Category Archives: Health

Community Memorial Hospital’s Auxiliary presents annual scholarship awards

Rosemary Icardo and Ann Howard, Junior Coordinators, Gary Wilde, CEO CMH, Audrey Carman, recipient and Edie Marshall, Auxiliary President at awards ceremony.

On June 12, Audrey L. Carman was presented with the Maria Cavallo Scholarship for $2,000 and the Audrey Woodburn Scholarship for $2,000. These awards are given to a graduating Junior Volunteer who has served at least 100 hours in the CMH Auxiliary, has maintained a 3.50 GPA or better, and will be attending an accredited college or university. The recipient must also be planning to pursue a healthcare career such as becoming a physician, nurse, physical therapist, pharmacist, etc.

Audrey has accumulated 330 volunteer hours at CMH, while maintaining a 4.0-4.33 GPA at Ventura High School. She is not only a California Scholarship Federation member, but she served as the CSF club’s president for three years. Her campus involvement also included membership in Key Club, International Volunteers Organization, and the Multi-Ethnic Club.

Dedication to academic excellence is evident in the many awards Audrey has received. She was named Ventura High School’s Cougar of the Month four times and was on the Honor Roll / Principal’s Honor Roll from 6th through 12th grades. She received UCLA’s Brain Research Institute’s Special Award. She placed 3rd in the senior’s division at the California State Science Fair and 2nd place in the senior’s division of Human Behavioral and Social Sciences at the Ventura County Science Fair. At graduation, Audrey received a multi-lingual diploma seal and cord.

Audrey will be attending Ventura College next year where she will pursue a career in nursing and health sciences.

Ventura County Medical Center’s new over $300 million North Tower wing

The Ventura County Medical Center’s new over $300 million North Tower wing became a reality on Friday, June 9 with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by over 150 employees, county employees and others. The facility is located at 300 Hillmont Ave. off of Loma Vista.

Twelve speakers were on hand including Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett who welcomed the very large appreciative crowd by stating “Our medical professionals now have one of the most modern hospitals in the country to carry out their special mission of caring for all of Ventura County’s residents.”

The wing will officially open on July 16. The construction was delayed for many months because of the heavy rains that occurred during the grading stage.

Make a difference with CMH

Are you looking for a way to get involved and make a difference in your community? If you are, then a wonderful opportunity awaits you at Community Memorial Hospital.

For decades the CMH Auxiliary has been a vibrant organization that provides comfort and assistance to patients and their families as well as assistance to the hospital staff. With the opening of the new Ocean Tower of Community Memorial Hospital by the end of this year, it is a great time to join our family of volunteers.

The Auxiliary is organized by services which represent various functions throughout the hospital. Whether you assist in the Gift Shop, greet and provide information for visitors at the front desk, or help out in the pharmacy or emergency departments, to name just a few, there is a place for you. You can begin the application process by simply requesting an application from any volunteer at the CMH reception desk.

Being a CMH Auxiliary volunteer is a fulfilling experience at any age as it provides an opportunity to share your talents and life experiences while serving others.

Heroes amongst us

Emily Benson, MD (VCMC), Hoc Nguyen Van, MD (Vietnam Duc Hospital), Serge Kaska, MD (San Diego), Aubree Goodman (premed student), Ngo Van Toan, MD (Vietnam Duc Hospital), Petros Frousiakis ,MD (CMH ortho resident), Damayea Hargett ,MD (VCMC) and Mary Ragsdale,MD (VCMC).

by Jennifer Tipton

For one week, this past March five orthopedic surgeons voluntarily traveled to Hanoi, the capitol of Vietnam to assist the Vietnamese surgeons there.

Damayea Hargett MD and Emily Benson MD specializing in trauma along with Mary Ragsdale MD specializing in joint replacement surgeries such as hips and knees are all orthopedic surgeons at VCMC.  Emily went last year to accompany Dr. Serge Kaska another orthopedic surgeon based in San Diego who has contacts in Hanoi. These big-hearted doctors not only paid their own way but also sponsored Petros Frousiakis an orthopedic surgical resident at CMH knowing it would be a great experience for him as well.

The docs landed at the largest surgical center in Vietnam performing an average of 5 surgeries a day along with seeing clinic patients lined up to evaluate and determine if they were even a candidate for surgery, some returning from the previous year after having already been turned away.

Vietnam with a population of about 92,700,00 has mopeds and motorbikes as the primary form of transportation with very few speed limits and stop signs; this would certainly explain why there are so many traumatic injuries. Our docs walked 1 ½ miles each way to the surgical center and “D” (Damayea) tells me this was the scariest part of the trip because the drivers don’t yield to anyone or anything!

