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Raising Awareness During Birth Defects Prevention Month

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a baby is born with a major birth defect every 4 ½ minutes in the United States.

It’s the leading cause of infant mortality in the first year of life, and babies with birth defects also have increased chances of long-term health issues and illnesses. That’s why we’re shining a light on this important issue by supporting National Birth Defects Prevention Month.

Whether you’re expecting or thinking of having children one day, here are some of the most important things you can do before and during pregnancy to help prevent birth defects.

Get Enough Folic Acid
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that pregnant women or those who are thinking of getting pregnant should consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of synthetic folic acid in addition to the folic acid found naturally in foods. Folic acid is found in foods like cooked beans, peas, peanuts, oranges, dark green vegetables, fortified cereals and more. Your doctor may recommend additional supplements as well.

Getting enough folic acid during pregnancy can reduce the chances of one type of serious birth defect by up to 70%, but it’s just one of the many vitamins and minerals you’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough of before and during pregnancy.

Avoid Smoking, Drinking, Drugs and Dangerous Activities
This may seem like a no-brainer, but women who smoke, drink or do illegal drugs during pregnancy put their children at high risk for serious birth defects. Avoiding hot tubs, saunas and X-rays during pregnancy are lesser-known points of emphasis for pregnant women, however. Learn more about additional pregnancy dangers in our Online Health Library.

Reach a Healthy Weight
Women with obesity before pregnancy are at a higher risk for complications during pregnancy. In addition, women with poorly managed diabetes also put themselves and their pregnancies at risk. If you’re overweight or obese, you should talk to your doctor about ways you can reach a healthy weight before you get pregnant.

Work with Your Health Care Provider
Your obstetrician will be able to guide you through your pregnancy. They will be able to help you with everything from determining which medicines and vaccines are safe to helping you set a healthy diet or supplement plan.

If you’re an expecting mother or plan on having kids one day, these are just some of the steps you can take to increase your chances of having a healthy baby. To learn more about the many topics surrounding pregnancy, be sure to check out our Pregnancy Resource Center in our Online Health Library.

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January is Cervical Health Awareness Month

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According to estimates from the American Cancer Society, 2016 saw nearly 13,000 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in the United States alone.

It happens fast, because women with early cervical cancers rarely show symptoms before the cancer becomes invasive and grows into nearby tissues. But thanks to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC) and the United States Congress, the month of January has been designated as Cervical Health Awareness Month to shine a light on issues related to cervical cancer, human papilloma virus (HPV) and the importance of early detection.

Risk Factors of Cervical Cancer
The most important risk factor for cervical cancer is infection by HPV, which is a group of more than 150 related viruses. The virus can be spread from one person to another during skin-to-skin contact, most often by sexual contact.

Cervical cancer has also been linked to smoking, poor diet, certain sexually transmitted diseases and being overweight. As a result, the best ways to reduce your risks of developing cervical cancer are to live at a healthy weight, not smoke, practice safe sex and eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Prevention
Although symptoms and warning signs for early cervical cancer are rare, screening for pre-cancers before they turn into invasive cancers has proven effective in detecting the disease. Through the Pap test (also known as a Pap smear) and the HPV test, cervical cancer can be found and treated before it becomes life threatening. Additionally, vaccines are available for females ages 9 to 26 years to help prevent infection of HPV-16 and HPV-18, the HPV strains responsible for about 70% of all cervical cancers.

Treatment
While there’s no treatment for HPV, most genital HPV infections go away with the help of a person’s immune system within two years. Treatment for cervical cancer varies depending on which stage the cancer has reached. Common treatments for cervical cancer include:

Should you be diagnosed, take charge of your own health and arm yourself with knowledge about your diagnosis. You’ll be better prepared to work together with your cancer care team to develop the plan of action that is right for you.

Learn more about Cervical Cancer, HPV disease and Cervical Health Awareness Month by visiting our Online Health Library or the NCCC website. To schedule a preventative screening, checkup or appointment with a women’s health expert, contact University of Maryland Community Medical Group – Women’s Health Practices today.

