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Five Healthy Habits for Summer

Five Healthy Habits to Incorporate this Summer

Summer sets the stage for creating healthy habits while having fun in the sun! Take advantage of these five tips to help you incorporate a healthier lifestyle that you may continue even beyond the summer months.

1. Get outdoors

It is no secret that spending time outdoors is good for many aspects of life, particularly for our mental health. There is no better time to get outdoors than during the beautiful summer months when the weather is warm and the days are long. Sun exposure is important for getting our daily dose of vitamin D, a vitamin that many of us are lacking. Vitamin D is essential for keeping bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. To get your daily dose of vitamin D, all it takes is 10 minutes of direct sun exposure to your arms and legs.

2. Be more active

In the summer months, the possibilities are endless: walking, hiking, swimming, playing Frisbee, or even outdoor yoga. The important thing is to choose something you like to do, you can and will do. When you choose an activity you enjoy, it is much easier to meet the physical activity guidelines for Americans. For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. If 150 minutes a week seems like a lot to fit in, consider breaking it up into smaller 10-15 minute bouts of exercise throughout the week.

3. Eat more fresh fruits and veggies

Produce is especially delicious in the summer months when most varieties are in season. Chances are fruits and veggies will be more locally sourced and more affordable during the summer months too. Eating more produces helps to lower your chances of developing chronic disease. Aim for 7-10 servings of fruits vegetables each day. Include at least one serving of dark leafy greens, reach for the real deal rather than juice and choose options prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt.

4. Drink more water

During the warm summer months, it is important to stay hydrated. Hydration is essential for supplying nutrients throughout the body, removing waste, blood circulation and maintaining body temperature. There is no one size fits all formula for daily water intake. The amount you should drink daily depends on your body, health conditions, medications and other factors like activity level. A good standard is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day.

5. Make time for sleep

Good quality sleep is more important than you may think and has many benefits beyond providing energy for the day. In the long term, getting enough sleep can help boost immunity, maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of developing chronic disease. For most people, enough sleep is approximately 7 hours but can range between 5-10 hours per night. Spending time outdoors during the day can promote better sleep quality as well as having a consistent bed/wake up time every day. To help you fall asleep faster, avoid strenuous activities, artificial light (electronics) and large meals an hour before bed.

The summer months set the stage for creating healthy habits such as increased physical activity, increased fruit and veggie intake, improved hydration and better quality of sleep. You will feel the benefits of improved mental, physical and emotional health. Get outside and enjoy all the fun that summer has to offer!

Alison Fenske, MS, RDN, CD

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Grant Provides Dental Equipment Upgrade at Denny Murphy Clinic

Thank you so much to the Arcora Foundation for a grant helping us to purchase some much needed dental equipment! 

Denny Murphy Clinic’s existing dental equipment, some of which has been in service for 20+ years, has been well-maintained to maximize the full life of each piece. However, the equipment is coming to its end of life. Upgrading and modernizing the clinic’s equipment will ensure continuity in access to integrated medical and dental services for the underserved, high-risk patients in Spokane’s downtown core. Moreover, new technologies will greatly improve workflow efficiency.

New cutting-edge equipment will provide for earlier detection of tooth decay and significantly improved patient experience. It will enhance teamwork and make dental care easier for patients, dentists, and hygienists. Accordingly, it also will make it easier to recruit and retain dental staff. Above all, new technologies will greatly improve staff workflow efficiency, meaning more productive patient visits and increased oral health for patients.

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Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter Protest in Spokane, WA 5/31/2020

At CHAS Health, our work is guided by our mission and core values. Two of those core values that are particularly relevant now are Social Responsibility and Respect for Human Dignity.  We believe that Black Lives Matter. The recent and deplorable death of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement is the latest example in a long history of racial injustice and discrimination in our country. 

As a community health center, we have endeavored to reduce health inequities in the communities we serve over the last 25 years.  We know that health inequities disproportionately impact people of color and people with lower incomes.  While we have worked hard to strengthen these particular threads of our social safety net by providing universal access to primary care services, we were not expansive enough in our objective.  Although we understood that the root causes of health inequity are inextricably linked to systemic issues that support racial and income inequality, we failed to call it what is – a public health crisis. 

We need to confront the fact that the underlying foundation of health equity will never be stable until issues of systemic racism, injustice and respect for human dignity are rectified.  Acknowledgement is step one of this journey.  Next steps include listening, taking action, and sustaining that action.  CHAS Health is committed to increasing our staff’s awareness and engagement in activities that promote racial equity, diversity, and inclusion.  CHAS Health is also committed to working with external partners in the communities we serve to build a new foundation that addresses the deficiencies of our criminal justice system and law enforcement, to promote income equality, equal opportunity, and health equity. 

CHAS Health makes this commitment to the black community, communities of color, and to all the communities we serve.

