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Summer 2012

St. Luke’s

B E A T 

Mommy-to-be blogger Building an online community for moms PAGE 6

Single-incision robotic surgery A first for Iowa’s Robotic Leader


Health emergency Expert care for an East Coast patient  PAGE 5

Thriving after cancer Providing support for survivors  PAGE 10


Inside 1

Health Clips

Health news you can use.

2 - 3 Single-incision robotic surgery

St. Luke’s is one of only two hospitals in the state to offer this minimally invasive procedure.

4-5 2-3

4 - 5 Health emergency

An East Coast stroke patient finds expert care even though she’s far from home.

6 - 7 Mommy-to-be blogger

8 -9


St. Luke’s online community just for moms.


On the

8 - 9 Life-saving publication

Heart attack warning signs are different for women.


Thriving after cancer

Survivorship program provides physical and emotional support to cancer survivors.


Living the Mission

St. Luke’s nurse puts patients first.


Ask the Expert

How can I prevent an illness when traveling abroad?


For your health

Timely health and medical news.


the last issue?

Kate Ungs in her Marion home.

Stories from Health Beat, Spring 2012, are available at

ealth H St. Luke’s


Health Beat magazine is produced locally by St. Luke’s Marketing Communications for the community and friends of St. Luke’s Hospital.

Vol. 17 No. 3 l Summer 2012

P.O. Box 3026 l Cedar Rapids, IA 52406-3026 319/369-7395 l

Connect with St. Luke’s at

Health Clips Preventing Heart Disease Hiawatha Campus now open Join us for a grand opening celebration at our Hiawatha Campus. The clinic is located at 1001 North Center Point Road in Hiawatha. The campus includes: • St. Luke’s Physicians & Clinics • Internal Medicine • Urgent Care • Imaging Services • Therapy Plus • MedLabs The new Hiawatha Campus is in addition to the existing St. Luke’s Children’s Campus, which is just down the road at 1079 North Center Point Road in Hiawatha. St. Luke’s new Hiawatha Campus offers digital X-ray imaging and outpatient physical therapy. St. Luke’s Therapy Plus Hiawatha is the first in the area to offer the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill, the world’s first and only treadmill using NASA based anti-gravity technology to help patients with rehabilitation programs. Hiawatha Urgent Care wait times are available online at, along with St. Luke’s ER and other Urgent Care clinic wait times.

St. Luke’s Hiawatha Campus Grand Opening 1001 North Center Point Rd. Tuesday, July 17 • 5 - 6 p.m. Meet the doctors and staff, tour our new facility and enjoy refreshments.

St. Luke’s can help assess your risk for heart problems and give you the tools you need to improve your heart health. Sign up for St. Luke’s Heart Check, which consists of five easy tests to assess your heart, vascular and stroke health.  The Heart Check program is open to anyone concerned about their cardiac health. Those with a past history of heart disease or stroke either personally or in their family are especially encouraged to participate. ST. LUKE’S

St. Luke’s Heart Check gives you the peace of mind that comes from knowing the tests are performed and checked by St. Luke’s doctors, nurses and technicians. This testing also includes a consultation with a St. Luke’s heart care expert to discuss your results and advise follow-up care. The cost for all five tests plus a consultation with a St. Luke’s heart care expert is $195. A comprehensive blood test is also available for $40. To schedule a Heart Check appointment, call 319/369-8129.

Facing Challenges with Courage & Hope Captain Mark Kelly is a retired NASA astronaut, decorated naval captain and prostate cancer survivor – but the biggest challenge of his life didn’t occur at war or even in space. His life was forever changed the moment his wife Gabby Giffords, U.S. Representative, was shot in an attempted assassination. Supporting Gabby through intense rehab and recovery has been a difficult and emotional time.  Join us for this St. Luke’s LiveWell event and learn how courage and hope have led them through the challenges of life, and ultimately down the road to recovery. Plus, St. Luke’s own Angela Glynn was instrumental as a speech pathologist in Gabby Giffords’ treatment and recovery. Hear her insights on the hard work and determination that brought Gabby and Mark through the toughest days.

