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May is Women’s Health Month! At GHC-SCW, we have a wide variety of providers passionate about women’s health and ensuring the best care for our patients, both young and old. In honor of Women’s Health Month, we will be highlighting two GHC-SCW providers that are currently accepting new OB patients and what makes them passionate about women’s health.

We sat down with Dr. Stefen McVoy, M.D., to find out more about his practice and what makes him passionate about women’s health.

Hometown: Robinson, Texas
Undergrad: University of Texas at Austin
Medical school: University of Texas Medical Branch
Residency: Waukesha Family Medicine Residency – I completed the maternity care track 

What’s your ultimate goal working in OB?  
My ultimate goal is to really connect with individuals and families. I take great pride in being an advocate for my patients and essentially holding their hand through their reproductive/pregnancy adventures and beyond with the hopes that they feel empowered and supported throughout these nerve-racking and exciting (or as I like to say, “nerviciting”) times in their lives.

What influenced you to want to work in OB? 
I’m a bit ashamed to admit this, but in all honesty, I went into medical school with a very closed mind in that I thought there was absolutely no chance I would be interested in pursuing a career with an obstetrical focus. I initially had every intention of becoming a pediatrician with hopes of primarily caring for LGBTQ youth. My mindset completely changed during my third year of medical school when I was rotating through the labor and delivery unit. I was very fortunate in being allowed to assist with a patient’s birth experience. Bearing witness to the birth process and assisting that patient was so unexpectedly joyous and exhilarating. The experience of helping that family grow and seeing their instant bond was such a special, tear-jerking moment that was quite literally life changing for them and myself. The experience was most certainly the pinnacle moment of my medical school years, which ultimately lead me down the path of pursuing a career in family medicine where I’ve been able to combine a passion for obstetrics, pediatrics and LGBTQ health. It’s been 10+ years since that encounter and I continue to feel the same degree of excitement and emotion with each and every family that has afforded me the honor of caring for them.

Do you have a favorite part of your practice in OB?
Outside of the thrill and joy that comes with providing care and serving as a cheerleader during the labor and delivery process, making connections with the expecting mothers and family in general is really what makes the practice of family medicine with obstetrics the highlight of my profession.  I especially cherish when families choose me as the doctor for their newborn as well – being able to foster those professional relationships and witness both child and parents grow and develop over the years is such a treasured experience that is quite unique to this particular practice of medicine. The bonus part comes when I get to help members of the LGBTQ community in their family-growing journeys, especially given my firsthand insight into some of the adversities with which these individuals and families are often faced. 

If your patients could know one fun fact about you, what would you tell them? 
I’m a total nerd – I was drum major in my high school marching band, love anything and everything Marvel, and it’s not unusual for my husband and I to spout out random movie quotes at one another on a daily basis. Additionally, my spouse and I are hoping to adopt a baby in the near future, but in the meantime, we are already proud parents to our fur babies – two rambunctious border collies and two sassy kitties.

May is National Blood Pressure Awareness Month. Ensuring a healthy blood pressure is essential to overall health, and a high, uncontrolled blood pressure puts you at a higher risk for stroke, heart disease, heart attack, and kidney failure.

We spoke with GHC-SCW clinical pharmacists to better understand the importance of managing your blood pressure!

What is the importance of checking your blood pressure?

Checking your blood pressure is the only way to know if you have high blood pressure or hypertension. Usually, people do not feel any different when their blood pressure is high.

Can I check my blood pressure at home?

Checking blood pressure at home is a great idea! The American Heart Association recommends choosing a blood pressure monitor that inflates automatically and has an upper arm cuff. Here is a list of blood pressure monitors that have been validated, meaning they are clinically accurate. It is essential to closely follow the instructions included with your blood pressure monitor.

GHC pharmacies carry validated blood pressure monitors for sale, and GHC clinical pharmacists have blood pressure monitors to loan to patients.

What is a healthy blood pressure level?

Healthy blood pressure is systolic (upper number) less than 120 and diastolic (lower number) less than 80.

