Brown & Toland’s
A Wellness Magazine for the San Francisco Bay Area
Yield Great Beneﬁts
Reduce Your Risk
Brown & Toland’s
Patient Bill of Rights
The physicians of Brown & Toland Medical Group are
dedicated to quality patient care. As a patient of a Brown
& Toland Medical Group physician, you will receive:
Courteous, considerate and respectful treatment
at all times
Candid discussions of appropriate or medically
necessary treatment options for your conditions,
regardless of cost or beneﬁt options
Access to preventive health care services
Information about beneﬁts, where and how to seek
care, and the risks involved in treatment
Why Flu Shots Matter Timely response to requests for services, inquiries
Second opinions when medically appropriate
Titles and specialties of the health care professionals
F lu shots are important because the virus that causes the ﬂu
changes constantly, and a new strain appears almost every spring.
“So the shot that protects you one to ask for a shot in October or Novem-
responsible for your care
Privacy and conﬁdentiality regarding your medical
and health conditions
year won’t necessarily protect you the ber, before the ﬂu season starts,” says Information regarding the medical group and health
next,” says Suzanne Bradley, M.D., Dr. Bradley. “But even if you miss your plan grievance procedures
associate professor of internal medicine shot in the fall, you should still get one Recognition of your rights to make decisions regard-
at the University of Michigan. Scientists as late as February if there is an out- ing your medical care and to complete an advance
track mutations of the virus and break in your area.” directive, thereby extending your rights to any per-
develop new vaccines against it. The shot doesn’t guarantee you son who may make decisions on your behalf regard-
won’t get sick, nor will it protect you ing your medical care
against other respiratory diseases, The right to make recommendations to your patient
The ﬂu vaccine is 90 percent Dr. Bradley says, “but it’s important rights and responsibilities
effective in preventing deaths to remember that the ﬂu kills —
colds don’t.” Patient Responsibilities
and 80 percent effective in As your health care partner, we ask that you:
preventing hospitalizations. Warding off pneumonia Provide professional staff with all health care infor-
If everyone who should have Immunization also can lower the risk mation needed to ensure the best possible outcome
for pneumonia. Many kinds of bacteria Communicate with your primary care physician when
one got one, it would save lives. can cause pneumonia, and the vaccine you have questions or concerns about your health care
— Suzanne Bradley, M.D., won’t protect you against all of them. But Adhere to instructions and guidelines given for
associate professor of internal medicine,
University of Michigan
if you are over 65, talk with your doctor health care services
about when to get the shot and when to Cooperate with health care professionals providing
get a booster, because it can protect you service to you, except in those instances when you
The ﬂu can be deadly in older against a number of them. have exercised your right to refuse service
individuals and those with chronic Dr. Bradley says getting a pneumo- Educate yourself on your health beneﬁts and services
illnesses. Changes in your immune nia shot is even more important today. and how to correctly obtain them
system increase your chance of getting When bacteria cause pneumonia, “we If you have questions about your beneﬁts, call
it, and the ﬂu’s effects can be especially use antibiotics to treat it. Some of the Brown & Toland Medical Group’s Customer Service
severe if you have a chronic lung or bacteria are becoming resistant. So you Department at 415.972.6002, or your health plan’s
heart condition. “The ﬂu vaccine is 90 really gamble if you don’t get the shot. member services division. ■
percent effective in preventing deaths There’s a chance that the medicine
The California Department of Managed Health Care is respon-
and 80 percent effective in preventing won’t work” if you wait until you have sible for regulating health care plans. The department has a toll-
hospitalizations,” Dr. Bradley says. “If pneumonia. free number (888.HMO.2219) to receive complaints regarding
everyone who should have one got one, Viruses also can cause pneumonia. health plans. If you have a grievance against a health plan, you
should contact the health plan and use the plan’s grievance pro-
it would save lives.” There is no immunization against cess. You may call the California Department of Managed Health
Your body can take weeks to respond those types of pneumonia, which don’t Care for assistance with an emergency grievance or a grievance
to the vaccine. “That’s why it’s important respond to antibiotics. ■ that has not been satisfactorily resolved by the plan.
www.brownandtoland.com Brown & Toland’s HealthLink, Fall 2006 3
Making Your Lifestyle Heart-Healthy
T he millions of Americans diagnosed with heart
and cardiovascular diseases can beneﬁt from
making healthful choices in their day-to-day lives.