Monday, Sept. 10 • 7 p.m. Cedar Rapids Marriott 1200 Collins Rd. NE To register for this FREE event, call 319/369-7395 or visit livewell. Book signing to follow, bring your book or copies will be available for purchase.

St. Luke’s Health Beat  |  Summer 2012  |


Cedar Rapids’ first

single-incision robotic surgery A

family trip to celebrate Sylvester and Darlene Kafer’s wedding anniversary in Wisconsin last year was memorable but for all the wrong reasons. “I got pretty sick and couldn’t eat,” recalled Kafer. “After we returned from our trip, I went to my doctor and learned I had gallstones.”

Gallstones are hard, pebble-like deposits that form inside the gallbladder. Many people with gallstones never have symptoms but the ones who do may experience pain in the abdomen, fever and yellowing of the skin or eyes. Individuals who experience symptoms usually require gallbladder removal surgery. Kafer was referred to General Surgeon Kevin Kopesky, MD, Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa, to discuss surgery. “Sylvester wasn’t eating well, and he had lost a lot of weight,” said Dr. Kopesky. “I recommended removing the gallbladder with the da Vinci surgical robot.” Dr. Kopesky is the first surgeon in the region to perform single-site robotic gallbladder removal surgery.

This procedure removes the gallbladder from the patient – making a small, single incision in the patient’s belly button using the da Vinci robot. Traditional gallbladder surgery typically requires a large opening in the abdomen, or in laparoscopic surgery, multiple small incisions in the abdomen. Traditional surgery generally requires a hospital stay with recovery times ranging from days to a week. With robotic surgery, patients go home the day of surgery and resume normal activity as soon as they feel up to it.

Fast recovery Kafer works two jobs – one of which is driving a school bus. He didn’t want to miss work if he could avoid it and decided robotic surgery would get him back behind the wheel in no time. “I hadn’t heard of single-site robotic surgery,” said Kafer. “Dr. Kopesky told me I’d be back to normal three to four days after the surgery, which I was. I had surgery on a Thursday and I was back to driving the school bus by Tuesday, mainly because they didn’t have school on Monday.” “Sylvester’s surgery was my first time performing single-site robotic surgery,” said Dr. Kopesky. “It went really well and Sylvester was able to enjoy the benefits of this minimally invasive procedure and I enjoyed doing it because I know it did him a lot of good.”

Sylvester Kafer returned to his job as a bus driver just days after his surgery.

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“This procedure is dramatically different than traditional surgery and a much better way to take care of people because there are smaller incisions, less pain and a quicker return to whatever your interests are.” Kevin Kopesky, MD, Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa Surgical Specialists

Iowa’s Robotic Leader St. Luke’s was the first Cedar Rapids hospital to acquire the da Vinci surgical robot in 2005. To date more than 2,081 robotic surgeries have been performed at the hospital. More robotic surgeries are performed at St. Luke’s than any other hospital in the state making St. Luke’s Iowa’s Robotic leader. Dr. Kopesky uses the robot not only for single-site gallbladder removal, but also other general surgeries including adrenal gland removal, colon resection and correcting acid reflux. Robotic surgery helps surgeons minimize the pain and risk associated with traditional surgery, while increasing the chances for a fast recovery and excellent clinical outcomes. The da Vinci surgical robot allows surgeons to operate through tiny openings. The surgeon uses a special console with hand and foot controls to move the robotic arms, which hold the instruments to operate. A small, 3-D camera helps surgeons see and perform intricate surgical procedures. The robot translates the surgeon’s natural hand motions at the control console into corresponding movements of the robotic instruments. “This procedure can be done on most everyone,” said Dr. Kopesky. “It’s dramatically different than traditional surgery and a much better way to take care of people because there are smaller incisions, less pain and a quicker return to whatever your interests are.”