What can I do to improve my blood pressure?

What is the risk of high blood pressure?

If high blood pressure goes untreated, it can cause damage to your organs and blood vessels over time. This can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, vision loss, sexual dysfunction, angina, and peripheral artery disease.

If you have any questions about your blood pressure or any questions about managing your blood pressure, reach out to GHC-SCW clinical pharmacists,

May is Women’s Health Month! At GHC-SCW, we have a wide variety of providers passionate about women’s health and ensuring the best care for our patients, both young and old. In honor of Women’s Health Month, we will be highlighting two GHC-SCW providers that are currently accepting new OB patients and what makes them passionate about women’s health.

First, we sat down with Dr. Katherine Porter, D.O, to find out more about her practice and what makes her passionate about women’s health.

Hometown: Madison, WI
Education & Training (Undergraduate, Med School, Residency Locations):
Undergraduate – University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
Medical School – Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine
Residency – University of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine

What’s your ultimate goal in working in OB/Women’s Health?
To provide high-quality low-risk obstetrics to patients within our GHC home. As a Family Medicine Doctor, I enjoy taking care of the whole family. Being able to provide help to pregnant people and then immediately care for their newborns is a really fun circle of life to witness.

What influenced you to want to work in OB/Women’s Health?
I am a woman, so I am naturally curious about women’s bodies and health. Taking care of the female reproductive lifespan is an extraordinarily important issue for our community and our planet. Making that care accessible and approachable by all is near and dear to my heart.

Do you have a favorite part of your OB/Women’s Health practice?
I enjoy all parts of OB and women’s health, from the early years of menarche and discussing reproductive health through post-menopause. The female body is so complex and interesting. Everyone is different, and this poses a great challenge, which constantly keeps me intrigued and striving to learn more.

Is there something you wish more patients knew about reproductive health?
There are always options and choices. I encourage patients to have the confidence to ask questions.

If your patients could know one fun fact about you, what would you tell them?
I am a mother of two squirrely little boys who keep me on my toes. In becoming a mother, I experienced being an OB patient in our local healthcare system. I think my firsthand experience gives me experiential knowledge about how to care for my patients.

Earth Day 2022 is here. In 2022 it is essential to take steps to take care of our planet more than ever. Whether by composting your leftover fruits and veggies, reusing your old recyclables, or even picking up litter you see when walking your dog.  Celebrating Earth Day benefits all of us.

At GHC-SCW, this Earth Day, we are doing our part by going paperless in our pharmacies with a new program launching soon called Meds on Cue.

Pharmacies are required by law to provide medication monographs or pamphlets of information. Some medications also require additional information called medication guides. One medication monograph can be 4-6 pages long. When a patient receives this after their first fill of a prescription, they’ll throw it away or recycle it. Because of this, we end up wasting a LOT of paper.

This is where Meds on Cue comes in.

Meds On Cue is a new pharmacy service that uses QR code technology to offer patient-friendly, prescription-specific medication education on demand. The information won’t provide just written medication information but educational videos explaining usage, benefits, and potential side effects. The program ensures patients understand how to take their medications safely and limit avoidable reactions, but it also helps GHC-SCW take steps to go green. Using Meds on Cue technology, we estimate that we will reduce our paper usage in the pharmacies by 75% annually!

So how do you use Meds on Cue?

Meds on Cue is user-friendly and only requires a smartphone with a camera. You can either use your camera on your smartphone to scan the QR code directly or download a QR reader from Google Play or App Store. Once you’ve scanned the QR code, a Meds on Cue link will pop up with everything you need to know about your medication! Whether it’s a question on side effects or proper usage/dosage, Meds on Cue answers all your questions about your prescription right in your hand!

And no need to worry. If you still want the paper version of your medication monograph, paper versions will still be available by request!

GHC-SCW is excited to be taking the first steps as a cooperative to go greener and paperless. Stay tuned for more information on Meds on Cue in the coming weeks.

Let us know what you’re doing this Earth Day to help the planet go greener!

