A Service You May Not Know About: Diagnostic Imaging

February 16, 2018
Walk into the Diagnostic Imaging Center at Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH) and you may wonder if you're inside a medical facility at all. The walls are papered with photos, cartoons, inspirational quotes and thank you notes from patients. The lighting and the chairs are soft. And the staff is likely to greet you with a hug and a cup of herbal tea.

Along with the cozy atmosphere, however, is a steely determination to provide great breast health services.

"We're serious about providing great care in an atmosphere that is positive, encouraging and supportive," said Debbie Demeulenaere, the center's Lead Mammography Technologist. "Everyone who comes to us is in a unique situation, but they all need help - that's why we're here."

Breast screenings save lives

Women with average risk of breast cancer should have a comprehensive breast screening, including a mammogram and clinical breast exam, every year starting at age 40. Women with increased risk should speak with their physician about starting Quick read more or view full article screenings earlier or having them more often. May experts also encourage women to perform breast self-exams and report any changes to their physician. 

Promoting awareness and testing

Most of us know the importance of breast health screenings. Yet only about 65% of all U.S. women age 40 or older had a mammogram in 2013-14, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. 

Busy lifestyles, perceptions about discomfort during screening, and the fear of "finding something" are common reasons women don't stay current with screenings. While those are understandable concerns, they should not stop any woman from potentially lifesaving screenings. 

"A mammogram takes only 10 to 15 minutes to complete, and the discomfort is short and very tolerable," said Lora Barke, DO, Section Chief for Breast Imaging for Radiology Imaging Associates (RIA), which provides diagnostic imaging services for AVH. "Even more important, aVH's 3D digital mammography provides unprecedented image quality for more accurate results."

In most cases, the patient's referring physician has the results in a few days. If th escreening reveals an area of concern, AVH staff will work with the patient and her physician to schedule further testing.

"The vast majority of patients don't need additional screenings, so annual screenings simply offer peace of mind," said Louie Enriquez, MD, Medical Director of Breast Imaging at AVH. "For the small percentage of women who do need additional treatment, the 3D technology helps us find areas of concern early, when they are more treatable." 

When a patient needs additional care, AVH contracts with physicians in Denver who visit Aspen two days per week to help with next steps in the patient's care plan. AVH also offers the services of a nurse navigator, Healther Milne, who defines her role as "guiding patients through the cancer process, whatever thaty may be."

FACT: The Breast Health Center at AVH offers a free screening mammogram to any woman during the year of her 40th birthday.

Among their other efforts, Milne and Demeulenaere create opportunities for peer support, such as inviting current and former patients to social gatherings. "For many women," Milne said, "it's important to have that camaraderie, to share experiences, and to network so they don't feel alone after a cancer diagnosis. Read Less
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On the front lines of patient care

January 8, 2018

Paramedics do a lot more than just get you to the hospital

Many people think paramedics just come to your home, put you in the ambulance and take you to the hospital. In fact, though, today's paramedic is a true medical practitioner with a broad scope of top-level skills, from treating traumatic injuries to administering medications to delivering babies. 

And that's not the only surprising fact about the unpredictable, dangerous, demanding, stressful and ultimately rewarding lives of the men and women who provide prehospital care in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Years of training

Becoming a paramedic takes years of schooling. After completing an emergency medical technician (EMT) course, it can take more than two additional years to earn paramedic certification. From there, one can go even further to become a critical care paramedic with expertise in medical specialties such as pharmacology, pain management and cardiology.

According to Gabe Muething, paramedic and director of the Aspen Ambulance District, a community-wide ambulance service managed and administered by Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH), the Quick read more or view full article Aspen Ambulance District's staff includes 12 critical care paramedics, an unusually high number for an area like ours. The extra training comes in handy. Generally, paramedics work from care protocols that guide diagnosis and treatment of patients. If a paramedic needs to go beyond the protocol, he or she will contact AVH's emergency department and speak directly with a physician.

"At that point we are the eyes, ears and hands of the physician, and we can follow through with the doctor's order," Gabe said. "However, there are places where cell phones and radios don't work, and our staff has to be independent practitioners in case we can't consult a physician."

A community of cooperation

Before moving here eight years ago, Gabe worked in inner-city Indianapolis. One of the major differences he has observed in the change of setting is the level of cooperation among various public-safety organizations.

