Sun Safety: Protection is key for fun in the sun

Fifteen minutes. According to the Center for Disease Control, that’s all it takes for the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays to damage your skin. When you’re on beach or pool time, 15 minutes goes by quickly. It feels great to soak up those rays, but they are harming your skin and are putting you at risk for long-term skin damage and worse, skin cancer. Before you head out into the sun for the day, take some time and precautions to keep yourself and your family safe all summer long, and you’ll be golden for some fun in the sun!

USE SUNSCREEN

It’s one of the easiest ways to prevent skin cancer. Look for a sunscreen with broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB, an SPF of at least 30, and water resistant. When applying sunscreen, more is more. You want to be sure to get a thick layer of sunscreen on your skin in order for the SPF to do its job. For an average size person, remember the teaspoon rule, and adjust for all ages and body types:1 teaspoon to the face/neck/scalp1 teaspoon for each arm1 teaspoon to the chest and abdomen1 teaspoon to the back2 teaspoons for each leg

Sunblock lotions are the preferred choice, but if you are using a spray sunscreen, apply outside by holding the bottle close to the skin and spray on each area for approximately 6 seconds, or until the sunscreen is visible on the skin (typically, when it looks white). Then, rub it in. Don’t apply spray sunscreen directly to the face. Instead, spray generously into your hand and apply to your face as you would a lotion. Don’t forget to apply a lip balm with an SPF of 30, too!

Sunscreen will wear off throughout the day. Be sure to reapply every two hours and following exposure to water or sweat.

If you’re avoiding sunscreen because you don’t like how it feels on your skin or you had an allergic reaction, try another type or brand. There are a variety of choices by a variety of brands, so if you aren’t happy with one, try another until you find one that works with your skin. You may want to make an appointment with your primary care provider or dermatologist to discuss your individual needs. After all, the best sunscreen is the one you will wear!

AVOID EXPOSURE BETWEEN 10 AM AND 4 PM

Have you heard of the shadow rule? If your shadow is shorten than you are in real life, the sun’s rays are strong. During this time, you should avoid exposure or follow precautions to protect yourself and your family. For our region in the Midwest, the sun is most intense from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., so you’ll want to be the most vigilante in protecting your skin during this time.

USE SUNGLASSES

Your eyes will absorb those harmful rays much like your skin does. Look for sunglasses that block and absorb UVA and UVB light. The lenses should fit close to the skin and be large enough to cover your eyes and the surrounding areas. The bigger the better! Polarized lenses will help eliminate glare, which is great for driving or days in the water or snow.

DRINK MORE WATER

When you’re sweating, you are losing water. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially in hot weather to keep dehydration at bay. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Also, look for signs of heat exhaustion such as; feeling overheated, tired or weak. Nausea, headaches and dizziness are also indications that it’s time to get out of the sun, cool down and drink some water. Heat stroke is a more serious condition. If you or someone in your family stops sweating, has red and/or hot skin, a high temperature, confusion or is suddenly uncoordinated, seek medical attention right away.

GO LONG!: WEAR PROTECTIVE CLOTHING

Long-sleeved shirts and long pants provide an extra layer of protection while spending time out in the sun. Look for clothing made with tightly woven fabrics. Those linen pants aren’t going to protect you from the sun, so be sure to wear sunscreen underneath. When playing the water, look for bathing suits that feature a sun shirt, especially for little ones.

HATS OFF ON!: WEAR A BROAD RIMMED HAT

Wearing a hat with a full brim is a great way to protect the scalp, ears, face and neck from exposure to the sun’s UV rays. Tightly woven fabric is the key to a good hat, straw hats are cute, but don’t provide the protection you need. When purchasing sun hats for the family, be sure to pick the correct sizes for each person. Kids will pull off a hat that slips down over their eyes.Seek the shade & avoid direct sunlight

Trees or shelters block the sun’s UV rays and provide ultimate protection. Seek out these spaces when spending time outdoors to help protect yourself and your family from painful sunburns and help reduce the risk of skin cancer. When you can’t find shade, make it! Invest in a beach umbrella or tent to shield your family from the sunlight.

BE CAUTIOUS OF REFLECTIONS

Your exposure to the sun’s rays increases when the sun shines onto and reflects off of bright surfaces, like water, sand or house paint, for example. When spending time near a reflective surface, ensure everyone is sporting sunglasses and sunscreen or protective clothing are being used consistently.

