Meet the Woman Behind the Scenes…Meet Margie.

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We would like to congratulate Marge Kurtz, Medical Billing Specialist, on her retirement. She has served as a loyal member of the Couri Center billing team for 10 years now and we consider her not only a valuable asset to our practice, but a pleasant, enjoyable co-worker and friend. Marge is responsible for medical coding, posting medical charges and journal entries to patient accounts. She oversees insurance denial claims, files appeals and coordinates with insurance companies. Her contributions to our billing department, professionalism, strong work ethic and her wealth of knowledge will be sorely missed! We wish her all the best in her future endeavors. Retirement will surely offer her many new opportunities, which we know she and Joe will embrace whole-heartedly!

Meet the woman behind the scenes…Meet “Margie”; you’ll be glad you did!

Where are you from? I’m from LaSalle Peru, IL and have now lived in Peoria for 53 years.

Favorite movie? Dirty Dancing

Favorite vacation spot? Any beach on an ocean, but we really enjoy Bradenton, Florida and Gulf Shores, Alabama.

What was your first job like and what did you like about it? My first job was at a local hospital where I worked with all my friends…it turned out to be more fun than work!

How long have you been married? I’ve been married to ‘My Joe’ for over 51 years now and we are blessed to have two children (Craig & Lori) and 5 wonderful grandchildren.

Do you have any nicknames? Friends call me Margie

Favorite part about your work here at the Couri Center? Everyone welcomed me from day one. It’s a family atmosphere where people care for each other and are respected. They also value the work I do.

What are you passionate about? Helping others. My family, our children and grandchildren are my life.

Pet peeves? People that don’t say ‘hello’, or smile and laziness.

Best advice to career women? Wake up early to get a jump-start on your day. Listen, be courageous, and persistent. Stay focused and learn all facets of your job. Pay attention to other jobs in case you ever have to fill in.

Favorite aroma? I love the sweet aroma of my homemade cinnamon rolls.

When did you begin your career in healthcare? In 1963, I began working for Dr. Blough, Murphy and Saad’s OB/GYN practice here in Peoria. Here I handled a multitude of responsibilities: answering phones, scheduling, patient care, billing, coding, book keeping and insurance. They trusted me with every facet of the practice and I loved it! I worked with many additional doctors over the years and still maintain several valuable friendships from my time there, which I will always cherish.

Favorite hobbies? Golfing, spending time with family and friends, walking, reading and playing cards-a favorite is ‘Hand & Foot’! I also enjoy crocheting afghans for my grandchildren.

What’s on your bucket list? We want to continue traveling to our favorite areas and visit our children and grandchildren. It’s a blessing to have a close-knit family and we love to be together!

marge-charlieWhat makes you laugh? I laugh easily…my kids, grandchildren and a good movie.

Words of Wisdom to your grandchildren and future generations? Be true to yourself. Don’t try to be what you aren’t. Find out who you really are, and be the best you can possible be.

marge-joe-french-quarterI cannot live without _____________________?

A cup of coffee in the morning and some peace & quiet and of course, my Joe!

Do you like to cook? Favorite recipes?   I do like to cook when I have time. Some favorites are my minestrone soup, spaghetti, a good roast, turkey and of course my cinnamon rolls and Christmas cookies. I do everything from scratch, just like my mother did!

How did you come to work for the Couri Center? When my last employment closed, a doctor there referred me to work with the Couri Center-I’m sure thankful he did. I am so very grateful for my employment here these past 10 years and appreciate Dr. Couri and our Practice Manager, Tim Couri and all they have done for me! I consider myself blessed and while it’s difficult to retire and leave this family, I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to pursue my passions and hobbies! I will miss you all and wish you the best.

 

A Word to the “Wise” By Leslie Rusch-Bayer, RD, LDN, CPT

couri-paintingOctober can mean only one thing; fall has finally arrived. The trees are slowly changing from green to a multitude of oranges, yellows and reds. Apples, pumpkins and squash are ready for picking. And, thankfully, the Illinois humidity that has been all too prevalent this summer is starting to dissipate more and more among the fall days. However, with fall comes daylight savings time and cooler, more temperamental weather. Soon our bodies’ natural rhythm will tell us it is time to hibernate.

