Healthy Choices Blog

News and inspiration for healthy living in Northern California

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<137>Todd Wawrychuk<137><137><252><137>/Disney Junior
Dr. Letitia Bradford, mom of 6-year-old Kai, a “Doc McStuffins" fan, was among health professionals invited to act in a scene from the Disney series about a girl who doctors broken toys.

Dr. Letitia Bradford’s son Kai, like many 6-year-old boys, is usually enticed by Nerf guns and video games. But last Christmas, to Bradford’s surprise, he asked for a pink and purple “Doc McStuffins” medical kit so he could listen to mom’s heartbeat.

Kai is one of millions of 2- to 7-year-olds who have been drawn into the world of “Doc McStuffins,” an Emmy-nominated Disney series about a girl who doctors broken toys in her playhouse clinic. Earlier this summer, Kai’s mom left their Sacramento home to fly to Van Nuys, where she starred in an educational short that will air during the program next week.

Bradford, who practices orthopedic and general surgery at George L. Mee Memorial Hospital in Monterey County, was one of five physicians invited to the set to explain her specialty by acting out a scene. The real-life scenes aim to bolster the animated series’s lessons about the importance of going to the doctor, said the show’s creator Chris Nee.

In Bradford’s scene, she talks to a young girl with a broken arm about the process of getting a cast. The scene will air Monday at 9:25 a.m. between episodes, which average approximately 1.5 million viewers, according to Disney.

Wednesday, September 17 2014
In health terms, sitting is the new smoking
wellness
Bill Hogan/MCT
Susan Daggett, from the Tribune fitness center, demonstrates proper and improper posture while sitting, March 23, 2009. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

In case you haven’t heard, the new buzz-phrase going around health promotion circles is “sitting is the new smoking.”

At first blush, this may sound a tad odd. What’s one got to do with the other? It’s simple, really. When you think about it, both are habits that are within our physical capabilities to stop. And – here’s where it gets weird – both are found to be quite harmful to our health.

That invitation to take a seat and rest your feet? Pass on it.

From Australia to Ireland to the United States, a new, robust body of clinical research supports the public-health message that being sedentary by, say, parking your duff at the cube for an honest day’s wage, is failing our long-term health. Sitting eight hours daily can shave years off your life. (By the way, Webster’s definition of “sedentary” includes “fixed to one spot, as a barnacle.”)

Health care giant Kaiser Permanente has agreed to pay a $4 million fine to California’s overseer of managed health care following an 18-month battle with state officials over whether Kaiser blocked patients from timely access to mental health services.

The development came as a surprise to Kaiser mental health clinicians and others who were prepared to testify this week in an appeals hearing for Kaiser’s challenge to the state Department of Managed Health Care and the fault it found in Kaiser’s provision of mental health care services.

Among the problems identified in a March 2013 report by the department were long waitlists to see a mental health professional, duplicate sets of records with contradictory information about how long patients had to wait for an appointment and “inaccurate educational materials” for patients discouraging them from seeking medically necessary care.

Moreover, the department found that Kaiser was likely violating state and federal mental health parity laws. The California Mental Health Parity Act requires managed care providers to provide psychiatric services that are equal in quality and access to their primary care services.

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Sacramento

Sacramento’s over-60 population has more than doubled in the last decade, and Latino residents are living longer than any other group, according to Sacramento County’s latest Community Health Status Report.

The report, released Wednesday, also confirms an ongoing problem of sexually transmitted diseases among teens and young adults, and sheds light on the high rate of infant mortality among African American babies, which is nearly triple that of their white counterparts.

The county public health office’s 75-page study is an update for residents on their communal mental and physical health standings, based on data compiled between 2002 and 2013. It marks the kick-off to the “mobilizing action through partnership and planning initiative,” an 18-month project in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aimed at improving the county’s health system on the ground level.

For County Public Health Officer Olivia Kasirye, that means identifying the spikes in Sacramento’s health numbers and working with community organizations to find solutions.

