GPPC Blog
Stay Sun Safe

All year long, Western New Yorkers have one thing on our mind. I hear it time and time again as I sit down and talk to my patients on a daily basis. 

“WHEN WILL SUMMER BE HERE?”

The first moment the sun shows up and we feel the warmth, albeit only 50 degrees and sunny, we let our skin show. Now as the summer days are long, and the sun is bright, we stay outdoors as long as we can. We are so grateful to finally have warmth on our bodies that we forget about sun safety.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provide wonderful reminders to keep our skin safe while still enjoying those warm and kind sun rays.

They remind us first and foremost that ultraviolet (UV) rays are part of sunlight that is an invisible type of radiation. UVA and UVB cause aging and damage to the skin cells and are the most dangerous and cancer-causing types of sun rays. We also know that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The most common types of skin cancers include basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

In order to protect our patients and ourselves, there are several things we can do to minimize our risk of skin damage. They include regular and routine use of broad-spectrum SPF 15 or greater sunscreen even when in the shade. Remember to reapply if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. Wear clothing made from tightly woven cloth with SPF protection when possible, stay in the shade, wear a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses that preferably block UVA and UVB rays. 

Lastly, if you do get too much sun, by accident of course, here are some simple tips to help your body recover: stay hydrated to prevent fluid loss, comfort skin burns with cool baths or clothes, take over-the-counter Tylenol or ibuprofen for fever or headaches, and remain out of the sun until you are feeling better.

Katherine Sumner, PA-C is accepting new patients at 1091 Main Street, Suite 301, Buffalo. For more information on health safety or if you are worried about damage to your skin, call our office at 716.248.1420 to schedule an appointment.

Dr. Iyer

The Hidden Danger of COVID-19: Ignoring other illnesses can be deadly during the pandemic

Heart attacks and strokes don’t care about COVID-19. They just keep on coming.

Unfortunately, there is anecdotal evidence that an increasing number of people are delaying seeking care for symptoms during COVID-19. That can be a real problem, according to Great Lakes Cardiovascular Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Vijay Iyer.

When we are talking about certain cardiac episodes, the difference between life and death can be a matter of minutes,” he says. “Delaying treatment can be a fatal decision.”

There appear to be two primary reasons people would delay seeking medical care for non-COVID-19 symptoms during the pandemic. First, there is the altruistic belief that they would be taking a bed away from someone who needs it more than they do.

“People need to leave decisions like that to the medical professionals,” Dr. Iyer says. “We assess every patient, and we admit people who have a need for urgent care, so if a doctor admits you to a hospital, it is because you need that level of care, there is no more or less than the next person.”

Additionally, in most parts of the country outside of New York City, social distancing has led to a flattening of the curve, and hospitals have the capacity to admit patients as needed. The shortage of beds that was expected early on, and was seen in some communities, is now much better.

Even if there was a shortage in beds, Dr. Iyer says that’s no reason to delay or skip treatment.

“Calling and coming in to be examined still gives us the opportunity to assess your condition and take action outside of hospitalization,” he says. We treat many patients in the office, and there may be simple medications we can prescribe to help. But we don’t know that if a patient doesn’t reach out.”

The second, more common reason, is simply fear. Erie County has the second-highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. Governor Cuomo issued and reissued a Stay in Place Order. People are required to wear a mask in public. There is an understandable level of fear in the community and for many patients, that translates into a hesitation to go to a doctor’s office or hospital for fear of being exposed to the virus. While there is no guarantee, Dr. Iyer says healthcare providers across the community have done an outstanding job of implementing measures to keep patients and staff safe.

“We are part of General Physician, PC and together we have more than 70 offices,” Dr. Iyer says. “At every office, we took immediate and comprehensive steps to ensure everyone who comes through our doors is safe.”

Dr. Richard Charles is the Chief Medical Officer of General Physician, PC. He says those steps included increased training for staff and providers as soon as COVID-19 broke.

“Keeping our patients safe during this time begins with keeping our staff safe and making sure they have the education and the tools to execute best practices in all offices,” he says.

Dr. Charles says at every General Physician, PC and Great Lakes Cardiovascular office, the following safety precautions have been implemented:

  • No one is allowed to enter an office without having their temperature taken (fever is a primary symptom of COVID-19).

  • Access is retracted to employees, patients, and their caregivers only. No outside vendors or visitors are allowed in any office.

  • All staff and providers wear personal protective equipment.

  • Many offices offer video and telephone visits for added safety.

    “We understand the apprehension our patients feel, and we have taken every step possible to mitigate any risk for those individuals visiting our offices,” he says.

    Dr. Iyer says the same is true for the hospitals he cares for patients in — each is operating at a heightened level of safety and patient protection.

    “The advice I give my patients today is the same as it was before COVID-19 and the same it will be after COVID-19,” he says. “If you feel something, say something. If you have symptoms, call your doctor or hospital. It could absolutely save your life.”

    Dr. Vijay Iyer has offices in Buffalo and Olean. To schedule an appointment at any Great Lakes Cardiovascular office, call 716.710.8266.

Woman exercising outside

The Summer season is finally here! While many people have been emotional and stress-eating, as well as skipping physical activity during COVID-19, warm weather, sunshine, and fresh produce of the season offer you the perfect opportunity to make positive, healthy lifestyle changes.  

Now is the perfect time to retrain your body and taste buds, particularly if you have been munching on sweets and snack foods like chips or pretzels over the last few months. Take advantage of the abundance of in-season fruits and vegetables, aiming for 1-2 pieces of fruit and at least 2-3 cups of vegetables a day. Fruit is a naturally sweet snack that comes with unique health benefits and phytonutrients. This time of year, WNY farms are brimming with U-pick strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. The summer months also boast an abundance and variety of homegrown vegetables. Try incorporating 2-3 vegetarian dinners a week. Not only is it a good way to take advantage of fresh produce, but it is an easy, healthier, and less expensive meal to prepare.  

To help keep your weight, blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, and overall health in check, get out and walk! Even 15-20 minutes a day can make a big difference. Whether you are walking or participating in another outdoor activity you love, try to go early in the morning or in the evening to prevent overheating and avoid prime time sun exposure. Getting outside can also boost your mood and vitamin D levels adding additional health benefits. 

Hitting the great outdoors has many health benefits, but it is essential to stay hydrated to keep your body functioning optimally. Aim for 48-64 oz of water every day. If you are active, your intake of water needs to increase. The rule of thumb is for every pound lost by sweating drink an extra 16 oz of water. 

Decide today that the changes you make this summer will last all year. Write them down, use an app, find someone or something to make you accountable! Most of all, get outside, move your body and enjoy all that summer has to offer.

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