Eric Whalen

Eric has worked for the City as a Library Associate for the past five years. His job mostly entails after school programming for youths and adults of all ages. He works in the homework center program at the Rondo branch. He also coordinates the volunteers and academic support for the library.

Despite working for the City for five years, Eric had never participated in the well-being program. This year he decided to take advantage of it.
Participating in the Omada program to fulfill the coaching requirement of the well-being program appealed to him. While he admits he is not at his ideal weight, he wasn’t overly concerned about losing a lot of weight but rather getting more physically fit and eating healthier.

After signing up for Omada, he received their “fancy scale” which automatically sends his weight to his coach each time he weighs. His phone has a step tracker that he turned on to make reporting his activity easy too.

Because he was also interested in improving his strength, he joined the Jimmy Lee Rec Center, taking advantage of the $30 yearly membership fee for City employees to any rec center in the City.

The Omada program requires tracking what you eat as well, which Eric admits he is not that fond of doing. However, he feels it is valuable to do as it is so easy to not really look at what you are eating. His coach provides positive feedback that helps keep him going. The weekly lessons provide tips that are helpful in selecting better choices at the grocery store. He chooses turkey bacon now over regular bacon, for example. Eric was never a “fruit person” but now has eaten more fruit this year than he thinks in his whole life – and he likes it!

Eric has completed the nine lessons he needs to count towards the well-being program but will keep going through the rest of the program. He said he would probably do it again next year if offered – though his goal will be to not qualify for it!

IMMUNIZATION PROTECTS ALL OF US: Don’t Wait. Vaccinate!

In the United States, vaccines have greatly reduced infectious diseases that once routinely killed or harmed many infants, children, and adults. However, the viruses and bacteria that cause vaccine-preventable disease still exist and can be passed on to people who are not protected by vaccines. Every year, thousands of Americans still suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized, and even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines.

Measles in Minnesota

This year in Minnesota, 78 people came down with measles, but thousands were exposed, including hundreds who were not vaccinated or did not have natural immunity from a previous measles infection. The Health Department identified 8,880 people who were potentially exposed to known cases in day care centers, health care settings, schools and other community settings. Public health officials contacted many of them or checked their vaccination status using the state’s immunization registry. That work identified 596 at-risk people, and they were asked to voluntarily limit their activities to avoid exposing others.
Because measles no longer occurs naturally in the United States, officials believe this outbreak started with someone traveling from abroad. Measles is prevalent in many African countries, China and Europe, which has seen a resurgence in infections. However, the exact source has not been identified.

Here’s why you shouldn’t wait:

  • Many vaccine-preventable diseases are still common in the U.S.
  • Those that are not common here are still found in other parts of the world, and can still be a threat.
  • Some of these diseases are very contagious.
  • Any of these diseases could be serious – even for healthy people.
  • Certain people may be at higher risk for getting some diseases or having more serious illness if they were to get sick, like young children, older adults, and those with health conditions.

Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other medical experts update vaccine recommendations based on the latest research and evidence-based science on vaccine safety, effectiveness, and patterns of vaccine-preventable diseases.

You have the power to protect yourself and the ones you love. Talk to your healthcare professional about which vaccines are right for you and your family.
To learn more about vaccines and take a quick quiz to find out which vaccines you may need, visit: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults

They Made A Move!

The Make a Move six week team challenge ended on May 19. This month we want to acknowledge all the employees who participated. The Make a Move challenge was somewhat different than past challenges as teams tracked minutes of activity that could include flexibility and strength training as well as steps. Twelve teams competed and by the end of the challenge, they had averaged more than 13,000 steps per day, far ahead of the recommended 10,000 steps. The winning 12 member team was the DSI Step Warriors. They pulled way ahead averaging 19,725 steps per day! So amazing! Now, you may think that this was a group of young, highly trained marathon runners or fitness fanatics. The truth is the team was made up of average employees who recognize the benefits of exercise and were up for a challenge. How did they do this? Well, we asked them to tell us about themselves and their experience with the challenge. Below are responses from a few members of the team.

