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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Will Sunscreen Prevent Skin Cancer?

During the summer months, it’s common practice for supermarkets to set up special displays for sunscreen products. Unfortunately, this tends to reinforce a common misconception: that sunscreen use is only important during summer months and on sunny days. In fact, using sunscreen every time you’re going outdoors even during the winter and on cloudy days is crucial for cancer prevention. Here at West Hills Hospital, our cancer care team encourages our neighbors to get proactive about their skin health.

How Sunscreen Works

There are three wavelengths of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, two of which can adversely affect skin health. Sunscreen works in two primary ways to block UV radiation. Zinc oxide and titanium oxide are inorganic ingredients commonly found in sunscreen. These ingredients work by essentially scattering UV radiation to prevent it from penetrating the skin. Oxybenzone and octyl methoxycinnamate are organic ingredients that work by absorbing the UV radiation, which results in its dissipation as heat.

Which Sunscreen You Should Use

When purchasing sunscreen, look for a product labeled “broad spectrum,” which indicates that it guards against both UV-A and UV-B rays. Another factor to consider is the product’s Sun Protection Factor (SPF). The higher the SPF is, the more effectively it will block UV-B rays. Many lotions and lip balms contain 8 to 15 SPF, but this is insufficient if you’re spending more than a few minutes outdoors. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, SPF 15 blocks about 93 percent of UV-B rays, whereas SPF 30 filters out about 97 percent.

How You Can Use Sunscreen Properly

It’s important to remember that even when you apply sunscreen with a high SPF, you must reapply the product about every two hours to continue protecting yourself. Many people fail to apply the proper amount of sunscreen, which is one ounce or about the amount that would fill a shot glass. If you aren’t applying this much sunscreen to your exposed skin, then the actual SPF on your body is lower than what the product advertises.

West Hills Hospital connects area residents to compassionate cancer care located right in their own community. Our state-of-the-art facility in West Hills is also a proud provider of emergency care, spine health, maternity care, and preventive wellness services. If you would like to speak with a registered nurse at our community hospital, call (818) 676-4321.


Staying Ready for Emergencies at Home

All sorts of emergencies can occur in the home. Although it isn’t possible to predict exactly what sort of emergency your household may encounter, it is a good idea to be prepared to handle a wide range of problems. The emergency care team at West Hills Hospital recommends that families keep a fully stocked first aid kit at home.

Stocking Your First Aid Kit

Your family can use a first aid kit to handle minor problems like splinters and even major medical problems like broken bones (while awaiting emergency care). The basic items that every first aid kit should include are sterile bandages, antiseptic wipes, adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, acetaminophen, and a thermometer. It’s also a good idea to keep extra items on hand like splints, a tooth preservation kit, non-latex gloves, tweezers, calamine lotion, and instant cold packs. Be sure that every member of the family and all babysitters or other caregivers know how to find and use the first aid kit.

Explaining 911 Calls to Young Children

All children need to be taught how to call 911, explain the situation to the emergency dispatcher, and follow the dispatcher’s instructions. It isn’t always easy for a child to determine when a situation qualifies as a true emergency. Parents can discuss some examples of problems that are emergencies, such as a fire, an unconscious family member, or an intruder in the home, as well as point out problems that should not result in a 911 call, such as a skinned knee or a missing stuffed animal.

Purchasing Emergency Supplies

In addition to keeping a first aid kit at home, you can purchase emergency supplies to prepare your household for lengthy power outages and natural disasters. Every household should have a minimum of a three-day supply of food and water for each person. Each person needs at least one gallon of water per day. Choose non-perishable foods, and include a manual can opener and basic utensils in your emergency supplies. Families can also prepare by keeping an emergency supply of prescription medicines, personal hygiene items, flashlights, extra batteries, and a battery-powered radio.

When an emergency occurs, West Hills Hospital is ready to respond 24/7. Our emergency care unit in West Hills offers comprehensive medical services, including an Approved Stroke Center, accredited Chest Pain Center, and our world-renowned Grossman Burn Center. Please call 911 immediately if you have a true medical emergency; non-emergent inquiries about our community hospital may be directed to our Consult-A-Nurse line at (818) 676-4321.


Preventing Summertime Burns with Grilling Safety

Few activities epitomize the essence of summertime quite like grilling, even for West Hills residents who enjoy pleasant temperatures year-round. Grilling can be an enjoyable way of preparing healthy, delicious meals for your family, but it also poses certain hazards. Taking precautions will minimize the risk of burn injuries to you and your family members. When accidents do occur, your family can trust the providers at the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital.

