Celebrating 80 Years: The Eighth Decade (2009-2019)

Celebrating 80 Years | The 8th Decade | Photo of the UM Charles Regional Medical Center exterior

In the past 10 years, we have simultaneously focused our efforts on contemplatively respecting the past and propelling ourselves into a bright and hopeful future.

Revitalizing our original building turned historic landmark was one of our foremost tasks. The former site of Physicians Memorial Hospital was transferred to Civista’s ownership in 2010. After a $500,000 renovation process, we were able to convert our original space to further localize care for the residents of La Plata. 

“I remember when I first came to the facility it was inadequate,” the late Dr. Guillermo Sanchez said at the time. “But the hospital has grown and become a leader in health care in Southern Maryland.”  

To commemorate this growth and the hospital’s new access to an extensive network of advanced health services, Civista Medical Center became the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center in 2013. This signified its membership in a prestigious 12-hospital system and deepened our commitment to bring world-class medical care to the people of Charles County.

In 2016, we brought on a new face to take the hospital to even greater heights than the past decades could even imagine. Joseph Moser, MD, became the new chief medical officer following 18 years as vice president of medical affairs at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis.

“I’m excited about this opportunity to work with the physicians and staff at Charles Regional,” Moser said. “This is a high-performing hospital in a premier health system, and it’s a privilege to join a team of this caliber in working to enhance health care for people in Charles County.” 

Over this past decade, we have strived to provide exceptional, award-worthy care to our patients. From our Get with the Guidelines Stroke Award for our commitment to educating the public about stroke prevention to our Workplace Center for Life recognition for promoting organ and tissue donation, we have consistently been recognized for giving back to our community. 

And we intend to do so for the next 80 years and beyond.

Miss any of the past stories from our “Celebrating 80 Years” series? Check out the posts below:

The First Decade (1939-1949)
The Second Decade (1949-1959)
The Third Decade (1959-1969)
The Fourth Decade (1969-1979)
The Fifth Decade (1979-1989)
The Sixth Decade (1989-1999)
The Seventh Decade (1999-2009)

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Important Tips for Maintaining Mental Wellness During the Holidays

Photo of a man holding his head in his hands

Feeling lonely, sadness due to personal losses, and even conditions like seasonal-affective disorder — these are all issues that can affect people during the holiday season. It should come as no surprise, either; it’s an especially busy and stressful time of year, and it can be easy to feel lost among all the excitement. 

Fortunately, there are some relatively simple ways to control your stress levels and promote a healthy mindset. Here are a few strategies for maintaining mental wellness around the holidays:

Budget Your Money and Your Time

Whether or not holiday stress, anxiety, depression or loneliness is something you’ve dealt with before, it’s always a great idea to be proactive this time of year. Here are some things you should budget out ahead of time:

Money – It can feel like there’s never enough money to get everything you want for everyone on your list. Financial wellness is connected to mental wellness, so don’t start working on your wishlist until you have a clear idea of how much you can afford without feeling uncomfortable about what’s on your credit card or in your bank account.

Time – With all the holiday parties, happenings, get-togethers, and shopping trips to get through — on top of your normal work and family responsibilities — your calendar can get out of control fast. Take a look at the next few weeks ahead and block out time for yourself along the way. You’d be surprised how much less stressful everything can feel if you plan it all out ahead of time. 

Feel Empowered to Say No When Necessary

Even if you don’t really celebrate the holidays as much as other people, you’re still going to be asked for something by someone this time of year.

It’s 100% OK to say no when you feel like you’re taking on more than you can handle — whether it’s to someone inviting you to join them for an event or simply a local charity asking you for a donation. Not making it to every event isn’t going to make-or-break a relationship with someone, and not making a donation doesn’t make you a bad person.

Go Easy on Yourself

Even the best-laid plans for happy holidays go awry every now and then. Sometimes, our self-control loses out to the delicious food and drinks that surround us this time of year, or we spend just a little bit too much on gifts for friends and family. Just remember, no one is perfect, and what you do during the few weeks surrounding the holidays can’t and won’t define you for the next 12 months.

Stick With Routines You Know Work

You probably have normal routines that help keep you balanced and energized throughout the year. It could be your nightly walk outside, the hour you carve out every day to read a book, or the daily trip to the gym.