Diane LaCasse:

Diane has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in her knees, spine, ankles, shoulders, hands, etc. Seven years ago, she had her left hip replaced and her right hip was replaced last year. She is acutely aware of the need to move. Despite the osteoarthritis, Diane has been walking a lot for years, using her FitBit to track her distance with a goal of 12,000 steps per day. For the Make a Move Challenge, she upped her daily steps to help support her team.

Zoua Lee:

Zoua joined the challenge because she thought it would be fun to be on a team and compete against other teams. She enjoyed walking with teammates and getting to know her co-workers more. Now that the challenge is over, she plans to continue walking.

Herlinda Kamas:

Herlinda knows that walking will help with her diabetes. Her co-workers urged her to join the in this challenge because she walks all day in her job anyway, and it would be a way to get motivated to get in even more steps. Her teammates encouraged her every day. Herlinda says that being part of a team is like having cheerleaders! Now that the challenge is over, she plans to continue walking and tracking her steps.

Annette Wald:

As part of the Omada Program in which Annette has been participating, she was already walking regularly before the challenge. She was motivated to join the challenge to be part of a team. As they walked together, they would talk about their daily steps and activities and where they could do better. She plans to continue walking to help reach her weight loss goal.

For winning the Make a Move Challenge, the participants received our new long-sleeve Healthy Saint Paul t-shirts.

Healthy Saint Paul will continue to offer challenges in the future. We hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to challenge yourself with the support of teammates and have fun at the same time.

When to say ‘Whoa!’ to your doctor

Common tests and treatments you probably don’t need

DOCTORS OFTEN ORDER TESTS and recommend drugs or procedures when they shouldn’t–sometimes even when they know they shouldn’t. In fact, nearly half of primary- care physicians say their own patients get too much medical care, according to a survey published in 2011 by researchers at Dartmouth College.
All that unneeded care can be hazardous to your health–and your wallet. For example, X-rays and CT scans expose you to potentially cancer causing radiation, and can lead to follow-up tests and treatment with additional risks. And the cost can be substantial. A 2011 study found that the price tag for 12 commonly overused tests, such as annual electrocardiograms (EKGs) for heart disease and imaging tests for lower-back pain, was about $6.8 billion.

The problem has become so serious that such groups as the American College of Physicians, the National Physicians Alliance, and a coalition of medical societies have compiled lists of tests and treatment doctors themselves say are done too often. Below are examples culled from those lists.

EKGs and exercise stress tests for heart disease

The problem: For many people, an EKG-which records the heart’s electrical activity through electrodes attached to the chest is a standard part of a routine exam. Some also regularly get an exercise stress exercise test, which is an EKG done as they walk on a treadmill. Both are key if you have symptoms of heart disease or are at high risk of it. But for other people, the tests are not as accurate and can lead to unnecessary follow-up treatment.

The risks: Those follow-up tests can include CT angiograms, which expose you to a radiation dose equal to 600 to 800 chest X-rays and coronary angiography, which exposes you to further radiation. Inappropriate testing can also lead to overtreatment with drugs or even surgery.

The costs: An EKG typically costs about $50 and an exercise stress test about $200 to $300, according to the HealthCareBlueBook.com. Subsequent interventions that are prompted by unneeded tests can add thousands to the tab.

When to consider the tests: An EKG and exercise stress test should often be ordered if you have chest pain, an irregular heartbeat, or other symptoms of heart disease. They can also make sense for people with diabetes or other coronary risk factors who are just starting to exercise.

Imaging tests for lower‐back pain

The problem: Getting an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI can seem like a good idea. But back pain usually subsides in about a month, with or without testing. Back pain sufferers in a 2010 study who had an MRI within the first month didn’t recover any faster than those who didn’t have the test-but were eight times as likely to have surgery, and had a five-fold increase in medical costs.

The risks: One study projected 1,200 new cancer cases based on the 2.2 million CT scans done for lower-back pain in the U.S. in 2007. CT scans and X-rays of the lower back are especially worrisome for men and women of childbearing age because they can expose testicles and ovaries to substantial radiation. Finally, the tests often reveal abnormalities that are unrelated to the pain but can prompt needless worry and lead to unnecessary follow-up tests and treatment, sometimes including even surgery.

