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Health SPOKANE • EASTERN W ASHINGTON • NORTH IDAHO 1227 W. Summit Parkway, Spokane, Wash. 99201 phone: 509-325-0634

editor Anne McGregor

managing editor Jacob H. Fries a r t DIRE C TOR Chris Bovey calendar editor Chey Scott photographer Young Kwak

Bridging Distances. Serving Communities. From critical care transport, medical rehabilitation and professional health education to advancing health care technology, connecting patients and health care organizations and getting injured workers back on the job, INHS is bridging distances, connecting communities and improving health. To view the INHS Community Report, visit

St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute

Community Wellness

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contributors Cat Carrel, Lisa Fairbanks-Rossi, Heidi Groover, Jonathan Hill, E.J. Iannelli, Jacob Jones, Mychaela Nickoloff, Mike McCall, Jo Miller, Deanna Pan, Trevor Patrick, Megan Petersen, Samuel Sargent, Stephen Schlange, Carrie Scozzaro, Jeff Rutherford, Matt Thompson, Daniel Walters, Lisa Waanenen, John White production manager Wayne Hunt a d v e r t i s i n g SALES MANAGER Kristi Gotzian director of marketing Kristina Elverum advertising sales Autumn Adrian, Tami Booey, Carolyn Padgham-Walker, Bruce Deming, Emily Walden, Jamie Albertini, Gail Golden Sales coordination Raevyn West, Rebecca Rison, Angela Rendall design and production Tom Stover, Derrick King, Alissia Blackwood Mead, Jessie Spaccia DISTRIBUTION MANAGER Trevor Rendall business manager Dee Ann Cook credit manager Kristin Wagner publisher Ted S. McGregor Jr. general manager Jeremy McGregor

InHealth is published every other month and is available free at more than 500 locations throughout the Inland Northwest. One copy free per reader. Subscriptions are available and cost $2.50 per issue. Call x213. Reaching Us: Editorial: x261; Circulation: x226; Advertising: x223. copyright All contents copyrighted © Inland Publications, Inc. 2013. InHealth is locally owned and has been published every other month by Inland Publications, Inc. since 2004. Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS) is a non-profit corporation in Spokane, Washington providing collaboration in health care services on behalf of the community and its member organizations Providence Health Care and Empire Health Foundation.


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from the editor

Straight From The Farm

Anne McGregor is the editor of InHealth. Email her at


ne of my favorite parts of putting together this issue was the day we spent at the South Perry farmers market with Chef Jeremy Hansen (see “Fresh Food Chain,” page 27). While the finished dinner was an inspired creation, melding flavors I would never have thought to bring together, my most vivid memory of the day wasn’t the taste of the food. Instead, it was watching Hansen as he deliberately sliced and separated a bunch of fresh apricots from their pits. It was a job that I would dread. How to get the dozens of soft fruits pitted and chopped for the sauce as fast as possible? Yet, in the midst of the happy hubbub of the market, Hansen quietly and steadily sliced and pitted them, stopping to hand out a slice or two to the kids who watched. No peels flying, no hacked-up fruit that was going to be simmered in a sauce anyway. In fact, each food item — from the meats to the salad greens — was treated with respect. Maybe it was knowing where the food came from, who grew it and the care it took to bring it to market that made the job more meaningful. For most of us, it may not be practical to get everything for even a single meal from the farmers market, but we can take some small steps toward becoming more deliberate and thoughtful about how we nourish ourselves and our families. Those small steps add up to a big local economic impact, and even better, a wonderfully pleasant way to be healthy. To your health!

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CHECK-IN STAY CONNECTED Send letters and story ideas to InHealth Editor Anne McGregor at Join the conversation on the InHealth Facebook page and at


Have you ever helped out someone who was having health problems? NANCY MACDONALD LINDBERG: I cared for my brother when he was dying of AIDS. I knew it was very important for both of us, but mostly for him, to have family there as well a caregivers. I take food to my elderly neighbors who both have health problems and help with little things whenever I see they need doing. It is what I was taught to do and makes everyone feel important and cared for. We must take care of each other.


All About Lentils ATTRIBUTES: Legendary! The lentil is one of the oldest cultivated legumes. Celebrated! The 25th annual National Lentil Festival will be held Aug. 16-17 in Pullman. SUPERPOWERS: Lentils are high in good things — protein, fiber, vitamin B12 and minerals, loaded with complex carbohydrates — and contain hardly any fat. Unlike most other dried legumes, lentils don’t need to be soaked overnight and take only 20 minutes to cook. And they’re available in a dazzling array of colors and subtly different flavors, with newer varieties that are less likely to become mushy when cooked.

ERIKA DEASY: I took care of my dad as he went through the late stages of terminal cancer. Allowing and encouraging his independence was paramount. A lot is lost when one has health issues preventing their full independence and that has a tremendous effect on their self esteem.

ANGEL FALLS-KAINE: I ’ve acquired drugs like antibiotics, painkillers, cannabis and insulin for people who have needed it. I know many people clinging to life, waiting for “Obamacare” so they can see a doctor. In the meantime, we do what we can with what we have. 

HOW TO USE THEM: From stews and soups to casseroles, dips and salads, your imagination is the limit when it comes to incorporating lentils in your life. While they’re usually served in savory dishes, Food Network guru Alton Brown uses lentil purée in a spice cookie, and at the National Lentil Festival, the Pullman Lions Club will serve breakfast featuring “scrumptious pancakes full of lentils.” — ANNE McGREGOR


Where The Wild Things Are


Just being there for support and care so that he didn’t have to go it alone. My reason for choosing to care for him is quite obvious — I loved him as both my dad, and as a human being.

JAMES McPHERSON: Whenever I see someone whom I suspect may suffer from diabetes, hypoglycemia, Crohn’s disease, obesity, eating disorders, food allergies, etc., I offer to eat their dessert. Just ‘cuz I’m a nice guy.

WEAKNESSES: Can produce unpleasant, ahem, windy aftereffects.

Matt Thompson is a pediatrician at Spokane’s Kids Clinic.

child screaming and crying as though he’s in pain in the middle of the night is frightening for parents, especially when the child seems to be awake and aware, but isn’t able to say what the problem is. These startling episodes are called night terrors, and they can occur in an otherwise healthy child between the ages of 2 and 12 who has no other obvious source of a problem like fever, earache, or other obvious source of pain. When asked about the events of the previous night, children who are old enough to talk about it typically have no recollection. In fact, sleep terrors are often more disturbing to the observer than they are to the child, and the more you try to find a solution, the more it just frustrates everyone. Although night terrors can occur at any time, even during naps, they typically happen closer to midnight because they are related to slow wave, non-REM sleep, as opposed to nightmares, which usually occur closer to morning, when more REM sleep and accompanying dreams occur, as nightmares are dream-related. If night terrors are happening frequently and predictably enough, you can try waking your child for a few minutes about 15 to 20 minutes before they typically happen. But most of the time they are not frequent enough to warrant disturbing sleep on a regular basis. It is thought that anything that leads to increased slow-wave sleep can bring the episodes on, such as being overtired, sick and not sleeping as well as usual, or taking medicines with antihistamines, such as cold medicines that bring on slow-wave sleep more quickly. — MATT THOMPSON AUGUST-SEPTEMBER, 2013

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check-in HEALTH NEWS

Growing in North Idaho


ootenai Medical Center has a new name — Kootenai Health — but that’s not all. “Fundamentally we’re working toward a new vision to become more comprehensive,” Kootenai Health CEO Jon Ness says. Kootenai replaced the name to symbolize health services reaching out and working together with both strength and flexibility, according to Ness. It’s all part of the organization’s long-term goal to make Kootenai Health the Panhandle region’s premier health center by 2020. The move to broaden services is already well underway. In 2012, Kootenai Health added a special care nursery for premature babies, opened an electrophysiology lab for heart rhythm treatment and obtained a second linear accelerator, a piece of equipment used to find and treat cancer. Since January 2011, 650 new employee positions have been added. Kootenai Health is also preparing to launch its family medicine residency program in 2014, which will train 18 medical residents, and to begin construction on expansions to the big blue hospital in Coeur d’Alene, slated to start in spring 2014. “We have some real growth needs in our emergency department,” Ness says. “We’ll have expansions in our labor and delivery units, in our main operating room, in critical care and in behavioral health.” — Megan PetersEn


Tri For Strength


steoporosis affects 9 million Americans. Combating the disease — through both exercise and education — is the goal of the annual WunderWoman Triathlon in Medical Lake. On WunderWoman race day, free bone screenings will be offered to participants who are 30 years and older and haven’t been tested. In addition, Dr. Lynn Kohlmeier, director of Spokane Osteoporosis, will host a Q&A session about the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. For the race itself, women have the option to compete in a sprintdistance or Olympic-distance triathlon. Relay teams of three members are welcome to participate. And a percentage of revenue from the locally organized race will be donated to the Washington Osteoporosis Coalition, a nonprofit that focuses on public awareness and education of the disease’s risks. Although online registration ends on Aug. 11, late registration is scheduled for Aug. 16 from noon to 6 pm at the Spokane REI store, and on Aug. 17 from noon to 4 pm at Waterfront Park in Medical Lake. According to event organizer Marla Emde, 20 to 30 race spots will be designated for women who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. “We encourage them to come out, stay active and not keep losing ground. Exercise is a big part of that, especially running,” she says. — MYCHAELA NICKOLOFF WunderWoman Triathlon • Sun, Aug. 18 at 7:30 am and 8:15 am • $80-$140 • Waterfront Park • 1386 S. Lefevre St., Medical Lake • • 953-9924


Diet Pills: The Next Generation I recently heard about a new FDA-approved drug for weight loss. What is it, does it work, and does it have serious side effects?