As a prime example, he named the Pitkin County Incident Management Team, an inter-agency group that plans for a coordinated response to large-scale emergencies, such as a bus crash or wildfire.

"I can honestly tell you that I have never seen a community that has such strong relationships between all of its public-safety agencies as Aspen has," Gabe said. "The fire department, EMS, law enforcement, mountain rescue, ski patrol — how they all come together to deal with an emergency is amazing. You don't see that kind of cooperation everywhere."

Making good use of downtime

You wouldn't know it from watching popular medical shows on TV, but the life of a paramedic can also be...well, a little boring at times.
"Believe it or not, even paramedics have downtime now and then," explained Gabe. "We use that time to conduct ongoing training, maintain our equipment, check our supplies — they don't show you that part of it on TV, but it's also very important."

No two days alike

Whether treating a heart attack patient en route to AVH, transferring a skier with head trauma to Denver, taking part in ongoing training or working with peers on disaster planning, paramedics have to be quick to respond to whatever need is at hand. They are the ultimate generalist. "There's no such thing as a specialist in our field," Gabe explained. "It requires a jack-of-all-trades, prepared to deal with all types of medical conditions."

"The thing I've always loved about being a paramedic is that every day is different and unpredictable," Gabe said. "No matter what you're doing — sleeping, eating, watching a training video — when a call comes in, you have only seconds to respond. Then you head out down the road, not knowing what you're going to find."


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A Healthier Holiday Season: Part 5 with AVH Dietitians

December 30, 2017
With the holidays upon us, we turned to our very own Aspen Valley Hospital Dietitians—Kristy, Sandy and Laurie—to answer some common questions about eating healthier during the holidays. Plus, we have included some tasty recipes to try! This is the final part — thank you for reading and have a happy, healthy new year!.

Our Wonderful Dietitians:

   Sandra Holmes                                      Kristy Bates                                             Laureen Osier

I want to buy some healthy alternatives to use for my appetizers and desserts, but the ingredients are always really expensive. What are some ideas for alternatives to dairy and gluten that won't break the bank?

Unless you have Celiac, avoid products labeled Quick read more or view full article "gluten-free" as they are usually more costly and sometimes worse for you health wise. Fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables are naturally healthy and always gluten- and dairy-free. Homemade hummus spreads with canned beans are inexpensive and naturally gluten free. For example, make your own corn chips using corn tortillas! They will be healthier and will save you a bundle. Everybody loves guacamole — it is easy to just mash and add a small amount of hot sauce or commercial salsa.

Recipe Ideas!

DIY Tortilla Chips:


Some Plant-based Appetizers:

Roasted Eggplant Hummus

Sweet Potato Cauliflower Cakes with Dairy-Free Cashew Sour Cream

Spicy Chocolate Cherry Bites

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A Healthier Holiday Season: Part 4 with AVH Dietitians

December 29, 2017
With the holidays upon us, we turned to our very own Aspen Valley Hospital Dietitians—Kristy, Sandy and Laurie—to answer some common questions about eating healthier during the holidays. Plus, we have included some tasty recipes to try! This is Part 4 of 5, so stay tuned for more helpful information and delicious dishes.

Our Wonderful Dietitians:

   Sandra Holmes                                      Kristy Bates                                             Laureen Osier

The holidays can be stressful, and I tend to stress eat...what are some ways to avoid this?

Emotional eating is common, and it often increases in holiday time when people feel overextended and overwhelmed by the demands of the season. First, consider addressing the core Quick read more or view full article issues by decreasing the amount you are trying to accomplish and letting go of "picture perfect" expectations of yourself at holiday time. Meditation, prayer, yoga and exercise or relaxing activities like taking a warm bath or reading a book can reduce stress without turning to food.

If you still find yourself heading to the Christmas candy, try a mindful eating approach. Recognize you are eating for reasons other than hunger and minimize the damage. Take 3 deep breaths, slow down and savor your holiday treat. Fully enjoying the taste, smell and feel of what you are eating can help you feel satisfied with less. Know that the occational overeating is part of the normal eating experience.

Get back on track by snacking on seasonal fruits and vegatables, low sugar yogurt, nuts and savory proteins like smoked salmon when hungry, and make time to enjoy activities that leave you energized and joyful this holiday season. 

Happy holidays!

Recipe Ideas!