During the week of April 11 to April 17, we want to deepen the conversation about Black Maternal Health for Black Maternal Health Week. At Group Health Cooperative of South-Central Wisconsin, we want to bring awareness to the racial disparities in Black maternal health care.

In 2020, Black women were disproportionately affected by the mortality rate of 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, making Black birthing persons three to five times more likely to die from giving birth than white women in the United States. Research also indicates that 22% of Black birthing persons are more likely to receive a lower quality of care than White birthing persons and are more likely to be subject to discrimination in health care.

And this problem is found right here in Dane County and Wisconsin. Our state is continuously ranked the worst in the country regarding health and birth disparities. According to a report released by the Foundation of Black Women’s Wellness, babies born to Black birthing persons in Dane County are two times more likely to be delivered at low birth weight. A low birth weight puts newborns at a higher risk for health challenges and an increased mortality rate.

It’s also important to acknowledge the past experiences of Black women and birthing persons throughout history and how their sacrifices and trauma have helped shape modern-day medicine. In the 1840s, James Marion Sims, a white doctor in Montgomery, Alabama, performed painful experiments without anesthesia on Lucy, an enslaved Black woman, while other doctors observed. Sims would soon be dubbed the “Father of Gynecology.” Still, without his experiments on enslaved Black women and teens, Sims would’ve never been able to develop a technique to help with the chronic complications of childbirth.

As Black Maternal Health Week continues and we work together to increase health equity for Black women and birthing persons, let us keep in mind the trauma and experiences that have led us to today.

Ever wonder why a seemingly minor injury to your back can cause so much pain?

Your brain keeps eyes on all of the systems in your body, similar to the dashboard of a car. These systems have sensors that read you and your environment, including temperature, stress, joint movement, stretch, and blood flow. An injury to your low back can also trip your sensors and put you into fight or flight mode. Sometimes the nervous system’s sensitivity is so high that normal motion is painful even though it’s not causing harm.

The stress of any kind will cause your nervous system to be more sensitive. It could be work stress, money worries, family stress, or anxiety. Stress can make it that it doesn’t take nearly as much to trigger pain with your movements and daily activities. Learning how your alarm system works can help decrease your body’s sensitivity to movement and allow you to do more with less pain.

At GHC-SCW, we have PTs and OTs ready to help you learn how your alarm system works. Whether through minimizing outside stress/triggers or learning physical and energetic modalities to reduce stress and its physical symptoms, we are here to help you along your journey of relieving lower back pain.

To learn more about how stress impacts your body and ways to desensitize your alarm system to help your physical pain consider seeing a GHC provider in the PT/OT Department.

By Dany Seiler, GHC-SCW Applications Analyst

Today marks the 13th annual International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV).

The day celebrates the resilience and success of transgender and gender-nonconforming people and raises awareness of transgender rights. GHC-SCW is proud to honor this day while raising awareness of transgender and gender-affirming health care inequities.

Activist Rachel Crandall founded TDoV in 2009. Crandall became inspired by the fact that there was no holiday in existence dedicated to honoring the achievements and contributions of transgender people. At the time, the only major transgender-centered commemoration was the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which mourns the victims of hate crimes and violence.

At GHC-SCW, we have established an LGBTQ Health Committee to help improve the equity and inclusivity of care experienced by patients who identify as LGBTQIA+. We hope to continue working together with these patients and members to ensure they receive the best safe and welcoming care. To learn more about our GHC Primary Care Providers interested in LGBTQIA+ care, head to https://ghcscw.com/health-care/lgbtq.

Our affirmation also extends to those who have not yet shared their gender identity at GHC-SCW.

For more information on organizations that support transgender and non-binary individuals, check out:

Point of Pride

Gsafe

Outreach

For transgender and non-binary folks interested in celebrating the day and connecting with other trans folks within the community, join fellow community members for Celebrate Trans Joy in Community on April 23rd. More information is below.