Dr. Damayea Hargett is examining a young patient.

Perhaps due to all the trauma, it is a cultural expectation that if you get hurt you may have some disability, they saw more pathology in one  week than what they see at VCMC in an entire year.

Vietnam has socialized medicine so funding for treatment is limited however, they also do elective cases if you have the cash to pay for it.

The ortho ward was equipped for 50 but had an average of 80 patients, summertime being the worst with literally two  patients in each bed. Along with the trauma were the nonunion surgeries (fractures that did not heal), the congenital deformities that had never been corrected and those that had but never healed correctly. Many of the patients they saw were children, lots of children…

Instrumentation was minimal as well as orthopedic hardware such as a simple clamp or plate, and the closed procedures our docs perform at home with the assistance of radiology were a luxury not afforded. And yet another challenge was that often the surgical technicians assisting them did not speak any English. With these challenges our docs found themselves out of their comfort zone and stayed up many nights doing research to strengthen their skills. Damayea stated, “Unfortunately, we had to turn a lot away, it was heartbreaking.”

The surgeons there so appreciated our docs coming, working together with them and the many discussions that prompted learning on both sides so in addition to plans to return next year and annually, our docs are currently in the process of sponsoring 2 of the surgeons that hosted them to come here and spend a week at VCMC to continue the sharing of knowledge.

If you are interested in sponsoring future trips or a physician that might like to join them, email:





CMHS to hold advance directive awareness event

Community Memorial Health System is holding its “Great Advance Directive Awareness Event” on Wednesday, April 19, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Museum of Ventura County.

An advance directive, also known as living will, personal directive, medical directive or advance decision, is a legal document in which a person specifies what actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves because of illness or incapacity.

Jim Hornstein, M.D., CMHS’ Chair of the Bioethics Committee, will moderate the latest seminar in its 2017 “Ethics in Healthcare” series. The event is for people 18 and over. Experts, including palliative care, social services, quality care and CMHS residents, will be available to answer questions and help participants fill out their advance directives for free. A notary public also will be on site.

There will be refreshments, raffle prizes, music and giveaways, and the first 200 people who complete their advance directive will receive a free gift.

Registration is free but reservations are required. To secure reservations visit or call Brown Paper Tickets at 800-838-3006.

Community Memorial Health System is a not-for-profit health system, which is comprised of Community Memorial Hospital, Ojai Valley Community Hospital, along with the Centers for Family Health serving various communities within and located in Ventura County.

Stress on immune system the Focus of CMHS Seminar

The effects of stress on the immune system and asthma will be the focus of a free seminar that Community Memorial Health System is holding on Wednesday, April 12.

Lewis Kanter, M.D., a board-certified clinical immunologist who also specializes in pediatrics, will lead the discussion during the seminar to be held from 6 to 8 p.m. in the eighth-floor Nichols Auditorium at Community Memorial Hospital, 147 N. Brent St.

How does stress affect developing children? How does the human body react to stress? Can chronic stress cause asthma? Are patients sick because they’re stressed, or are they stressed because they’re sick? Dr. Kanter will address these questions, and more.

Dr. Kanter received his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine. He continued his training in allergy/immunology there, as well as at the National Naval Medical Center in Maryland.

Future Speaker Series events are: Diagnosis and Management of Pituitary Tumors on May 10 at CMH; and What is a Hospitalist? on June 7 at CMH.

Registration is free but reservations are required. Visit or call Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800/838-3006.

Medicare benefits for the terminally ill

by Cate Kortzeborn -Medicare’s acting regional administrator for Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Pacific Territories.

When I talk to people with Medicare about planning for the end of their lives, the statistic that always strikes me is this:

If you ask people where they’d rather die – in a hospital or at home – 75 percent say at home and 25 percent say the hospital. But when you look at what actually happens, only 25 percent of people get to die at home, while 75 percent pass away in hospitals.

The only way you can ensure that your doctor understands your wishes is by talking about them. And now, Medicare will reimburse your doctor for that conversation.

This is called advance care planning. It’s designed to help people with Medicare learn about various options for end-of-life care; determine which types of care best fit their personal wishes; and share their wishes with their family, friends, and physicians.

One option you can discuss with your doctor is hospice care. Hospice is intended to help terminally-ill people live out their lives as comfortably as possible, usually in their own homes. Hospice doesn’t focus on curing disease and it’s not only for people with cancer.

Medicare’s hospice benefit covers your care, and you shouldn’t have to go outside of hospice to get care except in rare situations. Once you choose it, your hospice benefit should cover everything you need.

