Should I get the flu shot if I already got sick with the bug this year?

Should I get the flu shot if I already got sick with the bug this year?

Yes, for several reasons. First, unless you were tested for the flu virus it’s possible that your symptoms actually stemmed from the common cold, sinusitis, or some other respiratory illness. And even if you’re certain you had the flu, this season’s vaccine protects against three strains of the virus. So getting vaccinated lowers your risk of getting sick from the other two strains.

You can even get the flu shot while you have symptoms of a respiratory illness, as long as you don’t have a fever. If you do have a temperature, talk to your doctor or nurse about scheduling the vaccine for a later date. And see our advice on how to treat flu symptoms, as well as our reviews of thermometers.

It’s also important to get vaccinated if you got the shot in a prior year, since the virus often differs from year to year, explains Barbara F. Young, Pharm.D., of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. “It is important for individuals to have a flu vaccine each year to maintain an optimal immunity as the vaccine is reformulated annually to best target the mix of influenza viruses that is expected in the coming flu season,” she says.

See more of our flu coverage, including why you shouldn’t skip the flu shot and how to tell a cold from the flu.

—Ginger Skinner – Consumer News, Jan 17, 2013


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Testimonials about Hope Health Family Practice now possible!

We have added a tab on our website for Testimonials.  If you would like to write about our practice, whether it be an anecdote or over all experience, please click on the tab and follow the instructions on the page.  Your entry can be anonymous, initialed or signed.  It is up to you.  We greatly appreciate your feedback as we strive to get the word out about our practice and continue to provided excellent care.

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The Challenge of Change and Transitions


From all of us at Hope Health Family Practice

The New Year is often looked at as a time for new beginnings and change.  While we have great intentions for the changes we want to make, we often stumble on executing those change.   At Hope Health we often find that guiding our patients through change can be one of the most challenging and most rewarding parts of what we do.  Therefore, to assist you with your New Year’s goals, we have attached an inspirational parable, in video form, to help you on your journey of change and new beginnings.

Parable of the Trapeze – By Danaan Parry  

The written form of this parable is available at Earthstewards Network.

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Our Dwindling Supply of Antibiotics!

Overuse and misuse of antibiotics has been and is a large concern in our medical world.   At a recent Infectious Disease conference in Augusta, there was much talk about our dwindling supply of effective antibiotics.   The bacteria we are trying to kill are mutating to become resistant to many of the antibiotics we have.   At this point, very few new antibiotics are being developed, so the trend is somewhat alarming.   Outside the hospital we are experiencing increasing difficulty in treating ear, sinus, respiratory and skin infections.  Patients in the hospital are experiencing more severe infections of the digestive tract, lungs and skin.

How does this happen?   Basically, when an antibiotic is overused the bacteria evolve to where the antibiotic is no longer effective.  When an antibiotic is misused, either by improper dosing, not being taken for the prescribed time or being used for the wrong kind of infection, the bacteria have an opportunity to change to overcome the antibiotic.

So what do we do about this?  As prescribers, we need to be more mindful of who we give antibiotics too, what we prescribe and for how long.   Patients need to be more open to the possibility that antibiotics are not always needed to fix an infection.  Many infections are actually viral and antibiotics will do nothing to cure them.  They will actually do more harm than good.  Some bacterial infections will also go away without the use of antibiotics.  Additionally patients self-treating, by digging around in their medicine cabinet for left over antibiotics, contribute to the problem.

It really comes down to communication and expectations.  It is the job of the health care provider to listen carefully and effectively communicate the proper treatment for your infection.  This may include good diet, rest, fluids and other non-antibiotic methods to help you get better.   As the patient, you need to clearly explain the history and symptoms of your illness, listen carefully to the providers questions and recommendations and be open to treatment methods other than antibiotics.   We all need to do our part to protect the effectiveness of our antibiotics.

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Hope Health Family Practice – New Chamber members!

Hope Health Family Practice was welcomed as a new member into the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce at last night’s “Business After Hours” event.  Brien Davis, FNP and Jennifer Bell, FNP described the unique services of Hope Health Family Practice to about 75 enthusiastic guests.  Jennifer explained that “In addition to providing comprehensive primary health care services to patients of all ages, our patients frequently comment on how well we listen and care for them.”   Brien added, “They often say that Hope Health Family Practice feels like the ‘family doctor’s office of old’, where they are known and feel they have a working relationship with their provider.”  Brien continued,  “I am very proud of this practice.  We have a great staff and four seasoned, highly skilled Family Nurse Practitioners that work hard to get the diagnosis right, care for the whole patient and provide cost conscious care .”    Hope Health Family Practice is open to new patients.   Please look through our website for more information about the practice.

