Being Well Blog

“We know you well” means we not only know what it takes to keep you healthy, but that we actually get to know each other. No other group of doctors can do that like we can, because only the North Ottawa Medical Group is made up of doctors employed by North Ottawa Community Health System. We’re your neighbors, fellow parents at the school, coaches to your kids, and as much a part of this community as you are.

We want you to be healthy, and we want you to get to know us a bit better, so this blog will provide you with health and wellness information as well as fun ways to learn about who your home-town Medical Group doctors are. After all, being well is more than just great care. To the North Ottawa Medical Group, it’s also about building genuine personal relationships.

Feel free to browse the information below or choose from one of the categories found in the left margin.

Ask A Doc – Sleep Health

August 18, 2017

Dr. Mehul Patel of NOCHS Center for Sleep Disorder and Pulmonologist at North Ottawa Medical Group answers your questions about sleep health.

Why is sleep important?

Sleep plays an important role in maintaining good health throughout your life. Getting quality sleep is important to protect your mental health, physical health, safety, and also quality of your life. Good sleep is essential for decision making, problem solving, controlling emotions, and paying attention. Sleep deficiency can increase risk of heart disease, obesity, mental disorders, kidney disease, diabetes, stroke, and hypertension. Sleep is also important to support healthy growth and maintaining healthy immune system.

How do I know if I’m getting enough sleep?

Everyone is different. Some people may function well with just five hours of sleep and others may need 10 hours or more. The key is, how do you feel. Do you need an alarm clock to wake up? Do you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning? Are you having trouble concentrating at work or at school? Are you feeling sleepy in meetings, in classrooms, or while driving? If the answers are YES for most of these questions, then you are probably not getting enough sleep.

What can I do if I have trouble sleeping?

Improving overall sleep hygiene can be a good start. Sleep hygiene includes having a regular sleep schedule with a same wake up time, disconnecting electronics 30 minutes prior to going to bed, avoiding late and long daytime naps, and limiting alcohol consumption. You should also avoid large meals, exercise, bright light and also tobacco use at night. Caffeine intake should be avoided eight hours prior to bedtime. However, improving sleep hygiene alone is not sufficient for some people. If you have poor quality of sleep despite improving sleep hygiene, you may need a comprehensive sleep evaluation by a sleep physician. You can schedule an appointment with our Center for Sleep Disorders by calling (616) 847-5342 or click here to learn more.

Top Safety Tips From the NOMG’s Pediatric Team

June 28, 2017

Summer brings a lot of fun and outdoor activities, especially in this beautiful lakeshore community. How can you keep your kids safe while enjoying what West Michigan has to offer? Here are the top safety tips from Karly Hiser, CPNP-PC, a member of the new NOCHS pediatric group.

  • Sunscreen. For children younger than 6 months, protective clothing is recommended instead of sunscreen. For older children, Karly recommends a sunscreen with zinc oxide as the active ingredient. “It washes off at the end of the day, so your child is not absorbing the chemicals into his or her skin,” she says. “Don’t forget to reapply often, especially after swimming.”
  • Bug spray. The Pediatrics group gets a lot of questions about bug spray. “Bug spray is not recommended for children younger than 2 months,” Karly notes. “You can use it with caution on older infants, but be careful not to overuse it. As children age, bug spray becomes more safe for them. Just make sure you pick something with 30% DEET or less.” Concentrations on bug spray can vary widely, so make sure you read the label.
  • Water safety. Did you know a child could drown in 20-60 seconds? You should never be more than arm’s length away from a baby or toddler in the water. As soon as your child is old enough, Karly recommends swimming lessons to help mitigate the risk. But never leave your child alone in or near the water!
  • ATVs. This one might not have popped up on your radar screen, but all terrain vehicles (ATVs) can be extremely dangerous. “Always make sure your child wears a full protective helmet, like a motorcycle helmet. A bike helmet is not enough,” Karly asserts. “Also, remember that children who do not have a driver’s license should not be driving an ATV. It is a motorized vehicle.” Adults – you are also responsible for the safety of the children who are with you. Make sure you only ride during daylight hours, with proper lights and reflectors. And whatever you do, don’t drive an ATV under the influence. You’re risking your own life as well as that of your child.
  • Bike safety. Karly has one word: helmet. “All children should wear bike helmets every time they are on bikes, even in the driveway.” Make sure the helmet fits properly or it won’t do much good. Also, parents: don’t push your child to go without training wheels before he or she is ready. A frightened or unwilling rider is a lot more prone to accidents than one who is confident and ready.
  • Lawn mowers. While it’s great to teach kids responsibility by having them mow the lawn, remember that they are operating a dangerous power tool. Children younger than 16 should not operate a riding lawn mower, and children under the age of 12 should not operate a power mower. When a child is old enough to mow, sturdy shoes should be the rule, not flip flops. And never take your child as a passenger on a mower.

