Sudden Infant Death Syndrome remains a mystery
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Angela Garrett remembers the cold day in January 1993 as one that began like a normal day.
She had just per her 2-month-old son, Blaine, down for a nap in his crib. She checked on him frequently, but despite that, one hour later Blaine died in his sleep. The cause was Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, Awareness Month. SIDS occurs at a rate of about 0.5 per 1,000 births. However, in American Indian and African American populations, the rate is around one per 1,000 births.
SIDS is considered the death of a child less than 1 year old that remains “unexplained” after a thorough investigation including an autopsy, review of clinical history and investigation of the scene of death, said Dr. Tom Kincade, chief of Pediatrics at the Cherokee Nation Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee.
“I think it is important for our communities to know abut SIDS due to the increased rates in Native Americans and also to be aware of the factors that can help prevent SIDS,” Kincade said.
SIDS remains a leading cause of death in healthy infants less than 1 year old, and approximately 2,100 infants in the United States die of SIDS per year, he said.
Parents can reduce the risk of SIDS by placing babies on their backs to sleep.
“Studies show that over 90 percent of infants that died from SIDS were not sleeping on their backs,” he said. “Most were sleeping on their stomachs.”
Garrett said she put Blaine on his back for his nap, but when she found him, he was on his stomach and his face was in the crib mattress.
“Somehow, at 2 months old he rolled over,” she said. “He was already gone when I found him. I didn’t even call 911(immediately.) I called my mom because he was already gone.”
She said afterward she was in a state of shock, and since then she’s blocked out most of the memory of losing Blaine to SIDS.
“I don’t even remember them taking him out,” she said. “I thought he was still in the room after the ambulance got there and everything. It was a couple of hours later and I thought he was still there.”
Even now, 14 years later, Garrett said she’s stilly trying to understand SIDS.
“From the moment I found him, I don’t remember too much of anything else,” she said. “He wasn’t sick. He didn’t have a cold. There wasn’t anything wrong with him.”
Studies have also shown that letting babies use pacifiers while sleeping can reduce the SIDS risk, Kincade said. He added that infants should sleep on a firm sleeping surface, should not be overdressed while they sleep and stuffed animals, excess bedding and blankets should be avoided.
“When babies leave the hospital nursery they should be able to maintain a normal body temperature which means if parents feel comfortable in shorts and a tee shirt, their babies will too,” he said.
Educational materials about SIDS have been placed in the clinic and exam rooms at the Three Rivers Health Center, and other tribal clinics have been encouraged to do the same, Kincade said.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On May 5, the Oklahoma Breast Care Center’s Mobile Mammogram Unit will be at the Cherokee Nation’s Gadugi Health Center offering mammograms to those who are eligible.
Mammogram screenings are available to CN employees who carry insurance.
According to a release, the American Cancer Society recommends that women over the age of 40 have a mammogram yearly.
When receiving a mammogram it is important to wear a two-piece outfit so it is easy to undress from the waist up. It is also recommended to not wear deodorant or powder because is can show up on the scan.
For more information or to schedule a mammogram, call 918-207-4911.
CLAREMORE, Okla. – The Claremore Indian Hospital will be closed for the replacement and installation of a new emergency generator from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on April 30.
All patient care will be diverted, and if inclement weather occurs, the maintenance will be rescheduled to following week.
CLAREMORE, Okla. – The Claremore Indian Hospital will host an Affordable Care Act Outreach and Enrollment Fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 19 at 101 S. Moore Ave.
According to a hospital press release, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Oklahoma will be at the hospital to assist patients with signing up for free to low-cost health insurance. Those wishing to sign up must bring their income information such as pay stubs, W-2 forms or “Wage and Tax Statements” to learn about health insurance options. Applicants must also bring their Social Security numbers, policy numbers for any current health insurance and information about any health insurance they or their families could get from an employer.
Nov. 1 marked the beginning of the third open enrollment period for the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace. According to the release, even though citizens of federally recognized tribes have a special monthly enrollment status, it is important for American Indian and Alaska Native individuals and families to learn about their insurance options.