Get the equivalent of 3 cups of fat free
or low-fat milk or dairy products.
60 minutes of moderate exercise most
days of the week.
Do weight training and stretching
Exercise more exercises several times a week.
“While it’s certainly necessary to take Regular exercise keeps your heart and
medications to lower high cholesterol or the rest of your body in shape. Stop smoking
blood pressure, it’s equally important to To add more activity to your life: Smoking is a major risk factor for
have a healthy lifestyle,” says Richard Check with your doctor before start- heart disease.
Stein, M.D., chief of the department of ing an exercise program if you’ve been To live smoke-free:
medicine in the Singer Division at Beth sedentary and/or have a chronic disease. Decide to quit and set a quit date.
Israel Hospital in New York City, and a Start slowly and increase your Try again if you fail. Successful quitters
spokesman for the American Heart Asso- activity gradually to a total of 30 to have “quit” an average of nine times.
ciation. “People who are informed and
proactive when it comes to lowering their
health risks are very likely to avoid heart
disease and heart attacks.”
Eating a healthful By following these recommendations,
diet will reduce people at normal risk for heart disease
the risk for can reduce their risk and make their lives
heart disease. more enjoyable.
While it’s certainly necessary to
take medications to lower high
cholesterol or blood pressure,
it’s equally important to have
a healthy lifestyle.
— Richard Stein, M.D.
Eat a healthful diet
Eating a healthful diet has been proven
to reduce the risk for heart disease.
To eat a heart-healthy diet:
Eat 2 cups fresh fruits and 2½ cups of
vegetables every day.
Limit saturated and trans fats by using
olive oil or other vegetable oils instead
of butter or margarine.
Eat more chicken and ﬁsh and less
Eat 6 ounces of grains, of which at
least 3 ounces should be from whole-
grain bread and cereal.
Limit or eliminate fast foods, which are
often loaded with salt, sugar and fats.
If you drink alcohol, do so moderately
— no more than two drinks a day if
you’re a man, one if you’re a woman.
Limit your salt/sodium to 2300 mg
per day or less.
4 Brown & Toland’s HealthLink, Fall 2006 www.brownandtoland.com
Brown & Toland employees formed teams to raise money for the Heart Walk. Training took
place during lunchtime and included walks around the Embarcadero.
Ask your doctor for information
about cessation aids, such as a patch,
inhaler and counseling or support
Monitor your health
Be proactive when it comes to your
heart’s health. To do so, work with your
health care provider to reduce your heart
disease risk by following up with him or
her for treatment for high blood pressure
and cholesterol levels.
“Denial is the number one risk factor
for having a heart attack,” says Dr. Stein. RAISING AWARENESS
“Call 911 immediately if you have chest
pain if you’re a man, or are short of breath,
dizzy and have a burning sensation in the Walking the Talk:
chest area if you’re a woman. If you can
get to a hospital in the same hour these
symptoms start, it’s possible to prevent a
Brown & Toland Employees
heart attack or limit the damage.” ■ Join in Heart Walk 2006
LEARN TO RELAX
Chronic anger and stress can
damage your heart. To better
O n Sept. 15, employees from various departments within Brown & Toland
Medical Group descended upon Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco to
walk in support of research and education for heart disease.
cope with life’s pressures:
Try to be positive instead
The American Heart Association’s annual Heart Walk raises more than
of negative in your outlook
$1 million nationwide to fund research and educational programs to help
reduce risk, disability and death from the nation’s number one and num-
Take 15 to 20 minutes a
ber three killers: heart disease and stroke.
day to sit quietly and
Brown & Toland employees were enthusiastic about the walking chal-
lenge, which dovetailed well with the medical group’s lunchtime “Walk
This Way” program. Twice each week, employees are encouraged to join
Take time for yourself each We were proud in half-hour and hour walks around the South of Market area.
day. Read a book, listen to
music or enjoy a hobby. to be part of the “Heart Walk gave our walking program one more goal for the year,”
says Brown & Toland Walk This Way committee member Ann Hardesty.
San Francisco “Walking at lunch is something many of our employees enjoy, and we
community, used the Heart Walk as an opportunity to train and recruit more members
raising aware- into our program.”
Employees formed teams to raise money for the Heart Walk, and train-
ness and mak- ing took place during the lunchtime walks around the Embarcadero and
ing an impact. AT&T Park.
