Monday, June 28, 2010


Bike helmet safety important for children

Waiting in line at the hospital isn’t usually something we applaud. But watching hundreds of people line up for free bicycle helmets at Backus Hospital’s Safety Camp recently made me proud.

As manager of our trauma program, I have seen firsthand the damage that can be done to children who don’t wear helmets while biking or skateboarding.

According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, children ages 5-14 account for about one-quarter of all bicycle-related deaths and more than half of all bicycle-related injuries.

More often than not these injuries are to the head, and while children are typically resilient when it comes to broken bones or even internal injuries, the healing capacity of the brain is limited. The skull protects the brain, but it can only do so much and sometimes people with traumatic brain injuries never recover.

That’s why wearing a bicycle helmet is so important, and why we hold Safety Camp each year and give out free helmets. Thank you to everyone who donated items and helped organize the event. I want to especially thank those who took the time to make sure helmets were properly fitted, as we don’t just hand the helmets out -- we make sure that they are properly fastened.

Having a helmet that is too small, too large or not properly fitted is the equivalent of having no helmet and could even add to the damage.

And no matter how tempted you might be, never let a child ride without a helmet.

According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, children are more likely to be injured on residential streets, close to home. That’s probably because when we are involved in casual activities in familiar places we are more likely to let our guard down.

My advice? Don’t ever don’t ever let your guard down. The one time you do could be the last.

Gillian Mosier is a registered nurse and manager of the Trauma Program at The William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Mosier or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

Monday, June 21, 2010


Eating habits and exercise are keys to healthy weight

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can be a daunting task. The first question is where do you begin?

Start with determining whether you are overweight or not.

For women, it’s 100 pounds for the first five feet of height, and five pounds per inch above that. For example, 125 pounds would be healthy for a five-foot, five-inch female.

For men, it’s 106 pounds for the first five feet of height, and six pounds per inch above that. For a male who is six feet tall, a healthy weight would be 178 pounds.

The Body Mass Index (BMI) provides a healthy weight range, determines if your weight is considered overweight or if your weight is considered obese.

Losing weight safely is always a balancing act, and keeping it off can be even harder. The bottom line is to lose weight, you must eat fewer calories than you expend.

Crash diets aren’t going to work in the long run. You need to be in it for the long haul, so if you eat 250 calories less per day you could lose a 1⁄2 pound per week, or 500 calories less per day would equal 1 pound of weight loss per week. If you do this, and are physically active for 30-60 minutes per day, you should be in good shape.

Losing weight isn’t just about the calories and exercise – eating healthy is a must. That’s why I recommend that you become familiar with the Food Guide Pyramid at

It offers information on grains, portion control, vegetables, fruits, meats/beans, milk and fats.

Speaking of fats, they aren’t off limits. You actually need fats in your diet. But if you can, try to get most of your fats from fish, nuts and vegetable oils. Limit solid fats, such as butter and margarine.

Reading nutrition labels is also important. Check them closely to avoid saturated fats, trans fats, sodium and food with lots of added sugar.

If you would like to learn more about healthy eating, please attend Backus Hospital’s “Ask the Dietitian” session on June 23 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Plainfield Recreation Department. Part of the hospital’s ongoing Enjoy LIFE (Lifelong Investment in Fitness and Exercise) series, you can register by calling 860-889-8331, ext. 2495. See you there!

Sarah Hospod is a registered dietitian in the Food and Nutrition Department at The William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Hospod or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

Monday, June 14, 2010


Technology can be bad for your health

Are your eyes getting tired looking at the computer? Having trouble sleeping? Here is some information to help avoid problems that can occur due technology overload.

• Hearing. Cell phones and other similar devices can be used to play music that if louder than 85 decibels can damage hearing. The sounds heard through the earphones used with these devices can reach 100 decibels or more. That’s loud enough to start damaging your hearing after only 15 minutes. If you can’t hear someone next to you talking in a normal tone of voice, turn it down. The volume is too loud.

• Computer vision syndrome. Computer use may cause dry eyes, blurry vision, headaches and nearsightedness. Try to minimize glare, and after 20 minutes of use rest your eyes for a minute by looking away from the screen. The display on a computer screen is only 72 dpi and a printed copy is easier to read.

• Insomnia. Cell phones, computers, etc. should not be used within 1 to 2 hours of bedtime as they can keep you from sleeping. These devices emit a form of light that mimics daylight. If you use them too close to bedtime it tricks your brain into thinking it’s time to be awake.

• Concentration. Carnegie Mellon University scientists found that merely listening to a conversation on a cell phone reduced the amount of brain activity devoted to driving by 37%. This is most likely due to the extra attention needed to comprehend spoken words. British researcher Nick Reed found texting while driving slows reaction time more than alcohol.

• Texting tendonitis. This repetitive motion can trigger pain and swelling in your hands and wrists. To avoid this, limit texting and switch hands and fingers often.

