommend women receive a yearly mammogram beginning at age 40. Screenings are a personal decision, and it is important to consider each patient’s personal situation. Remember to consult your HealthCare Partners provider to discuss your personal risk and the benefits of screening.

If detected and treated early, the five-year relative survival rate for women diagnosed with stage two breast cancer is 93 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. This rate dramatically decreases to 72 percent for women who are diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Statistics such as these underscore the importance of regular screenings and early detection.
Aside from yearly mammograms, HealthCare Partners encourages patients to perform self-exams at least once a month and undergo regular clinical breast exams to find lumps and detect any changes in their breasts.

Many factors affect a patient’s risk for breast cancer. According to the National Institutes of Health, certain factors such as obesity have been linked with an increased risk of breast cancer, particularly in postmenopausal women. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, maintaining a regular exercise regimen and eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, poultry and fish can greatly decrease a woman’s likelihood of getting breast cancer.

There are valuable resources available right here in Southern Nevada for patients impacted by breast cancer. Our oncology team at HealthCare Partners specializes in a wide range of cancer care therapies including medical oncology, cancer chemotherapy and radiation therapy, utilizing the most advanced treatments and technologies. To find a HealthCare Partners oncologist or for more information about how to schedule a mammogram, visit www.hcpnv.com.

Senior Connections: The Benefits of Medicare Advantage Dr. Amir Bacchus

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This is a crucial time for seniors to make a health care decision that could save them money. During the Medicare open enrollment period, Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, Nevada’s senior citizens will assess their health care needs and determine whether a Medicare Advantage plan is right for them.

As a physician and chief medical officer of HealthCare Partners Medical Group, I have a great deal of knowledge and experience related to Medicare Advantage plans. Those plans can be an excellent choice for seniors who do not have private supplemental insurance. Medicare Advantage plans typically provide prescription drug coverage, known as Part D, and eliminate the need to purchase a Medigap policy. The premiums also tend to be less expensive than original Medicare, Part D (prescription drug coverage) and Medigap separately.

Medicare Advantage plans offer improved access to coordinated care and protection against high out-of-pocket expenses. It’s also an alternative to what is known as Medicare Fee-For-Service for “original Medicare.” For those living with a chronic medical condition, some Medicare Advantage plans offer personalized, telephone care management, health coaching, education and support from registered nurses and other health professionals. Flu and pneumonia shots are also covered in most Medicare Advantage plans.

When comparing Medicare Advantage plans, it is essential to consider the costs, benefits and health care provider choices in each plan. You should take time to learn about “in-network” providers associated with the health insurance plan. It is important to know whether the providers have a reputation for offering high-quality, coordinated care and if they have a large enough network to meet your health care needs. Finally, you should also consider access to the primary care physicians, specialists and other providers you use on a regular basis under each plan. Consistency of care has numerous benefits, especially for those who feel comfortable with their current health care providers.

When considering your coverage options this fall, pick the plan that works best for you. It’s a big decision, and I hope seniors explore their options during this year’s enrollment period.

Dr. Amir Bacchus is the chief medical officer and co-founder of HealthCare Partners Medical Group. Bacchus received his M.D. from Wayne State University School of Medicine in 1993 and is a diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine.

Help Yourself While Helping Others! Reap the Many Benefits of Volunteerism By Shari Diebold, Volunteer Coordinator, Las Vegas Solari Hospice Care

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Becoming a hospice volunteer is a great way to spread joy and cheer to patients and their family caregivers, but did you know that volunteering also yields benefits for you? Selflessly giving back to others in need in your community can, in turn, boost your own health, career, social life and mental outlook. Consider the following rewards:

A Wellness Formula: According to a study by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a strong relationship exists between volunteering and health. Specifically, researchers found that those who volunteered have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer. Volunteering has also been shown to alleviate symptoms of chronic pain and heart disease.

Jumpstart Job Skills: In a 2011 article “Why Volunteering is Good for Your Career,” author Nicole Williams points out that volunteering allows for opportunities to showcase talents and experiences, demonstrate passion and commitment and build meaningful relationships, connections and referrals. She further references research from LinkedIn that shows, one of every five hiring managers in the United States agrees that they have hired a candidate because of volunteer work experience.

Shot of Self Esteem: Helping others brings a sense of accomplishment. As you master new skills and navigate difficult conversations, you naturally bolster your self confidence and develop a sense of pride and satisfaction. Volunteering can be a fun and rewarding way to escape from your day-to-day routine. Hospice volunteers often tell us that in the end, they feel they get more than they give.

Make New Friends: If you are new to an area or would like to enlarge your social circle, volunteering can be a wonderful way to meet new people who share your interests. In addition, volunteering strengthens ties to your local community and broadens your support network.

A Family Affair: Children pay more attention to what you do than what you say. What better way to connect with your kids than to work alongside them as a volunteer? High school and college students are welcome to join the ranks of hospice volunteers. You can even bring along your certified pet therapy dog.

The Happiness Effect: Researchers at the London School of Economics have discovered that the more people volunteer, the happier they are. In comparison to people who never volunteer, the odds of being “very happy” were seven percent higher among those who volunteered monthly and 12 percent higher among people who volunteered every two to four weeks. Among weekly volunteers, 16 percent said they felt “very happy.”

At Las Vegas Solari Hospice Care, volunteers come from all walks of life and across the greater Las Vegas area. Every effort is made to match volunteers with patients based on geographic proximity and on their mutual needs and interests. Schedules are flexible. No previous experience is necessary and all training is free.

To learn more about the many hospice volunteer opportunities available at Las Vegas Solari Hospice Care, call 702-870-0000 or e-mail SDiebold@solarihospicelv.com.