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José Luis Villegas/jvillegas@sacbee.com
Jordana Steinberg, 20, daughter of state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, recently shared her story in The Bee of coping with a severe childhood mood disorder.

Rene Clark, 54, a mother of three and a self-described nurturer, juggles two jobs. She wouldn’t have it any other way. As a massage therapist, she gets to lay healing hands on hurting clients. As a consultant to seniors downsizing, Clark finds opportunities to ease anxieties and steady shaky emotions.

She’d love to gratify her urge to nurture at home, too, by working with her troubled, explosive teenage daughter, Kim.

But the 17-year-old gives her mother little room to help. Clark worries that interacting with her daughter would only trigger more of Kim’s jarring, draining daily rages. “I try not to engage,” she said. “We’ve sort of learned not to agitate her.”

Today, however, Clark has new hope. The Folsom mother learned of a newly identified severe childhood mental condition – called disruptive mood dysregulation disorder – which affects kids from 6 to 19 years old. Such a diagnosis could explain Kim’s inability to hold her angry moods in check and, importantly, signal an end to family turmoil.

Tamara Cardinal never knows where she’ll be when vertigo attacks. Sometimes it’s in the office, sometimes it’s on the freeway. Wherever she is, she has one crucial minute to get to stable ground before her world starts spinning.

“All you can do is just sit still with your eyes closed,” she said. “You can’t imagine what it feels like. It’s so debilitating.”

Cardinal, 58, suffers from the intense dizziness of vertigo as a result of her Ménière’s disease – an inner ear disorder that causes imbalance, nausea, ringing ears and hearing loss due to inflammation. The disorder affects about 600,000 people nationwide, mostly between the ages of 30 and 70.

While there are currently no FDA-approved drug therapies for Ménière’s disease, Cardinal is one of nine patients locally and hundreds in North America to be receiving treatment for the condition via a clinical drug trial.

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Lezlie Sterling/ lsterling@sacbee.com
Linda Dodrill, a Sutter neuro nurse, talks on her phone in the breezeway where quilts hang in the windows, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Every three years, the Sutter Breast Cancer Quilt Auction is held at the Sutter Cancer Center to raise funds for breast cancer research and treatment programs. Started in 1999, it is considered the first of its kind in the nation and has led to the creation of similar fund-raising auctions. More than half-a-million dollars has been raised since its inception.
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Lezlie Sterling/lsterling@sacbee.com
A member of the Coop Group quilting group inspects the handiwork on a quilt hanging in a hallway at the Sutter Cancer Center, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Every three years, the Sutter Breast Cancer Quilt Auction is held at the Sutter Cancer Center to raise funds for breast cancer research and treatment programs. Started in 1999, it is considered the first of its kind in the nation and has led to the creation of similar fund-raising auctions. More than half-a-million dollars has been raised since its inception.

The Sutter Cancer Center is looking more like a blanket fort than a medical facility these days, with 475 vibrantly handcrafted quilts monopolizing wall space on six of the hospital’s floors.

Smiling turtles trot across fabric squares while pink ribbons display messages of hope and strength. The patchwork of images floods the building with a sense of warmth and whimsy seen only once every three years at Sutter – during the quilt auction, its biggest breast cancer fundraiser.

The hospital has hosted the silent auction once every three years since 1999, raising more than $550,000 total for breast cancer research and treatment. From now until Oct. 4, art appreciators and members of the public can peruse the displays during regular hospital hours, placing bids on their favorite quilts with the hopes of taking one home.

The silent auction will end on Oct. 4 to make way for a live auction, in which 50 quilts set aside for their ability to fetch high prices will be auctioned off to the most competitive bidders. The highest bid from the silent auction will serve as the starting bid for the live auction, said Jeanne Powell, auction committee chairwoman.