Whatever activity you count on to keep yourself happy and calm, stick with it as best as possible. You’ll find that all the excitement, energy, and stress that come along with the holidays aren’t quite as jarring when you’re sticking with things that are familiar and comfortable.

Never Be Afraid to Ask for Help

The feeling of loneliness and isolation is a big problem for many people this time of year, but there’s always someone who can help. If, despite your best efforts, you find that you’re still struggling to keep everything together, don’t be afraid to talk with friends, family members, or a medical professional about what you’re feeling.

If you or someone you know is in immediate crisis during the holidays — or any other time — free and confidential support is available 24/7 from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and it can be reached by calling 1-800-273-8255.

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Keeping Strokes at Bay: Identification & Prevention Tactics

BE FAST - Stroke Prevention Graphic

Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Due to their lasting impact, strokes have become the leading cause of serious long-term disability in the United States. 

Strokes can also kill. 

One of every 20 Americans die because of strokes, and with around 140,000 yearly deaths, someone loses their life to this disease every 4 minutes. 

Fortunately, strokes are preventable and treatable. This means that with the right tools, you can take steps to increase your health and reduce your chances of experiencing a debilitating stroke. 

Know Your Risk

Although it’s out of your control, genetics do play a part in your risk of having a stroke. Your family history could put you at a greater hereditary risk. Factors like age, gender and ethnicity also affect stroke statistics. This disease is more common in older people, women and African-Americans.

Take Prevention Measures

Medical conditions like high blood pressure or high cholesterol are also key indicators that raise your chances for a stroke. But these risk factors can be mediated through precautions and preventive steps. Maintaining a healthy weight and an active lifestyle can help. This means adjusting your diet to reduce your intake of salts, fats and cholesterol. Also, make sure to get moving with at least 2½  hours of physical activity a week. You should also avoid smoking and drink alcohol only in moderation, as these are also linked to the risk factors. 

BE FAST — Understand the Warning Signs 

Most strokes happen when blood flow to the brain is blocked. This results in a variety of symptoms that can be tricky to recognize in the moment. The most common symptoms are easily remembered with the acronym BE FAST.

B — Balance

E — Eyes and visual disturbances

F — Face drooping

A — Arm weakness

S — Speech difficulty

T — Time to call 911 

Although many don’t recognize all of the possible symptoms, this early stage of detection is especially important given that early identification can be the key to rapid treatment. Getting to a medical professional quickly in an emergency can mean better chances at a full recovery. It’s been shown that arrival to the hospital within three hours of the first symptoms is associated with greater success at reducing disability three months out. So if you notice the warning signs, act with the utmost urgency. 

Get Professional Help

When you’re experiencing a stroke, emergency medical staff will be there to guide you. But what if you want to access professional care as a preventive measure — whether to just learn more or work towards reducing your risk? Experts in the neurological field are the best doctors for extra care when it comes to strokes. 

If you’re seeking specialized neurological services in Southern Maryland, UM Charles Regional Medical Group – Neurology is now accepting patients at the UM Charles Regional Medical Pavilion in La Plata.

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Why National Influenza Vaccination Week Is So Important

Photo of a person receiving a vaccination shot

Did you know that, every year since 2005, the week of December 1-7 has been designated as National Influenza Vaccination Week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)?

If the fact that it takes place so late in the year strikes you as surprising, you’re not alone. But there are some really important reasons why the CDC and its partners highlight the need to get the flu shot as we head into winter — and some good reasons why everyone should pay attention.

Why Now?

You might be thinking to yourself, “if you haven’t gotten the flu shot by now, why bother?” 

It’s probably a common question because, according to the CDC, flu vaccination rates usually trend downward near the end of November. This is because people start getting busier with the holidays and many people even overlook just how common the seasonal flu is during the month of December and beyond.

Don’t believe us? Take a look at the chart below, which highlights the months in which peak flu activity was observed from 1982 through 2018. You can see that things really start picking up right around December.

Chart of peak flu activity from the CDC

(Chart source: CDC)

What this means is — if you or someone you know hasn’t yet received their seasonal flu vaccination — it’s not too late!

