Northwest Health Magazine Spring 2013 IssueNorthwest Health Spring 2013

Northwest Notes

Health Care Tips, Announcements, and More

Go to: Northwest Health Index

Five Things to Do This Spring for Your Health

  1. Try something new. Challenging yourself — whether by switching up your daily routine, or learning a new skill — is good exercise for the brain.
  2. Keep a food diary. A recent study found that writing down what they ate in a journal helped dieters lose weight.
  3. Write down your medications. And keep the list (including over-the-counter meds) updated and handy so you can share it with your health care team if you're sick or injured.
  4. Get your vitamin D. In parts of the Northwest it's difficult to get the vitamin D you need just from the sun. Most people need a supplement of 600 international units (IU) a day.
  5. Fight fatigue. It may sound counterintuitive, but getting exercise may boost your energy more than a nap or a cup of coffee.

Trustees Elected, 2013 Recruitment Underway

Group Health Cooperative's voting members elected two new Board of Trustees members and two incumbents in October 2012. New trustees are Katie Bell and Phillip J. Haas. Re-elected trustees are Porsche Everson and Harry Harrison Jr.

Applications are now being accepted for three Board positions that will open at year's end. Preferred qualifications for candidates include knowledge of health care issues, care delivery systems, and health insurance; demonstrated leadership in management, strategic planning, and policy setting for complex organizations; and a proven ability to work effectively as part of a team. Trustees, who are elected to a three-year term, must be Group Health members.

Apply for candidate nomination. The application deadline is April 3, and the election is in October. For information, call 206-448-2073 or toll-free 1-800-252-3305, ext. 21.

Not a Voting Member?

You have until Aug. 6 to register to be eligible to vote in the fall election. All members aged 18 and older can register.

Running Out of Rx? Reorder Online

Next time you need a prescription refilled, you don't need to take a number, stand in line, or travel to pick it up. Just log in to MyGroupHealth for Members, or use our mobile app, and reorder your prescription online for home delivery. (First, you must register for MyGroupHealth for Members.)

You can track your refill online so you'll know when to expect its arrival. And if you've been filling your prescriptions at a community pharmacy, no problem. Just transfer them to Group Health Pharmacy Services and get the convenience of online refills.

Coverage for Breast Reconstruction

Group Health provides coverage for mastectomy-related services, including all stages of reconstruction and surgery to achieve symmetry between the breasts, prostheses, and treatment for complications resulting from a mastectomy, including lymphedema. Call Customer Service toll-free at 1-888-901-4636 for details about your benefits.

Traveling Soon? We've Got You Covered

If you're heading out of town, it's good to know that all Group Health members are covered for emergency care anywhere in the world. Your health plan may have an emergency deductible, so check coverage before you leave home. Questions? Call Customer Service toll-free at 1-888-901-4636.

If you do have a medical emergency while traveling, call 911 or the local emergency assistance number. Then within 24 hours, or as soon as reasonably possible, call our Emergency Notification Line toll-free at 1-888-457-9516 so we can follow up with your care.

When traveling out of our service area, also keep in mind:

  • You can receive routine care from Kaiser Permanente as a visiting member. Check to see where facilities are located.
  • Our Travel Advisory Service offers information and medical recommendations if you are traveling to less-developed countries. Call 206-326-3488 or toll-free 1-800-562-6300, ext. 3488, at least two months prior to departure to allow time for immunizations if they're needed. The service is free, but immunizations are not.
  • Plan ahead and obtain a supply of prescriptions you'll need for the duration of your travel.
  • The Consulting Nurse Service is available by phone (toll-free 1-800-297-6877) or e-mail (via our "E-Mail Your Health Care Team" feature) to provide medical advice anywhere in the world. (You must be registered to use the secure e-mail service.)
  • Take advantage of online services by downloading our mobile app to your smartphone, or checking our website for health care information.

Puyallup Clinic Opens

Our new Puyallup Medical Center, which opened in December, features an innovative design. Health care teams bring many services directly to patients, resulting in less wait time and reduced travel around the clinic. Services include primary care, obstetrics, lab, medical imaging, pharmacy, physical therapy, and eye care.

New Guideline for Cervical Cancer Screening

If you're a woman between ages 21 and 65, you should have a Pap test every three years, rather than the previous recommendation of every one to two years. Pap tests, which screen for cervical cancer, are not recommended for women younger than 21 years since testing can lead to unnecessary and potentially harmful treatment in women who are at low risk for this disease.

Go Nuts for This Healthy Snack

If your usual snack is a bag of chips, you can make a powerful change in your diet by grabbing a handful of nuts the next time you're hungry. According to Group Health dietitian Tessa Farr, RD, "Nuts can lower your risk for heart disease, improve blood sugar levels, and help your body's immune and digestive systems."

But remember, although nuts don't have cholesterol, they do have fat. Whether you eat them plain, or chop and sprinkle them onto salads, casseroles, vegetables, or cereals, it's wise to limit yourself to one serving a day. And not all nuts are created equally. These five, recommended by Farr, are nutritional powerhouses.


Nut/Serving size What's in it?  Health benefits
24 nuts
Monosaturated (healthy) fats, vitamin E, plant sterols, magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium.High in antioxidants known for preventing diseases; protects against free radicals. Plant sterols can reduce cholesterol.

18 nuts

Monosaturated fats, folic acid, vitamin E.Folic acid helps prevent heart disease.
20 halves
Monosaturated and poly-unsaturated fats, vitamin A, manganese, zinc, plant sterols.High in antioxidants; good for heart health.
47 nuts
Vitamins A and B6, plant sterols, potassium, thiamin, phosphorus. Lower in fats than most nuts.Reduces risk of age-related vision loss due to macular degeneration.
14 halves
Omega-3 fats; vitamins B1 and B6, folic acid, magnesium, zinc, potassium.Omega-3 fatty acids are important for heart health; improves cholesterol.

Attention College Students!

Group Health Cooperative, in conjunction with the Group Health Foundation, will award academic scholarships up to $3,000 each to undergraduates and graduates for the 2013-14 academic year. Undergraduates can be pursuing any field of study; graduate students must be enrolled in a clinically based program related to health care. In addition to all voting members, staff, and their dependents, Group Health volunteers with at least 150 hours of documented service may apply for this scholarship.

Bernice Cohen Sachs, MD, Endowed Fund for Women Medical Students will award scholarships of up to $3,000 each to women medical students. The awards are based on financial need and demonstrated community involvement during undergraduate or medical school years.

The application deadline for all scholarships is Friday, May 17. For more information, see Academic Scholarships or e-mail

Thinking About Hot Yoga?

Hot yoga studios, with room temperatures between 85 and 100 degrees, deliver muscle-loosening heat. But this popular exercise trend isn't for everyone. Rosemary Agostini, MD, a Group Health Activity, Exercise, and Sports Medicine physician, suggests these do's and don'ts.


  • Wear lightweight clothing.
  • Drink to quench your thirst. It's your trigger to replace fluid that you lose when you sweat. If your class is more than an hour, replace electrolytes with a sports drink.
  • Listen to your body. Feeling faint or dizzy? Take a break. 
  • Go slow at first. You may need to work up to the full routine if you're new to hot yoga. 
  • Consider whether to speak to your doctor. Hot yoga may cause problems if you're taking certain medications, have a medical condition like heart disease, and are overweight.


  • Push yourself too hard. Stretching feels easier in a hot room, but muscles can still be injured.
  • Try other aerobic activities in a heated room. Activities that increase your heart rate — like running — raise your risk of heat stroke. Yoga, which is stationary stretching, is less likely to raise your heart rate to an unsafe level.

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