“This single-site robotic gallbladder surgery is the way to go,” said Kafer. “I’ve had bypass surgery where you can’t do anything for weeks, I also had aortic surgery where you had to wait a long time recovering and this made me feel like – did I even have surgery?” Kafer said he had no pain after surgery and not only was he back to work in a matter of days he was able to garden and do other activities he enjoys. “I’m glad I had my gallbladder removed,” said Kafer. “I don’t think about it anymore now that I had it done and it doesn’t bother me anymore.” To learn more about single-site robotic gallbladder surgery and other robotic surgery procedures at St. Luke’s go to

Watch Sylvester Kafer’s surgery Sylvester Kafer’s surgery was the first single-site robotic gallbladder removal surgery in Cedar Rapids. Since it was a first for the region St. Luke’s marked this milestone surgery with live coverage of the surgery via COVER IT LIVE, which is a live blogging and chat forum. A member of the hospital communications staff provided step-by-step coverage from the operating room. Individuals following along were able to ask questions, which were answered by Dr. Kopesky during the operation. The COVER IT LIVE transcript includes images and video clips from the procedure for people to review. Additionally the entire procedure was recorded and available to view as well. To see video and read the COVER IT LIVE transcript, go to gallbladder.

St. Luke’s Health Beat  |  Summer 2012  |


East Coast stroke patient

welcomes expert care E

ve Lenhart wanted a puppy. The Delaware woman found the perfect puppy, a basset hound. The only problem was that it was located in Evan, Minnesota, a 1,200 mile journey from her East Coast home. “When Eve announced she found this puppy in Minnesota her mother and I volunteered to go along,” said Robin Wohnsihl. “We thought it would be fun.” Eve’s parents, Robin and Stefi Wohnsihl, live in the Washington, D.C. area and the trio departed from their home. They drove all day Friday and stayed overnight

in Davenport. On Saturday they started out early and drove through Cedar Rapids just before 7 a.m. “As we were driving, I commented to Robin and Eve – that is a huge medical center,” recalled Stefi Wohnsihl. Little did they know at the time they would visit that “huge medical center” minutes later. “The sun was coming up when Stefi said to Eve – ‘look at the sunrise.’ To which Eve responded, ‘something is wrong.’”

Stroke symptoms “I was dizzy and couldn’t focus,” recalled Eve Lenhart. “Initially, I thought my arm was just asleep. I was waiting for the blood flow to rush back when I realized the blood wasn’t rushing back to my arm.” The family quickly made a U-turn and arrived at St. Luke’s Emergency Room (ER).

Kelly Printy, RN, nurse supervisor

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“Eve was lucky to come to St. Luke’s when she did,” said Anthony Carter, DO, St. Luke’s ER doctor. “We follow a stroke protocol when someone comes to the ER with stroke symptoms. We started lab tests and she had a CT scan right away. We wanted to stop any further symptoms from occurring.” “Eve had been having symptoms leading up to what finally brought her to St. Luke’s ER,” said Kelly Printy, nurse supervisor. “She just didn’t realize at the time they were stroke symptoms. These can be early warning signs. This is common. Individuals may have symptoms of a stroke and initially ignore them until they get worse.” “When you start having the definite stroke signs, which can be speech and vision deficits, along with arm, leg and balance issues the window to get to the hospital is very brief,” said Dr. Carter. “Individuals need to start receiving care within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms.” “It was a horror, the idea of my 48-year-old daughter having a stroke,” said Robin. “But at the same time we couldn’t have been treated better.”

Treated like family Once Eve was treated she was admitted to the hospital. It was on the neurology unit where she met and formed a close bond with Nurse Kelly Printy. “I really felt for them,” said Printy. “Here they were thousands of miles from

Stroke warning signs • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

“ Individuals need to start receiving care within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms.”

• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

Anthony Carter, DO, St. Luke’s ER

home and knew no one. So we wanted to make them feel like we could help them in any and every way possible.” “Kelly was instrumental in making me feel human again,” said Eve. “Every time Kelly walked through the door I had a sigh of relief,” said Stefi. “I thought everything is going to be OK, because Kelly’s here.” “Every nurse and volunteer, all the people Eve saw, made us feel like we were part of their extended family,” Robin said. “We felt like we had an army behind us,” said Stefi. “We were going to take this journey and we had all these people – rooting for us. I felt like we were going into battle and everyone was on our side.”

• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

“I’m a better person from all of this,” said Stefi. “I’m very clear about what it takes to be a good citizen of the world and what it takes to have a little bit of Iowa, especially the people at St. Luke’s in your heart – that’s what makes you a better person.”

• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause Source: American Stroke Association

Eve and her parents did adopt that puppy, aptly named Tia, and returned to the East Coast, where Eve continues her recovery. Call 9-1-1 immediately if someone is showing signs of a stroke or drive to St. Luke’s ER, which is a Joint Commission and American Heart Association designated Primary Stroke Center.

Eve remained at St. Luke’s recovering for a week. She worked with physical and occupational therapists from St. Luke’s Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “On the day Eve left we were talking and joking,” recalled Printy. “Eve said she had to figure out a different name for her dog because she had to tie it to this whole experience in Iowa.” “I had what is called a transient ischemic attack or TIA, I said let’s call her Tia,” said Eve. “Not to make light of what happened but if something this traumatic in my life is going to happen I cannot be more grateful for it happening where it did.” Eve Lenhart with Tia in her parent’s home outside Washington, D.C.

St. Luke’s Health Beat  |  Summer 2012  |


St. Luke’s Hospital announces

an interactive online community for moms and moms-to-be. The first of its kind in Cedar Rapids, The Real Moms of Eastern Iowa blog follows the day-to-day experiences of five eastern Iowa women and covers anything and everything relating to motherhood.

Visit our blog at


Meet our moms! T

hese ladies don’t hold back. They focus on the trials, tribulations and triumphs of being a parent. Discussion topics include everything from learning you’re expecting to sleepless nights and all the moments in between. St. Luke’s invites you to join the conversation by sharing your “Real Mom” stories, exchanging information and providing support to each other all in one spot – We hope to see you there!

my first baby shower listening ears my baby Courtenay says “nutballs”am I really 33 weeks? photo op what's the word mother's day the birds and the bees ...and I thought toy guns were bad hurt feelings inappropriate music organic food some girls are bigger than others labor story baby name Kendra  baby Courtenay Baker-Olinger Kendra Aarhus regret mometiquette why won't my crawl? the final push it’s okay to smother your baby a little a weighty subject my (non-athletic) supporters it is different with twins parents of Lyz multiples flock together sweet dreams road trippin’ shhhh! rise and shine soccer mom family time one of those days mommy fail Mel Ostmo Lyz Lenz Mel more than a mom facing my fears preschool  fashionista happy thoughts breastfeeding dance class breakdown date night bedtime ... and Kate Ungs  started blogging three years ago when she realized she was falling woefully behind in keeping up with her kid’s baby books, add that to the fact her handwriting is illegible (even to her). All four of her children are St. Luke’s babies: Milo (2005), Violet (2007) and twins Juliet and Willa (2011). Her personal blog, Soup: Midwestern Mama Cooking Up Life in the Heartland, won the Best Humor Blog Award in Scholastic Parent and Child’s 2010 Parent Blogger Awards and was featured in the print edition of the magazine.

refers to herself as the Real Moms of Eastern Iowa poser. She’s not really a mom at all, but she wipes dirty faces, kisses bruised knees and spends way too much of her free time at the PlayStation. Many of her evenings are spent doing baths, books, homework and bedtime rituals. Sometimes life hands you lemons. Life handed Kendra a boyfriend with two young daughters and together they make unconventional work.

is a writer, blogger, social media ninja, mom and lover of chicken nuggets. She lives in an old house, which means she’s awesome around power tools and knows how to wield a plunger. Lyz’s writing has appeared on,,, Mommyish and has been syndicated on Yahoo Shine, MSNBC and more.

is a lifelong eastern Iowan. Her family of three (or four, if you count Zoey the cat) lives in Cedar Rapids. She and her husband Kevin, juggle daycare drop-offs and pick-ups, dance classes, church activities and play dates with their four-year-old daughter Sonja while maintaining full-time jobs.