John R. White is a pharmacy professor at WSU-Spokane.


t has been a relatively long time since a new weight-loss drug has been approved, but recently there have been two. The first one is Belviq — generic name lorcaserin — which stimulates serotonin 2C receptors in the hypothalamic area of the brain. Stimulation of those receptors has a modulating effect on appetite. The average amount of weight lost by patients in one study after one year was almost 13 pounds. In a study where treatment was continued for two years, this weight loss of about 13 pounds

was sustained. The drug has some side effects, but in most patients they are minor and include headache, fatigue, nausea, dry mouth, and constipation. Patients with diabetes may experience low blood sugar. This drug is probably not a good choice if you are also taking some types of antidepressants, because the likelihood of serious side effects is high. The second new drug is Qsymia, and it is a combination of two older drugs (phentermine and topiramate). Generally this drug has more side effects than Belviq, but at its highest dose resulted in greater weight loss. Patients in a couple of large studies lost an average of about 22 pounds when taking the higher dose. These new drugs, while not a panacea, offer two viable options that, if appropriate for you, can serve as an aid, along with dietary and exercise considerations, to assist in weight loss. — JOHN R. WHITE

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their own words

Brian Estes Brian Estes is a 2007 Gonzaga University grad with a degree in Environmental Studies and Psychology. As the South Perry Thursday Market’s board president, Estes joined us for our meal at the market (see page 27). He’s also program manager for Catholic Charities of Spokane’s Vinegar Flats Community Farm and co-owner of Ornery Heron Farm.

You’re pretty passionate about food! How did that happen? My mom’s family has farmed down in the Walla Walla area for a very, very long time, and so that was something I grew up around. But it was like ‘Farming is what your grandparents did’ was my childhood concept of agriculture. In 2008, I started work with Catholic Charities of Spokane, working with the Vinegar Flats community farm. Our focus there is there is looking at how what’s going on with local and urban food systems can make healthy food more affordable and accessible. And talking about how important good food is as a resource, especially for members of our community that are, you know, kind of chronically left out of the good parts of our community. And so my work in the nonprofit side of things led to the Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network. Through a grant program called Fresh Food in Schools, I’m working with a number of local school districts as they are looking to source more local foods, more Washington-grown foods. And that’s, I think, about to become a very, very exciting part of the food conversation around our community. What’s the future? I really would love to see more conversation around what we could be doing to look at a more regionalized food system as an opportunity for economic growth in and around Spokane and the Inland Northwest. And as a way to continue to build our sense of self-identity as a community, and pride in our local culture. I think this is a really exciting time to be doing what I’m doing. But in the middle of spending all this time talking about food — through Catholic Charities, we grow a big garden — I’ve discovered that I like, you know, the act of growing food, and the physical labor of agriculture, as least as much as I do the conceptual piece of talking about our food system. So for the last three summers I’ve grown produce for about a half a dozen restaurants. And that’s what I’m off to next. I’ve got a couple of drop-offs to do, and then I’ve got to run up to the farmers market. — INTERVIEW BY ANNE McGREGOR young kwak photo


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hat’s not a motto most of us would live by, but it’s been a boon for Jordan Horst and his business partners, James Burgess and Austin Sather. When Burgess was having trouble landing a job in early 2013, Horst began exploring their entrepreneurial options. “I don’t know why, but soap just really interested me,” says Horst. He attributes part of that interest to his mechanical engineering background (by day he makes waxes for companies like 3M). Another impetus was the birth of his son, River, who ultimately inspired the name of the company: Rocky River Soaps. “That was one of the big reasons why we chose castile soap in particular.” Castile is an olive-oil-based soap that can also include healthy moisturizing oils like hemp, coconut and jojoba — “stuff that I might drink or eat,” Horst says. “And so I felt really confident about washing my son with it.” Dr. Bronner’s has long had a corner on this market, but the Rocky River trio aims to distinguish their line of all-natural, all-purpose soaps through an impeccable eye for design. “We went through

a lot of experimenting to get to the point where the soap was actually clear, that it was really beautiful to look at,” Horst explains. “We don’t add any colorants, but the way you mix the chemicals and cook them affects the color. We got it to where it looks like honey. We want it to be almost appetizing.” That attention to detail extends to every aspect of the product: the traditional glass bottles with cork tops, the elegant simplicity of the label, and the classic shirt-and-suspender outfits the three of them wear at farmers markets. The bottles are made of recycled glass and are themselves recyclable; there’s also a $3 discount on a new bottle when you return your previous one. “We’re serious about creating lifetime customers,” Horst says. Rocky River Soaps come in scents like eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender and citrus. Eight-ounce bottles cost $8 and are available from the Spokane Public Market, the Main Market Co-op and farmers markets throughout the Inland Northwest. Find out more online at — E.J. IANNELLI

Cat Carrel is a certified life coach in Spokane.


e’ve all heard the phrase “You are what you eat.” Meaning if we eat unhealthy food, then our bodies will suffer, go into stress, and we’ll get sick. But have you ever heard the phrase “You eat what you are?” Our thoughts not only affect our feelings, they also affect how we treat ourselves. For example, if we focus on negativity, chances are pretty good that we will not make healthy choices. This applies not only to food choices, but also activity, entertainment and even partner choices. Thoughts lead to feelings, which influence actions. It’s a perpetual cycle that can continue throughout life. The negative thought streams in our heads create bad feelings that lead us to make unhealthy decisions, that in turn create more negativity in our lives. But if this holds true, then the opposite must hold true as well. When we change our thoughts from negative to positive, getting us out of that stubborn river of negative thinking, we feel good. Feeling good influences choices that support our healthy states of mind. Quite literally, we eat what we are. Remember, it is physically impossible to feel bad while thinking good thoughts! — CAT CARREL

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brain exercise

7 4



RatingS: Moderate (left), Diabolical (right) To complete Sudoku, fill the board by entering numbers 1 to 9 such that each row, column and 3x3 box contains every number uniquely.

8 6


3 4 1

Answers to all puzzles on page 41


1 3

3 2

puzzles by jeff widderich & andrew stuart




9 8 6 5

6 3


Each letter has been replaced by with a number. Using the starter clues, work out the words that must go in each cell on the codeword grid. Some well-known phrases and names may also be found. For a two-letter clue, turn to page 25. 18


23 4

18 7







































6 18







22 17

17 8

















































18 9










18 1














































5 1 4 2 7 5 8 3 6 4 7 9 2 4 3 6 1 7 5 2 1 7 4 6 5 8


Rating: Moderate Like Sudoku, no single number can repeat in any row or column. But rows and columns are divided by black squares into compartments. These need to be filled in with numbers that complete a ‘straight’ — a set of numbers with no gaps but can be in any order. Clues in black cells remove that number as an option in that row and column, and are not part of any straight. Glance at the solution above to see how ‘straights’ are formed.

1 4

7 9

6 5 9 5 2 6



8 3 5

4 7 4 2 3



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Jonathan hill illustration


Crowdfunding Medical Bills Social media and fundraising sites give families new ways to pay for health costs By Lisa Waananen


hen Alexandria Beeler was 10 years old, she was thrown from a snowmobile in a family friend’s yard on New Year’s Eve. She walked away with bruises, but the next day

her mother took her to the family doctor, who ordered an MRI, just in case. A few days later the family got a call — something was wrong. Brain scans showed scarring and inflammation, but doctors

couldn’t immediately determine a cause. It might have been there her whole life. They doubted she would live past 13. A dozen years and three brain biop...continued on next page AUGUST-SEPTEMBER, 2013

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“Crowdfunding Medical Bills,” continued... sies later, Beeler is still alive. Now 22, with a head of thick blonde curls and an easy laugh, Beeler doesn’t come across as someone who’s spent more than half her life in and out of hospitals. Between medical appointments and hospital stays, she defied doctors’ expectations that she might not excel in school, and now she’s studying psychology at Eastern Washington University with plans for graduate school. “When someone tells me I can’t do something, I’m going to go do it,” she says. But she suffers from left-sided weakness and seizures that started several years ago, and she can unpin the shorter hair above her right temple to measure how long it’s been since it was shaved for her

Alexandria Beeler, left, and her mother Leasa Bolen. most recent biopsy in February. She recites the acronyms for all the ways doctors have looked at her brain — MRIs, PETs, EEGs, CAT scans... “Any brain scan you can think of, I’ve had it,” she says. Most frustrating of all, she still doesn’t know what’s wrong. After all the tests and biopsies, she doesn’t have a diagnosis. Her doctors in Spokane have told her there’s nothing else they can do. This year, after her most recent biopsy, she was invited to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona to be fully evaluated by experts. The trip is scheduled for the end of August, and Beeler sees it as her last chance for answers. “If Mayo can’t figure it out, I’m done, and I’m just going to have to live without

Young Kwak photo

knowing,” she says. To pay for the trip, she and her family ordered bracelets, started a Facebook page called “Get Alli to the Mayo Clinic” and organized an online fundraising campaign. In doing so, Beeler joined a growing number of Americans who have turned to crowdfunding to help with health costs, either because they don’t have insurance, or more commonly because insurance doesn’t cover all bills and living expenses. Medical costs contribute to more than three out of five personal bankruptcies, according to a frequently cited 2007 Harvard University study. That percentage was up from just under half of bankruptcies in 2001. Most remarkably, more than three-