Aaron Wilson, CEO

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Empowering Patients for Greatness | Pathways to Wellness Patient Story

One of our participants from our very first (Pilot) Pathways to Wellness program, has a very impressive success story. When she first started, she shared that she did not graduate from high school but did get her diploma.  She confesses to starting drinking and using illegal drugs by the age of 14, in turn, she ending up being a drug addict. Not able to get away from this life, she moved to Las Vegas but was not able to make it there either so, she moved back to the Seattle area. Struggling to stay sober, she decided to leave everything behind, and move to Spokane. She was living in a group home.

 On May 29, 2018, she had her New patient visit with Jason Wright and by June she saw Erica Baty.   They talked about our Pathways to Wellness Program. She was very excited to start in July and determined to graduate. She was able to learn many things about eating better, shopping on a budget, preparing healthy foods, and much more. The accountability for workouts helped her to be more motivated.  At Graduation, she stated that this program came along at the perfect time for her. It gave her something to focus on and kept her from falling back into her old habits.  She is very proud to be a Pathways to Wellness Graduate and continue her journey, using the things she had learned.

 During this quarantine time, I have been reaching out to our Pathway to Wellness graduates, to see how and what they are doing during these uncertain times.  When I talked to her, she shared that she has lost another 25+ lbs. and continues to try to eat healthy.  Workouts have been a struggle with the YMCA being closed but has created a few of her own.  She finally shared that she is one quarter away from getting her MA certification and is very proud that she was able to accomplish this. At the end of our call, she said “There is a whole other world out there, that I never thought I could be a part of but now I am empowered to take advantage of every opportunity I can. Life is much better now and have Pathways to Wellness to thank for getting her started on her new life’s journeys.

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Pharmacy – During COVID-19 | Alternative pick up

All CHAS Health Pharmacies are open during regular business hours (see chas.org/services/pharmacy for the full list). If you are not able to pick up prescriptions in person due to COVID related barriers, we can deliver medications to you. Either through curbside pick-up at our clinics or mailing them to your house. We can schedule a one-time shipment, or setup refills to be mailed to you as needed. Please call our Pharmacy at 509.462.6577 or your clinic’s pharmacy to make arrangements. If you are running low on medications and are not able to see your provider in person, we may be able to give you a temporary refill. 

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Friendly Faces in New Spaces

During COVID-19, a great number of CHAS Health staff found both their workplaces and roles transformed.  With nonessential services suspended and many office visits converted to telephone or virtual visits, the need to check in patients at the front desk diminished and had the potential to compromise patient and staff safety if continued.  Toni Hites from the CHAS Latah Community Health clinic in Moscow, Idaho found herself still greeting patients, but instead of operating from the comfort of the clinic’s front office, she was now something like an extremely friendly healthcare bouncer–posted outside the clinic front door, donned nose to knees in protective gear.

“I have been enjoying my new role as a greeter, because I get to meet all of the dental people. It has been great getting to know my co-workers who I would not usually get to work with this closely. I have also gotten to know my pharmacy co-workers as well.  We have a great team here at Latah CHAS, and they have made this fun even in these difficult times.  I have also gotten to hear from the patients how they appreciate all we do for them, like running in to get their prescriptions for them.”

If you are a CHAS Health patient needing pharmacy services, give as a call at (509) 444-8200 in Washington or (208) 838-8300 in Idaho.

This blog post is part of a special CHAS Health Foundation series for #GivingTuesdayNow. #GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020 as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.  #GivingTuesdayNow emphasizes opportunities to give back to communities and causes in safe ways that allow for social connection and kindness even while practicing physical distancing. #GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving that focuses on the collective power that individuals, communities and organizations use to celebrate generosity and philanthropy worldwide.

This mission of the CHAS Health Foundation is to create health equity by strategically investing in patients, partners, and communities. The CHAS Health Foundation supports CHAS Health, a non-profit community health center serving over 97,000 patients annually regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. You can donate to the CHAS Health Foundation at: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CHAS

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COVID-19 and Community Generosity

During the pandemic, we have received a heartening number of donations of individually wrapped food for employees serving in our clinics and tents, face masks for staff and patients, and monetary gifts to fill in the gaps.  Gifts have arrived not just from caring individuals and organizations all over the Inland Northwest, but also from Seattle, Chicago, Iowa and Florida.  Our own employees and even family members of staff have made generous donations as well.  This is the story of Katie Negri, one of our incredible Application Support Analysts, and how she and our community came together to give:

Katie is part of a Facebook group named “Helping Spokane County get through COVID-19” and she noticed an organization called Spokane Ear Savers mentioned several times. 

“I originally reached out looking to purchase some of the ear savers for a few of my co-workers in IT, but when I mentioned I worked for CHAS, Briana, the woman who responded to my message, stated that she wanted to donate 200 to our practice.” 

After picking up the initial order of 200, “Briana messaged me again to let me know that they made an additional 200 ear savers to donate to CHAS and that I could pick them up whenever it was convenient. This group is amazing and extremely thoughtful!”

A big thank you to our own Katie and to Briana at Spokane Ear Savers for coming together to serve our community and staff during COVID-19.