Mommy-to-be blogger K

ate Ungs is another Real Moms of Eastern Iowa blogger. She’s counting down the days until she has her baby….and so are thousands of other eastern Iowa moms who follow her posts on the St. Luke’s mommy blog.

“It’s been very refreshing for me,” said Ungs. “Sometimes I feel a little bit exposed and a little naked out there but people have made me feel good about my posts and that makes it all worth it.” St. Luke’s Hospital created this local online community for moms and moms-to-be as a place for sharing stories, frustrations, laughs and inspirations related to motherhood. The bloggers all live in eastern Iowa.

the Internet for information about her pregnancy. She and her husband, Eric, are expecting a son this summer. “Everything has been, knock on wood, going smoothly and I’ve had no problems,” said Ungs. “I don’t have midnight

“We know that moms and moms-to-be really do go online to look for info and support and we felt we’d take the info and support to them where they live and make it very accessible for everybody,” said Diane Seelau, St. Luke’s Women’s and Children’s Center director. Ungs readily admits she’s one of those expecting moms that scour

“It’s always comforting when other moms weigh in and express they have been in your shoes. That’s a nice plus about the The Real Moms of Eastern Iowa blog, there are a lot of women that reach out and say ‘you’re not alone.’” Kate Ungs is another Real Moms of Eastern Iowa blogger

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Kate and her dog Beasley in her Marion home.

cravings, I don’t want pickles – all those crazy things you read about pregnancy.”

High-risk pregnancy Like most expecting moms – Ungs has had concerns. She is a high-risk pregnancy because she has rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is a long-term disease that leads to inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. It can also affect other organs. “I had to work with my doctors to plan this pregnancy,” said Ungs. “I had to stop all of my prescription medications three months before we tried to conceive. I also had a previous pregnancy but miscarried. So I had some concerns.” “Kate’s condition makes her a little more susceptible to pre-term labor,” said Alvina Driscoll, MD, OB-GYN Associates, P.C. “I also make sure the baby continues to grow as he should. And her RA has not given her any problems, which is often the case because pregnancy can have many beneficial hormones.” “It’s always comforting when other moms weigh in and express they have been in your shoes,” said Ungs. “That’s a nice plus

about the The Real Moms of Eastern Iowa blog, there are a lot of women that reach out and say ‘you’re not alone.’” “I think the Internet can be a great tool for patients,” said Dr. Driscoll. “If they are going to reputable sites for information I think it creates not only that dialog online with other expecting moms but also with me in the office during routine checks. It makes these visits more of a partnership and that’s a good thing.”

Birth Care tour With a high-risk pregnancy, Ungs decided a tour of St. Luke’s Birth Care Center was in order. And knowing the unexpected can occur she also wanted to see the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU), which is the only Advanced Level II Regional NICU in the Cedar Rapids’ area. Other hospitals transfer newborns to St. Luke’s when they need specialized care.

And until Ungs meets her son for the first time she’ll continue to share her experiences and opinions with other expecting moms and parents through the St. Luke’s mom blog. She promises to always tell it like it is. “It’s been very fun,” Ungs said. “I feel like once he’s old enough and actually cares about what I had to say during my pregnancy it will be a cute love story that I kind of have written to him through a blog.” Join Kate Ungs and the other mommy bloggers online – at Editor’s note: Kate and Eric Ungs welcomed a son, Brody Michael, on June 9, 2012. Brody weighed just over six pounds and was 21 inches long. Kate will continue to blog about Brody on The Real Moms of Eastern Iowa blog!

“I like how well-rounded the St. Luke’s Women’s and Children’s Center is,” said Ungs. “The NICU gave me a big sense of relief and made me feel this is the right place for us to start our family, to bring our son into the world.”

“I think the Internet can be a great tool for patients. If they are going to reputable sites for information it creates not only that dialog online with other expecting moms but also with me in the office during routine checks. It makes these visits more of a partnership and that’s a good thing.” Alvina Driscoll, MD, OB-GYN Associates, P.C.

St. Luke’s Health Beat  |  Summer 2012  |


Life-saving publication Heart attack warning signs are different for women


rank and Barbara Stephen are firm believers in divine intervention. Case in point, December 31, 2006, it was a day that could have had a very different ending had it not been for something Frank read.

