Aspen Medical Center Blog

needles

What You Need to Know About the Flu Vaccine This Flu Season

Flu may seem like a common disease, but it can sometimes be serious, contagious, and life-threatening. Influenza is so much more than that. Depending on your circumstances, you could get a high fever, profound body aches, serious fatigue, and so on. 

It may not be a problem for young and healthy people, but the situation can be complex for young children and older adults. The worst thing about the flu is how quickly the illness evolves. It should not be taken lightly.

Luckily, there are many ways to protect people from the flu these days. The seasonal flu vaccine may be innocuous but it saves many lives every year. If you are curious how the seasonal flu vaccine works, here is some vital information you should know:

How Does Flu Vaccine Work? 

Similar to other vaccines, the flu vaccine works by triggering a person’s immune response and creating a defense against disease-causing pathogens. When a person develops antibodies against a particular disease, these antibodies can fight against and provide protection from the virus. 

As mentioned earlier, different kinds of flu become contagious depending on the season. 

Researchers predict what flu virus would be more active during a particular period and produce the specific vaccine to defend against it.

In the US, there is a vaccine that fights four kinds of flu viruses (quadrivalent). This flu vaccine is meant to fight the following viruses:

  • The Influenza A (H1N1) virus
  • The Influenza A (H3N2) virus
  • Two Influenza B viruses

Another one can fight three different flu viruses, called the trivalent. It can kill the following viruses: 

  • The Influenza A (H1N1) virus
  • The Influenza A (H3N2) virus
  • One of the two Influenza B viruses

Persons aged six months and older are encouraged to get a flu vaccine every year. Keep in mind, however, that the antibodies work after two weeks, so schedule your flu shot before the flu season—ideally, by the end of October.

The Types of Flu Vaccines You Would Encounter

Here are some essential things you need to know about the available vaccines:

The Trivalent Flu Shot

This flu vaccine is made from three ingredients approved for people aged 65 and above. It also comes with an adjuvant, an element that helps the body build a more robust immune response.

The Quadrivalent Flu Shot

This flu shot is made from four ingredients, and it can be used for people of different age groups, particularly those six months and older. Here are some common ones you might encounter: 

  • FluMist Quadrivalent: Good for people aged two to 49 years old; not ideal for pregnant people, immunocompromised persons, and the like
  • Flucelvax Quadrivalent: Recommended for people four years old and above
  • Flublok Quadrivalent: Approved for people 18 years and older
  • Quadrivalent Flu Shot Using an Adjuvant: Best for people aged 65 years and older
  • Fluzone High-Dose: Also recommended for people aged 65 years and older

Conclusion

Both the trivalent and the quadrivalent influenza vaccines are generally available in clinics and hospitals. Before choosing one, make sure that the vaccine you would receive is appropriate for your age and health. The vaccines should also be labeled suitable for a particular period. For example, in today’s time, the products you would encounter are the influenza vaccine products for the 2020 to 2021 season. 

Get your flu shots every year from a trusted clinic. Aspen Medical Center is a provider of state-of-the-art urgent care and primary care in Sta. Fe. We offer immunization services as one of our essential primary care services. If you need one, call us today at 505-466-5885 to book an appointment. 

doctors accessories

In Case of Emergency: Our Guide to Seeking Urgent Care

Urgent care centers function differently from doctor’s clinics and even emergency rooms, and some people aren’t familiar with their services. Urgent care centers and walk-in clinics provide treatment for patients with conditions that require immediate attention but are not life-threatening. They also cover other medical services such as X-rays, lab exams, and even vaccinations.

Here are some things you should know before seeking urgent care:

1. Don’t Wait for an Emergency

Health emergencies of any kind can be incredibly stressful, and it can be difficult to make level-headed decisions if you or someone in your household is in need of immediate medical attention. This is why it’s important to know a local urgent care center before you get sick or injured.

Look up all the urgent care centers in your area and choose one that accepts your health insurance. It should ideally be a center that provides general care. If you have children, you should also locate a pediatric urgent care center in your back pocket. List down the names of these facilities and their addresses, contact information, and operating hours. Keep this list near your phone or in a common area so everyone in your house can refer to it during emergencies.  

2. Try to Call First

Most urgent care centers accept walk-in patients, but given the COVID-19 pandemic, many social distancing protocols can complicate this. If you can, call your local urgent care center before coming in. Medical personnel will screen you via phone call and advise the best time for you to come in.

Even without the pandemic, it’s still best practice to call ahead and ask about the wait time to see a health care provider. If the center doesn’t allow appointments, you will still have a better idea of how busy it is and how long you have to wait before getting treatment. In addition, some urgent care centers allow online check-ins for patients. Providing all your information before dropping by will also help streamline the treatment process.

