Healthy Eating for the Super Bowl

Super Bowl Sunday can be full of buffalo wings, chips, queso and six-foot long sandwiches, all of which can lead to extra calories and extra pounds. The good news is that with a few changes, you can decrease the fat and calories and increase the healthiness of your game day feast without sacrificing taste:

super bowl

101110654It’s always a good idea to have a fruit and/or vegetable tray available for those who are vegetarian or just for low-calorie snacking. Use low fat yogurt-based dips or try using ricotta cheese mixed with dry onion soup mix or salsa. If you have a favorite food or snack, allow yourself to partake, but choose a smaller version of it and avoid “seconds.” Always be mindful of portion sizes.

Keeping your distance farther away from the food is also helpful. Drinking eight ounces of water and eating an apple before going to a party will help fill you up and take an edge off your hunger.

Whether you are tailgating at the stadium or “tablegating” in your living room, it’s easy to keep game day food fun, tasty and healthy. Most importantly, though, remember that it is about the camaraderie and the love of the game, not the food. Consider having your own game of touch football during halftime to burn off those extra calories!


Practice these easy and tasty substitutions to help you stay healthy during Super Bowl weekend.

By Valerie Shurley, M.S., R.D./L.D.
Valerie Shurley is the clinical nutrition manager at St. David’s Georgetown Hospital.

Proper Posture Tips to Reduce Back Pain

If you are anything like me, your mother told you to stand up straight and hold your shoulders back when you were young (maybe she still does today!). As we age, it is important that we start thinking about our posture again.


Think about how many hours each day we spend looking down at our phones, typing at our computers and sitting in nice, soft recliners all evening – they’re countless! It is important that we start to reverse years of hunching over and learn how to stand up straight.

Correct posture will keep your spine erect and decrease neck and back pain. Correct posture will also allow us to breathe more deeply, ensuring we are bringing in all of the oxygen our body needs. Here are some tips to help keep posture a part of your daily routine:

  • Pick a door in your home (whether it is the door to your living room, bathroom, or bedroom), and each time you walk by back up to the door, lift your chest up and touch your shoulders and head to the door. Hold this pose for 10 seconds and repeat 5-6 times per day.
  • When you are sitting at a red light, lift your chest up and touch the back of your head to the headrest of your car.
  • When you are going to bed, lie on your back without a pillow for 10 minutes.
  • When you are on your phone reading your email or playing games, take a break every 15 minutes to lift your chest up and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • When you are working at your desk on your computer, stand up every hour. Lift your chest up, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and lift your arms over your head, alternating arms for one minute.
  • Place a small pillow behind your lower back when you are sitting in a recliner or riding in a car. If your car has built in lumbar support, consider using that.

The most important thing to remember is to move. Our bodies are not made to sit still for prolonged periods of time. Lift your chest up, keep your shoulders back, and keep moving for a long, pain free life.

Lynelle Evans, PT
Outpatient Rehab Supervisor
St. Davids Rehabilitation Hospital

St David’s Stay Merry Tips for Christmas

St. David’s HealthCare wishes everyone a very happy and healthy holiday season. Here are some tips to keep in mind from St. David’s HealthCare’s director of employer wellness solutions, Kathryn Scoblick.

Plan ahead = planning for peace and less stress

Knowing what your week looks like ahead of time helps you plan how to tackle it. Have a plan for the week and then reevaluate for each day the night before. Decide on your priorities and stick with them the best you can. People in true need of your time come first, even if it is not scheduled on your list. Enjoy the progress, and check off your list throughout the day. Focus on the moment and the joy of achieving.

Plan to ask for help

It is OK to ask for help! It is more fun for all involved because helping one another fulfills our purpose. On the flip side, people will offer their help and it is an act of kindness for you to take the offer. Studies show that Serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitter, is released when we help each other. Studies show that both the giver of help and the receiver get a boost of Serotonin.

Plan for moderation and for moderation in moderation…sometimes

Moderation in all things is a good practice. Too much of anything cannot possibly be good. On occasion, the freedom to enjoy something a little more than you typically would is also a healthy choice. Health and safety first and enjoy the moment. ‘Tis the season!

Plan for water all day…and night
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. We are 70% water and so is the earth. We run on water and need it to think properly and feel good. In a season filled with festivities and spirits, it is even more important that we hydrate well. It will keep headaches at bay and keep you feeling well.

Plan to go easy with alcohol

‘Tis the season to drink more than we normally would. Make sure you limit your intake. If you are attending a party, make sure you have a designated driver. In addition, have water within reach to sip on that instead of alcohol all night. That extra water will keep away the groggy feeling the next morning.

Plan to choose the right snacks…even before a party

‘Tis the season to eat more than we normally would. A good strategy is not to go to a party too hungry. Instead, plan a healthy snack before you leave for the party such as ¼ cup of hummus and carrots, or a small apple and a handful of nuts. Having a healthy snack will keep you from indulging on too many of the wrong foods at the party (like what we find in the way of less healthy appetizers and an abundance of sweets). For example, you might consider deciding ahead of time to only have one small dessert. 