GT92VCEDF.3Senior Photojournalist
Renée C. Byer/ rbyer@sacbee.com
Noah Hinson, 4, left, looks on as brother Simon, 7, and mom Kristin, play with the newest member of the family 6-month old Lucy on Monday September 8, 2014 in Lincoln, Calif. Simon was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when he was 15 months old. Before that his oldest brother Justin, now 10, was diagnosed at age 3.
GT92VCEBO.3Senior Photojournalist
Renée C. Byer/ rbyer@sacbee.com
Simon Hinson, 7, feeds his sister Lucy, 6 months, as brother Justin, 10, looks on Monday September 8, 2014 in Lincoln, Calif. Simon was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when he was 15 months old. Before that his oldest brother Justin, now 10, was diagnosed at age 3. Most recently their brother Noah was part of the Infant Start study out of the UC Davis Mind Institute, which tested the effectiveness of a parent-driven therapy on infants age 6-15 months.

On a Monday afternoon, the Hinsons are going full throttle.

Kristin Hinson, mother of five, is helping 10-year-old Justin plod through problems from his math textbook, while husband Neal walks Simon, age 7, through a homework packet. Amelia, the oldest of the bunch at 13, is buzzing around the kitchen for an after-school snack while 6-month-old Lucy sleeps quietly on the second floor of their finely furnished Lincoln home.

Kristin’s coaxing an answer out of Justin when Noah, age 4, chimes in from the kitchen counter, where he’s been playing a game on his iPad.

“And 400!” the toddler exclaims, answering the question.

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Jose Luis Villegas/ jvillegas@sacbee.com
Sacramento performance poet Jovi Radtke takes a selfie with Paul Valencia at Southside Park on an evening in June. On Wednesday night, Radtke completed a summerlong challenge to take 100 selfies with strangers who returned a smile on the street.
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Jose Luis Villegas/ jvillegas@sacbee.com
Sacramento performance poet Jovi Radtke talks with Paul Dorn on a June evening after taking a selfie with him at 15th and Q streets. On Wednesday night, Radtke completed a summerlong challenge to take 100 selfies with strangers who returned a smile on the street.

Jovi Radtke wiped away tears with the back of one arm while wrapping the other around Jennifer Russell, an acquaintance made just moments before, to pose for a picture worth a few thousand dollars.

Radtke, a local performance poet, completed Wednesday night a summerlong challenge to take a total of 100 selfies with strangers who returned a smile on the street.

Roaming the midtown sidewalks at dusk, Radtke flashed countless smiles at passers-by – some of whom returned the grin and posed for the photo and some of whom ignored the gesture entirely. Russell’s smile was the 100th in Radtke’s collection, and the key to raking in what will be a substantial gift for the Gender Health Center, Sacramento’s only health advocacy organization specializing in transgender care.

Radtke, who frequents the midtown center and chooses not to identify with either gender, launched a “100 Smiling Strangers” Facebook group in June, where more than 400 people have since pledged to donate $10 or more to the Gender Health Center upon completion of the challenge.

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Lezlie Sterling/ lsterling@sacbee.com
Phillip the greyhound gets comfortable at Lowbrau’s outdoor boardwalk. Under a new state law, dogs are allowed in outdoor restaurant areas where food preparation does not occur, providing the dog is on a leash and does not walk through the indoor portion of the restaurant to get to the permitted area. Dogs must be under the table, leashed or in a carrier, and are forbidden from climbing on seats, tables or benches.
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Lezlie Sterling/lsterling@sacbee.com
Jordan Smith, right, a server at the Plum Cafe and Bakery in midtown, brings out a bowl of water for her canine customers last week as Allyson Seconds, Chip Conrad and Kyle Winchell enjoy their lunch on the outdoor patio.

Christy Mankin dislikes dining alone. She prefers the company of a silver-haired Siberian husky named Vita, whom she calls “a great conversation starter.”

The sleek, blue-eyed canine lounged under a patio table at Cafe Dantorels in Curtis Park on a recent August afternoon, basking in Sunday sun and compliments from strangers. Mankin, a self-identified “proud dog mom,” watched with a smile and a cold beer.

“She is my family, and she’s a great companion to me,” Mankin said. “Everyone wants to come up and say hi to her … . There’ve been some occasions where I’ve left her at home because it’s too hot out, and I end up just missing her.”

