Coming from around the world to help at home

Working tirelessly behind-the-scenes is a group of IU Health team members who have a special skill – making the hospital feel like home away from home.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

She came here from the Ivory Coast 16 years ago and began working at IU Health a few years later. Oumou Komara, married with two teen-age daughters is one of several members of the IU Health housekeeping staff who understand what it’s like to be away from home.

“This was my first job. I’ve met amazing people who have helped me improve my English and settle into the country I now call home,” said Komara. “I like being around the patients and I like to make them feel comfortable.” She is assigned to 3 South at IU Health University Hospital.

Deb Klahn, Training Manager for Environmental Services (EVS) at IU Health says there are 400 EVS employees at the downtown hospitals. She estimates about 80 are from different countries including Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Poland and Taiwan.

In the EVS offices a large map hangs on the wall and team members add a pin to show their country of origin.

“We’re such a diverse group that our plan was to give team members a chance to talk about their countries,” said Carla Thomson, a department manager.

Team members go through extensive training in areas including chemical safety, infection prevention, and ergonomics. The training can last from two weeks to 30 days with employees working with a preceptor to gain hands-on training. They also learn about personal protection when handling bio-hazardous wastes.

“We tell people that we save lives every day. You don’t have to be clinical to have a hand in patient care,” said Michael Bigelow, also a manager.

Housekeeping is responsible for cleaning and disinfecting all the rooms after patients are discharged, and then maintaining that standard of cleanliness during a patient’s stay. Some housekeeping staff members also run UVC lights – to check for germs – especially in isolation rooms. They also clean shared areas of the hospitals and the nurse stations.

“Every day I come here and I am thankful that I have a job that I like and nice people to work with,” said Komara.

IU Health grants more than $900,000 to community organizations

Twenty-four local organizations are benefiting from grants awarded by IU Health. In 2019, IU Health Community Outreach and Engagement awarded more than $900,000 to community organizations and institutions which—like IU Health—are addressing the health needs of the community. These needs include access to affordable healthcare, behavioral health and substance abuse, healthy weight and nutrition and social determinants of health.

“We are honored to support so many amazing organizations throughout our community that are working to make Indiana a healthier state,” says Kevin Armstrong, executive vice president and chief of staff at IU Health. “It takes reaching outside of our hospital walls to make a difference in the overall health of our Hoosiers and we are grateful for the opportunity to do so.”

Here are several organizations that are using grant dollars to improve the health of our communities:

Access to Affordable Healthcare:

  • Covering Kids and Families received $25,000 to assist in increasing health insurance enrollment and retention.
  • LifeSmart Youth received $50,000 toward a new initiative called Tween Education & Access to Community Health (TEACH), which aims to help advance racial health equity and access to care by providing culturally-relevant, medically-accurate reproductive health education to 4,000 Black and Latina youth ages 8 – 12 (grades 4 – 7) in Marion County schools and summer camps.

Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse:

  • Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana’s (VOAOHIN) Fresh Start Recovery Center received a $75,000 grant to provide residential addiction treatment to pregnant women and mothers. It also allows up to two children ages 5 and under to live with their mother while they receive services.
  • Goodwill Foundation of Central and Southern Indiana
    received $75,000 to help Goodwill Education Initiatives (GEI) Resilience Initiative support resilience work across 15 Excel Center locations by leveraging groundbreaking research on neuroplasticity—the ability of the brain to reorganize itself—and to train staff and students on enhancing their resilience and mitigating the effects of trauma.
  • Additional grant winners:
    • Reach for Youth
    • Lutheran Foundation
    • Indy Public Safety Foundation

Healthy Weight and Nutrition:

  • United Way of Central Indiana, Inc.’s initiative Jump IN for Healthy Kids received a $50,000 grant to address the epidemic of childhood obesity with a specific focus on implementing strategies that create healthy places, healthy neighborhoods, and healthy communities in Marion County.
  • Playworks, a national non-profit organization that partners with Indianapolis schools and youth organizations to help them leverage play for positive outcomes, received a $22,500 grant.
  • Additional grant winners:
    • Indianapolis Parks Foundation

Social Determinants of Health:

  • A $100,000 grant was awarded to Gleaners Food Bank’s Hope Initiative to help increase the volume of fresh produce distributed in Gleaner’s service areas.
  • Indiana Legal Services, Inc. received a $75,000 grant for its Medical Legal Partnership that provides civil legal aid to patients and families who need legal assistance for health-related matters at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.
  • Additional grant winners include:
    • Brandywine Creek Farms
    • Lawrence Community Gardens
    • Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity
    • 500 Festival
    • Groundwork Indy
    • Marion County Public Health Department
    • Junior Achievement of Central Indiana
    • Girls on the Run Central Indiana

In 2018, IU Health provided over $711 million in total community benefit and served more than one million Hoosiers. Nearly 4,000 team members devoted thousands of volunteer hours to community projects through employee volunteer programs to help enhance the well-being of all Hoosiers.

If you’re interested in learning more about how these organizations impact the communities IU Health serves, keep an eye on the team portal for a more in-depth look at some of the winning organizations.

Questions? Contact communitybenefit@iuhealth.org.

Friends share new bond – Kidney; third transplant for family of eight

They met as freshmen at an all-male school in Ohio. Years went by, they remained friends and when one needed a kidney, the other became his donor.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealthorg

The day before Luke Siekierski was scheduled to go in for his kidney transplant he was out bird hunting near his Clay City home. He was accompanied by one of his long-time friends Drew Stichter who was scheduled to accompany him to IU Health University Hospital the next day. Stichter was donating his kidney to his friend.

It was April 12, 2019 when Siekierski, 36, received his new kidney under the care of IU Health transplant surgeon Dr. William Goggins. But it was years earlier that Stichter had indicated his willingness to give his friend the gift of life.

Kidney disease was something familiar to the Siekierski family from Toledo, Ohio; Luke is the youngest of six children of the late Jerry Siekierski and his wife Jane. His older sister Natalie received a kidney transplant in 2013 and his father received a transplant in 2004. His brother Peter awaits a new kidney. All were diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, an inherited disorder characterized by cysts that develop on the kidney interfering with the organ’s ability to filter wastes. Siekierski recently returned to IU Health University Hospital where his bad kidney was removed. He is under the care of Drs. Chandru Sundaram and Asif A. Sharfuddin. His transplant coordinators are Alisha Turner and Christine Molby.

“When my dad had his transplant, we knew I’d eventually need a transplant. Drew said then ‘when you’re ready, I want to be tested,” said Siekierski. It is the kind of friend Drew is. It also represents one of the principals that formed their friendship.

The friends first met as freshmen at St. John’s Jesuit High School & Academy in Toledo, Ohio. The all-male campus is home to about 850 students who learn early on the school’s motto: “Men for Others.” Students engage in theology classes and Christian service and are encouraged to “go forth and do more in the world.” They are encouraged to do everything to the best of their abilities to make the world a better place to live.

Over the years Siekierski had seen his long-time friend practice that motto – coming to his aid after a break up with a girlfriend, stepping up to help a stranger change a flat tire.

“He’s just like that. He’d stop what he was doing and help anyone. He was a standout,” said Siekierski. He remembers first meeting his friend in homeroom at St. John’s –the class was organized alphabetically. Stichter remembers the two playing football and other intramural sports together their freshman year. The friendship continued after the two graduated. Siekierski attended the University of Toledo and Stichter attended Purdue. Eventually Siekierski took a job in Clay City to work in agriculture and Stichter moved to Colorado where he worked in construction management and recently took a leap of faith into restaurant management.

“Luke’s and IU, Notre Dame and Chicago fan and I’m a Purdue grad and a Detroit fan so there has been a lot of back and forth over the years,” said Stichter. His friend raised labs and they both have hunting dogs that they enjoy taking out for sport. They’ve been to weddings and bachelor parties of mutual friends and Sierkierski has vacationed in Colorado.

As his health became poor, Siekierski said his breathing was labored. It was difficult to take in all the outdoor fun he enjoyed for years – hunting, camping and kayaking. His infected kidneys also slowed him down – weighing 13 pounds each.

When Siekierski was ready for his transplant, his friend tested and was a match.

“It’s one of the ultimate selfless acts and it’s not as bad as you think,” said Stichter. “We had wonderful support from donor coordinators, nurses, doctors, family and friends and I got to see firsthand what it’s like to help save a life which is the biggest high there is.”