“I could have dismissed it but I knew something wasn’t right,” said Barbara. “I described my symptoms to Frank.”

“We used to own a catering business in Cedar Rapids and the holidays are a busy time,” said Frank. “I had finally settled into a chair to catch up on some reading. I had set aside a St. Luke’s publication to read that we received in the mail. It was about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. I tore the article out to give to Barbara to help her identify heart attack symptoms in the event I experienced them.”

“I had the stomach flu for several days,” Barbara recalled. “I was finally starting to feel a little better. We were getting ready for bed and I was brushing my teeth and I stood up and said ‘Frank, something is not right.’”

“I started asking her questions,” Frank recalled. “I said, ‘is it in your jaw?’ I told her we better go to the hospital and she told me it was probably just indigestion or the lingering effects from her stomach bug.”

That “something” was a feeling in her neck and arm. She described it as a sensation radiating up through her jaw and down her right arm.

“Barbara had some typical female heart attack symptoms,” said Roy Venzon, MD, Cardiologists, L.C. “Women often report feeling indigestion, nausea or jaw pain. Many women may not feel the typical chest pain or discomfort like some men describe when they have a heart attack.”

Heart attack symptoms

Remembering the St. Luke’s article he read just hours earlier, he gave Barbara two aspirin. “When someone has a heart attack research shows getting an aspirin early in the treatment of a heart attack, along with other treatments in an Emergency Room, can significantly improve the chances of survival,” said Dr. Venzon. “Because we live in rural Johnson County we decided it would be faster

Frank and Barbara Stephen in their Swisher home. 88 8  |||| |

“Many women may not feel the typical chest pain or discomfort like some men describe when they have a heart attack.” Roy Venzon, MD, Cardiologists, L.C.

to drive to the hospital,” said Frank. “We prayed the whole way there and I remember Barbara telling me to let the kids know she loved them.”

Heart attack signs and symptoms Many women are unaware heart attacks are the leading cause of death for both women and men. Although the heart attack risk is the same for both sexes, women’s bodies often respond differently than men’s during a heart attack.

Signs of a heart attack in women: • Pressure, fullness, squeezing pain in the center of the chest, spreading to the neck, shoulder or jaw • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath • Upper abdominal pressure or discomfort • Lower chest discomfort • Back pain • Unusual fatigue • Unusual shortness of breath • Dizziness

family history – a father and grandfather with heart disease – played a part in her risk for heart disease. And even though she ate healthy to begin with, Barbara made additional changes to her lifestyle like eating more fruits, vegetables, chicken and fish.

“I felt this sense of doom,” said Barbara. “I was surprised this was happening to me. I was only 51. I was healthy, ate the right things and exercised.” Once they arrived at St. Luke’s they were quickly ushered into a treatment room. The ER doctor started running tests immediately. It didn’t take long to confirm what everyone suspected. Barbara was having a heart attack. “I knew I was having a heart attack in the back of my mind,” said Barbara. “But I really didn’t want to believe it. I feel it was God’s intervention that put that article in Frank’s hand.”

Stent needed A stent was placed to open up one of Barbara’s arteries, which was 80 percent blocked. She stayed two nights at St. Luke’s.

“Barbara also visits me a couple of times a year,” said Dr. Venzon. “As her cardiologist I talk with her about her health and run tests to make sure her heart stays healthy.” “We firmly believe that St. Luke’s article saved my life,” said Barbara. “Frank wouldn’t have known the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and I probably would have told him to wait until the morning to see how I was feeling. Had I waited it could have been devastating. All women need to take seriously any unusual symptoms and go to the hospital, immediately.” Find out your heart attack risk with St. Luke’s Heart Check. It’s a series of five tests to assess heart, vascular and stroke health. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call 319/369-8129.