Plan for exercise
This will keep you on top of the world and feeling strong, stress free and energetic. Ask anybody who exercises regularly how they feel after they exercise. My guess is the feeling is what keeps them coming back for more. It is always a good time to create a good habit…even in the busy season.

Plan for enough sleep

Count on it! The weeks will be busy and chances are you are burning the candle at both ends. Not getting enough sleep can compromise your ability to manage stress and cope with the diminishing holiday timeline. Do the best you can. You feel better, cope better, think better and all is better when you are rested. 7-8 hours each night is the recommendation. Strive for that. Make small adjustments where you can. Planning ahead helps with everything.

Plan to get up and move
There is nothing like a brisk walk in the middle of a busy day to get that blood flowing to the brain. It will energize you, give you a healthy break and have you ready to tackle the next task.

Plan for time off

Anticipation is proven in some studies to bring more joy than the actual event. We feel good having things to look forward to. Plan time off and enjoy the before, during and after.

Plan to be with friends and family

Being with friends and family are what the holidays are all about. Sharing the joy of the season is the best part. The hard work pays off. The reward is being with those you love.

Plan to help others…and even when it is not planned

Charity is always (especially during this season) a beautiful thing. However, just like any other day, people come first; no matter what your plans. We all need each other and it is inevitable that a time will come when you need help as well. Lend a hand, spread the joy and enjoy the season.


Facility Ranked Among Nation’s 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals

St. David’s Medical Center, including Heart Hospital of Austin, was recently named among the nation’s 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals® by Truven Health Analytics.

St. David’s Medical Center, including Heart Hospital of Austin, is one of two Texas hospitals selected from more than 1,000 hospitals in the United States to earn this designation, and it is the only non-teaching hospital in Texas to be recognized this year.

To identify the 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals, Truven Health Analytics researchers analyzed 2012 and 2013 Medicare Provider Analysis and Review (MedPAR) data, 2013 Medicare cost reports, and 2014 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Hospital Compare data.

According to Truven Health Analytics, if all cardiovascular providers in the nation performed at the level of this year’s winners, nearly 9,500 additional lives could be saved; more than $1 billion could be saved; and more than 3,000 additional bypass and angioplasty patients could be complication-free.

This is the second year St. David’s Medical Center has received this honor.

Play it Safe This Holiday Season

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the number of ER visits spikes around the holidays, with about 250 holiday decorating-related injuries per day.

According to medical experts at the Level II Trauma Center at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, many of these injuries can be prevented.

  • Avoid fires. Do not overload electrical sockets, as this could easily spark a fire. Also, remember to blow out all candles and turn off decorative lights when going to bed or leaving the house. Make sure that all space heaters and fireplaces are free from clutter or decorative items that may ignite. Keep live Christmas trees watered to avoid over drying, and dispose of them properly once the holiday season is over.
  • Plan for safe travel. Monitor your alcohol intake during holiday festivities. Don’t drink and drive, and do not let someone else drink and drive. Additionally, keep an eye on the weather, and do not travel if there are dangerous road conditions. Allow extra time for travel in order to accommodate for additional holiday traffic or other road delays.
  • Choose appropriate holiday toys. Toys with small parts should not be given to children under three years of age. Infant toys, such as rattles and squeeze toys should be large enough that they cannot enter or become lodged in a baby’s throat.
  • Eliminate potential household dangers for children and pets. Be aware of potential dangers to children and pets while visiting homes over the holidays. Keep potentially dangerous toys, food, drinks and household items, as well as possible choking hazards (including coins and hard candy), out of reach.
  • Decorate safely. If you have to climb into your attic to retrieve holiday decorations, make sure the surfaces you step on are stable and can hold your weight. When hanging decorations outside, always be sure to have someone hold the ladder to “spot” you.

Using a little common sense—and taking a few extra precautions—can go a long way in ensuring a safe holiday season.

-Sheila Dolbow, BSN, RN, trauma coordinator at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center

St. David’s HealthCare Celebrates 90 Years

In 2014, St. David’s HealthCare celebrated its 90th anniversary. St. David’s HealthCare has come a long way since St. David’s Hospital was founded by doctors and clergymen from St. David’s Episcopal Church on West 17th and Rio Grande Streets in 1924.

Today, St. David’s HealthCare has more than 90 sites, including six acute care hospitals, six ambulatory surgery centers, four free-standing emergency departments, four urgent care clinics, rehabilitation facilities and numerous physician practices. St. David’s HealthCare is the fourth-largest private employer in the Austin area, with 8,100 employees and supported by more than 2,000 affiliated physicians.

St. David’s HealthCare is a unique partnership between the hospital management company, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), and two local nonprofits—St. David’s Foundation and Georgetown Health Foundation.

Proceeds from the operations of St. David’s HealthCare hospitals and facilities directly fund St. David’s Foundation, and the Foundation invests those dollars right back into the community. St. David’s Foundation has contributed more than $200 million to community programs since 2007, and each year, grants are provided to more than 55 local agencies to help support the health and healthcare of Central Texans.

