News Center

Monday, January 31, 2011

Komen group commends St. Francis nurse’s breast cancer awareness work

INDIANAPOLIS – Long before the pink ribbon became a rallying symbol and emblem, Michele Kuntz Wood was actively promoting breast awareness anywhere and anytime she could carry that message

Her diligence for that cause is the basis for her being recognized by the Central Indiana affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Wood will be honored with a lifetime achievement award at the breast cancer group’s Pink Tie Ball, Feb. 19, at the Scottish Rite Cathedral in downtown Indianapolis.

Wood – a registered nurse and manager for Women’s Health Services at Franciscan St. Francis Health – has been on the frontlines for breast cancer awareness in numerous ways for more than three decades. She helped organize the first Race for the Cure in 1992 and co-chaired the event in 2005; founded the local Y-Me Breast Cancer Organization; spearheaded the legislation to authorize the breast cancer license plate; and was state coordinator for the National Breast Cancer Coalition.

She also has served as president of the Indianapolis affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and on the board of the Catherine Peachey Fund, which funds research programs.

Over the years, Wood has been recognized in other ways. She’s been credited by former Indiana Govs. Evan Bayh and Frank O’Bannon for her involvement in breast cancer legislation and was named a Distinguished Hoosier in 2007 by Gov. Mitch Daniels for her community involvement.

A certified nurse practitioner in women’s health, a distinction she earned at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Wood also directs the Spirit of Women program at St. Francis.

The St. Francis nurse will share the limelight with Connie Rufenbarger, a nationally known breast cancer patient advocate and director of the Catherine Peachey Fund. Rufenberger also will receive the lifetime achievement award.

To learn more about Susan G, Komen of Central Indiana and the Pink Tie Ball, go to

More information about Women’s Health Services at Franciscan St. Francis Health is at

St. Francis Senior Promise program garners national attention

INDIANAPOLIS – The Franciscan St. Francis Health Senior Promise program has been named a finalist in the Dorland Health Silver Crown Awards.

The Dorland Health Award is an honor recognizing excellence in senior services nationally. Finalists were judged on their outstanding contribution to the adult and senior communities.

Senior Promise has been serving St. Francis and the senior community since 1987 through offerings of education, screenings, discounts, counseling and a variety of special events.

More than 22,000 people were served through Senior Promise program in 2010.

The Silver Crown Awards is a national competition open to individuals and organizations which have a program, service or process in place to demonstrate extraordinary senior-specific work they are doing in the senior community. This year’s ceremonies will be March 8 at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.

Senior Promise counselors assist with billing questions and insurance needs and help their members review current medications and choose prescription and insurance plans that best benefit the patients. It also hosts the annual Fall Health Festival – one of the largest of its kind in central Indiana – offering a variety of free medical screenings, health care information and flu shots.

Senior Promise is directed by Jim Poole, a retired U.S. Army veteran and insurance agent.

To learn more about Senior Promise, go to

Friday, January 28, 2011

New cardiologist establishes practice with St. Francis-based Indiana Heart Physicians

INDIANAPOLIS – Smriti Banthia, M.D., has joined Franciscan St. Francis Medical Group Indiana Heart Physicians, effective Jan. 31

She comes to St. Francis from Northwestern University in Chicago, where she completed fellowship training.

Banthia is board certified in cardiovascular disease and specializes in electrophysiology. Her clinical interests include arrhythmia management, cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators, and imaging. She has been an investigator for numerous clinical trials and is widely published in professional journals.

Banthia completed a clinical fellowship in medicine and an internship and residency in internal medicine at Harvard Medical School.

A graduate of the Indiana University School of Medicine, she also earned an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Indiana Heart Physicians, which has served patients in central Indiana since 1978, became part of St. Francis Medical Group in 2009. To learn more about cardiovascular services at St. Francis go to

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Phase I nearing end of completion; ER and other services to open April 13

Local firefighters get sneak peek at St. Francis Indianapolis project

INDIANAPOLIS – Firefighters had an inside look at how work is progressing in the expansion of the Franciscan St. Francis Health Indianapolis campus on the city’s south side.

Indianapolis Fire Department members from Perry and Franklin townships visited the facility Jan. 26 with hospital officials and project managers, getting a basement-to-roof look at areas nearing completion and those where construction remains under way.

“This tour gave firefighters an opportunity to become familiar with new areas of the hospital and to familiarize them with the fire alarm system and critical access points,” said St. Francis Security Director Michael Johnson.

One of their stops took the fire crew up six flights of steps to the roof of the patient tower, one of the tallest vantage points in southern Marion and Johnson counties.

Meanwhile, St. Francis officials report that Phase I services are slated for opening April 13. These services are located in the basement and first two levels.

Visitors will find some significant changes. The main entrance and lobby (Level I), currently located on the west side of the campus (Emerson Avenue) will be relocated to the east side of the campus, facing Interstate 65.

An expanded Emergency Department and its entrance are north and adjacent to the main entrance. When fully occupied, the emergency department will have 55 exam rooms and four trauma areas, all organized into special pods. Each pod will be used to group patients with similar diagnoses or needs – a design innovation that enhances efficiency, safety and communication between clinicians in caring for patients.

Other services and departments included in Phase I:


  • central sterile processing
  • security
  • respiratory therapy
  • information technology
  • auditorium
  • nursing informatics
  • engineering
  • other support services

Level I

  • registration
  • observation unit
  • wound care
  • nursing administration

Level II

  • surgery
  • recovery rooms
  • cafeteria

Work on the $265 million project, which began in late 2007, is moving at a vigorous pace, particularly in the patient bed tower (Phase II). St. Francis officials say this final phase of construction will end in late spring 2012. The tower will add 221 inpatient beds to the facility’s existing 230 beds.

“At that time we will phase out inpatient services at our Beech Grove hospital,” said Keith Jewell, senior vice president and chief operating officer.

While inpatient services at Beech Grove will have moved to the 8111 S. Emerson campus with the completion of Phase II, some St. Francis outpatient services are expected to remain in Beech Grove. The hospital has been working close with Beech Grove officials and leaders about the potential re-use of the campus facilities since St. Francis announced its Indianapolis project in early 2007.

To learn more about the Franciscan St. Francis Health Indianapolis project, go to

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

St. Francis nurses bring depth of experience to new management roles

INDIANAPOLIS – Two long-time registered nurses at Franciscan St. Francis Health have assumed new leadership positions with the hospital’s Women and Children’s Services department.

Kim Hodges is the new manager of labor and delivery and postpartum and Angela M. Bratina becomes the assistant director of nursing.

Hodges’ most previous position was patient care coordinator in the hospital’s obstetrics unit, where she was responsible for staff development and counseling and overseeing overall patient safety. Affiliated with St. Francis since 2002, she has served as a neonatal intensive care nurse, childbirth educator and worked in postpartum and the newborn nursery.

A Greenwood, Ind. resident, Hodges earned a master’s degree in nursing administration at the Indiana University School of Nursing where she also received her undergraduate degree in nursing.

Before her promotion, Bratina was manager of postpartum and the newborn nursery at the hospital’s Indianapolis campus. A certified family nurse practitioner, she has been affiliated with St. Francis since 2001, and has served in a variety of nursing areas, including coronary care and medical/surgical.

Bratina, an Indianapolis resident, earned a master’s in nursing from the University of Indianapolis where she earlier received her undergraduate degree in nursing.

Both Hodges and Bratina hold several specialty certifications and were awarded academic honors during their education.

To learn more about nursing at Franciscan St. Francis Health, go to

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Franciscan Alliance unveils new logos for system and hospitals

Franciscan St. Francis Health is new name of St. Francis Hospital & Health Centers

MISHAWAKA, Ind. – As part of Franciscan Alliance’s ongoing rebranding initiative, the Board of Trustees and senior leadership of Franciscan Alliance (formerly Sisters of St. Francis Health Services Inc.) are unveiling the logo marks for the system and its 13 hospitals throughout Indiana and northeastern Illinois.

For consistency and clarity of Franciscan Alliance’s unified mission to provide the highest-quality, value-based, compassionate medical care, the word “Franciscan” was placed before each hospital name, and the word “Health” added at the end.

