How to read food labels

How to read food labels with Annie House RD Botsford HospitalThose nutrition food labels — you’ve seen them on almost every prepared food item in the grocery store.  They’ve been mandated since 1990 and they’re meant to give you the information you need to make smart, healthy food choices.  But sometimes they can be confusing and even downright misleading.

So Annie House, a Botsford Hospital registered dietitian, sat down with the Farmington Hills/Farmington Commission on Children, Youth and Families to explain those sometimes daunting nutrition food labels.

Tips to interpret & better understand food labels

Annie advises us to pay attention to the number of servings per container.  This is important because you have to multiply all the other numbers on the label by this number if you eat the whole container.  So if a food label says there are 45 calories in a serving, but the package includes 2.5 “servings per container,” that really means if you eat the whole container you’re really getting 45 calories multiplied by 2.5, which is 112.5 calories!

Annie also points out that the foods we should be eating the most don’t have food labels on them!  These include items found on the perimeter of the grocery store such as fruits, vegetables and fresh meats.  Annie says “the closer you can get to nature with these foods is better” because they don’t have additives in them.  Although most of these foods don’t have nutrition labels, they are packed with nutrition!  So try to include more of these in your diet and you’ll be making a big first step to healthier eating.

You can see the full video interview here.  Annie’s interview is about 25 minutes long but if you’ve ever found yourself confused by food labels, it’s worth watching the whole thing. You will learn:

  • Why food labels are important
  • What will you find on the food label
  • How to be an educated consumer
  • The first thing you should look at on the label
  • What a calorie is
  • Why labels are sometimes misleading
  • What each of the items on the label mean, such as total fat, saturated fat, % Daily Value
  • What are good fats and what are bad fats
  • The key to carbohydrates
  • What protein is and what the best types of protein to eat are
  • What ingredients to look for and avoid
  • Code words for sugar and sugar substitutes
  • Identify possible allergens
  • Finding nutritious options at restaurants

If you’d like to learn more about nutrition, healthy eating or even eating to prevent or control diabetes, browse the Botsford Hospital events calendar.  We have many workshops, demonstrations and classes to help you take a step toward better nutrition!

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Botsford doctor answers flu questions

by David Walters, D.O., Chief Clinical Officer, Botsford Hospital.  Follow Dr. Walters on Twitter @BotsfordDocs
Dr. David Walters, Botsford Hospital Chief Clinical Officer

Dr. David Walters, chief clinical officer at Botsford Hospital, answers some of the most common questions he hears about the flu

As most everyone has heard this year has brought an early and relatively severe Influenza season on us. I have compiled some answers to frequently asked questions I’ve received from staff, patients and visitors.

Question 1:  How long will this flu season last?

According to CDC reports, the 2013 influenza outbreak in the U.S. is widespread with no reliable way to forecast the length or severity of the outbreak.

Question 2:  What are the symptoms of the flu?  

Flu-like symptoms include cough, fever, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, body aches, chills and fatigue.  If you have 2 or more of these symptoms, do not go to work.

Question 3:  How do I prevent the flu?

The CDC recommends 3 Actions to protect yourself and others from the flu:

1.  Get a flu vaccine.  CDC recommends annual vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older, especially health care workers, to protect against flu viruses.  Children less than 6 months of age are at high risk of serious illness from the flu, but are too young to be vaccinated.  Those who care for them should be vaccinated instead.  It’s still not too late to get your influenza vaccination and the shot doesn’t have to cause a sore arm

 2.  Stop the spread of germs

    • If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of fever-reducing medicines). If your temperature is equal or greater than 100.6 degrees F, you should not go to work.  
    • Cover your nose/mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.  Throw the tissue in the trash after use. Flu virus is spread through droplet contact from an ill person or object that has been exposed to droplet contact (for example on a doorknob, phone, etc.). Cough, without fever, is not a contraindication to work, as long as you cover your cough appropriately.  However, a cough, in addition to one or more other symptoms would indicate you stay home; such as fever, sore throat, headache, body aches, chills and fatigue.
    • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand rub.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.  Germs spread this way.
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated.

