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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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.


Red Flags to Warn You of Arthritis

There are over 100 different types of arthritis, and they all have unique symptoms. There are some signs of arthritis, however, that are consistent and seen in nearly all forms of the disease. By paying attention to these signals and getting the care you need from a rheumatologist, orthopedist, or spine hospital, you may be able to slow the damage to your joints and minimize your discomfort. If you experience these red flags that indicate arthritis, consider making an appointment with your doctor for a diagnosis.

Stiffness

Joint stiffness is a common indicator of arthritis. The type and timing of your stiffness can tell your doctor a lot about the kind of arthritis you have. For instance, stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis typically persists longer than other forms and appears in joints on both sides of the body, while osteoarthritis stiffness usually decreases soon after movement and only affects one side. Stiffness is usually at its worst with arthritis first thing in the morning or after sitting for an extended period.

Swelling

Inflammation around joints that are affected by arthritis often causes visible swelling. The swelling can occur in one or more joints at the same time, and it may come and go. However, it is possible to have arthritis in joints that don’t swell, even if you have other affected joints that do become swollen. Swelling is particularly common in arthritic joints of the hands, feet, and ankles.

Pain

For some people with arthritis, pain is a secondary symptom to stiffness and swelling, while for others, it is the focal point. Depending on the extent of the joint damage, some people with arthritis feel their bones rubbing against each other. As with stiffness, the location and type of pain you experience can help your doctor diagnose the type of arthritis you have.

At West Hills Hospital, our Total Joint Program, diagnostic imaging, and rehabilitation services give our patients access to comprehensive arthritis care to increase mobility and control discomfort. Call us today at (818) 676-4321 for a referral or more information about our spine hospital in West Hills. You can also learn about our emergency care, burn center, cancer care, and other comprehensive services.


How Do Blood Clots Lead to Stroke?

Blood clots are the cause of the vast majority of strokes. While there are several different factors that can influence your risk of developing a blood clot that could eventually trigger a stroke, long car or plane journeys that people take during the summer can be among the causes. If you or someone you know experiences stroke symptoms, get emergency care right away. Here are the facts you need to know about the link between blood clots and strokes.

Blood Clot Basics

Blood clots are coagulated clumps of blood. They form to stop bleeding when you have an injury, but sometimes, they also occur in the blood vessels where they are not needed. These kinds of clots slow or stop blood flow, starving whatever region of the body that vessel supplies of the oxygen it needs. High cholesterol, smoking, and high blood pressure increase the risk of blood clots. Patients also have a greater chance of getting a blood clot while they are recovering from surgery. As emergency care physician Natalie Shum, MD, of West Hills Hospital explains in this video, sitting for long periods, such as during a car trip or plane ride, also boosts the risk of blood clots.

Blood Clots and Stroke

Ischemic strokes—those caused by blood clots—account for about 87 percent of strokes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During an ischemic stroke, a blood clot partially or completely blocks a blood vessel in the brain. This starves the brain of oxygen, causing the stroke. The longer the vessel is blocked, the more brain tissue will die. Getting emergency care to dissolve the clot is crucial to prevent long-term complications.

Blood Clot Prevention

Maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and eating a healthy diet will reduce many blood clot risk factors. During a long trip, make stops to stretch and walk around or walk up and down the plane aisle.

At West Hills Hospital, our emergency care providers and neurology team can provide high-quality stroke care during the critical onset stage and throughout recovery. Call us at (818) 676-4321 for more information about emergency care in West Hills and the rest of our hospital services.


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