Health, well-being and personal growth
FALL 2017 | In this issue:
New Technology Will Save Lives with Better Detection of Breast Cancer
Breast density affects mammogram efficacy; paired with MBI detection rates soar
The statistics are alarming. Women with dense breast tissue are four to five times more likely to develop breast cancer than other women, and are less likely to have it detected with a mammogram. In fact, some studies estimate that mammography detects fewer than half the cancers in dense breasts. Up to half of women 40 and older have dense breast tissue, so that puts a large number of women at risk.
But there’s some great news. A screening tool recently developed by Mayo Clinic physicians called Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) is three times more effective than mammography alone at detecting cancer in dense breast tissue. When cancer is detected early, patients can be treated with less invasive measures and recover faster. In a clinical study of 940 women with dense breasts, MBI plus mammography accurately detected cancer 91 percent of the time. For mammography alone, the rate was only 27 percent.
Why breast density matters
Breast density refers to the amount of tissue compared to the amount of fat in a breast. Dense breasts have more tissue than fat, and breast tissue and tumors both appear white on mammograms. This can result in cancer going undetected or in false positives that require further testing. For the patient, further tests can create anxiety and result in additional costs.
With MBI, breast tissue density is not a factor. A radioactive tracer is injected into a vein and travels to areas with high metabolic activity, like that generated by a tumor. A gamma camera then captures images of those areas. The process was developed by a team led by Dr. Deborah Rhodes, associate professor of medicine, and Dr. Michael O’ Conner, a nuclear physicist, at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Their work was funded with grants from Susan G. Komen.
Costs are comparable
The cost of the MBI is comparable to that of a mammogram, and the level of radiation received by the patient is about the same. Until the new technology was developed, some high-risk women with dense breasts underwent MRIs, which are about twice the cost of MBI.
You can’t get it everywhere, but you can get it here!
MBI is not widely available in the United States yet, but Mayo Clinic Health System began offering it this fall. The Center for Breast Care at Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse is the only place you can get an MBI in our area.
New Group Health Plans Announced
Security Health Plan offers access to Mayo Clinic care
Mayo Clinic Health System has announced that Security Health Plan of Wisconsin is offering its Inspire large group plans to top employers in the southwest Wisconsin service area. The plans provide access to Mayo Clinic care.
Starting in November, employers with 50 or more employees can contract with Security Health Plan of Wisconsin for benefits that begin in January 2018. Security Health Plan subscribers receive outstanding coverage and value.
Mayo Clinic Health System is now part of the Security provider network for Inspire plans offered in southwestern Wisconsin. Members will have access to excellent care at any Mayo Clinic Health System location as well as Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
Security Health Plan of Wisconsin, based in Marshfield, is a not-for-profit insurance plan that currently serves about 230,000 people in Wisconsin. Established in 1971, it was the first rural HMO in the nation. The National Committee for Quality Assurance has given each of its plans a 4.5 out of 5.0 rating 11 years in a row.
Large and small employers can call Health Services to Business at 877-458-4873 to learn more about health plans with access to Mayo Clinic care. Individuals who are not on an employer plan can call 866-789-4374 for information on their options.
Loneliness in the Workplace a Growing Concern
Social connections at work are good for your health
From the executive offices to the shop floor and every place in between, America’s workforce is feeling increasingly lonely.
In an article for Harvard Business Review, former Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy writes that despite being in the most technologically connected era in history, many people lack meaningful social relationships. In the workplace, employees and executives who lack these connections are less productive, less creative and have reduced capacity for reasoning and decision making. A Gallup poll found that people with strong social connections at work were less likely to get sick or injure themselves, and other studies have found that people who report having high-stress jobs also have higher health care expenditures. For those reasons, Murthy believes it’s imperative that employers address the issue of loneliness in the workplace.
Here are his recommendations:
- Evaluate the current state of connections in your workplace
- Do employees feel that their colleagues value them?
- Do they believe that their workplace supports giving and kindness?
- Are their relationships at work driven by love or fear?
- Build understanding of high quality relationships
- Meaningful shared experiences and mutually beneficial relationships form the basis of high-quality relationships
- Make strengthening social connections a strategic priority
- Ask yourself whether the current culture and policies of your workplace support the development of trusted relationships
- All levels of the organization must buy-in to a culture that supports relationships
- Senior leaders should set an example
- Encourage coworkers to reach out and help others and to accept help when offered
- Giving and receiving help is a tangible way to experience connections with others
- Create opportunities to learn about your colleagues’ personal lives
- Everyone in the organization has the power to create spaces for sharing, whether at a formal gathering or informal conversation over lunch
When he was Surgeon General, Murthy and his team developed an exercise called “Inside Scoop.” Staff members were asked to share something about themselves through pictures at the weekly staff meeting. The result was that people began to look forward to the meetings and participated more. They told him they felt less stressed and more connected to their colleagues as a result of these sessions. It’s important, Murthy said, to go beyond water cooler talk and embrace the unique experiences and identities of the people with whom we share most of our waking hours.
As humans, we’re hard-wired for social connections. Without them we feel lonely, and loneliness causes stress, and stress increases the likelihood of developing a number of health problems. Providing your workforce the opportunity for meaningful interaction isn’t just good for the soul, it’s good for the body too.
Study Explores Workplace Wellness Incentives
Health and wellness promotions among most popular programs
The first step to better health is to identify the factors that threaten it. A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that many employers are being proactive in identifying potential health issues by offering health assessment, biometric screenings and health and wellness promotion. Below are some highlights from the 2017 Employer Health Benefits study.