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Why You Should Donate Blood During National Blood Donor Month

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Do you have “save a life” or “help my community” on your list of New Year’s resolutions? We’ve got the perfect way for you to accomplish both.

According to the American Red Cross, 44,000 blood donations are needed every day to meet the needs of those who require blood transfusions. But because of snowy winter weather and hectic post-holiday schedules, January is one of the most challenging months for blood donations.

Since 1970, National Blood Donor Month has been observed every January. It pays tribute to the nearly 11 million people who give blood each year, as well as encourages others to give the gift of life by donating blood when it’s needed most.

If you’re eligible to donate, there’s no better time of the year to make your contribution. But whether you’re able to donate or not, you can always do your part by encouraging eligible friends and family to donate.

You don’t have to go far to donate, either. Join us on Monday, January 23, from 1pm to 6:30pm at the American Legion Post 82, located right here in La Plata, for a blood drive that’s jointly sponsored by the American Legion and UM Charles Regional Medical Center.

So whether you’re doing it to fulfill a resolution, or you just want to be someone’s hero, visit this site to choose your donation time today.

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Celebrate the Work and Mission of the CRMC Foundation at the Celebration Gala

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Our annual black-tie fundraiser is just weeks away, and you’re invited to take part in all the fun. Join us in Issue, Maryland, on Saturday, March 11, from 8pm to midnight, at Swan Point Yacht and Country Club for our highly anticipated Celebration Gala.

Throughout this unforgettable evening, you’ll be treated to an exquisite array of hors d’oeuvres, delectable desserts, an open bar and the music of one of the area’s top dance bands, Free Spirit. And with three levels of reservations available, we invite you to choose the experience that suits you best.

VIP Reservations (Limited quantities remain)
6pm admittance | $175 per person
Take part in an exclusive seated dinner with a chef-inspired menu plus open bar before enjoying all of the Gala festivities.

Gala Reservations
8pm admittance | $125 per person
Enjoy gourmet cuisine stations, open bar, live band, dancing and more until midnight.

Late Night Reservations
9:30pm admittance | $75 per person
Join us a little bit later in the evening for live music and dancing, refreshments and cocktails.

All reservations even include complimentary shuttle to and from the event (drop-off location in La Plata). Purchase your tickets online or by calling 301.609.4132 today before prices increase on February 17!

Proceeds from the event will support vital technology upgrades and enhancements for our Emergency Department to help us continue delivering state-of-the-art, accessible care to our community.

In addition to celebrating the continued work of the Charles Regional Medical Center Foundation, this year’s event will honor the late Health Care Champion Vernon C. Monday Jr., who served as EMS deputy chief for the Waldorf Volunteer Fire Department for more than two decades.

You can even get your business involved in this great event, too. Sponsorships provide a variety of benefits, including complimentary reservations and exclusive promotional opportunities. A handful of sponsorship levels are still available, so learn more about becoming an official Celebration Gala sponsor today.

We look forward to celebrating with you in March!

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Make 2017 the Best Year Ever with These 8 Resolutions

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Say goodbye to 2016 and say hello to a happier, healthier new year. These eight health and fitness resolutions are key to both short- and long-term health goals, and we’ve made it easy by providing tips and motivation for each one.

Resolution 1: Get Moving

Whether you’re starting a full-blown exercise program or just committing to walk more often, deciding to start a fitness program and add more movement to your life is the most important step. Be realistic about your goals to prevent getting discouraged, and stick to your plan by following some basic tips. And don’t forget to warm up and stretch before working out — nothing derails a resolution like getting hurt!

Resolution 2: Eat Healthy

There’s no question that eating healthy around the holidays is tough. But even if your holiday eating was overindulgent, it’s never too late to start eating well. Focus on long-term goals of overall health and fitness by making small changes in your diet rather than extreme, short-term adjustments. Find ways to keep your diet interesting and tasty with fun, healthy recipes. And no matter what, don’t get discouraged!

And if you have diabetes, we’re here to help you make 2017 a year of healthy food habits. Our Center for Diabetes Education, located right here at the hospital, can work with you to develop a healthy eating plan and more.

