Workforce Wellness – Bon Secours


Skin Cancer Prevention Starts at Birth

When it comes to protecting your children’s skin and health, simple choices and everyday habits could keep them from developing the deadliest form of skin cancer later in life. The decisions to cover up, sit in the shade, and reapply sunscreen all make a difference in whether a child gets too much sun. Just one blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence can nearly double a person’s chance of developing melanoma later in life, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Five or more blistering burns between the ages of 15 and 20 increases the risk of melanoma by 80 percent.

“It’s so important for parents to be vigilant about sun protection,” said Tim Hatt, a board-certified physician assistant specializing in family and acute care medicine at Monarch Medical Associates. “Infants are especially vulnerable. The first six months are when the skin is most sensitive and likely to burn. It can have lifelong ramifications.”

It’s not easy to avoid the sun, especially living in Hampton Roads. Waterways and the ocean invite us to cool off during hot summer days. However, they also reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, and it doesn’t take a sunny day to get a sunburn. Up to 80 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays can still reach your skin.

Although using a sunscreen daily can cut the incidence of melanoma by half, consider your child’s age before you reach for the SPF 30. Parents should not apply sunscreen to infants under 6 months. Instead, infants that age should be kept out of the sun as much as possible. Seeking shade is the easiest way to do that. Parents should also make sure that their baby wears a long-sleeved shirt and pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

Sun protection should happen every day, not just at the beach or by the pool. “Be careful if you take your baby on a long road trip,” Hatt said. “Use a sunshade to block the UV rays that may penetrate the side windows of your vehicle.”

Once a child is at least 6 months, a broad-spectrum sunscreen can be applied to exposed skin. The sunscreen should have an SPF of at least 30. Sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are most appropriate for infants and toddlers who have sensitive skin, according to the AAD. Even with sunscreen, children should stay in the shade and wear sun-protective clothing.

Sun protection tips for parents:

  • Always seek the shade. Avoid the sun’s rays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Dress your children in long-sleeved shirts and pants. Have them wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Do the same for yourself; it helps to model healthy behaviors.
  • Make sure children 6 months and older wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least 30 SPF to exposed skin areas.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours after swimming or sweating.
  • Make sure to apply sunscreen to all exposed areas including: ears, neck, top of the head, and feet.

Despite a parent’s best efforts, children can get sunburned, overheated and dehydrated from too much sun. Head indoors if your child becomes fussy, won’t stop crying, or has redness on any exposed skin. Offer plenty of fluids. Check the color of their urine, which should be light yellow, Hatt said.

If your child does get sunburned, make sure they drink extra water and stay out of the sun. Cool compresses or ibuprofen can help with any redness and discomfort. “Aloe vera is also gentle on the skin,” Hatt said.

Blisters, a sign of second-degree sunburn, should not be touched. Be sure to contact your health provider if blisters cover a large area of the body or if your child has chills, a headache, or fever.

“It’s also a good idea to have an annual skin exam,” Hatt said. “If you notice a mole changing or something suspicious, see a doctor. You want to catch skin cancer early.”

For additional information about your own personal risks for skin cancer and when you should be screened, consult your primary care provider or dermatologist. Call 804-359-WELL or visit if you need help finding a healthcare provider.

Tips for a Healthy Summer Picnic and Barbecue

There’s nothing like a summer picnic to bring family and friends together. So far, the weather has held up nicely for locals and tourists enjoying downtime at the beach and parks. If you have reserved a shelter or invited guests to a gathering in your backyard, you’ll know planning the party is half the fun. Make sure to have plenty of sunscreen and water on hand so everybody stays refreshed and protected, and, of course, don’t forget the food!

Summertime is synonymous with treats either loaded with salt, soaked in sauce, or sticky with sugar. Hot dogs, s’mores, ice cream, potato chips … everywhere you turn you’re tempted. Add food to a social event and you may feel compelled to eat more than your fill. However, it is possible to enjoy a barbecue or picnic without the guilt. Whether you’re the host or signed up to bring a side, here are a few tips to promote healthy eating this season.

Hold the Mayo: Browse any summer buffet and you’re sure to find potato salad, macaroni salad, and coleslaw, all staples of the perfect picnic and typically heavy with mayonnaise. A few helpings of any of these dishes will pile on calories, but you can swap out the mayo for a healthier binding ingredient that also enhances the flavor. Seek out recipes that use avocado, ground mustard, or Greek yogurt.

Look for Leaner Cuts: Yes, you can grill out and still enjoy a nutritious meal. Be aware of the meat you choose to cook. Grill chicken without the skin to reduce calories and fat, shop for lean cuts of steak with the fat trimmed, and use marinades low in sugar. How you cook meat, too, is as important as what you grill. Be mindful of flipping steaks, chops, and burgers – the more you do it can reduce carcinogens on your food.

Say No to Soda: When the temperature rises, you’re tempted to grab the first cold drink you see. Water quenches the thirst and hydrates the body better than anything else, but for guests who want options, offer up low-sugar alternatives to soft drinks. Try lemonade and limeade sweetened with honey, or iced tea infused with peaches or berries.

No Need to Sacrifice: If you’re trying to eat healthy, you’ll wonder what to do about dessert. Summer brings toasted marshmallows and ice cream bars and other sugar-loaded treats, but it’s also the season for strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries. Combine mixed berries with a slice of angel food cake for a nice ending to a meal. If the grill is still active, try splitting a banana lengthwise and cook lightly on each side, and then drizzle with chocolate sauce for a unique treat.

Don’t forget, you can always browse our recipe board on Pinterest for inspiration. We have close to 300 recipes for salads, appetizers and main dishes for you to enjoy.

For more information about nutrition and choosing healthy foods, visit us at

Summer Food Safety

Hot summer days are here! During this time of year we often gas up our grill and enjoy outdoor gatherings. But as temperatures climb, so does the risk of food poisoning. Here are a few things to keep in mind for food safety this summer.

  • Keep the grills and coolers clean. Many of us overlook cleaning our grills and coolers throughout the summer. Frequently scrub and clean these items with hot soapy water to stop bacteria from spreading to your food.
  • Keep food out of the temperature “danger zone.” Bacteria grow rapidly when food is stored between 40°F and 140° Avoid this danger zone by keeping your hot foods hot and your cold foods cold. Ice packs and coolers are essential in the heat and perishable foods should not be unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours. This time shortens to one hour if it’s above 90°F outside. Consider keeping a refrigerator thermometer in your cooler to help you keep check!
  • Marinate meat in the refrigerator and don’t reuse dressings that have come in contact with raw meats.
  • Keep hand sanitizer handy. You don’t always have the ability to wash your hands while enjoying the great outdoors, so keep hand sanitizer handy to keep yourself and others safe.
  • Don’t prep meat and produce using the same tools or surfaces. These foods need separate cutting boards and utensils to prevent cross contamination. Following these tips will help you enjoy tasty, safe food in the great outdoors.

For more information on proper internal cooking temperatures, check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Grilling recommendations here:

Carpal Tunnel: Physical Therapy Works

Nearly half of all work-related injuries are linked to carpal tunnel syndrome. Repetitive movements – such as typing on the computer – can cause pain, numbness and weakness in the wrist and hand.

Here’s the good news: physical therapy to treat carpal tunnel syndrome may be just as effective as surgery, according to a study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy.

After following patients with the syndrome for one year while they received physical therapy, researchers found they achieved results comparable to patients who had surgery. However, physical therapy patients saw faster improvements at the one-month mark than the patients who had surgery.

Although surgery may be considered when the symptoms are severe, more than a third of patients do not return to work within eight weeks after an operation for carpal tunnel syndrome, according to a news release from JOSPT.

The study demonstrates that physical therapy–and particularly a combination of manual therapy of the neck and median nerve and stretching exercises–may be preferable to surgery, certainly as a starting point for treatment.

“Conservative treatment may be an intervention option for patients with carpal tunnel syndrome as a first line of management prior to or instead of surgery,” says lead author César Fernández de las Peñas, PT, PhD, DMSc, with the Department of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Rehabilitation, and Physical Medicine at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Alcorcón, Spain.

Dr. de las Peñas and his fellow researchers studied the cases of 100 women with carpal tunnel syndrome. By random allocation, 50 women were treated with physical therapy and 50 with surgery. Patients assigned to the physical therapy group were treated with manual therapy techniques that focused on the neck and median nerve for 30 minutes, once a week, with stretching exercises at home.

After one month, the patients in the physical therapy group had better hand function during daily activities and better grip strength than the patients who had surgery. At three, six, and 12 months following treatment, patients in the surgery group were no better than those in the physical therapy group. Both groups showed similar improvements in function and grip strength. Pain also decreased similarly for patients in both groups.

The researchers conclude that physical therapy and surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome yield similar benefits one year after treatment. No improvements in cervical range of motion were observed in either patient group.

Bon Secours Physical Therapy program helps people with many other hand and wrist issues including: sports injuries, fractures, and arthritis as well as carpal tunnel syndrome. Our team is not limited to hand problems, however. For a full overview of our services, please visit us at

Mindfulness and Weight Loss

The majority of people who follow restrictive diets, those that put strict rules on what or how much you can and can’t eat, regain the weight within 5 years. Almost two-thirds regain more weight than they initially lost. This says something very powerful about “dieting”: it works in the short term (maybe), but does not get to the root of our weight gain. Those who adopt small changes for a healthier eating lifestyle have greater success in the long run.

How can we do that? One of the first steps to making lifelong changes is awareness of what your current eating behaviors are, and why. Practicing mindfulness with our food includes being aware of internal hunger and fullness cues, not using food for stress relief, choosing enjoyable and wholesome foods, thinking through food choices instead of relying on impulse, and non-judgmentally accepting food preferences. Research has shown that increasing mindfulness can not only help with weight loss, but also can decrease overall stress and body image concerns, and affect food preferences.

Try this introductory mindful eating exercise, “Raisin Consciousness,” developed by expert Dr. Kabat-Zinn and colleagues. Are you a mindful eater?

Raisin Consciousness (source: University of Minnesota)

  1. Sit comfortably in a chair.
  2. Place a raisin in your hand.
  3. Examine the raisin as if you had never seen it before.
  4. Imagine it as its “plump self” growing on the vine surrounded by nature.
  5. As you look at the raisin, become conscious of what you see: the shape, texture, color, size. Is it hard or soft?
  6. Bring the raisin to your nose and smell it.
  7. Are you anticipating eating the raisin? Is it difficult to not just pop it into your mouth?
  8. How does the raisin feel? How small it is in your hand?
  9. Place the raisin in your mouth. Become aware of what your tongue is doing.
  10. Bite ever so lightly into the raisin. Feel its squishiness.
  11. Chew three times and then stop.
  12. Describe the flavor of the raisin. What is the texture?
  13. As you complete chewing, swallow the raisin.
  14. Sit quietly, breathing, aware of what you are sensing.

By Abby Forman, Registered Dietitian with Bon Secours Physical Therapy & Sports Performance

For more information about nutrition and choosing healthy foods, visit us at

For information about Bon Secours’ Medically Supervised Weight Loss Program: call (804-287-4528) or visit or