Monday, December 22, 2014


Let’s make 2015 an awesome year

It can be quite challenging to find interesting topics to write about in health columns week after week.  A friend told me she enjoys reading my columns, but skips the ones where I get “too preachy.”  I try to keep that comment in mind and look for topics that are interesting, upbeat, not too annoying and definitely not “preachy.”

Sometimes it’s an idea to improve emotional health rather than focusing on disease prevention or treatment.  For example, this timely idea was posted on Facebook and I think it’s worth sharing.  “This January, why not start the year with an empty jar and fill it with notes about good things that happen.  Then, on New Year’s Eve, empty it and see what awesome stuff happened that year.  It’s a good way to keep things in perspective.”
Just in case someone reads this and thinks there are not many awesome things happening these days, I Googled, “Bring more joy into your life” and got 9,200 hits.  There were a multitude of suggestions, everything from going outside and enjoying the energy and beauty of nature, or volunteering time to a worthy cause you believe in, or even taking time to re-connect with positive friends and family.
I am definitely doing this.  I already selected a clear jar so we can see the notes start to fill up during the year. I put a pen and small sheets of paper next to the jar. 
My husband is used to my projects and schemes and has learned over the years that it’s easier to just indulge me.  I predict he will eventually get into the spirit and contribute some notes about awesome things that happen during the year.
We can all think of awesome things that happen.  Everyone can define awesome in their own way. It doesn’t have to be discovering a cure for cancer; it can be as simple as watching an old classic movie with the family, or making a new recipe that turned out to be a new family favorite.  
Let’s share this idea with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Then maybe we can do something awesome that’s worthy of inclusion in their jar, too.  
Alice Facente is a community health nurse for the Backus Health System. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal health care provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

Monday, December 15, 2014


Urgent care is a viable option

You don’t have to go very far before you see an “urgent care” center. They are an emerging national trend.

But what is urgent care, and when should you go to a facility that offers it?

The purpose of urgent care is to treat injuries or illnesses that require immediate care but are not life-threatening (like a heart attack or stroke).
As an urgent care provider myself, I am convinced that urgent care centers are valuable resources for patients for many reasons.
First, urgent care generally offers extended hours including evenings and weekends. As we all know, minor emergencies and sicknesses don’t just happen during business hours. Also, urgent care facilities are equipped to see patients of all ages, and usually accept most insurances.
Second, wait times at urgent care centers tend to be shorter than the traditional Emergency Room (ER).  Most urgent care sites have x-ray and lab capabilities as well, meaning you have the option of one-stop shopping in your community.
Finally, medical costs are much lower at an urgent care center compared to the ER.  For example, a case of strep throat treated at the ER can cost over $500, while the same illness treated at an urgent care center costs less than $125. As we are all beginning to pay more out of our own pockets for health care, cost has become more of an issue when people make choices about where they will seek treatment.
Your health is extremely important, but your time and money are important as well. In many scenarios, urgent care is the best option — you can get excellent care, faster, more conveniently, close to home and cheaper.
If you or a family member is faced with one of life’s minor emergencies, urgent care might just be the best option. 
Paqui Motyl, MD, specializes in internal medicine and is based at the Montville Backus Family Health Center. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal health care provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Mr. Motyl or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

Tuesday, December 09, 2014


Connecticut winters: Magical and messy

Winter in Connecticut can be a fun and magical time.  Images come to mind of sitting around the fireplace wrapped up in a cozy blanket, sipping a cup of hot chocolate, and watching the snow fall outside.  Don’t we wish we could do this every day?  
The reality is that winter is also the time when flu, colds, and other nasty viruses seem to be everywhere.  That isn’t quite so pretty an image. 
Here are some great tips to strengthen your body’s immune system during the winter season.
My friend and colleague Dr. Setu Vora, a Backus Hospital pulmonologist and  the founder of Health Transformers, Inc, suggests we focus on three things for optimal health:  Menu – Mind – Move. 
1) Eat healthy. Maintaining a good healthy diet full of fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables, at least 5 servings a day.
2) Minimize stress. Studies have linked high stress levels to making a person more susceptible to catching colds and flu. Minimize your stress by doing some type of quiet meditation at least 15 minutes every day.  Dr. Vora says meditation can improve our energy, stress levels, and even our creative thinking. coma2
3) Exercise regularly. It is important to exercise regularly, ideally about 30 minutes a day. Get out and take a short walk and enjoy the crisp, cold, invigorating weather.
Learn more at Dr. Vora’s website:
Here are five more tips to keep your immune system in top shape in the winter months.
4) Get enough sleep every night. The average person needs 6-8 hours of sleep per night. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your body is very vulnerable to illness. Think of sleep like fuel that recharges your batteries! You’ve got to do it to keep the machine running.
5) Wash your hands regularly. Keep the bacteria and viruses off your hands and out of your mouth and eyes. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer close-by for those instances when you can’t get to soap and water.
6) Don’t smoke. Most of you already know this, but it bears repeating because smoking significantly weakens your immune system.  Check out the Backus website  to find out when the next Freedom From Smoking © cessation class begins.
7) Eat lots of garlic. This is my personal favorite.  Your breath will make people with contagious illnesses like colds and flu keep their distance from you.
8) Harness the power of positive thinking.   There are proven health benefits to having a positive attitude. Whatever the situation, it’s possible to think positively. Some days it takes a little more effort, but you can put a positive spin on any situation – it just takes practice!
I am grateful for the opportunity to wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season. Be well!
Alice Facente is a community health nurse for the Backus Health System. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal health care provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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