Siekierski remained hospitalized for two weeks and says he is doing great since his recent nephrectomy.

“I’m fortunate to have come to IU Health,” said Siekierski. “After the transplant everyone was very attentive and assertive about follow ups and labs. Even when I went back members of the transplant team stopped by just to see how I’m doing.”

Mom, two daughters same infusion, same day for rare disease

There were varying symptoms with no real diagnosis –until Lisa Barrick’s sixth grandchild was born. It was a pregnancy that changed three lives.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

Three women rest in chairs with three IV poles nearby at IU Health Simon Cancer Center. Mom is on the left, her eldest daughter, Tiffany is in the middle, and youngest daughter, Taylor is to the right.

Bundled in a blanket and reclining in the chair, Taylor is lacking energy. Her symptoms are the most pronounced of the three. In fact, it was her third pregnancy that helped the family find a name for the ill effects they have experienced for years. Lisa Barrick turned 52 this month and she’s not even sure when she started feeling bad. She just knows something has always been wrong.

Taylor was pregnant with her fourth child when she began showing signs of protein spilling into her blood and into her urine. Her older sister had similar symptoms during pregnancy. There were other issues too – Tiffany experienced two strokes; her mother has been diagnosed with Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and cardiomyopathy. High levels of LDH may indicate tissue damage. Cardiomyopathy is a disease that makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood to other parts of her body. Barrick’s brother had a kidney transplant years ago so the family began to suspect the focus of their problems was related to a kidney disease.

After Taylor’s last pregnancy Barrick began researching the symptoms and feeling certain that all the symptoms were part of a bigger diagnosis. She also began looking for hospitals that offered specialized genetic research.

“That’s when I found Dr. Bryan Hainline and we began to get tested and find a name to put with our symptoms,” said Barrick. IU Health’s Dr. Hainline specializes in medical and molecular genetics. Tests resulted in that name “Fabry disease.” An inherited disorder, the disease is caused by a defect on the “X” chromosome – genetic mutations tend to occur mostly in males and rarely in females. According to the National Institutes of Health it’s estimated that it affects about one in 40,000 males in the United States. The disease can affect various parts of the body including the kidneys, heart and skin. The genetic mutations that cause the disease interfere with an enzyme that processes biomolecules known as sphingolipids. The result is substances build up in the walls of blood vessels and other organs causing the symptoms that Barrick and her daughters felt.

Those symptoms are different for all three but include stomach pain, foamy urine, irritability and anxiety and rapid heart rate. It can also cause ringing in the ears, cloudy vision, abnormal sweating, pain and burning in the hands and feet, and small dark red spots around the belly button and knees.

Under Hainline’s care Barrick and her daughters began infusions of Fabrazyme, a man-made replacement for the enzyme deficiency. They anticipate taking the treatment every two weeks for the rest of their lives. The daughters are also in the process of having their children tested for the rare disease.

“Basically, I got it from my mother, she got it from her mother and so on,” said Barrick. “For years we’ve been treating symptoms and now we are treating the disease. It won’t reverse the damage that has already occurred, but it will slow the progression. Today is a new day. We now have a name. “

IU Health Urgent Care Center opens in Downtown Indianapolis

The new center is easily accessible on foot for a wide mix of Downtown residents and commuters, and there is also a free parking lot onsite for patients.

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist, mgilmer1@iuhealth.org

Busy Downtown Indianapolis workers, students and residents now have a convenient place to go when they need treatment for a minor illness or injury.

IU Health opened its latest Urgent Care Center in a former coffee shop at 222 W. Michigan St., across from the Downtown Kroger.

The center is open seven days a week, 365 days a year, offering prompt care for non-emergent illnesses and injuries, as well as sports physicals, lab work and X-ray services with a physician’s order.

Melissa Cash, regional administrator for IU Health Urgent Care, said the Downtown location has six exam rooms and an X-ray suite, and it will be staffed by an advanced practice provider and at least three clinicians.

While the center is easily accessible on foot for a wide mix of Downtown residents and commuters, there is also a free parking lot onsite for patients.

As is the case with most of its Urgent Care Centers, IU Health is renting the space for the Downtown center. It underwent months of rehab inside and out before opening Jan. 5.