3.     Take antiviral medications if your doctor prescribes them

    • If you get sick with the flu, antiviral drugs may make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick, especially for those with high risk factors.
    • Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotic drugs and are not available over the counter.
    • Antiviral drugs are most effective when started within 48 hours of getting sick, but starting them later may still be helpful.  Follow your doctor’s instructions.

Please share this important information with co-workers, loved ones or others who may benefit but keep in mind it does not replace the advice from your doctor.  

Thanks and stay well,

David Walters, D.O.

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2012 in Review: Our most popular blog posts


Top 5 blog posts in 2012 on the Botsford Blog


As we look forward to creating more health, wellness and prevention content for you in 2013, we’re also taking a look back at 2012 to see what people read most.

Looking back helps us figure out what you might find helpful in the future.

Below is a list of our most popular blog posts in 2012 based on number of views:

  1. What if there’s an active shooter? Botsford prepares for crisis
  2. Benefits of Massage Therapy for Cancer Patients
  3. How to prevent hair loss from chemotherapy
  4. Health benefits of locally grown foods
  5. 4 Health Benefits of Grilling

If there’s a topic you’d like to see in the upcoming year, just let us know.  Send us a message on Twitter or Facebook – we’d love to hear from you!

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Detroit Catholic Central High School student fills cancer center with music


Jonah Lyon, a Catholic Central High School student, volunteered his time to play guitar and piano for patients at the Botsford Cancer Center.

The Botsford Cancer Center is filled with live instrumental music thanks to 14-year-old musician volunteer Jonah Lyon.

Jonah, a freshman at Catholic Central High School in Novi, needed to fill 10 community service hours as a school requirement and decided to spend some of that time entertaining patients at the Cancer Center.  He played holiday music and contemporary songs on his guitar and on a piano in the Cancer Center lobby.  The piano was recently donated to Botsford and Jonah was the first volunteer to grace its keys.

Jonah’s mom, Dawn, said he’s been playing piano for seven years and guitar for two.

Jonah’s service comes under a new volunteer program at Botsford called “Music from the Heart.”  Created from the idea that music can be good for your health, the program recruits musicians to share their talents with patients and visitors at Botsford Hospital or Botsford Cancer Center.  Jonah found the opportunity on our volunteer website and decided it was right for him.  We agree — it was a great way to share his talents and even get some practice.  Patients and employees alike loved it!

Patients in the Botsford Cancer Center enjoy Jonah's music as they stroll through the lobby.

Cynthia Bonkowski, Botsford’s volunteer services manager, said having Jonah and other musician volunteers here is about engaging patients.  And that’s exactly what happened.  People stopped to chat with him about his guitar and smiled as they passed by.  His notes filled the empty air and landed as smiles onto the faces of patients and visitors—and for that we are thankful.

If you have a gift for music, we’d love to hear from you!  Pianists, guitarists or any other

musicians can volunteer a little bit of time playing for our patients, brightening their day and maybe even helping to improve their health.

To learn more about our Music from the Heart program or to volunteer, please call (248) 471-8082.  You may also learn more about volunteering at Botsford.

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What is Balloon Sinuplasty?

It used to be that people suffering from chronic sinusitis symptoms (facial pain or pressure, recurrent sinus infections or headaches) had one invasive option to alleviate their symptoms.  That was traditional sinuplasty surgery which often involved removing tissue or even bone in order to improve drainage in the sinuses.  Many people chose not to get the procedure because of concerns about postoperative pain and recovery time.

However, now chronic sinus sufferers have another option called balloon sinuplasty.  Balloon sinuplasty is minimally invasive, causes less pain and requires less recovery time (most patients can return to normal activity within 24 to 48 hours.)  This is possible because rather than using rigid surgical instruments and removing tissue from sinus passageways, the balloon sinuplasty procedure uses flexible materials and a balloon to simply widen those passageways.

If you suffer from chronic sinusitis symptoms, it might be worth your time to learn more about this new procedure.  Discuss it with your doctor or come to Botsford’s free balloon sinuplasty seminar.  Botsford ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Warren Brandes will explain the procedure in more detail.

Visit our event page on Facebook to learn more about this free event.