3. Bring Important Documents

Unlike clinics and hospitals, urgent care centers don’t carry extensive medical records. Even if you’ve been to their facility once or twice before, they still may not have a file on your medical history to treat your condition.

Make sure to take note of all your medical information before you go to urgent care. This includes your prescription medication, previous medical diagnoses, and your primary care physician’s name and contact information. Of course, it’s important to bring your health insurance information, too. You also need at least one photo ID to verify your identity.

When to Skip Urgent Care and Go to the ER Instead

Urgent care centers can help treat simple urgent health concerns. However, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, they are best evaluated at a hospital emergency room:

  • Severe head injury or trauma
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Signs of stroke (weakness, confusion, loss of vision, difficulty speaking)
  • Severe chest pain
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Severe burns
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Open fractures
  • Fever in a one-month-old infant or younger

Conclusion

Urgent care centers are convenient options to receive medical treatment for non-life-threatening symptoms and conditions. Remember to bring all pertinent identification and medical documentation with you as well. Most importantly, identify which locations can handle and treat you for shorter wait times and to ensure your safety.

At Aspen Medical Center, we provide efficient, compassionate, and high-quality urgent care services for you and your family. Our clinic locations in Santa Fe and Espanola are open seven days a week to address your urgent health concerns. Please call ahead at 505-466-5885 for patient screening.

ankle sprain

4 Effective Tips for Avoiding Sprains and Injuries

There are very few injuries that will lead you to require urgent care faster than a sprain. Indeed, sprains can be quite severe and painful, especially if they happen in far-flung places where it will be difficult for you to receive medical attention. Considering that summer is close and many of you likely have plans to go hiking or mountain climbing, it would be in your best interest to prepare and try to mitigate any risk of injury.

But how do you go about doing this? To help you out, we’ve prepared a list of four tips that will help you avoid sprains and other injuries:

Warm-up Before Engaging in Physical Activities

The thing that you have to understand about muscles is that they take some time to warm up, especially for underutilized muscles. However, failing to warm up properly can cause some major issues, as the muscles will be more prone to straining. A good way to think about it is to compare it to a rubber band. Rubber, when frozen, is stiff and is more prone to snapping. This is why you need to warm your muscles up before any extraneous physical activities.

Now, you don’t have to do anything too extreme to warm your muscles up. Simply engaging in gentle stretching before any physical activities will go a long way when it comes to minimizing the risk of accruing any injuries.

Wear the Right Shoes

Aside from stretching, you’ll also want to make sure that you’re dressed appropriately. Slipping and falling is a common cause of many injuries. This is why you’ll want to make sure that you’re wearing the right shoes when engaging in physical activities. If you’re going on a hike, it will be best to wear hiking boots that provide your ankles with support and have tread that will prevent you from slipping.

Provide Extra Support 

Now, it’s important to note that protecting your feet isn’t just about shoes. While shoes are important, there are other pieces of equipment that can provide you with the support that you need. For example, using things like a brace or ankle tape will also be useful when it comes to preventing sprains and injuries. This is because they provide you with extra support while you’re engaged in physical activities to avoid the risks of sprains.

Build Up Strength

An excellent preventive technique for injuries is to strengthen your muscles through regular exercise. By building up muscle strength, you give yourself a stronger base and will make it easier for you to stay on your feet and control sudden changes in body position. While it may seem trivial, this can be the difference between a minor scratch and a trip to the emergency room. Exercises like squats, lunges, and dips will be the key to strengthening your muscles.

Conclusion

We hope the tips we’ve shared above prove to be useful in helping you avoid any unnecessary injuries and sprains. When it comes to preventing sprains, the most important thing to do is prepare as much as possible. Accidents do happen, and injuries can often be unavoidable, but there are always things that you can do to minimize the risk!

If you are searching for an urgent care center in Santa Fe, Aspen Medical Center is your best choice. We provide state-of-the-art medical facilities and expertise to ensure that you are well taken care of. For more information on our services or to book an appointment, contact us today at 505-657-1799!

physician

3 Primary Care Physician Myths You Should Stop Believing

Seeing a primary care physician is a great way to prevent, treat, and diagnose various medical issues. They provide comprehensive medical solutions for chronic conditions and initial executive checkups to make sure you are healthy. Despite knowing these facts, most patients are propagating false information that affects those in need of these healthcare provisions. Worse, it leaves them most susceptible to diseases like COVID-19, diabetes, and more. 

Protecting yourself and others from misinformation on primary care is necessary to ensuring access to medical services for all and addressing immediate-to-long-term health problems. It is just as important as finding the right provider near you. To ensure all these needs are met, consider the following common primary care physician debunked myths: 

Myth #1: You should only call your primary care provider when someone is sick and needs further medical attention 

Most individuals feel that they only need to see a doctor when they are sick and need extra assistance. However, remember that there can be times when you don’t feel sick yet, but it only means that the symptoms are not fully developed. You also need checkups, vaccinations, physicals, and other related processes to keep your health and well-being in check, which is what your primary care physician is trained to provide. 