Patient volume is yet to be seen, but Cash expects it to be a popular location because of its proximity to IU Health’s Downtown campus, IUPUI and commuter traffic, both vehicles and pedestrians.

On average, the IU Health clinics in Central Indiana see anywhere from 60 to 120 patients a day depending on the season, Cash said.

“Flu season is here, so we’re expecting a pretty strong opening.”

While micro-hospitals are popping up around the city, IU Health is committed to the Urgent Care model, a low-cost alternative to other higher-cost settings of care, Cash said.

“We really focus on getting patients in and out quickly for minor urgent care illness and injuries,” she said. “If they need a higher level of care, we can facilitate that. Anyone who needs to be seen in the ER, we can triage and send them over to the hospital.”

The Downtown location will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Photo by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist, mdickbernd@iuhealth.org

New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 9

New IU Health Methodist Hospital nurse Rachel Ketelaar takes on discharges, transfusion and patient updates.

Tuesday

  • Lots to talk about today! I was on my own again for a few hours in the morning, but I realized I am never really on my own. One patient needed me to feed her because she was at risk of choking. The doctor ordered medication by capsule but I wasn’t confident this patient could safely swallow a capsule. So I went to the charge nurse and she advised me to ask the doctor. The doctor changed the medication to a liquid form and everything worked out.
  • Free appreciation lunch today for IU Health employees, served in a huge tent on the front lawn. We were so busy that they brought boxed lunches up to us and I didn’t get to eat mine until 3:30. It was delicious! (Though I only ate a little because I packed my own lunch today.)
  • I was/am a little intimidated giving patient updates to doctors. But I realize much of what doctors ask about are things I observed or charted and I actually know more about the patient than I thought I did. Most of the time the doctors just want to know if the patient is eating, walking, going to the bathroom, feeling less pain, improving in vitals, or if I have any concerns about the patient.

Thursday

  • I had the opportunity to discharge 3 patients. This is great practice. Discharges involve getting the patient’s discharge paperwork and belongings together, removing their IVs, educating them on their medications or lifestyle changes and making sure they safely get to their vehicle and have a ride home. For one of my discharges I had to give a report on the patient to the rehab facility and the ambulance staff that was transporting her.

Friday

  • Today I did a blood transfusion with Ty’s help. It is a process! We had to make sure the patient consented, send a blood sample to the lab to verify the patient’s blood type, double-check the donor’s and the patient’s blood type and IDs, then monitor the patient during the transfusion. The first 15 minutes are most crucial since this is when many adverse reactions occur. During these 15 minutes, I assessed the patient, took his vitals, and he taught me a fun card game.
  • I so appreciate working on A2N. The nurses are so willing to lend a hand, whether it’s when a patient must be turned or medications administered. I love the willingness on A2N to lighten each other’s loads!

Read more:

New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 1
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 2
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 3
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 4
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 5
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 6
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 7
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 8
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 9

Apply Yourself – Being a nurse at Indiana University Health means building a professional nursing career designed by you, with competitive benefits and a culture that embraces your unique strengths and supports your personal and professional goals. If you are seeking an organization where you can engage professionally, develop clinical expertise, embrace learning, foster new relationships and fuel your spirit of inquiry, apply today.

IU Health’s new midwifery practice delivers first baby

The timing couldn’t have been better, said certified nurse midwife Darla Berry, who helped deliver little Isla Mae Nelson, the first child of Rachel and Josh Nelson, at IU Health Methodist Hospital last week.

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist, mgilmer1@iuhealth.org

She is 7 pounds, 13 ounces of cuteness and she is now the poster child for IU Health’s new midwifery practice.

After all, what better way to mark the recent opening of the hospital system’s first midwifery practice than with the arrival of its first baby.

The timing couldn’t have been better, said certified nurse midwife Darla Berry, who helped deliver little Isla Mae Nelson, the first child of Rachel and Josh Nelson, at IU Health Methodist Hospital on Tuesday afternoon.

It was a speedy delivery for sure. Rachel had been texting with Berry that morning as her labor began, but by the time she arrived at the hospital at 2:30 p.m. she was fully dilated, Berry said. “We had a baby at 4:04.”

She, Josh and Rachel were beaming Thursday morning while Isla Mae squirmed and squealed, shortly before mom and daughter were discharged from the hospital.