For men and women above the age of fifty, this is one of the most dangerous parts of fall and winter. The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported this month that 1 in 3 adults (28%) who are older than age fifty are physically inactive. This means they are not participating in at least 150 minutes of activity each week.

Here is another statistic; in 2014, two in three adults age fifty or older had AT LEAST one chronic disease. Chronic disease is interpreted as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, arthritis, cancer and cardiovascular disease, just to name a few.

Let’s continue putting this picture together; non-institutionalized adults age fifty or older spend $860 BILLION on health care annually.

Here is the kicker; four in five of the most costly chronic conditions among adults age fifty or older can be PREVENTED or MANAGED with physical activity.

Now, if your parents or grandparents are anything like mine, they have taught you that saving money is very important. What if I could tell them I could save them $860 billion? This savings will not cost them any more than thirty minutes of their day, five days each week. Sounds too good to be true, right? Lots of people, myself included from time to time, moan and groan about exercise. I hear it every day. “I don’t have enough time. I’m too busy. Have you seen my schedule?” No offense, but get over it.

Imagine yourself 100 years ago. No car, no cell phone, no combine, no hose, no grocery store, no air conditioning… Exercise was not emphasized 100 years ago because we were naturally active. Women, men and children were responsible food, water and shelter. There were no complaints of heat or sweat. Chores had to be done, or no one ate. Women spent their time gardening, cleaning and hand-washing her clothing. (And that’s ok, because it was hard work!) Men were farming with wooden plows and horses. Kids did not have technology. They spent their evening running, climbing trees and playing tag. Life was not easy, but chronic disease and obesity was also not as prevalent.

When you really sit and think about the last 100 years and disease, it is quite simple. Technology is a great thing, if it is used responsibly. Technology has given us cars, planes, medical equipment, even life-saving medications. It has also made us very sedentary.

If I were to give anyone medical advice it would be this; be responsible for your health. Own up to the fact that physical activity is necessary for everyone. If you are suffering from chronic disease or not, let these statistics mold the rest of your life. Exercise prevents and manages disease, manages stress, detoxifies the body, increases muscle mass and burns fat. I guarantee you there is no prescription, or combination of prescriptions, available that has the ability to do everything 30 minutes of movement or exercise has.

I encourage everyone, young or old, to make this fall/winter different than the past. Make exercise a priority. It is ok to be uncomfortable. Sweat never made anyone melt. It is as easy as thirty minutes, five days a week; it may save your life.

Leslie Rusch-Bayer, RD, LDN, CPT

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How to Avoid Falls as We Age By Sue Lang, APN, CNM

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According to statistics, one in three people over the age of 65 will sustain a fall. As we age the risk of falls increases proportionately. By age 80, over 50% of seniors may have had a fall. Not all of those will result in fatal or non-fatal injuries, but it can certainly change one’s life. Sources say that over 45 percent of seniors who fall are often not able to get up without assistance, even though they did not have a fracture. The longer a person is down and unable to be mobile increases muscle break down which occurs in as little as 30-60 minutes. Getting help after a fall improves the likelihood of a return to your usual activities.  (As you may know, this senior fell in July.) Whether a fall causes injury; the impact can play an adverse role in one’s life both emotionally and physically. It changes one’s routine and social activities. Although, we know these statistics, keep in mind that many falls are not even reported by the seniors or their families.

Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated for a fall in the Emergency Department. Falls are the leading cause of death in the elderly, and 87% of fractures in the elderly are due to falls. Falls account for 25% of hospital admissions and 40% of all nursing home admissions.

Is this a one-time event? Those who fall are 2-3 times more likely to fall again. Because falling carries such a significant threat to older adults, they often feel the need to limit their activities and social engagements in effort to avoid danger. This then leads to social isolation, depression and feelings of being helpless. Many seniors that live alone frequently become worried that they may not be able to stay in their homes.

Although these statistics are alarming, there are things that we can do to prevent or limit falls. Please help those around you as well as yourself by increasing awareness and education about the risks and prevention of falls.  First and foremost, stay as active as possible. Improve your balance, strength and stamina. Leslie, our Registered Dietitian and Exercise Physiologist, can certainly help with that. Make sure that you are getting adequate calcium and sufficient Vitamin D3 to allow proper absorption of your calcium.