If you qualify for hospice care, you and your family will work with your hospice provider to set up a plan of care that meets your needs.

You and your family members are the most important part of your medical team. Your team can also include doctors, nurses or nurse practitioners, social workers, physical and occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, hospice aides, homemakers, and volunteers.

A hospice nurse and doctor are on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to give you and your family support and care when you need it. You can also include your regular doctor or a nurse practitioner on your medical team to supervise your care.

Medicare’s hospice benefit allows you and your family to stay together in the comfort of your home, unless you need care in an inpatient facility. If your hospice provider determines that you need inpatient care, the provider will make arrangements for your stay.

To find a hospice provider, talk to your doctor or call your state hospice organization. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has a website that allows you to look up local providers based on your zip code, at

You can get hospice care if you have Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and you meet these conditions:

■ Your hospice doctor and your regular doctor (if you have one) certify that you’re terminally ill, with a life expectancy of 6 months or less;

■ You accept palliative care (for comfort) instead of care to cure your illness;

■ You sign a statement choosing hospice care instead of other Medicare-covered treatments for your terminal illness and related conditions.

You have the right to stop hospice at any time. If you do so, you’ll go back to the type of Medicare coverage you had before you chose a hospice provider, like Original Medicare, a Medicare Advantage plan, or another type of Medicare health plan.

Depending on your illness and related conditions, the plan of care your hospice team creates can include doctor and nursing services; medical equipment (like wheelchairs and walkers); medical supplies (like bandages and catheters); prescription drugs; hospice aide and homemaker services; physical and occupational therapy; speech-language pathology services; social worker services; dietary counseling; grief and loss counseling for you and your family; short-term inpatient care (for pain and symptom management); and any other Medicare-covered services needed to manage your terminal illness and related conditions, as recommended by your hospice team.

For more information on Medicare’s hospice benefit, including costs, please go to:

You can always get answers to your Medicare questions by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).



What Is Shingles?

Shingles is a disease that affects your nerves. It can cause burning, shooting pain, tingling, and/or itching, as well as a rash and blisters.

You may recall having chickenpox as a child. Shingles is caused by the same virus, the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). After you recover from chickenpox, the virus continues to live in some of your nerve cells. It is usually inactive, so you don’t even know it’s there.

In fact, most adults live with VZV in their body and never get shingles. But, for about one in three adults, the virus will become active again. Instead of causing another case of chickenpox, it produces shingles. We do not totally understand what makes the virus go from inactive to active.

Having shingles doesn’t mean you have any other underlying disease.

Anyone who had chickenpox has VZV in their body and is at risk for getting shingles. Right now, there is no way of knowing who will get the disease. But, some things make it more likely:

Advanced age. The risk of getting shingles increases as you age. People may have a harder time fighting off infections as they get older. About half of all shingles cases are in adults age 60 or older. The chance of getting shingles becomes much greater by age 70.

Trouble fighting infections. Your immune system is the part of your body that responds to infections. Age can affect your immune system. So can an HIV infection, cancer, cancer treatments, too much sun, or organ transplant drugs. Even stress or a cold can weaken your immune system for a short time. These all can put you at risk for shingles.

Can You Catch Shingles?

Shingles is not contagious. You can’t catch it from someone. But, you can catch chickenpox from someone with shingles. So, if you’ve never had chickenpox, try to stay away from anyone who has shingles.

If you have shingles, try to stay away from anyone who has not had chickenpox or who might have a weak immune system.

Usually, shingles develops only on one side of the body or face and in a small area rather than all over. The most common place for shingles is a band that goes around one side of your waistline.

  • Most people have some of the following shingles symptoms:
  • Burning, tingling, or numbness of the skin
  • Feeling sick—chills, fever, upset stomach, or headache
  • Fluid-filled blisters
  • Skin that is sensitive to touch
  • Mild itching to strong pain
  • Depending on where shingles develops, it could also cause symptoms like loss of vision or even hiccups.
  • For some people, the symptoms of shingles are mild. They might just have some itching. For others, shingles can cause intense pain that they feel from the gentlest touch or breeze.

Most cases of shingles last 3 to 5 weeks. Shingles follows a pattern:

  • The first sign is often burning or tingling pain; sometimes, it includes numbness or itching on one side of the body.
  • Somewhere between 1 and 5 days after the tingling or burning feeling on the skin, a red rash will appear.
  • A few days later, the rash will turn into fluid-filled blisters.
  • About a week to 10 days after that, the blisters dry up and crust over.
  • A couple of weeks later, the scabs clear up.
  • Most people get shingles only one time. But it is possible to have it more than once.

