Health care has been at the forefront of political debate since Barack Obama was elected president. Even before that, Americans had become keen on taking control of their health, improving their fitness and making the most of an often-strained health care system. Gambit's 12th annual Wellness Expo™ can help visitors understand the resources available to them, get free screenings for blood pressure, bone density, vision and more, and learn about medical and lifestyle products that can give them a better quality of life. With almost four dozen exhibitors and a day of demonstrations, it's easy to gather lots of information at one time— all in the air-conditioned comfort of Lakeside Shopping Center (3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie). The expo is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 12. It is free and open to the public.
Exhibitors will display products and provide information to keep you healthy from birth to the elder years. Booths also will give away product samples, pens, water bottles, calendars and other items, and some will hold drawings for prizes including $1,500 off cosmetic treatments, nutritional counseling, personal training sessions, an iPod and more. Pick up a "Wellness Passport," have it stamped at six booths and enter a drawing for prizes at Center Stage. That's also where you can see a slate of demonstrations (see schedule, p. 19) of martial arts, belly dancing, healthy cooking, dance and pole workouts, exercises and relaxation techniques.
The expo is presented by East Jefferson General Hospital (EJGH), and is sponsored in part by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, the Hernia Institute of Louisiana, NOLA Laser Liposculpture, Surgical Clinic of Louisiana, Cosmetic & Laser Center of Louisiana, Diagnostic Imaging Services and Tulane Medical Center.
East Jefferson General Hospital
Dr. Mark J. Peters, EJGH president and CEO, says participating in the Wellness Expo helps the hospital convey the importance of preventive health care, staying fit and overall wellness. It also helps expo visitors gain access to health care professionals who can answer their questions.
"We feel, as a community hospital, we should actively engage our friends and neighbors to promote good health," he says. "Whether it is through our disease management programs, our nutrition services or exercise offerings, the one constant is that taking control of your health leads to a healthier and more active lifestyle.
"Our goal is to go out in the community and provide the latest educational information so that everyone has the resources needed to make the best choices for their family."
EJGH is a big part of the community. It's been publicly owned and not-for-profit since the hospital opened its doors in 1971. Since then it has gone from a 250-bed hospital with 250 physicians to a comprehensive medical center with a 450-bed hospital, outpatient services, specialty centers, diagnostic procedures, doctors' offices, a medical staff of 900 and more than 3,000 employees. As one of the largest employers in the parish, the hospital is focused on improving the health of its employees, their families, friends and neighbors. Peters exemplifies EJGH's mission; in April, the American Hospital Association gave him a Grassroots Champion Award for his service to the community and fulfilling the hospital's goal.
Care areas include cardiovascular, rehabilitative, oncology, woman and child services, breast care, diabetes, geriatrics, gastrointestinal, asthma, neurology, pulmonary, sleep disorders, joints, sports medicine and more. It is affiliated with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, which increases its resources for cancer treatments, and it centralizes outpatient cancer treatments in the Yenni Pavilion. The EJGH campus also includes the Domino Pavilion for same-day surgeries, a Diabetes Management Center, the Pain Management Institute, the Sleep Center, and a 38,000-square-foot Wellness Center. The hospital also provides a range of programs in all areas of health care as well as support groups, education programs and more.
At the expo, EJGH will explain its Healthy Lifestyles program, which provides its members with discounts on some hospital programs, free and discounted health screenings, discounts at a range of businesses, social activities, education programs, seminars, Medicare insurance counseling, free local fax and copying services, inpatient benefits at the hospital, travel discounts and more. Free blood sugar and blood pressure screenings will be available at its booth.
The hospital's Imaging Center, which is on Clearview Parkway, offers state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging using high-field open MRI, 64-slice CT, ultrasound and X-rays all under one roof. The center promises quick results on its tests, an expert staff and same- or next-day appointments. Expo attendees can receive a bone density screening.
A team of licensed, registered dietitians at the Nutrition Counseling Center can tailor a program to help you meet your goals, whether you seek to maintain your health or manage a disease. The center also provides counseling (including pre-pregnancy nutrition services) and education about nutrition and tasty, healthy foods. Team members have expertise in nutrition therapy for weight loss, celiac disease, cancer and diabetes prevention, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and chronic disorders. The center's booth offers weight management screenings.
