Healthy Lungs, Healthy You: 5 Ways to Protect Your Lungs

Healthy Lungs, Healthy You

Now more than ever, lung health is front and center for many people. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do from home to keep your lungs healthy and strong.

The team behind the UM Charles Regional Medical Center Cardiac Rehabilitation program has put together five tutorials to help you prevent breathing issues and illnesses associated with your lungs. From simple breathing exercises to special equipment to keep your lungs in shape, these demonstrations are designed for everyone, regardless of whether or not they have a chronic lung condition such as asthma or COPD.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Chronic lung illnesses, pneumonia, or a postural issue can impact a person’s ability to take deep breaths. Fortunately, some simple breathing exercises — known as “diaphragmatic breathing” — can help ease symptoms. Here’s Exercise Physiologist Brian Loux explaining how it’s done:

The Importance of Oral Care

You might not think of having a clean and hygienic mouth as being connected to lung health, but brushing your teeth isn’t just for having a healthy smile. Find out how good oral care can help prevent a dangerous form of pneumonia in this video from Speech Language Pathologist Nisha Sharma:

Using an Incentive Spirometer

Regular exercise is often pointed to as a primary factor in overall health. Did you know you can exercise your lungs, too? Watch Vice President of Quality and Patient Experience Anne Weekley give an informational overview of how to use the incentive spirometer, a tool that promotes healthy lung function both at home and here at the hospital: 

Pursed-Lip Breathing

If you have asthma, COPD, a chronic lung disease, or are recovering from an illness such as pneumonia, there’s one breathing technique you’ll definitely want to know to combat shortness of breath. Here’s Manager of Population Health Mary Hannah explaining and demonstrating what’s known as pursed-lip breathing:

Let’s Get Moving

In the age of social distancing and staying home, it’s important to maintain a healthy level of physical activity. Exercise Physiologist Brian Loux is back to tell you how a physically active lifestyle can help you improve your physical and mental health or manage your symptoms if you have a chronic lung condition:

Want to learn more about UM Charles Regional Medical Center’s Cardiac Rehabilitation program? Visit our website or call (301) 609-4413. Click here for more information about how to monitor your health and strengthen your lungs.

Read More  

Making the Most of Telehealth Options at UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation

Physical therapist working with patient over video call on laptop

The need for physical therapy doesn’t subside in light of a global pandemic or our now-socially-distant reality, but the team at UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation is ready to help. 

Thanks to the ever-evolving array of technology available to us, this experienced team is able to provide physical therapy and hand therapy services to patients without putting anyone’s health at risk during these unprecedented times. Patients are able to complete evaluations, guided exercises, have pressing questions answered, and more — all through telehealth offerings now available at UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation and other UM Charles Regional practices in the area. Read on to learn more.

Insurance Coverage for Telehealth Appointments

In most cases, telehealth appointments are treated the same as in-person appointments; however, specific questions regarding insurance coverage should be discussed in your call with the UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation team member, especially if you’re a first-time patient who is unable to receive a referral from your physician.

In-Person Appointments Are Still Available

Although telehealth technology is making it possible for practices such as UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation to work directly with patients in new, “socially distant” ways, there are simply conditions and treatments that require in-person interaction. With that in mind, select patients can still be seen at the La Plata office, which is operating with additional policies to keep patients and team members safe:

  • A masking policy for everyone who enters the practice
  • Maintaining recommended social distancing in the gym
  • Focusing on extra handwashing and hand hygiene opportunities
  • Enhanced practice and equipment cleaning procedures

Whether you’re a new or existing patient, your therapist will help you decide if telehealth options or in-person treatment is recommended.

Scheduling an Appointment, Hours of Operation, and Location

Requesting an appointment or initial consultation is as easy as calling our team at (301) 609-5494. Remember, online visits can be completed with your computer, tablet, or smartphone and through a secure connection so your personal health information stays between you and your doctor. Please see below for hours of operation and the location of the UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation office, which is part of the UM Charles Regional Medical Pavilion.