Take a look at your home and be mindful of the following:

  1. Install safety grip bars near the tub and the stool. These can often be found at medical supply stores.
  2. Remove scatter rugs and clutter on the floor. (In my case, dog toys.)
  3. If you have to go upstairs, stair rails on both sides may be helpful. Try to avoid stairs until you are able to navigate them with confidence.
  4. If you can, stay on one level in your home.
  5. Have emergency contact numbers programmed into your phone and have it with you.
  6. Wear appropriate footwear. Shoes that offer good support make slipping less likely.

Small improvements can lead the way to a healthier life. With these changes, you may avoid life-altering falls. Learn from my mistake and make some changes!

 

Sue Lang, APN, CNM

Resources:

Yale Study on Fall Risk

Center of Excellence for Fall Prevention

Learn NOT to fall

Understanding the FDA Ban on Triclosan By Hope Placher, PA-C, IFMCP

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In the fall of 2015 I had the pleasure of leading a wellness lecture exploring various chemicals and toxins hidden in our home and self-care products. We discussed what, if any, affect these chemicals could have on our health and the environment. One of the compounds that I reviewed is a chemical called triclosan. It is used as an anti-microbial agent in soaps, body washes, detergents and toothpastes, to name a few. Triclosan first came into vogue as an EPA registered pesticide in 1969. The medical community soon realized the anti-microbial power of this product and started to incorporate it into household and personal care products. Today, it is a primary ingredient utilized in roughly 75 percent of all antimicrobial liquid hand soaps, as well as toothpaste and body wash, among many other products.

For years, even the FDA admitted that regular soap and water proved just as effective as antibacterial soaps without the harmful side effects, urging everyday people to skip out on the overkill of using antibacterial soap. One of the major concerns became increasing awareness that using antibiotic soaps contributed to antibiotic resistance. The more we expose germs to germ-fighting substances like antibiotics and antibacterial soaps, the better they adapt. Nature’s good at that. Studies in animals have shown that triclosan and triclocarban can disrupt the normal development of the reproductive system and metabolism, and health experts warn that their effects could be the same in humans.

In 2013, the FDA issued a rule requiring companies to provide data proving antibacterial chemicals were safe and effective. In addition, they had to demonstrate antibacterial products were superior to non-antibacterial ones in regards to preventing human illness or reducing infection. Companies weren’t able to do this, according to the FDA. This prompted many companies to start voluntarily pulling triclosan from their products and replacing it with other antibacterial chemicals not on the FDA’s current ban list. (This begs the question, are we just replacing one list of dangerous ingredients with another? A conversation for another day.)

In September 2016, the FDA imposed a ban on triclosan. Manufacturers will have one year to comply with the rule by removing triclosan and 18 other anti-bacterial ingredients from their products. This FDA ban applies to over-the-counter consumer hand soaps and body washes. It does not ban the uses of these antibacterials in chemical sanitizers or wipes, or in soaps used in hospital or food service settings. Other personal care products may still contain the chemicals. At least one toothpaste- Colgate Total, still does, but the F.D.A. says its manufacturer proved that the benefits of using it — reducing plaque and gum disease — outweigh the risks.   As there are too many personal care products to list here, I would encourage you to go to www.ewg.org and search ‘triclosan containing products’ to see if any of your go-to personal care products are on the list.

To Your Health,

Hope Placher, PA-C, IFMCP

Honoring Our Bodies By Dr. Michele Couri, MD, FACOG, ABIHM

screenshot-2016-09-28-11-07-29Last week, I read a startling statistic that in 2015, more than 226,000 cosmetic procedures were performed on patients between 13 and 19, including nearly 65,000 surgical procedures such as nose reshaping, breast lifts, breast augmentation, liposuction, and tummy tucks. Since four of my children are girls, I am astonished by this statistic and am sickened by what the underlying message truly is.

