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Connection specialist, patient and new mom

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In 2012 I started my job as a connection specialist, which allows me the opportunity to help our community get properly matched with great health care. I was able to use my job skills to match myself with excellent health care in 2014 when I became pregnant!

I’ll never forget the moment I found out I was pregnant. I had visited my OBGYN with complaints of hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. I thought I was starting early menopause, and I laughed when the nurse asked if I was pregnant. But sure enough, the pregnancy test came back positive. I couldn’t believe that at 40 I could be pregnant again!

It took a little bit to let everything soak in. All of the questions of the pregnancy process began to swim around in my mind: who would I choose as an OB and what were the steps I needed to take to make sure both baby and I stayed healthy? Finding out you’re pregnant is an exciting time but very overwhelming time, no matter what your age. Thankfully, Affinity has a whole team of experts to guide moms-to-be, partners and your baby along the journey.

This is where I, as a connection specialist, became a patient again. Only you can decide what the most important considerations are for you. Before you choose a provider, your connection specialist will ask the following questions about: Continue Reading »

Signs and symptoms of menopause

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Menopause can be an uncomfortable time, and for some an uncomfortable topic, but this normal, natural process is just one more phase of women’s lives. While it does mean the end of fertility, it certainly does not mean the end of an active, healthy lifestyle as a woman. Signs, which are mainly related to lowered levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, can be both physical and mental.

Menopause begins 12 months after a woman’s final menstrual period, which typically happens during a woman’s 40s or 50s. However, women can begin experiencing signs of menopause while still menstruating; this is called perimenopause and occurs in the months or years before menstruation ends. Signs include:

Irregular periods. Leading up to the end of menstruation, most women do not have a period on a regular monthly schedule, and the periods they do have may be heavier or lighter than usual, with occasional spotting. Since pregnancy is still possible during perimenopause, it is important to test for pregnancy if you are unsure if you’re transitioning into menopause. A missed period without pregnancy may be an indicator of perimenopause, but can also occur with physical or emotional stress, thyroid dysfunction, etc.
Vaginal dryness and more urinary tract infections (UTIs). Signs of vaginal dryness include stinging or burning, itching around the vulva and pain or light bleeding during sexual activity. It can occur at any age, but in perimenopause it is related to the lowered levels of estrogen and progesterone that signal menopause. This dryness can be soothed with a water-based lubricant or physician-approved vaginal moisturizer. Decreased estrogen and progesterone also account for more instances of UTIs due to a lack of hormonal influence on the urethral lining and may be characterized by a persistent urge to urinate or a burning sensation when urinating. Continue Reading »

Super (healthy) Bowl Party!

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Well, the Packers are not going to the Super Bowl this year. However, many folks will be watching the game anyway – which means Super Bowl parties! This is a time when friends and family get together to cheer on their favorite team. Along with all the cheering, there is a lot of eating! Super Bowl weekend is a good time to enjoy tasty and healthy snacks as you watch your favorite team move the ball down the field.

Go Mediterranean
Data suggests that the Mediterranean way of eating, which includes fish, seafood, nuts, seeds, olive oil, beans, other legumes, fruits and vegetables can be very beneficial. For your party, arrange a platter with a variety of olives (green, Kalamata, stuffed), along with hummus and toasted whole wheat pita chips. Or try babaganoush (an eggplant based dip) with chopped vegetables such as carrots, celery and cauliflower florets. Instead of wings try offering shrimp with a dip made from Greek yogurt. This dip could also be used for chopped vegetables. Using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream cuts down on the calories and fat. Speaking of fats…

Think healthy fats
Consider putting out an assortment of nuts, served alongside dried fruit like apricots, dried pineapple, raisins and cherries. Throw in some dark chocolate dipped nuts, too.

Serve guacamole along corn chips or toasted pita chips. Try making a Mexican layer dip, which incorporates layers of black beans (or refried beans), shredded low fat cheddar cheese, chopped tomatoes with green chilis, Greek plain yogurt, chopped avocado (or guacamole). Serve with whole grain tortilla chips. Speaking of avocados…

Consider mixing avocado with shredded cooked chicken and sautéed onions for a variation on the classic chicken salad. The avocado adds healthy fat to this traditional salad and allows you to cut down on the amount of mayonnaise used. Serve with whole wheat pita bread for some delicious mini sandwiches. Continue Reading »

Connecting the community to health care that leaves no one behind

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My name is Sarah and I’m a connection specialist for Affinity Medical Group. I’ve been with Affinity for 14 years. As a connection specialist I connect people with providers. If you are new to the area or are simply looking for a new primary care or specialty provider, I can help! In addition, I can answer any other questions you may have regarding our system as a whole, and other offerings we provide to our patients.

Being a connection specialist allows me the opportunity to help our community get properly matched with great health care. I understand that finding a new health care provider can sometimes be stressful. It’s my goal to make the entire process as smooth and stress-free as possible. I will ask you a series of questions to help me understand your needs and then match you with the most appropriate provider.

As a mom of a child with a chronic health issue, I know how important it is to find great health care providers when you need it most. This is why I feel strongly about my position. I enjoy providing you with a one-on-one consultation to help find a provider that matches your needs. I’m also able to provide you with location details and when the next available appointment will be with the provider of your choice.

I feel strongly about encouraging the community to secure a primary care provider and scheduling preventative care. In today’s society it’s important to make sure we look at preventative measures to live healthier lives.

This is my first post of a series of upcoming blog posts. I look forward to connecting with you and helping make your health care search a little bit easier.

To learn more or to speak with me directly, please call (920) 628-9280 or email me at sastern@affinityhealth.org.

How to take care of your spine/back

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Not taking care of your spine can turn out to be a real pain in the back—literally. Back pain is a common complaint, but there are simple steps you can take to improve your spine health and lessen or eliminate pain. Read through the following tips and think about how you typically move as you go through daily activities. Could you make some of these simple changes?

Sleeping
Healthy sleeping habits benefit your overall health, and the way you sleep impacts the health of your spine specifically. Avoid sleeping on your stomach as it puts unnecessary pressure on your spine and neck. If you sleep on your back, you can better maintain the healthy neutral curvature of your spine and avoid painful compression of its joints, nerves and muscles. If you sleep on your side, make sure your pillow is thicker to keep your neck and back straight. It can also be helpful to place a pillow between your knees keep your hips, pelvis and spine aligned.

Stretching
Another way to lessen spine pain is to make stretching a routine part of your day. Prep for good posture by stretching out your hamstrings (the muscles in the backs of your legs) every morning. Tight hamstrings pull on the bottom of your pelvic muscles and in turn cause lower back pain. Stretching breaks throughout the day are also a good way to get your blood flowing if you’re sitting or performing repetitive actions for a long period of time. Continue Reading »

Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

The Affinity Health System blog contains opinions and views created by community members. Affinity does endorse the contributions of community members. You should not assume the information posted by community members is accurate and you should never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this site.