STEMI alert

Imagine holding your breath underwater. Now imagine that you couldn’t return to the surface. This is similar to what the heart experiences during an ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI).

STEMI is a type of heart attack that prevents a large portion of the heart muscle from receiving blood due to a blocked coronary artery. At a certain point, the lack of blood and oxygen will cause parts of the heart muscle to die.

“The longer the heart is starved for oxygen, the more muscle will be affected by the heart attack,” said Paula Fox, director of heart and vascular care at CHI Saint Joseph Health.

Quick treatment for STEMI to unblock arteries can help prevent lasting damage to the heart and result in better outcomes for patients. That’s why CHI Saint Joseph Health took part in the Regional Systems Accelerator II Project, led by Duke Clinical Research Institute and the American Heart Association.

Minutes matter

As part of the project, CHI Saint Joseph Health implemented a STEMI alert system that helped streamline the process for recognizing and treating STEMI cases. It also required extra training for emergency medical services providers so they could administer care during ambulance rides to the hospital.

Since the system was implemented, the average time for patients to complete treatment has decreased from 78 minutes after arriving at the hospital to only 43 minutes after arriving.

Education initiatives have also helped the community recognize signs of heart attack, the importance of calling an ambulance and how to administer hands-free CPR during emergencies.

To learn more, visit CHI Saint Joseph Health Heart & Vascular Care.

“There’s not a single aspect of life that isn’t better”

At 417 pounds, life was becoming difficult for Chris Rogers of Paris.

“Everyday tasks were becoming a struggle – getting dressed, tying shoes, going out to eat,” he said. “Luckily, I didn’t have too many medical problems.”

But he was uncomfortable, and Rogers could tell the extra weight was interfering with his everyday tasks and he knew it could eventually lead to health problems.

Years ago, he had attended a weight loss surgery seminar but it wasn’t a priority for him.

That changed when Annabelle Leigh Rogers came along. When she was 2, Chris was unable to go on a field trip with her to a pumpkin patch due to having to work.

“One of the things that struck me was that one of the chaperones took my daughter down the slide. If I had gone as a chaperone, I couldn’t have done that because of my weight,” he said. “I decided she would never miss out on something because of me and my weight issues.”

So he attended another seminar at the Center for Weight Loss Surgery at Saint Joseph East and, this time, it was a priority for him.

The team, Rogers says, “gives you every tool you need and the steps to follow to lose weight.”

Rogers after weight loss surgery

He went from 417 pounds at his peak and lost 37 pounds before surgery in June 2018. By June 2019, he had lost 201 pounds.

“Life is amazing,” Chris said. “There’s not a single aspect of life that isn’t better because of my weight loss.”

He rides bicycles with his daughter. They walk. They run. She sits on his shoulders now.

“She’s not missed out on a single thing yet,” he said. “We really enjoy the quality time. We still spend the same amount of time together, but the activities are different.

“It’s a game-changer.”

Everything has changed. When dining out, he and his family are able to sit in a booth again – he was so heavy before, the family had to wait for a table when dining out. He can sit two people to a golf cart. His bowling game is better.

He and wife Emily are looking forward to vacation with Annabelle this year.

“I haven’t been to a theme park in years and I want to ride roller coasters this year,” he said. “I’m excited about going to the beach and being able to walk around the beach.”

At work as a social service aide in Bourbon County, he has more confidence. In fact, he was the 2019 nominee for the Boni M. Frederick Social Services Aide Award for the Northern Bluegrass Service Region.

“My only regret is waiting so long to do it,” Rogers said of weight loss surgery.

He said there was a little pain, but “I recovered super-fast. It’s worth the money. It’s worth the pain.”

For more information, visit CHI Saint Joseph Health Weight Loss Surgery and learn more about upcoming seminars.

Just Keep Swimming

child in swimming pool with goggles

Otitis externa can turn a day at the pool into a doctor’s visit, but you can keep swimming all summer long with the right prevention and treatment tips.

Better known as swimmer’s ear, otitis externa is an infection that can develop when water becomes trapped in your outer ear canal after swimming.

“The moist environment enables bacteria to grow,” said Jessica Pennington, MD, CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group – Primary Care in Berea. “You can also get swimmer’s ear by placing foreign objects in your ear canal, such as cotton swabs or hearing aids.”

Swimmer’s ear occurs more often in children and can cause itching, redness and a clear, odorless drainage. Pulling or touching the outer ear can also be painful for people with swimmer’s ear.