TANNING

Don’t. Tan skin is damaged skin and the impact can last or even shorten a lifetime. Tanning should not be part of a beauty regiment at any point in a person’s life.

PROTECTION 365 DAYS

Skin cancer prevention is not seasonal. Sure, we wear less clothing and spend more time outside in the sun’s rays during the summer months, but protection from those rays is just as important during the winter months. UV rays reflect off snow just as they do off of sand, water and concrete. Apply sunscreen to the face and any other exposed skin, wear sunglasses and lip balm every day. When it comes to sun safety, there’s a lot of information to soak in. Download this handy checklist and keep it in your beach bag to help ensure you and your family are covered for summer skin protection.

For questions concerning dangers to your skin from the sun, consult with your dermatologist.

Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and IHA Livonia Medical Center opens on Schoolcraft College campus

LIVONIA, Mich. (May 4, 2021) – Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and IHA’s new Livonia Medical Center located on the campus of Schoolcraft College is now open. This newly constructed 124,000-square-foot health care facility is located adjacent to I-275 off Seven Mile Road on the newly renamed St. Joe’s Parkway campus service drive.

At this new, state-of-the-art location, St. Joe’s and IHA are bringing together leading health care providers and services to offer a continuum of care under one roof to Livonia and the surrounding communities.

“The Livonia Medical Center, positioned right in the middle of our southeast Michigan region, will bring IHA physicians closer to this community, providing seamless care across our physician offices, outpatient facilities and hospitals,” said Rob Casalou, president and CEO, Trinity Health Michigan. “We have been working to bring health care out into the community where people live, work and play, and this medical center located on the Schoolcraft College campus is a great example of that successful effort.”

The new center opened on Monday, April 19, with St. Joe’s Medical Group (SJMG) Sports Medicine as the first practice to move in, followed by IHA Livonia Primary Care on April 26.

The IHA Urgent Care, previously located within the Jeffress Center on campus, relocated to the new building on April 23. The urgent care is open 7 days a week, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., including holidays. 

Additional practices and services will open over the next few weeks:

  • IHA Orthopaedics – May 3
  • IHA Podiatry – May 3
  • Probility Physical Therapy – May 3
  • SJMG Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery – May 10
  • IHA Obstetrics & Gynecology – May 17
  • IHA Nurse Midwives – May 17
  • Women’s Specialty Imaging – Digital Mammography, Breast Ultrasound,

3D Tomography and Bone Density Scans – May 24

  • Diagnostic Imaging -MRI, CT, Ultrasound and X-ray – May 24
  • IHA Livonia Pediatrics – June 1
  • Michigan Brain & Spine Institute – June 7
  • IHA Urology – June 7
  • IHA Vascular & Endovascular Surgery – June 7
  • Lab Services  – June 24
  • Joe’s Java Coffee Shop – Mid-July
  • Retail Pharmacy – August 2
  • Ambulatory Surgical Center – August 16

“This expansive center includes primary, specialty, and urgent care; as well as ancillary and advanced imaging services including MRI, ultrasound, and mammography,” said Jason Harris, vice president of Planning and Development for IHA. “Coming together with St. Joe’s as part of one health care family, we are dedicated to providing greater access to care with lower cost and higher value for patients in the communities we serve.”

An ambulatory surgery center is currently under construction to provide outpatient procedures, such as orthopedic and general surgeries, with the ability for overnight stays if necessary. In addition, a full-service retail pharmacy will support the surgical suite, urgent care, and physician offices as well as the entire local community. Onsite amenities, including a coffee shop, will create a comfortable waiting area for patients and their families.

For more information or to reach someone to schedule an appointment, please visit LivoniaMedicalCenter.org.

Schoolcraft College currently has majors and programs in nursing, pharmacy, health information technology, and medical assisting among the many choices. The college plans to launch an advanced imaging program for radiation technology students to coincide with the opening of the new medical facility.

“We’re very pleased to see the Livonia Medical Center come online and extend a hearty welcome to our campus,” said Dr. Glenn Cerny, president of Schoolcraft College. “Having the many specialty practices located in a convenient and familiar location is a tremendous asset for our community. We’re also excited that our new Health Sciences Center is just across the street, creating a great opportunity for many of our students in our health care-related programs to literally go from classroom to a vital, in-demand job and fulfilling career.”