By getting primary care, it ensures that your medical history, lifestyle, and perceived medical risks are all accounted for, guaranteeing protection against diseases. It can lead to more savings on hospital costs and other treatments because of your more resilient health. Most importantly, it can provide a happier, longer life! 

Myth #2: Any healthcare professional can offer primary care, so finding a primary care physician near you is not necessary

One of the most common mistakes most patients make is that they believe any healthcare specialist is just as trained to give primary care, so seeing a physician is unnecessary. However, they are completely misinformed. The truth is primary care physicians undergo internal medical and family practice residence for three years. They also have to pass an intensive examination to be licensed in their respective states to practice medicine. 

In a clinical setting, primary care physicians take the lead alongside nurses and other supporting medical staff in overseeing medical testing, medication, preventive care, and other related procedures. You can only get this kind of assistance from certified providers nearby. So, ensure you find a reliable one nearby, get yourself and your loved ones checked, and enjoy positive wellness despite these challenging times. 

Myth #3: You don’t need to reach out to your primary care physician during emergencies 

Did you know that your primary care physician can actually be in a better position to handle emergency processes than most urgent care providers? It is because they know your bodily conditions by compiling a comprehensive medical record of perceived risks and preexisting internal or external issues. While it does not mean you shouldn’t go for urgent medical care when needed, it is best to contact your primary care doctor during emergencies. They will relay relevant information about you, offer better treatment, and mitigate further health complications. 

Conclusion 

Primary care is one of the most important medical solutions to a better quality of life. Avoiding false information about it can help ensure you and others around you can get the immediate attention needed. Remember all the debunked myths mentioned above and connect with medical professionals like us! 

Are you looking for the best primary care physicians in Santa Fe? Visit the Aspen Medical Center. We provide state-of-the-art medical facilities and expertise to keep your health and well-being in check through vaccinations, physicals, and more. Book your appointment with us today by contacting us at (505) 466-5885. 

vaccine

Be Vaccinated: Everything You Need to Know About Immunization

There have been a lot of arguments surrounding immunization. Some don’t believe in it, while many others encourage it. But how important is immunization, really?

What Is Immunization?

Let’s define immunization first. Immunization is the process where people are protected against illnesses caused by infection. A vaccine is the material used for immunization, which contains an agent that resembles the disease-causing bacteria. It is made from the toxins that killed or weakened the microorganism. 

When the vaccine is injected into the body, the immune system recognizes the agent and destroys it. So, when the actual microbe attacks you, it will keep you safe against the disease. 

How Important Is Vaccination?

There are many benefits to immunization. For one, getting vaccinated is a lot cheaper than getting treated for diseases when it comes to the costs. Also, vaccination doesn’t only protect you but also the community. 

Immunization is highly recommended in children and adults. How will it help your kids? 

  • It will help protect your children from serious illness and complications of vaccine-preventable diseases that may include amputation, hearing loss, convulsions, brain damage, and death.
  • It helps prevent diseases, such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough. 

Kids who are not vaccinated have a huge chance of spreading the disease to other children who might be too young to get vaccinated. Other than that, they can spread the disease to adults with a weak immune system. 

When it comes to vaccines for children, they’re only given following a thorough review by experts, which takes a long time. 

Now, how does vaccination help adults? Like the benefits to children, immunization in adults will also help protect themselves and the community from diseases.

At times, vaccination will depend on several factors, such as: 

  • Age
  • Health conditions
  • Travel plans
  • Personal vaccination record

Some of the available vaccinations for adults are:

  • Swine flu
  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis
  • Tetanus 
  • Pneumonia

What Are the Necessary Travel Vaccinations?

Besides the usual vaccinations for kids and adults, there are also travel vaccinations necessary. In certain countries, you will be asked to get vaccinated, such as the yellow fever vaccine, which is administered when traveling to African countries. 

If you travel to the US or European countries, you will also need to have vaccinations against typhoid, tuberculosis, and meningococcal meningitis. 

What About People Who Can’t Be Vaccinated?

There are some people who can’t be vaccinated because they may either be too young or sick. You can help protect them by keeping you and your loved ones’ vaccinations up-to-date. 

Indeed, immunization is one of the best ways to protect yourself, your family, and future generations from infectious diseases. With vaccination, it can wipe out diseases that could spread in the present and future. 

You’re not only looking after your family when you get vaccinated; you are also helping protect the vulnerable people in your community. The more people are vaccinated, the fewer people will be infected. In turn, the less widely a disease will spread. 