Child ear exam

To avoid this condition, clean ears with a warm cloth after taking a dip. This helps clear water, bacteria and fungi from your ear canals. Drying the outer ear thoroughly after cleaning also helps prevent swimmer’s ear.

Despite your best efforts, it’s not unusual to develop swimmer’s ear every once in a while, especially if you love the water.

“Swimmer’s ear shouldn’t prohibit you from having fun,” Dr. Pennington said. “It’s easily treatable with ear drops and antibiotics, if necessary.”

If you have swimmer’s ear, call 859.313.2255 to schedule an appointment with a primary care provider.

Jackie Shares Cancer Treatment and Care at Flaget Memorial Hospital

wayne and martha spalding

Pictured: Wayne and Martha Spalding

When Jackie Spalding’s husband Wayne chose CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center at Flaget Memorial Hospital for his treatment, she knew that opened the door to high quality medicine and fast appointments.

She also knew that would give Wayne, who had late-stage gallbladder cancer, a sense of normalcy.

“When you’re a cancer patient, you want to live as normal as you can,” said Jackie, a nurse at Flaget Memorial Hospital, where she’s worked for 35 years. “That normalcy is hard to come by. Your life is so directed by treatments.”

The cancer center was just a quick drive from home, and Jackie was able to both work and be by her husband’s side during his appointments.

Being at Flaget Memorial Hospital also meant that if Wayne needed fluids, they wouldn’t have to face the downtown Louisville traffic and parking. “If you can get a bag of fluids in four hours as opposed to 12 hours, that’s a big deal,” Jackie said.

Choosing the cancer center also meant that Wayne could get treatment alongside his mother Martha, who was being treated for colon cancer.

“Chemo day was a party,” Jackie said. The family would gather around, laugh and tell stories.

The nurses and volunteers joined in, too, Jackie said. “They’d always get me to laugh, even on bad days.”  

After about nine months of battling the disease, Wayne passed away on August 3, 2018.

Jackie said she’ll always remember the warmth and love that they received at Flaget Memorial Hospital’s cancer care center.  

Being there “felt like going home,” she said.

Learn more about the CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center at Flaget Memorial Hospital. For more information on how you can help today, visit Flaget Memorial Hospital Foundation’s Project Hope.

Health From the Outside In


Summer is the season of sunshine, but basking in the warm rays may put you at risk for developing skin cancer, the most common type of cancer affecting Americans.

“When we lay out to tan, we increase our chances of developing skin cancer, especially if we are already at high risk,” said Monte E. Martin, MD, medical director, CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center in Bardstown. “If you have light skin, blue or green eyes, blonde or red hair, freckles, large moles, or a history of cancer yourself or in your family, protecting your skin is especially important.”

A plan for prevention

woman gardening

To help your skin stay as healthy as possible:

Cover up. Choose lightweight clothing that covers your arms and legs and a hat to protect your face and head when you are outside.

Have a check up. Talk with your primary care provider about regular skin cancer screenings.

Lather your skin. Opt for broad-spectrum sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher. Reapply throughout the day, especially after sweating or swimming.

Seek shade. Stay out of the sun during peak hours in the midday, or from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Keep an eye out. If you notice a spot or growth on your skin that is new or has changed in color, size or texture, see your primary care provider.

Wear sunglasses. This favorite summer accessory can block out ultraviolet A and B rays.

To schedule a skin cancer screening, call 859.313.2255.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2019 edition of Spirit of Health magazine. Subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine to read more stories like this one.

Get a Jump Start on the School Year

Get a jump on the school year

Summer reading? Check. School supplies? Check. Your child’s health? Check.

With school starting soon, many parents find themselves busy helping prepare their children for the new academic year. One vital to-do is your child’s yearly wellness exam.

“It’s always a good idea to see your child’s pediatrician yearly to make sure he or she is staying healthy,” said Clair Palley, MD, CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group – Primary Care in Lexington. “Scheduling children’s exams while they are out of school is not only more convenient for parents but also helps keep children healthy in the upcoming year.”

During a back-to-school visit, your child’s pediatrician will check his or her development and growth, and you can address any concerns you may have about your child’s health.

“These wellness visits aren’t just for physical wellness,” Dr. Palley said. “Doctors address children’s mental and emotional health during this visit, as well.”

Community immunity

During yearly wellness visits, Dr. Palley also recommends using this opportunity to ensure your child receives all vaccinations on time.

“Vaccines not only help protect the people getting them but also the people around them from getting sick,” she said. “There are some people who cannot receive vaccines, such as those who are allergic to the ingredients. Vaccinating yourself helps keep you from spreading diseases to other people.”

