Coordinating care when you’re a snowbird

Seniors get advice on managing health while away for the winter

couple on the beach blogIf you follow the example of the birds, and move to warmer climates for the winter, it’s important to coordinate your medical care, especially for heart patients.

Documents to add to your packing list

Adding a few documents when packing your bags can help keep track of your health care. Mary Passow, R.N., B.S.N., clinical care coordinator at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, has a few suggestions:

  • List of current medications and dosages
  • List of allergies
  • List of current physicians
  • Emergency bracelet/necklace with any life-threatening medical condition and/or medication they are taking
  • Advance directive/durable power of attorney paperwork for healthcare
  • Emergency contact numbers
  • Medicare/insurance cards
  • Document from recent clinic visit – and any cardiac testing that was performed

Other hospitals that use the Epic system for their electronic medical records can electronically share information with the University of Michigan Health – a feature that’s built into all Epic Systems.

Set up a doctor’s appointment before you go

Many patients have homes they go to every year so it’s a good idea to have a physician you can see while away. If they don’t have a doctor in both places, see a physician for a regular check-up just prior to leaving for the winter, says Passow.

Get a flu shot while you’re there

It makes sense to take care of your flu shot, which is recommended every year for all those over age 65, before leaving for the winter, says U-M geriatrician Theodore Suh, M.D. In some years the flu season gets off to an early start or there are vaccine shortages. With 132 million doses distributed this year, there’s enough vaccine for anyone who want it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The pneumonia shot is also recommended for older adults.

Sign up for hospital patient portal

You can gain access to your health information by signing up for your hospital patient portal, says Jocelyn Wiggins, M.D., director of the U-M Geriatrics Center. All you need is email and access to a computer, iPad or other mobile device. MyUofMHealth.org is available to University of Michigan patients and allows access to lab results or requesting prescriptions from anywhere in the country. With proxy access, you can let another adult or friend to see your health information.

Take the next steps


U of M Health logoFor more than 160 years, the University of Michigan Health System has been a national leader in advanced patient care, innovative research to improve human health and comprehensive education of physicians and medical scientists. The three U-M hospitals have been recognized numerous times for excellence in patient care, including a #1 ranking in Michigan and national rankings in many specialty areas by U.S. News & World Report.


7 steps to healthy holiday eating

Indulge without guilt at Thanksgiving dinner

healthy thanksgiving

Thanksgiving kicks off a season of celebration, and nothing brings a celebration to life more than good food — and lots of it. Just remember: There are ways to indulge in the flavors of the season with an eye toward healthy holiday eating — without the guilt! Here are some tips to keep you on track:

1. Don’t skip meals before your holiday feast. It’s tempting to “save calories” for the big dinner. However, showing up hungry may cause you to overeat, make less mindful choices and consume even more calories for the day than if you had eaten a light breakfast or lunch. Try healthy oatmeal and fruit for breakfast and a light salad with lean protein for lunch.

Continue reading


LVAD patient gives extra thanks this year

Cara Reischel feels blessed to be able to watch her daughter grow up

Cara Family Photo blog

Cara Reischel is giving extra thanks this holiday season … for her husband, Joel, daughter, Cora, and her improved health due to a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) that was implanted in February at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center.

Although she admits that being an LVAD patient and getting accustomed to her new device hasn’t always been easy, Cara is a firm believer in taking one day at a time and being thankful for all that life has to offer, especially time with Joel and 11-year-old Cora.

As a baby, Cara was diagnosed with a hole in her heart, which doctors monitored closely. It wasn’t until Cara suffered sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) at age 15 that doctors changed her diagnosis to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM is a congenital heart muscle disease that can affect people of any age and is a common cause of SCA in young people. Approximately one in 500 to 1,000 young people are diagnosed with the condition. Continue reading


New microscope offers hope for tumor patients

New technology series

University of Michigan's Dr. Daniel Orringer with the new SRS microscope which promises to make brain tumor and other cancer surgeries safer and more efficient

University of Michigan’s Dr. Daniel Orringer with the new SRS microscope which promises to make brain tumor and other cancer surgeries safer and more efficient

Here at the University of Michigan we are testing a new microscope that will radically change brain tumor surgery—making it safer and more efficient. So far, we have used the microscope on tissues from 89 patients with great success.

Timing and location are important

One of the most difficult things for a brain surgeon is figuring out exactly where a brain tumor starts and stops because brain tumor tissue can be hard to distinguish from the rest of the brain. The new stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) microscope allows us to see the edges of a tumor in a few seconds instead of waiting the 30-45 minutes it usually takes for a frozen tumor section to be developed.

Right now, we are using the microscope on an experimental basis through grants from the National Institutes of Health and the University of Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization for Life Sciences Program. We are using the microscope almost exclusively on neurosurgical cases. I’m also collaborating with Matt Spector, who is a head and neck surgeon, to look at squamous cell carcinoma.  Continue reading


Pulmonary hypertension treatment options make the difference

Sharon Stewart's doctor gave her 2 years to live … 11 years later she's planning a 2-month road trip to Alaska

PH Patient blog

Sharon Stewart is no stranger to many of southeast Michigan’s healthcare facilities. For years, the now 64-year-old went from doctor to doctor, trying to find someone who could diagnose her increasingly debilitating condition, which was causing severe symptoms, including high blood pressure, excruciating migraines, bleeding in her eyes and fainting spells. She was finally diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension (PH) — high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries of the lungs. PH can have no known cause, can be genetic or can be caused by drugs or toxins. It can also occur because of an underlying disease or health issue.
Continue reading


Medical assistant’s cancer opens a door

Now a dedicated walker, Mimi Schork chooses her menu wisely

Mimi Schork (center) with her husband Matt and coworker Tiffiney Dixon

Mimi Schork (center) with her husband Matt and coworker Tiffiney Dixon.

A phone call last winter changed Mimi Schork’s life. After working as a medical assistant at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center for 12 years, with the last four years in the Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Mimi learned that she had cancer. The call confirmed a positive biopsy of a suspicious lump found during her annual mammogram. Mimi was now a patient herself, with early stage HER-2 positive breast cancer.

“My mind went blank. Then I thought of my lifestyle. I’ve smoked since I was 16, don’t exercise and pretty much eat and drink whatever I want at any time of the day or night. Did these habits contribute to my cancer?” Mimi asked. Continue reading