Dr. Paul H. Deutsch is board-certified in Internal Medicine, a member of The William W. Backus Hospital Medical Staff and in private practice in Norwich. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Dr. Deutsch or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

Monday, June 07, 2010


Junior volunteers play key role in healthcare

The Great Invasion is upon us. Soon, 105 Junior Volunteers will arrive at The William W. Backus Hospital, as they do every year at this time.

Their energy permeates our hospital hallways, their habit of traveling in pairs draws smiles from staff, and we are preparing for a very busy — and very rewarding — summer. We strive to make the Junior Volunteer Program a positive experience. We have a simple goal in mind: that they will help us in our mission of improving the health of the community, and consider Backus Hospital as a future employer.

Our summer Junior Volunteer Program has evolved to include career exploration. In addition to their regular duties (admitting, discharging, transporting specimens, helping on nursing floors) Junior Volunteers are encouraged to network with staff, find advocates and mentors. Helping high school students explore careers in healthcare and finding people who will help them through this process has become a major focus.

Whether a Junior Volunteer wishes to be a nurse or a surgeon; an accountant or information technology specialist; an engineer or a communicator, we make sure they know that Backus has a need for their expertise. Junior Volunteers can return to our community, live a full life and have a rewarding career as a Backus employee.

Many Connecticut youths leave our region and our state after college to pursue careers elsewhere. This “brain drain” is a vexing situation. Why are they leaving Connecticut? Do they think they cannot find jobs here, that it is too expensive to live here, or that we are not “happening” enough? Community hospitals are as dependent on the community for employees, volunteers and vendors as the community is dependent on us for excellent healthcare. Our futures are intertwined — and volunteer programs can serve as a vital link to creating the workforce of the future.

Our goal is to show high school students they can find a rewarding career at Backus Hospital, one that will be challenging and rewarding financially as well as professionally. And what do you mean, “We are in the middle of nowhere?” We’re within reasonable driving distance to New York and Boston — a short six-hour flight from San Francisco and Paris! We are the center of it all!

Please join me in welcoming this year’s crop of junior volunteers. We should all welcome them, and embrace them, because, after all, one day, they may be taking are of us!

Mary Rahaim is the Director of Volunteer Services at The William W. Backus Hospital.
Email Ms. Rahaim and all the Healthy Living columnists at To comment on this or other Healthy Living columns, click below or go to the Healthy Living blog at

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


Backus, Plainfield team up to improve health of the community

We are all well aware of the obesity problem in the U.S. Here is a startling statistic: sixty-eight percent of us are overweight, and 33.8% are obese, according to the CDC.

The recommendation to “eat less and exercise more” is easily said, but not as easily accomplished. Anyone who has embarked on a program to eat healthier and increase their exercise discovers very quickly that doing it alone is extremely difficult.

To sustain a healthier lifestyle, it inevitably helps to join forces with friends, family members, or co-workers. It’s like a built-in support group; one team member doesn’t want to disappoint the others. This is why weight loss programs like “Thin’s In” or Weight Watchers are so successful.
Based on this premise, The William W. Backus Hospital and the Plainfield Recreation Department are organizing an “Active Challenge” as part of a year-long community initiative, “Enjoy LIFE (Lifelong Investment in Fitness and Exercise).”

Residents are invited to form either a family team or an adult team:
• Family teams can be one or two adults, and children under age 18.
• Adult teams will consist of at least four people, with a maximum of 8.
• Every team will choose a captain, as well as a name for the team.
• Family teams will receive a “passport to the Active Challenge” delineating many activities designed to improve nutrition and increase activity.
• Family teams will receive disposable cameras to record activities in their passport.
• Every team that completes or fills out a passport will receive a prize.
• Adult team members will each receive a pedometer and a journal to record daily milestones such as number of steps recorded, a food log, weekly weight, etc…

Team registration will be held June 9 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Plainfield Recreation Center, with a private weigh-in of each member of the adult teams.

Also on June 9, the first in a monthly series of community education events will feature Backus Registered Dietitian Sarah Hospod, who will present “Healthy Eating: It’s Easier than You Think!” She will discuss healthy snacks, calories, how to read nutrition labels, and more. This presentation is open to all and joining a team is not necessary.

Registration is requested for this free presentation by calling 860-889-8331, ext 2495.
For more information on the teams or the nutrition presentation, email or call Backus Education Department registered nurse Lisa Cook at 860-889-8331, ext. 7404 or Plainfield Recreation Department Director Myra Ambrogi at 860-564-1819.

Let’s focus on the positive, team up for a healthier lifestyle, and enjoy life in the process.

Alice Facente is a registered nurse and clinical educator with the Education Department at The William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. E-mail Ms. Facente and all of the Healthy Living columnists at To comment on this or other Healthy Living columns, click below or go to the Healthy Living blog at

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