10 local health heroes for your whole family
October is a month often designated for increasing health awareness, and from the pink breast cancer awareness cleats and sweatbands we see Saints players don to the mailers and commercials advertising this year’s flu shots, we’re reminded left and right of the appointments we need to schedule. While family members face some of the same health concerns, men, women, kids and senior adults also face a number of unique health challenges determined by age and other factors. This month, we’ve consulted a variety of specialists in a number of fields for tips on increasing health and wellness while learning about the latest procedures and technological offerings.
For kids, pediatric care is particularly important. Well child check-ups are necessary for ensuring normal growth and development. They also provide protection through vaccinations and provide guidance for parents. According to Dr. Allison Cragin, Pediatrician at CrescentCare, other common reasons to visit the pediatrician include common childhood illnesses such as colds, asthma and allergies.
At CrescentCare, Cragin sees children from birth to age 18. Additionally, she works with children who have special needs and are living with Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, autism and other developmental and genetic disorders. The pediatric team of providers at CrescentCare consists of general pediatricians, an infectious disease specialist, an adolescent medicine team, family medicine physicians and a pediatric and adolescent psychiatrist. According to Cragin, stickers, snacks and books from the Reach Out and Read literacy program add some fun to the patient experience.
“In pediatrics, one of the most important prevention topics is healthy living in childhood. I counsel parents at every well visit on providing healthy, fresh foods; limiting sugary drinks; and promoting daily family fitness and play,” says Cragin. “It is important to establish a healthy lifestyle early in life to prevent obesity and the common illnesses that come with it.”
When illness or injury strikes your child after hours, a trip to the emergency room isn’t only a hassle, it’s often unnecessary. Locally, Children’s Hospital recently initiated the Children’s Hospital Virtual After Hours Clinic (VAHC). With the VAHC, remote care is offered to families as a convenient alternative to traveling to see a doctor for minor issues that may occur in the evening or on weekends. A secure video conferencing platform allows the parent, patient and provider to communicate via video.
For children aged 1 year to 18, the VAHC is useful for a number of conditions, with some of the most common being insect bites and rashes. Children’s Hospital encourages parents to send photos for better resolution, but the video conference is helpful for allowing doctors to gauge the demeanor and activity level of the child. With that information, the pediatrician can give medical advice and call in prescriptions as needed. Other conditions commonly treated via the Virtual After Hours Clinic include pink eye and non-critical conditions that parents aren’t certain will require in-person attention.
Children’s Hospital’s VAHC is also helpful for new parents who are on high alert for anything out of the ordinary as it pertains to their baby. A video conference can help ease their minds about conditions that may seem uncommon to them but that are very common to pediatricians. For parents with multiple kids, the video visits are much easier than bringing the whole crew to the doctor’s office.
When adults need the guidance of a physician, care often starts with their family medicine practitioner. At Crescent City Physicians, Inc., a subsidiary of Touro Infirmary, Dr. Jennifer Driver offers primary care and generally focuses on patients aged 17 and older.
“Family practitioners often treat more than people think. Yes, we perform your yearly physical but are also well trained to manage chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, migraine and more. We also treat acute issues including sinus infections, minor injuries, and the list goes on,” says Driver.
According to Driver, nearly half of adults in the U.S. have hypertension, and one-third are at risk for diabetes. These high numbers lead to those conditions being the most common conditions that she encounters.
“I believe there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, and try to take patients differences into account to design custom treatment plans. That approach often starts with tests to understand a person’s overall risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack,” Driver says. “To lower their values, they may attempt lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, but often a more intensive therapy is needed to reach a certain goal,” she says.
Helping people lose weight is the business of Ingrid Rinck, who founded Sensible Meals on the Northshore in 2014 after her son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
“The best way to lose excess weight is to decrease the calories you’re taking in,” says Rinck. “Yes, fad diets work, but they aren’t sustainable; it’s essential for your long-term success to find a program that offers options for foods you look forward to eating and can maintain on weekends and into the future,” she says.
Sensible Meals offers families portioned, calorie-restricted meals with a variety of meal types to satisfy your goals: Weight Loss, Double Protein, Paleo and Vegetarian. The meals are either delivered to your door (nationwide) or made available for pickup at 11 convenient local pickup locations.
“Understand that food equals fuel. Our meals tap into your stored fat, allowing you to use your excess fat as fuel,” says Rinck.
Families seek out Sensible Meals for more than just its weight benefits; the conveniently prepped meals also allow for less time food shopping, cooking and cleaning.
Oral health is a big part of family health, and regular visits to the dentist shouldn’t be overlooked or avoided. Preventative dental care plays an important role in the maintenance of oral health, which often translates to a healthy smile.
Elizabeth Riggs Dentistry is a restorative and cosmetic practice on Magazine Street focused on comprehensive dental care. Dr. Riggs recommends brushing twice daily, flossing daily, having your teeth cleaned regularly (to be determined by both dentist and hygienist) and eating healthy.
“Proper nutrition plays a strong roll in maintaining a healthy mouth,” says Riggs. In addition to offering cleanings and dental screenings to patients of all ages, Riggs treats patients with lost, missing or unhealthy teeth, as well as patients with a desire to improve their overall function and aesthetics.
“It may come as a surprise that we treat patients with neuromuscular problems stemming from tension or teeth-grinding, as well as bruxism. These problems can lead to breakdown of the entire masticatory system, causing TMJ problems, tension headaches, migraines and, of course tooth loss,” says Riggs.
“We also help patients who have problems with sleep due to snoring. Having studied the science of sleep and jaw relations, we’re able to fabricate appliances that can eliminate snoring and apnea altogether,” she says.