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quarters of the people surveyed had some type of health insurance. More recently, an analysis of western Washington state bankruptcies produced by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and published in the journal Health Affairs in May found that cancer patients age 21 and older were almost three times more likely to go bankrupt than people without cancer. “Although the risk of bankruptcy for cancer patients is relatively low in absolute terms,” the authors wrote, “bankruptcy represents an extreme manifestation of what is probably a larger picture of economic hardship for cancer patients.” Even with insurance, there are deductibles and copays, plus the inevitable costs of having ordinary life upended: transportation, emergency housing, lost paychecks while unable to work. The mounting costs are often paired with uncertainty — how long it will take, whether it will be a full recovery and what kind of ongoing care will be required. In Beeler’s case, the money she’s raising is for getting to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona and living expenses during her time there. Insurance will cover the actual hospital visit, but it’s not clear how long she’ll be there — Mayo has told her to expect “an extended stay.” She and her mom are budgeting for three weeks of food and a hotel room at $89 a night. “I can stay with my grandparents on the weekends,” Beeler says, “but they live so far from the Mayo Clinic, it’s just not

reasonable for me to stay with them the whole time I’m there.”


aising money is nothing new, but social media and related websites have made personal campaigns more popular and expanded the range of potential donors. Kickstarter, the most well-known crowdfunding site for artists and entrepreneurs, doesn’t allow fundraising for health costs or charity. (Make a documentary about undergoing treatment, on the other hand, and that could qualify.) A number of other platforms have popped up to fill that need, from more all-purpose sites like Indiegogo and GoFundMe to health-specific sites like YouCaring and GiveForward. The team behind FundRazr, the platform Beeler is using, initially expected to see a lot of users setting up campaigns for managing club activities or membership fees, vice president of marketing Bret Conklin says. “Then we saw that people were using it to raise funds for all kinds of things, and health care was one of the key ones,” he says. More than half the money raised through FundRazr is in the Accidents/ Tragedy and Health/Illness categories. Of campaigns that raise at least $200 — less than that usually means the creator never promoted it — the average amount raised is about $1,200. And in the health category, more than a quarter of the money raised comes from complete strangers. “There’s

Alli Beeler’s been from brain biopsies to bracelets to discover a diagnosis. starting to be a community of caring,” Conklin says. Of course, with that generosity comes the possibility of fraud. In one recent instance, a Boise-area couple was arrested on theft charges after planning fundraisers to help pay for their 14-year-old daughter’s leukemia treatment. It turned out their ...continued on next page

Cycling for a toddler’s prosthetics


n July, after cycling 3,200 miles from Miami to Spokane through heat, wind and quarter-size hail, endurance athlete Hector Picard met the toddler he was riding for: Jameson Davis, who, like Picard, is a double arm amputee. Jameson was born in Spokane in April 2012, with a condition called bilateral trans-radial congenital amputation — both his tiny arms end around the elbow, without forearms or hands. His parents, Jim and Brooke Davis, turned to the community for help earlier this year for help with the $25,000 price tag for his first pair of prosthetics. Right now, insurance covers less than half the cost. They hope insurance may cover as much as 80 percent in the future, but with each

more complex set costing upwards of $100,000, the long-term cost for the Davis family is high — and multiplied, since Jameson will need new prosthetics as he gets older. “He’ll need nine or 10 sets before he’s full grown,” his father says. Picard heard about Jameson through a mutual friend, and he read the blog (davisday2day.wordpress. com) that Jameson’s mother

Hector Picard biked from Miami to Spokane because he knows the feeling.

has been writing since he was born. In 1992, at age 24, Picard lost both his arms after an electrical accident at work. He turned the misfortune into a challenge, and has since become an Ironman triathlete and motivational speaker. He chronicled the journey to Spokane with daily updates, each one ending with a short message addressed to Jameson: “Today I rode my bike so high up, it felt like I could touch the clouds. I’m having a wonderful experience on way to meeting you and your mom and dad.” Picard is a role model for children like Jameson, Jim Davis says, and an inspiration for everyone who has followed along with his trip. “He’s living proof of what can be accomplished,” he says. — LISA WAANANEN AUGUST-SEPTEMBER, 2013

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“Crowdfunding Medical Bills,” continued... daughter, who lives with relatives in Seattle, was not being treated for cancer or any other medical problem. Court proceedings have since been postponed pending mental evaluations for both parents. Conklin says FundRazr has received a handful of complaints, which it investigates, but most campaigns are legitimized by community support. A campaign typically needs to have support from family and close friends before acquaintances, and eventually strangers, see that initial support and choose to donate. “There’s a self-policing effect,” Conklin says. Many campaigns never gain much momentum, regardless of the platform or the cause. But the success stories are remarkable: The YouCaring fundraiser for David Warner, a Washington State University instructor hospitalized at the end of March after an altercation outside a Pullman bar, raised more than $20,000 from almost 500 donors — four times the goal.

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o campaign has rallied the Spokane community more than the story and smile of Cat Davis, who’d already been through years of expensive treatments for scleroderma when she faced an out-of-pocket cost of $175,000 last year for a potentially life-saving stem cell

Cat Davis: “Facebook and Twitter saved her life.” transplant. Her brother reached out to her closeknit graduating class from Northwest Christian School, and the group gathered one night to come up with fundraising ideas — bracelets, an auction, a partnership with Dutch Bros., a Cure for Cat 5K. They hoped to raise maybe $50,000 in a year, says CJ Paul, a high school classmate and good friend who was roommates with Davis in Arizona when she first started having health problems. They coordinated social media outreach with the distinctive purple Cure for Cat logo, Davis appeared on local media, and at some point the campaign took on a life of its own, Paul says. Businesses started approaching them about hosting fundraisers, every news organization featured Davis’ story, and the community raised more than $80,000 in a matter of weeks. “For two or three months we were just scrambling,” Paul says. One challenge of raising money for medical costs is that donors become invested in a story that may not have a happy ending. All procedures have risks, and not all questions have answers. No amount of donations can guarantee that a person will be fully healed. The Cure for Cat team did the best they could to balance full honesty

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with the bright side of the situation, Paul says. “Cat is a very positive person, so that made it easier for the rest of us to be that way,” he says. In October, right around her 25th birthday, Davis got the good news that her insurance plan would cover the stem

“There’s starting to be a community of caring.” cell transplant. She traveled to Chicago for rounds of chemotherapy, and the actual transplant happened in January. She’s continued updating the community with her ups and downs — watching her hair grow back, undergoing more tests — and Paul says they’re talking about what comes next for the Cure for Cat Foundation. The hope, Paul says, is that a few years from now Davis will be healed, and they can look back at what they learned and help others through the foundation. Like Cure for Cat, many families organize a combination of online fundraising and real-life events. Social media sometimes is seen as shallow, Paul says, but they couldn’t have been so successful without the ability to provide frequent updates and interact with supporters. “Cat will tell you — Facebook and Twitter saved her life,” he says. On Beeler’s Facebook page for her visit to the Mayo Clinic, she and her family post enthusiastic updates and photos of supporters around the U.S.wearing red fundraising bracelets. There’s a photo album called “sick kids can have fun too ;)” and another called “the stages of my hair.” Beeler has a PowerPoint presentation of her medical history, ready for anyone who’s curious, and says she doesn’t mind sharing so much about her life and health. “I’ve always been pretty open. In middle school I brought my scans to class and showed people.” She laughs. “I was like, ‘This is my brain. This is what’s wrong with it.’ ” Beeler is not too optimistic that she’ll get a clear answer from the Mayo visit after years of uncertainty. She worries her family might be getting their hopes too high. Still, she’s grateful to anyone who donates to help make the trip happen — even $5 helps. “If I don’t do it, it’s a 100 percent chance that I don’t have an answer,” she says. “But if I do it, I have some chance of an answer.” 

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(Left to right) Bob Cross, Carl Clausen, Karlee Agee, Scott McGlockin, Regie Brusell, and Bob Askins stand in front of the new WSU BioMed building that they helped create. Jennifer DeBarros photo


Building a Healthier Medical Facility Good design can protect patients and enable better research By Deanna Pan


he vivarium inside the Biomedical and Health Sciences Building at Washington State University’s Riverpoint campus is among the most state-of-the-art facilities in Spokane. Radiant heating technology creates a controlled environment where future students will conduct research in consistent conditions. The resinous floors are chemical resistant, slip-proof and highly cleanable. Before students can even enter the laboratory, a stainless-steel chamber sterilizes all incoming medical equipment. The student researchers, in turn, shower down the hall. “We’re creating a building that is top of the line to train future health care practitioners in the Pacific Northwest,” says Scott McGlocklin, the site’s project manager. The 125,000 square-foot, $78.6 million Biomedical and Health Sciences Building was the county’s largest construction project last year. The school, which opens its doors in January to pharmacy and medical

students, exemplifies the kind of planning, expertise and innovation required to build a complex medical and research facility. “There’s so much more to do it in a health care facility, compared to your standard office building,” says Traci Hanegan, a mechanical engineer in Spokane who specializes in healthcare design. “Pretend it’s your mother on the operating table. How would you want that facility to be designed?” Modern healthcare construction and design play a critical part in protecting the safety of facility inhabitants. Hospitals, for example, must be able to withstand pandemics, explosions, a supply chain workers’ strike, or a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy, which closed a handful of medical centers in New York and New Jersey and forced hundreds of patients to relocate. They have morgues, autopsy rooms, and laboratories that run on specialized mechanical, electrical, and structural

systems. The lights simply can’t go off, nor the power shut down. “They’re complex types of buildings,” says Doug Hammond, the director of business development at Graham Construction, the contractor for the Biomedical and Health Sciences Building. “It requires a certain commitment of staff resources to understand how to do it.”


here was a time before the advent of modern medicine when hospitals were dark and dingy places where the poor and sick went to die. In the mid-19th century, British nurse Florence Nightingale revolutionized hospital design. While caring for wounded soldiers in Turkey during the Crimean War, she advocated for high ceilings, natural light and fresh air. Many of her ideas laid the groundwork for modern hospital construction and nursing care, including her concern with sanitation at the army