5 N. La Plata Court, Suite 102
La Plata, MD 20646
Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-7:00 p.m. | Friday, 7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Visit our website to learn more about specific services offered by the team at UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation.

Read More  

Welcoming the Newest Member of the UM Charles Regional Board

UM Charles Regional Medical Center Board of Directors Update. Welcoming Tom Dennison.

We’re excited to announce that Tom Dennison has been appointed to our board of directors. Get to know more about Tom’s background and how he’ll contribute to our growing network of medical services in Charles County.

Tom joins our board as the managing director of government and public affairs for Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO). In his current role, he works closely with federal, state, and local elected officials on behalf of the cooperative, and he’s also the primary community liaison on matters relating to rates, constructions, and operations of SMECO.

“We are delighted to have Tom join our board,” said Board Chairman Wayne Barnes. “Tom is highly regarded and has deep roots in our community, which will serve our board well.” 

Tom is also a member of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, serving as an executive board member for the organization. In addition, he’s known for being an active member of the community, having previously served as the president of the Charlotte Hall Rotary Club.

“Tom has excellent relationships with elected and business leaders throughout Maryland, and he will bring unique insight and perspective to our board of directors,” said Noel Cervino, UM Charles Regional Medical Center’s president and CEO.

A current resident of La Plata with his wife and daughters, Tom has witnessed the ongoing expansion of the University of Maryland Medical System in his community for the past several decades.

“UM Charles Regional Medical Center has been a pillar of our Southern Maryland community for more than 80 years. It has a rich history in providing life-saving care and economic development for generations of families,” Tom said. “It is my honor to serve on this board to do whatever I can to ensure our hospital continues to thrive and serve future generations.”

About the UM Charles Regional Board

Members of the UM CRMC board of directors serve three-year terms and are eligible to serve two additional terms. Board members are committed to creating an excellent healthcare system in Charles County, and to ensuring that our healthcare system is consistently capable of providing excellent care to each patient in safe, caring, family-centered environments. UM Charles Regional fosters a healthier community by providing service, education, and access to care in concert with other community organizations.

For more information about UM Charles Regional’s leadership, visit our website to learn more about our board of directors and executive team.

Read More  

UM Charles Regional Medical Center Releases Latest COVID-19 Patient Data

COVID-19 snapshot data

University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center (UM CRMC) is committed to providing transparency in its efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic in Charles County.

“It’s vital that people know that, even as we continue to treat COVID-19 patients and prepare for additional patients, we continue to provide for the emergent medical needs of our community, and that our residents should not delay critical medical care,” UM CRMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joseph Moser said.

Officials released the following statistics about testing and treatment at the hospital:

  • 700 patients have been tested since March 12
  • 167 (23%) of those tested have returned a positive test result
  • Of those who tested positive:
    • 83 were admitted to the hospital for further treatment
    • 84 were discharged to self-quarantine
  • Of the 83 who were admitted:
    • 22 came from nursing homes
    • 61 came from outside nursing homes
  • 19 patient deaths at the hospital have been attributed primarily or in-part to COVID-19; nine of those patients came from area nursing homes or long-term care facilities
  • As of April 21, the hospital has 25 COVID-19 positive patients in its care

Vice President for Ancillary Services Bill Grimes also highlighted that special procedures and policies have been implemented locally and in University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) hospitals throughout Maryland.

“These updated policies underscore our commitment to keeping our patients and staff safe,” he said. 

New policies and procedures at the hospital include:

  • Creating separate medical and intensive care units for those who tested positive for COVID-19 and those who tested negative for COVID-19
  • Rapid testing of all inpatients upon hospital admission for correct placement’
  • Implementation of a strict no-visitors policy
  • A universal masking policy that requires additional levels of personal protective equipment (PPE) required for providers and nurses when providing patient care
  • Applying stringent room cleaning standards
  • Securing additional protective equipment, testing kits, and respiratory equipment, including ventilators
  • Establishing preservation techniques and policies to extend usage of available PPE
  • Creating a “surge” emergency plan that includes expanded capacity for patient care

“Our hospital is a safe place to come for people who need medical care,” Dr. Moser said. “We are structured so that we can protect and care for patients with COVID-19 symptoms separately from those without symptoms.”