“After getting the stent I immediately noticed a difference and felt back to normal,” said Barbara. “I have felt great ever since and feel very fortunate.” Barbara participated in St. Luke’s Cardiac Rehab. In these classes she learned her

• Nausea

St. Luke’s Health Beat  |  Summer 2012 |


Thriving after cancer T

hree years ago Cedar Rapids resident Rhonda Lichnerowicz endured her roughest year to date. Early in the year she lost her job after the company she worked for closed following the flood. A month later she received more devastating news.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Lichnerowicz. “I found a lump and tests revealed a tumor. It was a hard year for me with losing my job and the unexpected breast cancer diagnosis. You just don’t think it can get any worse. It was a very rough time.” In March, 2009 Lichnerowicz had a double mastectomy. She also went through weeks of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

“I gained about 50 pounds from the medications, steroids and stress,” recalled Lichnerowicz. “I was not happy and lacked confidence.”

Survivorship program As part of her ongoing treatment Lichnerowicz meets with her oncologist every three months. It’s part of a Helen G. Nassif Community Cancer Center of Iowa survivorship program that aims to provide quality long-term follow-up care for cancer survivors. “Cancer patients want to know how to remain healthy,” said Amy Ganske, Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa nurse practitioner. “In the Survivorship Clinic we address any side effects they still may be experiencing, symptoms of cancer reoccurrence and additional screenings they may need. Additionally we address the emotional, financial and social issues that have resulted because of the cancer diagnosis.” “All of these programs are wonderful,” said Lichnerowicz. “I kind of think they saved me. I can’t convey enough how wonderful they

are. I participate in several nutrition and exercise programs, including Zumba, which is like a moving support group!” “Rhonda has truly taken a stand for her health and is focused on staying healthy,” said Ganske. “These programs will help her get to the next level.” “I’m more in control now,” said Lichnerowicz. “I’ve lost about 50 pounds and intend to keep losing. I feel the best I’ve felt in a long time.”

“Rhonda is focused on staying healthy. These programs will help her get to the next level.” Amy Ganske, Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa nurse practitioner

For a same-day consult guarantee to the area’s only physician-lead, patient-focused Community Cancer Center, call 319/369-7116 or visit

Helen G. Nassif Community Cancer Center of Iowa Cancer survivorship program includes: Rhonda and her husband recently celebrated their anniversary with a trip to Hawaii.

• Social work/counseling

• Cancer risk assessment services

• Nutrition

• Tobacco cessation

• Body Image and sexuality

• Transitions program

• Nutrition services

• Palliative care

• Spiritual support 10 |

Living our


To give the healthcare we’d like our loved ones to receive.

Putting patients first


achel Brecht didn’t intentionally set out to become a nurse. She initially set out to become an elementary physical education teacher.

“I grew up in a family of teachers,” said Brecht. “It seemed only natural I would follow in their footsteps.” She had a change of heart during her sophomore year of college and switched to nursing. “I had an aunt who was a nurse,” said Brecht. “She was the go-to person in our family for any healthrelated question or illness but she died at an early age from breast cancer. She was a wonderful role model to me and I realized we didn’t need any more teachers in our family, we needed a nurse.” While she was completing her education Brecht started work at St. Luke’s, first working in the Telecommunications Department and then moving to a nurse technician position in the behavioral health adult unit. After graduation a nursing position opened up in her unit.

“I’ve always had an interest in psychiatry,” said Brecht. “I enjoy helping people and working with the elderly. I find them interesting with great stories to share.” “Rachel is such an asset to our team,” said Jay Feuerbach, Adult Behavioral Health nurse manager. “She is an extremely hard worker and a resource for many. Rachel isn’t afraid to jump in and figure things out if it’s needed. She is a dedicated nursing professional.” “Rachel is an excellent provider of patient-centered care,” said Rickard Larsen, MD, St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Hospitalist. “She is an excellent problem solver and keeps a level head at all times. I also appreciate how respectful she is with families.”

“ I’ve always had an interest in psychiatry, I enjoy helping people and working with the elderly. I find them interesting with great stories to share.” Rachel Brecht, RN, adult behavioral health

“Being hospitalized is stressful for many patients and their families,” said Brecht. “I put myself in their shoes and treat them how I would want my family member treated. It also helps to try and understand each individual’s situation and do your very best to help them during this tough time.” Brecht loves working at St. Luke’s and the people she works with.