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The Nurse Practitioner role is expanding around the globe!

The role of Nurse Practitioners is ever expanding around the globe.   In 1991, the United Kingdom was the first country outside the US to recognize the role of Nurse Practitioners.  Since then, many more countries have come on board.   Now Norway is coming to Maine to have a look at the role.  This is great news!

Role of Nurse Practitioners in Healthcare Subject of International Visit

Administration, medical staff, and educators from Lovisenberg Diakonale Hospital in Oslo, Norway, recently visited Mid Coast Hospital to research the role of the nurse practitioner in healthcare and how it contributes to the delivery of high quality and cost effective care. Currently, the role of nurse practitioner is not part of the healthcare system in Norway and the representatives were seeking input into the potential of establishing such a program.

The group of eight was welcomed by Lois Skillings, President and CEO of Mid Coast Health Services; John Morse lV, Chairman of the Board of Directors; Deb Macleod, Vice President of Nursing and Patient Care Services; and Paul Parker, Director of Nursing Education and Practice.

Also included in the discussion were Krista Meinersmann, Director of the School of Nursing and Marjorie Lawson, Coordinator of the Graduate Nursing Program at the University of Southern Maine (USM), and Susan Yetter, USM Nurse Practitioner Faculty, who described the education and training required for nurse practitioners in this country.

Paul Parker noted, “Mid Coast is very excited to share knowledge and information with other colleagues. It is this type of collaboration that will continue to foster excellence within the nursing field and healthcare as whole.”

The highlight of the visit was the opportunity to hear directly from eight of the twenty nurse practitioners that work throughout the Mid Coast system. They were able to provide valuable insight about their work, relationships with patients, and collaborative practice with physicians and the rest of the healthcare team.

Mid Coast was selected by the Norwegian healthcare organization due to its relative size and location, as well as its reputation for excellence as a community hospital that is designated as a Magnet organization. Only 6% of hospitals in the U.S. have achieved this recognition. While in the U.S., the group from Norway also visited Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

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Increased Coverage for Women’s Health Care

Good News for Women who have insurance.

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One Third of Cancers Caused by Lifestyle Factors – Zosia Chustecka

December 7, 2011 — One third of all cancers are caused by 4 common lifestyle factors — tobacco, diet, alcohol, and obesity.

This finding comes from a detailed review of lifestyle and environmental factors. Researchers calculated the fraction of cancers that can be attributed to each of these factors. The huge study was published as a supplement to the December issue of the British Journal of Cancer.

“This is the most comprehensive review of cancer and lifestyle undertaken to date,” said lead author Max Parkin, MD, professor of epidemiology at Queen Mary University, London, United Kingdom. He was speaking at a press conference held by Cancer Research UK, which sponsored the review.

The review was based on the most recent data available; researchers based their 2010 estimates on British incidence figures from 1993 to 2007. The team then calculated the proportion of cancers that could be attributed to 1 of 14 factors: smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, lack of fruit and vegetables, lack of fiber, eating red and processed meat, too much salt, being overweight or obese, lack of physical exercise, ionizing radiation, ultraviolet radiation, occupational exposure (e.g., asbestos), infections (e.g., human papillomavirus [HPV]), and — specifically for women — postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy and lack of breast-feeding.

“Many people believe that cancer is down to fate or is ‘in the genes,’ and that it is the luck of the draw whether they get it,” Dr. Parkin said. However, he added, “looking at the evidence, it’s clear that about 40% of all cancers are caused by things we mostly have the power to change.”

The figure is 45% in men and 40% in women; that difference was mostly accounted for by breast cancer in women, Dr. Parkin noted.

In the United Kingdom, this means that around 134,000 cancers annually could be prevented — just over 100,000 of these cases were attributed to tobacco, unhealthy diets, alcohol, and excess weight. Smoking was by far the most important factor, accounting on its own for 60,000 cancers in the United Kingdom each year, or 1 in 5 of all cancers diagnosed, Dr. Parkin emphasized.

Several findings in the review were rather surprising, he said.

“We didn’t expect to find that eating fruit and vegetables would prove to be so important in protecting men against cancer,” he said. “And for women, we didn’t expect being overweight to have a greater effect than alcohol.”

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