After the shingles rash goes away, some people may be left with ongoing pain called post-herpetic neuralgia or PHN. The pain is felt in the area where the rash had been. For some people, PHN is the longest lasting and worst part of shingles. The older you are when you get shingles, the greater your chance of developing PHN.

The PHN pain can cause depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and weight loss. Some people with PHN find it hard to go about their daily activities, like dressing, cooking, and eating. Talk with your doctor if you have any of these problems.

There are medicines that may help with PHN. Steroids may lessen the pain and shorten the time you’re sick. Analgesics, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants may also reduce the pain. Usually, PHN will get better over time.

Some people have other problems that last after shingles has cleared up. For example, the blisters caused by shingles can become infected. They may also leave a scar. It is important to keep the area clean and try not to scratch the blisters. Your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic treatment if needed.

See your doctor right away if you notice blisters on your face—this is an urgent problem. Blisters near or in the eye can cause lasting eye damage or blindness. Hearing loss, a brief paralysis of the face, or, very rarely, swelling of the brain (encephalitis) can also occur.

If you think you might have shingles, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. It’s important to see your doctor no later than 3 days after the rash starts. The doctor will confirm whether or not you have shingles and can make a treatment plan. Although there is no cure for shingles, early treatment with drugs that fight the virus can help the blisters dry up faster and limit severe pain. Shingles can often be treated at home. People with shingles rarely need to stay in a hospital.

The shingles vaccine is a safe and easy, one-time shot that may keep you from getting shingles. Most people age 60 and older should get vaccinated. You should get the shot even if you already had shingles or don’t remember having chickenpox. However, if you have a weak immune system or allergies to certain medicines, make sure to check with your doctor first.

You can get the shingles vaccine at your doctor’s office and at some pharmacies. All Medicare Part D plans and most private health insurance plans will cover the cost.

If you have shingles, here are some tips that might help you feel better:

  • Get plenty of rest and eat well-balanced meals.
  • Try simple exercises like stretching or walking. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
  • Apply a cool washcloth to your blisters to ease the pain and help dry the blisters.
  • Do things that take your mind off your pain. For example, watch TV, read, talk with friends, listen to relaxing music, or work on a hobby you like.
  • Avoid stress. It can make the pain worse.
  • Wear loose-fitting, natural-fiber clothing.
  • Take an oatmeal bath or use calamine lotion to see if it soothes your skin.
  • Share your feelings about your pain with family and friends. Ask for their understanding.

Also, you can limit spreading the virus by:

  • Keeping the rash covered
  • Not touching or scratching the rash
  • Washing your hands often

CMHS to host ‘TEDMED Live’ Simulcast Dec. 1 

Community Memorial Health System is sponsoring a free live simulcast of “TEDMED Live 2016,” an annual conference focusing on health and medicine originating from Palm Springs, on Thursday, Dec. 1.

TEDMED Live’s theme is, “What If?” and will be held in four sessions, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., at the Museum of Ventura County, 100 E. Main St. The intent of the conference has been described as “a gathering of geniuses” that brings together some of the most innovative, thoughtful pioneers of healthcare technology, media and entertainment to learn from one another and mix people from different disciplines and industries to solve big problems in healthcare.

Sessions are:

8 to 10 a.m.: “Fringe” asks if the outer edges of human experience could provide solutions to everyday challenges.

10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.: “Audacious” explores the question of what if visionaries ruled the world. In a rapid-fire series of creative, short-form talks, dozens of inspiring health entrepreneurs will share how their ideas and innovations are affecting change in every area of health and medicine.

2 to 3:45 p.m.: “Invisible Threats” explores whether science could expose and confront invisible threats to health.

6 to 8 p.m.: “End Game?” asks, what if people possessed the knowledge to be the architects of their aging and eventual deaths. Science has made significant strides in understanding what happens to our bodies as people age.

Light refreshments will be given and SeaView IPA will provide free blood pressure screenings.

Seating is limited and reservations are required. To register or to learn more information about each session, visit or call Brown Paper Tickets at 800/838-3006.


Annual Zumbathon® fundraiser supports fitness training and nutrition education

Ventura based obstetrician and gynecologist Rosalind Warner M.D. chaired this year’s annual Zumbathon® fundraiser produced by Fit 4 The Cause a nonprofit that provides fitness training and nutrition education for special populations who cannot afford or attend traditional gyms under usual circumstances. Zumbathon® took place on Oct. 22 at Constitution Park Drive in Camarillo. One hundred percent of all net proceeds raised went to the nonprofits Fit 4 The Cause and Casa Pacifica.