The cost: An X-ray of the lower back typically ranges from about $200 to $285, an MRI from $875 to $1,225, and a CT scan from $1,080 to $1,520. Imaging accounts for a big chunk of the billions Americans spend for lower-back pain each year. When to consider the tests: They often make sense if you have nerve damage or signs of a serious underlying condition.

Red flags can include a history of cancer, unexplained weight loss, recent infection, loss of bowel control, urinary retention, or loss of leg strength.

Bone‐density scans for low‐risk women

The problem: Many women are routinely screened for weak bones with an imaging test called a DEXA scan. If it detects outright osteoporosis, the results can help you and your doctor decide how to treat the problem. But many people learn they have only mild bone loss, a condition known as osteopenia, and for them the risk of fracture is often quite low.

The risks:
A diagnosis of osteopenia often leads to treatment with such drugs as alendronate (Fosamax) and ibandronate (Boniva), which pose numerous risks. Those include thigh fractures, throat or chest pain, difficulty swallowing, heart-burn, and more rarely, bone, eye, joint and muscle pain, bone loss in the jaw, and possibly abnormal heart rhythm. But there is little evidence that people with osteopenia benefit from the drugs.

The costs:
A DXA scan costs about $132. The price for a month’s supply of generic alendronate is $38 to $70, and $125 to $148 for Fosamax, the brand-name version. People often take the drugs for years.
When to consider the tests: Women should have the scan at age 65 and men at age 70. Younger women and men ages 50 to 69 should consider the test if they have risk factors such as a fracture from minor trauma, rheumatoid arthritis, low body weight, a parent who had a hip fracture, or if they have used corticosteroid drugs for a long time, or they drink excessively or smoke. Whether follow-up tests are needed depends on the results of the initial scan.

Ask these Questions:

Do I really need this test or procedure? The answer should be direct and simple. Tests should help you and your doctor decide how to treat your problem, and procedures should help you live a longer, healthier life.

What are the downsides? Discuss the risks, the chance of inaccurate results or the need for further testing.Weight the potential complications against possible benefits and symptoms of the condition itself.

Are there simpler, safer options? Sometimes lifestyle changes will provide the relief you need.

What happens if I do nothing?
Ask if your condition may worsen- or improve if you don’t have the procedure now.

How much does it cost? Ask whether there are less expensive alternatives for procedures and medications.

The above article was reprinted from the Consumer Reports Choosing Wisely Campaign. Choosing Wisely aims to promote conversations between doctors and patients by helping patients choose care that is:

  • Supported by evidence
  • Not duplicative of other tests or procedures already received
  • Free from harm
  • Truly necessary

Information from Consumer Reports is for you to use when talking with your health care provider. It is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment.

The full library of Choosing Wisely reports and interesting patient stories is available at consumerhealthchoices.org/Minnesota

How to Free Your Family From Sugar Without Losing Your Mind

Tips from celebrity nutritionist and mom Keri Glassman on changing your family’s food culture.

Begin with these five tips and incorporate them into your family’s lifestyle over the next 10 days or so. Breaking it down little by little will help you all ease into the process.

Tip #1: Ditch the nonsweet sweets

It begins in your own home. Get rid of anything that’s “sweet” and has added sugar but isn’t “sweet” at all.
Not sure what I mean? Open up the fridge and check out the salad dressing. Now check the labels on your sandwich bread. Go on, take a look at the box of “healthy” crackers you serve peanut butter on. Oh, and check that peanut butter while you’re at it. Sugar, fructose, corn syrup, brown rice syrup — it’s all sugar. Ditch all of this. They’re not worth it and can be easily replaced. Here’s a place to start: http://naturallysavvy.com/recipes/made-by-me-kid-friendly-salad-dressing

Tip #2: Set your food culture

Chances are you have a food culture, but you just haven’t looked at it or talked about it openly. Meatless Mondays, grocery delivery, organic and unprocessed as much as possible, pizza and movie night, are just some food culture traditions and practices. But when you don’t set out with a plan or value system for food in your home, things often go awry — and fast, especially once kids come into the picture.

