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Tribune-Review: SAD no more: Live Well Bethel Park program addresses cures for winter blues

You’ll lose an hour of rest on March 12, but the tradeoff may be well worth it.

When Daylight Saving Time starts at 2 o’clock that morning, it ushers in a natural remedy for what’s ailing plenty of Western Pennsylvanians.

“Less sunlight during the day affects how our bodies regulate serotonin and melatonin,” Dr. Sabrina Platt said. “And when levels of these hormones are thrown off, it can affect our mood and sleep.”

The result can be a case of seasonal affective disorder, with the highly appropriate acronym SAD, which in serious cases has the potential for basically incapacitating some people.

Platt, a family nurse practitioner with St. Clair Medical Group, discussed the condition during the latest edition of the Live Well Bethel Park series of monthly informational programs.

“If you face any of the symptoms I’m about to discuss, please know that you’re not alone, and there is treatment,” Platt said at the start of the program, produced by Bethel Park Public Access Television and streamed on Feb. 8 through social media.

Examples include weight gain, craving carbohydrates, fatigue, trouble concentrating, sleeping too much, slowed movements or speech, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, “and other things that make you feel not like yourself,” she said. “Five or more of these symptoms are enough for a provider to diagnose you with SAD.”

Those who don’t suffer from quite as many symptoms may be subject to subsyndromal SAD, commonly called the winter blues.

“You’re not completely disabled by winter,” Platt said, “but you’re not at your best.”

For a type of treatment, she recommended shedding some light on the matter.

“Sitting in front of a light box for 30 minutes a day before the hour of 8 a.m. can actually trick your brain into thinking that it’s daylight,” she said, recommending a unit with an intensity of 10,000 lux. “You can find light therapy over the counter, but make sure to talk with your primary care provider for a diagnosis, as treatment for SAD can make other conditions, like bipolar disorder, actually worse.

“Other ways to fight off the winter blues include getting outside to soak up as much natural sunlight as possible, exercising daily and forcing yourself to be social. Schedule a lunch or outing with a friend, even if you don’t feel like it can actually help your mood.”

Diet also figures prominently, and Platt’s suggestion is to eat green, leafy vegetables, along with foods containing healthy carbohydrates — unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains, fruits and beans — “and even the occasional dark chocolate.”

She acknowledged tendencies to dispute the validity of seasonal affective disorder as a debilitating condition.

“A lot of people think it’s just fluff,” she said. “However, it’s a real diagnosis.”

Joining Platt for the SAD program was Chuck Stover, Bethel Park recreation director.

“People still don’t give mental illness the attention they should,” he said. “It is a very important topic that I think needs to be addressed more, not just SAD but all mental illness, so we have a better understanding of it.”

Coming up in the Live Well Bethel Park series:

• March 15 – Supporting Mental Health in Youth Athletes (rescheduled from December). Becky Luzier, Bethel Park High School girls lacrosse coach, will lead a discussion on the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and how to seek treatment.

• April 12 – Pet Care, Pet Health and Training Tips. Among the topics to be addressed are allergies, behavioral issues, injuries, foods that are toxic and common illnesses, including symptoms and treatments. Community members will have the opportunity to email questions to the speaker prior to the presentation.

The programs air at 7 p.m. on the Municipality of Bethel Park Facebook page.

Resource Link: SAD no more: Live Well Bethel Park program addresses cures for winter blues (

Harry Funk is a Tribune-Review news editor. You can contact Harry at [email protected].

St. Clair Health To Be Clinical Training Site For Duquesne University College of Osteopathic Medicine Students

St. Clair Health announced today a long-term agreement with Duquesne University to train the next generation of physicians in Southwestern Pennsylvania. This partnership is not only a collective investment in undergraduate medical education but also the region’s future. It comes at a critical time, when demand for health care only continues to intensify amid a shortage of physicians that is expected to continue for decades.

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Pittsburgh Business Times: Hospitals defend against claims of pricing transparency failures

A new report on hospital price transparency claims that many hospitals and health systems — including some of the region’s biggest names — aren’t compliant with federal rules requiring details on their website. But some of the hospital systems that are listed in the report, including UPMC, pushed back on the report and said they complied with the report.

The report by said that only 24.5% of 2,000 hospitals studied meet the hospital-price transparency standards that have been imposed in stages by the federal government. Those require hospitals to provide to consumers how much a service or item will cost in a clear and accessible way. CMS since January 2021 have been auditing hospitals and health systems and how they comply with the Hospital Price Transparency Final Rule. Two hospitals in the country have received notices for noncompliance of the rules, both in 2022, none in Pennsylvania.

PatientRightsAdvocate said that compliance rates have gone up, with 489 compliant hospitals out of 2,000 reviewed, an increase from the 319 compliant hospitals out of 2,000 in August 2022. But the others’ are mostly incomplete.

