Archive for March, 2011

Top 100 Hospitals

March 30th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

Recently, Thomson Reuters listed their Top 100 Hospitals for 2011. What do they all have in common? According to this article, “they are battling the weak economy through initiatives to improve operational efficiency, cut costs and improve performance.”

Among their findings, this year’s group had higher profits, lower expenses and shorter lengths of stay then their peers.

This was how they selected their Top 100 List.

Photo by a.drian

“To select the top 100 hospitals, or benchmark institutions, hospitals with at least 25 beds were scored against others within the same category: Major teaching hospitals (400 or more beds and high levels of physician education and research); teaching hospitals (200 or more beds and some physician education) and three tiers of community hospitals: large (250 or more beds), medium (100-249 beds) and small (25-99 beds). A total of 2,914 hospitals were included in this year’s study.

Hospitals in the top 100 must score well as compared with others in their size/teaching-status category, based on a composite score of the 10 measures. The top 100 hospitals also must score at least at the median level of performance on each of the 10 measures evaluated in the study.

Data for the Thomson Reuters’ analysis came from the Medicare Provider Analysis and Review data set for 2008 and 2009, Medicare cost reports for 2009, CMS’ Hospital Compare data from 2006 to 2009, and CMS’ Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey data for 2009.

Hospitals that did not indicate in Medicare claims whether patients’ clinical diagnoses were present at the time of admission were excluded from the study.”

Fifteen hospitals on this year’s list are making their first appearance.

Check out the list and let us know what you think. Are you surprised about any of the hospitals that made the list? What makes a hospital better than another one, in your opinion?

Stay Involved, Stay Active

March 25th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

Bonnie Chakravorty says she first remembers being extremely short of breath in 1973 while living in Champagne, IL.

“At the time I was living in a rural area, and there was fertilizer put out and you could smell it everywhere. I thought I was allergic to it. But after I moved to the city but I continued to have episodes, particularly when I was driving in my car and exposed to fumes from cars,” Chakravorty says. “It got so bad one day I pulled into a hospital and went to the emergency room, thinking I was having a heart attack.”

Soon after, Chakravorty says she was diagnosed with asthma in 1979.

“They prescribed me inhalers, but in the meantime through all of this, I was teaching fitness classes. I decided I had to tone it down a bit myself,” she says. “I did notice I started feeling better, but I continued to sporadically have episodes.”

She was very active during this time, riding her bicycle almost a mile to where she taught her classes.


Currently living in Tennessee, Chakravorty works full time as a professor of Health Sciences  at Tennessee State University.  Among other courses she teaches a course on Pathology and frequently uses Alpha-1 as an example of a genetic condition.

She says at most she smoked half a pack or less per day during her teenage years.

“My first piece of advice for other individuals with COPD is to go to pulmonary rehab. That’s a good start, particularly if you’re not used to being active,” Chakravorty says. “It’s nice because they give you good advice and help you understand how to cope with some of the feelings of shortness of breath, and teach you how to do the right exercises.”

Although when diagnosed with asthma she began taking inhalers, she noticed that she was still getting progressively worse.

Chakravorty remembers being told in 1996 she had the lungs of an 80-year-old who smoked two packs a day. This is when she was tested for Alpha-1.

“Coincidentally, I’m also a tobacco researcher, and Alpha-1 was always a footnote. We’d talk about COPD, and how a small percentage of people had a genetic condition [of Alpha-1],” she says. “Well, the doctor, pulmonologist and nurse were all there, and when they got the results back, they told me I had Alpha-1.”

“At one level I didn’t believe them. What I thought was, ‘I have the test results, I have the symptoms, I must have it. Maybe people from other ethnic groups can also have Alpha-1,’” she says.

At this time, Chakravorty was living in Boston, and was forced to move because of the cold winter weather. She was having trouble getting to her office on foot.

Today, Chakravorty wants people to know that they are not alone with their disease, and wants to get rid of the stigma of COPD.

“I continue to take care of myself and I still have a pretty high quality of life, but not without adjustments. I can’t always, and do everything I want to do. For example, I can’t teach aerobics or dance, but I want people to know I am still vibrant and active in other ways,” she says.

“You have to take it one step at a time, and don’t worry about what anybody else is doing. Try to do what you can. I try very hard to educate people about Alpha-1, and I will sometimes tell people more than what they want to hear,” she says. “But overall, it’s really up to you, on what you want to disclose. But whatever you decide stay involved and stay active.”

Chakravorty and a colleague are forming a COPD Coalition of Tennessee. If you are interested in learning more about their efforts, you can email her at:

After Your COPD Diagnosis

March 23rd, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

As I was trolling the internet, I came across this blog posted on CNN.  A woman who was recently diagnosed asked what COPD was, and what could she expect.

Their response:

“Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a disease that truly negatively affects quality of life. Patients with COPD are prone to asthma-like wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing that can occur in episodes caused by chromic inflammation. They’re also prone to viral and bacterial infections.

It is the fourth most common cause of death in the United States, killing an estimated 120,000 people each year.

While COPD is most noted for episodes of shortness of breath and wheezing, the disease is typically slowly progressive and persistent. Medical treatment can be successful in relieving symptoms and reducing the severity of exacerbations.

Treatment is with inhaled bronchodilators, steroids to reduce inflammation and other oral medications.”

Despite COPD actually being the third leading cause of death in the US, this description is correct. But what’s missing from it is describing what it’s like emotionally about your COPD diagnosis.

From our Big Fat Reference Guide:

Photo by Mo Elnadi, Flickr Creative Commons

“You may have felt stunned when you first learned of your diagnosis. If you had never heard of COPD before, the explanation you received may have seemed pretty mysterious and even frightening. Or maybe you felt relieved to finally know what was causing your symptoms. Some people respond to learning about their breathing problems by diving right in and learning everything they can about it. They feel like they are taking charge and exerting some control over their condition. Other people prefer to learn about lung disease more slowly. This gives them time to let the information sink in. It gives time to think about their questions. These are just two examples of the kinds of coping styles people commonly use when they learn about their medical condition.

Psychologists have identified a set of emotional responses to loss. Known as the “Grieving Process,” it includes five stages. As you adjust to the diagnosis of COPD and some loss of lung function, you are likely to have many of these emotions. However, you may not necessarily move in a step-wise fashion from stage 1 to stage 5. Sometimes people go backwards and forwards as they move through this process. There is no set time limit for completing any of these stages.”

The “Grieving Process”: Five Phases

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

There are also different coping styles among people. Here are some of them.

Different Coping Styles:

Confrontive coping: Involves aggressive efforts to change the situation. It suggests some degree of risk-taking.

Distancing: A conscious effort to detach oneself and to minimize the importance of the situation.

Self-controlling: An effort to regulate one’s feelings and actions.

Seeking social support: An effort to seek real support such as financial assistance and emotional support.

Accepting responsibility: Acknowledges one’s own role in the problem along with trying to put things right.

Escape-avoidance: Involves wishful thinking and efforts to escape or avoid the problem.

Planful problem-solving: Involves purposeful problem-focused efforts to change the situation. Includes a logical approach to solving the problem.

Positive reappraisal: An effort to create positive meaning by focusing on personal growth. It may have a religious aspect.

What are some things you do to cope? What was it like for you when you were diagnosed? What advice would you give to newly diagnosed individuals with COPD?

For more information or tips on how to deal with a COPD diagnosis, and for any other information, check out our Big Fat Reference Guide. (It’s free, you just have to create a username and password to log on).

Patrick Ewalt: Making a Positive Impact

March 18th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

Patrick Ewalt says if he can influence even one person more positively to protect their lungs and health, he will have done his job.

“I want to be a positive reinforcement for my grandkids and maybe even their kids. You have to really take care of yourself – eat right and exercise,” Ewalt says. “I just want to positively influence somebody.”

Diagnosed with COPD five years ago, Ewalt says he was a three-pack-a-day smoker for around 30 years.

Patrick Ewalt

“I went to a pulmonary doctor up the street because I was real short of breath and couldn’t figure out why. So I made an appointment and he checked me out. He has me come back a week later, where I did the treadmill and when he got the results in he told me I had 50 percent lung capacity left, 65 percent if I used inhalers everyday,” Ewalt recalls. “He got this strange look on his face and said, ‘You have emphysema.’”

Ewalt says his doctor put him on different medications, which helped his lung function considerable.

“The scary part is when you quit breathing, though. For some reason, I guess, my diaphragm and lungs just stopped,” Ewalt says. “I have a thing about breathing. I’m paranoid about not being able to. I am really easygoing, but if someone lights up a cigarette near me, I get really angry really fast.”

Being told he only had 50 percent lung capacity left was daunting, so Ewalt took it upon himself to begin educating himself.

“I thought, ‘What is COPD?’ and I found out basically that I had prematurely aged my lungs. And I thought, ‘Good, now I have the lungs of an 80-year old,” Ewalt says. “I exercise on a regular basis, and I do a lot of walking on our three acres, but it can be a struggle, you have to keep pushing yourself.”

“If you sit on a sofa and watch TV all day, your body loses tone. But if you remain active or active as you possible can – use a stationary bicycle, leg lifts, jumping jacks or just walking – that’s going to help you. So I remain active, even if I’m short of breath,” he says.

Ewalt compares his COPD to “breathing through a straw all the time.”

“Back when I started smoking in the 70s, they didn’t say anything on the package. People didn’t talk about lung cancer when I was growing up and I didn’t know anybody who had it,” he says.

Educating the younger generation to quit smoking is what Ewalt says is the most important.

“I don’t want anybody to have to go through this. Young people need to listen to someone going through it – see them, know them – they need to realize that life is too precious,” he says. “I have three grandkids with another on the way this month, and I’d like to be around to attend their weddings, and maybe see great-grandkids. It motivates me to do everything I can for them – the love keeps me going.”

“I hope somebody reads this and gets inspired. I hope I can influence someone for the positive,” Ewalt says.

Nutrition and COPD

March 16th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

This blog post was written by Joanna Murray.

When I think about nutrition and COPD, the first thing that comes to my mind is how my mom took care of herself on a daily basis. Maintaining an ideal weight was hard work for her.  It has been proven that the better you eat and take care of yourself the easier time you will have handling difficult situations; you need food for energy and to help keep up your oxygen levels. Without the right balance, your lungs have to work harder for you to breathe.

This month is the sixth month anniversary of my mother’s death.  I have finally started to come to a better understanding on how much more there is to be learned about this disease.

Maintaining your weight and exercise are two of the essential ingredients needed to help maintain lung health.  There are breathing and exercise programs specifically designed to help you.  If you are having issues with breathing, an overall exercise plan may be the last thing on your agenda.

Photo By weinnat

Exercise can benefit your breathing; it will allow you to stay as active as possible by improving your lung function.  As with any exercise program when it comes to having COPD, be sure to talk with your doctor or health care provider.

Exercise and diet will add to your quality of life; both of these will improve how well your body uses oxygen, which is essential to COPDers  because they use more energy to breathe.  Maintaining your weight will decrease the increase of your symptoms.  For me, I wish I would have known all of this. Perhaps I could have helped urge my mom to make the changes, but she was stubborn and believed she knew all she needed to.

A few pieces of valuable information I have learned about proper nutrition for those suffering from COPD are:

  • Eat daily the recommended servings from the four food groups.
  • Try eating more frequently smaller portions of meals to prevent shortness of breath
  • Ensure you have adequate fluid intake, 6-8 cups daily, which helps thin mucus secretions.
  • A helpful tip regarding dairy intake, would be to follow up with water or fruit juice to help avoiding coating the mucus already   present.

I believe that a healthy and active life style for anyone is wonderful and it could prolong anyone’s life.  In my opinion if my mom started an exercise routine when she had first been diagnosed it could have been beneficial.

I hope and pray that if you have COPD you look into adopting a healthy lifestyle.  There are so many resources out there to help you get through this disease; I can say this now because if I knew then what I know now, maybe just maybe my mom would still be here.  I love and miss her but I hope by me sharing what I have learned I can help others through COPD.

Becoming Aware

March 11th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

Melissa Baugh knows the importance of an early COPD diagnosis.

She was diagnosed August 23rd of last year, at the age of 32.

“I’ve always had severe asthma and I thought I was just having another asthma attack, but I wasn’t responding to the treatment,” Baugh says.

After an almost week-long stay in the hospital, she was diagnosed with COPD and bronchitis.

“I was shocked by it [the diagnosis]. I’m a nurse, and I take care of mostly geriatric patients, [some of whom have COPD]. I’ve never seen someone my age with this diagnosis,” she says.

Melissa and her children

Baugh, who lives in Peoria, AZ, says she’s in the process of learning as much as she can about the disease. She is a never-smoker, and says she wants to make people her age aware that it can happen to them, too.

“I want to have this information for my family. My son has asthma right now,” she says. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, there are a lot of things out there [that can contribute to COPD]. It’s not just something to worry about when you’re a lot older. If you’re 30 or 80 you can get this, and it impacts your life a lot.”

Baugh says some days she has trouble keeping up with her children (pictured) – Kristopher, 6, and Kirra, 9.

She says she experiences challenges on a daily basis, noticing changes in her routine and lifestyle.

“The constant not being able to breathe, the simple things are harder. Trying to teach my son how to ride a bike, I’m coughing up a lung after 10-13 minutes. I literally can’t breathe,” she says. “On a high pollution day, I could even be just watching a movie and not be able to breathe.”

There are other factors that Baugh thinks she can attribute to her COPD.

“I am asthmatic and I already have lung problems, and being a nurse I’m exposed to all different kinds of things,” she says.

Despite her COPD, Baugh says she tries to keep it under control as much as possible.

“I want to keep up with my kids. It breaks my heart to go from being active to not even being able to breathe,” she says. “I just want younger people to realize that it can happen to them. At our age we tend to think we’re invincible but [I want to remind them] of the importance of early diagnosis.”

“Tune Up” for COPD!

March 9th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

We’re glad that so many of you in our COPD community have taken the initiative to spread awareness and education about COPD. I think it’s safe to say that reaching out to others can also be beneficial to yourself.

And, I’m pretty sure all of you have heard about the DRIVE4COPD campaign, which actually just hit the mark of screening over 1 MILLION PEOPLE for COPD! How’s THAT for awareness?

But what you might not have heard is that in addition to the 5-question pop screener they have, the D4C campaign is also having a “Tune-Up for COPD” song-writing competition! How cool!


Remember in the spring of last year the COPDF launched their Faces of COPD Flickr photo contest? So many of you participated and shared your stories and photos. Now, through the DRIVE4COPD’s songwriting contest, it will allow you to embrace your creative side once again.

Billy Ray Cyrus – the newest member of the DRIVE team – along with the Country Music Association are challenging people to write the next song to promote COPD awareness. You might recall Patty Loveless’ “Drive” anthem, and they’re looking for “a song that should drive Americans to live life to the fullest and empower them to make choices to help them breathe better.”

The winner will be selected by a panel of judges including Billy Ray Cyrus, Grammy-award winner Patty Loveless, members of DRIVE4COPD partnering organizations and industry experts. The winning entry will have the opportunity to perform at the CMA Music Festival, June 9-12 in Nashville!

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a professional to enter or to win. If you don’t submit a song, you can always view the entries online and choose your favorite! The selected fan favorite will be featured on and DRIVE4COPD.COM.!

So what are you waiting for? Get writing!

Honoring Their Grandparents During Their Special Day

March 4th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

When Justin Tinsley and Natalie Kekaualua married on October 2nd, 2010, they honored her late grandfather and his late grandmother by forgoing wedding favors and making a donation to the COPD Foundation instead.

Kekaualua’s grandfather, Joseph Nalimu Iokepa Kekaualua II, suffered from COPD. Tinsley’s grandmother, Roberta Stoklosa, suffered from Alzheimer’s. (The couple also donated money to the Alzheimer’s Foundation.)

Their wedding favors

“It was a nice gesture to have them there in some sort of presence,” she says. “Our families were really touched. When we looked around the room while our guests were seated, quite a few of our family members had tears in their eyes from seeing the donation cards.”

Tinsley says more and more couples are doing this these days.

“As much as everyone appreciates cute wedding favors, usually they’re something that they’re not going to use in the future. We thought, ‘Why not give back to something that’s directly affected us personally,'”he says. “It’s just a little more sentimental, more touching, rather than spending the $1,000 on something that’s going to be put in a box.”

Tinsley and Kekaualua say their guests loved the idea.

“That’s what it was all about – great friends, who are generous anyway. We wanted to put these notes on the table to inspire people that there are organizations out there who are doing research and need funding to promote awareness with the end goal of finding a cure for this disease,” Tinsley says. “The place card was to get people to pay attention and to [perhaps] make a donation anyway they can, monetary or whatever. We wanted to give back to two organizations that touched us.”

The newlyweds say they both had close relationships to their grandparents while growing up.

“I spent a tremendous amount of time with my grandparents. They were two of the most positive people in my life,” Tinsley says.

Natalie & Justin

His grandparents, Roberta and husband Harry, lived on a farm in West Virginia, where Tinsley spent a lot of time.

“My grandfather took care of the whole property there, and I’d always learn a lot of things, and a lot of the values I gained in life are from them,” he says. “They are two of my favorite people in the world.”

Kekaualua says her grandparents raised her from birth until she was five years old, when she moved in with her mom and stepdad after they got married.

“My grandparents were like my parents and my relationship with them was very close,” she says. She even wanted him to possibly share the responsibility of walking her down the aisle along with her stepdad.

Both Tinsley and Kekaualua idolized their grandparents and say they hope for the love their grandparents found in their marriages to be reflected in their new one. They wanted their grandparents to be present at their special day, and made sure of that with their thoughtful donations.

Third-Hand Smoke

March 2nd, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

You’ve heard of secondhand smoke, but what about third-hand smoke?

Dr. Vinayak Jha of GW Hospital says that third-hand smoke “passing from room to room carries the same dangers as breathing secondhand smoke.”

“Ventilation systems and A/C systems do not remove the smaller particles or the gases found in secondhand smoke,” the doctor was quoted as saying in this September 9, 2010 article by Chelsea Radler.

According to an article in Scientific American by Coco Ballantyne, “While some students interviewed said they did not worry about the health concerns of third-hand smoke, the hazards of consistent exposure are widely acknowledged by the medical community.”

Radler quotes Dr. Jha saying, “The reason that non-smoking workplace laws have been passed in 27 states and in D.C. is because the evidence is so strong that secondhand smoke causes and exacerbates disease in non-smoking bystanders.”

In the Scientific American article it quotes Jonathan Winickoff, a pediatrician at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center in Boston, “Third-hand smoke is tobacco smoke contamination that remains after a cigarette has been

Photo by gemma marie


According to this article, Winickoff published a study in the journal Pediatrics, which says “a large number of people, particularly smokers, have no idea that third-hand smoke—the cocktail of toxins that linger in carpets, sofas, clothes and other materials hours or even days after a cigarette is put out—is a health hazard for infants and children.”

From the article:

Third-hand smoke refers to the tobacco toxins that build up over time—one cigarette will coat the surface of a certain room [a second cigarette will add another coat, and so on]. The third-hand smoke is the stuff that remains [after visible or “second-hand smoke” has dissipated from the air]…. You can’t really quantify it, because it depends on the space…. In a tiny space like a car the deposition is really heavy…. Smokers [may] smoke in another room or turn on a fan. They don’t see the smoke going into a child’s nose; they think that if they cannot see it, it’s not affecting [their children].

Smokers themselves are also contaminated…smokers actually emit toxins [from clothing and hair].

Click here to read more of this article.

What are your thoughts? Do you believe third-hand smoke is a potential and actual threat?