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hospital, where more soldiers died from typhoid, dysentery and respiratory infections than bullet wounds. Today, hospitals are designed to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Roughly one in 20 hospitalized patients contracts healthcare-associated infections, adding upwards of $30 billion in excess medical costs. Germs that are resistant to antibiotics can be deadly. A 2002 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 1.7 million healthcare-associated infections that year, killing nearly 99,000 patients. The most common method of transmission is unwashed hands. Some studies have shown that simply having an easily accessible hand-washing sink for staff use in patient rooms decreases healthcare associated infection rates. As a result, healthcare contractors and designers spend a lot of time thinking about things like “air changes per hour” and flat surfaces: floors, ceilings, walls, countertops, the backs of patient chairs. What materials trap the least amount of dust, grime and fluids, and are easy to clean? The American Institute of Architects, publisher of the most commonly used guidelines for hospital and healthcare facility design, forbids “Perforated, tegular, serrated cut, or highly textured tiles” on ceilings. Floors should be water-, wear-, slip- and acid-resistant. So at Graham, Hammond recommends seamless sheet vinyl flooring and hard, monolithic ceilings, where “there are no nooks and crannies for bugs to hide.” “It’s very complex,” says Bret Miche, a senior project manager at Graham. “You want to be aware of sharp edges and points where someone might bang their head... [and] colors and contrasts; the elderly could have a hard time differentiating the two and be subjected to falls.” Even noise can affect patient healing. “You don’t want to have rattling fans. That could be very disruptive to patient care,” Miche says. Between exam rooms, you don’t want to have sound transfer for patient confidentiality.” As early as the design phase of a new facility or renovation, Miche says contractors will meet with clinical staff to get acquainted with their “flow and process.” The goal of any project is to use the contractors’ design and construction techniques to optimize patient safety and ensure that medical professionals have a facility they can use to provide the best care possible. “At the end of the day, we’re a small part in helping people get well,” says Hammond. “Which makes it a unique application of our skill set.” 

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Just For The Kids Spokane’s a destination for children’s hospital services By Jacob Jones


ittle red wagons park next to heart monitors in the long hallways of the hospital. Board games, dolls and toy trucks litter the examination rooms. Brightly painted flowers blossom across the walls of the Emergency Department. Everything in the Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital custom-fits kids — tiny chairs, short countertops, colorful decorations. That same spirit carries into the medical treatment. Dr. Keith Georgeson, medical director for the hospital, says doctors have come to realize children are not just small adults. They have unique health risks, disorders, dosages, social needs and anxieties. “Pediatricians wanted to have the same quality of health care for kids in this region as they have for adults,” he says. “The only way to do that is to develop specialization.” National trends show more and more hospitals moving toward separate and specialized care for children. Georgeson says Spokane pediatricians have likewise built a strong network of specialists, care services and treatment programs. As the Children’s Hospital prepares to celebrate 10 years since its opening, other Spokane medical facilities continue to offer new pediatric services. Technology has driven increased innovation, spurring new treatments and connecting physicians with new resources. Shriners Hospital for Children has recently launched a new urgent care fracture program and plans a future expansion. Deaconess Medical Center has also added new child medicine services. “We really are working hard to provide the highest quality of health care to our kids,” Georgeson says.

Biomechanical engineer Mark McMulkin makes adjustments to motion capture devices attached to his daughter, Sophie, in the motion analysis lab in Shriners Hospital for Children. Samuel Sargeant photo


ith the expansion of local services, Spokane has become a regional destination for children’s health care. Families come from all over the state for specialized care, as well as parts of Idaho, Oregon, Montana and beyond. Children’s Hospital spokeswoman Danita Petek says the hospital treated more than 37,000 children in 2012. The nearby Shriners Hospital, which specializes in orthopedic (musculoskeletal) medicine, treats another 800 children each month. “We serve about a 300-mile region around Spokane, it’s 300 miles in each direction,” Petek says. “There’s about 1.7 million people in that catchment area. … There’s a huge need.” Doctors and surgeons at both hospi-

tals have received extra certifications in pediatric medicine. The medical staffs train to provide unique children’s care, diagnose distinct complications and interact with young kids. “Everyone is pediatric-trained and loves kids,” Shriners spokeswoman Kristin Monasmith says. “That’s what they do. That’s what they love.” Some programs work with children to educate them about their illnesses and their treatments. Georgeson says one innovative new program seeks to eliminate pain from the treatment process, using topical anesthetics and other techniques to reduce fear of needles. “We’re developing all these strategies,” he says. “It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better

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than it used to be.” Health care providers also try to combine treatment with entertainment. Recreation rooms offer craft tables, games and toys. Rooms for teenagers have videogames and DVDs. Patients can enjoy flat-screen TVs, computers or iPads. “We’re trying to make their lives as normal as we can, so they can enjoy their time here,” Petek says. “It’s just a very fun atmosphere.”


hile just four years ago the Shriners Hospital faced potential closure over funding issues, interim administrator Craig Patchin says the hospital has shifted back into “expansion mode.” “It’s very healthy,” he says. New patient referrals jumped 16 percent from 2011 to 2012. The hospital, which offers treatment regardless of ability to pay, recently hired a new surgeon and in April opened an urgent care service for treating fractures. Monasmith says the new urgent care program allows doctors to make overnight referrals, getting children into surgery the following day to repair fractures. “It’s been really successful,” she says. Shriners Hospital also just completed design work for an expansion costing more than $15 million, which would reconfigure its top floor to better accommodate its outpatient procedure rooms. The renovations would add new administrative space and parking on the back of the building. Patchin says funding for the project was recently delayed, but he hopes to be able to move forward sometime in the next year. Deaconess Medical Center reopened its pediatrics unit in late 2010. With so many babies born in the Deaconess maternity unit, spokeswoman Kaitlyn Aliota says in an email the hospital wanted new parents to be able to bring their children back for follow-up care. “Our pediatrics volume has been growing since then,” she says. “We made a significant investment in reopening this unit, designing it for the comfort of children and their families and furnishing it with the specialized medical equipment and technology needed to care for pediatric patients.” Georgeson says Spokane pediatricians also often work with rural doctors or other hospitals to collaborate on patient care. In addition, local hospitals also run extensive outreach programs to provide research opportunities and consultation services throughout the region. “We are trying to export as much of the expertise as we can,” he says. 



hen children from out of town seek lengthy treatment at Spokane hospitals, it can create a difficult situation for their families. “We have to take care of the families because children don’t come with just a person,” Petek stresses. The Spokane Ronald McDonald House provides free accommodations for families who live more than 40 miles from the hospital. Spokeswoman Colleen Fox says the 22 guest rooms serve about 700 families a year, and there’s often a waiting list for space. “We’re the only resource in the area where families can stay for free,” she says. The organization hopes to expand its services in the next couple of years. Ronald McDonald House also maintains “family rooms” inside the Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital with sleep rooms, laundry facilities and other resources. “We really try to provide them with a second home,” Fox says. — JACOB JONES


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Washington State University ag researcher Diter von Wettstein thinks gluten-free wheat is just a decade down the road. WSU photo research

The Wheat of Tomorrow? The search for wheat that even those with celiac disease can eat BY HEIDI GROOVER


or people with gluten intolerance, there are the obvious hurdles and the hidden threats. Obvious: bread, pizza, pasta, baked goods. Not so obvious: soups, salad dressings, processed meats and other foods where starches are used as a binding agent. The bottom line: almost anything can hurt you.

For bakers and chefs, the whole thing can mean different pots and pans or an entirely separate kitchen to create something truly gluten-free. But if the work of a team of researchers based at Washington State University succeeds, the chore of eating or cooking for those with negative reactions to gluten could become as easy as buying a new

brand of wheat flour. As researchers around the globe look for medicines that people with gluten intolerance could take to mitigate their negative reactions, Dr. Diter von Wettstein and his graduate students in WSU’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences have been trying to change the wheat itself. Gluten is not synonymous with wheat,

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but is a set of proteins found in wheat and a heavy dose of mistrust. Von Wettstein other grains. People with the inability to says when he did similar work in Germany, digest the proteins can suffer everything his crops were destroyed twice. He remains from an upset stomach to death, so eating hopeful, pointing to similar battles science gluten-free can range from a preference to has fought to gain acceptance in the past. a life-or-death necessity. Most who avoid “The same will happen with acceptance gluten turn to completely wheat-free foods of molecular genetic modifications in crop or use alternative flours, like those made plants, and positive results with our present from rice, beans, potatoes or oats. research will help such acceptance,” von To try to combat the negative reaction Wettstein says. to gluten, von Wettstein’s team has worked Laura Mertens runs the blog Gluten to “silence” the proteins that cause negative Free Traveller (, reactions (but aren’t necessary for baking, exploring the world’s options for people researchers say). In a lab and greenhouse, with celiac disease or other gluten intolerthey’ve bred wheat and ances. Mertens has travbarley varieties with at least eled to 52 countries on six a 75 percent reduction in the continents, and since she from the puzzle on page 13 harmful proteins and tested was diagnosed with celiac 4 = O; 7 = D them at high temperatures disease in 2009, she’s been for baking. While von Wetlogging gluten-free options tstein hesitates to predict the future, he says she’s found along the way and tips for his team aims to make a gluten-free wheat gluten-averse travelers. She’s written about available to consumers within 10 years. salad in Denver and breakfast cereal in the UK, and shared others’ gluten-free advice he private sector is getting involved for countries from South Africa to Dubai too. Davis, Calif.-based Arcadia to Finland. Last December, she posted an Biosciences, which also has an ofentry entitled “Genetically Modified Gluten fice in Seattle, focuses on using technology Free Wheat?” expressing worries about to make agriculture more efficient and on creating healthier or higher quality foods, like wheat. So when one of Arcadia’s scientists was interested in creating a low-gluten or gluten-free wheat, the company joined in WSU’s work. The project has gained notoriety, publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America and a four-year, $837,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health in 2008. (Now, the team is looking for more funding from the NIH or USDA to continue the work.) The attention is in large part because of more frequent instances of gluten intolerance. About 1 percent of the national population has the autoimmune condition called celiac disease, which causes a negative reaction to gluten, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Another 6 percent — or 18 million Americans — have some other type of intolerance that restricts their bodies’ acceptance of gluten. In Spokane alone, there are at least 51 restaurants (some with multiple locations) with gluten-free options, according to Gluten Free Spokane, a local blog that tracks the issue. But the research is not without pushback. With global movements to label genetically modified foods, and a federal investigation into unauthorized “Roundup Ready” wheat found in Oregon that has exporters and their customers on edge, efforts to scientifically alter foods can attract