Resolution 3: Quit Smoking

2017 could be the year you call it quits for good. To be successful, you’ll have to attack the physical and mental addiction to tobacco, which is often done through a combination of medicine, habit changes and emotional support. Build a “Quit Plan,” use one of Charles County’s free Smoking Cessation Courses — do whatever it takes to set yourself up for long-term success and long-term health.

Resolution 4: Stress Less

Excessive stress affects much more than just your emotional well-being. In fact, stress can be the cause of a number of disorders and even puts you at risk for developing other illnesses and physical ailments. Learning and practicing some basic mind-clearing and relaxation practices can lower your stress and improve your health.

Resolution 5: Laugh More

Laughter goes hand-in-hand with relieving stress. Laughter is one of the most effective ways to stimulate organs and strengthen your immune system — and even burn a few calories in the process! Surround yourself with things that make you chuckle and people who make you smile in the new year, and experience the many benefits of laughter.

Resolution 6: Get Screened

The easiest way to improve long-term health is to receive regular wellness exams. Annual health screenings may help detect problems before they become serious and make it easier to administer effective treatments. Your primary care physician can help you plan for the necessary screenings, but taking charge of your own health is just as important. And because men and women have different needs, be sure to understand what screenings are recommended before you go.

Need to find a new primary care physician, or just looking for a more convenient primary care practice? Learn more about UM Community Medical Group’s new primary care practice in La Plata on our blog.

Resolution 7: Seek Help

You should never ignore the signs and symptoms of depression, mental illnesses or suicide in others or yourself. Whether you’re seeking help for yourself or for someone you know, a better understanding of what depression is makes it easier for a person to get help. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, don’t hesitate to call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Resolution 8: Spread the Word

Committing to your resolutions is easier when you are accountable to others, so get out there and share those resolutions. Partner with a friend or family member who can help you keep your resolutions alive throughout the year. Don’t forget: Teamwork makes the dream work!

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Primary Care Now Open in La Plata: Dr. Lorenzo Childress Now Accepting New Patients

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You shouldn’t have to go out of your way to get quality care from a primary care physician. And if you live in the Charles County area, you now have another option for primary care.

We’re excited to announce that we are bringing primary care to downtown La Plata, just minutes from the hospital, and the practice is now accepting new patients.

Under the direction of Lorenzo Childress III, MD, the UM Community Medical Group – Primary Care practice will provide Charles County residents with high-quality primary care services in a convenient location. Here’s a look at just some of the adult primary care services that are offered:

  • Preventive care and checkups for ages 16 & up
  • Ongoing management of chronic health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, COPD and asthma
  • Disease prevention
  • Health counseling
  • Patient education
  • Diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses

The primary care physicians can also provide referrals to specialists when further treatment is needed. It’s just another way that the University of Maryland family of medical services is working to provide everyone in Charles County with the care they need.

Good health starts with a great primary care provider. To learn more about our primary care services, visit the official website or call  (301) 609-5044.

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Get Immunized During National Influenza Vaccination Week

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It’s National Influenza Vaccination Week, and there is no better time to get vaccinated for the seasonal flu if you haven’t already.

You may be wondering why National Influenza Vaccination Week happens so late in the year — flu season has been in full swing for some time now, right? But in 2015, the CDC reports, only about 40% of the U.S. population that was recommended to receive the vaccination had done so by the end of November. The CDC also notes that few people choose to get vaccinated once November ends, even though flu season often continues through March.

It’s so important to get vaccinated for the seasonal flu every year, no matter how late into flu season it is. That’s because the flu virus puts individuals such as senior citizens, young children, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems at risk for serious health complications as long as the flu virus is actively spreading illness.

Even if you’ve already had the flu this season, you’re still at risk of getting sick, and you should still get vaccinated. Not only will you be helping to protect others around you, but you’ll also be protecting yourself from all of the virus strains that the vaccine is designed for.