I’m not going to tell you that you should never have dessert, or that organic foods are always best. That’s something for you and your partner to decide together. If your kids are old enough, ask them what they think are family food values. Bringing everyone into the conversation, maybe at your next dinner, is one of the best ways to stay on track.

Tip #3: Plan your weeknight dinners

You’ve heard this one before: Planning is key to dinner success. But, in reality, when we’re running to pick our kids up from school and dropping them off and running errands ourselves, that’s easier said than done. One of the moms I work with makes planning meals for the week almost a game. At the beginning of each week, she takes out the calendar and her three kids go in order picking dinner for each day. They have mentally committed to the menu and are genuinely enthusiastic about it.

Tip #4: Snack time is nutrient time, not dessert time

Yet, it’s far too easy to get caught up in the “I just want them to eat and get calories in” so as not to mind the cookies. But the truth is, snack time is the perfect time to get in nutrients. Not just calories, but real nourishing nutrients. The trick isn’t to redefine or get rid of snack time, but to adjust it. So if that whole sandwich wasn’t eaten at lunch, serve the other half at snack time. Or, if lunch was finished, take a different approach with sliced turkey rolled up around a carrot or a sliced pear with almond butter.

Tip #5: Hydrate right, and don’t fall for ‘all-natural’ juice

Sugar is sneaky. It doesn’t just hide in foods, but in most beverages too. Read the label carefully and remember that If you’re consciously consuming it for the fruit benefits, know that one piece of fruit has approximately 15 grams of sugar. So perhaps you’d be better off eating a banana instead. And just say no to soda and fruit-flavored juice. Go for plain water or even seltzer with a spritz of lemon or a splash of 100 percent juice instead. Another key thing to remember is all rules apply for your kids too. Kids don’t come out of the womb asking for apple juice. We get this habit started and we can break it for them too, because if you’re sipping on water, then they’ll likely follow suit and do the same.

Written by Keri Glassman, MS, RD | Excerpted from www.healthline.com › Food & Nutrition › #BreakUpWithSugar , October 24, 2016

Daphne VanBuren

While Daphne VanBuren, Assistant City Attorney, was in law school she liked to say the only reason she would ever run is if she were being chased. Back then, she was attending law school nights and weekends and working during the day. She was in what she calls survival mode. She wasn’t getting enough sleep, not exercising and eating poorly.

In 2012 at age 34, years after graduating and working as a lawyer in the Attorney General’s Office, Daphne was inspired by a coworker to try running. The first miles were not easy. But a group of coworkers decided to take on the challenge of Grandma’s half marathon and Daphne signed up as well. As she looks back, she recalls how rough she felt after the race. Everything hurt. Over the next couple years, she continued signing up for different races and events to stay motivated.

By 2014, Daphne was ready to take on the challenge of the Twin Cities Marathon. This time she followed a training program and was well prepared to run it. At the end of that race, she felt better than when she had finished the half marathon two years before.

Training for a marathon is not all running; Daphne also realized the importance of eating a healthy diet. The change in her diet evolved over the years. As a result of the physical demands of running and a better diet, Daphne lost several clothing sizes, losing fat and gaining muscle.

While many people would be satisfied with reaching a goal of completing a marathon, Daphne was ready for more. Her first 50K (approximately 31 miles) was the Grand Island Trail Marathon along Lake Superior. She loved the beautiful, serene trail and felt great at the finish line. She plans on another 50K on the Superior Hiking Trail this fall.

Daphne continues training throughout the winter averaging 30 miles a week. When it is really cold, she just dresses for it and is motivated by thinking about running in May when this winter training will all pay off.

Daphne turns 39 this year and feels that she is in the best shape of her life. While there still are the occasional potato chips, etc. she has lost a little more weight, has plenty of energy and sleeps well. It is sometimes hard to leave work at the office at the end of the day and going out for a run provides a good mental break. She believes that running makes her nicer, calmer and a much better office partner.

As long as her body is able, Daphne plans on continuing to run. The physical and emotional rewards she gets out of running are something she can’t quantify. While she understands marathons and 50K races are not goals for a lot of people, getting outside and moving, whether bicycling, walking, running, or something else can benefit anyone. The important step is just to begin.