“Whether it’s purchasing insurance through the Marketplace or qualifying for SoonerCare, knowing that you have quality coverage provides peace of mind,” the release states.
For more information, call Sheila Dishno, the hospital’s patient benefit coordinator, at 918-342-6240.
PEGGS, Okla. – Spring is in full bloom and many people are taking to their gardens to plant vegetable and flower seeds. Cherokee Nation citizens Deborah Smoke, her husband, William, and their grandson, Caden Murphy, recently spent time turning a patch of dirt into a hopeful crop of okra.
Deborah said the okra is the first of several crops they intend to plant.
“We’ve cleaned up our beds and we’ve planted okra today, and we have several other bedding plants to put out,” she said. “We have our tomatoes, but with the spring like it’s been we’ve just been real worried about frost, and so we’re trying to work around the weather. My husband and I are trying to get our beds ready. They’re small but they’re productive.”
The couple also plans to plant heirloom seeds they received from the CN Seed Bank.
“This year we got some heirloom seeds from the Cherokees. We got two varieties. One of them is a bean and one of them is a squash. We’re hoping to see how those go, and if we like them then we’ll save our seeds and we’ll plant them again next year,” she said.
Deborah said working in the garden is therapeutic for her and her husband.
“In the past several years I’ve had two back surgeries and probably need some more. My husband has had rheumatoid arthritis since he was 35-years-old and he has always been as active as his condition will allow him, and he’s even gone a little above,” she said. “It is very therapeutic for us to get out and work in the gardens and see the results every year.”
Deborah said working with Murphy also proves to be therapeutic.
“Well, he’s very therapeutic because he keeps you active. He’s just energetic, always wanting to go. Whether you want to get up or not you get up and that’s a good thing because we don’t want to be sedentary,” she said. “He comes out, ‘what can I do? I want to work.’ So we put him to work today on helping grow the garden, wanted to pull weeds. You don’t see young kids wanting to pull weeds, but he’s done that for several years even since he was about 3 years old. He’d go out and pull the weeds.”
Deborah said her earliest memory of gardening was with her grandparents in Sapulpa.
“I would go out every year and help my grandmother plant, and I’d help her harvest the crops, and of course all the families shared in the goodies,” she said. “These are the times that I can look back and remember and have the good aspects.”
She said it’s good to pass her gardening knowledge to Murphy such as her grandparents did with her.
“Having your youth to continue this process, I think, is the most important thing that we can do to continue the longevity of our culture, the tribe and the youth of today,” she said.
Murphy, 7, said he enjoys helping in the garden because he can “learn stuff and plant seeds.”
“I thought people would like eating them (okra) because they are good for you and they taste good,” he said.
He said it’s important for kids to help garden “because it’s fun and it’s fun doing it with your family.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With warmer weather among us, people tend to spend more time participating in outdoor activities. But it’s important to remember that warmer weather brings ticks and the illnesses they can carry.
Although a small percentage of ticks carry disease-causing bacteria, it’s important to take precautions such as using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants while outdoors, avoiding bushy and wooded areas and check thoroughly after spending time outside.
One disease that ticks can carry is the Heartland Virus. In 2014, a Delaware County man died from the illness, Oklahoma State Department of Health officials confirmed. Officials said it was the first case and death caused by the virus in Oklahoma.
According to the OSDH, the virus is found in the Lone Star tick and was first seen in Missouri in 2009.
“The Oklahoma case was only the 10th person confirmed with the virus and the second person to die from it. Other cases have occurred in Missouri and Tennessee,” according to the OSDH. “All of the patients diagnosed with Heartland Virus reported spending several hours per day in outside activities or occupations.”
Symptoms include fever, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, loss of appetite, nausea, bruising easily and diarrhea. Most patients require hospitalization but fully recover.