“The stars aligned perfectly,” said Berry, manager of Nurse Midwifery Services for IU Health. “I am over the moon.”

She is the lone midwife in the practice at this point, but three others have been hired and will start in March and April. The practice is housed at the Artistry Building, 404 E. Washington St.

2020 IS YEAR OF THE MIDWIFE

The World Health Organization has declared 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, Berry said, because it understands globally “what we don’t get nationally – that midwives are crucial to health.”

A midwife for 20 years, Berry said she has long thought that IU Health and its female patients would benefit from a midwifery practice. After much discussion and collaboration between IU Health and the IU School of Medicine, it’s finally happening, she said.

“If you speak it into existence, sometimes the universe follows through for you,” she laughed.

Berry said midwifery is garnering a lot of attention nationwide at this point “simply because our outcomes are stellar.”

“I think the relationships we can create with women, the opportunities we can create for women to have midwifery care … we just catapulted ourselves ahead of the game.”

Rachel Nelson, whose husband is manager of Methodist’s wound care center, knew she wanted a midwife for her delivery, but she had to wait for IU Health’s new practice to open its doors. She was already 36 weeks pregnant before her first appointment with Berry, though she had been under the care of a physician and had done her homework when it comes to understanding pregnancy.

“I’ve done a ton of reading and research already and knew I wanted to find a midwifery practice to be able to partner with in this,” Rachel said before she gave birth. “I wanted someone who was an expert in a ‘normal’ birth. Having that partnership and that communication was super important.”

The two women connected instantly, Berry telling her patient that she would be “the guardian of all things normal” and would help navigate what Rachel wants with what the medical world says needs to be done.

Ironically, Josh met his wife’s midwife before she did, when both he and Berry attended an IU Health leadership conference in November.

“She waited very patiently,” Berry said of Rachel during their last appointment before Isla Mae made her grand entrance. “In terms of getting to know her, I feel like we’ve done some speed dating.”

But her medical care had been good, and Rachel was self-motivated to learn all she could.

“She is an ideal first patient, exceptionally prepared,” Berry said. “She is very low-key, so not a lot ruffles her, and I would include labor in that.”

The timing could not have been better for the practice, she said, “with a birth right out of the gate.”

METHODIST IS A LEADER IN CARE

For now, Berry will deliver babies at Methodist, which has established itself as a leader with regard to midwifery care, she said. Eventually, labor and delivery will move to the new mother-baby unit under construction at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

While having a midwife is not necessarily about un-medicated birth, the hospital staff must support the option, she said. And the staff at Methodist does.

“The hardest work is already done for me in terms of building this practice and providing this service because I already have the nursing staff, management and administrators that are totally on board and supportive,” Berry said.

Physicians are on board as well, she said, noting that more and more medical interns and residents are gaining experience with midwifery in their education.

Berry said midwives offer a more personal birth experience for pregnant women.

“It’s my job as a midwife to help reconcile this often idealized picture of what birth looks like for women, especially those who’ve never had a baby, and talk through what your options are in terms of medication, intervention, monitoring and how to balance it.”

Having a midwife doesn’t mean a woman has decided to have an un-medicated birth, Berry said, but it is certainly an option. Rachel chose to forgo medication and has no regrets. The labor and birth were pretty much what she hoped for, she said, and her baby girl came out healthy and strong. Had there been complications, however, Methodist staff were prepared to step in.

“We work very closely with physicians,” Berry said. “If there are any questions prenatally, then we consult. If questions or concerns come up once labor starts and you’re in the hospital, we’ve got staff in house 24/7. So someone is there to offer a second set of eyes, consult or to transfer care if that’s what needs to happen.

“We’re not out here doing wacky, wild, unsupported stuff,” Berry said. “Our care philosophy is research-based, and my job is to help women walk that path and know what their options are and know why they’re choosing to do or not to do something.”

MIDWIVES CAN TREAT WOMEN FOR LIFETIME

The new midwifery practice presents opportunities for women of all ages to seek care from practitioners who have a passion for supporting women. While midwives are most associated with delivering babies, they can treat women at any time, Berry said.

“As midwives, we are ‘with women’ and we are with women for a lifetime, so I can see you as a teenager and help you through irregular periods and birth control, through the child-bearing years, and I can stay with you through menopause.”