As one of our five senses, sound helps define our world. Hearing doesn’t just affect how we navigate the world, it also helps us appreciate the tone and emotions of family.
At Associated Hearing, audiologists assess hearing levels and issues in patients of all ages. From infants in hospitals and children in school to workers in loud factories and senior adults with hearing loss, a wide spectrum of patients and hearing issues are encountered by audiologists like Dan Bode., Au.D.
According to Bode, the biggest issue faced by someone with a hearing problem is clarity.
“When you’re out there and listening to someone talk you might miss some of the cues – we start losing tonality and ability to hear inflections and quality of words.” Bode references speech voids wherein simple words can be mistaken, e.g. “road” and “rose” or “wife” and “white.”
“Those kinds of errors and omissions can cause difficulties, especially in communication with couples and at work and in various environments where you’re required to listen,” says Bode. At Associated Hearing, audiologists are able to intricately evaluate a person’s hearing function and identify what and how effectively you hear, how different environments affect your hearing, what aural rehabilitation steps can be taken and much more.
Technological advances in hearing aids offer flexibility and convenience for users who can integrate usage of their mobile device and services like Life Alert with their hearing aid.
Like sound, sight also helps us navigate both family interactions and the world around us. Many people know the local brand KREWE for its stylish sunglasses, but the brand offers both optical and sun options at its New Orleans stores, 1818 Magazine St. and 809 Royal St.
“The Lower Garden District store is more focused on optical, which is where my office is based,” says Optometrist Dr. Kim Ta. “At KREWE we’re focused on making getting an eye exam easier by offering appointments via text, while also providing an environment that’s relaxed,” says Ta.
At KREWE, Ta can screen for ocular conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic and hypertensive retinopathy. She can treat conjunctivitis (pink eye), styes, red eyes, dry eyes and eye-related allergies, as well as perform foreign body removals.
“Most people think that an optometrist can only prescribe glasses and contacts. However, optometrists are trained to examine overall ocular health as well as diagnose and manage diseases of the eye,” says Ta, who treats patients ages 5 and older.
A health concern that has ruined many a family vacation or long car ride is the dreaded culprit of lower back pain. A common occurrence in adults, it can make daily tasks difficult to accomplish and affects quality of life. Often, an orthopedist’s expertise is sought for a diagnosis and options for treatment.
Low back pain and cervical pain with or without associated disc herniations are two of the most common conditions treated by Dr. Ralph P. Katz at Westside Orthopaedic Clinic, a full-service orthopaedic clinic located in Marrero.
A specialist in minimally invasive spine surgery, kyphoplasty and cervical disc surgery, Katz also performs surgery for neurological disorders. Katz offers cervical disc replacements along with new technologies and minimally invasive surgeries such as a lumbar surgery with a smaller incision and shorter recovery time, “Which means getting back to activities quicker,” says Katz.
To maintain orthopaedic health, Katz recommends a healthy diet, exercise and a positive frame of mind.
In the area of robotic-assisted surgery, a change on the Northshore brings brand new technologies to patients.
Formerly Fairway Medical Center, Avala is the first hospital in Louisiana to perform robotic-assisted surgeries on the spine, hip and knee, according to Dr. K. Samer Shamieh, Chairman of the Board.
“Our brand new robots – the Globus Excelsius GPS used for spine surgeries and the Mako used for total hip and total knee surgeries – have a state-of-the-art navigation-guided system using CT scans to perform a personalized surgical experience for each patient. This personalized service enhances the safety and accuracy of surgery for our patients,” says Shamieh.
A 21-bed hospital servicing the Northshore and surrounding community, Avala is home to a multitude of different specialty surgeons including bariatric, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, endoscopy, pain, gynecology, plastic, reconstructive and general surgery.
Self image and confidence are other factors important for overall health, and specialists in aesthetics are often sought for physical enhancements that can take off years or take off pounds. As a facial plastic surgeon, Dr. Sean Weiss does a lot of what you’d probably expect: facelifts, necklifts, brow lifts, eyelid surgery, nose reshaping and facial fillers, to name a few. As a double board-certified specialist focused on aesthetic enhancements of the face, head and neck, Weiss offers a vast and comprehensive amount of facial rejuvenation services.
Most commonly, Weiss sees patients looking to alter an oversized or crooked nose or who are facially looking to turn back the hands of time. Treatments for the nose include rhinoplasty surgery to create balance or “liquid rhinoplasty” using injectable fillers to reshape and sculpt the nose. With facial aging, Weiss takes a comprehensive approach, combining surgical and non-surgical treatments for achieving natural appearing outcomes and enhanced self image.
Another dilemma faced by a significant number of people is hair loss. According to Weiss, platelet-rich plasma injections can significantly improve the quality and quantity of hair growth without the need for daily medication. He performs these injections and also performs the ARTAS robotic hair transplant procedure when follicular unit grafting is needed to restore hair to a more youthful and confident status.
With all of this expert advice, hopefully your family can take some steps towards improved health this month. Taking control of your concerns now means improved quality of life, not just for yourself, but for those around you as well.
Associated Hearing, Inc.
433 Metairie Road, Suite 101
67252 Industry Lane
Children’s Hospital Virtual Hours Clinic
3308 Tulane Ave.
Crescent City Physicians
3525 Prytania St., Suite 301
1818 Magazine St.
Dr. Elizabeth Riggs
3442 Magazine St.
Dr. Sean Weiss – Facial Plastic Surgery
2201 Veterans Blvd., Suite 408
Westside Orthopedic Clinic
1301 Barataria Blvd.