As more people come together for the holidays, the likelihood of spreading or catching the seasonal influenza virus is greater than ever. And even if you don’t want to get vaccinated for yourself, you should do it (assuming you’re medically able to do so) to protect those around you who may have a compromised immune system.

What if I’ve Already Gotten the Flu?

You can and should still get the flu vaccine! Since there are a variety of influenza virus strains that are spread every year, there’s no way to tell which strain you were previously infected with. And the seasonal flu vaccine may be able to help protect you from other strains.

Where to Receive the Seasonal Flu Vaccine

If you live in Southern Maryland, there are several places you can turn to for the seasonal flu vaccine for little or no cost to you.

Many local stores and pharmacies offer walk-in clinics where standard vaccinations are offered. You can also visit your primary care physician, who can administer the shot for you. Don’t have a primary care doctor? Visit our website to learn more about UM Charles Regional Medical Group – Primary Care in La Plata, and call (301) 609-5044 to schedule an appointment.

Don’t have insurance or worried that it won’t cover the full cost? The Charles County Department of Health offers free walk-in flu vaccinations from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays. Its office is located at 4545 Crain Highway, White Plains, MD 20695.

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5 Ways to Reduce Stress

Photo of person sitting on a beach at sunset

Fighting rush-hour traffic. Taking a test. Worrying about money. While never fun, stresses like these are a normal part of life. 

“It’s our body’s response to something that’s upsetting our balance,” Mary Hannah, RN, manager of population health at University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center, said. 

But too much stress can contribute to hypertension and other medical conditions. Stress also increases cortisol, a hormone that can trigger weight gain and fat storage. To avoid these consequences, try these strategies: 

Take a Deep Breath (or Several)

When acute stress strikes, take slow deep breaths and focus on a single object.

Understand Where the Stress is Coming From

Identify and acknowledge the stress. Prioritize and triage sources of stress, and eliminate or delay things that do not need immediate attention. For example, don’t stress about a presentation that’s happening next week while you’re worried about getting dinner on the table tonight.

Get Outside

If you’re cooped up inside all day, getting outside in nature is a great way to decompress. Pay attention to your surroundings and take some deep breaths of the fresh air.

Make Meditation an Option

While all of these strategies are great for short-term stress relief, meditation might be one of the best long-term solutions to stress. Meditation and yoga have both been shown to calm the mind.

Get Moving

Engaging in exercise is a fantastic way to reduce stress. More importantly, however, is finding an exercise that’s enjoyable. It could be dancing, basketball, bike riding, running, weightlifting, or something else. Whatever it is, if you enjoy it, it’s more likely the habit will stick.

Always remember, stress is a normal part of life, no matter who you are. If you’re finding it especially difficult to manage your stress levels, be sure to talk to your primary care doctor who can work with you to put together a personalized stress-relief strategy.

This story originally appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of Maryland’s Health Matters, the official magazine of University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center. Start reading the latest issue on our website.

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Celebrating 80 Years: The Seventh Decade (1999-2009)

Celebrating 80 Years: The Seventh Decade

On April 28, 2002, another tornado brought pain and destruction to Charles County. This one ended up taking most of La Plata with it.

It destroyed infrastructure. It damaged buildings. It left lasting wounds in every corner of the community. 

“That night,” reads La Plata’s Memory Lane Exhibition, “the employees of Civista Medical Center rose to the occasion.”

With an influx of 70 patients, the hospital’s team, especially those from the emergency department, and volunteers rallied together to show the true meaning of a community hospital. They embodied a triumphant spirit in the face of disaster.

The First Expansion of Civista

With its relatively new name, Civista Medical Center introduced its first expansion that was completed and dedicated in September 2007. Dr. Seetaramayya Nagula, the first gastroenterologist at Civista, gave the dedication.

He praised the hospital’s consistent commitment to employing top-of-the-line equipment and staff and its resilience in the face of the decade’s tragedies. In the years to come, he would eventually spend three years as the hospital’s chief of staff, and the hospital would help more patients than ever before.

Stay tuned to our blog for the final story about our hospital over the past eight decades. And be sure to follow us on Facebook — we’ll be sharing facts and photos from over the years throughout 2019.