Berry, a mother of four herself, had an obstetrician deliver her first two children, then delivered her next two at home with a midwife. She describes the moment when a woman meets her child for the first time as “sacred,” and believes everything should be done to protect that moment.

“We are here to ensure that every woman knows they have one person on this side of the fence in the medical arena who will listen to them and help them navigate the system, which is often so ridiculously complicated.”

Berry believes IU Health’s new midwifery practice is one more piece in the puzzle that will help address Indiana’s high maternal mortality rate – 41.4 women die for every 100,000 births – which is more than twice the national average.

“What this practice and an endorsement by the School of Medicine can do is solidify our place at the table as midwives and as owners of that midwifery body of knowledge that acknowledges we are a piece of the solution to this problem.”

To schedule an appointment with IU Health’s new midwifery practice, call (317) 944-8231.

Photos by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist, mdickbernd@iuhealth.org

“I was living in a food fog” – Patient reverses her diabetes diagnosis

She had tried various diets with some success. But in the end, Amy Magan knew her weight loss came down to this: Changing her mindset.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

She thinks she was about nine when she realized she was overweight. Amy Magan was never really happy about that realization. At that young age, her family had just moved to Ohio. She was the first-born in a family of four siblings and considered herself very much a leader in the family hierarchy.

“When we moved, I remember all my siblings had a match in the neighborhood – someone to hang with. There was no match for me so I read and I ate. Mostly I ate while I read,” said Magan, who works as a communications manager for UINDY. After high school she attended Butler University and she remembers periods throughout her life when she tried various diets – often losing up to 40 pounds. At 5’2 her highest weight was 229. She was considered morbidly obese.

“I’d feel good when I lost weight but it was more about calories in and calories out. What I’ve come to realize is my weight is a part of my physical, emotional and spiritual self – it’s about what I’m really avoiding when I’m eating,” said Magan.

Twenty-six years ago she married another Butler communications student – Mike Magan. They have three children – Annie, 23; Charlie, 20; and Robbie, 16. It was when she was pregnant with Annie that Magan was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. She controlled it with diet and exercise. When Robbie came along she was dependent on insulin – giving herself injections three times daily.

“If you have gestational diabetes you are more prone to Type II diabetes. I also have a family history of diabetes,” said Magan. Her father was diagnosed with Type II diabetes. “I can’t tell you when exactly I was diagnosed because I’d get information and I’d ignore it,” said Magan. Eventually she couldn’t ignore it. She began medication to control the diabetes and at one point was on half a dozen prescriptions.

“I just thought I was going to be diabetic and that was the way it would be,” said Magan. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Diseases lists the following health risks for being overweight: (in addition to diabetes), stroke, cancer, heart disease, liver and kidney disease, and high blood pressure.

“I’d go to my physician and it was like a wheel of meds,” said Magan. “I’d get blood work every three months because my health was so iffy and my doctor would spin her wheel of meds and I’d leave and go on – I wasn’t comfortable with that.”

In March of 2016 Magan had a wake up call. Her weight resulted in complications during an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) – to examine the lining of her esophagus. The gastroenterologist told her she needed to lose weight. Her health was in danger.

“I didn’t go home right away and make changes. I was in a pattern where I’d eat breakfast, have a snack, eat lunch have a snack and repeat. I was sedentary and I was in a food fog. I could be physically present but not emotionally and spiritually present with people because I was thinking about what I was going to eat next or ashamed of what I’d just eaten,” said Magan.

Within a few months, she began to seriously think about how she could change the pattern, the lifestyle. She also became a patient of IU Health Dr. Debra Balos.

“She’s an osteopathic doctor which makes a huge difference for me. She wants to know beyond the basic health – other things going on in my life like family issues,” said Magan. “She never once said ‘you need to lose weight.’ She wasn’t shaming me.” But Magan had reached a point where even with medication; her hemoglobin was so high that she was close to requiring insulin to control her diabetes.

“I had a sense I wasn’t living the life God had called me to live. It was a total awakening,” said Magan. She joined a support group and learned to change her focus, to find her way out of the food fog. Over time she has lost 65 pounds and is no longer considered diabetic. Her medications have been reduced to two.

“Before I was frequently losing weight for something – a wedding, a reunion – and when I hit the finish line I was done. Now I realize I’ll never hit the finish line because I’m working toward a better physical, spiritual and emotional life,” said Magan.