In light of the current situation, Dr. Moser urged people not to put off needed and emergent medical care.

“Please do not ignore your body,” he said. “Warning signs and symptoms should be discussed with your doctor or evaluated at an urgent care practice or emergency room. Beyond emergency care, treating health concerns promptly results in fewer complications than if they are allowed to persist. Sometimes, by delaying care, irreversible damage occurs. Contact your doctor or, if you feel like you are having an emergency, please go to a local emergency department.”

Grimes also said he wanted to remind people that ongoing stay-at-home orders don’t apply to people experiencing health emergencies.

“Now more than ever, emergency departments are the nation’s safety net, and UMMS’ emergency departments will never close its doors to anyone who needs care,” he said.

Read More  

Why Minority Groups Continue to Bear a Greater Cancer Burden

Diverse group of people sitting on a bench together

Cancer is a disease that can affect every person regardless of age, race, or gender, but it also affects each population group differently. Unfortunately, in the United States, cancer affects some populations more than others. Here are a few examples:

  • African Americans still have the highest cancer death rate and lowest survival rate of any population group in the country
  • Lesbian and bisexual women may be at increased risk for breast, cervical, and ovarian cancer compared to heterosexual women
  • Cancer is the leading cause of death among all Asian and Pacific Islander populations in the U.S.

Why Minority Groups Bear a Greater Burden

There are countless reasons why minority populations continue to face a greater cancer risk. Here are some highlights from the American Cancer Society’s minority cancer spotlight:

African Americans

Although the American Cancer Society has reported progress in regards to closing the gap, African Americans still face a higher cancer death rate than many other races and ethnic groups in America, likely due to the following reasons:

  • Higher poverty rate, which limits the availability of comprehensive insurance
  • Less access to high-quality health care

Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Individuals

The American Cancer Society notes the following reasons why this population group may face greater cancer risks:

  • Fear of discrimination from healthcare providers
  • Low rates of health insurance due to some plans not covering unmarried partners
  • Negative experiences with providers lead some people to avoid or delay medical care

How We Can All Be a Part of the Solution

At UM Charles Regional, our mission remains to provide accessible, affordable, and transparent healthcare for everyone in our community, and we stand with the American Cancer Society in working to close the gap in cancer awareness and outcomes.

You can be a part of the solution, too, by supporting the American Cancer Society, which administers initiatives such as its CHANGE grants. This initiative has, to date, provided more than 915,000 cancer screenings in underserved communities. Moreover, it also provides a wide variety of low- or no-cost resources, such as its 24/7 cancer helpline, to offer support and guidance to anyone who has questions or needs help finding the necessary cancer care.

If nothing else, we hope you’ll join us in promoting Minority Cancer Awareness Month. Your voice will go a long way in ensuring everyone is able to get the cancer care they deserve, regardless of who they are.

Read More  

How a California Businessman Turned a Personal Tragedy into a Potentially Life-Saving Donation in Southern Maryland

Javad Shadzi | Fundraising to keep our hospital and our community safe

Javad Shadzi lost a friend to coronavirus. Now he’s fighting back, and it’s helping a hospital all the way across the country.

The founder of 034Motorsport in Fremont, California, Shadzi knew he had to do something after his friend passed away despite being on a respirator. “This is a devastating pandemic, and the need for masks is real,” he said. 

And, in a recent YouTube video, Shadzi recalls why he knew he had to take action. “I have a brand new, clean [mask], and many healthcare workers don’t have any,” he said.