“This noncompliance obstructs the ability of patients, employer and union purchasers, and technology developers to comparatively analyze prices, make informed decisions, and have evidence to remedy errors, overcharges and fraud,” according to the report.

The report said that UPMC, one of the nation’s largest hospital systems, had no compliant hospitals out of the 33 that it reviewed. UPMC told the Business Times that PRA’s data was inaccurate.

“We have seen inaccurate analysis from this organization before. The PRA website is (and has been for some time now), wrong,” said a UPMC spokeswoman. “PRA completely misses that the appropriate pricing information has been available to the public on UPMC’s hospitals’ websites for more than the past year.”

UPMC said that PRA uses its own criteria for compliance, which is different from what the federal regulators, CMS, use. UPMC said it’s in compliance with CMS regulations. And it pointed to concerns from the American Hospital Association about the differences between CMS and others looking at the data.

The same was true for WVU Health System, whose J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown and WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital were reported as “noncompliant.” Spokesman Anthony Condia said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has notified WVU Medicine that their hospitals were in full compliance with the price transparency.

But PRA told the Business Times that the files analyzed were downloaded on Jan. 13, 2023.

“The majority of the UPMC hospitals included in our Fourth Semi-Annual Compliance Report have one point of failure: Standard Charges File fails to adequately identify specific plans for all commercial payer,” PRA said. CMS requires each payer-specific negotiated charge to be clearly associated with the third-party payer and plan.

Other hospitals in the region listed as noncompliant are Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, AHN Jefferson Hospitals in Jefferson Hills, and Excela in Greensburg. Excela said it was looking at the report and AHN said it meets all CMS regulations with transparency.

Only one in the region, St. Clair Hospital in Mount Lebanon, were ranked as compliant. That’s due in large part to the focus under the administration of former CEO Jim Collins. St. Clair said that it was one of the first in the country to implement the pricing transparency online in 2016, five years before it was required.

“We remain committed to promoting price transparency to not only take the mystery out of health care costs but also provide high value to our patients,” said Eric Luttringer, SVP and CFO.

St. Clair Health Earns Digital Health “Most Wired” Recognition for 11th Consecutive Year

PITTSBURGH, PA (November 9, 2022) – St. Clair Health was once again recognized as Certified Level 9 in the annual Digital Health Most Wired Survey from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). This is the eleventh consecutive year that St. Clair Health has been named a Digital Health Most Wired hospital by CHIME.

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When Every Minute Matters

New telestroke collaboration with Mayo Clinic enhances acute stroke care

Telestroke, also called stroke telemedicine, allows doctors with advanced training to communicate using modern technology in a concerted team effort to treat patients at another location.

The main advantage? Time and timing. “This is a 24/7 service where patients can be evaluated in minutes,” says Maxim D. Hammer, M.D., Chief of Neurology who practices with St. Clair Medical Group. “A Mayo Clinic stroke specialist will be able to provide video consultation to any patient when an acute stroke is suspected in order to help guide treatment decisions.”

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A Decade & Change For The Hennon Family

Life is full of surprises. One patient’s experience offers an inside look at the wide-reaching expert care delivered by St. Clair Health obstetricians through the ups and downs at every step of the journey.

Jacki Fury Hennon is many things. Project administrator. Financial analyst. Floral designer. Lifelong Pittsburgh Pirates fan. And on October 2, 2010—after 18 months of meticulous planning—she was expecting to pull off her dream wedding, complete with a reception at PNC Park. But in that final week leading up to her big day, Jacki’s dream became a nightmare.

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Annual Pittsburgh Heart Team Summit Brings Together Regional Experts to Transform Patient Care

Symposium Encourages Teamwork Across and Within Health Systems

PITTSBURGH, PA (July 27, 2022) – Leading cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, and affiliated specialists from regional health systems including St. Clair Health, Allegheny Health Network, and UPMC recently gathered for the fourth annual Pittsburgh Heart Team Summit at PNC Park. This year’s symposium drew the largest number of attendees ever for a full day of presentations and discussions dedicated to improving the care of patients with cardiovascular diseases.

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St. Clair Health Receives CMS Five-Star Rating for Second Consecutive Year

Rating Places St. Clair Health Among Top Hospitals In Region and Nation

PITTSBURGH, PA (July 29, 2022) – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has awarded St. Clair Health a five-star rating as part of its Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings for 2022. This is the second year in a row and fourth time in the last five years that St. Clair has received the highest possible rating.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: St. Clair Health’s Summer Swing

St. Clair Health’s 23rd Summer Swing Beach Bash drew nearly 600 guests to St. Clair Country Club on Friday night.

The event — returning after a two-year pandemic hiatus — was about reconnecting and having a good time. There was no formal program or long speeches. Instead, a video played throughout the event featuring St. Clair Health representatives talking about how the funds raised benefit the community though health education and learning advancement for healthcare professionals.

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