This blog post is part of a special CHAS Health Foundation series for #GivingTuesdayNow. #GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020 as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.  #GivingTuesdayNow emphasizes opportunities to give back to communities and causes in safe ways that allow for social connection and kindness even while practicing physical distancing. #GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving that focuses on the collective power that individuals, communities and organizations use to celebrate generosity and philanthropy worldwide.

This mission of the CHAS Health Foundation is to create health equity by strategically investing in patients, partners, and communities. The CHAS Health Foundation supports CHAS Health, a non-profit community health center serving over 97,000 patients annually regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. You can donate to the CHAS Health Foundation at: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CHAS

By Vanessa Bryant

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COVID-19 and New Staff Roles

During COVID-19, a great number of CHAS Health staff had to quickly shift to doing their work differently or doing completely different work!  The impact was especially great on our dental team.  When the pandemic necessitated the treatment of dental emergencies only, Dental Assistant Ayla Maki from CHAS Latah Community Health in Moscow, Idaho got a brand new temporary job:

“During COVID-19, I transitioned from being a dental assistant to helping in the pharmacy as a technician.  Working in the pharmacy has been fun and informative.  The Latah pharmacy staff have been encouraging, patient, and supportive during this new experience!  I have a whole new respect for those working in the pharmacy and what they do on a daily basis.  I am incredibly grateful for this new experience, as well as being able to keep helping out in the clinic where needed during this transitional time. I am thankful for CHAS and that they have continually supported me and my fellow employees through this temporary situation.”

If you require emergency dental care or are a CHAS Health patient needing pharmacy services, give as a call at (509) 444-8200 in Washington or (208) 838-8300 in Idaho.

This blog post is part of a special CHAS Health Foundation series for #GivingTuesdayNow. #GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020 as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.  #GivingTuesdayNow emphasizes opportunities to give back to communities and causes in safe ways that allow for social connection and kindness even while practicing physical distancing. #GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving that focuses on the collective power that individuals, communities and organizations use to celebrate generosity and philanthropy worldwide.

This mission of the CHAS Health Foundation is to create health equity by strategically investing in patients, partners, and communities. The CHAS Health Foundation supports CHAS Health, a non-profit community health center serving over 97,000 patients annually regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. You can donate to the CHAS Health Foundation at: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CHAS

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COVID-19 and Patient Calls

One of the challenges of being a Call Center Representative at a healthcare organization, even when it isn’t a crisis, is that you often don’t get to circle back with the patients you assist day after day and inevitably worry about.  On one such occasion during COVID-19, our call center expert Sam at Spokane’s downtown CHAS Denny Murphy Clinic, was fortunate enough to reconnect.

“Last week I had a patient with a 3-month-old son call in panicked that he had been having trouble breathing that morning…” Sam quickly got the patient on the phone with a nurse, “…and I’m not quite sure what had happened from there.” 

Luckily, when the patient called back a few days later, Sam was once again connected with her. 

“She thanked CHAS for being such a great resource for her and her family.  She said that our team is always going above and beyond for our patients’ health!  She emphasized how in the midst of the craziness of COVID, CHAS was there for her!”

This blog post is part of a special CHAS Health Foundation series for #GivingTuesdayNow. #GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020 as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.  #GivingTuesdayNow emphasizes opportunities to give back to communities and causes in safe ways that allow for social connection and kindness even while practicing physical distancing. #GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving that focuses on the collective power that individuals, communities and organizations use to celebrate generosity and philanthropy worldwide.

This mission of the CHAS Health Foundation is to create health equity by strategically investing in patients, partners, and communities. The CHAS Health Foundation supports CHAS Health, a non-profit community health center serving over 97,000 patients annually regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. You can donate to the CHAS Health Foundation at: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CHAS

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Working the Tent during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 Crisis, many of our employees were moved from working inside their regular clinic location, to helping in our screening tents outside of our primary care clinics.  Here are some comments about tent work from one of our amazing Nurse Practitioners, Todd:

“The patients and families I interacted with [in the tent] were ALL amazing, supportive and understanding of the processes we went through to keep them and their family members safe.  In those moments there was a real sense of community and we are all working together.” 

Todd noted that CHAS support staff were all great; not just the Medical Assistants and other staff screening at the door and running for supplies, but even the facilities employee who got the heat on to make employees more comfortable and who broke down the tent at the end of the day.  

“I feel very fortunate to work for an organization that supports its employees, families and community in a time like this.”

This blog post is part of a special CHAS Health Foundation series for #GivingTuesdayNow. #GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020 as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.  #GivingTuesdayNow emphasizes opportunities to give back to communities and causes in safe ways that allow for social connection and kindness even while practicing physical distancing. #GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving that focuses on the collective power that individuals, communities and organizations use to celebrate generosity and philanthropy worldwide.

This mission of the CHAS Health Foundation is to create health equity by strategically investing in patients, partners, and communities. The CHAS Health Foundation supports CHAS Health, a non-profit community health center serving over 97,000 patients annually regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. You can donate to the CHAS Health Foundation at: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CHAS