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Give the Gift of Good Health This December with the Tree of Life

Photo of the hospital during the holiday season

Every year, our Tree of Life celebration generates emotions of love, hope, and healing in our community. Its presence at our hospital signifies fellowship as it honors those who’ve touched our lives. 

Proceeds from the Tree of Life directly benefit the CRMC Foundation and efforts to help equip nursing units and make improvements for imaging and social services.

Ways to Give

From now until December 4, you can make a gift to the CRMC Foundation to support our cause. There are three different ways to participate:

  • Light on the Tree of Life: $15
  • Healing Garden Luminary Donation: $50
  • Angel Perpetual Light Donation: $100 (A One-Time Gift)

Make Your Gift Button

All gifts must be received by November 21 to be included in the commemorative program.

You can make your gift online by using the “Make Your Gift” button above or by visiting CRMCfoundation.org. Gifts can also be mailed or faxed to the CRMC Foundation by downloading the registration form and sending it to:

CRMC Foundation
P.O. Box 1701
La Plata, MD 20646
or 301-609-4470 (fax)

Join Us for the Illumination Ceremony

On Wednesday, December 4, at 5:30 p.m., we’ll come together at the hospital to remember our loved ones at the Illumination Ceremony. And following the illumination of the Tree of Life, stay for a dessert reception and to enjoy holiday music.

For questions about the Illumination Ceremony or the Tree of Life, please contact the CRMC Foundation office at (301) 609-4132 or send us a message on Facebook.

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The 5 Most Surprising Facts About Diabetes

Photo of someone performing a finger prick to measure blood sugar levels

When you want to learn more about diabetes, your doctor and the American Diabetes Association. are likely your best bet for everything you want to know. And with all the most important topics covered by these great resources, we wanted to dive deeper into some of the lesser-known facts about diabetes in honor of National Diabetes Month. Here are five things you might not know about diabetes and its effects on the population: 

Diabetes is a Leading Cause of Blindness Worldwide

When most Americans think about diabetes, they probably think of it in terms of how it can affect someone’s diet or what medications they need to take. But the reality is that diabetes is a leading cause of blindness in America and around the world.

Adults with Diabetes Are Twice as Likely to Die from Heart Disease or Stroke

What might be most surprising about diabetes, however, is that it’s integrally linked with heart disease and stroke. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, adults with diabetes are twice as likely to die from these conditions as adults without diabetes.

The reason for this increased stroke and heart disease risk is because of the damage diabetes can do to your body. More specifically, the high levels of glucose in the blood of someone with diabetes can damage the blood vessels in their heart over time. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken by someone with diabetes to lower their chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

Millions of Americans Have Type 1 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is far and away the most common form of diabetes; however, it might surprise you to learn just how many people in America currently live with type 1 diabetes. 

Unlike type 2 diabetes, which is often caused by lifestyle choices, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that occurs when someone’s pancreas produces little or no insulin (a hormone needed to process sugar in the body). And, According to the American Diabetes Association, 1.25 million people in the United States are living with type 1 diabetes with an additional 40,000 people in our country will be diagnosed with it this year alone.

Many Early Symptoms of Diabetes Are Too Mild to Notice

Although doctors are generally able to point to things like weight, age, physical activity levels, race, cholesterol levels, etc., to determine a person’s type 2 diabetes risk, type 1 diabetes is much more difficult to predict. Moreover, most people who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes never show any symptoms of the condition until it causes further complications.

When symptoms do arise, they commonly include the following:

  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Excessive hunger
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that take a long time to heal
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in your hands and/or feet

Talk with your primary care provider to learn more about your level of risk for diabetes and to find out if the A1C test (i.e., the test that can identify prediabetes) is right for you.

Half of All Those with Diabetes Are Undiagnosed

With such mild early symptoms, it’s easy to see why there are so many cases of diabetes that go unnoticed. According to the International Diabetes Federation, 50% of people who have diabetes right now are living with it undiagnosed.

Early detection of prediabetes or diabetes is an important step in preventing life-altering or life-threatening complications, and this is especially true for type 1 diabetes, which can lead to disability or death if not detected early enough.

