West Hills Hospital & Medical Center
West Hills Hospital & Medical Center is your community resource for better health. We have the capability and expertise to perform emergency open heart procedures, perform brain and spine surgery.
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Understanding How Hot Your Parked Car Can Get

Every year, dozens of children die because they were left in hot cars. Children are unable to regulate their body temperatures as well as adults and young children are unable to remove themselves from cars when temperatures become unbearable. The result of a parent’s forgetfulness can be the tragic loss of life. The emergency care team at West Hills Hospital encourages parents to become informed of the dangers of leaving kids in parked cars.

How Hot Your Car Can Get

When a child develops heatstroke, he or she can die within minutes. Death from heat stroke occurs when a child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it doesn’t have to be extremely hot outdoors for the temperature within a car to reach deadly heights. Temperatures in the 60s and 70s can pose a risk of fatal accidents. When the temperature outdoors is in the low 80s, the temperature inside the car can become deadly within 10 minutes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Parking the car in the shade or leaving the windows cracked open will not keep a child from dying from heatstroke.

Why Hot Car Deaths Occur

Hot car deaths are completely preventable, but they still affect dozens of families per year. These families are from all walks of life and all levels of education. Most hot car deaths occur not because parents think that it’s alright to leave a child alone in a car, but because the parents simply forget that their kids are there. Exhaustion and breaks from one’s usual routine can increase the risk.

How You Can Protect Kids

Some high-tech devices are currently available to serve as a warning system to parents. In addition to these devices, it’s recommended that all parents get into the habit of checking the backseat before walking away from the car. Leaving a purse, briefcase, or another important item in the backseat for every car trip can also serve as a reminder.

The emergency care team at West Hills Hospital is available 24/7 to administer life-saving interventions to children with heatstroke. If you see a child in a parked car, please do not hesitate to call 911; your actions could save a life. For general questions about the hospital services available in West Hills, including burn care, emergency care, and cancer care, call our Consult-A-Nurse line at (818) 676-4321.


Knowing the Dangers of Distracted Driving

Driving while distracted can be just as deadly as driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Yet, despite public awareness campaigns and strict legislation, far too many people still lose their lives in car accidents caused by distracted drivers. Here at West Hills Hospital, our emergency care team stresses the importance of prevention and wishes our neighbors in the West Hills area a safe summer.

Prevalence

Distracted driving is broadly defined as engaging in any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the task of driving. Anyone is at risk of distracted driving, but young drivers have the highest rates of engaging in distracted driving. Quite often, distracted driving takes the form of using cellphones and other electronic devices while behind the wheel. According to the official U.S. government website for distracted driving, at any given moment, about 660,000 drivers around the U.S. are using electronic devices while driving. This shocking statistic has held steady for six years. During 2014, distracted driving killed 3,179 people and injured 431,000 others.

Types

Experts recognize three main types of distraction. Visual distraction involves taking one’s eyes off the road and manual distraction involves taking one’s hands off the wheel. Cognitive distraction involves taking one’s mind off the task at hand. Within these categories, there are many activities that can cause distracted driving and many of these can cause more than one type of distraction. In addition to using cellphones and other electronic devices, distracted driving occurs when a driver engages in conversation with passengers, stares at billboards or other sights, eats or drinks, or allows his or her mind to wander.

Prevention

Legislation that bans the use of cellphones while driving may help to curb some of this behavior. However, it’s still very important for parents to emphasize the dangers of distracted driving to their teens. Parents can also set a good example for their children by never engaging in distracted driving themselves.

When car accidents occur in the West Hills area, exceptional emergency care is available at West Hills Hospital. In addition to emergency care, our community hospital is a leading provider of compassionate cancer care and burn care. You can speak with a registered nurse at (818) 676-4321 to request general information.


How to Keep Your Family Safe on a Trampoline

Trampolines are a fun way for kids to burn off their extra energy and get some fresh air at the same time, but they can also be incredibly dangerous. In fact, over a 10-year period in the U.S., there were more than one million reported visits to emergency care facilities because of trampoline injuries. Most of the injured patients were children and most of the injuries were bone fractures, especially of the upper extremities. Spinal injuries and lower extremity injuries were also common. Because of the serious risks associated with trampoline use, the emergency care physicians at West Hills Hospital encourage families throughout our West Hills community to take precautions with this activity.