“We work so well as a team,” said Brecht. “Everyone I work with is amazing and it helps that we all have the same goals in mind. There is a sense of teamwork and knowing you are never alone. If I need something my coworkers are always ready to help.” “Rachel tackles anything with a smile and a willingness to meet any challenge,” said Feuerbach. “She exemplifies nursing at St. Luke’s.” St. Luke’s Health Beat  |  Summer 2012  | 11

Ask the


How can I prevent an illness when traveling abroad?

Ahmed M. Abualfoul, MD IPC Infectious Disease


ost international travelers plan every leg of their journey and that planning should also include a trip to the International Travel Health Clinic at Internists, P.C. (IPC).

“When you travel outside the U.S. there is a risk for getting a lot of different diseases and it’s important to sit down with a doctor to see if you need any vaccinations before you leave the country,” said Ahmed M. Abualfoul, MD, IPC. “Travelers should also have a conversation with a doctor about the diseases you can contract from that specific country or region.” Dr. Abualfoul specializes in infectious diseases. He is knowledgeable about the diseases and health problems associated with overseas travel. “Some travelers may be at risk for malaria and if they are visiting Southeast Asia, China and the Far East they should be vaccinated for Japanese encephalitis,” said Dr. Abualfoul. “Probably the most common illness is traveler’s diarrhea. It usually resolves on its own but there are times when antibiotics are needed. There are also some viral diseases overseas that we don’t have treatment for, so your best course of action is to get the vaccine before you leave.” If you are preparing for international travel and want to visit the clinic it’s best to make an appointment four to six weeks before you leave. 12 |

“When you travel outside the U.S. there is a risk for getting a lot of different diseases and it’s important to sit down with a doctor to see if you need any vaccinations before you leave the country.” Ahmed M. Abualfoul, MD, IPC, Infectious Disease

“There are certain vaccines that need two doses,” said Dr. Abualfoul. “These typically need four weeks between the first shot and the second dose. We also want individuals to receive any vaccines at least 10 days before they leave the country. This allows the vaccine to be most effective.” You don’t have to be an IPC patient to use the International Travel Health Clinic. The best time to visit the clinic is several weeks before your departure. However, individuals can benefit from a medical consultation days before travel.

Bring the following information with you to your International Travel Health Clinic visit: • An itinerary • Length of trip • Possible activities • Vaccine and medical history • List of current medications and health status, including listing of any allergies

The International Travel Health Clinic is located at IPC, 115 10th Street NE Cedar Rapids. Please call 319/363-3565 for an appointment.

For your


Making Menopause Manageable Are menopause symptoms like hot flashes, memory loss and mood swings normal? Absolutely. Do you have to stand by and suffer through them? Absolutely NOT!  Don’t lose your cool – attend this program with Dr. Alecia Allen, St. Luke’s Midlife Care for Women to learn how menopause can affect your overall health, get advice for surviving and thriving during this time, and hear the latest on treatment options to make symptoms more bearable!

Tuesday, July 10 • 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

What is Fructose Intolerance? Would you know if you had fructose intolerance? This condition is affecting more and more people, but many do not realize they have it. Attend this program to learn about symptoms, diagnosis and treatment; as well as tips for eating out, handling other social occasions and helping your friends and family understand.

Tuesday, July 17 • 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Balancing Work & Home Life Have you ever wished for more hours in the day? For better or worse, a hyper-scheduled life is the new American way. Balancing work, family or home life is imperative to good physical and mental health and with a little conscious effort, it CAN be done! Come and hear practical tips that make it possible to reach your goals and create a healthy balance in your life.

Thursday, August 9 • 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Classes are held at St. Luke’s Hospital, 3rd floor Nassif Heart Center classrooms. To register for these free events, go to, or call 319/369-7395. St. Luke’s Health Beat  |  Summer 2012  | 13

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St. Luke's Healthbeat Summer 2012  

St. Luke's Healthbeat Summer 2012

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St. Luke's Healthbeat Summer 2012

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