Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Student Health Offers Many Free Services!

Did you know that most on-campus KUMC students can come to Student Health for an office visit and there is no charge? Not even a co-pay.  And you do not have to carry the student health insurance policy to use our services!  Since we do not charge for office visits, it does not matter what insurance plan you have.

So, what does this mean?  It means that women can come in for their annual exams and get a prescription for birth control at no charge.  It means that we treat acne, anxiety, asthma, insomnia, injuries, coughs, sore throats, urinary symptoms, lumps, bumps, sexually-transmitted illness and more…  and there is never a charge for the office visit. 

What’s the catch?  There is no catch, but there are minimal charges for certain procedures and in-house tests.  For example, if you come in for urinary symptoms there may be a $10 fee for an in-house urine dipstick.  Or if we do a rapid strep test for a sore throat, the fee is $20.  You can click on “Our Services” to see the fee schedule.  Most of these fees simply cover the cost of the supplies. 

If you need laboratory testing, we will send your specimen to LabCorp and they will bill your insurance company.  Sometimes students choose to pay for certain lab tests “out of pocket” because we have negotiated an excellent price with LabCorp and it would be more expensive to use insurance.

Certain procedures also carry a small fee.  For example, camp physicals, mole biopsies and wart removals.

Flu shots and TB skin tests are free of charge.  Other vaccines are offered for a fee which covers the cost of the vaccine without mark-up.  Students who carry the KUMC student insurance policy are covered for most vaccines and will not incur a fee.   Students on other insurance plans can be vaccinated at Student Health for a fee or may go to another clinic that bills insurance. 

Bottom line:  Remember Student Health when you’re looking for great health care and a great value.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Weight Gain: Is Your Phone to Blame?

If you’ve noticed a few pounds creeping on there could be many reasons, but it may be worth a minute of your time to think about your smart phone habits.  Do you find yourself sneaking a peek at your phone throughout the day?  Those moments add up.  In fact, some studies have shown that the average student spends 5 – 8 hours a day looking at their phone!  For most of us, these hours are sedentary. 

Smart phones have been implicated in mindless eating and certain apps make it very easy to order convenient, high-calorie take-out.  For those who use their phones while working out, studies have shown that texting or talking during exercise causes a reduction in intensity.   Sometimes a workout is derailed altogether by a distracting website or worse, by an accident due to split attention. 

Researchers have suggested that the blue light emitted from a smart phone can interfere with the body’s circadian rhythm to cause insomnia which may lead to weight gain. 

If you are interested in cutting back on your phone use, there’s an app for that!  (Oh, the irony!)  “Break Free” and “Moment” are two such apps.  “Moment” allows you to set a limit on your daily use.  Even if you are not interested in a limit, it may be worthwhile to find out just how much you’re using your phone and re-purpose some of that time for physical activity.  

Monday, October 31, 2016

Healthy Eating on the Go

Now that the semester is underway, you might be a bit overwhelmed and wonder how you’re going to get it all done!  Maybe you’re tempted to carve out some extra time in your schedule by becoming a regular at Taco Bell.  But what if there was a way to pack up several meals on a weekend so they’re at your fingertips throughout the week?  I guarantee a small investment of time will pay off in health and energy to keep you sharp and focused.

“Salad in a Jar” is a great way to overcome your fast-food temptation.   The basic formula is simple:   In a wide-mouth jar (such as a quart-sized mason jar), start with 1 – 4 tablespoons of salad dressing.  Then pack the heaviest and most non-absorbent ingredients in the bottom, followed by lighter ingredients until you end up with salad greens at the top of the jar.  Take care not to tip the jar in transport and your greens will stay leafy and fresh until you’re ready to eat. The jars will last up to five days in the fridge.  If you are using perishable proteins like hard-boiled eggs, avocados or chicken breast, add them on the day you plan to eat your salad. 

Here are some ideas for your salad in a jar:

Start with 1 - 4 tablespoons of salad dressing in the bottom of the jar
Add hard chopped veggies such as carrots, cucumbers or peppers
Next add beans, pasta or grains.  If you have any leftover rice in the fridge, add it to this layer
Cheese and proteins come next, unless you're not planning to eat the salad that day.  Add these ingredients on the day you plan to eat your salad.
Softer fruits and veggies come next.  Try sliced strawberries, tomatoes, etc.  These are best added on the day you'll eat your salad.
Your next layer could include nuts or seeds.  Toasted almonds are always yummy!
Lastly, pack your salad greens.  Don't worry about packing them tightly at the top of the jar.
Don't forget a big bowl, you'll want to empty your jar and mix up your ingredients right before you eat.