codewords: hint


von Wettstein’s work, which she’d read about in the Los Angeles Times. “This kind of genetically modified ‘Frankenwheat’ is more than likely the reason that many of us can’t tolerate wheat or gluten in the first place,” she wrote, “so is creating another type of genetically modified wheat really the way to go?” Today, Mertens says she’d rather see scientists investing time and money in finding a cure to the disease that makes her and others gluten-intolerant in the first place, instead of in wheat that’s safe for them. She advocates that people suffering from celiac disease find a natural and healthy diet and explore gluten-free flours before they look to products “created in a lab.”. Arcadia Biosciences CEO Eric Rey calls the research “fundamentally the same thing plant breeders have been doing for centuries” to produce the best crops. “For people who don’t believe in the intersection of science and foods, what they would have to do to practice what they preach is take all the food in their homes and throw it away,” he says. “The idea that science shouldn’t be involved in food is really not practical.” n


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Fresh Food


A world of discovery at the farmers market STORY BY CARRIE SCOZZARO  PHOTOS BY YOUNG KWAK


s anyone who’s shared a memorable meal with interesting companions knows, food is a great connector. But what if instead of just connecting people at mealtimes, food becomes a catalyst for sustaining a whole community, enhancing the local economy and bringing better health and sense of belonging along with it? And what better time to explore our regional food network than when the crops are coming in? To help us out, we recruited chef Jeremy Hansen of Spokane’s Santé Restaurant and Charcuterie. “Chefs have a moral responsibility to ensure their guests eat real food,” says Hansen. To him, that means chefs do best when they source ingredients “ethically, and cook with earth and human health in mind.” Hansen’s story is typical of the industry: He fell into the business as a teenager, discovered he loved it, realized he needed to know more, and set about learning everything he could. During his formal education at Le Cordon Bleu Portland, he interned around every six weeks — Greek, Spanish, French, Italian restaurants — sharpening his skills

and defining his food philosophy of farm-to-table cooking. It’s the centerpiece of his restaurant, earning him an invite to cook for the prestigious James Beard House in Chef Jeremy Hansen August. For our challenge, we armed Hansen with $100 to shop the market, invent a menu based on what was available, and then prepare a multicourse meal on-site, to be shared by representatives of our local food chain. Picking a location was sort of like throwing a dart at a day of the week. Farmers markets abound across Eastern Washington and North Idaho; they are so plentiful, in fact, that you can shop at one somewhere almost every day of the week. Spokane’s South Perry Thursday Market fit our needs exactly, and manager Karyna Hamilton helped out on the big day — even hauling locally made serving pieces from Trackside Studio’s Mark Moore for our outdoor table. ...continued on next page AUGUST-SEPTEMBER, 2013

LIVING_AUG2013.indd 27

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e settling on owner/chef Pete Taylor’s Tandoori Glory Chef Jeremy Hansen sniffs spice mixes at SavorX befor


hen it was time to shop. Rather than selecting a central protein — poultry, beef, fish, etc.— and adding vegetable “side dishes,” Hansen often starts menu-planning with produce. It’s a philosophy that is gaining adherents — from Meatless Mondays to Mark Bittman’s latest book VB6, in which he details the benefits of eating a vegan diet before 6 pm. At Gourmet Foragables & More, fiddleheads are out of season; morel mushrooms are in. For owner Josh Yake, a 200-mile round trip and several hours hiking above Priest Lake might yield as many as 10 pounds of the alien-looking mushrooms he sells directly to restaurants, including Santé, Luna and Casper Fry. He’s parlayed 25 years of foraging — mushrooms, miner’s lettuce, wild asparagus, huckleberries — into a growing business. We buy one morel for the salad. David Bautista and his friend Oscar Medina have driven three hours from Sunnyside, Wash., to set up crates — asparagus, zucchini, onions, fava beans — from Bautista’s

Morrocan Rub.

20-plus-acre family-owned farm, started by David’s father in 2002. We buy apricots, cherries and bright-green zucchini. “Come back in August for green peanuts,” says David, grinning. Unfortunately, Davenport, Wash.-based JJ Goats has only frozen meat — ideal for shoppers, but we’re cooking on-site. Super-lean, protein-rich and consumed by more than three-quarters of the world’s population, goat meat is prevalent in Indian, Mexican and Middle Eastern cooking. Instead, we choose Rocky Ridge Ranch, whose owner Gary Angell will join us later for dinner. His 400-acre farm is well-known for pastured Berkshire pigs, grass-fed Anguscross cows, free-range chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese. They also sell directly to restaurants and through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). “People ask me why the meat is so good,” Angell confides. “I feed ‘em only real food.” That includes supplements from the ranch’s two-acre garden, run by Gary’s wife YiDeuke, nicknamed So. We get onions, duck eggs (for scratch-made pasta), Wagyu beef, lamb and pork that Jeremy will grind for meatballs. Tom and Louise Tuffin’s Arabesque Farms & Bakery provides bread, while Dan and Lauri Sproule’s Full Bushel Farms fills our basket to overflowing with more veggies and greens. At SavorX, owner Pete Taylor opens little cans of spice blends. We sample (sniff) the pink peppercorn lemon thyme before Jeremy snags Tandoori Glory Moroccan Rub mix. Last stop: Wild & Sweet Rich Honey. ...continued on page 30

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Hansen serves up fettucini in a rich zesty apricot sauce to be topped with meatballs.


t’s time to cook. Hansen’s in his element, selecting a knife from his kit, arranging his cutting board, and chatting with onlookers. Little kids stand mesmerized by the spectacle of this man and his lightning-fast blade, their little hands shooting out to accept bits of fresh fruit to sample. Passersby share how they’ve changed their shopping habits since discovering how much better the food can be at the farmers market. “It stays fresher longer,” says one woman, rushing after her grandson before I can catch her name. Turns out there are several reasons for that. The Harvard School of Public Health notes that food from farmers markets can be higher in nutrient value and lower in pesticides and preservatives than that found in large-scale groceries. That’s because they tend to travel shorter distances from farm to table, are picked when ripe (instead of ripening in transit) and are handled less, so they’re less likely to be contaminated. They’re also more likely to be sustainably grown, which consumers can easily ascertain by just asking the farmer. Before long, we dish up salad with a finger-licking cherry dressing, and pasta with

meatballs swimming in a rich, Moroccan fruitbased sauce, and toast each other.


ver dinner, we discuss why it’s often hard to eat healthy. “Americans don’t have time,” says Hansen, a father of two. Market manager Hamilton, who strapped on her infant daughter earlier in the day, nods agreement. Rancher Angell admits he doesn’t eat as well working 10-to-12-hour days on the ranch or at market. Despite her busy schedule, Hamilton says she still cooks with her daughters frequently and wants to instill in them the important role healthy eating plays in disease prevention. “Food in its true form is… medicine,” she says. It’s medicine that might just heal the local economic engine as well. Angell suggests that if every local restaurant bought directly from farms, operations like his would thrive, even expand. He says even one restaurant, depending on a particular farm, can help make that farm sustainable. But in any business, time is money, and buying from a single source such as Food Services of America or Sysco is easier than

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Fresh carrots will enliven the apricot sauce.

South Perry Thursday Market manager Karyna Hamilton and Rocky Ridge Rancher Gary Angell settle down to a conversation about the local food chain at a picnic table in the market. running around to farmers markets or dealing with multiple vendors. “I understand the business behind it,” says Hansen, “but cooking isn’t just a business; it’s a lifestyle.” We turn to the subject of education, where there are bright hopes. Washington State University offers courses in sustainable agriculture with its Small Farms Team and Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture in the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences. Through its Extension program, WSU provides food producers — both existing and would-be startups — with access to vital research and support in its Cultivating Success

classes, including Sustainable Small Farming and Ranching. Supporting local farmers makes sense, says Patricia J. Munts, WSU Extension’s Small Farms and Acreage Coordinator. “When people buy locally, the money stays here to prime the economy,” she says. “The farmer gets paid and he/she then buys seed, equipment, tools, labor and household supplies from a local business. That local business then restocks its shelves and hires staff to sell, fix equipment or help other businesses buy more and sell. When we all buy from the big grocery store, most of the money goes elsewhere.” 