Two exceptions: the name of St. Clare Medical Center in Crawfordsville is being changed to Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health – Crawfordsville to more accurately reflect the hospital’s existing management and patient care alignment with its two regionally aligned hospitals (Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health – Lafayette East and Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health– Lafayette Central) in the Western Indiana Region of Franciscan Alliance. And the name of Franciscan Physicians Hospital, LLC – Munster is not being changed.

The system’s new hospital names are:

Franciscan St. Francis Health – Beech Grove

Franciscan St. Francis Health – Indianapolis

Franciscan St. Francis Health – Mooresville

Franciscan St. Anthony Health – Crown Point

Franciscan St. Anthony Health – Michigan City

Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health – Crawfordsville

Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health – Lafayette East

Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health – Lafayette Central

Franciscan St. James Health – Chicago Heights

Franciscan St. James Health – Olympia Fields

Franciscan St. Margaret Health – Hammond

Franciscan St. Margaret Health – Dyer

Franciscan Physicians Hospital, LLC – Munster

Sister Jane Marie Klein, O.S.F., chairperson for the Board of Trustees of Franciscan Alliance, said, “With the rapid changes occurring in the health care industry, we are adapting to the ‘new norm’ while remaining deeply rooted in our ministry and values.”

Kevin Leahy, Franciscan Alliance president and chief executive officer, said, “The development of a strong, consistent identity and brand replicated across the entire system is an important part of telling our story with one voice. And it is a unifying symbol of what my fellow 18,000 plus Franciscan Alliance physicians, nurses, employees and volunteers do every day to create positive experiences for our patients and their families.”

To be as cost efficient as possible, the new logos will be assimilated into the various applications across the system and at each hospital in a planned and organized manner. Leahy said, “We are prioritizing our efforts, and the integration of our new logo will occur over the next 12 months or longer.”

Franciscan Alliance provides care for more than 2.9 million outpatient visits and more than 100,000 inpatient discharges every year with the most effective medical treatments, state-of-the-art medical equipment and an abundance of compassionate care.

The system employs 18,200 co-workers including 556 physicians – both primary care and specialists – and expects to grow its physician team to more than 630 physicians next year, serving the system’s service-area population of 3.7 million people.

To learn more about the Franciscan Alliance, go to:

Monday, January 24, 2011

St. Francis Hospital nurses lauded for service to patients, families

INDIANAPOLIS – Two registered nurses at Franciscan St. Francis Hospital & Health Centers have been praised by patients and peers for above-and-beyond the call in caregiving.

To that end, registered nurses Teresa Sanford and Kimberly Eder have been named the January 2011 recipients of the hospital’s DAISY Awards.

The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses is a national program that honors the compassionate care and clinical excellence. St. Francis localized the program in 2010 to recognize its nurses for their achievements.

Sanford, a nurse with St. Francis Hospice, was cited for work with a dying patient and her family last fall. Specifically, she worked close with the patient’s spouse and family, especially communicating updates to out-of-state children.

“Her [Sanford] taking the time to stay in close touch with the spouse and children, explaining what was occurring was so much deeply appreciated by the family,” said an administrator with St. Francis Hospice.

Eder was caring for an elderly patient at the Beech Grove hospital who was weighing a decision to proceed with a difficult surgical procedure and whose outcome appeared bleak.

“After prepping the patient for surgery, it was apparent Kimberly was emotionally moved by this entire situation,” wrote the unit manager who nominated her for the award. “We were all elated to find out the patient did make it through the surgery and her vitals were stable. Clearly, Kimberly was living the mission of the St. Francis health-care ministry that day. I know she provides healing with her hands – and also with her heart. It takes both to be a good nurse.”

The DAISY Award was established by the DAISY Foundation in memory of J. Patrick Barnes who died at 33 an auto-immune disease. His family was so impressed by the clinical skills, caring and compassion of the nurses who cared for him that they created this national award to say “thank you” to nurses everywhere. For more information, go to

To learn more about nursing careers and programs at St. Francis, go to

Thursday, January 13, 2011

St. Francis cardiologist saluted for stellar care for patients, caregivers

INDIANAPOLIS – Mark A. Jones, M.D., a member of St. Francis Medical Group Indiana Heart Physicians is the latest recipient of the Healing Hands Award presented by Franciscan / St. Francis Hospital & Health Centers.

With his colleagues and support staff looking on, Jones received the award today (Jan. 13) at his south-side office.