Even if you don’t end up taking your salad to school, it would be nice to come home to a fridge full of healthy goodness.  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

HPV Vaccine Prevents Cancer in Women and Men

I have a confession:  When it comes to getting shots, I’m not a fan.  Lucky for me, nobody asked my opinion back when I was getting vaccinated for measles, mumps, rubella, polio, and other preventable diseases.  But what if there was a vaccine to prevent cancer?  I’d be first in line for a shot that would guarantee that I would never have to worry about that dreadful disease!   

Although a vaccine to prevent cancer seems like a science fiction fantasy, scientists have developed a vaccine that prevents certain types of cancer caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).  Studies have shown that HPV can cause several types of cancer in both women and men.  Since the introduction of the HPV vaccine in the United States, the prevalence of vaccine-type HPV has decreased 56% among female teenagers.   Now that's a success story!  However, there’s still room for improvement.  While HPV is commonly associated with cervical cancer, it is known to cause certain types of cancer in men, including penile, anal, mouth and throat cancer.   According to the CDC  , only 34.6% of boys received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine in 2013, and just 13.9% of boys aged 13 – 17 received all three recommended doses of the vaccine. 

HPV is a very common sexually-transmitted virus.  In fact, the CDC estimates that nearly all sexually active men and women will get it at some point in their lives.    So if you’d like to be protected, the vaccine is recommended for males through age 21 and females through age 26, although some people choose to receive the vaccine even beyond the recommended age.  Student Health has the HPV vaccine Gardasil in stock and it’s available by appointment.  Call 913-588-1941 to schedule and inquire about fees.

My name is Jennifer Blanck, RN, and I am always happy to hear from students and help in any way I can. Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions regarding your requirements. My direct line is 913-588-2018.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Students, Get Your Vitamin D!

If you’re like me, you’ve been hearing more and more about Vitamin D lately.  So what’s the big deal about “the Sunshine Vitamin?”  Is it really worthy of all the hoopla? 

As it turns out, Vitamin D is a pretty big deal.  Vitamin D has long been recognized as a vital nutrient for bone health.  Our bodies need Vitamin D to absorb calcium.  Without enough calcium, our bones, heart and nerves do not function at their best.  Lately, researchers have been finding more and more possible benefits of Vitamin D.  Studies are showing a link between cancer and Vitamin D deficiency, especially colon cancer.   Research suggests Vitamin D may play a role in the prevention and treatment of other diseases, including high blood pressure and diabetes.  It is also thought to support immune function and affect inflammation.  Even psychiatric conditions such as depression may be linked to Vitamin D deficiency, although further research is needed. 

By now you may be wondering if you’re at risk for Vitamin D deficiency.   According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, the following groups may be at risk:

  • People who use sunscreen or cover up in the sun, or who don’t much spend time outdoors.
  • People with very dark skin
  • Obese or overweight people
  • Older people
  • People living at higher latitudes such as Boston or parts of Canada and Europe
  • People with certain medical conditions, especially conditions that affect the bowel such as inflammatory bowel disease or Celiac disease. 
  • People who are in institutions such as nursing homes, or are home-bound
  • People taking certain medications that interfere with Vitamin D absorption

If you find yourself in one of these groups, or if you’re just interested in boosting your Vitamin D, there are some good sources available:  tuna, salmon, fortified milk products and certain mushrooms, to name a few.  Limited exposure to sunlight will also boost your Vitamin D, however be aware that there is no official recommendation due to the link between UV exposure and skin cancer.  Vitamin D supplements are widely available and are easy to use to reach your recommended daily amount based on your age and life stage group. 

Many doctors are beginning to test levels of Vitamin D for patients with certain risk factors or conditions.  At this time, however, routine screening of all patients is not recommended. 

I’m sure we will see much more research in the coming months and years about this important nutrient.  In the meantime, there is more than enough evidence to convince me to pay attention to my Vitamin D intake.  

My name is Jennifer Blanck, RN, and I am always happy to hear from students and help in any way I can. Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions regarding your requirements. My direct line is 913-588-2018.



Thursday, November 5, 2015

I Can’t Afford To Be Sick!

“I can’t afford to be sick right now” is a common complaint at Student Health.  Test week, presentations, finals, and interviews are all highly inconvenient times to be sick.  You want to feel better, and we want you to feel better, but antibiotics are not always the answer. 

