Health highlights from around the Web

If you’re looking for interesting sites or articles for perusal this weekend, take a look at our picks below. Then visit Durham Regional Hospital on Facebook and share your picks with us.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Visit to read stories from stroke survivors and their caregivers. You can also share your story, thank a caregiver and register for the monthly stroke support group.

Man on a bicycleAccording to a recent study, people who tackle diet and exercise at the same time are more successful at becoming healthy than those who make one change at a time. An article in USA Today explains more about the study and its findings.

With patient safety a top priority at hospitals, learn about a study exploring whether ultraviolet light is an effective tool for cleaning and disinfection. In the study, a UV light machine is used in addition to routine cleaning procedures and tools.

Mother applying sunscreen to her daughterSummer vacations are coming soon. Find out what you need to know to be safe before you go to the beach and pool this summer. Topics include healthy snacking, sun protection, swimming and more.

Caring for stroke patients at Durham Regional

Shannon Chesney, RN, Emergency Department, is part of a team that treats stroke patients every day. She is also a member of Durham Regional Hospital’s stroke committee, which is working to continuously improve outcomes and stay abreast of current trends and best practices in stroke patient care.

“In our Emergency Department (ED) we often see stroke patients who wait to come in because they are in denial about what is happening to them or they think they will feel better in a day or so,” Shannon explains. “If patients come to the ED immediately after they notice stroke symptoms, they have a better chance for a more positive outcome. ”

Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is a clot-busting drug that can be administered to patients who are experiencing a stroke within three hours of the onset of symptoms. According to the American Stroke Association, if given promptly, tPA can significantly reduce the effects of stroke and reduce permanent disability. Unfortunately, only 3 to 5 percent of stroke patients reach the hospital in time to receive it.

ClockWhen stroke patients arrive at Durham Regional Hospital quickly after symptoms begin, they will be evaluated by a physician. If the physician believes a patient is having a stroke, a “Code Stroke” is called. This is an alert that goes to all hospital departments involved in stroke patient care. The patient becomes the number one priority, receiving a CT scan, IV, neurology checks, vital sign monitoring and a tPA within 60 minutes of arrival if he or she qualifies. From there the patient is monitored for 24 hours in the Critical Care Unit and then transferred to the stroke unit.

“In the past few years we have done an outstanding job working together to improve stroke patient care at Durham Regional,” says Chesney. “We continuously work to improve processes and even received certification as a Primary Stroke Center from The Joint Commission in 2012. The way we coordinate with departments in the hospital, like CT, Laboratory and Pharmacy, as well as communicate with local EMS is fabulous. I would bring my own father here.”

May is stroke awareness month.
Stroke warning signs include the sudden onset of

  • numbness or weakness of the face or limbs
  • confusion or trouble speaking
  • dizziness or loss of balance
  • trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • difficulty walking
  • sudden severe headache

If you notice any of these symptoms, call 911. For more information, visit

Nominate a Durham Regional nurse for an award

Rehab nurses and patientEvery year, Duke University Health System (which includes Durham Regional as well as Duke Raleigh and Duke University hospitals) recognizes 36 nurses for excellence in patient care. The Friends of Nursing Excellence Awards are the highest honor a Duke nurse can receive.

We invite patients and their loved ones to submit nominations for the awards. If a Duke nurse has made a difference in your care, share your story by Friday, May 31 and submit to or call 919-681-5094. [Download a nomination form.] Be sure to include your name and contact information as well as the nurse’s name and unit.

5 ways to protect yourself and enjoy a sunny summer

Kids running through sprinklerThe sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays can damage skin and increase the risk of skin cancer. As the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day is a perfect time to remember how to protect yourself while you’re having fun in the sun this summer.

Follow these five tips to protect yourself.

  • Seek shade under a tree or umbrella.
  • Cover up with clothing (such as a long-sleeved shirt and long pants) or a towel; use sunscreen if you wear a t-shirt or shorts.
  • Get a hat. Hats that shade the face, scalp, ears and neck offer great protection.
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around your face and block as close to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays as possible.
  • Apply sunscreen often. Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB protection every time you go outside. Remember to protect your ears, nose, lips and the tops of your feet.

In June 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced changes for sunscreen labels that will help consumers better understand what the sunscreen product they are buying and how it can protect them from sun damage. Learn more about sunscreen and the changes at

A better space for mom and baby

The newly renovated Mother/Baby unit at Durham Regional Hospital provides a more comfortable experience for moms and their newborns.

“The new look and feel of our Mother/Baby unit was a collaborative effort between our experienced healthcare team and our patients,” says Heather Spencer, director of Business and Operational Planning at Durham Regional. “Durham Regional is dedicated to providing the highest level of patient care possible which is why we pamper our moms
and babies with the exceptional care and special touches that make their once-in-a-lifetime journey memorable and unique.”

After delivery, both mom and baby are transitioned to one of the newly renovated Mother/Baby rooms within The Birth Place. Decorated to create a spa-like atmosphere with warm, comfortable furnishings, each room provides an intimate setting for mom to
bond with her newborn.

drh patient 02 drh nurse station H

Read more about the renovated Mother/Baby unit in the latest issue of Your Health, Durham Regional’s health and wellness publication for the community.

Stroke support group helps healing

Chris Stephens’ life was changed when he arrived home from work to find his wife lying on the floor. Rosie had suffered a massive stroke.

After several days in the Intensive Care Unit at Duke University Hospital, Rosie’s condition began to stabilize, and she was later transferred to inpatient rehabilitation for physical, occupational and speech therapy. Rosie could not walk or use her left arm and had trouble swallowing.

About two weeks before Chris was scheduled to return to work, Rosie was diagnosed with pneumonia and admitted to Greenery Rehabilitation Center in Durham.

There Chris noticed remarkable improvement in Rosie’s health and spirit. She was fed throughout the night by a G-tube. “Rosie gained weight and was now able to give great effort during her therapy sessions and enjoyed them,” said Chris. “She also enjoyed helping the other residents, baking cookies for them and leading board games during recreational therapy.” Chris could return home at night, knowing Rosie was well taken care of.

As Rosie’s health continued to improve, she and Chris began attending the stroke support group at Teer House. The support group became an important part of the healing process for both Rosie and Chris.

For the full story and to learn more about Durham Regional’s stroke support group, visit Then check this blog each week in May for a new story from a stroke patient or caregiver as part of National Stroke Awareness Month.

Stroke is the number four cause of death and the leading cause of disability in American adults. During National Stroke Awareness Month in May, learn the symptoms of stroke, and make healthy lifestyle choices to lower your risk. If you or someone you know has sudden confusion, numbness of the face or arm or trouble speaking, call 911 right away.

Congratulations, 2013 Project SEARCH graduates!

IMG_2644Durham Regional Hospital’s Class of 2013 Project SEARCH students graduated May 14 in the hospital auditorium. They were surrounded and supported by family, friends and loved ones, hospital staff, Durham Public Schools staff and the community.


Special thanks to hospital staff, who mentored the students this year and welcomed them to the Durham Regional family; City of Medicine Academy and Durham Public Schools; community partners and Chick-fil-A at 3912 North Roxboro Street in Durham, which donated food for the post-graduation celebration.