Conclusion

Immunization plays an even bigger role in our communities today. Now that you know how important it is, make sure you don’t miss a vaccine. Not only will you save your life, but others as well. 

Get your vaccinations here at Aspen Medical Center. We provide primary care and urgent care services to patients of all ages in Santa Fe and Espanola, NM. Check in online today!

doctor

5 Tips to Help You Find the Right Primary Care Physician

When it comes to reaching peak overall health, it will pay to work with the right primary care physician. These are doctors who help their patients reach the best and highest quality of life by administering various types of health maintenance and promotion methods. 

The services of a primary care physician include disease prevention, counseling, diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic disease and patient education strategies in periodic intervals and checkups. These doctors may aid patients in making crucial health decisions that are aimed at reaching peak health and wellbeing.

Knowing all that a primary care physician can do for your health makes it all the more important to choose the right one to be your healthcare ally. However, it may be easier said than done to find one to suit your health needs if you are gazing down a long faceless list of names. As you prepare to narrow down this list, here are a few considerations to think about when you schedule an over-the-phone or face-to-face consultation with your selected physician:

How to Find the Right Primary Care Physician for You

1 – Consider Which Doctors Are in Your Network

Look into which doctors in your area will be covered by your healthcare plan. Your plan will help you keep your health status up while keeping costs down in the process. If you do not have any health care insurance, it is best to find a doctor that offers an affordable package that will not have you breaking the bank in order to stay healthy.

2 – Do Your Family and Friends Have Any Recommendations?

It is also important to get the input of your family and friends. Ask them if they can recommend any primary care physicians to you based on positive experiences of their own.

3 – How Easy Is It to Get Hold of This Doctor?

When you will need an emergency consult, will the doctor you are choosing be available to see you? How accessible are they via phone? It is important to consider these factors, especially when you will need medical advice in an emergency.

4 – Where Will Diagnostics Tests Take Place?

Speaking of accessibility, it is important to note where you will be taking your diagnostics tests, should you ever need them. Choosing a physician that has a conveniently-located clinic will prove to be useful, especially when you will need to have multiple tests done at one time.

5 – The Proximity of Their Clinic

Lastly, it is important to find a doctor that has a clinic that has a clinic that is easily reachable. Although it is somewhat impossible to find a doctor who has a clinic that is right next door to where you live, you want to find one that is fairly close.

Conclusion

While all doctors may be skilled in their own right, finding a primary care physician to help you reach peak health is a personal decision. Looking into the circumstances and individual pros and cons of each doctor you are considering will help you decide which one you should choose.

If you are looking for a good primary care physician in Santa Fe, you can get access to primary care and all your other medical needs at Aspen Medical Center. We are a locally owned outpatient medical facility in Santa Fe and Espanola NM offering state-of-the-art primary care and urgent care services. Call 505-466-5885 to book an appointment.

doctor

Pap Smear: When Should or Shouldn’t You Get One

Pap smear or cervical smear is a test done to screen for any abnormal cells in the cervix. This test can also determine any vaginal infections or inflammation that the patient should be concerned about. However, the main reason for getting a Pap smear is to screen for cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer has been the most prevalent type of cancer that caused death in women in the US. But thanks to Pap smear tests, the number of cervical cancer cases has significantly declined since it had been made available in the 1950s. This is why early detection of cancer, which is what Pap smears are for, can increase one’s chances of getting cured!

If you are between the ages of 21 and 69, it is recommended that you get regular Pap smears at your local family medical clinic. But there are circumstances when a test is not necessary. Here’s how to know when you should get a Pap smear and when you don’t have to:

When Is It Acceptable to Not Get a Pap Smear?

Pap smears may not be necessary if you are considered low risk for cervical cancer. For instance, if you are below 21 years old, whether you are sexually active or not, the risk for cervical cancer is very low. Any abnormal cell presence often returns to normal even without treatment.

The same goes if you are over the age of 69 and you have had regular Pap smears in the past and got normal results. The tests are also no longer necessary if you had your cervix removed during a hysterectomy procedure. However, if you had a hysterectomy because of the existence of pre-cancer or cancer cells in your cervix, you may still need to get the test.

When Do You Need a Pap Test?

Your need for a Pap test and its frequency depends on several factors, including your age and your risks.

If you are between the ages of 21 and 29, it is recommended that you get a Pap test at least once every three years, especially if you are sexually active. The same goes for women aged 30 to 69 years old. Likewise, your doctor may recommend an HPV test every five years, or you can still get tested for both.

It is also recommended for pregnant women to get tested. It is typically done in the early stages of pregnancy because it would be best to get it treated immediately before any conditions worsen if there is any abnormality. Note that the Pap smear should be done before you reach the sixth month of pregnancy. Then, you shouldn’t have a test done until 12 weeks have passed since you gave birth.

How to Ensure That Your Pap Smear Is Accurate?