Health risk assessments
The Kaiser study found that 62% of large firms (200 or more employees) and 38% of small firms offer employees an opportunity to complete a health assessment and more than half of those provide incentives for doing so. Incentives include gift cards or merchandise; eligibility for other wellness incentives; lower contributions to premiums or cost sharing; or financial rewards that could include cash or contributions to a health savings account. For a health risk assessment, employees answer questions about their medical history, health status and lifestyle.
A biometric screening goes a step further and includes a physical examination that measures risk factors that include body weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, stress and nutrition. Among large firms, 52% offer biometric screening and 53% of those offer incentives that include gift cards, merchandise, lower premium contributions, eligibility for other wellness incentives or financial rewards such as cash or contributions to a health savings account. The study found that 14% of large firms also motivate employees to reach biometric targets such as BMI or cholesterol by offering incentives.
Health and wellness promotion programs
By far the most popular health-related programs among both large and small businesses are those that offer employees a chance to change their lifestyles. The Kaiser study found that 58% of small businesses and 85% of large businesses offer at least one program for smoking cessation, weight management and behavioral or lifestyle coaching. Among large firms, 32% offer an incentive to participate in or complete the program. Of those offering an incentive, 68% offer gift cards, merchandise or similar incentives.
Among large firms that offer incentives for participation in health promotions programs:
- 25% offer incentives of $150 or less
- 33% offer incentives between $151-$500
- 23% offer incentives between $501-$1,000
- 13% offer incentives between $1,001-$2,000
- 6% offer incentives of $2,001 or more
Turn to the Nurse Line for Expert Advice
The nurses who staff the Mayo Clinic Nurse Line are there to help you answer the questions that come up when you or a family member has a minor injury or illness, questions like:
- Is it OK for me to go to work?
- Can my child go to school?
- Do I need to see a doctor for this?
- What do I need to do to treat this at home?
- What should I do if this gets worse?
Skilled in patient care, the Mayo Clinic nurses who staff the Nurse Line are also skilled at listening. They take the time to understand your concerns and recommend the best course of action for your situation. Most of the time you don’t even have to leave the house! Even better, the Nurse Line is available around the clock.
How to use the Nurse Line
When you’re unsure about whether you need an office visit, your first step is to call the primary care department where you are usually seen if you’re calling during business hours. Outside of business hours, call the main switchboard at 608-785-0940 and ask for the Nurse Line.
Nurse Line nurses are looking out for you. Trust them to guide you to the right decision when you’re not sure of your next step.
Be Ready for the Flu Season
Sharing is great—unless it’s the flu
Most people spend the bulk of their waking hours at work, and that means that when a bug starts to make its way around the office, the results can be devastating to productivity and hard on morale.
According to the experts at Mayo Clinic, there are three ways to avoid the flu:
- Vaccinations are readily available at the following Mayo Clinic Health System locations
- Stop germs
- Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently
- Contain coughs and sneezes
- Avoid crowds
- If you’re sick, stay home
- Take anti-viral drugs as prescribed
Encourage your team to take advantage of the Nurse Line if they’re not sure whether they should come in to work. And share the infographic, “What kind of care do I need today?”
Prepare for the Holidays with Sugar Smackdown
Know where your sugar is coming from
By Joyce Mlsna, MS
Wellness Coordinator, Health Tradition
Leverage the Sugar Smackdown challenge
The Sugar Smackdown Challenge is a great opportunity to increase awareness of the sugar that creeps into our diets and the damage it causes. You and your team will complete the challenge wiser and healthier!
The workplace is full of sugar traps. It’s not just that tray of cookies a coworker brings in either. Sugar hides in places where we don’t expect to find it and the latest Wellness at Work challenge is to help your group become more aware of the where sugar is found its negative effects.
What’s so bad about sugar?
Sugar contributes to a number of health problems in our society including obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease and heart disease. It also promotes tooth decay.
Read all about it
One teaspoon of sugar is equal to four grams. According to the American Heart Association, women should have no more than 25 grams of sugar in a day, and men no more than 36. On average, Americans consume more than 19 teaspoons of sugar a day—that’s 76 grams!
The only way you can really control how much sugar you consume is to be religious about reading labels because sugar pops up in unexpected places. Here are a few examples:
Bottled spaghetti sauce: 12 grams of sugar per ½ cup serving
Barbeque sauce: 6-7 grams of sugar per tablespoon
Fat-free yogurt: 31 grams of sugar per 6 oz. serving
Vanilla almond milk: 16 grams of sugar per serving
Margarita: 30 grams of sugar per serving
The role of the workplace
You’re not the sugar police and you can’t prevent people from eating and drinking what they want. But you can help provide healthy choices. Here are a few suggestions:
- If you have vending machines, make sure that there are plenty of choices that are low in sugar
- Provide a large dispenser of fruit-infused water
- Bring in fruit trays for treats rather than cookie trays
- If you provide occasional lunches, check out nutritional information before ordering. For national chains, this information is available online.
The goal of this challenge is for your team to reduce sugar consumption and gain better health! Participants will be placed in a drawing for a Fitbit Flex®. Sweet!
Upcoming WellMe Sessions
WellMe Sessions conveniently located at Belle Square, downtown La Crosse
To register, click here. Walk-ins also welcome. Bring a lunch and we’ll provide the knowledge!
Health Savvy: When and How to Manage Injury and Illness at Home
Activity Minutes Matter
Why Diets Don’t Work
Minimalism: The How of Happiness
What’s the Deal with Detox Diets?