“We wanted our team to be prepared and ready to make a splash at the
Brown & Toland Heart Walk,” says Hardesty. “It was a great day for all Brown & Toland
Walk This Way
employees. We were proud to be part of the San Francisco community,
raising awareness and making an impact.”
With its own comprehensive disease management program for con-
gestive heart failure, Brown & Toland strives to help its members man-
age their health and avoid hospitalization. For more information on this
free program, go to www.brownandtoland.com and click on “Our
Medical Services.” ■
www.brownandtoland.com Brown & Toland’s HealthLink, Fall 2006 5
Reduce Your Risk for Breast Cancer
Y ou may think that the only news about breast
cancer is bad news. Although more women die
of it than from any other cancer except lung cancer,
A mammogram is a special X-
ray that can show breast cancer.
Mammograms can detect can-
there also is good news. If you ﬁnd breast cancer cer sooner than you or your doc-
tor can feel it.
early, you can get treated more successfully.
Research also shows that making some
lifestyle changes, such as exercising
more and cutting down on alcohol,
can reduce the risk for breast cancer.
Are you at risk?
If you are a woman, you are at risk
for breast cancer, and your risk increases
Research as you get older. Some factors, such as
shows that having a close relative (for example, a
exercise may mother or sister) who had breast cancer
help prevent or having had it yourself in the past,
breast cancer. increase your risk. Having your ﬁrst
child after age 30 also can make your
risk slightly higher.
Another risk factor for breast cancer
is being obese or overweight, the
American Cancer Society says. This is
especially true for women after meno-
pause. The Society says that although
your ovaries produce most of your
estrogen, fat tissue in your body can What can you do? that women who consume one alco-
change other hormones into estrogen. Take action: Have mammograms holic drink a day have a very small
Higher estrogen levels increase your and breast exams performed by your increase in risk, and those who have
risk for developing breast cancer. The doctor, and develop healthy habits. two to ﬁve drinks daily have about
link between weight and breast cancer Schedule a checkup with your 1½ times the risk of women who
risk is complicated: Women who have doctor every year. Discuss when you drink no alcohol.
Many women who been overweight since childhood have should get a mammogram, a special X- Team up with your doctor.
get breast cancer less of a risk than women who gained ray that can show breast cancer. Mam- Your doctor can help you stop smok-
extra weight as adults. Excess fat tissue mograms can detect cancer sooner than ing or drinking, and lose weight if
have no family around the waist increases the risk you or your doctor can feel it. At your you are overweight.
history of the more than extra fat on the hips checkup, your doctor should also do a Also, talk with your doctor if you
and thighs. manual breast exam. take birth control pills or are on hor-
disease and no Some studies of dietary fat and breast Develop healthy habits. Exercise mone or estrogen replacement therapy.
known risk factors cancer risk have found that women with has many beneﬁts, such as lowering HRT and ERT may help relieve meno-
diets low in saturated fat and total fat high blood pressure, keeping your pausal symptoms and help prevent
for breast cancer. have less of a risk. Other studies have not heart healthy and lowering your osteoporosis, but they increase other
found any connection between dietary fat chance for stroke. And research shows health risks. Talk to your health care
and breast cancer risk. that it may help prevent breast cancer. provider to ﬁnd out what is best for you.
Many women who get breast cancer Smoking and drinking alcohol The thought of cancer can be scary,
have no family history of the disease and may also increase your risk for but knowledge and action can help you
no known risk factors for breast cancer. breast cancer. The Society says stay in charge of your life and health. ■
6 Brown & Toland’s HealthLink, Fall 2006 www.brownandtoland.com
IN THE COMMUNITY
Brown & Toland Sponsors
Race for the Cure, Stresses
Education and Prevention
T his fall, Brown & Toland celebrated its commit- Money raised by the Susan G. Komen
Breast Cancer Foundation supports
ment to ﬁnding a cure for breast cancer by spon-
research, education, screenings and
soring the 2006 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. treatment. According to race organizers,
The event, which drew more than 75 percent of all funds raised directly
100,000 runners, walkers and other impact local community organizations.
participants, converged on the Embar- Last year, the Race for the Cure helped
cadero Ferry Place on Sept. 24. Teams, fund a program for free breast cancer
individuals, friends and family raised screening and mammography services
money to walk in solidarity to help for uninsured Bay Area women.