His company has access to global supply chains, and Shadzi began leveraging that access and quickly found a company that could supply N95 masks. At $1.50 per mask, the immediate challenge was to obtain funding to purchase enough masks to make an impact. To solve that problem, his company contributed $25,000 and he started a GoFundMe page which has now received donations totaling over $24,000.

On the East Coast, Susan Mudd Vogel, director of the Charles Regional Medical Center Foundation, was tasked with securing alternative supplies of masks and protective equipment for the hospital. She discussed her search with Tarun Khundi, a former classmate of hers at St. Mary’s Ryken High School in St. Mary’s County.

“Tarun asked if our hospital needed masks and offered to introduce me to Shadzi,” she said.

On March 29, Shadzi reached out to Vogel. And just 11 days later, 1,000 N95 masks were delivered from California to the Foundation’s offices here in La Plata.

“It’s a tremendous shot in the arm for us. Instantly, it more than doubled our available supply of N95 masks,” she said. “With this donation and everything we’ve collected through our Thankful Thursday efforts, we’ve been able to successfully implement a full masking policy for all of our staff — protecting both staff and patients at the hospital.”

Back in California, Shadzi continues to raise funds and distribute masks.

“We could send out a million masks, and it wouldn’t be enough,” he said. “[But] we can try to do something about this crisis together.”

To learn more about Shadzi’s fundraising effort and how you can contribute, visit his GoFundMe page. If you’re looking for ways to support the CRMC Foundation directly, please visit our website or call (301) 609-4132.

Update (4/27): Hear more about the CRMC Foundation’s work and Shadzi’s efforts to help in this segment from NBC4 Washington.

Read More  

Do I Need Primary Care or Emergency Care? Here’s How to Decide.

er doctor or urgent care nurse icons

139 million visits to the emergency department. That, according to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the sheer volume that America’s hospitals are facing in their emergency department every year.

Although a hospital should be equipped and staffed to handle the unique needs of the community in which it serves, the reality is that overuse of emergency departments can add stress to a local healthcare system. This can lead to extended wait times at the hospital, which can ultimately result in added discomfort and concern for patients and visitors.

As for the financial stress it can put on the patients themselves? That’s no small thing, either. In fact, the average cost of an emergency department visit in America is nearly $1,400, according to the latest data from the Health Care Cost Institute.

Make no mistake, a hospital is there to serve the community, and there are always going to be situations that warrant a visit to the emergency department; however, there may be opportunities for you to help ease the strain on your local healthcare providers — and your wallet — if you understand what types of conditions or ailments are better left to a primary care provider.

So, when should you make a visit to the emergency department instead of a primary care doctor? First and foremost, if you’re ever in doubt about where you should go, call 911. But for everything else, we recommend following these guidelines:

When to Visit the Emergency Department

Life-threatening emergencies — whether they’re illnesses or injuries — should always be handled at the hospital. Here are a few of the conditions that always require a trip to the emergency department:

  • Abdominal or chest pain
  • Babies needing immediate care
  • Eye or head injuries
  • Severe burns
  • Stroke symptoms (numbness, slurred speech, paralysis, etc.)
  • Difficulty breathing (for symptoms consistent with COVID-19, please call ahead of time for guidance)
  • Heart palpitations or heart attack symptoms
  • High fevers
  • Suspected drug overdose or poisoning

When to Visit Your Primary Care Doctor

Sometimes, illness and other conditions don’t require immediate medical attention but do require the input and expertise of a physician or certified nurse practitioner. Here are just a few of the reasons why you might want to visit your local primary care doctor’s office instead of the emergency department:

  • Cold and flu symptoms (for symptoms consistent with COVID-19, please call your primary care doctor ahead of time for guidance)
  • Sinus infection or headache
  • Mild fevers
  • Upset stomach or diarrhea
  • Minor injuries
  • Chronic health issues
  • Disease prevention and dietary guidance
  • Regular checkups and physicals
  • Flu shots and other immunizations

Have a more immediate need, such as a broken bone, sprain, allergic reaction, minor burn, pink eye, or animal/insect bite? You may want to consider visiting an urgent care facility instead. It’s worth noting, however, that many primary care providers are able to offer same-day or next-day appointments, so you might not have to wait several days or weeks to get the care you need. 