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Botsford Hospital recognized for social media

    Botsford Hospital won an eHealthcare Leadership award for its use of social media

Botsford Hospital won an eHealthcare Leadership award for its use of social media

A couple weeks ago, Botsford Hospital was honored to hear the news that all our blogging, tweeting, Facebook-ing and Pinning have been appreciated.  We received an eHealthcare Leadership Award in the Best Social Networking category.

It’s good news indeed, because we don’t use social media just for fun.  Our goal is to get to know the people in our community and to share important information to help keep them healthy.

Some 240 healthcare organizations, representing a broad industry spectrum, received recognition for their outstanding websites and digital communications at a special presentation in Las Vegas on November 14 during the Sixteenth Annual Healthcare Internet Conference.  Winners of the 2012 eHealthcare Leadership Awards were selected from nearly 1,100 entries.  A total of 115 individuals familiar with healthcare and the Internet judged the entries.

Judges looked at how websites and other digital communications compared with others in their organization’s classification.  They also reviewed entries based on a proprietary multi-point standard of Internet excellence.  The best overall Internet site category, for example, had to pass muster on more than 40 factors.

We hope you’ll check out what we’re doing and get social with us!

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Helping patients navigate the financial burden of a cancer diagnosis

At the Botsford Cancer Center, Stefanie Johnson, RN helps patients find insurance coverage or payment sources so they don’t have the worry of shouldering alone the high-cost of cancer care.

When someone gets a cancer diagnosis, the complexities of the treatment and the financial toll can be devastating. Many cancer centers have financial counselors to inform patients about the costs of treatment and make payment arrangements, but Botsford Cancer Center has chosen a different path by hiring a financial navigator, who works from the patient’s perspective and helps find resources to meet the patient’s financial needs.

Cancer treatment is expensive,” says Nicholle Mehr, Director of the Botsford Cancer Center. “Some cancer drugs can cost $100,000 for a year’s treatment. Coupled with high deductibles, copays and sometimes reduced income, patients and their families can easily become overwhelmed.”

In most hospitals, if there is a problem with coverage, patients must deal with those issues on their own. A lot of patients don’t understand the process and get lost in the system and may never return to the hospital. Also, in the hospital setting there are reimbursement issues that the hospital really cannot fix, because it requires some action on the part of the patient. A financial navigator helps find creative ways to solve those problems.

Meet Stefanie Johnson, RN.  She helps patients find insurance coverage or payment sources, so they don’t have the worry of shouldering alone the high-cost of cancer care.  Using her clinical knowledge and compassionate nature, Stefanie educates patients—often before a cancer diagnosis is confirmed. She helps patients and their families to make informed financial and insurance choices that are beneficial for them. And, she removes the fear factor, mystery and stress of navigating health insurance plans for cancer treatment bills than often total hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Stefanie has worked in several nursing and operations positions for hospitals in the past, but she says that being the Financial Navigator at Botsford Cancer Center is her dream job.  She loves that her job is to care for patients’ financial needs, which leads to increased compliance with treatment.

While not an insurance agent, Stefanie is very knowledgeable about the variety of insurance products and cancer-specific funding programs available to patients. Using her knowledge on behalf of patients, she is helping to alleviate the financial burden of stress that faces so many cancer patients.

Learn more about Botsford Cancer Center or take a virtual tour.

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How to get a flu shot without the sore arm

How to get a flu shot without the sore armEvery fall, thousands of Botsford Hospital employees make it a point to pay Tina Marinucci, RN a visit.  That’s because Tina is a nurse in the Employee Health department and part of her job is to give us all our annual flu shots.

Flu shots are important to us at Botsford not just because it helps to keep us all healthy, but it helps keep our patients safe too.  So when it comes to this time of year, we’re all usually pretty happy to visit Tina.

Usually the worst part of getting any shot, flu vaccine included, is the initial poke and resulting soreness.  The soreness that can follow a flu shot may feel like you received a hard punch in the arm.  But most of us at Botsford don’t really mind Tina’s flu shots, because she has a technique that keeps soreness to a minimum.

Next time you need a flu vaccine or other shot in the arm, remember Tina’s tip:

While sitting, place your hand flat on your upper leg and let your shoulder hang low.  Keep your shoulder very relaxed, letting it hang back and low until the shot is administered.  Keeping your shoulder so relaxed may feel a little unnatural especially if you’re tense but it works.  I hardly felt a thing from the shot and days later my shoulder was never sore unless I pressed on it.