The dining duo’s weekly outings will continue indefinitely thanks to the recent passage of Assembly Bill 1965. The legislation, authored by Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Aug. 21, amends the California Health and Safety Code to allow dogs in outdoor restaurant areas where food preparation does not occur, providing the dog is on a leash and does not walk through the indoor portion of the restaurant to get to the permitted area.

Shriners Hospitals Northern California announced Tuesday that it will add a new specialty in complex pediatric surgeries, making it the only facility in its 22-hospital network to offer the services.

The children’s hospital, located in Sacramento near the UC Davis Medical Center, opened in 1997 with four specialties – burns, orthopaedics, spinal chord injury and cleft lip surgery. The new pediatric surgery program will serve children with complex gastro-intestinal disorders, complex ano-rectal disorders and complex chest wall disorders. This includes a wide array of conditions including Crohn’s disease, morbid obesity, reflux disease and short bowel syndrome.

The program, like the other four, will mostly serve children in Northern California but will take referrals from facilities throughout the West Coast. Shriners has recruited Dr. Shinjiro Hirose and Dr. Diana Farmer, both of whom came to Sacramento from the University of San Francisco, to lead the program. They will coordinate patient care with Dr. Gary Raff, the current chief of pediatric cardiac surgery at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

“The tremendous growth we have seen in our programs speaks to the vision of the Shriners and their commitment to children, the community and the exceptional care our doctors provide,” said Margaret Bryan, administrator and CEO of the Northern California hospital, in a news release.

GPM2T7KGC.3Senior Photojournalist
Renée C. Byer/ rbyer@sacbee.com
Kathleen Humphries, 26, a neurologic music therapist with McConnell Music Therapy Services, plays guitar and sings for Elizabeth “Alli“ Feytsera, 6 months, who is recovering from open heart surgery at Sutter Medical Center.
GPM2T7KE3.3Senior Photojournalist
Renée C. Byer/ rbyer@sacbee.com
Kathleen Humphries pushes a cart with musical instruments to a patient’s room at Sutter Medical Center.

Elizabeth Feytser’s tiny pink toes tap ever so slightly to the tune of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” playing at her cribside in the Sutter Children’s Center ICU. The soothing timbre of music therapist Kathleen Humphries’ voice rolls over the hum of heart monitors and oxygen pulsers as the 6-month-old’s lips curve into a curious smile.

Recovering from heart surgery she had undergone last week, baby Elizabeth was the first stop of the day on Humphries’ music therapy circuit. The 26-year-old roams the hospital halls every day with a cart full of djembe drums, maracas and other donated and collected instruments in an attempt to bring comfort to children struggling with pain.

The music therapy program, which Sutter began offering consistently last July, received a $150,000 boost in August from former 49ers quarterback Steve Young, whose Forever Young Foundation aims to assist children facing physical, emotional and financial challenges in Northern California, Arizona, Utah and Ghana, Africa.

The entirety of the donation will go toward building Sophie’s Place, a state-of-the art music facility in Sutter’s new Anderson Lucchetti Women’s and Children’s Center, which is under construction across from Sutter General Hospital in midtown and scheduled to open in May 2015. The Sutter Memorial campus in East Sacramento will be torn down and used for neighborhood development.

About Healthy Choices

Cynthia CraftCynthia H. Craft began her reporting and editing career in Columbus, Ohio, after graduating from Ohio State University. She worked at a Dallas, Texas, newspaper as an editor, and then at the Los Angeles Times, as an editor and Capitol Bureau correspondent. After working as editor in chief at the California Journal, Craft went to Lima, Peru, for three years as a visiting professor of journalism at Peruana Universidad de Ciencias Aplicadas. She was a fellow in 2012 at the National Library for Medicine in Washington, D.C. at the National Institute for Health. She's currently The Sacramento Bee's senior writer on health, a position made possible by a grant from The California Endowment.

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Email: ccraft@sacbee.com.
Phone: (916) 321-1270
On Twitter: @cynthiahcraft.

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Note: The Healthy Choices blog switched blog platforms in August 2013. All posts after the switch are found here. Older posts are available using the list below.

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