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.

Managing the unique stresses of being a parent

If you’re a parent who is coping with the pressure of being pulled in all directions, then you’re not alone. Parents have a unique kind of stress that people without children can’t experience. You don’t have to suffer in silence, however. Help is available from your physician and many other community resources so you can learn to manage your stress while enjoying your family. Consider this advice as you look for new ways to conquer the pressure of parenthood.

Do fun things as a family
For parents, the demands of making sure day-to-day tasks, like homework and practices, can become all encompassing. Resist getting so distracted by everything that your kids have to accomplish that you forget to enjoy each other.

Carve out some time each week to have fun together as a family, and keep all of the other stressors off the table for that time. Instead of worrying about report cards and tests, spend an hour playing a game together or go see a movie. It will improve everyone’s relationships and take some of the stress off your shoulders.

Rely on your support systems
Make sure of the support systems you have available to you, whether it is your own parents who are willing to take the kids for a few hours or a playgroup that gives you a chance to vent to other parents. Using these resources gives you time to look after yourself.

If you don’t think you have a support system, build one. Look for parenting groups in your areas or ask a friend to help out with some babysitting.

Get professional help
Talk to your physician if you are feeling overwhelmed. He or she may refer you to a specialist or suggest medications that can help you overcome anxiety or depression. Your physician’s help could be the support you need to feel like you are in control again.

If you need a referral to a physician, call West Hills Hospital & Medical Center. You can reach the Consult-a-Nurse line at our hospital in West Hills by calling (818) 676-4321.

Facts you didn't know about breast milk

Breast is best for babies, but what is it about breast milk that makes it so unique? For starters, every breastfeeding mother produces her own unique blend, which even has its own unique smell that infants know how to identify. You can give your baby the gift of good health with help from the dedicated maternity team at West Hills Hospital.

Breast milk cannot be synthetically produced
It isn’t possible for formula to duplicate the composition of breast milk. One reason for this is its ever-changing nature.

The first milk your body produces after giving birth is called colostrum, which is exceptionally high in protein and antibodies. Compared to later breast milk, colostrum is much lower in sugars and fats, since newborns don’t need as much of these. Your body knows how to release only tiny amounts of colostrum at a time, since that’s all newborns can handle.

Even after your mature milk comes in, it will constantly change its composition. At the start of each feeding session, breast milk has a watery consistency. Toward the end, it becomes thicker and fattier.

Breast milk changes throughout the day, as well, and no two mothers will have exactly the same composition of breast milk. Breast milk changes as your baby grows older to meet his or her evolving nutritional needs. It can even change in response to a baby’s illness.

Breast milk has a calming effect
The idea that breast milk can help infants sleep better isn’t just an old wives’ tale. It really does contain substances that calm down babies and encourage sleep—but only later in the day. Breast milk produced in the morning has less of a soporific effect.

This is why some doctors may recommend labeling expressed and stored breast milk with the time of day it was expressed. Breast milk that was expressed in the evening should ideally be fed to the baby in the evening.

Breastfed babies are better eaters as toddlers
Formula has the same, bland taste for babies. Breast milk has subtle flavors of what the nursing mother eats. This means breastfed babies are less likely to be picky eaters as they transition to solid foods.

Families in the West Hills area have long turned to West Hills Hospital for superior, family-centered maternity care. Our Postpartum Services include breastfeeding lessons given by certified lactation consultants. Call a registered nurse at (818) 676-4321 with your questions about our exceptional maternity care.

Stay afloat with these swim safety tips

Summer isn’t summer without swimming, but days at the beach or pool don’t come without risks. Each day in the US, approximately 10 people die in accidental drownings, and for kids between ages one and four, it is the leading cause of unintentional injury death. Of people who seek emergency care after a near drowning, over 50% require a lengthy hospital stay or long-term care. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to ensure that summer fun doesn’t end in tragedy for you or your loved ones. Keep these safety tips in mind on your next swimming outing.

Learn to swim
Learning to swim by taking swim classes gives kids and adults the tools they need to practice safety in the water and to react swiftly in the case of an emergency. Even babies can get in the water and practice the basics of swimming.

If you haven’t learned to swim, keep in mind that it’s never too late. There are plenty of swimming classes available for people of all ages, so take the important step of learning basics swimming skills.

Supervise children when they swim
Children need to be constantly supervised while they swim. Do not rely on lifeguards or flotation devices to keep your children safe in the water. Children can drown in just a few seconds, so watch them carefully.

If you are with a group, make sure one adult is always specifically in charge of watching the children. In a group, it is easy for parents to all think someone else is supervising, when in reality, no one is paying close attention.