Pumpkin Pie - "Before" and "After":
This recipe cuts the calories in half while not skimping on the flavor!

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 16-oz can pumpkin
2/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
1 pre-made pie crust

4 egg whites, slightly beaten
1 16-oz can pumpkin
2/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 12-oz can evaporated skim milk
Phyllo Pie Crust
   4 tsp sugar
   1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
   4 sheets phyllo dough

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Spray 9" pie pan with nonstick cooking spray
2. To make filling, combine egg whites with canned pumpkin in large bowl. Add sugar and spices. Blend in evaporated skim milk and set aside.
3. To make crust, combine sugar with pumpkin pie spice in a cup and set aside. Stack phyllo sheets, then cut in half to make 8 sheets. Cover with a tea towel until ready to use.
4. Place one sheet of phyllo on the pie pan, spray with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar mixture.
5. Repeat steps with remining phyllo sheets, fanning them eveninly until the entire pie pan rim is covered.
6. Pour pumpkin filling into phyllo shell and trim excess dough. To prevent crust edges from bruning, cover loosely with aluminum foil.
7. Bake for 15 minutes at 425F. Reduce temperature to 350F and bake for an additional 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center of pie comes out clean. Cool before slicing.

Easy Snacking Mini Chicken Empanadas:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup minced green onions
1/2 cup minced red bell pepper
10 1/2 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 diced hard-boiled egg
1 tablespoon diced black olives
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 package refrigerated pie crust dough

1. Heat oven to 375F and coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray
2. In a 10-inch skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and saute green onions and bell peppers about 2 minutes, until tender and lightly browned
3. Stir in chicken and cook until no longer pink, stirring frequently
4. Turn of heat and add egg, olives, paprika, salt and pepper. Transfer to a shallow bowl to cool
5. On a clean surface, unroll dough and make 24 discs with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter
6.  Place about 1 tablespoon filling in the middle of each dough disc, being careful to about the discs' edges. Lightly wet the edge of the dough with water. Fold each disc in half and press to seal edges, so the shape resembles a half-moon.
7. Crimp around edges with a fork
8. Place emanadas on a prepared baking sheet at least 1 inch apart. Bake until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes

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A Healthier Holiday Season: Part 3 with AVH Dietitians

December 27, 2017
With the holidays upon us, we turned to our very own Aspen Valley Hospital Dietitians—Kristy, Sandy and Laurie—to answer some common questions about eating healthier during the holidays. Plus, we have included some tasty recipes to try! This is Part 3 of 5, so stay tuned for more helpful information and delicious dishes.

Our Wonderful Dietitians:

   Sandra Holmes                                      Kristy Bates                                             Laureen Osier

I ski almost every day during the holidays. How do i keep my energy up without cramping up?

It is important to eat right and keep hydrated when exercising at altitude. One of the most overlooked nutrients is water. Drinking water before, during and Quick read more or view full article after exercise is important to stave off the symptoms of dehydration which can include: fatigue, weakness, headache and muscle cramping.

Eat a hearty breakfast; for some, that is a breakfast sandwich of eggs on 100% wheat toast or smoked salmon on a whole grain bagel. You could even opt for a nut butter sandwich. I eat cooked whole grain (buckwheat, steel cut oats, barley or quinoa) with soy milk, almods, chia seed and fresh fruit.

All represent a breakfast that has carbohydrate, protein and fat. It is important to refuel during and after exercise. Plan ahead so you can eat during the first 30 minutes after exercise when muscles are in the recovery stage. Have a piece of fruit or another source of healthy carbohydrate along with some protein (small bag of nuts and seeds). When you eat dinner, have a healthy mixed meal to ensure electrolytes are replenished. 

Recipe Ideas!

A Hearty Pancake Breakfast 3-ways:
The Base:
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 cup unsweetened Silk soy
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

First Way: Blueberry Almond
Pancake base
1/2-3/4 cup blueberries
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Second Way: Apple Cinnamon
Pancake base
1/2 gala apple - finely diced
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Third Way: Banana Nut
Pancake Base
1/2 banana chopped
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Mix base ingredients with whichever way you choose in bowl and whisk until smooth
2. Heat non-stick pan over medium
3. Spoon batter onto pan until desired pancake size reached
4. Flip once bubbles form on top of the uncooked side of the pancake
5. Enjoy! Read Less
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