Guide to Healthy Grilling

May is the month to break out the grill, marinate some fresh food and cook up something healthy. It’s also the month that the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is inundated with questions about potential cancer risks associated with grilling. Below is advice from the AICR when it comes to grilling.

The Research

AICR’s expert report and updates say there isn’t enough evidence to show that grilled meat specifically increases risk for cancers. But we do know that cooking meat at a high temperature – like grilling – creates cancer-causing substances, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). These carcinogens can cause changes in the DNA that may lead to cancer.
Risk of these carcinogens forming is higher from red and processed meats – like hamburgers and hot dogs. Smoke or charring also contributes to the formation of PAHs. Evidence is clear that diets high in red and processed meats contribute to an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Based on the evidence, AICR recommends limiting red meat to 18 ounces of cooked meat per week and staying away from hot dogs or other processed meats.

Guide to Safe Grilling

While there does exist limited but suggestive evidence that compounds produced in meat through the grilling process (HCAs) factor in human cancer, AICR has determined that top priority should be what you choose to cook, not how you cook it. AICR offers these guidelines for healthy grilling:

  • Studies have suggested that marinating your meat before grilling can decrease the formation of HCAs. To avoid food poisoning, be sure to discard the marinade in which you soaked uncooked meat, poultry and fish after you remove the food for grilling. If you want some for basting, set aside a bit – about one-third of a cup – before you’ve put the meat in to marinate.
  • Cutting meat into smaller portions and mixing with veggies can help shorten cooking time.
  • If you are grilling larger cuts, you can reduce the time your meat is exposed to the flames by partially cooking it in a microwave, oven or stove first. Immediately place the partially cooked meat on the preheated grill. This helps keep your meat safe from bacteria and other food pathogens that can cause illness.
  • Trimming the fat off your meat can reduce flare-ups and charring. Cook your meat in the center of the grill and flip frequently.
  • Grilling vegetables and fruits produces no HCAs and plant-based foods are actually associated with lower cancer risk.
  • Flip meats with a spatula or tongs to avoid piercing that lets juices run out.
  • Use tinfoil between the meat and the flames.
  • Keep a water spray bottle on hand to keep flames in check.
  • Don’t squirt starter fluid into coals while meats are cooking.

For winning marinade recipes to flavor your food, click here!

Sources: http://www.aicr.org/enews/2013/may-2013/enews-marinades-make-grilling-healthier.html?_ga=1.257176779.1931548040.1493039495
http://www.aicr.org/enews/2014/05-may/enews-guide-to-healthy-grilling.html?_ga=1.257176779.1931548040.1493039495

Sergeant Brian Casey

Sergeant Brian Casey, current Employee Assistance Program Director (EAP) for the Saint Paul Police Department, has had an enduring interest in health and wellbeing, especially behavioral health with its focus on mental health and addiction. He earned a BS in Health Education from the University of Minnesota. After graduation, he spent several years working as a paramedic and EMS educator at Hennepin County Medical Center. In 2006, he left a position training paramedics at Inver Hills Community College to become a Saint Paul Police Officer. In 2012, Brian was promoted to sergeant and in 2014 became the Director of the Police Department’s EAP. “I feel really fortunate to find myself all these years later as a Saint Paul police officer making use of my college degree and all my experience working in public safety.”

In his current role, Brian assures the availability of EAP services to all police department employees and their family members. Services include private coaching, peer support, and therapeutic sessions with contracted licensed mental health professionals. The department actively educates officers in an effort to get ahead of some of the issues that cause mental and emotional distress. Brian provides health education to officers at roll calls, academy classes and in-service training. He believes that a high-functioning EAP is valuable to all employees and their families. Whether or not they find the need to use it, confidence that impactful and trustworthy resources are available brings peace of mind.
Brian knows that in order to be effective he must keep himself healthy, asserting, “I don’t always maintain a healthy balance, but I keep trying.” He watches his diet, eating healthy most of the time. His fitness routine has changed since working as a patrol officer.