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Health 31 7/24/13 4:13 PM


Jen Plum (left) and Sue McMahon make homemade mouthwash during a cosmetics workshop at Pilgrim’s Market in Coeur d’Alene. mike mccall photo BEAUTY

The Natural Debate DIY personal care products mean you control the ingredients By Chey Scott


rying to read aloud some of the ingredients listed on the back of a shampoo or lotion bottle, or even a tube of toothpaste, is a little like speaking a foreign language. Whether synthetic or naturally sourced, these compounds are generally unfamiliar to the average consumer. Still, not knowing what these ingredients do or where they come from isn’t stopping most people from using their tried-and-true lotions, deodorants, soaps and cosmetics on a daily basis. But many may be surprised to learn that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t pre-approve cosmetic products (other than color additives) before they’re marketed to consumers, though it does regulate cosmetic labeling. There are a handful of ingredients — nine to be exact — prohibited for use in cosmetics in the U.S. That number that pales in comparison to the nearly 1,400 banned for use in the European Union. If that concerns you, and you want to

know exactly what is in the products you use on your skin, the best solution may be to make your own.


n a recent Thursday afternoon as the the hot summer sun sank over the sparkling blue water of Lake Coeur d’Alene, Sue McMahon hauled pots and pans and armloads of products off the shelves of Pilgrim’s Market’s health and beauty department into the store’s spacious health education center. Later that evening, McMahon, Pilgrim’s health and beauty department manager/buyer, and Jen Plum, the store’s supplements department manager, will help a group of DIYers learn how to make sunscreen, mouthwash, foot cream, bubble bath and toothpaste from natural oils, herbs and butters. As the two set up for the evening’s instructional presentation, McMahon explains some of her own personal reasons for ditching the common makeup, soap and hair care brands found on grocery and

drugstore shelves. “Anything that has a really harsh smell — nail polish and nail polish removers — anytime you need to open a window, that’s a sign it’s bad,” McMahon says. “But I would say anything that you leave on your body for an extended time, those are the more important things to switch [to chemical-free], like lotion and deodorant.” McMahon, who before joining Pilgrim’s Market reviewed and blogged about personal care products’ ingredient cleanliness and safety, also cautions against using any type of product containing a synthetic fragrance. Because of current U.S. Food and Drug Administration cosmetic labeling rules, manufacturers aren’t required to break down all the ingredients that go into making a product have a pleasant scent. The Environmental Working Group, a Washington D.C.-based environmental health research and advocacy group, claims that tests have shown an average of 14 or more compounds per fragrance formula,

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none of which is required to be listed on the product label. The biggest concern with scented products centers on a chemical group called phthalates, which in animal studies have been shown to disrupt the reproductive system, says Erika Schreder, a researcher with the Washington Toxics Coalition, a Seattlebased environmental advocacy group. “Phthalates are used as plasticizers, and in personal care products there’s diethyl phthalate, which is also used in vinyl curtains and flooring,” Schreder says. “There is concern about exposure to adults because we’re exposed to [phthalates] from a lot of different sources.” Schreder agrees with McMahon’s advice not to use products containing synthetic fragrances whenever possible. “Avoid fragranced products and find a brand or two that you trust, because it’s really hard, every time you want to buy something, to do a full analysis of the ingredient list,” Schreder says. Phthalates aren’t the only chemicals raising concerns among natural-product advocates. In recent years there has been plenty of negative hype surrounding parabens, a group of preservative and antimi-

crobial substances used in makeup, lotions and other products. A study published in 2004 in the Journal of Applied Toxicology suggested parabens could be linked to breast cancer. Though the FDA has dismissed the study’s findings as lacking credibility, the EWG and Washington Toxics Coalition continue to maintain that these preservatives may interfere with hormones. Some cosmetic companies aren’t waiting for more definitive results — they’ve already started removing parabens from their products, McMahon says. But for attendee Laura Sankovich, that’s not enough. She likes knowing exactly what’s in her personal care products, and as a bonus having some fun. “I enjoy making the products, and saving money. Conventional products have a lot of garbage in them, like parabens, etc. … I don’t want my daughter or me using them if possible.” As the evening winds down, the recipes seem mostly foolproof — except for some sugar wax that didn’t get sticky enough. The dozen students take home samples of all the homemade concoctions, as well as recipes and the know-how to duplicate them at home. 

DO-IT-YOURSELF SUNSCREEN Sunscreen Stick with Zinc INGREDIENTS: 1 oz. oil blend (use any blend of raspberry seed oil, carrot seed oil, wheat germ oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, hemp oil or avocado oil) 1 oz. beeswax (adds waterproof properties) 1 oz. butter blend (shea, mango or cocoa butter) 1 tsp. vitamin E oil 0.36 oz. zinc oxide powder (wear a mask when working with this) 30 drops of essential oils (optional) Directions: In a double boiler over low heat, melt the oils, beeswax and butters. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly prior to adding the vitamin E oil, zinc oxide powder and essential oils. Stir until zinc oxide is dissolved. Pour into a push-up or roll-up dispenser. Allow to cool and harden overnight. During times of heavy sun exposure or swimming, reapply often. Recipe from

not just news.


stories INHealth

“rehab reality,” june-july, 2013


Health 33 7/24/13 4:13 PM



ABOVE LEFT: The Vegan Bean Burger makes it easy to go meatless. ABOVE: Chef Eric Johnsen and scenes from the Saranac. YOUNG KWAK PHOTOS

Going Public with Vegan Food Saranac Public House’s chef builds meals around vegetables and grains BY CARRIE SCOZZARO


ric Johnsen likes a challenge: drag racing, owning a restaurant, getting non-vegans to try vegan food. “I was vegetarian for about a decade coming out of culinary school,” says Johnsen, chef and co-owner of Saranac Public

House, “and I saw that what many places offered was an afterthought: just remove the meat, and it will be vegetarian.” At Saranac Public House, Johnsen’s recipes often have a vegan base, which he modifies to make them vegetarian or even

meat-inclusive. But not just any meat. The beef and pork he uses is typically Washington-raised; his seafood is wild-caught or from sustainable fisheries. Produce? Local when possible, organic if available. The chickpeas,

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Fresh. Local. Healthy. Come see us!

lentils, peas and beans — like the black beans featured in their veggie burger — hail from the Palouse or Columbia Basin, most certified as GMO-free. Local bakeries are featured for whatever isn’t made in-house, as are local beer and wine. He even uses green-certified and/or biodegradable to-go packaging and cleaning supplies. Located next to the Community Building, the vision for Saranac Public House “was very specific and completely dictated by the space we found and the surrounding neighborhood,” says Johnsen, who co-owns the business with Brandyn Blanchat. Johnsen met Blanchat at the Onion Bar & Grill, where he spent a big chunk of his 31 years in the industry. Like many in the business, his resume connects dots across the northwest: Ernie’s Italian Restaurant, Chapter Eleven and The Onion, all in Spokane. Then it was off to Wenatchee to work for Visconti’s Italian Restaurant (he also opened the original Visconti’s in Leavenworth). Upon returning to Spokane to work at The Onion, Johnsen realized cooking was “it” and enrolled in Western Culinary Institute (now called Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts) in Portland, eventually working for RiverPlace Hotel. Johnsen came back to Spokane, started a family, and began a long run with The Onion, managing various locations and gaining valuable experience he’d one day parlay into his own restaurant. Back in the kitchen since 2011 when Saranac Public House opened, Johnsen continues to hone his skills, including responding to an increasingly sensitive dining public. “Due to the ongoing prevalence of food allergies,” says Johnsen, “we have ingredient/ allergy information for all the eight major food allergens, plus corn, canola and nitrates available for all our current regular menu items, sausages, soups, kids’ menu and brunch.” n


Vegan Black Bean Burger 1¼ pound black beans (dry) ¾ teaspoon kosher salt 7 cups water 5 ounce green pepper, diced 5 ounce red pepper, diced 5 ounce onion, diced 1 jalapeno, diced 2 tablespoon olive oil 1¼ tablespoon minced garlic 1 teaspoon chili powder 2 teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper ¾ teaspoon kosher salt ¾ teaspoon black pepper

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Health 35 7/24/13 4:13 PM


Cyndi Johnson Lempesis focused on preventing sudden cardiac arrest in teens after her son Jordan died. trevor patrick photo PARENTING

No Wait Time

Minutes are critical for kids with sudden cardiac arrest BY LISA FAIRBANKS-ROSSI


yndi Johnson Lempesis hadn’t planned to run a health foundation. And she never would have guessed the foundation would be named after her own child. “Post Falls is a little town, and Jordan was well-liked in our community. He was a great kid,” Lempesis recalls. “We were at a basketball tournament back in 2006 (in which one of Jordan’s older sisters was playing) and as we were sleeping in our hotel, he made a few strange sounds in his sleep, like a gasping,” she says. Less than a minute later, Jordan was suddenly unconscious and had stopped breathing. Lempesis and her husband performed CPR and eventually secured both epinephrine and an automatic external defibrillator (AED). “The epinephrine didn’t work, and he didn’t respond to CPR,” says Lempesis, her anguish absent only because she’s repeated the story so many times. “I don’t know how long it took, and even though [the hotel] did have an AED, it was too late. If there is nothing to shock, it won’t work.”

In a matter of minutes, her 15-year old son was gone. Jordan had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). During a SCA, the heart goes into ventricular fibrillation: the heart’s electrical system becomes erratic, and the heart stops pumping blood. Once the heart stops, both CPR and defibrillation must happen within 5 to 7 minutes of collapse, or death (or extensive brain damage) is imminent. Lempesis found out later that Jordan’s irregularity was set off by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), an elusive, complex and deadly genetic heart condition that causes overly thick heart muscles. Jordan had passed several pre-participation physicals for sports, but HCM is hard to detect in routine physical exams — even with an ultrasound — and in young, healthy people, there are no outward symptoms. Lempesis explains it this way when she’s talking to kids: “My son died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. His heart cells should have been stacked like bricks. With HCM, they are like spaghetti.” Sharon Bates — who lost her son,

Kansas State football player Anthony Bates, to SCA in 2000 — has become a friend and mentor to Lempesis, as have other mothers whose children have suffered the same fate.


obody chooses to be an advocate for SCA,” says Ryan Schaefer, a cardiac nurse and electrophysiology expert who’s an educational partner to Lempesis. “Most of the advocates’ involvement comes on the heels of a very bad incident.” By the time Schaefer and Lempesis met this year, she had been offering heart health screenings in North Idaho through Straight from the Heart: The Jordan Johnson Foundation. The two discovered they shared a passion for getting the word out to students about preventing SCA and the life-saving role of AEDs. Now they work together, with funding from Providence Health Care’s chapter of Project Adam, a national foundation started by parents who lost a son to SCA. Lempesis offers her personal experience, and Schaefer offers diagnostic equipment and medical expertise. “Sudden cardiac arrest is an odds game,” Schaefer explains. “[In the U.S.] one high schooler every three days has a SCA incident. The more people in one place, the bigger chance it will happen.” The statistics about SCA in young people fluctuate wildly. The American Heart Association says 10,000 of the 360,000 Americans who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital each year are children. Other experts claim it’s only 1,000. The highest overall SCA survival rate is 10 percent; yet for children, it’s only 3 to 6 percent.