As best as you can, adhere to your child’s recommended immunization schedule. Staying up to date on vaccinations promotes wellness in both your child and community.

Growing together

wellness visit

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children receive care at a facility from a provider who knows their full medical history and maintains a relationship with them as they grow. Back-to-school visits are an excellent way to help your child build that relationship with his or her pediatrician and will also lead to better care later in life.

“Physicians call that kind of facility a medical home,” Dr. Palley said. “It’s important to me to provide that for my patients. Keeping children healthy allows them to participate fully in life, and having their regular checkups helps them do so in a happy, healthy way.”

Athlete awareness

Does your child play a sport, or want to in the upcoming school year? Many schools require sports physicals before the season begins.

During a sports physical, your child’s provider will take a medical history and perform a physical exam. The provider can address any health concerns that may affect his or her ability to play and offer advice on how to prevent sickness or injury during the season.

Even if your school does not require a physical before your child can play sports, the Nemours Foundation recommends your child receive a sports-specific physical in addition to a yearly physical.

Need to schedule an appointment with a pediatrician? Call 859.313.2255 or visit our online provider directory to schedule an appointment near you.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2019 edition of Spirit of Health magazine. Subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine to read more stories like this one.

A Season for Healthy Eating

Healthy summer prodcue

Bursting with fresh fruits and veggies, summer is the perfect time of year to focus on eating well.

The air is warm, the sun is shining and the farmers market is rife with leafy greens, juicy melons and colorful peppers.

“Local produce is easily accessible during the summer months, which is wonderful for a variety of reasons,” said Amanda Goldman, MS, RD, LD, FAND, system director, CHI Food and Nutrition Services, and director of diabetes and nutrition care, CHI Saint Joseph Health. “Naturally low in calories, fresh produce grown close to home can be purchased and consumed as soon as possible after harvest when the items are most flavorful and the nutrient content is richest. It also may be less expensive than items shipped from far away.”

Smart meal preparation

The ingredients you buy will dictate the success of your meals, so take your time to put together grocery lists with items that are refreshing and satisfying. Think tomatoes, peppers and sweet watermelon. Or, if you have a green thumb and are teaching your children to garden, you may harvest fresh produce from your own backyard. Pick up some of your favorite seasonings, as well as sources of lean protein, like chicken or white fish.

bowl of honeydew melon

View recipe for Honeydew Melon Salsa Over Tuna Steaks.

Grilling is a great way to prepare seasonal dishes, including fruit drizzled with honey, marinated tuna or vegetable kebabs. Focus on variety — farmers markets often offer fruits and vegetables you won’t find in the grocery store.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2019 edition of Spirit of Health magazine. Subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine to read more stories like this one.

Enjoy a Healthy and Safe Summer with These Wellness Tips

Family and Friends Summertime Camping

Summer is a time for rest and relaxation, sunshine and vacations. But summer fun comes with the potential for serious health risks. This summer, take a few simple steps to help prevent common health issues and avoid frequent visits to the doctor’s office.

When you’re out enjoying the summer sun, remember that you’re at a greater risk of developing a heat-related illness or skin cancer from prolonged exposure to the heat and the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays. The same goes for doing any level of manual labor or playing outside during the warmer months. Even young, healthy people can get sick from the heat, and prevention is the best defense for heat-related illnesses.

Tips for heat and sun protection

Take these important steps to protect yourself from the heat and sun.

  • Never leave children or pets in a parked car for any duration of time, even if the windows are down.
  • Dress in light-colored, lightweight and loose clothing, and schedule demanding outdoor activities during the cooler morning or evening hours.
  • Stay hydrated when spending time in the heat.
  • Apply sunscreen with at least SPF 15 protection anytime you go outside to protect your skin. It only takes a few serious sunburns to dramatically increase your risk of developing skin cancer later in life.

Protect yourself from insect bites

Family Summer Gardening

Summer also means more bugs. In addition to itchy discomfort, insects like ticks and mosquitoes can cause harmful diseases like Lyme disease and West Nile virus, respectively.

Cases of these viruses increase significantly during the summer in the United States. Lyme disease can cause you to experience flu-like symptoms, along with joint pain and weakness in the limbs, while West Nile virus can lead to a high fever and other negative symptoms.