bring awareness to the third leading Brown & Toland has been a sponsor
cause of death for women. of this event for years, and executives
were pleased to continue the relation-
ship with the Komen Foundation and
Brown & Toland understands the San Francisco community in 2006.
the importance of education “Brown & Toland understands the
and prevention. By partnering importance of education and preven-
tion,” says Brown & Toland Marketing
with organizations that feel Specialist Erin Hovendick. “By partner- Women age 40 and older should have a
the same way, we are one step ing with organizations that feel the mammogram every year. They are a
same way, we are one step closer to valuable and effective tool for detecting
closer to curing the disease. curing the disease.” breast cancer early, improving the effec-
— Erin Hovendick,
Brown & Toland Marketing Specialist
A mammogram is the best way to tiveness of treatment. This year, remem-
detect cancer at its earliest stages. ber to make time for a mammogram! ■
is the best way
to detect cancer
at its earliest
age 40 and older
should have a
www.brownandtoland.com Brown & Toland’s HealthLink, Fall 2006 7
8 Brown & Toland’s HealthLink, Fall 2006 www.brownandtoland.com
Easy Ways for the Elderly
to Prevent Falls
E ach year, thousands of older men and women are disabled, sometimes permanently, by falls
that result in broken bones. Yet small changes in homes and lifestyles can prevent such falls.
The changes associated with aging include a decrease in Limit how much alcohol you drink. Even a small
vision, hearing, muscle strength, coordination and reﬂexes. amount can affect your balance and reﬂexes.
These changes can make people more likely to fall. Wear rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes that fully
Older people also are more likely to have disorders that support your feet. Don’t wear smooth-soled slippers or
may affect their balance, such socks on stairs or waxed ﬂoors.
as diabetes and conditions of Exercise regularly. Doing
the heart, blood vessels, nervous so can help you maintain
system and thyroid. In addition, your strength and muscle
they often take medications that tone and keep your joints,
may cause dizziness or tendons and ligaments more
lightheadedness. ﬂexible. Ask your doctor or a
physical therapist to plan an
Steps to take exercise program suitable for
Taking these steps will you. Weight-bearing exercise
reduce your chances of falling: can keep your bones stronger
Talk to your doctor or and help prevent fractures
pharmacist about the side should a fall occur.
effects of the drugs you take. Always keep one hand
Could they affect your coordi- on a handrail when using
nation or balance? a stairway.
Have your vision and
hearing tested often. Wear a properly ﬁtted hearing aid Make your home safe
and eyeglasses if recommended by your doctor. Many older people fall because of unsafe surroundings at
Don’t get up too quickly after eating, lying down home. Use the following suggestions to safeguard against
or resting. A sudden decrease in blood pressure caused some likely household hazards.
by standing too quickly may cause dizziness at these times. Besides being clutter-free, stairways, hallways and pathways
This can be made worse by medications, particularly those should have good lighting and ﬁrmly attached carpet with
used to regulate blood pressure and to treat benign pros- rough texture or abrasive strips to ensure secure footing.
tatic hypertrophy, or enlarged prostate. Stairways also should have tightly fastened handrails running
If you get too hot, especially when taking any the whole length of all stairs. You may want to double up on
medications, you might get dizzy and faint. Drink handrails, adding railing to the opposite side of the stairs.
adequate amounts of water and other liquids and limit Bathrooms should have grab bars placed both in and out
exercise on hot days, according to your doctor’s instruc- of tubs and showers and near toilets. Nonskid mats and
tions. Try to stay in an air-conditioned place during the abrasive strips or carpet should be installed on all surfaces
hottest part of the day. that may get wet.
If your gait is unsteady, use a cane, walking stick Bedrooms and living areas should have carpet or area rugs
or walker to help stay balanced. This is especially that are ﬁrmly attached to the ﬂoor, and electrical cords
important on uneven or unfamiliar ground. Use special and telephone wires should be placed away from walking
care when walking outdoors on wet or icy sidewalks. paths. ■
www.brownandtoland.com Brown & Toland’s HealthLink, Fall 2006 9
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Essential Eye Care
M ost people who have diabetes suffer nothing more than minor eye disorders related to the
disease. However, they do have a higher risk for blindness than other people, according to
the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
If you have diabetes, you can take steps to reduce your In some people, retinopathy progresses after several years
risk for vision loss or blindness. to a more serious form called proliferative retinopathy, in
Diabetes can cause the following eye disorders: which the blood vessels become so damaged that they close
Glaucoma. Diabetes can lead to glaucoma, or increased off, the ADA says. In response, new blood vessels start grow-
pressure within the eye that over time damages the optic ing in the retina. These new vessels are weak and can leak
nerve, the ADA says. People with diabetes are 40 percent blood, blocking vision. The new blood vessels also can cause
more likely to suffer from glaucoma than people without scar tissue. After the scar tissue shrinks, it can distort the
diabetes. The longer a person has diabetes, the greater the retina or pull it out of place, causing retinal detachment.
risk for glaucoma. The risk for glaucoma also increases Your retina can be badly damaged before you notice any
with age. change in vision, and most people with nonproliferative reti-
Cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. nopathy have no symptoms, the ADA says. Even with prolif-
People who have diabetes are 60 percent more likely to erative retinopathy, people sometimes have no symptoms
develop this condition than people who don’t. People with until it’s too late to treat the condition. That’s why it’s crucial
diabetes also are more likely to develop cataracts at a for people with diabetes to see an eye care professional every
younger age, the ADA says. Cataracts in someone with year for eye examinations.
diabetes tend to progress more quickly than in someone
without diabetes. Steps to take
Retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a general term for The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to
disorders of the retina caused by diabetes. Diabetic retinop- have nonproliferative retinopathy, the ADA says. Almost
athy comes in two forms: nonproliferative and prolifera- everyone with type 1 diabetes will eventually develop it, as
tive, the ADA says. will most people with type 2 diabetes. But proliferative reti-
In nonproliferative retinopathy, the most common form, nopathy, the form of retinopathy that destroys vision, is far
capillaries balloon and form less common.
pouches. Nonproliferative reti- The following steps can
nopathy doesn’t usually cause WARNING SIGNS help you preserve your sight:
vision loss and needs no treat- Keep your blood sugar levels
See an eye care professional at
ment at this stage. However, the under tight control. People
least once a year for a dilated
capillary walls may lose their who keep these levels closer
eye exam. See your eye care
ability to control the passage of to normal are less likely to
professional right away if:
substances between the blood have retinopathy.
and the retina. As a result, the ret- Your vision becomes blurry. Control high blood pressure,
ina becomes swollen, and fatty You see double. which can make eye prob-
deposits form within it, the ADA You see spots or floaters. lems worse.
says. If this swelling affects the One or both of your eyes hurt. If you smoke, quit. Smoking
center of the retina, the prob- Your eyes get red and stay that way. is a risk factor for macular
lem is called macular edema, You feel pressure in your eyes. degeneration. ■
and vision loss can result. Straight lines don’t look straight.
Your side (peripheral) vision deteriorates.
You have any sudden change in your vision
You have trouble reading signs or books.
www.brownandtoland.com Brown & Toland’s HealthLink, Fall 2006 11
BENEFITS FOR SENIORS
Choices After 65
C hanges to Medicare’s managed care
program mean that people approach-
ing their 65th birthdays this year have
However, the milestone birthday often can lead to
more questions than answers regarding health care cov-
erage. Brown & Toland Medical Group can help seniors
navigate their Medicare decisions.
options beyond traditional Medicare for Brown & Toland is San Francisco’s preeminent physi-
affordable and comprehensive care. cian network. Brown & Toland doctors practice quality
health care at California Paciﬁc Medical Center, UCSF
Medical Center, UCSF/Mount Zion Medical Center, St.
Mary’s Medical Center, Saint Francis Memorial Hospital
and St. Luke’s Hospital.
Brown & Toland contracts with two Medicare Advan-
tage Plans to provide Medicare beneﬁciaries with more
coverage for hospitalization and emergencies, and access
to an extensive network of private practice physicians.
Seniority Plus is a Medicare Advantage plan offered
by Health Net. Secure Horizons is a Medicare Advantage
plan offered by PaciﬁCare. By enrolling in one these
Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare beneﬁciaries have
a wide range of important beneﬁts, including doctors’
visits and Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.
We encourage you to ﬁnd out more about Brown &
Toland’s Medicare Advantage plans: Health Net’s Seniority
Plus and Paciﬁ Care’s Secure Horizons. To learn more
about Medicare Advantage and Brown & Toland, please
call 866.488.7088 or return the enclosed business reply
card for a free informational packet. ■
The Doctors Behind Every Good Health Plan PAID
P.O. Box 640469
San Francisco, CA 94164-0469 Permit No. 148