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That’s why what happened to a 15-year old East Valley sophomore during her last week of math class this past spring is so remarkable. She and her parents are still processing the recent trauma, so they don’t want to use their names, but this teenager’s recollection offers a rare glimpse inside the body during a SCA: “I was feeling shaky, trembling and foggy on the way to math class,” she explains. “When I got there, people were moving and talking around me, and at one point everyone was seated and partnered up except for me... My teacher asked three times if I was OK, and I didn’t respond or move to meet his gaze... but then I did and my eyes rolled back. I fell first on my knees, then my side and onto the ground.” While the majority of people become unconscious when their hearts stop pumping blood to the brain, something about her collapse was different, because she remembers distinct words and sensations as she faded in and out of consciousness. For instance, she could feel the CPR. “It hurt slightly, there was too much pressure on my chest… And there came a point where the adults had to attach the

pads from the defibrillator and the next thing I remember is this robotic female voice… telling them how to save my life, I guess. I don’t remember all of it, but the part that’s seared into my memory is ‘SHOCK ADVISED.’ “Under my skin, it felt like searing heat running through my veins, the way my blood was supposed to… it hurt on the surface of the skin, and it did leave burns. My whole body was stiff for a second and I lurched forward. I understood the nurse saying she was worried she would have to shock me again. That’s when I found my voice, and started yelling ‘NO! NO!’ ” Schaefer assisted with the follow-up battery of X-rays, EKGs and echocardiograms, routine for every patient who has suffered cardiac arrest. But they couldn’t find what they were looking for. “It’s all very inconclusive,” she says. “They’ve performed every test in the book, and everything looks normal.” Even with the unanswered questions, her parents say they are not stopping to second-guess anything. They are just grateful for their daughter’s life. “What I really appreciate is everyone who worked on her,” her dad emphasizes.

“Their bold, decisive action was stellar. It was perfect. The math teacher, the nurse, Ryan and the Sacred Heart doctors did the right things, and our daughter is sitting here with us as a result. I always hope that people will feel that they can take action without fear of repercussion.” In addition to having a Good Samaritan Law that protects bystanders who intervene in medical emergencies from liability, Washington state has a new law that supports the mission of Project Adam and Straight from the Heart. The law (HB 1556) mandates CPR training in every high school, and support for securing added funding for training and implementation. “Anybody can be a rescuer,” says Lempesis. “AEDs just have to be available, and we give them the skills to know how to act.” Schaefer has already placed 80 AEDs in schools across the Pacific Northwest, including five Spokane high schools. “At our most recent heart screening,” Lempesis says, “we found two young people with abnormalities… I don’t know if they would have found out otherwise. So, that helps me. It’s a healing process.” 

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Health 37 7/24/13 4:13 PM


Providence’s Dr. Eashen Liu supports the use of screening colonoscopies. stephen schlange photo


Gut Check Colonoscopies save lives, but there are colon cancer screening alternatives By Daniel Walters


hen a 53-year-old woman got a colonoscopy at Deaconess Hospital this past February, it came with a big price: Two separate bills totaled more than $4,000. Her insurance substantially knocked down the bill — but that initial price tag could give anyone sticker shock. It’s commonly performed, yet colonoscopy remains one of America’s most expensive regular medical tests. The New York Times recently kicked off its “Paying Till It Hurts” series on the cost of health care by focusing on the outsized price of the procedure: The average U.S. cost of a colonoscopy, the 2012 Comparative Price Report estimated, was $1,185. In Switzerland? Just $655. In addition, the article cast doubts on the necessity of the procedure. “While several cheaper and less invasive tests to screen for colon cancer are recommended as equally effective by the federal government’s expert panel on preventive care — and are commonly used in other

countries — colonoscopy has become the go-to procedure in the United States,” it asserted. The article drew pushback from the medical community. “The fact that the article focuses attention on the one and only preventive cancer test that has been demonstrated to significantly reduce the incidence of colon cancer and death from the disease is disappointing,” countered Ronald Vender, president of the American College of Gastroenterology, in an op-ed. “The evidence suggests that colonoscopy is a public health success story.” Research does show it is highly beneficial to undergo colon cancer screening, because colon cancer is one of the few types of cancer in which precancerous cells can be identified and removed before they multiply and spread. But which type of testing is preferable in all cases isn’t exactly clear. Vender pointed to a New York Times article from 2012 examining a study that followed patients

for up to 20 years. Those who had received a colonoscopy and had precancerous growths removed had a 53 percent lower colorectal cancer death rate: obviously an excellent result. The problem, as the Times article and others have noted, is that “The new study did not compare colonoscopy with other ways of screening for colorectal cancer and so does not fully resolve a longstanding medical debate about which method is best.”


r. Eashen Liu, a staff gastroenterologist for Providence, is sticking with the colonoscopy. “Our preference is to do colonoscopy for screening for colon cancer,” Liu says. “It’s both diagnostic as well as therapeutic. It looks at the entire colon. Fortunately with colonoscopies and CT scanning, we’re able to detect colon cancer at earlier stages than we were before,” she says, noting that with such screening, “there has been a natural decrease in mortality.” The American Cancer Society encourages individuals at average risk to choose a consistent method of screening. Depending on a patient’s risk factors and other variables, their personal physician may recommend one screening method, or combination of methods, over the others. According to their recommendations, the best tests for finding cancer, as well as polyps that may develop into cancer, are a flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years, colonoscopy every 10 years, doublecontrast barium enema every five years, or

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virtual CT colonography every five years. Tests that mainly find cancer include a yearly fecal occult blood test, or the fecal immunochemical test. All of the colonoscopy alternatives require a follow-up colonoscopy if problems are identified. However, they are generally less expensive. Better compliance with recommended colon cancer screening could save nearly 19,000 lives each year, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The fecal occult blood test is the simplest form of screening. “It’s basically testing for blood in a stool,” said Donna Oliver, Breast, Cervical and Colon Health Program Coordinator for the Spokane Regional Health District. Patients take home a kit, follow the directions, and provide stool samples. “They send that to a lab… If those come out positive, then a colonoscopy is recommended.” The fecal immunoassay test also tests stool samples for blood by reacting with a protein in red blood cells. Both tests require multiple samples, since they won’t detect a tumor that isn’t bleeding and tumors don’t bleed all the time. And they need to be repeated yearly. Sigmoidoscopy, the most common screening method in England, allows the doctor to examine the lower third of the colon using a lighted scope. It is generally done in the doctor’s office, costs around $200 according to a recent study, and doesn’t require sedation. Polyps found this way can sometimes be removed right then. The barium enema screening uses an enema of contrast dye and X-ray to locate abnormalities in the colon, while a virtual CT scan constructs a three-dimensional representation of the colon. The virtual colonoscopy doesn’t require weaving a camera back and forth through the maze of the lower intestine, so it doesn’t carry the relatively small risk of puncturing the intestine wall that a colonoscopy does. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reports the procedure can be “as sensitive as optical colonoscopy at identifying colorectal cancer and large adenomas in the community setting.” It’s also significantly cheaper — but so far, it’s not covered by Medicare and Medicaid. And as Dr. Liu points out, the virtual test has trouble detecting smaller polyps, and like all the alternatives to colonoscopy, requires follow-up with a traditional colonoscopy to remove any polyps found. While colonoscopy remains the gold standard for testing and treatment, some sort of screening is clearly better than doing nothing. And for patients without financial resources or with other concerns about getting a colonoscopy, there are alternatives. 



o how much does a colonscopy cost? The opacity of the American health care system can sometimes make that question tough to answer. Medical pricing can be anything but transparent, relying on a combination of insurance negotiation, sliding scales, and murky chargemaster divination to get to a final price. Asked what a procedure typically costs, many doctors say they don’t know. In a shocking and controversial exposé in Time magazine this year, Steven Brill exposed how arbitrary prices could be. “The health care market is not a market at all. It’s a crapshoot,” Brill wrote. “Everyone fares differently based on circumstances they can neither control nor predict.” Even hospital-systems administrators agree the way America does health care is flawed. Joe Robb, marketing director for the Eastern Washington region of Providence Health Care, says Providence wants to lead the effort in fixing health care pricing problems. “The method for determining charges and

the method for determining reimbursement have become disconnected from the process and lack transparency,” a statement from Providence reads. “We know that this needs improvement and we are committed to working with both government and private insurers to improve the cost of care and the pricing information that patients have access to in the future.” In nine counties in Eastern Washington, the Breast, Cervical and Colon Health Program offers help. Through funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the program pays for free access to screening tests for lowincome individuals. “We do pay for some colonoscopies in our program,” says program coordinator Donna Oliver. “If there are people who aren’t insured, we’d like them to have our information.” The program pays cheaper Medicare rates — about $900 — to providers. Patients themselves don’t have to pay anything. — DANIEL WALTERS