At that time, his focus was on strength and endurance. His priorities were to prevent injury, maintain physical confidence, and be prepared to prevail when faced with resistance and aggression. As he has aged and his job changed, he now focuses more on flexibility, mobility, core strength and good sleep hygiene.
For mental and emotional wellness, Brian benefits from feeling well suited for the job, through education, experience and temperament. “Though I have always felt that whatever job I held at the police department was the most important job in the police department, being the EAP Director is some of the most challenging and rewarding work I have ever done. Most inspiring is sharing in how different work groups, especially the patrol officers, are able to find personal meaning and a higher sense of purpose in what they do, while sometimes being exposed to really awful stuff. I could not admire these people more.”

Employees who are not members of the Police Department can receive EAP services through HealthPartners by calling 866-326-7194 or logging on to their website at www.hpeap.com and enter password: saintpaul

CareOptions

We are excited to introduce CareOptions, a new benefit that is available to City employees through the Minnesota Benefit Association (MBA). CareOptions is your go-to source for countless, valuable healthcare and wellness resources at no cost to you.

With CareOptions, you have immediate, unlimited access to an unbiased selection of health, wellness and care resources. With today’s changing insurance industry, it’s vital that you continue to be educated and informed about the changes that impact you and your loved ones. CareOptions is your go-to source for trustworthy, unbiased information at your fingertips and is accessible from any computer, smartphone or tablet.

After signing up for CareOptions, members will have access to:

  • Health, wellness and home safety assessments
  • Income and social security benefits calculator
  • Special services to assist with a short or long-term disability
  • Physicians, hospitals and other providers locally or nationwide, complete with background and quality of care information
  • Information about specific medical conditions and treatment options
  • Professional care managers and elder care attorneys in your area

Additionally, with CareOptions you can save hundreds of dollars on important document sets like Living Wills, Health Care Power of Attorney, and Caregiver Agreements. For more information and to sign up to begin receiving access to this valuable information, visit: www.minnesotabenefitassociation.org and then click on the Member Benefits tab.

The MBA is looking forward to helping our members navigate their health and wellness.
Should you have any questions about this new tool please contact the Minnesota Benefit Association at 651.735.9874 or info@MinnesotaBenefitAssociation.org.

Asha Shoffner

Asha Shoffner has worked for the City for two years as the YJ01 Program Manager for Right Track. Right Track serves Saint Paul youth who come from a low income household or have a barrier to employment (such as chemical dependency, limited English proficiency, or a disability) by placing them in jobs or paid internships throughout the City. She manages around 200 youth during the school year; nearly 450 during the summer.

Asha tries to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. When I called to schedule the interview, she suggested making it a walking interview. She explained her job involves a lot of desk time, so whenever possible she will set up mobile meetings with colleagues.

Asha has been instrumental in getting fellow employees together in being healthy. She has coordinated several ‘Fitbit’ or ‘step’ challenges with co-workers to help build a sense of community and friendly competition. She put together a ‘Build a Salad’ event for the colleagues on her floor as well as for a racial equity change team meeting. As the weather warms, she will be reaching out to co-workers to join her in biking to work. Asha is always looking for colleagues who work out at the YMCA.
While Asha loves the outdoors and being active in nature, she knows that spending time outdoors is not always accessible for everyone. This motivated her to start a grassroots movement called Fiwygin Outdoors (which is pronounced “Fusion Outdoors”).

Fiwygin is an acronym that stands for Fit In Where You Get In, and her role as the founder is to make sure that everyone can “get in.” Fiwygin Outdoors strives to eliminate any barriers that folks have to getting outside by making it fun, accessible, sustainable, and welcoming to all people – with an extra shout out to underrepresented groups (including but not limited to people of color, Indigenous people, LGBTQ people, and people with limited income/resources/experience/mobility). Fiwygin Outdoors operates year round and hosts monthly events like hiking, fishing, canoeing, kite flying and more. Events are free and intentionally designed with non-ableist language and multiple access points, ensuring that all can truly fit in and get in.

To learn more about Fiwygin Outdoors, check out www.facebook.com/groups/fiwyginoutdoors. To join Asha on a bike ride, a visit to the Y, a meander through downtown, or anything else active, feel free to reach out to her! She loves connecting with new people and being active.