EJGH's Oncology Services provides information about cancer prevention as well as a comprehensive range of inpatient and outpatient treatments. Patients also benefit from the added expertise of professionals at MD Anderson through video-conferencing and case reviews by a multidisciplinary medical team. EJGH's oncology program also provides support groups and a Cancer Care Navigator who guides patients through the various steps of cancer treatment, including insurance issues, coordinating doctor visits and finding resources such as special hair and makeup tips for people going through radiation and chemotherapy.
The Sports Medicine program at EJGH cares for patients who have been injured playing sports, working or going about their daily routines. The program includes diagnostics, orthopedics, rehabilitation, physical therapy, pain management, fitness and nutrition, all coordinated to help patients regain and improve their quality of life. The hospital also provides total joint replacements. Its booth will have a drawing for an iPod and lawn chairs.
EJGH's state-of-the-art Wellness Center develops individualized fitness programs and has a full range of cardio machines, a strength training area, a walking track, free weights, treadmills, two pools and classes in yoga, Pilates, tai chi, line dancing and more. It also offers specialty classes in disease management, meditation, stress management and nutrition as well as services including massage, reflexology and more. At the expo, Mike Johnson of the Wellness Center will demonstrate Spicy Steps, a dance and music exercise program.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Louisiana-owned and –operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana (BCBSLA) offers a variety of health insurance options for families, groups, seniors, individuals and young adults who need short-term coverage, as well as cafeteria plans and dental, vision and hearing coverage. It also offers preventive and wellness benefits that cover routine exams such as gynecology, prostate, colon, mammogram, immunizations and pediatric checkups. Group term life, dependent, dismemberment and long- and short-term disability coverages also are available.
BCBSLA last year celebrated its 75th anniversary with more than 1.1 million members. The not-for-profit organization was founded in 1934 when representatives of six hospitals formed the nonprofit Hospital Service Association of New Orleans to offer pre-paid hospital care. Today, the company is based in Baton Rouge and employs more than 1,700 people. It has district offices in New Orleans, Houma, Baton Rouge, Alexandria, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe and Shreveport.
Over the years, BCBSLA has developed innovative insurance options, including the high-deductible BlueSaver, a consumer-directed program in which most members are eligible for a tax-free health savings account that allows them to set aside tax-free money for expenses including medication, insurance deductibles, eyeglasses and more. Funds that aren't used can accumulate tax-free until retirement. There also is a MySmartSaver account option that provides health savings account members with a Visa debit card, check writing, an interest-bearing account and investment options.
The company's My Health Commitment Program provides members with free health and wellness resources including online tools to set up a personalized lifestyle and health program. Even nonmembers can benefit from BCBSLA's commitment to health through the Louisiana2Step and 2Step4Kids programs, which are designed to get Louisianans off the couch and exercising, even if it's just a walk around the block.
Representatives at the expo will answer questions about BCBSLA's programs and benefits.
The Hernia Institute of Louisiana
The Hernia Institute of Louisiana was established in 1999 "in an effort to raise the level and quality of hernia surgery in the area," says founder Dr. Dave C. Treen Jr. "It is the most common type of operation performed, and the technology has advanced significantly in the past 10 to 15 years."
The Institute deals with all types of hernias, which are weaknesses in the muscle wall, usually of the abdomen, that form a hole and allow a sac of tissue to bulge out. People of any age can suffer a hernia, Treen says. "There are certain individuals who are at greater risk than others, but we see them in newborn babies to elderly patients — all sexes, all ages."
By specializing in hernia surgery, Treen gives patients the benefit of a medical staff that is devoted to the latest and best techniques for repairing holes in the muscles. One of the best developments in the past few years has been a special mesh used to cover the hole and act as a stronger wall that keeps a bulge from re-forming.
"The understanding of the interaction between body tissue and mesh products has evolved tremendously," Treen says. "We have learned that it is important to re-engineer these prosthetic devices to more appropriately enhance the construction of the abdominal wall." The Hernia Institute staff continually learns about advances in the area through attending conventions and meetings, and every month participates in a teaching symposium for surgeons to learn hernia surgery techniques. Treen also is invited to speak about his expertise at various meetings, including one in Jerusalem in October.
"There are multiple factors involved in hernias," he says. "The science has evolved so we can see the genetic predisposition (to developing a hernia) that we didn't know before. Re-engineered mesh products, both synthetic and biological (usually developed from animal skin), and the refinement of techniques has improved the outcomes for hernia surgery tremendously." The mesh acts as a scaffolding for the patient's own tissues to grow in the herniated area, he says. Risk factors for hernias include obesity, smoking, employment that requires muscle strain, lifestyle and more.
Surgical Clinic of Louisiana
Treen also owns and operates the Surgical Clinic of Louisiana, which specializes in weight loss surgery. "There are several different types of surgical procedures that are done for weight loss," he says. "In our practice, we currently limit the surgical procedures we offer to Lap-Band and Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy."
Treen and Dr. Todd P. Belott perform the surgeries at the center, which opened in 1999, and in January the Surgical Clinic of Louisiana was certified as a bariatric surgery Center of Excellence by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).
"A part of our efforts are to provide the highest quality and standards," he says. "The ASMBS is an organization of which we are fellows and members, and it has been dedicated to refining surgical techniques and reducing the risk of weight-loss surgery for many years."
The Lap-Band is an adjustable gastric banding device placed on the stomach to reduce the amount of food the stomach can hold at one time. It helps patients gradually lose weight and keep it off. With Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, a surgeon removes about 80 percent of a patient's stomach.
"It's proven to be highly successful," Treen says. "It's safer than weight-loss surgery has been in the past. How successful the procedures will be depends on which operation the patient has and how motivated they are. With the Vertical Sleeve, you lose weight faster than with the Lap-Band, but they both can be highly successful." The program also includes nutritional counseling, a membership to the West Jefferson fitness center and work groups.
In addition to its specialty of weight-loss procedures, the broad-spectrum surgical center also performs general surgeries such as gall bladder, colon, breast and more.
NOLA Laser Liposculpture
NOLA Laser Liposculpture helps people achieve the fat loss and shape they want through the use of Vaser ultrasound liposuction and Zerona, a noninvasive fat removal process that helps patients lose inches painlessly without surgery or down-time for recovery.
With liposculpture, deep fat is removed, then a surgeon using a laser can reshape and recontour the areas to be smooth and thinner.
"We use a couple of different techniques (for body sculpting)," says Dr. John Uhl. "We have a machine that uses ultrasound and a laser that melts fat, and we can suck it out.
"We have a new machine called Zerona. It's a noninvasive laser. You lay under it and it causes fat-loss and all you have to do is lie under it. The way it works is the low-level laser wavelength activates the fat cells. It puts a hole in the cell and the fat leaks out and goes into the lymphatic system, and is expelled. We've had really good results with it."
In addition to liposuction, NOLA Laser performs minimally invasive face, breast and buttock lifts.
"The way we do it, it's minimally invasive with sutures," Uhl says. "They're done with the patient awake. We put all the sutures in place, then we sit the patient up and they can choose how tight they want (the skin), and we pull the string. You don't have to worry about the skin being too tight."
Uhl says he loves what he does. "I get to make people happy and they love (the results)," he says. "It's a lot of fun."
At its expo booth, NOLA Laser Liposculpture will demonstrate ultrasound fat melting.
Cosmetic and Laser Center of Louisiana
New Orleans native Dr. Martin D. Claiborne III operates the Cosmetic and Laser Center of Louisiana, which provides services such as hydrating and anti-aging facials, microdermabrasion and chemical peels to resurface and smooth the face, and laser hair removal.
The center employs the Titan Laser Treatment to tighten loose or sagging skin on the neck, jaw line, under the chin and the abdomen. Its Laser Genesis Skin Therapy uses light to penetrate deep into the skin and stimulate collagen production without destroying upper layers of skin. It can be used to treat scars, fine-line wrinkles, large pores and blotchy patches.
Fraxel laser treatment can make you look younger by diminishing sun damage, wrinkles from the face and hands and more. Treatment options range from surgery-like results for severe skin damage, a resurfacing treatment for mild to severe skin damage and a prevention and maintenance technique that treats fine lines around the eyes, age spots, uneven skin tones and more, with little to no recovery time. The center also offers a 100 percent money-back guarantee.
At its booth, the Cosmetic and Laser Center offers free skin care consultations, face product samples and more.
Tulane Medical Center
Tulane Medical Center has been treating New Orleanians since 1834, when it started as a small medical college with seven professors. In 1976, it built a 235-bed hospital and has since grown to more than 600 physicians and 1,400 employees, making it a vibrant part of the city's medical industry. Its mission is to provide the best quality health care, education and research in the area. It also is a regional center that cares for patients from all over the southeast.
In addition to Tulane Hospital and Clinic and its medical school, current facilities include Tulane-Lakeside Hospital, Tulane Hospital for Children, Tulane Cancer Center, Tulane Abdominal Transplant, Tulane-Lakeside Women's Center, the Tulane Institute for Sports Medicine and multispecialty centers Uptown, downtown and in Metairie.
Tulane is a comprehensive health care center with clinics covering neurology, psychology, urology, cancer, diabetes, dermatology, genetics, obstetrics and gynecology, ophthalmology and dozens of others. It also has specialized centers such as the Pain Management Clinic, the Patricia Trost Friedler Cancer Center, Tulane Center for Women's Health, a Sleep Disorders Center, a Hemophilia Care Center, a Pediatric Heart Center and more. It also has separate adult and pediatric emergency departments.
Tulane also operates a number of outpatient clinics as well as programs that seek to improve the health and community of New Orleans area residents.
Diagnostic Imaging Services
Diagnostic Imaging Services (DIS), which opened in 1973, provides a full range of outpatient services using a variety of equipment in a patient-friendly environment. It was the first center in the Gulf South to obtain a high-field open MRI, which provides patients with a 270-degree field of vision, provides fast scans and compensates for motion so patients don't have to remain in the unit for long and accommodates patients up to 660 pounds. Patients also can bring along a family member to keep them company while they are in the MRI.
Another innovation is DIS' "Watch the Love Grow" program, which provides 3-D and 4-D non-diagnostic fetal ultrasounds at its Women's Center. The program allows parents to view the baby's movement for 20 minutes, gives them a CD with images they can print and a DVD that contains motion pictures of the baby.
The DIS' Women's Center offers digital mammography, ultrasound, hysterosonography, digital X-rays, instant vertebral assessments and more. DIS also performs MRI, magnetic resonance angiography, nuclear medicine, digital fluoroscopy (similar to an X-ray movie), an esophogram to examine the upper gastrointestinal track, an upper gastrointestinal series with small bowel examination, a myelogram to take pictures of the bone and spaces between them, arthrogram to view joints after a dye is injected, hyserosalpingogram to look at the inside of the uterus and fallopian tubes, a pylogram to examine the kidneys, and other diagnostic tests.
DIS has 125 employees, and all of its radiologists are board certified, and its technologists are licensed.
At its expo booth, the company will offer free heel ultrasound screenings and fracture risk assessments.
More Wellness Experts
Other Wellness Expo participants include A First Name Basis, which provides nonmedical home care; Our Lady of Wisdom Healthcare Center, offering 24-hour nursing care as well as physical, occupational and speech therapy; American Laser Center, which is holding a drawing for $1,500 off cosmetic procedures; ASEA, a product that boosts the immune system and The Blood Center, which will hold a blood drive at the expo; The Body Shop, a Lakeside store with nature-inspired products for hair and skin; Discover Wellness and Rehab, which has massage, chiropractic services and weight-loss programs and the Inches-A-Weigh weight-loss center.
Community Volunteers Association implements programs to help at-risk youth, the elderly and the disadvantaged, and Counseling Solutions of Catholic Charities provides behavioral therapy, support groups, counseling, a stress management program and more. Green Foam Insulation can tell you about the value of green building and energy conservation, NewBath can turn an old bathroom into something special, and Howard's Hart's Telecommunications can show you a videophone that allows you to see and talk to friends and family at the same time.
You can register for a cardiac calcium score screening at Doctors Imaging Services' booth or sign up for free personal training sessions at Gymmatrix, a gym with personal training and nutrition coaching. Magnolia Physical Therapy is offering a free screening, St. Charles Vision will conduct vision screenings, Upper Cervical Family Chiropractic will do postural and nervous system analyses, and Watkins Foot Center will offer foot screenings.
Close Combat and Fitness has self-defense classes for children 7 and older, men and women, Snap Fitness will give visitors a free week pass to its fitness facility, Street Smarts Krav Maga will play a video demonstrating its self-defense, fitness and fighting classes, and Travel Central will have lots of ideas for long or short getaways.
Sunrise Assisted Living of Metairie can explain its senior living options, Wellcare of Louisiana can explain its Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans and the physician-owned Peoples Health can discuss Medicare benefits, wellness, care coordination and support services. Service Corporation International and Dignity Memorial can help with pre-need funeral plans, the NO/AIDS Task Force can discuss its programs for HIV/AIDS patients and their caregivers, and the National Library of Medicine will explain how to find all types of medical information on the Internet.