Additionally, as part of the ongoing collaboration between Schoolcraft College and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, the St. Joe’s Mercy Elite Sports Center on campus opened earlier this year. The 74,000-square-foot multi-purpose space includes eight volleyball courts, a running track, soccer training space and fitness and rehabilitation space. Mercy Elite provides physical therapy, strength and conditioning and fitness training for all interested schools, clubs, teams or individuals. A state-of-the art fitness laboratory, classroom space and faculty offices for Schoolcraft College’s Associate Degree program in Movement Science also share the space.  


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About Saint Joseph Mercy Health System

Saint Joseph Mercy Health System (SJMHS) is a health care organization serving seven counties in southeast Michigan including Livingston, Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Jackson, and Lenawee. It includes 548-bed St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, 497-bed St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac, 304-bed St. Mary Mercy Livonia, 133-bed St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea and 66-bed St. Joseph Mercy Livingston in Howell.  Combined, the five hospitals are licensed for 1,548 beds, have five outpatient health centers, six urgent care facilities, more than 25 specialty centers; employ more than 15,300 individuals and have a medical staff of nearly 2,700 physicians.   SJMHS has annual operating revenues of about $2 billion and returns about $115 million to its communities annually through charity care and community benefit programs.


SJMHS is a member of Trinity Health, a leading Catholic health care system based in Livonia, Mich. Trinity Health operates in 22 states, employs about 133,000 colleagues, has annual operating revenues of $17.6 billion and assets of about $24.7 billion. Additionally, the organization returns almost $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs.

For more information on health services offered at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, please visit www.stjoeshealth.org.

About IHA

Established in 1994, IHA is one of the largest multi-specialty medical groups in Michigan delivering more than one million patient visits each year, practicing based on the guiding principle: our family caring for yours. Lead by physicians, IHA is committed to providing the best care with the best outcomes for every patient and an exceptional work experience for every provider and employee. Recognized as Metro Detroit’s Top Physician Group by Consumer Reports magazine, IHA offers patients from infancy through senior years, access to convenient, quality health care with extended office hours and urgent care services, online patient diagnosis, treatment and appointment access tools. IHA is based in Ann Arbor and employs more than 3,000 staff, including more than 700 providers consisting of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, care managers and midwives in more than 100 practice locations across Southeast Michigan. IHA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and a member of Trinity Health. For more information about IHA, visit www.ihacares.com.

Contacts:

Saint Joseph Mercy Health System

Laura Blodgett

734-712-4536

Laura.Blodgett@stjoeshealth.org

IHA

Amy Middleton

734-327-0877

Amy_Middleton@ihacares.com

The COVID-19 Vaccines

Get your questions answered here.

The COVID-19 vaccines are our best shot for ending the pandemic. But as expected with anything new, you may have some questions before you schedule your vaccine. We’ve compiled the most frequently asked questions we’re hearing about the COVID-19 vaccines in our vaccine clinics. Get the facts and then get your shot!

How do I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Patients over the age of 18 can schedule their COVID-19 vaccine online here:

Patients age 16 to 17 can only schedule at specific clinic locations, please ensure the clinic says *16-17 before proceeding to schedule online. If you schedule at a clinic that does not have the capability to vaccinate a 16 or 17-year-old, your vaccine appointment will be canceled and there is no guarantee we will be able to accommodate you at a different location.

Can I choose which COVID-19 vaccine I get?

No, IHA & St. Joe’s Medical Group have received a supply of each of the currently approved COVID-19 vaccines, however the daily supply at each vaccine clinic changes, so we are not able to determine ahead of time which will be available and which you will receive. Our staff will help you schedule your second dose of the vaccine when you receive your first. 

Will I be charged when I receive the COVID-19 vaccine at IHA?

No. The COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge to all people living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have an underlying condition?

Vaccination is an important consideration for adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions because they are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. People with underlying medical conditions can receive a COVID-19 vaccine as long as they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine.

What happens if I have an allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine?

After you receive your COVID-19 vaccine, you will sit in a waiting area for monitoring with IHA providers present, for 15 minutes. If at any point you aren’t feeling well, communicate with an IHA provider and they will get you the care you need immediately. If you experience a severe allergic reaction after leaving a vaccine site, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.

Should I get the vaccine if I had COVID-19?

Yes. You should get the COVID-19 vaccine whether or not you’ve previously tested positive for COVID-19. The vaccine will produce a stronger immune system response than a natural infection.