What’s changed in her day-to-day living?

“I think culturally we still celebrate with food; we still grieve with food. I had to change my mindset,” said Magan. She remembers the first Christmas she began changing her habits and she wanted to eat a cookie that reminded her of her grandmother. Instead, she kept a picture of her grandmother in her pocket, using that to feel connected and loved. She doesn’t believe in putting others out by her decision to eat healthy, so if she needs to, she’ll pack her own foods. One of the biggest things she has cut from her diet is sugar. If there’s sugar in the first three ingredients, she won’t buy it. She has also given up Diet Coke because the drink’s aspartame tricked her body into thinking it was processing sugar, resulting in increased insulin production.

“I have an action plan that I try to do every day and part of that involves purposeful movement. It may be going to a different floor at my office for a bathroom break, it may even include a walk around the building,” said Magan. “It’s about discipline and the surrendering of my own will and I’ve seen how impactful it has been to make the change.”

As a result of her improved health Magan says she has become more carefree and less controlling. She has also developed more confidence – returning to school for her master’s degree.

Magan’s advice to others struggling with weight loss: “Figure out what foods set you off the rails – what you can’t stop eating once you start and then change the way you look at food. Find people who support your efforts and don’t get discouraged if you don’t do it perfectly. Just keep trying to make the next right choice.”

Checklist for Quitting Smoking: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Kicking the Habit

You can make 2020 your year to join the ranks of former smokers. Laying some groundwork first will boost your chances of successfully quitting smoking, said Patricia Colon, MPH, IU Health Bloomington Community Health tobacco prevention coordinator. START your non-smoking lifestyle!

S: Set a quit date

Quitting smoking is a process. It begins before you quit and ends sometime after your last cigarette. Pick a date that gives you time to develop your plan and get ready to quit, ideally within 2-3 weeks.

T: Tell family, friends and coworkers you’re quitting

Quitting smoking isn’t easy for most people. Ask for their understanding and support when cravings and stress hit.

A: Anticipate challenges

You’re going to hit challenges that test your resolve to quit—they’re part of kicking an addictive habit. Make a plan for how to get around them.

R: Remove tobacco products from your environment

Before quitting, clean up and clean out — cigarettes and old butts, ashtrays, lighters — anything that’s part of your smoking habit. Make your home smoke-free and avoid smoking in other places where you spend a lot of time, like your car or work.

T: Talk to your doctor

Quitting smoking cold turkey isn’t for everyone. Talk with your doctor about nicotine patches or gum and other medications that can help you quit.

Get the one-on-one coaching and resources you need to finally kick your smoking habit—for FREE! Go to QuitNowIndiana.com and get started today!

IU Health Arnett Cancer Center recognized for achieving NAPBC Accreditation

The National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), a quality program of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) has granted Three-Year Accreditation to Indiana University Health Arnett Cancer Center. To achieve voluntary NAPBC accreditation, a breast center demonstrates compliance with the NAPBC standards that look at a center’s leadership, clinical services, research, community outreach, professional education and quality improvement. Breast centers seeking NAPBC accreditation undergo a site visit every three years.

As a NAPBC-accredited center, IU Health Arnett Cancer Center is committed to maintaining levels of excellence in the delivery of comprehensive, patient-centered, multidisciplinary care resulting in high-quality care for patients with breast disease. Patients receiving care at a NAPBC-accredited center have access to information on clinical trials and new treatments, genetic counseling and patient centered services including psycho-social support and a survivorship care plan that documents the care each patient receives and seeks to improve cancer survivor’s quality of life.

“We are proud to achieve this prestigious accreditation. Our staff has worked tirelessly to achieve this certification and it reflects our dedication to excellent patient care and services,” said Phyllis Martin-Simmerman, MD, radiologist with IU Health Arnett. “In awarding us NAPBC Accreditation, ACS has provided us with the opportunity to celebrate the exceptional care we provide to our patients and our commitment to the well-being of our community.”

Receiving care at IU Health Arnett Cancer Center ensures that patients have access to:

  • Comprehensive care, including a full range of state-of-the-art services
  • A multidisciplinary team approach to coordinate the best treatment options
  • Information about ongoing clinical trials and new treatment options