To mark the 90th anniversary, St. David’s Foundation worked with Texas Monthly Publishing to produce a commemorative book. Additionally, St. David’s Foundation brought community stakeholders together for a celebratory event.

To pick up a complimentary copy of the St. David’s 90th anniversary book, please visit the St. David’s Foundation office at 811 Barton Springs Road, Suite 600.

St. David’s Children’s Hospital Opens at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center

On Dec. 3, 2014, St. David’s HealthCare opened its newest addition—St. David’s Children’s Hospital, located at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center.

During the new hospital’s first five days, physicians and staff cared for approximately 120 children. While it’s troubling that each number represents a sick or injured child, it is gratifying that the team at St. David’s Children’s Hospital is bringing each one back to good health.

St. David’s Children’s Hospital features a 10-bed emergency department, an 8-bed medical surgical inpatient unit and a 6-bed pediatric intensive care unit, and offers a wide range of pediatric specialties. With this addition, St. David’s North Austin Medical Center is the only hospital in Austin to offer a complete continuum of care for people of all ages.

Here is a look inside the new hospital just before it opened this month.

Please click here to view this video if you are a St. David’s HealthCare employee who is viewing this message on a St. David’s HealthCare desktop computer.

St. David’s HealthCare Receives Highest Presidential Honor for Performance Excellence

In November, St. David’s HealthCare was honored by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker as a 2014 recipient of the nation’s highest presidential honor—the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award—for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership. St. David’s HealthCare is one of only four organizations in the nation to be honored by Secretary Pritzker, and the first-ever healthcare system in the State of Texas to earn this national award.

Named after Malcolm Baldrige, the 26th U.S. Secretary of Commerce, the Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987. To date, more than 1,500 U.S. organizations have applied for the Baldrige Award. Applicants are vetted in seven areas defined by the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, including leadership, strategic planning and customer focus, among others. The evaluation process includes approximately 1,000 hours of review and a thorough on-site visit by a team of examiners.

Secretary Pritzker will present St. David’s HealthCare and the other three 2014 Baldrige recipients with their awards at an April 2015 ceremony during the Quest for Excellence conference.

To read about what it means to raise the bar in customer service for healthcare, click here for insight from David Huffstutler, president and chief executive officer of St. David’s HealthCare, as published on the Texas Tribune website.

St. David’s HealthCare Addresses Ebola Concerns

The recent Ebola cases in Dallas have raised concerns among the general public around the globe and here in Austin. St. David’s HealthCare is addressing those concerns in multiple ways giving you trusted information via multiple channels.

  1. We published information addressing how the virus is transmitted, symptoms and what to do if exposed to the virus on the homepage of our website
  2. All this week we have been updating St. David’s Facebook Page with information.
  3. Dr. Brian Metzger, an expert on infectious disease from St. David’s Medical Center, joined a live chat with The Austin American Statesman on Wednesday to take questions from Statesman’s medical reporter Mary Ann Roser and the public.

We believe open communication is imperative when dealing with public health concerns and hope that you will share these valuable resources with your friends and family. Look to St. David’s website, Facebook Page and this blog for additional information as the days and weeks progress.


Back to School Health and Safety Tips

It is time for children and teachers to head back to class for the 2014-2015 school year. We all need to get back in the routine of school zones and traffic, but here are some other reminders to keep kids safe and healthy this year.

Bus Safety


Getting On the Bus:

  • Stay at least 6 steps away from the curb.
  • Before crossing the street, be sure the bus driver can see you and you can see the bus driver!
  • NEVER walk behind the bus.
  • Always stay seated unless the bus has come to a complete stop.
  • Never put your head, arms or legs out of the windows.
  • Keep the aisle clear so you can get out of the bus easily in case of an emergency.

Getting Off the Bus:

  • If you have to cross the street, walk at least 10 steps toward the front of the bus – until you can turn around and see the bus driver and you are sure the bus driver can see you.
  • Then WAIT for the bus driver to signal to you that it is OK to cross the street in front of the bus.
  • Look both ways and check for traffic before crossing the street.

Protect Your Head


  • All children who ride bicycles or other wheeled devices should wear a helmet to protect them from injury in the event of an accident.
  • A properly fitted helmet should be snug, level and stable on your head. Most of your forehead should be covered before any adjustments are made.

Walking Safely to School

Make the walk to school a safe one:

  • Always walk with a buddy.
  • Always stay on the sidewalk if one is available.
  • If no sidewalk is available, walk facing the traffic so you will see the driver’s face in the car.
  • Always cross a street at the crosswalk or intersection.
  • Always look both ways for traffic before crossing the street.
  • Always wear reflective clothing or items in early morning hours or when it is dark.

How Heavy is Too Heavy?


Heavy backpacks can be unsafe.

  • Children should avoid carrying extremely heavy backpacks to prevent back problems. Usually, the backpack should not weigh more than 10% of the child’s body weight. For example: a child weighing 40 lbs. should not carry a backpack weighing more than 4 lbs.
  • Always use both straps to evenly distribute the weight instead of having all the weight on one shoulder.
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