Pap smear results can come back as unsatisfactory, which could mean that:

  • There was an error in the test administration.
  • The cells couldn’t be adequately evaluated because of the presence of mucus or blood.
  • There were not enough cervical cells to do an accurate test.

To prevent an unsatisfactory test result, you should get tested at least five days after the last day of your period. And then, 48 hours prior to your test, you shouldn’t have intercourse or use tampons, douches, vaginal creams, lubricants, and other vaginal products.

Conclusion

Pap smears are one of the most important tests that women should get, together with a mammogram and colonoscopy. It’s always better to get tested early on so that you can get the peace of mind that you are healthy. Even if the test comes back and it turns out there are cancerous cells, it’s still a good thing that you can detect it sooner rather than later as this will increase the chance of defeating cancer.

You are responsible for your health, so make sure that you get necessary tests like Pap smears from your primary care physician.

If you want to get your Pap smear done, be sure to visit your trusted family care clinic in Santa Fe, NM. At Aspen Medical Clinic, our physicians will always care for your well-being so that you can live a happy and healthy life. Contact us today to schedule your test appointment!

woman doctor

4 Key Medical Appointments You Must Schedule in 2021

Over the past year, health has truly become a priority for everyone. Gone are the days when being healthy only held true for the younger generation. Thanks to technology, senior citizens also no longer have to plan their bucket list around the average lifespan in the US. 

Nevertheless, this is not to say that you can neglect your routine medical checkups. For the most part, many people usually see their doctors when it’s already too late, but you must always remember that prevention is better than cure. Besides, the COVID-19 crisis has compelled people to always take good care of their health, which is why you must not forget to attend your regular checkups.

In this article, we will share four important medical appointments you need to plan for in 2021:

1. With a Primary Care Doctor

Sure, you may only be visiting your primary physician when you aren’t feeling well. But did you know that you must visit your physician at least once a year? Your doctor will perform a physical exam to determine the condition of your health and assess your medical history. If your physician sees any red flags, you will be asked to get some tests such as lab work or imaging service. From there, they’ll determine whether or not you need to get some medical treatments to treat your situation.

2. With an Eye Doctor

The general rule of thumb is to see your eye doctor once a year or every two years. Of course, you need to see one as soon as you’re having some eye problems. During your eye check, keep in mind that the expert will check for signs of the four common diseases. These eye conditions include glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration, which are more likely to develop after the age of 40. This is when routine checkups for early prevention become extremely necessary!

3. With a Gynecologist 

Women need to see their gynecologist every six months to once a year. Regardless of sexual activities, they must begin seeing their doctors as early as the age of 21. During a routine appointment, your gynecologist will require you to get a Pap smear, a pelvic exam, and a breast exam to look for any signs of illnesses. At the same time, you must inform your doctor about your overall health and bring up any irregularities in your period. You also have to be honest about your sexual activities and any concerns about your reproductive system.

4. With a Radiologist (Mammogram)

It’s essential to visit a radiologist to undergo a mammogram. If your family has a history of breast cancer, you must consider doing this checkup at least once a year. This is because women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation have a higher risk. You will also need to have genetic testing, particularly if your family member has a history of breast, ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer. This genetic testing will require your blood or saliva sample sent to a lab for analysis, and you will receive the result in about a month. 

Conclusion

At this point, we’ve covered four key medical appointments you must make in 2021—primary care physician, eye doctor, gynecologist, and radiologist. While these four appointments are basic checkups, you must still consider your family and medical history to acknowledge which areas require a serious check. Ultimately, these preventive medical appointments may very well save your future—have that checkup today, and your body will thank you tomorrow!

Are you looking for reliable primary care and urgent care? You’ve come to the right place. We’re a locally owned outpatient medical clinic in Santa Fe and Espanola, NM offering state-of-the-art primary care services and an urgent care center. As your health is our top priority, get in touch with us today to see how we can help!

covid test

Healthcare Advice: How Urgent Should COVID-19 Testing be

All the news about vaccination programs can be harmful to the public, especially in states and regions that are still struggling with a surge in cases. For people who have not been vaccinated yet, it’s important to observe precautionary measures whenever interacting with individuals outside their household.

Limitation in testing efforts have been due to the shortage of equipment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A year into the pandemic, more local and state health departments are more equipped to handle the influx of patients who want to receive COVID-19 testing. Because of this, it’s not an individual’s initiative to know whether they should get tested or not.

Getting COVID-19 testing due to the rise of new COVID-19 variants

 Besides being a mandatory requirement for official procedures and transactions, getting tested for COVID-19 becomes tricky if you’re unsure of your exposure to the virus. Effective testing is necessary not just for yourself but also for others’ safety. Unfortunately, the recent surge in COVID-19 variants can make it dangerous to get tested unless you’re sure you need one.