I am currently sick with COVID-19, can I get vaccinated?

No. People with COVID-19 who have symptoms should wait to be vaccinated until they have recovered from their illness and have met the criteria for discontinuing isolation; those without symptoms should also wait until they meet the criteria before getting vaccinated. This guidance also applies to people who get COVID-19 before getting their second dose of vaccine.

Who should NOT get the COVID-19 vaccine?

You should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine if you had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of the vaccine or had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient of the vaccine.

What are the ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccines?

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine includes the following ingredients: mRNA, lipids ((4- hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose.

The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine contains the following ingredients: messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), lipids (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]), tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate trihydrate, and sucrose.


Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines and how you can get vaccinated at an IHA vaccine clinic.

Diagnosing COVID-19

What you need to know about testing for COIVD-19.

What is the difference between a PCR test and a Rapid Antigen test for COVID-19?

IHA currently offers two types of diagnostic tests for COVID-19:

  1. Antigen test (frequently referred to as a rapid test). This test detects protein fragments specific to the Coronavirus. Turnaround time for results is usually very quick and, in some cases, results can be reported in 15 minutes.
  2. PCR test. PCR testing is considered the “gold standard” in COVID-19  (SARS-CoV-2) detection. This test actually detects RNA (or genetic material) that is specific to the virus and can detect the virus within days of infection, even when the patient is asymptomatic. Turnaround time is longer than the antigen test, results take approximately 2-5 days to return. Some rapid testing could have a quicker turnaround time. Result turnaround times will fluctuate based on the community testing demand but can take up to 5 days and sometimes even longer.

How do I know which test I should get?

Discuss your personal situation with a healthcare provider to receive the best guidance on the most appropriate test. A rapid antigen test can be used when a patient is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.  Positive results from an antigen test are highly accurate, and while false positives can occur, they are rare. If your antigen test is negative, your healthcare provider may recommend that you have a confirmatory PCR test.

Should I wait until I have symptoms to get a COVID-19 test?

We recommend waiting 5-7 days post exposure to COVID-19 before getting tested unless you develop symptoms of COVID-19.  If a PCR test is negative and the patient remains asymptomatic, we recommend quarantining for 14 days from time of exposure.

What is a COVID-19 antibody test?

Antibody, or serology, tests look for antibodies in your blood to determine if you had a past infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. Antibodies can usually be detected in a person’s blood 2 – 3 weeks after symptoms begin. An Antibody test cannot be used to diagnose an active infection and is not recommended for patients currently experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

What tests are available for antibody tests?

COVID-19 antibody testing is done through a blood draw. A laboratory test order is required to be tested for COVID-19 antibodies and the test can be completed with other bloodwork if appropriate. Talk with your provider if you think a COVID-19 antibody test is appropriate for you.

If I got the COVID-19 vaccine, will my antibody test come back positive?

Maybe. The vaccine is intended to induce an immune response, so the antibody test (serology test) may be positive in someone who has been vaccinated.


Learn more about the COVID-19 testing and how you can get tested if you need to.

The COVID-19 vaccines are our best shot for ending the pandemic. Schedule your vaccine at an IHA Vaccine Clinic near you.

Returning to Normal*

*For kids it’s anything but normal.

By Patrick Gaulier, LMSW & Leah Diebel, LLMSW

Last year, Michigan parents and students were faced with a very difficult adjustment from in-person education to attending school virtually. As many schools push for more time in the classroom, parents and students are again making an adjustment, this time back to in-person learning. After a year of virtual classes where students didn’t have to leave their bedroom or home, walking into a school with hundreds of other children or teens can feel like a daunting task. As a parent, dropping your (nervous) child off after months of having them home is equally daunting. Even kids and parents that normally don’t experience social anxiety (or anxiety period) may feel nervous because they are out of practice. It’s normal to feel that way and there are ways to help the return to school go more smoothly for parents and children.

Prepare for school to be different from what they remember.

The school children left last spring is not the same place they will be returning to. Everyone will be wearing masks, friends will have distance between them, there may even be plexiglass shields, and lunchtime and recess will be a very different experience. Uncertainty around what school will look like upon their return will be a source of anxiety for children and teens, so the more information they have (at their level) the better. Talk to your kids about the new rules in place and how they feel about them. Try to get answers to their questions prior to their first day back in the classroom.

