October 8, 2015

It Takes a TEAM


“When you see one of our advanced practice clinicians, whether a physician assistant or an advanced practice registered nurse, you are receiving care from a masters’ prepared individual who is board certified,” said Kimberly H. Oas, A.P.R.N., F.N.P.-B.C., director of advanced practice with St. Joseph Health System. “You will most frequently find them in family practice or urgent or express care, but they also work in specialty areas such as neurology, neonatal care and the emergency department.”

St. Joseph currently employs 37 APCs and plans to expand that number. St. Joseph APCs are active in keeping patients at their highest level of health, working in area nursing homes, coordinating medical home visits geared toward preventing patient readmission and running our heart failure clinic. Often, APCs will work later hours and weekends in order to offer extended access to quality care. They are also able to spend more time with patients to offer education and counseling on the management of chronic diseases.

“Our advanced practice clinicians are available to the patient when the physician can’t be. Our model of care delivery at St. Joseph is collaborative, because the reality is that it takes a team,” said Oas.


The APCs employed by St. Joseph Health System are an integral part of our 22 rural health clinics, and feedback from patients has been consistently positive. Patients know they’re seeing someone who has the physician’s support accessible and available if necessary but who is capable of providing the care they need independently whenever possible. “The more resources we have at hand, the better our patient outcomes,” Kimberly said. “Our APCs don’t replace physicians. They extend the reach and the access of our care teams, so we can meet the needs of our population here in the Brazos Valley.”

“Our advanced practice clinicians are available to the patient when the physician can’t be. Our model of care delivery at St. Joseph is collaborative, because the reality is that it takes a team,” Kimberly H. Oas, A.P.R.N., F.N.P.-B.C., director of advanced practice with St. Joseph.

For more information on the variety of practitioners offered through St. Joseph Health System, visit http://www.st-joseph.org.


July 16, 2015

What To Do If Your Child Has ADHD

Your child is struggling in school. According to his teacher, he is hyperactive, has trouble paying attention and can’t control his behavior. What’s going on?

ADHDThose symptoms may be caused by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition that affects many children. It is also one that is easily misunderstood and sometimes written off as bad behavior. As a result, children with undiagnosed ADHD may experience academic and social problems that follow them into adolescence and adulthood. But when identified and treated early, ADHD can be managed.

“Once we achieve some control of ADHD symptoms through medication, I work with parents to determine whether the child has issues that we often see together with ADHD, such as depression, anxiety or others,” said Neal Spears, M.D., F.A.A.P., pediatrician with St. Joseph. “Studies show that early treatment of kids with ADHD significantly improves their long-term socioeconomic outcomes and reduces their risk of substance abuse and legal trouble, compared to untreated children with ADHD.”

Know the Signs

If you have noticed that any of the following habits or behaviors interfere with your child’s daily life, it may be time to talk to your pediatrician about the possibility of ADHD:

  • Boredom after spending only a few minutes on a task
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Extreme impatience
  • Forgetfulness
  • Nonstop talking
  • Trouble following instructions

Your doctor will work with you, your child’s teachers and any other recommended consultants to help determine whether your child would benefit from medication or other forms of therapy. Standardized tests are often utilized in making this diagnosis.

Dealing with ADHD

It’s also important to help your child deal with ADHD by sticking to a daily routine, scheduling wake-up time, homework, playtime and bedtime.

“It helps for parents to teach a child with ADHD how to be very organized,” Dr. Spears said. “Part of their routine should be writing down everything they need to do, getting their backpacks ready for the next day before bed time, having a dedicated place in the home for doing homework and completing homework as soon as possible after school.”

To make an appointment with Dr. Neal Spears at St. Joseph Pediatrics, click here.

July 13, 2015

The Importance of Your BMI

iStock_00001125599-for-webYour Body Mass Index takes your weight and height and converts it to a score to tell you if you are at a healthy weight, underweight, overweight or obese. If you are overweight or obese, you could be at increased risk for several chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis and some forms of cancer. It is important to monitor this number if you are overweight or obese and work with your physician to lower your BMI.

According to the National Institute of Health’s Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, adults who have a BMI of 25 or more are considered at risk for premature death and disability as a consequence of overweight and obesity. These health risks increase even more as the severity of an individual’s obesity increases.

“BMI is used for screening and research purposes. Many people become upset when told they are overweight or obese,” reports Eric South D.O. “It is helpful to remember this does not take into account your body composition but is a strictly a measurement just like your blood pressure. We use this to open communication about ways to improve your lifestyle and prevent problems in the future.”

The NIH has set these standards for BMI. A BMI of 25 to 29 means you’re overweight; a BMI of 30 or more indicates obesity. But Body Mass Index as a measurement tool isn’t right for everyone. The measurement is based on your height and weight. It is an indirect measurement of fat, so it doesn’t differentiate pounds of fat from pounds of muscle and bone. That being said, it can still be helpful in determining if steps need to be taken to create a healthier lifestyle and reduce the risk of being diagnosed with a chronic disease.

BMI for Kids

As children grow and their bodies change, it can be difficult for parents to determine if their child is in a healthy weight range. Your child’s BMI can also help you determine if he is at risk for health problems based on his weight.

The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend BMI screenings for all kids age 2 and older. Here’s what you need to know about checking on your child’s BMI and what to do with the info once you have it.

“Calculating a child’s BMI number starts out just like calculating an adult’s BMI. The measurements are based on height and weight,” says Dr. South. “But for kids, height and weight alone aren’t as accurate as they are for adults. This is because kids’ body fat percentages adjust as they grow. Kids’ BMIs can vary based on their age and gender.”

That’s why when healthcare providers talk about a child’s BMI; you usually hear a BMI percentile, like 75th. These BMI percentiles show how a child’s BMI compares to other children of the same age and gender. To calculate the BMI percentile — which is also called “BMI for age” — a healthcare provider will take a child’s BMI, age and gender and compare it on a pediatric growth curve. This gives the child’s BMI percentile.

BMI percentiles are grouped into weight categories:

Underweight: below the 5th percentile

Healthy Weight: 5th percentile up to the 85th percentile

Overweight: 85th percentile up to the 95th percentile

Obese: 95th percentile or higher

Eric South, D.O. is a family medicine physician with St. Joseph Family Medicine – Austin’s Colony. If you would like to make an appointment with him, click here or call 979-774-2121.





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