It’s not too late to get your flu shot.  Flu season in the United States is October through May and usually peaks in February so if you haven’t already, there’s still good reason to get your flu shot now.

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Support for Alzheimer’s caregivers just a phone call away

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s has its unique set of challenges that only others in the same situation can truly understand.   Caregivers can face overwhelming emotions, exhaustion or even financial complications to name a few.   And then there are the questions caregivers often have about the disease, treatment and caring for the patient.  At the same time, caregivers rarely have time to care for themselves, let alone seek support on many of these issues.

However it is important for caregivers to get help – both for themselves and for the Alzheimer’s patient.  Doing so can help reduce stress and fatigue.

Don’t let lack of time stop you from seeking help or support from others.  Family members, friends and especially others in similar situations can all help in some way.  In addition, the Alzheimer’s Association has these tips for managing Alzheimer’s caregiver stress:

  1. Learn about resources that may be available, from adult day programs, in-home care or even meal delivery services.
  2. Use relaxation techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises or yoga.
  3. Get physical activity for at least 10 minutes per day.  This can be as simple as taking a short walk.
  4. Make time for yourself.  It’s difficult, but scheduling even a 30 minutes a week to check in with friends or do an activity you enjoy can make a difference.
  5. Be educated about Alzheimer’s, how it progresses and any new skills it may require from you as a caregiver (The new support group below will be helpful here).
  6. Take care of yourself by going to the doctor regularly, eating healthfully, getting exercise and plenty of rest.

Busy caregivers now also have an option to call in to a support group to find the help they need and save time.  Botsford Commons Senior Community, the Alzheimer’s Association and Senior Helpers are sponsoring a Dial-In Alzheimer’s Support Group the first Tuesday of every month at 12:00 PM.

Callers can ask questions about Alzheimer’s, talk to other caregivers, learn new ways to help loved ones and call in from any city on their lunch break.

For more information about the DialIn Alzheimer’s Support Group, including dial-in instructions, please call Senior Helpers at (248) 865-1000 or email  Space is limited.


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A CT scan is more than just an image

Lori Killeen, CT at Botsford Hospital

Lori Killeen, a radiology technologist at Botsford Hospital, stands next to the CT scanner she uses to look inside the human body. Botsford is celebrating National Radiology Technologists' Week November 4-10 this year.

From broken bones to cancerous tumors, Lori Killeen takes a deeper look inside the human body.  And sometimes when people need a CT scan, they ask for Lori by name.   In recognition of Radiology Technologists’ Week (November 4-10, 2012), we take a closer look into Lori’s job and how she’s able to make her patients feel so comfortable.

How Lori’s story began

Lori started X-ray school later in life, but she did it for all the right reasons and it’s made a difference in the care she provides.

When her father was diagnosed with colon cancer, it changed her life.  It set her on a path to help others in similar situations.  For her, the experience wasn’t just a devastating diagnosis, the technicians who helped to diagnose her father spoke using cold terminology and left her feeling “stupid.”

The diagnosing process is one of the scariest and anxiety-filled times for patients and their family members, while at the same time it is also a time when many decisions must be made.  Patients are nervous, but it’s important for them to be as calm and comfortable as possible both for a positive experience as well as to get a better test which facilitates a proper diagnosis and potentially catching something early.

Lori knows that the way a person feels about their experience at Botsford can make a difference in the person coming back here or going somewhere else.

So how does Lori do it?

She takes time to explain procedures, as many times as it takes and as simply as possible.  She treats every patient as though they’re her mom or dad, with compassion and concern for their feelings.  She recalls what it was like for her when those radiology techs spoke so coldly and technical to her.  She knows that sometimes it’s not just a tissue that the person on the table needs, but a soft touch on the arm, a hand to hold, or someone to wipe away a tear.  For her recurring patients, she makes a point to remember bits from their lives:   The kids in soccer, the beloved dog, whatever is important to them.

Lori is passionate about patient care and it shows.   She says you don’t learn about how to truly care for patients in a book – it’s inside you.

Learn more about CT and all the imaging services at Botsford Hospital.

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