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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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.


What Are the Most Common Sources of Burns in the Summer Season?

At West Hills Hospital’s Grossman Burn Center, we provide compassionate, life-saving care for burn injuries year round. Burn risks abound in the summer, and fast treatment reduces pain, scarring, and the risk of infection. Take a look at some of the most common sources of summertime burns, so you can take steps to protect yourself.

Sun
When most people think of summer burns, they think of sunburns, and for good reason. Although most sunburns are annoying but easy to manage at home, some can be so serious that they require emergency care. If you experience a sunburn that blisters or causes swelling or nausea, consider going to the ER. You could have sun poisoning, a severe type of sunburn that should be treated by a doctor. You can avoid sunburns by always wearing broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 when you are outside and reapplying it every two hours. Consider avoiding the sun during peak hours and sitting in the shade rather than in direct sunlight.

Grills

Summer brings plenty of opportunities for cookouts, but open flames on a grill pose a burn risk. Never oversaturate charcoal with lighter fluid, and never attempt to use lighter fluid on a gas grill. Likewise, never attempt to start a charcoal grill with the top closed. When you’re cooking on a grill, wear short sleeves or tight-fitting long sleeves to avoid clothing accidentally dropping into the flames. Keep kids and pets clear from the grilling area and get burn care immediately if an accident occurs.

The Grossman Burn Center provides around-the-clock care at West Hills Hospital. If you experience a burn, come into the hospital for care at our burn center in West Hills or call (818) 676-4321 to speak to a nurse.


Smart Measures for Everyday Eye Safety

It’s important to take steps each day to protect your eyes from injury and illness that could lead to long-term vision problems. If you do experience an eye injury, seek emergency care as soon as possible. Often, fast treatment can prevent further complications. Keep your eyes safe each day with these tips.

Wear Protective Glasses

Anytime you’re doing an activity that puts your eyes at risk, you should wear protective glasses or goggles. Wear protective eyewear when playing sports, operating tools, or working with chemicals. Protective glasses can dramatically reduce your chances of experiencing an eye injury that could compromise your vision. Be sure to select the right kind of protection for the activity you are doing so you can the maximum benefit possible.

Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes

Rubbing your eyes allows you to transfer infectious material from your hands to your eyes. These infections can be absorbed into your body through the mucous membranes in your eyes and can cause anything from a mild case of conjunctivitis to serious infections like HIV, herpes B virus, and avian influenza. It is best to avoid touching your eyes at all. If you must touch them, such as to remove contacts, be sure to wash and dry your hands thoroughly. Washing your hands frequently throughout the day will also reduce the risk of infection that could occur from inadvertently touching your eyes.

Wear Sunglasses

Sunglasses are much more than a fashion statement. They also protect your eyes from harmful rays that can cause photo keratitis, macular degeneration, and skin cancer on your eyelids. Choose sunglasses that offer UVA and UVB ray protection. Look for glasses that are labeled as such or that carry a seal of effectiveness.

Don’t put your vision on the line. Take precautions daily to protect your eye health, and if a problem does occur, visit West Hills Hospital for emergency care. In addition to emergency care in West Hills, we provide a range of patient services, including cancer care and burn care. To learn more, please call (818) 676-4321.


Knowing When You Are Suffering from a Migraine

Migraine symptoms can be severe to the point of being debilitating, according to the West Hills Hospital neurologist featured in this video. In some cases, patients in the West Hills area might even seek emergency care because of the severity of their symptoms. These signs and symptoms can be categorized into four phases of migraine development: Prodrome, aura, headache, and postdrome.

Prodrome

The prodrome period occurs hours and sometimes days before the actual migraine attack. It is sometimes referred to as the premonitory or pre-headache phase. Not all migraine patients experience prodrome symptoms, but for those that do, this phase can be useful for facilitating early migraine treatment. Prodrome symptoms can include increased thirst and urination, fatigue, nausea, stiff neck, and sleep disturbances. Other possible signs include depression, difficulty concentrating, difficulty reading and speaking, hyperactivity or hypoactivity, and increased sensitivity to light and sound.

Aura

Experiencing the migraine aura can be frightening for patients, especially when the aura is experienced for the first time. The visual symptoms include partial loss of sight, blurry vision, flashing lights, and wavy lines. Other signs and symptoms associated with migraine auras include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Motor weakness
  • Confusion
  • Hearing loss
  • Olfactory and auditory hallucinations
  • Neck pain
  • Speaking difficulties

Headache

The term “headache phase” can be misleading because the signs and symptoms can affect the whole body. These include nausea, vomiting, hot flashes, chills, dizziness, vertigo, severe anxiety, confusion, and increased sensitivity to light, sound, and odors. The headache pain is often quite severe and might occur only on one side of the head. It may awaken patients from sleep, usually in the morning hours.

Postdrome

The postdrome period can last for hours or sometimes days. It can be characterized by depression or feelings of euphoria and well-being. Fatigue, impaired concentration, and lowered intellect levels can occur. Many patients report feeling as though they have a hangover during this time.

World-class neurology services for migraine patients are available at West Hills Hospital. Our compassionate providers in West Hills also include emergency care doctors, burn center providers, maternity doctors and nurses, and cancer care professionals. To inquire about our hospital services or to request a referral to a physician, call our Consult-A-Nurse line at (818) 676-4321.


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