Take these steps to protect yourself from insect bites:

  • Always use insect repellent before going outside.
  • Check yourself and your children for mosquito bites and ticks after outdoor activities.
  • Remove leaf piles or unkempt yard waste from recreation areas to help deter ticks and create a buffer between wooded areas and lawns with gravel or mulch to restrict tick migration into frequently used areas.
  • Use citronella candles to keep mosquitoes and other insects away.

Summertime activity safety

Fun summer activities like swimming can also cause risks. Here are some key actions to stay safe.

  • Always supervise children when they are in or around the pool or another body of water to avoid water-related accidents.
  • Take the time to teach kids about water safety and how to swim.
  • Learn CPR; it’s helpful not just for summer, but also throughout the year.

Taking simple, preventive and precautionary steps is the best way to reduce your risk for health issues this summer. Think about your planned activities ahead of time and have preventive solutions to any health-related issues that could occur. Avoid these illnesses and more, and have a safe and memorable summer.

Honeydew melon salsa over tuna steaks [Recipe]

Honeydew melon salsa over tuna steaks recipe

Bursting with fresh fruits and veggies, summer is the perfect time of year to focus on eating well.

Honeydew Melon Salsa Over Tuna Steaks

Severs 2
Prep/cooking time: Approximately 25 minutes


  • 1 small honeydew melon, finely diced
  • 1/2 red chili pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch granulated sugar
  • 2, 5-ounce tuna steaks
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
bowl of honeydew melon


In a medium bowl, add the honeydew melon, red chili pepper, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, lime juice, salt and sugar. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet.

Season both sides of the tuna steaks with salt and pepper.

Sear tuna steaks in skillet, about 3 minutes per side.

Serve tuna steaks with a heaping spoonful of honeydew melon salsa and sprinkle with basil leaves.
This is a versatile salsa recipe that also goes well with white fish or grilled chicken.

Recipe courtesy of Catholic Health Initiatives.

What is a hospitalist?

What is a hospitalist?

A hospital visit can be a stressful time, filled with questions and concerns. In some cases, patients may not be familiar with some of the roles and responsibilities of the different health care providers who help them during their treatment. One of those roles – the hospitalist – is becoming more prevalent in current health care approaches. So, what is a hospitalist?

About Hospitalists

Hospitalists often have a difficult time explaining to patients what medical field they specialize in because it is a relatively new specialty. They are certified medical doctors with expertise in the acute care of adults and children, who have elected to work in one specific hospital, rather than outpatient primary care. They are the leaders of the health care team, ensuring all the different medical specialists involved in the care of a person work in harmony to treat each condition and provide the best quality care.

The Society of Hospital Medicine describes a hospitalist as a physician whose primary focus is the general medical care of hospitalized patients, as well as teaching, research and leadership. These physicians and their advanced practice providers, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, focus on each individual patient’s minute-to-minute medical needs. They are constantly coordinating between different departments and specialists to ensure that all of a patient’s unique medical needs are being addressed.

Hospitalists typically have backgrounds in internal medicine, family medicine or pediatrics, and they serve as a primary point-of-contact for patients throughout a hospital stay.

Coordinating Patient Care

The role of hospitalists has grown as our health care system has evolved. Primary care physicians once had the flexibility to visit their patients who had been admitted to a hospital.

provider speaking to patient

The medical history and knowledge of that patient held by their primary care doctor was immensely beneficial in treating the hospitalized patient. However, starting in the 1990s, physicians with their own practices and larger numbers of patients found they could not devote the prolonged time needed to provide quality care to their hospitalized patients. This problem created a new field of medicine – hospitalists, which has quickly become the fastest growing field of study.

Because of advancements in what can be treated through primary care or outpatient procedures, patients admitted to hospitals today tend to have more complicated medical problems than in the past.

The United States now has more acutely ill patients with multiple medical conditions that require various specialists to treat them.

Hospitalists direct and coordinate a patient’s treatment between different hospital departments and help the patient navigate treatment. In the process, they are also primarily responsible for monitoring the patient’s overall care.

Without hospitalists, patients would be left on their own to work with the multitude of medical professionals involved in their treatment, who otherwise have little daily contact with one another. Having a hospitalist that thoroughly understands the inner workings of their hospital and can tend to each patient’s medical needs has become essential.

The next time you or a loved one are admitted for a hospital stay, talk to your medical care team about securing additional guidance during treatment from the facility’s hospitalist. Remember that they’re there to be your advocate, and to help coordinate the best possible treatment, leading to better health outcomes.

Author: Nina Lum, Chief Quality Officer and Hospitalist, CHI Saint Joseph Health