Jones was nominated by a staff nurse at Indiana Heart Physicians, located at 5330 E. Stop 11 Road. She wrote: “Dr. Jones strongly supports and investigates new treatments to all of his patients, especially those with chronic heart disease. He embraces the philosophy of providing quality and comfort for not only patients, but for their families and loved ones, who face the challenges as caregivers.”

Board-certified in cardiovascular disease and internal medicine, Jones has been affiliated with St. Francis system since 2000. He’s medical director of the St. Francis Heart Center and co-director of the Heart Failure Clinic.

Jones was elected as a Fellow to the American College of Cardiology in 2002. He holds memberships in the American Society of Echocardiography and the Heart Failure Society of America and is a past member of the board of directors for the American Heart Association.

A graduate of the Indiana University School of Medicine where he completed a residency in internal medicine, Jones also served as chief medical resident at Wishard Memorial Hospital. He later completed a fellowship at the Krannert Institute of Cardiology.

To learn more St. Francis Medical Group Indiana Heart Physicians, go to

Awarded quarterly, the Healing Hands Award was established in early 2010. Its goal is to recognize St. Francis physicians for excellence in clinical skills, patient relations, research, stewardship and their reflection of the hospital’s health-care ministry, values and mission.

St. Francis-based Center for Hip & Knee Surgery observes 25 years of cutting-edge service

MOORESVILLE, Ind. – Not many things last 25 years, let alone get better with age. But that’s the case with the Center for Hip & Knee Surgery (CHKS), celebrating its silver anniversary this year – 25 years of restoring the health and quality of life to more than 35,000 patients.

Established in 1986 by Merrill Ritter, M.D., CHKS was one of the first orthopedic centers of excellence in the nation and was Indiana’s first specialized center for total joint replacement. Since then, the Center has treated patients from all 92 Indiana counties and from around the nation and the world.

Today, the Center, located at Franciscan St. Francis Hospital-Mooresville, is recognized as one of the leading total joint replacement centers in the world, internationally known for its extensive patient follow-up, leading-edge research and new technology and procedures to improve patients’ quality of life.

The Center has been ranked by HealthGrades:

  • No. 1 in Indiana and in the top 5 percent in the nation for joint replacement for five consecutive years.
  • A 5-star hospital in both total hip and total knee replacement for nine consecutive years.

HealthGrades is one of the nation’s premier health care ratings companies and reviews more than 5,000 hospitals throughout the United States. HealthGrades ranks those medical facilities using Medicare data and quality measures, such as outcomes and complication rates.


Top Docs

Each of the Center’s six fellowship-trained surgeons performs about 400 to 500 joint replacement surgeries a year, 10 times the national average. This ultimately translates to better patient care because evidence has shown that higher-volume centers and surgeons with more experience have better outcomes.

The American Association for Hip and Knee Surgeons, along with The Hip Society and The Knee Society, comprise the most experienced hip and knee surgeons in the world, and Center surgeons are active members in each organization. In fact, only about 100 surgeons worldwide are members of the two societies, and five of those are at the Center.

The surgeons, all of whom are affiliated with St. Francis Medical Group, are internationally recognized for their clinical research contributions, as well as for their use of new technology and procedures to improve their patients’ quality of life.

With more than 30,000 joint replacements performed, the Center has access to one of the largest databases of joint replacements in the world. Center surgeons continually analyze this data – studying complications such as infection rates – and make changes to improve outcomes.

Research Focus

Through their research, they have developed many of the infection prevention protocols in place all over the world, and they have made changes in the surgical techniques for safely implanting hip and knee devices.

In addition to enhancing knowledge through research, Center surgeons are advancing the field of orthopedics by training the next generation of surgeons. They have instructed hundreds of surgeons from around the world in the latest techniques for joint implantation. In just the past year, Center surgeons have trained colleagues in England, Scotland, Korea, China, the Netherlands and Nicaragua.

Students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology learn by doing projects in a CHKS research lab at the university, designed to improve joint replacement implants. The Institute recently received a major grant from the National Science Foundation for research projects in orthopedics that could lead to the development of improved, cost-effective design alternatives for knee and hip implants.