Thankfully, the CDC has adjusted its recommendations on who should receive COVID-19 testing. Besides people showcasing symptoms of COVID0-19 with a healthcare provider’s recommendation, asymptomatic patients can get tested if they’ve been exposed to people with a confirmed condition. This revised guideline helps your local community reinforce contact tracing methods since it’s vital to rack asymptomatic and pre-asymptomatic transmission. In turn, this allows authorities to document and notify necessary communities.

Deciding when to get COVID-19 testing

Due to the fluctuating incubation period of COVID-19 infection, there’s no direct time that defines when you should get COVID-19 testing. In most cases, a person with the virus can test positive for up to five days at most after contracting it. For this reason, you could test negative for the first three days of infection before COVID-19 symptoms start to manifest. Since it takes three to five days for symptoms to develop, the CDC notes that it’s best to be cautious with engaging with individuals outside your household for up to 14 days.

Receiving results from your COVID-19 test

Many patients can get their test results within 24 hours. However, this largely depends on the healthcare facilities’ capacity at the time. At worst, it may take two weeks before you can receive the results of your test. This is why it’s vital for individuals suspected of having COVID-19 avoid interacting with others or leaving their household whenever possible. During a self-isolation period of two weeks with no noticeable symptoms, it may be safe to assume that you’re free from COVID-19 or didn’t have it at all. However, the line separating the two can be the difference between being a threat to yourself and others.

Different cities and states have unique testing systems, which is why it might be easier or harder to schedule a COVID-19 test. It’s best to consult with your local authorities and healthcare providers to get a clear timeline of your wait time and expected appointment in light of recent events.

Conclusion

Vaccination is only part of the nation’s healing process, and it doesn’t replace the value of getting tested for COVID-19. For this reason, it’s necessary for unvaccinated individuals, and even vaccinated ones, to remain cautious of their actions and interactions with others. Determining your need to visit a reliable healthcare center should be your priority if you’re developing symptoms of any illnesses.

Aspen Medical Center is a locally-owned outpatient medical facility that offers state-of-the-art services for your healthcare needs. If you need to receive immediate COVID testing in Santa Fe, contact our office today.

doctor with a stethoscope

Signs It’s Time to Set an Appointment and See Your Doctor

If you have a medical emergency, it’s easy to decide to go to the doctor. Usually, you can prevent these emergencies altogether by just going a little earlier, though you may be unaware of subtler signs. Here is a list of reasons why you might need to go to the doctor right now:

Cough and Colds

Cough and colds are a sign of infection that most people ignore. This is because they can be mistaken for an allergic reaction or just a sign of a weak illness that will easily pass. There are instances wherein colds can stand for something more serious, though. If your colds don’t go away over time or downright worsen, go to a doctor. Long periods of congestion can lead to infection at various levels of severity. 

Also, if your cough lasts more than two weeks, that may be whooping cough, which needs medical attention. Even if your cough and colds aren’t so bad but are accompanied by other symptoms, that could be an indicator of a serious infection. 

For example, if you have a fever and/or muscle aches, you may have the flu. If you are in your senior years, an expectant mother, or have a history of heart disease, you should be extra careful. Also, if you have extreme difficulty swallowing, chest pain, or shortness of breath, you should definitely see a doctor as these are not normal cold symptoms. Nausea that leads to continuous vomiting should also be noted here. If that’s the case, you may need to get an IV to help hydrate and nourish your body.

Fever

A fever can just be a normal way your body fights infection. Similar to a cold, it doesn’t have to be an indicator of something more serious. In certain cases, such as if your fever is above 103˚ Fahrenheit (39.4˚ Celsius) or lasts more than three days, it could mean that you are about to be very sick and need to see a primary care doctor. 

Sudden Weight Loss

Sudden weight loss could indicate an overactive thyroid, diabetes, liver disease, and a number of other larger issues. It could even be a sign of something dangerously fatal, like cancer. In general, if you’ve lost 10% or more of your body weight in six months, seeing a doctor can save your life.

Severe Pain in Certain Areas

Extreme, sustained pain in the chest, abdomen, or pelvis can mean severe illnesses, so you should have yourself checked. Enduring pains in the chest area could mean a heart attack. Pain in the abdomen, especially if accompanied by nausea and vomiting, could be gallstones. When your pain is concentrated in the pelvis area, that could be appendicitis.

Change in Bowel Movement or Urination

Look for a sudden change in your bowel movement’s pattern. If you see things like bloody stools, diarrhea, constipation, or excessive urination, then you should probably consult your doctor.

Concussion Symptoms

If you’ve suffered a hit to the head, check yourself for signs of a concussion. See if you have any increased irritability, difficulty concentrating, or headaches. Any of these could be a sign that you have a concussion and should thus see your doctor.