Where You Can Find Emergency Care and Primary Care in Charles County

If you live in Charles County, you have a wide range of health services at your fingertips, and you have a choice between the emergency department and the doctor’s office should you ever need care.

As always, the emergency department at University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center is open and staffed by physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and technicians 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

And for those situations that don’t require emergency care? You can find University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Group (UM CRMG) – Primary Care conveniently located at the Medical Pavilion in La Plata. Led by Dr. Lorenzo Childress, this practice’s team can diagnose and treat an array of conditions as well as provide preventive care that can help you live well year-round. To learn more about UM CRMG – Primary Care or to schedule an appointment, please call (301) 609-5044.

Read More  

How Occupational Therapy is Helping People in Southern Maryland Live Life to the Fullest

Occupational therapist working with patient's hand

After someone survives a stroke, a traumatic brain injury, a difficult surgery, or another life-altering event, the battle to restore the ability to live a normal, productive life has only just begun. Fortunately, occupational therapy programs can help patients dealing with lost independence or productivity. In honor of Occupational Therapy Month, we’re highlighting how these programs are helping people in Southern Maryland live more fulfilling lives.

What is Occupational Therapy?

The main purpose of occupational therapy is to give patients the ability to be as independent as possible with their everyday activities.

Occupational Therapists focus on empowering patients to lead independent lives. This can range from simple tasks such as bathing and dressing to more complex home management, school, or work-related tasks. Occupational Therapists use thorough evaluation skills to determine what deficits are present and develop a treatment plan based on what is most meaningful to their patient.

When Does Someone Need Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapists treat a wide range of people who are dealing with a variety of conditions. Although this list is far from exhaustive, here are some of the conditions that may require someone to seek the help of an occupational therapy program:

  • Brain injury 
  • Stroke
  • Joint replacements
  • Dementia
  • Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis
  • Chronic pain
  • Arthritis
  • Hand injuries

Of course, treatment options will vary on a program-by-program basis, so your primary care doctor will be able to point you in the right direction should you or a loved one ever need this type of care.

Where Can You Find Occupational Therapy in Southern Maryland?

We’re proud to offer Occupational Therapy in 3 different settings at UM Charles Regional Medical Center (inpatient, hospital outpatient, and hand therapy at the UM Charles Regional Medical Pavilion at 5 North La Plata Court, La Plata, MD). Our team continues to help patients from all over Southern Maryland who’ve suffered from
life-altering conditions.

Our skilled team is ready to help people live life to the fullest by offering individualized, one-on-one care. You can learn more about this specialty program by visiting our website or calling (301) 609-4413. Additionally, you can read more about how this program recently helped a Charles County resident in the latest issue of Maryland’s Health Matters.

Read More  

Focusing on Your Community’s Health and Well-Being During National Public Health Week

Group of people smiling

It might be easy to make the health of other people in your community someone else’s problem. But, if nothing else, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has shown us that public health is everybody’s concern. That’s why we’re celebrating National Public Health Week and shining a light on the health issues that affect everyone’s community in some shape or form.

Every year, National Public Health Week is used to shine a light on the major health issues that impact our lives. Throughout the week, each day is dedicated to a specific cause, why that cause is important, and how people just like you can get involved to make a difference. Here are the theme days we’re celebrating this year:

Monday: Mental Health

Who this day is for: the 1 in 5 Americans who are affected by mental illness and the millions of other Americans who are impacted by those with a mental illness.

Why it matters: People experiencing mental illness are at a greater risk of early death. Moreover, a recent study conducted by the World Economic Forum and quoted by the World Health Organization, noted that the global impact of mental illness would amount to $16 trillion over the next 20 years.

