Everybody gets the blues

EverybodygetsthebluesEveryone has days when they feel down. It’s normal. Life has its ups and downs. You may experience a feeling of profound grief after a life-changing accident, illness or the loss of a loved one. You may feel an emptiness and loss of purpose following the completion of an important event or project. Financial stress may be pulling you down. These are normal human emotions.

But when do the “blues” become the murky grays of depression?

When we talk about depression, we are referring to overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, emptiness and gloom that last for more than two weeks. These depressive feelings also interfere with a person’s ability to function in daily life. When this happens, it’s time to ask for help.

There is hope and help for people with depression.

Depression is a treatable condition; you don’t have to feel like this for the rest of your life. There is help and you don’t have to live through it alone.

If you think that you are depressed or you wonder if someone else may be depressed, take this short quiz.

Author: Michelle Nelson, LCSW,

Michelle Nelson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker on the mental health unit at Ministry Saint Michael’s Hospital in Stevens Point

Keep your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning


During winter, we work to keep the cold air out and the warm air in. But keeping fresh air out may cause deadly indoor air quality hazards.

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a real threat that escalates in fall and carries through the winter as temperatures drop, and we become more dependent on heating systems. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas caused by the incomplete combustion of fuels such as natural gas, fuel oil and gasoline.

Look for the following signs of carbon monoxide:

  • Sooting at the appliance or vents
  • Sharp, bitter odor of gas
  • Wavering yellow gas flame

One of the best ways to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is by installing a carbon monoxide detector.

Warning signs of CO poisoning include:

  • Disorientation or dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches or blurry vision
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tightness of the chest
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Heart palpitations

Don’t ignore the symptoms. You could lose consciousness and even die. If you suspect someone has been overcome by carbon monoxide:

  • Remove the person and yourself from the area
  • Call 911 and provide whatever basic life support is necessary

Author: Heong Png, MD

Dr Png is the Medical Director for Emergency Services at Ministry Saint Clare’s Hospital in Weston.

Checking in on aging parents over the holidays


Coping with aging parents

Holidays mean spending time with family, and if you’re going “over the river and through the woods” to elderly relatives’ homes, it’s an ideal time to check in on their living situation. Discussing aging individuals’ abilities to care for themselves isn’t an easy topic. Loss of independence is a prominent fear for many elderly people, but it needs to be balanced by the risks of living independently with cognitive or physical limitations.

If you haven’t seen your loved one or been in their home lately, consider the following physical, mental and environmental factors that can indicate it’s time to discuss a different living situation or in-home help or care.

  • How does your loved one look? Be on the lookout for significant weight loss or gain, which could be indicators of injury, illness or a big change in diet caused by difficulty shopping or cooking as usual.
  • Not keeping up with personal hygiene is another indicator that your loved one might need help. Memory trouble or injuries could result in a disheveled appearance or body odor.
  • Also be aware of your loved one’s stature. A stooped posture, shuffling walk or exhibiting trouble doing regular activities likely indicates physical frailty and loss of strength.
  • If you’re having trouble bringing these physical changes up, remember that, left unchecked, they could result in greater injuries down the road.


  • How does your loved one seem to be functioning around the house? Be on the lookout for unusual clutter such as unopened letters or bills, which could be signs of memory issues or trouble dealing with finances. Ask to go through that mail with your loved one to check if there are references to past due payments, overdrafts or other financial concerns.
  • Mental decline can also be seen in driving habits. Check your loved one’s vehicle for signs of inattentive driving (dents, lack of upkeep, lack of fluids or services) and suggest going for a drive to see if they are remembering their seatbelt, able to focus on driving, or exhibiting anxiety driving at night or on highways.
  • Aging individuals are also at risk for depression. Take a look at your loved one’s calendar or ask them about hobbies, activities and clubs to see if they have cut back on activities they once enjoyed.


  • Things around the house that seem small—like spills or a few cobwebs—can actually be a sign of dementia or general decline because they signal a lack of follow-through or physical limitations.
  • Check the kitchen for foods past their expiration dates or duplicates of the same item. Duplicates could simply mean your loved one is buying in bulk, but it could also be a sign of memory trouble. Along those same lines, make sure there is adequate food available in the home.
  • Accidents are more common for elderly individuals, so be on the lookout for signs of fire—charred items, burned edges, disassembled smoke detectors—or broken appliances.
  • Individuals who can’t adequately care for themselves often also have trouble caring for plants, animals and property. Look for dead or dying plants, pets with grooming, hygiene or food issues, and red flags like clogged gutters, broken windows or other maintenance problems.