Conclusion

This list of symptoms that could be signs that you should seek medical attention is small and incomplete. This is just a starting point of the most common reasons, but there are many more. Monitor your body closely to get an accurate picture of your health, and see your primary care physician if there are any problems.

Looking for a medical clinic in Santa Fe? Contact Aspen Medical Center today! We offer state-of-the-art primary care and urgent care services.

From Dream to Reality: the origins of the little clinic next to Aspen Medical Center

When Dr. Andrew Ropp, co-founder and Medical Director of Aspen Medical Center, tells his patients that they can get acupuncture and massage at a little clinic next door, some are still surprised. Aspen Wellness opened a year after Aspen Medical Center and is one of Santa Fe’s most affordable places for these complementary and alternative medical treatments.

Offering both Eastern and Western approaches to health care had been a goal of Dr. Ropp’s since his early days of training in New York over 20 years ago. As a student, he founded the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Club at his medical school. He organized speakers on a whole host of topics such as Nutrition, Homeopathy, and his personal favorite, the topic of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. After graduation and his medical residency in Family Medicine, he worked at the Hopi Health Care Center(HHCC) in Arizona. During his three years there, he became licensed in acupuncture and utilized his skills in the HHCC’s pain clinic for several hours per week in addition to his regular duties at the clinic. He saw first hand how powerful acupuncture could be to help people manage pain and how much people appreciated having a non-pharmaceutical option for pain relief.

Since moving to Santa Fe with his family in 2006, Dr. Ropp has concentrated his career on family medicine and operating Aspen Medical Center for primary and urgent care. But his dream of a clinic that provided the option of acupuncture to patients was realized with the help of his wife, Rachel Ropp, Doctor of Oriental Medicine (DOM).

Rachel had always been attracted to Asian cultures. Having grown up in an Asian suburb of Los Angeles, she was inspired to study Chinese, volunteer, and travel in Asia during her college years. Many years later, after seeing her husband study for his acupuncture certification, she chose to come to Santa Fe and attend Southwest Acupuncture College and gain her Masters in Oriental Medicine. After running a community acupuncture clinic in Albuquerque for 4 years, she decided to join her husband at Aspen Medical Center, opening Aspen Wellness next door to his clinic.

Chinese Medicine has been practiced for over 3000 years and consists primarily of herbal medicine and acupuncture. In general, acupuncture is the practice of placing very thin, painless needles at various locations in the skin with the purpose of balancing the body’s energy which has been shown to ease pain. Acupuncture can be used for pain anywhere in the body and also for stress, digestive problems, allergies, insomnia, general well-being, and even for strengthening the immune system. At Aspen Wellness, Chinese herbal remedies are prescribed for common conditions including stress, anxiety, insomnia, hormonal issues, and even the common cold. Nutritional and lifestyle advice from the Chinese medical perspective is available. Patients at Aspen Wellness appreciate having non-pharmaceutical options to treat their health issues. Aspen Wellness also offers massage by Licensed Massage therapist, Stephanie Salazar.

The goal of Aspen Wellness has always been to offer acupuncture for an affordable price. Pre-pandemic, that meant seeing multiple patients at a time in a common space. These days, each patient is seen in a private space with numerous safeguards to keep everyone safe. Despite the changes, the cost remains low at just $30 per treatment regardless of how many issues are being addressed. We are currently providing acupuncture for the lowest price in Santa Fe.

Aspen Wellness offers appointments Monday – Friday and can make accommodations for people who need to be seen after work hours or on the weekend. Call to schedule an acupuncture treatment with Dr. Rachel Ropp if you have back pain, neck pain, knee or any joint pain, headaches, digestive issues, allergies, stress, anxiety, insomnia, or even if you are just curious to try it and see what acupuncture can do for you. For more information, go to www.aspenwellness.care or call 505-466-5887.

Coronavirus PSA

We are living in trying times. There is a global pandemic that is ravaging the world. The illness is called Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19 for short. This virus causes an upper respiratory illness but can attack the lungs. It can cause fever as well as cough or shortness of breath, among other symptoms.

The last time the world experienced a pandemic of this scale was probably the 1918 flu pandemic also know as the Spanish flu, so likely no one alive today remembers a time like the one we are living in now. It is a reminder that life is fragile and we are all connected. When this virus first appeared in Wuhan, China in December 2019, no one on earth was immune to it as far as we know. It can infect anyone. Some people have mild symptoms or possibly no symptoms at all, but a significant number of people are becoming critically ill and many people are dying from this virus. It is likely many more will die before this pandemic is over. Hospitals in places like northern Italy have become overwhelmed by this pandemic and it is likely to continue to spread to other regions and get worse around the world before it gets better.