It’s easier than ever to get vaccinated, too. Immunizations can be administered at your primary care physician’s office or at your local pharmacy. Your insurance will often cover most, if not all, of your cost for the flu vaccine, so there’s no reason to delay immunization if your doctor recommends it for you.

Throughout the past couple of months, the Charles County Department of Health has offered free vaccination clinics across the county. Click here to see the full schedule of upcoming clinics or call (301) 609-6900 to learn more.

To learn more about the seasonal flu, visit our Online Health Library today.

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Shine a Light for a Loved One at the Christmas Tree of Life on December 7

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Has someone close to you touched your life in a positive way? Recognize their impact by having a light shine in their honor or memory at our annual Christmas Tree of Life event.

On Wednesday, December 7, at 5:30pm at UM Charles Regional Medical Center, we’ll illuminate our Christmas Tree of Life and the entire Healing Garden to celebrate those who have made our lives better. In addition to the illumination ceremony, the event will feature a dessert reception and holiday music.

Through December 7, lights can be purchased for $15 each and Healing Garden Luminaries can be purchased for just $50 each. You can even ensure that a light shines brightly on the Tree of Life every year by making a one-time gift of $100 for an Angel Perpetual Light. Funds raised through these contributions help bring us one step closer to advancing vital programs and services for our community.

Honor your loved ones this holiday season and support a great cause by making your gift today. Visit the official Christmas Tree of Life event page to learn more.

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Now is the Time to Learn More About COPD

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, often called COPD, chronic bronchitis or emphysema, is a chronic disease that affects the quality of life of millions of Americans.

COPD is characterized by the inflammation and thickening of the airways in the lungs, which causes a disruption of the normal flow of air in and out of the lungs. As a result, less oxygen is able to get into the body, which makes it harder for the body to get rid of carbon dioxide.

Here are a few of the top risk factors for developing COPD:

  • Smoking
  • Exposure to air pollution and secondhand smoke
  • Regularly working with chemicals, dust and fumes
  • A history of childhood respiratory infections

Avoiding secondhand smoke or quitting smoking not only reduce your risk for COPD, they also reduce your risk for other diseases like lung cancer. Quitting smoking can be difficult, but it’s possible to overcome the addiction with the right plan and support.  If you’re ready to take the first step towards quitting and reducing your risk of COPD, join us in the hospital cafeteria on Thursday, November 17, from 11am-1pm as we take part in the Great American Smokeout. This national observance is a day to quit smoking – or pledge to quit smoking – and learn about tools and support that can help you live a tobacco-free life.

If you’ve been diagnosed with COPD, lifestyle changes like quitting tobacco, monitoring air quality, remaining active and protecting yourself from illness by receiving and annual flu shot can help you live a better, more fulfilling life. For additional tips on managing COPD, check out these resources from the American Lung Association.

As with any chronic disease, seeking support is a good way to stay on track. Better Breathers Clubs offer patient-focused, community-based support for people with COPD and other chronic lung diseases. The Better Breathers Club at UM Charles Regional Medical Center meets every other month and can help you improve your quality of life if you’ve received a COPD diagnosis. To learn more or register for this free support group visit our website or call (888) 332-4847.

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Arm Yourself with Lung Cancer Awareness This November

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There’s only one cancer that claims more lives than that of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined: lung cancer.  More Charles County residents die from lung cancer each year than any other cancer.  In fact, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that in 2016, there will be over 224,390 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed in the U.S. alone.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, so it’s important to take some time this month to learn more about this disease, its risk factors and treatment options.

You don’t have to be a smoker to develop lung cancer. Occupational and environmental hazards such as radon, asbestos and air pollutants have also been linked to lung cancer. And common symptoms of lung cancer, such as persistent cough, hoarseness, chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, swelling of the neck and face, loss of appetite and fatigue, are often mistaken for other problems, which can delay diagnosis of this serious disease.

Though not all cancers are preventable, 87% of all lung cancer cases can be traced to tobacco use. This means that the best way to reduce your risk of lung cancer is to quit — or never start — smoking tobacco and reduce your exposure to secondhand smoke. Below are some resources from the American Cancer Society.

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