If it seems that your loved one needs help, make sure that it is a collaborative discussion and solution. The prospect of losing their independence may cause your loved on to feel anxious, resentful, frightened or angry, so have a one-on-one conversation bringing up your concerns with specific examples. Be sure to avoid accusations or becoming frustrated, and encourage them to consider their safety and if they would want people they care about living in similar conditions. Remind them that you both have the same goal—for your loved one to be safe, happy and healthy during the holiday and all year long!

Author: Ann Patek

Ann Patek, RN, MSN, is the Service Line Director for Palliative Care at Ministry Health Care. In this role Ann serves as a member of the dyad providing leadership to the palliative care service line (her partner is Olumuyiwa Adeboye, MD). Ann’s interest in palliative care stems from her experiences working with patient’s in many settings along with witnessing friends and family coping with serious illness.

Ann received her Bachelor’s degree from Marquette University and earned her Master’s degree from University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Ministry to host free open house for 3D mammogram technology, June 10 in Plover

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One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, but when the disease is diagnosed early, the five year survival rate is 98%. Ministry Health Care will introduce 3D mammogram technology at their Plover location at a free open house event on Wednesday, June 10, 5:30 – 7pm, at 2401 Plover Road, Plover.

The open house will feature tours of the new 3D tomosynthesis technology, information tables, refreshments and a take home gift. Staff will available to answer questions and schedule mammograms.

Research has found that 3D mammography increased breast cancer detection rates by more than 40 percent. And at the same time, there was a 15 percent decline in the number of women who had to return for more tests because of a suspicious analog or 2D mammogram finding.

The Breast Care Center at Ministry Saint Michael’s Hospital was the first in the area to have this advanced technology and continues to lead the way. Ministry Medical Group, Plover is the second location in the area to offer 3D mammogram technology. By offering women the latest technology in mammography, Ministry Medical Group and Ministry Breast Care Center, Stevens Point hope to increase the number of area women who will be routinely screened.

Ministry Health Care reminds patients that due to the fact that this technology is so new some charges may not be covered by insurance. It is important for patients to verify coverage with their insurance company. Patients with clinical questions about 3D mammography or differences between 2D and 3D are encouraged to talk to their clinician.

The Angel Fund at Saint Michael’s Foundation serves patients in our community who are without insurance or are under-insured by providing prevention, detection and screening services for breast cancer. Call 715.342.7733 to find out if you qualify for the Angel Fund or other programs offer at the Ministry Breast Care Center at Ministry Saint Michael’s Hospital.

A Community That Keeps Giving

Sweet_Adelines_Donation_1_14_15January 14 – Sweet Adelines Center Point Chorus presented Saint Michael’s Foundation a $106 gift from their October Capella Event for the Breast Care Center Fund. In addition to their cash donation, they presented the Breast Navigators with embroidery of a breast cancer ribbon made by Shirlee Shaw.

Learn more about Saint Michael’s Foundation and the programs and services available at http://ministryhealth.org/SMH/SaintMichaelsFoundation.nws

Don’t miss these two great teams and a chance to support and a noble cause.

UW-Stevens Point Men’s Hockey Team, Ministry Health Care and Saint Michael’s Foundation will???????????????????????????????????? celebrate six years of “Putting a Check to Cancer,” when the Pointers take the ice against Bethel on January 31 at K.B. Willett Arena. Proceeds benefit the Breast Care Center Fund at Saint Michael’s Foundation.

In its first five years, Put a Check to Cancer has raised more than $20,000 to assist local cancer patients thanks to the support of Pointer hockey fans to the Saint Michael’s Foundation. Again this year fans have the ability to bid on the jerseys in advance of the event via an online auction. View the special edition Jerseys or make a bid at www.biddingowl.com/PointersHockey

UW-Stevens Point women’s basketball team, PLAY 4 KAY game, February 7

For the past several years Saint Michael’s Foundation has been thankful for the UW-Stevens Point women’s basketball team for gifting proceeds to the Project Embrace Fund at their annual Play4Kay game. Taking place this year on February 7 at 3 pm, UWSP Berg Gym. Show your support and wear your favorite shade of pink and get tickets for just $2. Proceeds will benefit the Project Embrace Fund at Saint Michael’s Foundation. Wear pink and your Ministry or Marshfield Clinic ID badge at the door and get in FREE. Ministry associates only please.

The Project Embrace Fund at Saint Michael’s Foundation supports oncology patients being served at Ministry Saint Michael’s Hospital. Last year, Saint Michael’s Foundation was gifted over $5,000 from game proceeds and other fundraising events.

Get tickets for the SentryWorld Golf Raffle. ONLY 10 LEFT! Only 40 tickets sold. Winning ticket receives $400 towards golf at the NEW SentryWorld golf course and $50 at PJs. Contact the Foundation for more information or to buy your ticket, $25 per ticket.

Can’t attend but still want to support? Play4Kay game t-shirts are available for purchase at the Saint Michael’s Foundation office at 715.343.3259.