Article reference: https://www.glaad.org/blog/transgender-day-visibility

In December of 2021, Dr. Ann Hoyt headed to Seoul, South Korea, to participate in the 33rd World Cooperative Congress. The Congress brings together more than 300 cooperative federations and organizations from 109 countries. The conference this past year worked under the theme “Deepening Our Cooperative Identity,” where the conference focused on the current COVID-19 crises and held discussions aimed to deepen the cooperative identity. Dr. Ann Hoyt brought back immense knowledge that will help GHC-SCW work towards being Better Together for everyone.  

By Dr. Ann Hoyt, GHC-SCW Board Chair 

Early last December, 500 brave souls from around the world got vaccinated, boosted and tested to stand up to the pandemic and attend the 33rd World Cooperative Congress sponsored by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA). An additional 1500 people joined the conference online. What, you might ask, would generate such a high level of international participation in a cooperative conference. It was an opportunity to explore how to live the values and principles that are the shared identity of the cooperatives throughout the world. 

ICA is the global steward of the internationally accepted Statement of Cooperative Identity, which describes cooperative businesses’ values, principles, and definitions. The goal of the Congress was to focus the cooperative movement on exploring and deepening its identity by “examining its values, strengthening its actions, committing to its principles and living its achievements.” The statement combines fundamental moral and ethical values and principles that guide all cooperators when we need to make difficult decisions, and it is the essence of who we are.

Martin Lowery, the Chair of ICA’s Identity Committee and the force behind the Congress, has explained, “there’s something unique about people who are attracted to the cooperative enterprise that doesn’t show in any obvious way; it shows more in the subtlety of [their] relationships. There’s a sense of wanting to collaborate, a sense of kindness, a sense of caring for one another…. There’s a commonality there, a commonality of humanity, of a sense of belonging and caring for one another that one doesn’t always find in society.”

In focusing on our identity, the Congress was informative and inspiring. We learned of the many opportunities to increase inclusivity throughout our co-ops; we have increased needs for culturally relevant education and training regarding our cooperative identity in various formats; and climate change demands a new socio-economic model that lies in multilateralism and cooperation. These and other themes were consistent with the nearly 100 year ICA commitment to fostering peace. That is, not only ending overt violence but creating communities of cooperation and integration, reconciliation, and equality.

To quote one of our speakers, “The time for talking is done, and the time for action is now.” And to quote a wise teacher, “I wish we could learn to love ourselves less and our children’s future more.”

This is our moment!

________________________________________________________________________________________________

 You and read more about the Congress at https://icaworldcoopcongress.coop/stories/

You can find the Cooperative Identity Statement at https://www.ica.coop/en/cooperatives/cooperative-identity

With February rolling around, the month brings cold weather, snow, and the hoping for Spring. But February also brings the celebration of Black History Month. GHC-SCW is proud to celebrate Black History Month, acknowledging and appreciating the impact Black people have had on healthcare.

First celebrated in 1926, what was initially Black History Week was expanded into Black History Month in 1976. Black History Month is an annual celebration to lift the accomplishments of Black Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. History.

Throughout American history, our society has greatly benefited from the medical advances and inventions of Black women and men. Below is a list of four Black medical professionals who have created boundless opportunities for themselves and whose advancements continue to save lives every single day.

Daniel Hale Williams, M.D. (1856-1931)
Daniel Hale Williams founded the first Black-owned hospital in America and performed the world’s first successful heart surgery in 1973.

Jane Cooke Wright, M.D. (1919-2013)
Wright, along with her father, helped research chemotherapy drugs that led to remissions in patients with leukemia and lymphoma. She created an innovative technique to test the effect of drugs on cancer cells by using patient tissue rather than lab mice.

Charles Drew, M.D. (1904-1950)
Drew developed groundbreaking ways to store blood plasma in blood banks. His work made the way for the modern blood transfusion.

Barbara Nichols, PHD
In 1970, Nichols was elected president of the Wisconsin Nursing Association (WNA), making her the first Black American to serve in the position in the organization’s 100-year history. And then in 1979, she was elected the president of the American Nursing Association (ANA), making her the first Black American to hold the national leadership position as well.