If ever you have a question about your child’s safety, make sure you call your pediatrician. “We’re happy to help parents make smart choices to balance safety with fun,” Karly says.

North Ottawa Medical Group | Pediatrics
1310 Wisconsin Street, Suite 204, Grand Haven, MI 49417
To schedule your appointment, please call our office at 616.844.4523.

Ask A Doc – Diana Okuniewski, DO NOMG Women’s Health

May 12, 2017

Question: Should I do breast self-exams? What is breast “self-awareness”?
Breast self-examination is becoming a “hot-topic of discussion” among societies that make our guidelines for medical practice. It is now being said by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that breast self-exam should be encouraged for patients who are more high risk for breast cancer (patient’s with a strong family history of breast cancer, or genetic abnormalities that may increase their risk of getting cancer) and that breast self-awareness be encouraged for everyone else, but that “self-awareness” could include self-exams. The changing recommendations are because of a lack of literature that supports a decrease in mortality by women that perform regular self-exams. However, most of the expert groups do support breast “self-awareness”. This means that a woman should be familiar with what her breast normally feels and looks like. Every woman’s breasts are different and will have lumps and bumps that are normal. Also, just because your breasts feel dense, does not mean they will look dense on mammogram. If you are comfortable doing a self-breast exam and want to do them, pick the same time every month. Do a thorough check for any changes by using your fingers in a circular motion from your arm pit up to your collar bone and then you can go in circles toward your nipple to check for any abnormal lumps as well as nipple discharge. Anytime nipple discharge is seen, except when breast feeding, or postpartum, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. Breast self-awareness also includes knowing what your skin looks like on your breasts, so be aware of any skin changes, redness, puckering, or rashes.

Question: Why do I hear different opinions about when to get my mammogram and how often?
Each expert group that makes medical guidelines will interpret the literature and new research differently to make their own guidelines by weighing the risks and benefits of the entire population. For example, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, The American College of Radiology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network still recommend yearly mammograms beginning at age 40. The American College of Physicians recommends mammograms every 1-2 years, individualize screening from age 40-49 based on risk factors, and definitely begin screening at age 50. The American Academy of Family Physicians and the U.S. Preventative Task Force recommends the same, as the College of Physicians, except screening every 2 years. Bottom line is that you should talk to you doctor about your family history to best determine when to begin mammogram screenings and how often.

Question: Do mammograms actually save lives or are they causing more cancer?
Mammograms can save lives! The odds of dying of metastatic breast cancer are one-third of what they were in the 1980s. About 50 percent of this huge decrease is due to screening and early therapies. This suggests that screening mammography both reduces the odds of dying of breast cancer and increases earlier treatment.

Question: What can I do about my breast pain?
Breast pain is usually a benign condition. Cyclical pain, fibrocystic changes and breast cysts are common causes for breast pain. It is uncommon for breast cancer to cause pain. Treatment with analgesics (Ibuprofen and Tylenol) and a supportive brassiere can be helpful for many women with breast pain. Warm compresses can also help. Believe it or not, research studies have shown that increasing caffeine intake increases painful breasts. If you are concerned about breast pain you should call your doctor to have a physical exam and history taken to see if any imaging of your breasts with ultrasound or mammogram will be necessary.

Moving Up: Expanding NOCHS Rehabilitation Services Now Located by Urgent Care

May 12, 2017

Rehabilitation is tough, no question about it. It’s even tougher when services are not conveniently located. That’s why we have moved our rehab services into a spacious, brand-new location in the retail center at the corner of US-31 and Taylor.

How will this serve you better? For one thing, it makes therapy more accessible, because you can park in front of the entrance and walk directly to the waiting room for care.

Our new location is also conveniently located by NOCHS Urgent Care. When you visit Urgent Care with a sprain, dizziness, or other symptoms that call for rehab, it will be super-simple to take the next step in recovery. You won’t even have to move your car! Just walk next door to get started.

And finally, we are bigger and better all the way around in this new space. We doubled the number of therapists, and expanded our hours to include evenings and some Saturdays. Through our collaborative partnership with Generation Care, we have added post-concussion care, post-mastectomy and cancer rehab, wound and swelling management and more.

Pediatric Services for physical, occupational and speech therapy have also relocated to this site. We have the resources and intensity of care our community needs on the lakeshore. You name it, we have it through a dynamic pediatric care team! We’re making rehab more fun (think rock wall and boat-shaped climbing apparatus) and less institutional for kids. We also have incredible services for children with special needs. There’s no need to go to Grand Rapids for specialized services — it’s all available right here.

So whether you’re in Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, or Muskegon, remember that bigger, expert, comprehensive rehabilitation services for everyone are available at the South Beacon retail center. Call or just stop in to get better with NOCHS rehab.