May 16, 2017

When is your Child Ready for Independence?

For children entering their pre-teens, staying home alone can represent a big step toward independence.

For parents, determining whether they’re truly ready for that level of responsibility can be challenging.iStock_000012073096XXXLarge

“It’s a judgment call,” said Fawn Preuss, Manager of CHI St. Joseph Healthy Communities and local coordinator of the Safe Sitter® program. “There are things we can do proactively as parents to help our children become more confident, prepared and independent. One of them is enrolling them in a program like Safe Sitter.”

Safe Sitter courses are designed to give young teens the skills they need to be safe in unsupervised settings – whether they’re babysitting, sibling sitting or staying home alone.

Safe Sitter® at CHI St. Joseph Health

Founded in 1980, Safe Sitter is the only national nonprofit training program of its kind for young teens.

The Safe Sitter® Essentials with CPR class now packs safety skills, child care, first aid and rescue, life and business and an additional hour of CPR instruction into a one-day class.

To meet growing need for this training in the community and improve access, CHI St. Joseph Health has increased the number of Safe Sitter classes it offers and moved them into dedicated classroom space. Safe Sitter is also offering scholarships to help families cover the registration fee.

If You Go

CHI St. Joseph Health will offer Safe Sitter® classes over the summer for local children in grades six through eight. Pre-registration is required, as class sizes are limited, and costs $50.

Upcoming class dates include:

  • Friday, June 16
  • Monday, June 19
  • Friday, June 23
  • Wednesday, July 12
  • Thursday, July 13
  • Thursday, July 20

All Safe Sitter courses will be held 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the CHI St. Joseph Health Medical Office Building, Suite 140 classroom, located at 2700 E. 29th Street in Bryan. Students should bring a sack lunch and drink that does not require refrigeration.

For more information about Safe Sitter classes at CHI St. Joseph Health, the scholarship or to access the registration form, visit or contact Healthy Communities at 979-731-1231. To learn more about the Safe Sitter program, visit


April 26, 2017

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Conventional wisdom tells us a good night’s sleep is key to feeling refreshed, alert and ready to take on the day. Experts say sleep is essential to our health and longevity.

This week marks Sleep Awareness Week, and the National Sleep Foundation is encouraging the public to make healthy sleep habits – duration and quality – a central part of their lifestyle.

Healthy Sleep Tips 

Regardless of what your sleep habits have been in the past, there are steps you can take today to begin a new path toward healthier sleep.

NSF suggests:

  • Sticking to a sleep schedule, even on weekends
  • Practicing a relaxing bedtime ritual
  • Exercising daily
  • Evaluating your bedroom to ensure ideal temperature, sound and light
  • Sleeping on a comfortable mattress and pillows
  • Avoiding hidden sleep stealers, like alcohol and caffeine
  • Turning off electronics before bed

It’s also important to make getting adequate sleep a priority. Sleep needs vary from person to person, based on a number of factors. But, in general, most people need 6-8 hours of sleep per night, said Dr. Scott Spencer, Medical Director of CHI St. Joseph Health Sleep Center.young man resting in a sofa _ Horizontal

Sleep Quality and Restfulness

In a recent NSF study, four of 10 Americans polled about their sleeping habits reported poor or insufficient sleep significantly affected their daily activities. Sleep debt, what we experience when we are not getting adequate sleep, can impact our mood, energy and health.

An estimated 40 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. Sleep disorders can keep you awake, but they can also keep you from resting well when you sleep.

“Signs of a sleep disorder can include heavy snoring, pauses in breathing, excessive kicking or flailing, sleep-walking or acting out behaviors during sleep,” Dr. Spencer said.

About CHI St. Joseph Health Sleep Center

The CHI St. Joseph Health Sleep Center, an American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)-accredited facility, is dedicated to helping patients sleep better at night. Its multidisciplinary, specialist team coordinates comprehensive patient sleep studies to diagnose and treat sleep disorders.

The center offers private bedroom-like sleep study areas complete with televisions, internet access, private bathrooms and quality, queen-sized beds to create a home-like environment for patient sleep studies. For selected patients, the Sleep Center also offers an option for patients to complete their sleep studies in the comfort and convenience of their homes.

If you think you may have a sleep disorder, make an appointment online today for CHI St. Joseph Health Sleep Center to find the solutions and treatment that’s right for you.


National Sleep Foundation – How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

Mayo Clinic – Sleep Disorders Overview

April 19, 2017

National Infant Immunization Week Spotlights Importance of Childhood Vaccines in Preventing More than 12 Diseases

Infants and children need vaccines to protect them from potentially deadly diseases. In fact, by the time children reach the age of two, physicians will have recommended vaccines that will protect young children from as many as 14 different diseases.

“We follow the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for immunization recommendations,” said Dr. Gwynn Geddie, CHI St. Joseph Health Neonatologist. “Vaccines promote the health and welfare of all children.”

As we observe National Infant Immunization Week April 22-29, we encourage parents of infants from birth to 21 years old to follow national guidelines for infant immunizations, using their CHI St. Joseph Health physician as a resource.

Protecting Children When They are Most Vulnerable

The recommended immunization schedule is designed to protect infants and children early in life, when they are most vulnerable and before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.Little baby get an injection

By the time infants reach a year old, the AAP recommends they receive vaccinations against more than 12 diseases. The first recommended vaccination, against Hepatitis B, is recommended at birth.

CHI St. Joseph Health recently became the newest entry into the Immunization Action Coalition’s Birth Dose Honor Roll for ensuring 100% of the babies born at CHI St. Joseph Health received the Hepatitis B vaccine prior to being discharged home.

14 Diseases You Almost Forgot About (Thanks to Vaccines)

Throughout National Infant Immunization Week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is promoting the 14 diseases children from which children now receive protection, thanks to vaccines. While preventable, many diseases covered by vaccinations still exist and can cause complications for children.

Among these serious illnesses are familiar diseases like flu, Hepatitis A and B, Chickenpox, Measles and Mumps. Others include more obscure diseases like Rubella – which can cause serious birth defects – and Diptheria, a disease that causes a thick covering to form in the back of the nose or throat.

“It’s easy to think of many of these as diseases of the past, but they still exist, and children in the U.S. can – and still do – contract them,” said Shirley Huddleston, Clinical Coordinator for Women’s Services & Pediatrics.

To provide the best protection for your infant, make an appointment today with a CHI St. Joseph Health physician. For an immunization schedule for infants and young children and details on the 14 preventable diseases, check out this resource.


U.S. Centers for Disease Control – For Parents: Vaccines for Your Children

U.S. CDC – NIIW (National Infant Immunization Week)

Immunization Action Coalition – Hepatitis B Birth Dose Honor Roll







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