Black Americans’ impact on overall healthcare and innovation is something to be emphasized during a month to uplift their accomplishments. But it’s important to also acknowledge the sacrifices and gruesome medical mistreatment of Black Americans. From the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study that withheld treatment from hundreds of Black men for decades to let doctors track the course of the disease, the gruesome experiments on enslaved people, as well as forced sterilizations of Black women, much of our medical advancements are because of the trauma and horror that Black Americans were put through in the name of medicine.

As we go through February, be sure to recognize and acknowledge Black Americans’ sacrifices and achievements.

September 22, 1862, in the soldiers’ cabin on the battlefield of Antietam, a then young Abraham Lincoln summoned his generals. The Union Army was fresh from the victory over the Rebel Army led by General Lee. It was the first victory by the Union Army with southern troops advancing as far north as they would for the remainder of the war. Antietam Creek, outside Sharpsburg Maryland, became the site of the bloodiest single-day battle in Civil War history. It also created an alarm to many of the Union leaders that the south was a formidable force and keeping the Union together was for sure at stake.

If the north was going to win the war, new strategies would have to be devised and implemented. There was an option that had been suggested before but, as efforts continued throughout the war to bring the south back into the Union, the North was reluctant to impose policies that would enrage the south more. This discussion was around slavery and how slave labor was fueling the southern army’s success.

The north argued that the south was able to utilize their slave labor to support their war efforts. Slaves were a source of free labor to provide services such as cooking, sewing, building shelter and many other functions that did not have to be filled by a white man. This allows more of their troops to focus on combative duty. Thus, even though by this time the north had more troops, effective fighting forces were equal.

Since the start of the war, the northern army had been receiving fugitive slaves that found their way to Union lines after escaping their enslavers. The army was reluctant to return these slaves and often put them to work doing similar jobs as their enslaved counterparts in the southern army. This was somewhat of a difficult situation for the northern government to navigate at the time. The north had refused to acknowledge the succession of the south. This meant that the northern government was trying to uphold laws and commitments with the south. One of those legislative acts was the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 and the 1850 revisionary act that tried to keep the union intact by agreeing to return all fugitive slaves to their southern slave owners.

When the Union army decided to retain and not return slaves during the war, they were breaking federal law. This was angering southern slave owners and continued to drive the south towards succession. Earlier efforts to keep the slaves officially were met with skepticism. However, after the bloodiest day of the war and having seen the southern army reach Maryland, Lincoln hoped that his generals would support a proclamation to free all slaves within states and parts of states that were rebelling against the Union. This would legally allow the Union army to keep the slaves as freedmen able to work for a wage and support Union troops.

This tactic was also aimed at further destabilizing the southern economy. Word quickly spread in the southern states that if you were able to escape your slave owner and avoid capture from slave hunters, you could reach the Union line and become a freedman. This led to an increase in runaway slaves that would find their way to the Union army, numbers that are estimated to have reached over 125k former slaves.

However, this did not have any bearing on those in border states that had legal slavery. It did not end slavery in any of the northern states or territories either. This decree did not automatically make freedman citizens either, it merely gave them freedom from their capturers. Without any voting or equal rights, many former slaves often escaped to an environment only slightly less oppressive than the one they left.

Still, with all the shortcomings of the actual proclamation, the act did prove very impactful in helping the north win the Civil War. This act laid the groundwork and started a discussion that eventually led to the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.

As we engage in work to create a still more perfect union, it is good to recognize these important historical events. It helps us realize that, although all our efforts may not be perfect in achieving our goals and dreams, the continual work towards that perfect union is what makes us one of the greatest nations on earth.

If you would like to learn more about the history and background of the Emancipation Proclamation, please feel free to check out the informational video below.

The Civil War Part 2: Crash Course US History #21 – YouTube

Let’s continue the work started by abolitionists like Fredrick Douglass and leaders like Abraham Lincoln. Let’s be brave, let’s be bold, and let’s be Better Together.