Preparing to Grill at Home

Before you light your grill, clean the drip trays and grill to remove grease accumulation. If you have a propane grill, check the connection points and tighten if they’re loose. Check the gas tank hose for leaks by spraying a solution of soap and water all over the hose. Turn the tank on and check the entire hose for the appearance of bubbles. If bubbles do appear, it means that your propane hose has a leak and needs to be replaced. Place the grill well away from the house, overhanging branches, and other flammable objects. Set it up on a level surface. Make sure your kids know that they must stay away from the grill while you’re using it. If you have outdoor pets, consider keeping them indoors while the grill is hot.

Handling a Hot Grill Safely

If you intend on using charcoal starter fluid, use it before you ignite the coals; never add starter fluid to a fire that is already burning. Use long-handled forks or tongs to move food around on the grill. If you have long hair, tie it back. Avoid wearing loose clothing or long sleeves that might ignite from a stray spark.

Staying Safe Near Campfires

Use an existing campfire ring if available or create a new ring on a dirt surface that is devoid of leaves, dry grass, logs, and rotten stumps. Make sure there are no overhanging branches nearby and pile your extra firewood well away from the campfire. When you’re finished preparing your food, extinguish the campfire with water, stir the remnants, and add more water.

The multidisciplinary team at the Grossman Burn Center is available 24/7 to provide specialized care to burn patients of all ages. You’ll find the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital, which also offers exceptional emergency care, maternity services, and cancer care. Medical emergencies should be directed to 911; in non-emergent situations, West Hills residents can call our Consult-A-Nurse line at (818) 676-4321.


Heat Exhaustion Prevention Tips for Summer

Heat exhaustion is a serious health risk that occurs when temperatures start to rise during the summer. When heat exhaustion occurs, emergency care is necessary to reduce the risk of complications. While emergency care can successfully treat heat exhaustion in most cases, prevention is the best policy, especially for young children and the elderly. These tips will help you enjoy summer while staying safe in the heat.

Stay Hydrated

Proper hydration is critical in the summer months. Because you sweat more in the summer, you may need to increase your water intake. You should also be vigilant about having water handy and drinking it when you are doing activities outside. Be sure kids and seniors are also increasing their liquid intake. If your kids take part in summer sports, talk to the coach about hydration during practice and ensure that breaks are built into practices and games. According to this video from West Hills Hospital emergency care provider Natalie Shum, MD, coaches are often unaware of the risks of heat exhaustion, so parents need to be proactive about addressing the issue.

Restrict Activity

In the summer, restricting activity during the hottest hours is a smart strategy for preventing heat exhaustion and the need for emergency care. Typically, temperatures are the highest between 10 AM and 4 PM each day but check your local hourly forecast when you have outdoor activities planned. If you are going to be outside, dress appropriately in light, loose-fitting clothing, stay in the shade as much as possible and drink plenty of water.

Know the Signs

By reacting quickly to the signs of heat exhaustion, you can take steps to stop it from progressing. Dizziness flushed and clammy skin and fatigue are all symptoms that could indicate heat exhaustion. Be sure to watch for these signs, as well as confusion, in children and the elderly so you can seek emergency care as needed.

The ER at West Hills Hospital is ready to provide the emergency care you need, whatever the season. Find out more about emergency care in West Hills and our other services by calling (818) 676-4321.


Building Better Wellness for the Whole Family

West Hills Hospital provides comprehensive inpatient and emergency care services for your entire family when you need them most, but prevention is the true key to staying healthy. Fortunately, there are some simple steps that you can take to protect your family’s wellness and achieve better health together. Overall wellness not only helps to reduce the risk of many chronic conditions, but it also helps to ensure a speedy recovery when an illness does strike. Here are some tips to make health a priority for your family.

Clean Out Your Pantry

The foods you eat have a tremendous effect on your overall wellness. Take stock of your pantry and refrigerator, and evaluate the foods that you have on hand. Get rid of processed foods that are filled with excess sugar, fat, and salt, and replace them with whole foods that are packed with nutrients. If you don’t keep things like cookies, sodas, and chips in the house, no one can reach for them when snacking at home. Before long, your family will develop a taste for these healthier snacks and will enjoy a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

Make Handwashing a Rule

Your hands pick up germs throughout the day that is easily transferred to your eyes, nose, and mouth. Washing your hands is a simple way to reduce the chances of picking up an infection, especially during cold and flu season. Make it a rule that everyone in your house washes his or her hands before eating anything. Don’t forget to show young kids the right way to wash their hands effectively.

Plan to Play Together

Being active every day is an important part of being healthy. Getting active as a family gives you a chance to spend time together while staying healthy. Take a walk every day after dinner, play a weekend basketball game together, or race each other in the pool. Seeing parents being active sets an example that kids will remember for life.

West Hills Hospital provides a range of hospital services for every stage of life, from our maternity hospital in West Hills to our burn center and emergency care center. You can get a referral to a provider by calling (818) 676-4321.


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