Let them worry.

Collectively, we say we are returning to “normal”, but really, we’re not. Kids are returning to school, but it won’t be what they remember as normal. The most normal thing about this whole process is worrying. Everyone has worries and parents can help children to see worrying is a normal part of life. Parents can help children manage worry and anxiety by asking open-ended questions like “what happened at school today?” or “what did you do at recess today?” or “did you see anything interesting on social media today?” Children may not be ready to share their feelings or answers to their questions, but they know you are ready to listen when they are. The most important takeaway is to not minimize or discount your children’s anxiety.

Create opportunities for conversations.

As you prepare as a family for the return to in-person learning, be sure to give your children an opportunity to voice their concerns and excitement as well. Plan to sit down for device-free dinners where conversations can happen. Spend a few extra minutes tucking them in at night and ask them how they are feeling about upcoming changes. For teens a chat while driving is an opportunity to talk without forced eye contact. Schedule an outing with children either individually or as a family, depending on how your child best communicates, where they have dedicated time where they can feel heard.

Brush up on social skills.

For some kids, it’s been a while since they had face to face interactions with other students, teachers and staff at their school. For younger kids, try role playing some basic greetings and conversations they can have with someone they haven’t seen is a while. Talk about some different conversations starters and questions they can ask. They should also think about a couple things they would want to share with friends. Going into school prepared can help kids manage the anxiety that comes with the change from virtual interactions to facet-to-face.

Create a new routine and stick to it.

Since so much about the school day will be different, the daily routine should evolve, not disappear. Structure and routine will provide stability in times of uncertainty. Kids should wake up early enough to complete their morning routine and parents should model structure by also waking up and preparing for the day. It won’t be acceptable to walk around in pajamas at school, so it shouldn’t happen at home as children get ready to make the change from home learning to classroom learning. If children are returning to virtual classes, they can still go through their morning routine even if their commute is to a desk at home.

Know when they/you need more help.

If you think your child is struggling or may need more help than you are able to provide, the IHA Pediatric Behavioral Health Care team is here for you and your children. They will work in collaboration with your child’s IHA pediatrician to improve your child or adolescent’s overall health as well as helping the family understand the child’s development. IHA Pediatric Behavioral Health Specialists are available for video appointments through any IHA Pediatric practice.

Bike Helmet Safety

Get the proper fit in a snap!

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more children ages 5-14 go to the emergency room for bicycle-related injuries than any other sport; many with head injuries. Like car crashes, bicycle crashes can happen at any time, involving not only children, but adults, many of whom are skilled riders. In fact, middle-age adults represent the average age of bicycle riders killed and injured. When it comes to bicycle crashes, helmets are the single most effective piece of safety equipment for riders of all ages. As you get the family bicycles out for the season and dust-off last year’s helmets, here are some important reminders to ensure all riders are properly protected all season long.

Get the right fit from the start.

Helmets come in various sizes, just like hats. Size can vary between manufacturers. Download this guide from the NHTSA and follow the steps to fit a helmet properly.

When to replace a helmet.

If you’ve been in a crash with your helmet, damage to your helmet won’t always be visible. Always replace a helmet that’s been in a crash, even if it appears to be intact. And never purchase a used helmet since you can’t be sure of its history.  

Your bike helmet should fit today.

When shopping for a new bike helmet, purchase one that fits now. A bike helmet is not something that you “grow into”. If the helmet is too large, it won’t fit properly and won’t provide the protection you need. With each ride, readjust the helmet as needed.

Cover your forehead.

Adjust the helmet fitting based on your helmet first being in the correct position, level on the head and low on your forehead.

Adjust straps until snug.

You’ll find chin straps and side straps on your helmet. Both should be snug before you take off.

Avoid helmet rocking.

Your helmet should not rock more than an inch forward or backward or side to side on your head. If the helmet is loose or rocking, readjust.

Love your helmet.

If you love your helmet, you’ll wear it. This means it must fit comfortably and let’s face it, it has to be pretty. It’s true for kids and adults alike, if you like the way your helmet looks and feels, you’ll be more willing to put it on.

Be a good “roll” model.

Both adults and children should wear a bike helmet each and every time they ride. Wearing a helmet will set a good example and encourage smart choices in others.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Colorectal Cancer Screening

Detection & diagnosis of one of the most common cancers.