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living august- september events LONG BRIDGE SWIM Swim 1.76 miles across Lake Pend Oreille in an annual race that helps fund swimming lessons for local kids and adults. Aug. 3 at 9 am. $25-$30. Downtown Sandpoint, Idaho. Visit: 8 LAKES LEG ACHES Cycling race through West Spokane, Cheney and Medical Lake, offering 15, 30, 45, or 75-mile routes, with the longest route passing eight area lakes. Aug. 3. $45-$225. Visit: Call: 343-5020 MIDNIGHT CENTURY Join others on a 100-mile nighttime bicycle ride on dirt roads through rural areas around Spokane. Aug. 3 at 11:59 pm. Free. The Elk Public House, 1931 W. Pacific Ave. Visit: COEUR D’ALENE TRIATHLON Participate in an annual triathlon, duathlon, or sprint-distance triathlon along NW Boulevard and the Spokane River on Aug 10. $85+. Downtown Coeur d’Alene. Visit: Call: 979-1018 STRIDES FOR STRONG BONES Participate in a 3-mile walk or run around Medical Lake to benefit the Washington Osteoporosis Coalition on Aug. 17 at 9 am. $15-$20. Waterfront Park, Medical Lake, Wash. Vistit: Call: 206-465-2585 WUNDER WOMAN Olympic- and sprint-distance triathlons for osteoporosis awareness on Aug. 18 starting at 7:30 am. $80. Visit: Call: 326-6983 MILLWOOD DAZE 5K An annual 5k pet-friendly walk benefiting Meals on Wheels Spokane on Aug. 24 at 8 am. $20-$30. Downtown Millwood, Wash. Visit: facebook. com/millwood5k PRIEST LAKE TRIATHLON Participate as a team or individually in an Olympic- or sprint-distance triathlon on Aug. 24 at 8 am. Hill’s Resort, 4777 W. Lakeshore Rd., Priest Lake. Visit: Call 208-946-9543 DWIGHT DASH 5-10K trail run around the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex to Riverside State Park on Aug. 24 at 9 am. $19-$29. Dwight Merkel Sports Complex, 5701 N. Assembly St. Visit: Call: 625-6200 SPOKEFEST The annual cycling festival includes a 1- to 2-mile family ride, a 9-mile Spokane Falls loop, a 21-mile river loop, or the 47-mile Four Mounds loop on Sept. 8 starting at 8 am. Visit: COBRA POLO CLASSIC The annual charity polo match benefits the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Spokane, on Sept. 8 at 12 pm. $200+. Spokane Polo Club, 7500 U.S. Hwy. 2 Visit: BOCCE BALL TOURNAMENT The annual event features a raffle, silent auction, and dinner to benefit local underprivileged youth on Sept. 9 from 12-8 pm. $75. Bozarth Mansion, 12415 N. Fairwood Dr. Visit: KIDICAL MASS BIKE RIDE Participate in a 3-mile family ride on anything with wheels that rolls, hosted by Spokane’s Summer Parkways, and that highlights safe riding practices on the road. Sept. 12 at 5 pm. Free. South Perry Neighborhood. Visit: HEART WALK A walk for individuals and teams to promote cardiovascular disease awareness and to raise money for medical care, research, and education on Sept. 14. Start time TBA. Riverfront Park, 507 N. Howard St. Visit: Call: 536-1500


Moving With Meaning T

he Inland Northwest Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is raising awareness by doing what many afflicted with multiple sclerosis (MS) have trouble doing: moving. Specifically, they’re biking. The local chapter hosts its annual cycling fundraiser Bike MS in mid-September. The chapter’s marketing and development director Kate Scotece says the ride has been a success in past years, and is expected to be again this year because of the dual opportunity it offers to riders. “We often introduce cyclists to our event and turn them into fundraisers,” she says. Funds raised through the ride benefit those with MS through support of research projects, medical needs programs, classes and publications that raise awareness. The Bike MS ride follows the scenic Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes between Plummer and Mullan, Idaho. Participants will not only enjoy the views of the Silver Valley and Lake Coeur d’Alene, but will feel fulfilled knowing each pedal counts for more than just another few feet to their total mileage. It’s a ride for change. — JEFF RUTHERFORD Bike MS • Sept. 14-15; one-day or two-day ride options • $50 registration fee, $200 fundraising minimum • Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes • • 482-2022 BIKE MS A two-day, 150-mile ride along the Idaho Panhandle to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society on Sept 14-15. $50. Visit: Call: 509-482-2022 SCENIC HALF Event includes a half marathon, 10K and 5K distances, beginning at Sandpoint City Beach on Sept. 15 at 8:30 am. $24-$69. Downtown Sandpoint, Idaho. Visit: Call: 208-263-2161 RACE FOR THE CURE A 1-mile or 5K run/walk to promote breast cancer awareness and raise funds for local breasthealth programs, on Sept. 22 at 10 am. Starts at North Idaho College, 1000 W. Garden Ave., Coeur d’Alene. Visit: Call: 208-384-0013 DIABETES WALK A 3-mile walk to benefit the juvenile Diabetes Foundation on Sept. 22 at 10 am. Riverfront Park, 507 N. Howard St. Visit: Call: 459-6307 CARING FOR KIDS LUNCHEON Event featuring keynote speaker Kelly Graves, Gonzaga women’s basketball coach, to benefit St. Anne’s Children & Family Center and The Morning Star Boys’ Ranch on Sept. 27 at 11:30 am. $50+.

Doubletree Hotel, 322 N. Spokane Falls Court. Visit: shmc. org Call: 358-4254 STOMP OUT ABUSE WALK Walk or run in the 5K event to benefit local victims of domestic violence on Sept. 28 at 9 am. $35. Riverfront Park, 507 N. Howard St. Visit: Call: 484-0600 AIDS WALK Annual fundraiser to benefit HIV care services and prevention education programs on Sept. 29 at 11 am. Riverfront Park, 507 N. Howard St. Visit: Call: 455-8993 DUCK RACE The El Katif Shrine hosts event this annual event to benefit the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children Spokane on Sept. 29 at 11:30 am. $5 per duck. Riverfront Park, 507 N. Howard St. Visit: Call: 624-2762 n The calendar is a free service, on a space-available basis. Mark submissions “InHealth Calendar” and include the time, date, address, cost and a contact phone number. Mail: 1227 W. Summit Parkway, Spokane, WA 99201; Fax: 325-0638; or E-mail:

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Brian Cronin at the U-District Foundation’s free Fun and Fitness Camp. STEPHEN SCHLANGE PHOTO

Fitness from the Start Physical therapist Brian Cronin helps run a foundation that gets kids excited about exercise By Jo Miller


rian Cronin thinks it’s never too early to get kids used to fitness as a way of life. With two young sons — a 2-year-old and an infant — Cronin says he and his wife make an effort to eat healthy and to take daily walks together. And while Cronin watches the kids, his wife goes to exercise. His wife watches the kids when Cronin does his workout. “[We] make it a point to the kids that they know mom or dad is going to exercise,” Cronin says. “So that is going to be part of their upbringing, and I think it will be very natural for them.” Both Cronin and his wife work as physical therapists at U-District PT. Along with two others, Cronin owns U-District

PT and oversees the U-District Foundation, a program that works to inspire kids to live healthier lives. The foundation was born out of a need the owners of U-District PT saw, a need to teach young kids about fitness. Just like with his own kids, Cronin says it’s not OK for kids to wait until they’re adults to figure out how to live healthy. “We think that kids are very impressionable, and we have the chance to teach them at an early age, and that’s why we targeted this group,” he says. “We certainly think adults need to learn this too, but we felt like the best way to impact the future would be to go right after kids, the young kids.”


hen Cronin was growing up in Spokane, he was quite active. He played many different sports — basketball, football and track — acquiring a handful of injuries along the way. Between his numerous ankle sprains, pulled muscles and three knee surgeries, he was exposed to a lot of physical therapy, which showed him where he wanted to head career-wise. “I always thought I want to go into some type of medicine, but the more I was exposed to physical therapy, it combined everything that I like: medicine, sports and exercise,” he says. “So I got to combine three of my passions into one profession.” Nine years ago Cronin decided to start his own facility, so he made contact with the other two owners of U-District PT and started the business. A couple of years into it, they began to think about how much the Spokane community contributed to their business. They began to ask questions. “What if we started a nonprofit that could help raise money to give back to the community and help utilize the knowledge and the skill set of the people that work here?” Cronin says. “And how can we use them to provide this great education and

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training opportunities to kids? That’s how we came up with the idea of starting a foundation.” The main goal? Teaching kids that exercise is fun. “Exercise is a part of healthy living when you’re a kid all the way through adult,” he says. “[We] have to try to combat the childhood obesity problem, the childhood inactivity problem. We have to combat that. And we felt that was just kind of our niche.”


he U-District Foundation’s programming is sixfold, with each aspect helping kids learn and experience the enjoyable side of pursuing fitness. The aptly named Fun and Fitness Camp and the Summer Series Fun Run — both free of charge — help kids mentally meld exercising with fun and success. Several local schools also benefit from the foundation’s physical education program. Certified fitness coaches assist in schools’ P.E. programs or step in to teach at schools where P.E. classes have been cut for budgetary reasons.

The other three U-District Foundation programs help kids individually. Kids are awarded sports training scholarships and the Family Challenge brings in family members, along with an obese child, to work out and learn about nutrition. The Mentorship Program utilizes a big-sister/ big-brother approach to pair healthy-living mentors with a child from a single-parent home or low-income family. Even though Cronin now tends to work behind the scenes of the programs, he still feels the positive impact of the U-District Foundation, whether it’s through a thankyou email from a grandmother appreciative that her granddaughter has a role model or remembering the years he worked hands-on with the Fun and Fitness Camps. Cronin recalls the growth he saw in kids’ abilities over the course of just a four-day camp. “The self-esteem and how excited they are is just really encouraging to watch,” he says. “It’s really powerful, through the form of exercise, to be able to create selfconfidence and encourage these kids to grow. And exercise can be a great driver for that.” 


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