Equipment

At regular intervals throughout the year, parents are advised to closely inspect the parts of the trampoline and to replace any that are worn or not working properly. Thick padding should completely cover the springs and frame. Protective padding is also required on the supporting bars, strings, and the landing surfaces all around the trampoline. It is commonly thought that safety net enclosures can help keep kids safer while using trampolines, but actually, many experts feel that these devices may do more harm than good because they can provide a false sense of security. Emergency care is most often required for trampoline injuries that occur on the surface of the device.

Supervision

Children should be supervised at all times by a responsible adult. Athletes who are training on trampolines should also be supervised. If athletes are attempting jumps or other stunts, spotters should be on hand. High-risk maneuvers require additional safety equipment such as harnesses.

Usage

It is not recommended that children under six years of age use trampolines, even with supervision. Parents should strictly enforce rules regarding trampoline usage, which should include a prohibition on more than one child jumping at a time. Children should not attempt stunts like flips and somersaults.

If a family member does sustain an injury from a trampoline this summer, the emergency care physicians at West Hills Hospital are always available to help. Call 911 if you or a loved one requires rapid transportation to the emergency care department. Otherwise, non-emergent inquiries may be directed to a registered nurse at our hospital in West Hills by calling (818) 676-4321.


Summer Safety Tips for More Fun in the Sun

Summertime is all about being outdoors and enjoying good times in the sunshine. However, for many people, it also ends up being about getting emergency care. ER visits skyrocket in the summer when more people are outside and taking part in new activities. You can reduce the need to add an ER trip to your summer schedule with these tips.

Use Sunscreen

Being outside for even a short period of time in the summer sun puts you at risk for a serious sunburn. Before you take part in outdoor activities, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, and reapply it every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily. You can further reduce your risk of sunburn by avoiding being outdoors during the peak heat of the day and by wearing a hat to protect your face. If you have a sunburn that blisters, or if you have symptoms of nausea or fever with your burn, consider seeking emergency care.

Avoid Bug Bites and Stings

For many people, bug bites are an annoyance, but for others, they can cause severe reactions. Wear mosquito repellant and use citronella candles to discourage mosquitos when sitting outdoors. Be aware of wasp nests and avoid walking barefoot so you don’t step on a stinging insect. As Dr. Natalie Shum of West Hills Hospital explains in this video, you may need emergency care for a bite or sting if the inflammation appears to be spreading or if the swelling from the bite increases. Always get emergency care if a sting or bite causes symptoms of anaphylaxis shock.

Practice Food Safety

When you’re eating outdoors, don’t forget that food safety rules still apply. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold, and don’t eat anything perishable that has been sitting outdoors for more than two hours. Also be alert to cross-contamination and keep cooked and raw food separate.

West Hills Hospital is here around the clock and throughout the year whenever an emergency strikes. Get more information about emergency care in West Hills or find out more about burn center and maternity hospital by calling (818) 676-4321.


Exploring Common Mental Health Issues in Minority Communities

Mental health is a generally less understood and accepted than physical ailments, and minority communities are particularly underserved. July is Minority Mental Health Month, a time for doctors and community members alike to increases awareness about mental illness in minority groups and to advocate for the development of resources for these patients. If you are experiencing a mental health issue, get emergency care or make an appointment with a physician for treatment. Here is a look at some of the health risks that minority communities face.

Major Depression

Major depression is a serious, chronic condition that causes loss of energy, hopelessness, low self-esteem, and in many cases, physical pain. There is no single cause, but many people living with depression have experienced trauma and loss. There are also differences in the brains of many depression sufferers. Minority populations may experience greater rates of major depression than other groups, but they do not receive treatment at the same rates for a number of reasons, including lack of access to care and community stigmas about mental illness.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD occurs in the wake of a traumatic event and can cause crippling symptoms. People with PTSD may suffer from intrusive memories, hypervigilance, avoidance, and dissociation. Minority communities are more likely to be the victims of crime and violent discrimination, that can trigger PTSD and cause significant life disruption without treatment, but many people in minority communities do not seek care.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are more than temporarily feeling stressed over a specific event. Instead, an anxiety disorder causes prolonged periods of chronic stress that can use physical and mental health problems. Minorities are vulnerable to anxiety disorders in part because of an instance of discrimination, unequal access to medical care, and cultural stigmas attached to mental illness.

There is no need to suffer in silence with mental illness. Help is available at West Hills Hospital. If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or others, seek emergency care or call our hospital in West Hills for a referral to a physician who can treat mental health disorders. Speak to a nurse and request a referral today by calling (818) 676-4321.


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