As a gynecologist for women of all ages, including pre-teens and teens, I see first-hand the deleterious effects that societal pressure has on our self-image. Just last month, a teen-aged patient came to see me to discuss the possibility of having a procedure called a labiaplasty (surgery to reduce the size of the labia majora or minora). She felt as if her labia were “too large”. There is a condition called labial hypertrophy in which one or both of the labia are larger than normal causing a combination of symptoms such vulvar discomfort, irritation, pain during exercise such as bike riding and pain during intercourse. If labial hypertrophy is truly present, the surgery to reduce the size of the labia can be quite therapeutic. However, there is a nationwide trend towards more and more teenage girls seeking labiaplasty surgery in cases where labial hypertrophy isn’t the case but rather the presence of dissatisfaction with the appearance of their labia in general. Reasons for this increasing popularity include growing cultural acceptance, availability of Internet genital exposure, and hair removal procedures that expose tissue that previously went unnoticed.

When I examined the above- mentioned patient, I found that her genital anatomy was completely normal. She had no sign of labial hypertrophy whatsoever, but it did weigh heavy on my heart that she felt that something was wrong. I did my best to reassure her that everything appeared normal while I tried to ascertain why she felt as if her completely normal anatomy needed cosmetic revision. Where are these young girls getting the misguided message that everyone’s labia should all look the same? “It’s important for OB-GYNs to discuss sexual development and the variability of what breasts and genitalia may look like. Variety in the shape, size, appearance and symmetry of labia can have particularly distressing psychological effects on young women,” said Dr Strickland, MD, MPH, an Obstetrician-Gynecologist based in Kansas City, Missouri. “It’s one more body part that women are insecure about and it’s our job, as ob-gyns, to reassure our young patients.”

Cosmetic genital surgeries, designed to make genitals look “better” or to improve sexual satisfaction, are increasingly popular. The surgeries include not only labiaplasty, but also vaginoplasty, which tightens the vagina. Little is known about whether or how effective these surgeries are on young women. Potential complications include infection, altered sensation, painful penetration, adhesions, and scarring. Despite these potential adverse side effects, the rate of labiaplasties in the United States is on the rise. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, labiaplasties in general were up by 16% in the United States in 2015. Although concern with the appearance of the external genitalia is on the rise, there is no established consensus on the definition of labial hypertrophy or criteria for surgical intervention. Furthermore, cosmetic vaginal procedures are not medically indicated, and their safety and efficacy remain unproven.

Because I believe that now more than ever our young girls need resources that empower them with reputable and constructive information, one of my favorite websites is www.amightygirl.com. It contains the world’s largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls of all ages. The site was founded on the belief that all children should have the opportunity to read books, play with toys, listen to music, and watch movies that offer positive messages about girls and honor their diverse capabilities. Related to this topic of self -acceptance, I highly recommend a couple of books on this website. The first one is entitled Picture Perfect. The description of this book is as follows: “Do you ever wish you looked like someone else? Or that you could skip school because you feel self-conscious about your appearance? Do you think you’re fat or ugly, even though everyone says you’re fine? So many girls have these kinds of feelings from time to time. The important thing is to find ways of coping with them so they don’t stop you from living your life. Picture Perfect will help you see how other girls who struggle with liking themselves have found solutions that really help them feel better about who they are–and their stories will show you ways to feel better too!”

Another similar book that I highly recommend is Real Beauty: 101 Ways to Feel Great about You. Its description is as follows:

What IS real beauty? It’s not something you find in the makeup aisle or in the pages of a fashion magazine. Real beauty comes from liking yourself, from feeling strong and healthy, and from knowing what’s beautiful in everyone around you. The Real Beauty book is packed with ideas and activities that help you bring out the best in yourself — and show you that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes!

For the sake of our teenage children, I invite all of us to cultivate an affirmative environment free of self -hate and dissatisfaction with our bodies. We must lead by example and pave the way to educate future generations and transform the present one.

To Your Health,

Dr. Couri

Coconut Cashew Energy Bites

coconut-energy-biteYield: about 14 bites

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups raw, unsalted cashews

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, plus an additional 1/2 – 3/4 cup for rolling

3 large medjool dates, pitted

2 Tablespoons water

1 Tablespoon granulated stevia

1/2-teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2-teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the cashews, coconut and dates several times until finely chopped.

Add the water, salt, cinnamon and sweetener and process into a thick paste. A few tiny chunks of cashew will remain; that’s fine.

Scoop a two Tablespoon portion of the mixture and roll into ball, then roll in shredded coconut to coat.

Repeat with remaining mixture.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to three months.