March is National Colorectal Awareness Month, an observance dedicated to encouraging patients, survivors and caregivers to share their stories, advocate for colorectal cancer prevention and inform others about the importance of early detection. Regular screening begins at age 50 (or before if you are high risk for colorectal cancer) and is the key to preventing colorectal cancer, or cancer of the colon or rectum.

Why is screening important?

Precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. Evidence shows that colorectal cancer screening can reduce the risk of dying from the cancer. When detected early, colorectal cancer is one of the most curable types of cancer.

If you haven’t been screened but are having symptoms like, blood in or on the stool, abdominal pain that doesn’t go away, or losing weight and you don’t know why, talk with your doctor about getting screened.

What types of colorectal cancer screening are available?

Stool Tests:

  • The guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) uses the chemical guaiac to detect blood in the stool. It is done once a year. For this test, you receive a test kit from your health care provider. At home, you use a stick or brush to obtain a small amount of stool. You return the test kit to the doctor or a lab, where the stool samples are checked for the presence of blood.
  • The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) uses antibodies to detect blood in the stool. It is also done once a year in the same way as a gFOBT.
  • The FIT-DNA test (also referred to as the stool DNA test) combines the FIT with a test that detects altered DNA in the stool. For this test, you collect an entire bowel movement and send it to a lab, where it is checked for cancer cells. It is done once every three years.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

  • For this test, the doctor puts a short, thin, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum. The doctor checks for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and lower third of the colon. This test is done every 5 years, or every 10 years with a FIT every year.

Colonoscopy

  • The colonoscopy is similar to flexible sigmoidoscopy, except the doctor uses a longer, thin, flexible, lighted tube to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon. During the test, the doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers. Colonoscopy also is used as a follow-up test if anything unusual is found during one of the other screening tests. This test is recommended every 10 years (for people who do not have an increased risk of colorectal cancer).

CT Colonography (Virtual Colonoscopy)

  • Computed tomography (CT) colonography, also called a virtual colonoscopy, uses X-rays and computers to produce images of the entire colon, which are displayed on a computer screen for the doctor to analyze. This test is done every 5 years.

Which screening is right for me?

There is no single “best test” for any person. The decision of which screening is best for you is best made after a conversation with your doctor. Each test has advantages and disadvantages. Which test to use depends on the following:

  • Your preferences
  • Your medical condition
  • The likelihood that you will get the test
  • The resources available for testing and follow-up

Only two-thirds of adults are up-to-date with colorectal cancer screening. If you’re eligible for screening or think you may be, talk with your doctor about scheduling your colorectal cancer screening today.  

If you are younger than 50 or older than 75 and think you may be high risk for colorectal cancer, ask your physician if you should be screened.

Itching for Relief

April Showers bring spring allergies.

By Susanna Lin, MD

It’s that time of the year – trees and gardens “wake up” from hibernation with beautiful blooms and scents filling the air. They also bring runny noses, itchy eyes, and scratchy throats. It is allergy season. Allergies can (and do) happen all year, but for many people, when spring starts and trees and grass grow they start feeling symptoms.

Common environmental allergies can be due to dust mites, animals, pollen, grass and trees, just to name a few. Each of these allergies can happen more often in different times of the year. Grass and trees are often bothersome to people in spring, whereas pollens are in the late summer. You may experience dust mite allergies inside, all year round.

When symptoms are bad, many people turn to medications for help. There are some things you can try prior to using medications. For example, for dust mite allergies you can try using dust mite covers on your pillow and bed. Staying in air conditioning may help symptoms when the pollen count is high. You can also flush out the allergens by using a netti pot (follow safe-use guidelines) or saline eye drops. An evening shower before going to bed can also be helpful in alleviating allergy symptoms.

Masks aren’t just for protecting against viruses, try wearing your mask at times when your allergies are the worst (mowing the lawn, spring gardening). The mask could help keep your nose clear of irritating particles.

If you’re ready for medications, decongestants and antihistamines can be the most helpful to allergy sufferers. Decongestants help relieve nasal congestion symptoms once they have started. Antihistamines block the histamine reaction and help prevent symptoms from happening. They often must be taken several days to weeks prior to exposure to the allergens. Nasal steroids can also help decrease nasal congestion symptoms and work right at the source of the congestion. For itchy, water eyes, try allergy eye drops.

