Sunday, January 19, 2014

Blood Donations

 Blog contributed by Dr. Joseph Cincotta, primary care physician

January is often a time when there is a greater need for blood donations.  So, once again this year we are coming to you to make a gift only YOU can provide – the gift of a blood donation.  You can be the one to save someone’s life.  You can be the one to make a critical contribution to the care of someone in need.  You can make a difference.

Donating blood does take some of your time, and it does require a needle stick.  I will not kid you on these facts. Yet, those who do this work are skilled professionals who work to make the experience efficient and friendly.  The discomfort is minimal and is short-lived.  The benefits are enormous and last a lifetime. 

PinnacleHealth's Blood Bank is located at: 
Alex Grass Medical Sciences Building
100 South Second Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101
Phone: (717) 231-8900

Here are some facts about blood donations from the American Red Cross:

Facts about blood needs

  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • More than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day.
  • A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is Type O.
  • The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs.
  • Sickle cell disease affects more than 70,000 people in the U.S. About 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.
  • More than 1.6 million people were diagnosed with cancer last year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood
Facts about the blood supply
  • The number of blood donations collected in the U.S. in a year: 15.7 million
  • The number of blood donors in the U.S. in a year: 9.2 million
  • Although an estimated 38% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate, less than 10% actually do each year.
  • Blood cannot be manufactured – it can only come from generous donors.
Facts about the blood donation process
  • Type O-negative blood (red cells) can be transfused to patients of all blood types. It is always in great demand and often in short supply.
  • Type AB-positive plasma can be transfused to patients of all other blood types. AB plasma is also usually in short supply.
  • Donating blood is a safe process. A sterile needle is used only once for each donor and then discarded.
  • Blood donation is a simple four-step process: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and refreshments.
  • Every blood donor is given a mini-physical, checking the donor's temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin to ensure it is safe for the donor to give blood.
  • The actual blood donation typically takes less than 10-12 minutes. The entire process, from the time you arrive to the time you leave, takes about an hour and 15 min.
  • The average adult has about 10 pints of blood in his body. Roughly 1 pint is given during a donation.
  • A healthy donor may donate red blood cells every 56 days, or double red cells every 112 days.
  • A healthy donor may donate platelets as few as 7 days apart, but a maximum of 24 times a year.
  • All donated blood is tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and other infectious diseases before it can be released to hospitals.
  • Information you give to the American Red Cross during the donation process is confidential. It may not be released without your permission except as directed by law

Remember, this is a gift only you can give.  So, please consider donating blood this month - this year.  Your help is vital to save the lives of those in need.  Thanks.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

New Year’s Resolutions

 Blog contributed by Dr. Joseph Cincotta, primary care physician

Each year many of us start the New Year with a list of things we are going to do better or differently from last year.  Many of the items on the list are health-related.  And, a number of us, me included, will fall short of our declared intentions.  So, how can things be different this year?  When December 2014 rolls around (and the years seem to pass more quickly for me each year, the older I get), how can we look back with a sense of accomplishment for those things we set as goals for 2014?  I hope these ideas are helpful to you.

  1. Do not set too many goals.  Sometimes our list of things we are going to do differently takes up an entire page – it can be 20 or 30 items long.  Keep the list small – no more than 2-5 items that is plenty for one year.
  2. Understand that change is work and that improvement does not follow a straight line upward.  Shifting habits and ingrained ways of doing things takes time, attention, effort, and practice.  Expect that you will have some setbacks, and that you can recover from those and move forward.  Accept your capacity for failure – and commit to learn from those setbacks.
  3. Make incremental changes and build on small successes.  Sometimes we set our goals too high, and they need to be broken down into smaller pieces.  The ultimate goal remains the same, but having some intermediate goals along the way helps to identify and celebrate progress.
  4. Enlist the help of others.  By our very nature we are social creatures.  Teaming up with those who care about us or who may share the same goals can help along the way.  This past year I had a goal of doing a longer bike ride but I knew I had failed in my efforts the year before.  So, I teamed up with a friend in my office to help keep me focused and to share the same goal.  Together we made the ride in August – and I was proud of the accomplishment.

I wish you the best in your efforts, particularly as they relate to better health.  Being healthy and staying healthy requires each of us to be active participants.  Many of the health issues we face today can be addressed through better choices and some changes to current habits.  It is not easy work – yet it is important work – for each of us, and for those we love and who love us.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Cold Weather Safety

 Blog contributed by Dr. Joseph Cincotta, primary care physician

As we enter this week we are anticipating another series of very cold days.  Here are some points on staying safe during this challenging time.

  • If possible try to stay out of the cold weather.
  • If you need to be outside try to avoid getting wet.  The combination of cold and wet increases the rate of loss of body heat.  If you do get wet, try to get inside quickly and change into dry clothes.
  • Dress in multiple layers, as opposed to one.  The layers help to keep heat in.
  • Wear mittens instead of gloves, if possible.  They will help to keep your hand and fingers warmer.
  • Wear a hat (Yes, your mother was right – keep that winter hat on when you are outside).
  • Cover as much of your skin as possible to keep the cold off your skin.  This helps to reduce the chance of frostbite.
  • Breathe in through your nose when you are out in the cold.  That helps to warm the air you are breathing in.
  • Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • If you use an electric heater, use extreme caution.  Keep the heater away from curtains and flammable items, and be sure to turn it off and unplug it when you go to bed.
  • Do not run your car in a garage attached to your house – even if the garage door is open.
  • Make sure your car tailpipe is free of blockage by snow when you do run your car.
  • For those with pets – do not keep your pets outside in cold weather.
  • For those of you who are interested in more information we are providing access to a document from the CDC on how to prepare for and deal with extremely cold weather.