Finding the right car seat for your little one

Ellen Byars, Clinical Nurse I
Unit 4-3 Mother/Baby

Baby in car seatMany expectant parents arrive at the hospital with questions about car seats. My advice to parents: “Test drive” your car seat before coming to the hospital! You can use a baby doll, a bag of sugar or whatever you can find (get creative!) and actually go through the motions of placing the base (if the car seat has a base) and seat into the back of the car before your baby arrives. Doing this prepwork will help reduce stress on the day you are discharged from the hospital.

Tips for picking the perfect car seat

  • A child under the age of 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat.
  • There are different kinds of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and three-in-one car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, which allow you to keep your child rear-facing for longer.
  • Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions, and read your vehicle’s manual to learn how to correctly install a car seat using the seatbelt or LATCH system. Remember to check for any height and weight limits printed on labels on the car seat and in the vehicle’s manual.  
  • Keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible, according to the car seat manufacturer’s directions. If your child is older than age 2 and still fits in the car seat (used rear-facing), then it’s fine for him or her to continue to use the car seat.

Does your baby weigh less than five pounds?

Britax, Chicco, Combi, Dorel, Graco Learning Curve (formerly Compass) and Mia Moda make car seats to accommodate your itty-bitty cutie. You can find these locally at

  • Babies R Us: 7001 Fayetteville Road, Durham
  • Sears: 1620 Guess Road, Durham
  • Toys R Us: 3330 Westgate Drive, Durham

Free help from the fire department? Why not?

Most fire department personnel are trained to check car seats for proper installation. For example, Parkwood Fire Department (1409 Seaton Road, Durham) has someone available to check car seats almost anytime. This kind of check-up is free, and it will most likely give you some peace of mind that your little peanut is safe.

To learn about Women’s Services and for a virtual tour of the Birth Place at Durham Regional Hospital, visit

Get well and improve your health after a heart attack

Joanne Carey, MHA, RN, RHIA
Cardiovascular Registries Coordinator

Heart attack treatments have changed dramatically from the times when doctors prescribed long bed rest and keeping noise levels to almost whisper levels. Research shows the heart muscle is resilient and, with guided therapy, can remodel itself to be stronger and continue working effectively.

Heart lifting weightsAfter a few weeks of rest following a heart attack, patients enter a cardiac rehabilitation program to learn about nutrition, ways to stop smoking and exercises to improve heart health. These programs can help reduce the risk of future heart attacks and improve health through a new understanding of food and nutrition, exercise and weight reduction. Patients also gain confidence in their abilities.

But cardiac rehab is not limited to those who have had a heart attack. This kind of therapy is also excellent for patients with other types of coronary disease and certain types of heart surgery, including coronary artery bypass grafting or valve replacement surgery. Patients who have received a stent for a coronary artery blockage are also eligible.

At Durham Regional, our accredited cardiac rehabilitation program helps guide our heart attack patients’ recovery. Under the supervision of experienced cardiologists, trained cardiac rehab nurses and therapists work closely with the primary care physician to review the patient’s needs and goals. Then our team tailors a program to meet those needs through walking, stationary bike riding and arm exercises to increase endurance and strength.

To learn more about the cardiac rehabilitation programs at Durham Regional Hospital, visit or call the Wellness Institute at 919-470-8151. We look forward to helping you improve your health!

Durham Regional ranked among the best hospitals in NC

Kerry Watson

I am pleased to announce U.S. News & World Report has recognized Durham Regional among the best hospitals in North Carolina’s Piedmont region. The survey by U.S. News & World Report takes into account patient survival rates, safety, reputation among physicians, nurse staffing, technology and other quality measures.

Durham Regional ranked fifth out of 145 hospitals in the state, and third out of 19 hospitals in the Raleigh-Durham metro area, which includes Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh. Our hospital was also named a high performer in the areas of cancer, diabetes and endocrinology, gastroenterology, geriatrics, nephrology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, pulmonology and urology.

Nurse with patientPhysician and employee

In addition, our two sister hospitals ranked among the top hospitals in our region. Duke University Hospital was ranked first in the state and the Triangle, and Duke Raleigh Hospital was ranked fifteenth in the state and fifth in the Triangle.

We appreciate your support as we care for our patients and improve the health of the community we serve.

Visit for the complete rankings and methodology.

Do you know how to protect yourself from skin cancer?

Paul Mosca, MD, PhD
Surgical oncologist, Duke Cancer Center/Durham Regional Hospital

While you’re soaking up the sun this summer, remember to take precautions to protect your skin.

A study published in the April issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings revealed over the past 40 years rates of melanoma—an aggressive type of skin cancer—have increased eight-fold among women and four-fold among men ages 18 to 39.

The study authors believe tanning beds may be the reason for this dramatic increase, in part because young women frequent tanning salons more than young men. Fortunately, the survival rate typically exceeds 90 percent when melanoma is detected early.

Other risk factors for melanoma include

  • fair skin
  • family history
  • genetic predisposition
  • heavy freckling
  • high mole count
  • immunosuppression
  • prior history of melanoma

Mother applying sunscreen to her daughterTo reduce your risk of developing melanoma, avoid tanning beds and protect your skin from sunlight. Wear protective clothing when outside, and use sunscreen on any exposed areas.

In addition, the American Cancer Society suggests performing regular self-exams of your skin. If you notice any of the following, see a health professional.

  • Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
  • Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred.
  • Color: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or there may be patches of pink, red, white or blue.
  • Diameter: The spot is larger than about ¼ inch (the size of a pencil eraser), but melanomas can be smaller than this.

If your physician agrees the spot looks suspicious, you will likely undergo a simple biopsy to test for melanoma and other skin cancers. Early melanoma is treated with surgery. More advanced cases may require chemotherapy, immunotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, and/or other treatments. Every patient should receive individualized, compassionate care by an expert multi-disciplinary team.

For a free sun protection brochure, visit

Stay safe and cool this summer

Whitney Adams
Clinical Nurse II, Emergency Department

Kids running through sprinklerSummer is here! Last week temperatures topped 100 degrees, and it felt even hotter because of the heat index. A high heat index is caused by high humidity, which keeps sweat from evaporating off your skin and prevents your body from cooling down. This puts you at risk for heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke (which can be fatal).

Anyone can experience heat-related illnesses, but some are more susceptible than others. Infants, children and senior citizens have the highest risk. Monitor infants and children closely for signs of heat-related illnesses, and check on elderly adults frequently. If a loved one or friend exhibits the following signs of heat-related illnesses, seek medical attention immediately.

Warning signs of heat exhaustion

  • disorientation
  • muscle cramps
  • excessive sweating
  • fainting
  • nausea
  • vomiting
Warning signs of heat stroke

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • lack of sweat
  • rapid heart rate

There are a few simple things you can do to lower your risk of heat-related illnesses.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, especially if you will be outside for extended periods of time.
  • Avoid being outside during the mid- to late afternoon because temperatures are typically highest then.
  • Take breaks if you are working outside, and find some shade, rest, drink water and cool off.
  • Remember to always wear protective gear, such as hats, sunglasses and sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher is recommended).
  • Stay indoors, especially in an air-conditioned space. Fans are helpful for cooling, but when temperatures reach over 90 degrees they offer little protection from heat-related illnesses. If your home is not air conditioned, visit a friend or public location, such as a mall or library, that is air conditioned.

Following these tips will help reduce your risk of heat-related illness and keep your summer enjoyable!