Pathogenic microorganisms, or microbes that cause infection and disease are growing stronger and more resistant to treatment for a number of reasons.  Microbes are little critters that multiply rapidly, so they are able to adapt quickly to new environmental conditions.  If a gene mutation occurs which allows a certain organism to survive, it will soon become dominant.   Scientists believe that microbes can transfer genes to one another, allowing them to work as a team against us.  So microorganisms have some advantages, but as humans, we are doing quite a bit to aid the enemy.
Inappropriate use of antibiotics, misdiagnosis, agricultural use and inadequate infection control are all human behaviors that encourage microbes to mutate and become resistant to medication.  Much of this is out of your personal control, but there are a few important things you can do:

·         Always finish your prescription, unless otherwise advised by your healthcare provider.  If you stop taking your medication as soon as you feel better, the stronger microbes may still be alive and kicking, ready to launch a counter-attack that may not be responsive to the same medication.

·         If you finish your prescription, you won’t be tempted to use leftover medication the next time you’re sick which is another common mistake.  You also won’t be tempted to share your leftover medication with a friend.

·         Don't insist on an antibiotic if your healthcare provider tells you that your illness is caused by a virus.  An antibiotic will not make you feel any better, and you are setting yourself up for side effects and complications down the road.

·         If an antibiotic is prescribed, ask your provider if tests will be done to ensure you are getting the right one.

·         Do your part to prevent infections with good hygiene and recommended vaccinations.

Clinical trials are underway to help us combat microbial resistance.  Of course, developing new antimicrobial therapies is an important and ongoing focus.  Research also helps us find the best ways to use our existing drugs.  Researchers are also testing products that help prevent infections in the first place. 

This is not a war we can afford to lose.  Please do your part to keep resistance from becoming a bigger problem and spread the word so others can join in the effort. 

My name is Jennifer Blanck, RN, and I am always happy to hear from students and help in any way I can. Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions regarding your requirements. My direct line is 913-588-2018.

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Student's Guide to TB Testing

“Why do KUMC Students have to have annual TB screening?”  That’s a common question at Student Health.  Most employers require TB screening every two years at most.  Doesn’t it make sense that Student Health would do the same?

Student Health requirements are determined by a couple of different sources.  The Kansas Legislature requires all students to complete TB testing before entering the classroom.  In addition, KUMC has contractual agreements with clinical settings in which we guarantee that our students are screened for TB on an annual basis. 
So what are your TB testing options?  Students who are classified as non-clinical may complete their annual requirement with a risk screening questionnaire after their enrollment TB testing is complete.  All clinical students are required to have an annual TB test.  If you’re a clinical student, there are a few ways to complete the TB test requirement:

·         TB skin test.  This test is available at Student Health, free of charge.  A small amount of purified protein derivative (ppd) is placed under the skin in the forearm.  In 48 – 72 hours, the student returns to Student Health so that the forearm can be assessed.  If there is no reaction at the test site, the test is negative.

·         Students who have not had a skin test within the past year will have to complete a two-step skin test.  That means that a TB skin test is placed and read.  In the next week or two, another TB skin test is placed and read.   The two-step test is required initially and can be followed by a one-step test annually thereafter.

·         Student Health will accept TB skin tests from outside clinics, however any skin test that is placed at Student Health must be read at Student Health. 

·         Another way to fulfill the TB test requirement is through a blood test called “Quantiferon Gold” or QFT.  The QFT is offered at Student Health, but it is not free of charge.  The fee for the QFT is $65 for students who pay out-of-pocket.  If a student carries the United Healthcare Student Resources insurance policy, the QFT is covered and there is no fee.  A student with private insurance such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield may ask that the test be submitted to insurance, however there is no guarantee that it will be covered.  We strongly recommend that you call your insurance company prior to the test to verify coverage.  If the test is not covered, your bill will be significantly more than $65.   An advantage to completing the QFT over the skin test is that it can be done in one visit.  Also, if a QFT is done, the two-step TB test is not required.

What happens if a TB test is positive?  If a TB test is positive, a chest x-ray is required, along with a visit with a provider to discuss the possibility of latent TB and antibiotic treatment.
As always, I am happy to discuss your individual TB situation with you, or answer questions.  Give me a call at 913-588-2018.

My name is Jennifer Blanck, RN, and I am always happy to hear from students and help in any way I can. Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions regarding your requirements. My direct line is 913-588-2018.