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Halloween is right around the corner, and we know you and your family are eager to wear your best costumes and head out into the neighborhood.

Here are some tips for staying safe this Halloween: whether you’re going trick or treating this year or heading to a costume party.

1) We know you might want to don your dark costume when out trick or treating this year, but it’s essential to ensure you’re well seen! Add bright reflective tape to any costumes that might be dark colored.

2) Makeup is an essential part of any costume! Be sure to test the makeup you plan to wear at least 24-48 hours in advance by putting a small amount of it on your arm or on the arm of the person that will be wearing it. Check back to see if the skin has any reaction.

3) Don’t wear decorative colored contact lenses! These types of contact are at high risk for eye injury and can lead to permanent eye damage. Reach out to a GHC-SCW eye care professional for more information!

4) We know it’s tempting to eat your sweets early, but only eat your candy once it has been inspected at home. Inspect all candy for signs of tampering, such as unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers.

5) Stay warm! We understand you may have spent all season planning out the perfect costume, but Wisconsin weather can change at the drop of a hat. Be sure to layer up by adding a sweatshirt or long sleeve t-shirt under your costume.

Whether you’re heading out to trick or treat or staying home next week, we hope you have a very happy Halloween!

October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast Cancer knows no gender, and GHC-SCW wants you to be informed of the risks and methods you can use to monitor yourself for symptoms.

 To understand more, we sat with Kristen Ruf, GHC-SCW Medical Imaging Manager and Dr. Kathryn Ledford to understand more about how you can self-check yourself for signs of breast cancer and information about the process of getting a mammogram. 

How can I self-check for lumps or signs of breast cancer?
While current recommendations from the United States Preventive Service Task Force no longer recommend teaching a self-breast examination, they encourage awareness of one’s body and its changes. In my practice, I advise regular self-checks and “knowing your breasts,” as I believe my patients know their bodies better than any clinician. Use the finger pads of 3 fingers to apply gentle pressure in a circular motion around the breast – you can “scan” up and down or in a circular motion, so long as you are sure to check all parts of the breast, including under the areola and the armpit.

How often should I self-check for lumps?
There is no clear recommendation for the frequency of self-checks, and I recommend that my patients check “regularly” – consider monthly to one’s cycle or on the first of the month. If you have a menstrual cycle, check at different times to note the changes in your breasts based on your varying hormone levels throughout the month.

If I find a lump, what should I do?
Call your clinic. Your PCP may want a clinical breast exam or recommend you start with a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound.

When should I start getting mammograms?
The USPSTF recommends starting mammography screening at age 50 and every other year. This recommendation considers the pros and cons of screening, early detection, the possibility of false positives, and data from millions of people. That said, recommendations vary between clinical groups, and many still consider preventive screening reasonable for persons with breasts in their 40s. I always consider a patient’s personal history, family history, and preferences. I ask them to consider, “What will I do if I get called back for further evaluation?” “Will I feel better knowing I had the screening done?” “If I get a false positive scare, will I keep up with regular screening in the future?”

What is the process of a mammogram?
An order for a mammogram is placed by your PCP. You then call GHC Hatchery Hill to schedule your mammogram there. You will meet with a radiology technician who will perform the exam at the appointment. The mammogram is like an x-ray of your breast; you will need to undress (top only), and each breast will be examined. The radiation from a 3D (tomosynthesis) mammogram is comparable to having 2-3 chest x-rays.

If you see something on my mammogram, what are the next steps?
Mammograms are “graded” by the reading radiologist to determine the best next steps for evaluating any abnormalities seen on the mammogram. Possible next steps include ultrasound, repeat mammogram at a closer interval, and maybe even a biopsy. You will have clear guidance from the radiologist and your PCP to determine the next steps.

MADISON, WISCONSIN, October 12, 2022 – Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin (GHC-SCW) welcomes Sally Frings, DNP, MA, BSN, as Chief Nursing Officer.

Frings brings more than 25 years of health care expertise to GHC-SCW, which includes extensive ambulatory, hospital, oncology, perioperative, critical care, and academic medical center experience. In her new role, Frings will work closely with the team of nurses, care team support staff, reception teams, clinic managers, and senior leadership to continually improve patient outcomes through clinical excellence and build on the Cooperative’s unique money-back guarantee to provide exceptional patient care.

“The strong history and foundation of Group Health Cooperative poise us to successfully navigate the headwinds of health care,” said Frings. “Together, we will continue transforming our care model to consistently exceed expectations of our patients, families, and communities.”

“Sally is highly regarded in the local health care community and brings a valuable clinical and leadership perspective to our organization,” said Dr. Mark Huth, GHC-SCW Chief Executive Officer. “We are excited to welcome Sally to the GHC-SCW family and know her commitment to providing the highest level of quality and service will be a great fit for our culture and mission.”