Resources for Adults with Diabetes in Southern Maryland

If you’re struggling with diabetes or simply want to learn more about how to better manage your condition, you can find help right here in Southern Maryland.

Our Center for Diabetes Education is led by a certified diabetes educator and provides the following:

  • Blood sugar meter training
  • Individual evaluation and diabetes instruction
  • Group education classes
  • Insulin instruction and injection training
  • Diabetes nutrition instruction and weight management
  • Diabetes self-management education

In addition, UM Charles Regional Medical Group – Diabetes & Endocrinology is a specialty practice located in Waldorf that offers comprehensive diabetes care and education to help you avoid complications. To learn more about either of these practices, please call (301) 870-4100.

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Enjoy a Healthy Holiday Season with Diabetes

Photo of group of people at UM Charles Regional Center for Diabetes Education class

Eating healthy through the holidays is hard for everyone.

If you’re living with diabetes, it’s even more challenging. But it’s a challenge you can overcome — and still enjoy plenty of delicious seasonal treats. You can control your weight and control your blood sugar as long as you keep a few simple tips in mind.

Start with a Plan

Impulse eating is an easy trap to fall into. So recognize the risk, make a plan to fight the temptation and stick to it. That doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of cookies and pies and brownies and all of the other things you look forward to during the holiday season.

If you’re going to a party and you know there is going to be certain foods and certain desserts, work those sugars and carbohydrates into your nutritional budget and adjust your meals before and after accordingly.

Stick with Your Exercise

It’s easy to get out of your diet and exercise routine when your normal weekly schedules out of whack with holiday parties and holiday happy hours and actual holidays. But remember that a little exercise can go a long way. Even if you don’t exercise as long or as strenuously as you normally do, that’s OK. Get up, get moving and do something every day.

Stay on Top of Your Blood Sugar

If your eating habits and your eating schedule are breaking from the norm, be sure to check your blood sugar and your insulin more frequently. This will allow you to make adjustments as needed and correct any problems before they get out of hand.

Limit Your Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol can lower your blood sugar, so extreme moderation is the name of the game. A drink or two a day is a good rule of thumb. And know what you’re drinking because the contents of alcohol can vary greatly. As always, be smart about what you drink.

Enjoy the Holidays

Having diabetes does complicate things, but it doesn’t have to take the fun out of the holidays. Treat yourself, but be smart.  Focus on making the most of each day and celebrating with friends and families. That’s what it’s all about. 

Have Questions? Talk to Your Doctor

Physicians who specialize in diabetes and endocrinology are incredible resources to help you navigate the holidays. Many practices, like UM Charles Regional Medical Group – Diabetes and Endocrinology, work closely with registered dieticians who can help you come up with a plan to make the most of this holiday season.

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Celebrating 80 Years: The Sixth Decade (1989-1999)

Celebrating 80 Years - The Sixth Decade

By the time the 1990s rolled around, the hospital was a fully accredited, full-service facility, and it was able to give back to the community, inside and outside of the hospital walls, more so than ever before. 

Celebrating its patients and supporting the community remained a paramount priority for the hospital. Beyond the health care it provided, Physicians Memorial Hospital sponsored a variety of events throughout the decade, including cancer walks, the Great Pumpkin Run, and more.

Physicians Memorial also began to offer several community services beyond the traditional scope of a hospital, including wellness programs and health screenings. It was all made possible because it was more financially stable, had more room to house its patients, and had a more advanced facility overall.

A New Name for Charles County’s Hospital

Like so many of its patients over the decades, the hospital had overcome countless obstacles through the power of perseverance.

And it wanted to commemorate how far it had come. 

Thus marked the first major name change in the history of the hospital. In February 1998, Physicians Memorial Hospital officially became Civista Medical Center.

Civista, meaning “civic with a vision”, appropriately encapsulated everything the hospital had become as an organization. Far beyond a traditional health care setting, it was now a powerful contributing force to the community as a whole. Civista had transitioned its focus to not only help make people well during times of need, but also to give them a brighter, healthier future to see ahead. 

With a new name and stronger vision, Civista launched into the 21st century.

Stay tuned to our blog for upcoming stories about our hospital over the decades. And be sure to follow us on Facebook — we’ll be sharing facts and photos from over the past eight decades throughout 2019.

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