Avoid swimming alone
Swimming calls for the buddy system. Even if you are an experienced swimmer, it is important to have someone who can help if an emergency occurs. Whenever possible, choose to swim in an area with lifeguards.

Whatever your summertime emergency, West Hills Hospital & Medical Center is here to provide the emergency care you need. Our hospital in West Hills is available 24 hours per day for all of your family’s emergency needs. To learn more about our services, please call (818) 676-4321.

Acquaint yourself with these common knee injuries

Your knee is a weight-bearing joint, which makes it particularly susceptible to injuries. Each year, millions of patients in the U.S. seek medical care because of knee pain. If you become one of them, you can rest assured that you’ll receive nothing short of superior care and attentive service at West Hills Hospital. Our Total Joint Team combines advanced expertise with state-of-the-art medical technology to give our patients the best possible outcomes.

Ligament injuries
Ligaments are the rope-like bands of tissue that connect bones to each other. Your knee has four main ligaments—two collateral ligaments, an anterior cruciate ligament and a posterior cruciate ligament. Any of these can become overly stretched, partially torn or completely torn.

The signs of a ligament injury include:

  • Sudden, severe pain
  • Loud popping sound at the time the injury occurs
  • Knee swelling
  • Inability to place weight on the leg
  • Sensation of knee instability

Knee dislocation
Sometimes, sudden trauma can cause the bones of the knee to slip out of place. They may partially or completely dislocate due to the force of a fall, car accident or sports-related collision. Some of the possible indicators of a dislocated knee include the following:

  • Severe pain
  • Severe bruising
  • Knee swelling
  • Visible deformity
  • Popping sound at the time the injury occurs
  • Limited movement

Tendon tears
Tendons are similar to ligaments, except that tendons attach muscles to bones instead of bones to bones. It’s possible to injure the patellar or quadriceps tendon of the knee, either partially or completely.

The cause of this knee injury can be the trauma from a fall, or the movement of jumping up or landing from a jump. You’re more likely to suffer a tendon tear if your tendons are already weakened from tendinitis, corticosteroid injections or chronic diseases like diabetes. Some of the signs of a tendon tear are:

  • Tearing sensation when the injury occurs
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Inability to straighten the knee
  • Indentation at the base of the kneecap
  • Tenderness
  • Cramping
  • Inability to walk or difficulty walking
  • Abnormal upward migration of the kneecap

Here at West Hills Hospital, we believe in going the extra mile for our patients. Our Total Joint Package in West Hills connects orthopedic patients to board-certified, fellowship-trained surgeons, pre-operative classes and certified rehabilitation specialists. Find out what our comprehensive, uncompromising healthcare can do for you by requesting a referral at (818) 676-4321.

Busting common sun safety and skin cancer myths

Skin cancer is extremely common— one in five people in the US will get it in their lifetimes—but fortunately, it is also often curable when patients receive cancer care in the disease’s earliest stages. Many people fail to protect themselves adequately from skin cancer because of myths and misconceptions about the disease and sun safety. Don’t fail to take easy steps to prevent skin cancer because of these myths. Here is a look at some of the most common misconceptions people have and the truth you need to know.

Myth: I won’t get skin cancer because I don’t spend much time outside.
Even short periods of sun exposure add up over time, increasing the risk of skin cancer. If you have fair skin, this risk is even worse. You don’t have to spend the day at the beach to increase your cancer risk. You are being exposed to UV rays when you’re doing mundane activities, like:

  • Driving with the sunroof open
  • Walking in outdoor shopping centers
  • Sitting at an outdoor café

This kind of sun exposure is linked to squamous cell skin cancer, which causes up to 20% of deaths from skin cancer.

Myth: I don’t need sunscreen if it is cloudy outside.
If you are going to be outside for an extended period of time, you need sunscreen. You can still get a sunburn on cloudy days, and you can still be exposed to dangerous UV rays. Cloud cover only marginally decreases the amount of UV rays that make it to the ground.

Clouds can also reflect some of the rays, which increases their intensity. Sunscreen is a must to reduce your cancer risk, no matter what the sky looks like.

Myth: High SPF sunscreens don’t really provide more protection.
There is a value to using a sunscreen with a high SPF for several reasons:

  • High SPFs compensate for under-applying sunscreen
  • High SPF sunscreens are better at protecting your in extreme conditions
  • High SPF sunscreens reduce chronic UV damage

Any kind of sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours or after swimming.

West Hills Hospital & Medical Center provides comprehensive cancer care in West Hills. We have a multidisciplinary team of specialists who combine compassion with cutting-edge care. For more information about our cancer care program, please call (818) 676-4321.

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