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Health notes: Support group 'Lung Rangers' getting started in Duluth

A support group for individuals with chronic lung diseases and their families is forming in Duluth.

Titled the “Lung Rangers,” the group will meet from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month, beginning June 10, in the oncology classroom on the third floor of Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center, 407 E. Third St.

Dr. Timothy Rich, a lung specialist at Essentia Health, will present “Ask the Doctor” at the first meeting. Future topics include inhaler techniques and lung cancer screening.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the third-leading cause of death in the United States, according to an Essentia Health news release.

There is no charge for the meetings. To learn more, call (218) 786-4546.

Rehab unit revamped

St. Luke’s hospital will celebrate the opening of its remodeled inpatient rehabilitation unit with an open house from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. today. The event will include a ribbon-cutting with the Duluth Chamber of Commerce at 3:30 p.m.

The unit includes a large gym, a newly remodeled dining room and a private gym. It provides programs and services for patients who have suffered functional loss because of a disabling illness or injury, including those recovering from stroke, joint replacements, trauma and major surgery or illness.

The unit is on 8th Floor West, St. Luke’s hospital, 915 E. First St.

The fit-friendly five

Five Duluth-area employers have been named “Fit-Friendly Worksites” by the American Heart Association.

They are “employers who go above and beyond when it comes to their employees’ health,” according to the Heart Association.

Employers named locally are Essentia Health, Maurices, Sansio, St. Louis County and the University of Minnesota Duluth, said Tom Skull, corporate events director for the Heart Association’s Duluth office.

In the Heart Association’s Midwest region, 329 workplaces, employing more than 900,000 people, were recognized.

New dry eye treatment

A new treatment for dry eyes is being offered locally.

Known as LipiFlow, it’s an alternative to ongoing eye drop prescriptions, according to Dr. Michael Fuchs, an Essentia Health-Duluth Clinic optometrist.

“Research has shown many patients reduce the number of drops and ointment or may discontinue them all together,” Fuchs said in an Essentia news release.

The device uses an eyepiece to apply heat and gentle pressure to the inner eyelid to stimulate the lipid glands, Fuchs said. Most patients find it relaxing, soothing and pain-free, he added.

To learn more, call the Essentia Health-Duluth Clinic Eyecare Department at (218) 786-3138 or visit

Mental illness peer group

A peer support group for adults recovering from mental illness meets weekly in Duluth.

The NAMI Connection group is sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Minnesota and meets at 7 p.m. Mondays at Peace United Church of Christ, 111 N. 11th Ave. E. There is no fee.

For more information, contact Jodi at (218) 576-4608.

Essentia part of ACO study

Essentia Health is one of 20 health care providers that have signed on to a nationwide study of accountable care organizations (ACOs).

An ACO is a network of doctors and hospitals that shares financial and medical responsibility for providing coordinated care to patients in hopes of limiting unnecessary spending, according to Kaiser Health News.

Last fall, Essentia Health was listed as one of only two health systems in the country to reach the highest level of accreditation as an ACO by the nonprofit National Committee for Quality Assurance. That’s the agency sponsoring the study, which is designed to allow participating ACOs to compare their performance.

Other participants include a children’s hospital in Kansas City; a clinic in Middletown, N.Y.; and a group of clinics in southern California.  

Study results are expected in a written report in the fall of 2014.

Surviving cancer series

A lecture series on surviving cancer sponsored by St. Luke’s hospital will begin in June with a presentation on chemotherapy’s impact.

Dr. Anne Silva-Benedict of St. Luke’s Oncology and Hematology Associates and Deb Viner, a psychologist at St. Luke’s, will be featured speakers for the program from 5:30 to 7 p.m. June 17 in the St. Luke’s auditorium, second-floor center, 915 E. First St. A light dinner will be served at 5 p.m.

Cancer patients, family members and anyone interested in the topic is welcome. Register by calling or emailing Tina Roberts, social worker, Regional Cancer Center, or (218) 249-5468 or by June 16.