Prior to joining GHC-SCW, Frings was the Nurse Director of Ambulatory Services at UW Health and led several key initiatives, including serving as Operations Chief in the COVID-19 Response for UW Health’s System Incident Command, and operational lead for UW Health Integrated Behavioral Health Opioid Response, among others.

“I’ve dedicated nearly three decades to achieving frictionless access to healthcare while serving as a nurse leader in several highly-ranked, even #1, health systems,” Frings said. “Through this experience, I understand that the engagement and wellbeing of the health care team positively correlate to a great patient experience and quality outcome.”

Frings received her bachelor’s degree in Science and Nursing from Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin; a master’s degree in Nurse Executive Leadership & Organization from Columbia University in New York City; and her Doctor of Nursing Practice in Executive Leadership from Edgewood College in Madison.

Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the histories, cultures, and contributions of Hispanic Americans to the U.S. 

At GHC-SCW, we are proud to celebrate this month and support a more inclusive health care system. In honor of this month, we sat down with Catalina Heshusius, GHC-SCW Language Services Supervisor, about what Hispanic Heritage Month means to her, how she celebrates it, and the importance of the work done by Language Services.

1. What does Language Services do for our Spanish-speaking population? 

We help to improve the quality of their health care and, thus, health outcomes by ensuring that their communication and language needs are met in interactions with their providers and GHC services, including navigating their benefits and accessing community resources. At GHC, we are pioneers in being not only translators and interpreters but also advocates who help bridge the cultural gaps for our Spanish-speaking members. 

In our Language Services department, we embrace cultural diversity. We are proud to have a team of members fluent in Hispanic cultures to help break down the day-to-day barriers to communication.

2. How does a patient access Language Services? 

For Spanish, they may call Language Services at 608-661-7215, and for Hmong or Laotian at 608-663-2940.

They may call reception or our call center for all other languages and will be connected with Pacific Interpreters. 

3. What is celebrated during Hispanic Heritage Month? 

This month, from September 15 to October 15, we celebrate and honor 500 years of Hispanic and Latin American cultures and contributions to the United States. This month is a time to share the history, heritage, and accomplishments of the past and present Hispanic and Latin Americans.  

4. How many people in the U.S. speak Spanish as their first language? 

In the United States, more than 43 million people speak Spanish as their first language (about 13 percent of the population), which continues to grow. Additionally, the United States is home to nearly 12 million bilingual English- Spanish speakers. The U.S. Spanish-speaking population is comparable to Spain, Colombia, and Argentina.

5. What’s the difference between Hispanic and Latino/a? 

Hispanic refers to a person who is from, or a descendant of someone who is from, a Spanish-speaking country. 

Latino/a or Latinx refers to a person from, or a descendant of someone from, a country in Latin America. 

For example, someone from Brazil is considered Latino/a but not Hispanic, and conversely, someone from Spain is Hispanic but not Latino/a.

6. How can you help celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month? 

We can all help celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by cherishing the generations of Hispanic Americans who have significantly shaped and enhanced our country and civilization. Language Services is thankful to be a part of their lives and to have them in ours. 

We are proud to support this community and appreciate their contributions every day. Here are some ways to contribute:

– GHC-SCW employees are encouraged to join our ERG Amig@s, open to everyone, including those who do not identify as Hispanic or Latin. We often get together to celebrate these cultures.

Practice your Spanish. The U.W. offers a conversation table on Tuesdays from 5 to 7 pm at Union South.

Visit the Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce website to view the list of businesses to support, such as: 

· La Taguara: Venezuelan & Latin Cuisine (Madison)

· Mishqui Peruvian Cuisine (Monona) 

· Taqueria Gonzalez (Middleton) 

· Compadres (Middleton) 

· Los Gemelos (Madison) 

· Monona Bakery (Monona) 

– Participate every Thursday in the community market, Mercadito, at the Centro Hispano from 4 to 7 pm.

Read some excellent literature in Spanish, even the translated versions. García Márquez himself read the English translation of Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) and pronounced it better than his Spanish original.

Some of my favorites….

· Cien Años de Soledad (Gabriel García Márquez)

· Rayuela (Julio Cortázar)

· Don Quijote (Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra)

· La Casa de los Espíritus (Isabel Allende)

· Aura (Carlos Fuentes)

· Laberinto de la Soledad (Octavio Paz)

· Arráncame la Vida (Ángeles Mastretta)

Watching Hispanic and Latinx movies, such as:

· Amores Perros 

· Coco

· Encanto

· Diarios de Motocicleta

· Biutiful

· Como Agua para Chocolate

· El Secreto de sus Ojos

7. What is your favorite way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month? 

Language Services team’s answer: