Tag Archive: Becky Wilhoit

Valley Healthcare

November is American Diabetes Month, and just in time for the holidays, the American Diabetes Association uses this month to help raise awareness of diabetes’ causes and prevention/treatment.

In a month when all the holiday excess of food and drink really is just getting started, American Diabetes Month is a perfectly placed reminder that while there’s typically never a shortage of leftover Halloween candy, your health IS finite! According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes, and the average cost to our nation for diagnosed diabetic conditions is close to $250 billion. Even more alarming is the fact that two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.

So what can you do to fight diabetes, protect your heart and blood sugar, and do your part to recognize American Diabetes Month? For starters, go into the holidays with a healthy and realistic viewpoint on food and celebration! Remember that while treats and eats are wonderful, you can always balance indulgences with exercise and healthier options. A few small changes to your Thanksgiving choices alone can make a huge difference in your energy level and your health:

  • Replace cheesy broccoli casserole with a waldorf salad containing broccoli, walnuts, raisins, and other delicious and healthy foods.
  • Instead of taking a post-turkey dinner nap, go for a walk around your neighborhood with your family and enjoy the colorful fall leaves.
  • Try bringing healthier options to go along with your traditional turkey dinner – baked sweet potatoes with cinnamon in lieu of mashed potatoes with gravy is a good “switch,” with delicious sweetness and tons of vitamins.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout your busy holidays festivities.
  • Try to include regular physical activity to help your metabolism stay at peak performance and help keep off holiday weight gain.

To learn more about how to get involved for American Diabetes Month, visit www.diabetes.org. And to get on top of your own fight against diabetes – whether you’re already a diagnosed diabetic, or simply someone looking to maintain the best health and quality of life possible – call the Valley Healthcare System main line at 706-322-9599extension 1710  our Diabetic Counselor Veronica Culpepper is available to assist you!

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October is Bone and Joint Health Awareness Month!

Since 2011, more and more of the generation known as the “Baby Boomers” have been becoming eligible for Medicare, leading increasingly healthy and active lives – but over time, the costs of bone and joint care for this aging generation will continue to grow. This makes this year’s Bone & Joint health month all the more reason to get on the ball with taking care of your bone and joint health!

October 20th is World Osteoporosis Day, but the month goes beyond simply recognizing that prevalent condition which often affects elderly females. This worldwide event helps focus on disorders ranging from arthritis to back pain and even traumatic joint injury.

Roughly 48% of the American adult population are affected by some type of bone or joint condition, and these types of conditions are one of the most common reasons for chronic pain and disabilities. These conditions include everything from childhood conditions to advanced arthritic issues in elderly patients.

One key part of joint and bone health is simple prevention – things that you can start doing now to prevent problems down the road. Losing weight is one of the key ways to do this. Reducing the pressure on the body’s joints just by losing even a few pounds can make a world of difference, as can taking more time to warm up before exercise, choosing lower impact activities and weight bearing activities (particularly important for women who want to build bone density), or changing the types of shoes you wear. This is especially important, again, for women who often wear high heels that make them up to 10 times more likely to encounter joint and bone problems.

For more information on how to take “Do It Yourself” steps to building healthier bones and joints, see your doctor. Remember – no matter your age, you can change your future.  Call Valley Healthcare System at (706) 322-9599 to learn about all the ways you can be kind to your joints and bones.


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The First Check-Up: Newborn Screenings

For newly expectant mothers, there are so many things to consider – which pediatrician to use, which hospital to deliver at, or which car seat to buy are common decisions new parents have to make before the arrival of a little one. But depending on which state you live in and the laws in place there, you’ll want to acquaint yourself with what types of newborn screenings are done at birth.

Newborn screenings are typically done in the hospital, immediately after a baby is born. These screenings can include blood tests, a hearing screening, and a heart screening. The blood test typically is done by quickly pricking he baby’s heel to get a few drops of blood for lab work, which is then forwarded on to your pediatrician or other healthcare provider. During the hearing screening, your baby will be checked to see how he or she responds to sound. For the heart screening, your baby is checked to see what the amount of oxygen circulating in your baby’s blood is, and if they could have any kind of congenital heart disease that will present issues for them later in life.

These tests are done as a “due diligence” check to ensure that the baby doesn’t have any kind of serious or rare condition that may not have revealed itself – especially important for newborns, since many conditions can be treated before they even present problems.

Every state has different requirements for what types of newborn screenings are done, so it’s always best to discuss your specific state requirements for the types of screenings and tests that your baby will undergo after birth. If you’re an expectant mother or parent looking for information, call our main line at 706-322-9599 extension 1100 and schedule an appointment with our pediatrician, Dr. Judith Bennett today.

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Beyond August: Raising Breastfeeding Awareness and Education Year Round!

You’ve possibly heard by now that August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, but here at Valley Healthcare System, we think caring for nursing babies and their hard-working moms is a cause to celebrate year round!

Though every mother has to choose their own individual path to a healthy mom and a healthy baby, organizations all the way up to the Centers for Disease Control have opened up dedicated sections of their websites to raising awareness and educating the public about the benefits of breastfeeding. The CDC’s yearly “Breastfeeding Report Card” even shows individual states’ rates at birth, six months, and one year of infant age. Here in the state of Georgia, we’re making great strides in helping more mothers have success when it comes to nursing and nursing support programs!

You may ask “Why nursing?” and there’s a laundry list of benefits for both mom and baby. This includes:

  • Better immunity for babies from early childhood diseases and conditions
  • Reduced risk of certain diseases later in a child’s life, including multiple sclerosis, heart disease, juvenile diabetes, and even cancer
  • Reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer for nursing moms
  • Helps many mothers to lose weight gained during pregnancy
  • Less risk of stomach/digestive problems in newborns who are breastfed versus formula fed
  • Reduced overall risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  • Helps protect infant from allergies
    Reduced rates of ear infection
  • Formula can be very expensive, and nursing is free


For expectant mothers, nursing education is a vitally important part of breastfeeding success, and Valley Healthcare offers a wide variety of pregnancy-related services that include nursing education and guidance. For parents looking to beef up their breastfeeding knowledge, please call our main line at 706-322-9599, or visit La Leche League’s International website to find a nursing educator near you!

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National Immunization: Where Prevention and Awareness Meet

August is National Immunization Month, a rare fusion of prevention and awareness in which simply learning about vital immunizations for newborns and infants, pregnant women, young children, preteens and teens, and adults.

A National Immunization Month Toolkit is available for free to the public at http://www.nphic.org/niam/toolkit (provided by the National Public Health Information Coalition), where you can access a variety of questionnaires to help clear up any uncertainties about what immunizations you or your loved ones may be missing, needing to update on, or what possible immunizations might be worth considering.

One example of vaccines that the CDC is currently trying to raise awareness of is the whooping cough vaccine for new mothers and fathers of newborn babies who could contract whooping cough and potentially suffer grave consequences. Because babies cannot finish their whooping cough vaccine series until several months of age, there is a period of susceptibility that worries public health leaders and doctors, in which babies are more likely to contract whooping cough from caretakers like parents than from any other source. With the simple step of being informed about this vaccine and its benefits and protection for the littlest member of the family, lives could be saved.

The available immunization toolkit also aims to help the following groups:

  • Children about to start school who may be lacking vaccines necessary to enroll
  • College students who need to be up to date on certain vaccines in order to move into the dormitories at school
  • Parents of toddlers or babies age two or younger
  • All age groups and demographics going into the flu season, but especially those particularly susceptible to severe flu illness repercussions, like the elderly.


To learn more about what immunizations you and your loved ones might need to be up-to-date on, visit http://www.nphic.org/niam/toolkit, or call the Valley Healthcare System main line at 706-322-9599 to schedule a wellness check with one of our experienced healthcare providers.

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Cord Blood Banking: Why It Might Be Right for Your Family

If you or someone you know has welcomed a baby in the past few years, you may have heard of the newest thing in parenting: cord blood banking.

Cord blood banking works by providing stem cells taken from the umbilical cord immediately after delivery, which are preserved banked and can be used to treat countless (nearly 100) diseases, including potentially life-threatening conditions like cancer, blood disorders, and genetic diseases. These stem cells can also be used to help strengthen a child or adult’s immune system after chemotherapy. Now, clinical trials are investigating the use of these types of cells to treat autism, diabetes, cerebral palsy, and even spinal cord injuries.

Cord blood banking can be costly many banks provide payment plans and options for where the blood is banked. Some large and well-known cord blood banks include Cord Blood Registry and Via Cord.

That said, just because you bank, doesn’t mean you’ll ever use the banking that can cost a few thousand dollars – BUT, when and if you need the cells, nothing else will do, and they can be life-saving. It’s a tough choice that every family has to make for themselves but Valley Healthcare System physicians can provide even more information about the cost and benefits of this type of cord blood banking.

Though the chances that your child will have a stem cell transplant using their own cells before 10 years of age are only about one in 10,000 for an increasing number of families, this chance is a driving force to bank cord blood.

To learn more about the complex and innovative world of cord blood banking, visit http://www.cordblood.com/ or www.viacord.com, or call  our main line at 706-322-9599 to set up a consultation with a Valley Healthcare expert.


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Staying Ahead of Group B Strep

For expectant mothers, pregnancy is an exciting time that can also be full of new and sometimes scary things to consider. Among the most common and easily treated of those is the bacterium known as Group B Streptococcus (strep), which is harmless in adults but can present issues for newborns. July is International Group B Strep Awareness Month, so there’s no better time to learn more about this common health issue than now.

During the early part of the third trimester of pregnancy, it’s always smart to get a Group B strep screening test. In fact, most doctors require patients to have the test. The test merely tells whether a pregnant woman carries the Group B strep bacteria, which typically is carried in the bladder, throat, vagina, rectum, or bowel, but never causes any signs or symptoms to indicate its presence.

The problem comes when babies are born to women carrying the Group B strep and “are not” treated, which can lead to two types of Group B strep infection in the infant (early onset and late onset). While early-onset typically begins to show within 12 hours after birth, late-onset can take from a week post-birth to several months. Signs and symptoms can include fever, difficulty feeding, coughing and congestion similar to a cold or flu, and in some very severe cases seizures.

So what if you’re pregnant, you have the Group B strep test, and your results come out positive? Don’t be afraid! The great news is that treatment for this type of bacteria typically only means antibiotics prior to delivery (often while the mother labors in the hospital or birthing center) and possibly for the baby after delivery.

Learn more about Group B strep treatment at http://www.groupbstrepinternational.org/ or set up a consultation with one of the caring doctors at Valley Healthcare by calling our main line at 706-322-9599.

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Educating Yourself About CMV: Congenital Cytomegalovirus

For pregnant women and mothers of young children, there’s never a shortage of illnesses, complications, and other possible issues to worry about. But you may never heard of congenital CMV: congenital cytomegalovirus.

CMV can affect people who contract it in much the same way as mononucelosis, leading to high fever, fatigue, flu-like symptoms like joint stiffness and muscle aches, and other unpleasant symptoms. To add to it, once CMV is in a person’s body, it stays there – for life. But in pregnant women and their growing babies, new CMV infection can be much more problematic. Typically, CMV is a very common virus that doesn’t have many complications for those with healthy immune systems – but for expectant women and their babies, it can be very serious.

Statistics say 1 in 150 babies are born with congenital CMV, and that it actually accounts for more instances of disabilities than other known conditions like Down Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, or Spina Bifida. Congenital CMV occurs in newborns when a pregnant woman is exposed to congenital CMV and then passes it to her unborn child. Because CMV is so common in terms of adult exposure, it is the most common congenital (meaning “from birth”) viral infection in the U.S. Babies born with congenital CMV can experience problems ranging from hearing and vision loss, mental disability, and feeding issues to more serious things like cerebral palsy, seizures, and even death. Newborns diagnosed with congenital CMV will not always develop serious problems, but raising awareness is the key to educating all expectant mothers about protecting their babies before birth from this potentially devastating infection.

Things you can do to prevent CMV infection during pregnancy and thus reduce the risk of your child contracting congenital CMV include the following:

  •  Practice regular, consistent hand-washing with soap and water (for a minimum of 15 seconds!), particularly when you’re dealing with other young children or toddlers in your car, including diaper changes, feedings, wiping mucous or saliva, and touching their toys (which are very germy, as we all know).
  • Don’t share food, drinks, or eating utensils used by young children.
  • Do not put your young child’s pacifier in your mouth, and don’t share a toothbrush with them.
  • Keep toys, countertops, floors, and other surfaces clean, particularly those that come in contact with children’s saliva or urine.