Best Tech

The latest technology at the Center for Hip & Knee Surgery enables the surgeons to better treat their patients and ensure better surgical outcomes. For example, the operating suites at the Mooresville hospital include advanced ultraviolet lighting and laminar air flow to reduce infection rates. In fact, the joint replacement infection rate is approximately one-half of 1 percent (.05%), compared to a national average of about 3.5 percent.

The hospital’s orthopedic inpatient unit features private patient rooms, modern conveniences and the latest technology for patients and the medical team, including wireless technology and electronic bedside charting for improved caregiver communication and efficiency.

The hospital’s internal medicine physicians, called hospitalists, perform pre-operative physical evaluation (at the IMPACT Center in Mooresville or the north office in Carmel), and oversee patients’ medical health during their hospital stay, including daily visits.

Two of the keys to the success of the Center’s joint replacement program are the early identification of risks and the prevention of complications. The goal is to ensure each patient has the best possible experience and surgical outcome.

“It’s not just that we’re really experienced, that we’ve done a lot of surgeries and we’re really efficient at it,” said orthopedic surgeon Michael Berend, M.D. “We communicate. We educate patients. And we care about them.”

To learn more about services at the St. Francis-based Center for Hip & Knee Surgery, go to

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Get the facts on heart attacks from St. Francis cardiovascular expert

INDIANAPOLIS – In the complex world of cardiovascular disease two words carry the most recognized signal of life-threatening complications: “heart attack.”

In its ongoing “Ask-the-Doc” series, the Franciscan St. Francis Heart Center is offering a free seminar about heart attacks. The latest session gets underway 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 24 at White River Public Library, Greenwood.

Carson Turner, M.D., a member of St. Francis Medical Group Indiana Heart Physicians, will detail what happens to heart muscle during a heart attack and what long-term complications can occur if treatment is delayed. He also will discuss warning signs and symptoms and how one can reduce their risks.

To register for the class, call (317) 784-4422.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Heart Association.

Prevention is the key to lowering your chances of developing a cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease, stroke or high blood pressure. St. Francis Heart Center is offering free classes, programs, health fairs and screenings throughout the month of March in an effort to improve the community’s health through education and prevention.

More information about services at Franciscan St. Francis Heart Center is at

Friday, January 7, 2011

Low blood sugar poses challenge, but manageable: St. Francis diabetes expert

INDIANAPOLISIt might seem ironic that people with diabetes should be concerned about their blood sugar being too low. Diabetes is a condition of high blood sugar, right?

Fair enough. But hypoglycemia — when glucose (blood sugar) falls too low to keep pace with the body’s energy needs — can occur in people with diabetes. It can cause them to pass out unless treated promptly.

According to Michael Waddell, M.D., of St. Francis Medical Group Diabetes & Endocrinology Specialists, symptoms of hypoglycemia can include feeling shaky, dizzy, hungry, nervous, confused, anxious or weak; sweating; or having a headache.

“When you have symptoms, check your blood sugar,” Waddell said. “If it’s at or below 70 mg/dL, then you should immediately eat or drink something with sugar in it, such as fruit juice, milk, hard candy or glucose tablets.”

After 15 minutes, blood sugar should be rechecked and repeated until a person’s level is normal and they feel better. If, for any reason, glucose cannot be check, symptoms should be treated immediately.

“Although persistently high glucose causes harm to your body over time, a single episode of severe low glucose can cause damage right now,” Waddell said.

Hypoglycemia can happen for many reasons — for example, if a person takes insulin and then skips a meal, the blood sugar level may plummet.

While there may be no reliable way to prevent every incidence of hypoglycemia, following a diabetes plan may lower risk. Waddell suggested other ways to reduce risk:

  • Take diabetes medicine at the recommended doses and times.
  • Follow a meal plan, eat enough food at each meal and don’t skip meals or snacks.
  • Before exercising, consult a physician and determine if it’s okay to eat or adjust mediciations.

To learn more about services at the St. Francis Medical Group Diabetes & Endocrinology Center, go to

Thursday, January 6, 2011

St. Francis Cancer Center receives national accreditation for breast disease care

INDIANAPOLIS – Franciscan Alliance / St. Francis Cancer Center has been granted a three-year, full accreditation designation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), a program administered by the American College of Surgeons.

This recognition is given only to those centers that have voluntarily committed to provide the highest level of quality breast care and that undergo a rigorous evaluation process and review of their performances. The St. Francis Cancer Center demonstrated compliance with NAPBC standards established for treating women who are diagnosed with the full spectrum of breast disease.

The NAPBC standards include proficiency in the areas of: center leadership, clinical management, research, community outreach, professional education, and quality improvement.

“The accreditation recognizes our team’s commitment to providing our patients and their families with the best care and experience possible,” said Dr. Denise Johnson Miller, St. Francis Director of Breast Surgery. “We take a multidisciplinary, patient-centered approach supported by leading-edge technology, clinical trials and research, and innovative treatments.”

A unique service offered at the St. Francis Breast Cancer Center of Excellence is a breast cancer clinic. The clinic enables patients to be evaluated in one visit, in one convenient location, by a multidisciplinary team of physicians including medical oncology, radiation oncology and reconstructive surgery.

This approach saves time and allows for customized treatment plans to be determined more quickly and care to begin sooner. At every step, the patient’s care is coordinated by a nurse navigator.

To learn more about St. Francis Cancer Center services, go to

Indy racer Sarah Fisher takes pole position for St. Francis ‘Day of Dance’

PLAINFIELD, Ind. – Professional race car driver Sarah Fisher will help set the pace for hundreds of central Indiana women, their families and friends attending the 8th Spirit of Women Day of Dance sponsored by Franciscan / St. Francis Hospital & Health Centers.

Day of Dance steps off 9 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 19 at Primo West Banquet & Conference Center, 2353 E. Perry Road, Plainfield. The event, which continues through mid-afternoon, is for women of all ages, offering dancing and other aerobic activities which may help prevent heart disease.

The annual event provides live dance demonstrations and instruction, music, cooking demonstrations and lunch. Also, there will be free screenings for cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, body-mass index to name but a few.

Fisher roared into the open-wheel racing limelight nearly a decade ago. She has been named IZOD IndyCar’s most popular driver three times. The Ohio native, who runs Sarah Fisher Racing, announced her retirement from racing in November 2010 to focus on her team activities.

Fisher became the youngest woman to compete in the storied Indianapolis 500 at age 19. She has turned laps at the famed oval in nine races. She is youngest owner in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

Admission to Day of Dance is free, but advanced registration is strongly encouraged. To register, call 317-782-4422, or go to

St. Francis Hospital is a proud member of Spirit of Women, a national network of hospitals dedicated to the overall health and well-being of women and their families,” said Michele Wood, R.N., manager of St. Francis’ Spirit of Women program.

Tailored treatment effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis

INDIANAPOLIS – The immune system is best known as a built-in defense mechanism – it helps protect the body against foreign invaders that cause disease.

But sometimes the immune system doesn’t work like it should, and it actually attacks the body. Such is the case with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Painful joints and more RA is a chronic disease that can cause symptoms most of the time or remain mild except for periods of worsening symptoms called flares.

“Symptoms usually start in the smaller joints of both hands, including fingers and wrists,”

said Heather Greist, M.D., rheumatologist with St. Francis Medical Group Rheumatology & Osteoporosis Specialists. “It also can affect other joints, including the shoulders, elbows, knees and feet.”

Advanced RA can damage cartilage, bone, and even the muscles, ligaments and tendons that support the joint. In addition to warmth, swelling and tenderness in these joints, symptoms may include:

  • Morning stiffness or pain after prolonged sitting
  • Fatigue, weakness or muscle pain
  • Flu-like symptoms, including low-grade fever
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Dry eyes and mouth

Although anyone can get RA, it usually begins between ages 30 and 50, and about two to three times as many women as men have it.

There is no single test for RA, Greist said, so doctors use a variety of tools to diagnose the disease. A physician may combine tests, such as X-rays and blood tests, with a physical examination. Patients’ medical histories and description of their symptoms are also important.

Treatment is tailored to each individual. Many people are prescribed medicines, such as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs to help prevent joint damage. A doctor also may suggest:

  • Medications for pain relief, such as aspirin or acetaminophen, and corticosteroids to relieve inflammation.
  • Balanced rest and exercise. Moderate physical activity can help keep joints flexible, and adequate rest may help reduce symptoms during flares.
  • Surgery for some people with severe joint damage.

RA can cause stress, which can make symptoms worse. For some people, staying active helps relieve stress. An exercise program or support group may help control symptoms.

To learn more about St. Francis Medical Group Rheumatology & Osteoporosis Specialists go to

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Weight loss journey works best with traveling companion: St. Francis counselor

INDIANAPOLIS – When it comes to weight loss, the proverbial Battle of the Bulge is won one decision at a time. And many times, it’s a family member or friend who can help or harm a person’s progress.

“People who have a lot of success in losing weight say they have partners who will make changes with them,” said Melissa Atlas, a counselor who runs an emotional eating support group at the St. Francis Weight Loss Center. “It can make or break motivation.”

Atlas suggests these four ways to support a loved one through his or her weight-loss journey:

Ask questions. Atlas recommends that partners ask what kinds of support the person making changes needs. That support may go beyond the dinner table.

“A big issue is time,” Atlas said. “We need to work on delegating. Older children can be responsible for planning one well-balanced meal a week. When you go to the gym, your spouse or the kids can load the dishwasher.”

Make a food plan. “The primary gatekeeper for food in the home needs to be on board,” Atlas said. “You need to make sure the rest of the family will be adventurous with new foods.”

Make changes that benefit you both. When Linda Witte Henke of Indianapolis started her weight-loss program, she and her husband, Philip, made lifestyle changes as a couple. The television was off during dinner, evening snacks were revamped, trigger foods were avoided, and comfort routines (such as big breakfasts or a lunch out during weekend errands) were cut back.

"The changes were mutually beneficial,” said Witte Henke, who lost a total of 60 pounds. “If you care about an individual, you want to invest in what’s good for them.”

Make fitness a family affair. “What’s really critical is the concept of play,” Atlas said. “Exercise doesn’t have to be 45 minutes in the gym away from the family. Playing tag for half an hour as a family accomplishes the exercise goal and gives quality time as a family. For a lot of families, bicycling or using Wii Fit can be good options too.”

To learn more about the services and programs at the St. Francis Weight Loss Center, go to

St. Francis nurse navigators help cancer patients chart path through treatment

INDIANAPOLIS – In an age where GPS and Internet tools guide us to various destinations, the St. Francis Cancer Center has specialty nurses who help patients steer their way through the complexities of cancer diagnosis and treatment.

They are oncology nurse navigators, whose clinical nursing expertise helps patients, their families and their caregivers make informed decisions regarding care.

“Cancer requires that patients see an extensive team of specialists,” said Cassie Carney, R.N., breast cancer nurse navigator. “You might need to see a radiation oncologist, a surgical oncologist and even other subspecialists. It can be a navigational challenge for patients.”

Nurse navigators collaborate with members of the multidisciplinary team to allow for timely cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment and increased supportive care across the cancer continuum.

Some of the things with which a nurse navigator may assist the patient include:

  • Scheduling tests and appointments
  • Educating and supporting patients, empowering them to make informed treatment decisions
  • Providing psychological support during treatment
  • Assisting in removal of barriers that may disrupt or interrupt treatment
  • Identifying financial assistance programs and resources
  • Managing insurance
  • Arranging for transportation
  • Accessing medical records
  • Providing language translation services

For example, if a woman has a mammogram, and the results come back as abnormal, the next step is usually a biopsy. The nurse navigator meets the woman at the time of the biopsy to talk about her procedure and answer questions she may have. With the physician and patient’s permission, the navigator will be with the woman when the pathology report comes back.

If the results are benign, the navigator works with her to ensure she has the appropriate appointments made and to answer further questions. If she is diagnosed with cancer, the navigator helps the woman and her family through the cancer journey. Whether attending appointments, answering questions, providing emotional support or finding resources, the navigator helps the patient along every step of her journey to survival.

This relationship may continue for up to five years or until the woman decides she no longer needs assistance.

“A navigator is the hub in the wheel of care for each patient,” Carney said. “No matter where patients are in their cancer experience, the navigator is available to them.”

To learn more about nurse navigators at St. Francis Cancer Center, visit

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

St. Francis Hospital-Mooresville welcomes first baby of 2011

MOORESVILLE, Ind. –The clock struck 7:36 p.m. on Jan. 3 – and Breccan Elsenbroek became the first baby born in 2011 at St. Francis Hospital-Mooresville

Breccan weighed in at 7 pounds and 15.2 ounces, and measured 21 inches long. He is the son of Kisch and Brian Elsenbroek of Indianapolis.

In 2010, 519 babies were born at St. Francis-Mooresville.

Each time a child is born at the hospital, Brahms Lullaby chimes throughout the hospital via the public address system.

Brian and Kisch Elsenbroek of Indianapolis welcomed the first baby born in Morgan County, Breccan Elsenbroek. The boy was born on Jan. 3 at St. Francis Hospital-Mooresville and was quickly greeted by his sisers, Abbey and Emma.

Sleepless in ‘Naptown’? St. Francis program offers assistance

In addition, ongoing sleeplessness increases the likelihood of automobile accidents and work-related injury. What’s more, having trouble sleeping may be a symptom of an underlying medical or psychological problem.

The amount of sleep needed varies from person to person, but an average adult needs about eight hours of sleep each night.

“About one out of every three adults does not get the amount of sleep they need,” said Charles Kinsella, M.D., associate medical director of the St. Francis Sleep Disorders Center. “Unfortunately, very few people with sleep difficulties actually talk to their doctors about it. If you get proper help for a sleep disorder, you may be more productive, happier and healthier.”

Sleep studies can help pinpoint the source of your sleep troubles and uncover disorders such as sleep apnea. The primary type of sleep study is called a polysomnogram, which usually requires a stay at a sleep center, accommodating a patient’s sleep schedule. Sensors track brain activity, heart rate, muscle tone, respiratory effort and other key functions while you sleep.

Other types of studies may be done during the day or normal awake hours, and measure how sleepy patients are or how well they can stay awake and alert.

Participants in a sleep study might benefit if they:

  • Are often fatigued during the day even though they stay in bed long enough to get a good night’s rest
  • Have trouble falling asleep, wake up a lot during the night or are waking too early in the morning
  • Have been told they snore loudly, snort, gasp, choke or stop breathing for short periods while they sleep
  • Experience tingling, crawling sensations in their legs in the evening or as they try to sleep.

For more information about St. Francis Sleep Disorders Center and its programs, go to

St. Francis Tai Chi class offers all the right moves for health, well-being

INDIANAPOLIS – The ancient martial art of Tai Chi uses slow and gentle movements and its practice is known to have myriad health benefits.

That’s why St. Francis Hospital & Health Centers is offering Tai Chi for Health Series featuring Richard A. Cornell. The class meets each Monday, beginning Jan. 10 from 6-7 p.m. and Friday, Jan. 14, from 10-11 a.m.

Each series is six weeks in length and is hosted at 3131 E. Thompson Road at Carson Square Mall.

Tai Chi is designed to improve physical and mental health and includes exercises to improve breathing, relaxation and mobility. It also has found to be effective in improving balance, strength and promotes greater endurance for people with arthritis.

“With Tai Chi, you’re always moving, but always under complete control,” said Michele Wood, R.N., who is coordinating the class. “A participant’s internal energy circulation actually helps prevent disease and debility.”

Cost of the class is $30 and payable at time of registration. For more information, contact Wood at 317-865-5864, or at

Monday, January 3, 2011

Meet Julian Peguero -- St. Francis Indy's first baby of 2011

INDIANAPOLIS – The first few notes of Jesus Loves Me sounded at 1:21 p.m., Jan. 1, announcing the first baby born on New Year’s Day 2011 at Franciscan Alliance/St. Francis Hospital-Indianapolis.

Julian Leon Peguero weighed in at 6.59 pounds and measured 19 ½ inches long. He is the son of Steven and Brooke Peguero of Greenwood.

St. Francis-Indianapolis had 2,314 babies born at its facility as of Dec. 1, 2010. Nearly 36,000 infants have been delivered since 1996, when the Women and Children’s Services program was consolidated at the hospital’s south-side campus at 8111 S. Emerson Ave.

Each time a child is born at the hospital, the first few stanzas of Jesus Loves Me chimes throughout the hospital via the public address system.

Brooke and Steven Peguero of Greenwood welcomed their son at 1:21 p.m. New Year's Day