If you are having allergy symptoms that are not improving with over the counter medications, it is time to see your primary care doctor to discuss next steps. There may be another reason for your symptoms or other medication or treatments to consider. Allergy testing may also be needed to figure out what specifically you are allergic to so that you can avoid the allergen.

This article was originally published on March 20, 2015, and was updated March 2021.

Spring Forward

Adjusting your mind and body to the time change

This weekend, we will all adjust our clocks and spring forward, but chances are, no one will be springing anywhere for a few days. Losing an hour of sleep can really throw off your sleep cycle leaving you groggy, tired and most likely running late. Plus, the darker morning tricks your body into thinking it’s not actually time to wake up. Luckily, it only takes a day or two to adjust your internal clock to the new schedule. Although short, those couple days can be rough, so we pulled together some quick tips to get through daylight savings.

Clear your mornings.

The Monday after springing forward can be brutal. Maybe Tuesday, too. It’s no small task to get up and going on an hour less sleep, and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be running late. If possible, block your morning schedule, so you can ease into the day rather than rushing through the morning. If working from home is an option, this would be a great day to do it.

Eat to sleep.

Avoid foods and beverages that interfere with your sleep. About four to six hours before bedtime say no to sugar, alcohol and caffeine.

Go into the light!

Light suppresses the secretion of sleep-inducing melatonin. Exposing yourself to sunlight will help with the adjustment to the time change. Open the blinds and curtains! Let the natural light in!

Conversely, when it’s time for sleep, do not expose yourself to light. If you get up at night to go to the bathroom, use a nightlight rather than turning on the lights.

Turn-off when you turn-in.

Help your body adjust to the time change, by getting good sleep. Get your mind and body ready to snooze by turning your devices off. Laying in bed on your phone or tablet stimulates your body and brain. Read a book instead, take a warm bath, listen to calming music, pick-up an eye mask – whatever you find helpful in falling to sleep.

Take your hour back.

Allow yourself some extra time leading up to the time change and try to go to bed early to make up for the hour you are about to lose. Making-up for the lost time, ahead of time, can help your body transition into daylight savings.


If you are frequently sleepy and think it may be more than an adjustment to the time change, make an appointment to talk with your primary care physician.

Originally Posted March 2020

COVID-19 Vaccines 101

Understanding how the COVID-19 vaccine works

Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine has become the third COVID-19 vaccine given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a harmless adenovirus to activate an immune response to the coronavirus spike protein. As we work to vaccinate more of our patients and communities, we’re working to increase understanding around how the different vaccines work to protect against COVID-19 and why the best vaccine is the one you can get.

How COVID-19 Vaccines Work

COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of “memory” cells that will remember how to fight that virus in the future.

It typically takes a few weeks after your last dose of vaccine for your body to have the highest level of protection.

Sometimes after vaccination, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever, muscle aches, feeling tired. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.

Types of Vaccines

Currently, there are two types of COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized for emergency use in the United States. None of these vaccines can give you COVID-19 because they do not contain any live COVID virus.

  • mRNA vaccines contain material from the virus that causes COVID-19 that gives our cells instructions for how to make a harmless protein that is unique to the virus. After our cells make copies of the protein, they destroy the genetic material from the vaccine. Our bodies recognize that the protein should not be there and build cells that will remember how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if we are infected in the future. (Moderna, Pfizer- BioNTech)
  • Vector vaccines contain a weakened version of a live virus—a different virus than the one that causes COVID-19—that has genetic material from the virus that causes COVID-19 inserted in it (this is called a viral vector). Once the viral vector is inside our cells, the genetic material gives cells instructions to make a protein that is unique to the virus that causes COVID-19. Using these instructions, our cells make copies of the protein. This prompts our bodies to build cells that will remember how to fight that virus if we are infected in the future. (Johnson and Johnson)

How the Vector COVID-19 Vaccines WorkTrinity Health

Most COVID-19 Vaccines Require More Than One Shot

All but one of the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently authorized for emergency use in the United States use two shots. The first shot starts building protection. A second shot a few weeks later is needed to get the most protection the vaccine has to offer. One vaccine (Johnson and Johnson) only needs one shot to provide protection.

The Bottom Line

Getting vaccinated is one of many steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Protection from COVID-19 is critically important because for some people, it can cause severe illness or death. All vaccines have been proven to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death. It doesn’t matter which vaccine you get, just get vaccinated when it is your turn.

Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like masks and physical distancing, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.


Learn more and read frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccination.