April, 2006




About the Newsletter




Welcome Ambra Davidson to PFH

Ambra Davidson

We are happy to welcome Ambra Davidson to the staff of Pisgah Family Health. Ambra will be working three days per week at the front desk.

Ambra grew up in rural Kansas and recently relocated to the Asheville area. She formerly worked as a receptionist in a chiropractic office before joining our practice. Ambra loves the mountains and going hiking. She also enjoys spending time with family and friends, doing volunteer work, reading, and crafts.

Physical Exams

During the Spring and Summer parents are often reminded that their schoolchildren need a Physical Exam for camp, sports, or school. The physical exam is intended to assess the child's safety and preparedness for these tasks. The exam also helps to assess age-appropriate development such as growth, learning, motor skills, and social skills. In older children we also try to assess health risks such as smoking, drug use, and school performance.

Here are some tips to streamline you child's physical:

  • Be sure to bring any paperwork from the school or camp.
  • Complete the parents' portion of the paperwork ahead of time.
  • Bring your child's vaccination record.
  • If your child wears glasses, bring them.
  • If your child is a teenager, plan to give them some time alone with the doctor, to discuss issues which they may consider personal.

The summer is also a good time for adults to catch up on their physicals. Why? Our office is not as busy with sick visits in the summer, so we can get your physical scheduled more quickly and conveniently. Also your wait time is likely to be less in the summer.

Here are some tips to streamline your adult physical.

  • Fasting blood work is usually included, so don't eat before your visit. (Do drink plenty of water.)
  • Arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment, to complete your medical history forms.
  • Before your visit, talk with your relatives about illnesses that run in the family.
  • Be aware of when you had your last physical and screening tests (blood work, mammogram, colonoscopy, Pap, etc.)
  • Bring all your medication bottles in, including non-prescription medications.
  • Bring your insurance card, and the formulary (drug list) covered by your insurance.
  • If you need work papers completed, bring them to the visit.

Office Hours

  • Our normal office hours are 9-5 Monday through Thursday, and 9-12 on Friday.
  • We will be closed on Friday, April 14, for Good Friday.
  • We will be closed May 15-19, for a vacation.
  • We will be closed on Monday, May 29, for Memorial Day.
  • When the office is closed, emergency care is available at the Urgent Care Centers, and at Mission/Saint Joseph hospitals ER.  Telephone calls are handled by Dr. Curran’s call partners.

Office Reminders

Remember to bring your insurance card to each visit and present it to the receptionist when you check in. This ensures we have the most current insurance information for you.

If you have changed your Medicare plan to a Medicare Options, such as Humana, please let us know and present your card to the receptionist.

HIPAA states that we can not release any of your information without your written consent. Please let us know if you would like to authorize us to release information to your spouse or a family member.

May 15, 2006 is the last day to join a Medicare Part D. plan offering coverage for 2006 The next opportunity to enroll will be November 15 to December 31, 2006.

With the new year, do your medications cost more? If you have changed insurance plans, signed up for Medicare Part D, or your plan has a new pharmacy benefit, your medications may change in cost. Unfortunately, each pharmacy plan has unique benefits, and PFH cannot predict which medications will be covered on your plan. If you want help choosing less expensive medications, you MUST bring in your medication formulary. A formulary is the list of medications covered by your plan, including any differential cost teirs. This information should be available in your benefits package, or on-line. Check your insurance card for a phone number or website for your pharmacy benefits.

Medical news

Earth Day 2006

On April 22, 1970, 20 million people across America celebrated the first Earth Day. It was a time when cities were buried under their own smog and polluted rivers caught fire. Now 35 years later, Earth Day is being celebrated around the globe. Through the combined efforts of the U.S. government, grassroots organizations, and citizens like you, what started as a day of national environmental recognition has evolved into a world-wide campaign to protect our global environment.

Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency

Earth Day Events in Asheville

The 4th Annual Earth Day Celebration will be held at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in downtown Asheville, NC on April 15, 2006 from 12noon-9PM. The event will feature many non-profit groups, music, kids play area, a dunking booth with local celebrities taking part and other activities. Check web site for more details.

Source: http://www.envirolink.org

Earth Day at Chimney Rock Park

Environmental awareness programs include demonstrations on composting and recycling, creative uses for kudzu, and guided wildflower walks. April. Phone (800) 277-9611.

Source: http://www.chimneyrockpark.com/

Celebrate Earth Day with SOFC

Celebrate Earth Day this year by getting Into the Woods, at the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition's third annual celebration and silent auction, Friday, April 21st, at 6:00pm at the beautiful Crest Center in Asheville. This special event will feature live music from the Greasy Beans. Into the Woods includes food, organic wine, locally-brewed beer, live music, and a silent auction. "Now more than ever, our community is stepping up to protect public land and this event is an easy and fun way to support the Coalition's work," said Nikki Smathers of the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition. Last year's event raised more than $10,000 to help protect forests in the region. "This year's event is going to be bigger and better," she said. All proceeds from Into the Woods benefit the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition, a group of 22 of the leading public lands conservation groups spanning the six states of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Some of the Coalition's recent accomplishments include introduced legislation that will permanently protect over 55,000 acres of Wilderness in Virginia; discovering, mapping, and campaigning for the protection of over 111,000 acres of previously undocumented old-growth forests in the Southern Appalachians; and defending over 728,000 acres of pristine roadless forests in our region. Into the Woods' popular silent auction features something for everyone - with over 150 items. Past years included spa passes from the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, yoga lessons from Cindy Dollar, pottery by renowned Western North Carolina artists like Leftwich and Yummy Muddle Puddle, a Clinch Mountain Garden House weekend getaway, Orange Peel and Asheville Symphony concert tickets, a one-of-a-kind "tree of life" necklace by dORY, outdoor gear by Patagonia, a Hot Springs getaway and soak, a mountain bike from Hearn's Cycling, and much more. Don't miss out on capturing some of these wonderful items - all for a great cause! Nikki Smathers, Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition - 828.252.9223

*Source: http://www.swampfox.ws/index/celebrate-earth-day-have-fun-and-protect-our-forests/

May is National Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month

The allergy season is upon us! In Western North Carolina we are blessed with a wide variety of elevations and plant diversity. This also blesses us with a wide variety of pollens and allergens. Many people don't know much about allergies or asthma unless they themselves have them so let's get a brief overview of these two medical problems.

Allergies are an overreaction of the immune system. People who have allergies have a hyper-alert immune system that overreacts to a substance in the environment called an allergen. Exposure to what is normally a harmless substance, such as pollen, causes the immune system to react as if the substance is harmful. Allergies are a very common problem, affecting at least 2 out of every 10 Americans.

Allergy symptoms can be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe (anaphylactic). Mild reactions include those symptoms that affect a specific area of the body such as a rash, itchy, watery eyes, and some congestion. Mild reactions do not spread to other parts of the body. Moderate reactions include symptoms that spread to other parts of the body. These may include itchiness or difficulty breathing. A severe reaction, called anaphylaxis, is a rare, life-threatening emergency in which the response to the allergen is intense and affects the whole body.

Not everyone has allergies. Most allergies are inherited, which means they are passed on to children by their parents. People inherit a tendency to be allergic, although not to any specific allergen. When one parent is allergic, their child has a 50% chance of having allergies. That risk jumps to 75% if both parents have allergies.

There are a number of different allergy-causing substances. The most common include pollen, dust mites, mold, animal dander, insect stings, latex and certain food and medication.

If you have an allergy your symptoms can range from mild eye irritation and congestion to a more severe reaction causing generalized swelling and difficulty breathing. And, if you have asthma, a reaction to any offending allergy-causing substance can worsen your asthma symptoms.

Asthma affects 12-15 million Americans, including approximately 10%-12% of children under age 18. Asthma may occur at any age, although it's more common in younger individuals (under age 40). People who have a family history of asthma have an increased risk of developing the disease. Asthma is also more common in people who have allergies or who are exposed to tobacco smoke. However, anyone can develop asthma at any time. People with asthma have very sensitive airways that react to many different things in the environment called "triggers." Contact with these triggers cause asthma symptoms to start or worsen.

The following are common triggers for asthma:

    Infections (colds, viruses, flu, sinus infection)
  • Allergens such as pollens, mold spores, pet dander and dust mites
  • Irritants such as strong odors from perfumes or cleaning solutions, air pollution,
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Exercise or exertion
  • Weather -- changes in temperature and/or humidity, cold air
  • Strong emotions such as anxiety, laughter or crying, stress

People with asthma experience symptoms when their airways tighten, swell up, or fill with mucus. Common symptoms include:

  • Coughing, especially at night
  • Wheezing (a high-pitched whistling sound when breathing out)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness, pain, or pressure

Not every person with asthma experiences the same symptoms in the same way. You may not have all of these symptoms, or you may have different symptoms at different times. Your symptoms may also vary from one asthma attack to the next, being mild during one attack and severe during another. If you suspect that you may have asthma, see your doctor. He or she can run tests to determine if you have it. If a diagnosis is made, there are many treatments available to make you feel better and improve the underlying problems that caused the asthma.

Links for more information:

Web MD - www.webmd.com

Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America - www.aafa.org

American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology - www.acaai.org

(Info from: www.WebMD.com)

Spring Break Guide to Staying Safe and Healthy

It's been cold, and you've been busy at school with plenty of studying since the new year began. Now it's time for a break, and you want to have lots of fun and let it all hang out. While the purpose of Spring Break is to get away from regular school activities and enjoy some rest and relaxation, there are a few things to remember. Make this year's Spring Break memorable by having fun and helping yourself, your friends, and others stay safe and healthy.

Limit alcohol consumption. If drinking alcohol is part of your break, remember that it can impair your judgement and lead to unintended events. Alcohol is the greatest cause of injuries during Spring Break. Remember, you will have more fun if you keep yourself from getting hurt, hungover, and jailed.

Protect yourself. Love is all around, and so are sexually transmitted diseases. The only 100% sure way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancy is by not having sex. If you choose to have sex, using latex condoms and having a monogamous, uninfected partner may help decrease your risk. Women are more likely to be victims of sexual violence than men. Take precautions and avoid situations or persons that may place you at risk for harm.

Watch your step. There may be lots of temptations or "dares" during the trip that involve different or potentially risky or unsafe activity. Think twice before putting yourself at risk for injury. Be sure to use appropriate safety gear before venturing out, such as seat belts and life vests.

Avoid excessive exposure to the sun. After a long cold winter, it's tempting to stay in the hot sun all day. However, a sunburn can quickly ruin your vacation. Protection from sun exposure is important in all seasons and environments. UV rays not only cause sunburns, they can also cause skin damage and cancer. Use a waterproof sunscreen that is rated 15 or higher, and re-apply it every 2-3 hours.

Travel Links:



Medicare Part D

May 15, 2006 is the last day to join a Medicare Part D plan offering coverage for 2006. The next opportunity to enroll will be November 15 to December 31, 2006.

If you have signed up for Medicare Part D, or your plan has a new pharmacy benefit, the cost of your medications may change. Unfortunately, each pharmacy plan has unique benefits, and PFH cannot predict which medications will be covered on your plan. If you want help choosing less expensive medications, you MUST bring in your medication formulary. The formulary is a list of medications covered by your plan, including any differential cost teirs. This information should be available in your benefits package, or on-line. Check your insurance card for a phone number or website for your pharmacy benefits.

Unfortunately, our office does not have the information or resources to help our patients choose the right drug plan, of the many that are offered for Medicare Part D. However, there are many good resources available on-line to help in this process.

http://www.medicare.gov/default.asp The government's site has several pages of information on the new plan, including a guide to local plans.

http://www.webmd.com/ WebMD is a commercial site with excellent resources on the new benefit.

http://www.coabc.org/default.htm The Council on Aging has a website, as well as local classes on the benefit. They offer a live person who will sit with you and evaluate your options. This is the most user-friendly local resource.

http://www.aarpmedicarerx.com/ The AARP supported this benefit, let them explain it to you.

http://www.cvs.com/CVSApp/cvs/gateway/promotion?pid=5803 CVS's website has basic information. Their stores offer commercial brochures from the various plans' vendors.

Health Links

For more health information, check out these links:

About our Newsletter

Dr. Curran and the staff at Pisgah Family Health are proud to publish the Pisgah Family Health News to our patients.  Our goal is to provide regularly updated information about the office and current medical topics.  We plan to publish a new issue each quarter with breaking news.  The newsletters will also be archived on our website, http://www.pisgahfamilyhealth.com/

Privacy:  We promise to use your Email address only for the purpose of sending this newsletter.  We will not give your Email address to any other organization.  We do not use Email to discuss personal medical issues.  If you want to be removed from our Email list, reply to this newsletter with the subject “unsubscribe me”.

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