Other tick-borne diseases include Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Borrelia miyamotoi, Colorado tick fever, Lyme disease, Powassan, Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Southern tick-associated rash illness and Tickborne relapsing fever.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Ehrlichlosis symptoms develop one to two weeks after being bitten by an infected tick. Symptoms include fever, headache, chills, malaise, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, conjunctival injection (red eyes) and rash.
Ehrlichlosis can be fatal if not treated correctly, even in previously healthy people. Patients who are treated early may recover quickly on outpatient medication, while those who experience a more severe case may require intravenous antibiotics, prolonged hospitalization or intensive care.
Signs and symptoms of Tularemia vary depending on how the bacteria enter the body. Illness ranges from mild to life-threatening. All forms are accompanied by fever, which can be as high as 104 ° F.
Two tick-associated forms of the disease are ulceroglandular and glandular.
Ulceroglandular is the most common form and usually occurs following a tick or deer fly bite or after handing of an infected animal. A skin ulcer appears at the site where the organism entered the body. The ulcer is accompanied by swelling of regional lymph glands, usually in the armpit or groin.
Glandular is similar to ulceroglandular tularemia but without an ulcer. Also generally acquired through the bite of an infected tick or deer fly or from handling sick or dead animals.
The CDC states that Tularemia symptoms can be mistaken for other more common illnesses. It is important to share with your health care provider any likely exposures, such as tick and deer fly bites. Blood tests and cultures can help confirm the diagnosis. Antibiotics used to treat Tularemia and treatment usually lasts 10 to 21 days depending on the stage of illness and the medication used. Although symptoms may last for several weeks, most patients completely recover.
Visit <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/index.html" target="_blank">http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/index.html</a> for more information on infectious diseases cause by tick bites.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Despite being held harmless, the Cherokee Nation’s Health Services officials are keeping an eye on potential cuts to Oklahoma’s Medicaid reimbursement rate.
With the state facing a $1.3 billion shortfall for the coming fiscal year, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority announced plans in late March to reduce Medicaid reimbursement rates for Oklahoma health care providers by 25 percent starting June 1.
Alternative proposals have been suggested to make up the Medicaid funds, including a $1.50 sales tax increase on cigarette packs and an expansion of Insure Oklahoma, a state-sponsored low-income insurance program that predates the Affordable Care Act and could potentially bring in additional federal Medicaid funds. However, both would require legislative approval, which is not guaranteed.
Despite seeing about 18,000 Medicaid patients among its health facilities, Health Services officials said they do not expect the proposed cuts to have a direct impact on CN services.
“Because our reimbursement rates are negotiated annually between IHS (Indian Health Service) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, our rates will be unaffected,” Health Services Deputy Director Dr. Charles Grim said. “They are also unaffected because the state of Oklahoma does not have to pay the state match rate for Indian patients seen in an IHS or tribal program. Since 100 percent of the funds to pay tribes comes directly from the federal government, the state would not be saving any funds by reducing our rates.”
However, the announced reductions’ impact could be felt indirectly later this year if the cuts do take effect. In response to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s announcement, the Oklahoma State Medical Association voted unanimously to encourage its members to consider dropping out of Medicaid, as many of its members would be operating at a loss every time a Medicaid patient is treated.
CN Health Services is not considering such a move, but many of the specialists and hospitals that receive contract health care referrals are among the 46,129 health care providers across Oklahoma that currently accept Medicaid. CN Health Services officials declined to say whether any contract health care providers have announced their intent to stop accepting Medicaid.
However, Grim did acknowledge that they are closely monitoring their referral networks, as the costs associated with sending a Medicaid contract health patient to a provider who no longer participates in the program would instead have to be covered by the tribe’s contract health budget.
Even if the tribe’s contract health funds were required to stretch further, the previously announced expansion at W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah would not be affected, officials said.
“The Medicaid cuts have absolutely no impact on the W.W. Hastings Hospital addition since the tribe is paying for construction costs and the joint venture funding comes straight from Indian Health Services, as outlined in the agreement signed earlier this year,” Health Services Executive Director Connie Davis said.