While there is no vaccine for congenital CMV or CMV itself, blood tests can help find the antibodies created in the immune system that fight off CMV infection in the mother, at which point there are some treatments for pregnant women and newborns that can help minimize the potential for complications from congenital CMV. And in worst case scenarios, treatments like Ganciclovir, an antiviral treatment, help prevent hearing loss and improve head and brain growth in children who have already contracted congenital CMV.

If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, educate yourself about congenital CMV by visiting http://www.stopcmv.org/ or http://www.congenitalcmv.org/home.htm, or call one of the caring Pediatric staff members at Valley Health Care System and schedule an appointment to come talk about your options for preventing congenital CMV in your little one. Call our main line at 706-322-9599 Ext. 1100.

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Going into June, get ready to take a closer look at your eye health. June is National Cataracts Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to schedule a long-overdue eye exam and catch up with your eye care professional. Quality of vision affects your quality of life way more than you might think – especially if you’re already used to wearing prescription eyeglasses or contacts. As you get older, you can face other vision challenges, one of which is cataracts.

Cataracts is a condition involving clouding of the eye’s lens. This “clouding” can ultimately affect vision by blocking light from entering the eye, but unlike many conditions which cause permanent blindness, cataracts can be reversed. In fact, cataract surgery is a routine surgery, among the most common procedures performed in the U.S., with a 95% success rate.

The causes of cataract aren’t fully known, but they are more common as people age and you have a great chance of developing them as you get older. Some risk factors include extended exposure to UV rays or intense heat, diseases like diabetes, long-term steroid use, injury or disease of the eye, and smoking. They can also be affected by heredity.

Cataracts aren’t necessarily a painful condition, but they can be marked by blurred vision, “ghost” images in the eye, or the sense of a film over the eyes. If you have a cataract, you may find that you have a sensitivity to light or that you need bright light in order to read or work.

National non-profit Prevent Blindness America offers free information through its webpage, or by calling toll-free 1-800-331-2020. Also, you can call Valley Healthcare System’s main line at 706-322-9599 extension 1500 to schedule a vision screening or comprehensive eyecare with Dr. Lakesha Story, Optometrist, and staff.

Valley Healthcare

Springing Into Fitness for National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, and with beautiful weather and blooms springing up everywhere, there’s no better time to make fitness and health a priority in your life.

The President’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition recommends at least 60 minutes each day of physical activity for children, or at least 30 minutes each day for adults 18 and up, and small steps can make the way to huge change. But what if you’re starting from a mostly sedentary lifestyle? Don’t despair, there are easy ways to get started.

  • Start by taking the stairs at your office building instead of the elevator.
  • Park at the far end of the grocery store or office parking lot.
  • During your favorite 1-hour show, use commercial breaks to do easy cardio or strength moves like jumping jacks, lunges, or sit-ups. You could even keep a jump rope handy as you get stronger and skip your way through commercial breaks!
  • Consider ways to make your daily life an active life – for example, cleaning your house burns plenty of calories if you move at a brisk pace, yard work is practically exercise, and shopping burns up to 200 calories an hour!
  • Approach local gyms about trial memberships so you can find a fitness facility that works for your life and where you feel totally comfortable.
  • Start taking small steps to improve your nutrition, too – since nutrition plays such an important role in how you feel while exercising. Swap your morning donut for a wrap with peanut butter and banana, or exchange your 3 pm blended coffee drink with whipped cream for an iced coffee with skim milk and sugar-free syrup.
  • Learn the basics of fitness first to ensure a lifetime of fitness know-how: Focus on cleaning up your walking/running form, military-style basics like sit-ups and push-ups, or have a personal trainer work with you once or twice to teach you proper form on compound movements like squats and deadlifts. Good form means less potential for injury, which means a healthier, happier you!

For more information on the President Council on Physical Fitness and the recommendations they suggest for both adults and children, visit www.fitness.gov. And to learn more about how the Valley Healthcare System and its associated practitioners can help you get on the way to a healthier, fitter life, call our main line at 706-322-9599. From registered dieticians on staff who can advise you on nutrition, to general care physicians who can evaluate you prior to starting a new exercise regimen, Valley Healthcare will walk with you along your journey!

Valley Healthcare System, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) Non-profit, Charitable Organization.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), in accordance with the Federally Supported Health Centers Assistance Act, as amended, sections 224(g)-(n) of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, 42 U.S.C. 233(g)-(n), deems Valley Healthcare System, Inc. to be an employee of the PHS which provides liability protection under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)

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