How you can get involved: You can be an advocate for those dealing with mental illness and their loved ones. Mental illness still carries a stigma, and those who are suffering deserve and need support from their community in order to seek — or have access to — necessary treatment.

Tuesday: Maternal and Child Health

Who this day is for: the 25% of women in the United States who do not receive the appropriate number of prenatal appointments with a health provider.

Why it matters: In the United States, 31% of pregnant women will suffer pregnancy complications.

How you can get involved: Advocate to close the gap for black expecting mothers, 32% of whom do not receive the appropriate prenatal appointments with healthcare providers.

Wednesday: Violence Prevention

Who this day is for: the nearly 40,000 people who die from gun-related deaths and the millions of Americans who’ve faced some form of domestic violence.

Why it matters: Violence is among the leading causes of premature death in America.

How you can get involved: Advocate for community-driven solutions to gun-violence prevention, child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault.

Thursday: Environmental Health

Who this day is for: the 1.6 million Americans who still do not have basic plumbing and everyone who is directly affected by environmental contamination.

Why it matters: We should all be able to drink clean water, breathe clean air, and eat safe food, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, or ethnicity.

How you can get involved: Do your part to recycle and not pollute your community whenever possible. This can be as simple as recycling or simply being more efficient with your energy usage.

Friday: Education

Who this day is for: the 21% of American children who live in poverty and are less likely to graduate from high school on time.

Why it matters: Graduation from high school is linked to an increased lifespan for up to nine years and is also linked to better health and lower lifetime medical costs.

How you can get involved: Advocate for a stronger educational system and support teachers and educational professionals. Talk to members of your community about the importance of finishing high school.

Saturday: Healthy Housing

Who this day is for: the millions of Americans living in what can be classified as substandard housing.

Why it matters: The places we live are integrally connected to our health and well-being.

How you can get involved: Advocate for stricter rules surrounding safe and affordable housing for everyone. Encourage neighbors to understand the hazards that may exist in housing developments.

Sunday: Economic Wellness

What this day is for: the 6.8 million children living in deep poverty and anyone who is dealing with financial stress.

Why it matters: Low-income families have, historically, had higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other chronic conditions.

How you can get involved: Encourage the creation of healthy work environments that provide paid sick leave and support your neighbors who may be dealing with a financial crisis.

To learn more about National Public Health Week and how you can get involved in promoting good health in your community, visit

Read More  

Help Us Help Our Community Support UM Charles Regional Medical Center During the COVID-19 Crisis

Thankful Thursdays

If you’ve been thinking about ways to support UM Charles Regional Medical Center’s efforts to fight the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Southern Maryland, the CRMC Foundation invites you to take part in “Thankful Thursdays.”

Every Thursday, the Foundation will be collecting supplies and donations that will directly support the hospital’s efforts against this pandemic. 

How You Can Help

The CRMC Foundation is currently accepting donations of:

Where to Donate

We’ve ensured that Thankful Thursdays activities will maintain our hospital’s current no-visitor policy. Beginning April 2, the CRMC Foundation will operate a safe, curbside donations collection site between the hours of 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The office is located at the following address:

Irene Davis Pavilion
6 Garrett Avenue
La Plata, MD 20646
(Just up from the La Plata Library and across from the Medical Center)

The CRMC Foundation will collect donor information and provide a charitable receipt upon drop-off. 

If you would like to make a donation while maintaining self-quarantine regulations and the recent executive order from Gov. Hogan, please contact us; we’d be happy to make a pickup while maintaining social distancing protocols. And please be assured — staff operating our Thankful Thursdays will wear appropriate protective gear and maintain social distancing as well!

Monetary donations to the COVID-19 Response Fund can also be made online through the CRMC Foundation website. For more information, please call the CRMC Foundation office at (301) 609-4132 or email

Update (5/13/20): Thank you to everyone who has created and/or donated face shields for our staff. Due to current supply levels, we are no longer accepting donations of face shields. Please see the “How You Can Help” section for details on donation items we are still actively accepting at this time.

Read More