At Aspen Medical Center, we care about your health and safety. We are doing everything in our power to try to prevent the spread of the virus and yet still provide essential medical services. We are cooperating with our state and local authorities and following recommended protocols and guidelines. We are closely monitoring nation-wide and global trends and we continue to gather information constantly. We are allowing employees to work remotely from home when possible. We are using appropriate personal protective equipment or PPE in our clinics. And we continue to follow intensified infection control protocols. We are screening prospective patients over the phone or if they come to our locations and we are sending high risk patients immediately for testing at one of our local state-designated testing sites or to the ER if appropriate. The Governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham, has agreed to waive all copays and costs to patients for testing and treatment related to COVID-19. We are prepared to meet whatever challenges come our way in these uncertain and ever-changing times.

We are now offering telemedicine. Telemedicine is a way to get a virtual visit with a health care provider. Secure video chat technology is used and we can conduct medical interviews, do counseling, perform a limited physical evaluation, and if necessary order labs, make referrals, or prescribe medications electronically to the pharmacy of the your choice. This allows us to continue to provide needed medical services but prevent the spread of the virus by providing care remotely. We can provide these services for people who have chronic ongoing medical needs, people who have acute medical needs, and even people who think they might be infected with this virus.

Also, we have temporarily closed Aspen Wellness. So Rachel Ropp, DOM, is not currently doing acupuncture but she still has Chinese herbs available for her patients who wish to purchase them.

During this time of a global infectious pandemic, it is important for all of us to do our part in protecting ourselves and everyone else. What are some of the things you can do?

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Do not go to work or school if you are sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then throw away the tissue
  • Practice social distancing (in general try to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other people)
  • Avoid non-essential travel (avoid shopping trips and social visits when possible)
  • Reach out to people remotely through email, calling them up, texting, or through social media
  • If you or your child get sick, contact your medical provider or call us at Aspen (505-466-5885 in Santa Fe or 505-747-6939 in Espanola)

At this time, we do not know what the future will bring. What I do know is that at Aspen Medical Center, we will continue to do our best to provide health care, for both chronic care and urgent care needs, to the population of northern New Mexico at both our Santa Fe and Espanola locations. We will continue to do everything in our power to keep our community as safe and healthy as possible

Wellness Visit

Wellness Visits at Aspen Medical are designed to keep you healthy

There are two types of visits to Aspen Medical Center. There are “problem-based visits” and “wellness visits.” A “problem-based visit” focuses on a specific problem. It may be an acute problem such as a cold or flu-like illness, an earache, a sprained ankle or other injury, a cut or laceration, a sore throat, a cough, or a fever, etc. A problem-based visit might also focus on a chronic condition or conditions, like diabetes, high cholesterol, hypothyroidism, high blood pressure or hypertension, etc. A problem-based visit can occur as often or as seldom as necessary.

What is a “wellness visit”?

The second type of visit to Aspen Medical Center is a wellness visit. The “wellness visit” is all about prevention. Wellness visits are annual physicals and generally occur once a year. We perform a head to toe physical exam at that time. These visits are designed to help you stay healthy and prevent illness. At a wellness visit, we focus on things like vaccines to prevent diseases and screening tests like pap smears for women to detect cervical cancer. If necessary, we will make referrals for mammograms to screen for breast cancer or colon cancer screening to detect colon cancer. We’ll measure your blood pressure (like we do at all visits) to screen for high blood pressure or “hypertension.” We might recommend blood work after the wellness visit to screen for health conditions such as high cholesterol and diabetes. The point of the wellness visit is to allow us to detect problems early while they are still relatively easy to treat. 

The “Medicare Wellness Visit”

For people on Medicare, which generally starts at age 65, there is a specific type of wellness visit. Medicare calls this visit an “Annual Wellness Visit” (AWV). It is very similar to our wellness visit. The AWV is also a preventive visit. During the AWV, we’ll discuss vaccines and do appropriate screenings for vision, hearing, fall risk, depression, and dementia, among others.

An ounce of prevention . . .

There has been some debate over whether regular wellness visits are necessary, but we feel they are extremely important. You know the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That is what these wellness visits are all about. We know that if we detect problems early, we have a much better chance of preventing them from getting worse or curing them altogether. Prevention is so much simpler, less complicated, cheaper, safer, less painful and more comfortable for you than waiting until problems require more care. So we welcome you to get a wellness visit at Aspen. Our goal is to help you live as long and healthy a life as possible.

Seasonal Allergies

What is an allergy?

An allergy is the body’s overreaction to substances that do not cause a reaction in someone who is not allergic. These substances are called allergens. There are many different types of allergens including mold, animal dander, dust, certain foods, as well as pollen from trees, grass, and weeds. These allergens cause the release of histamine in susceptible individuals which leads to allergy symptoms.

What are seasonal allergies?

An allergic reaction to pollen or mold spores is a seasonal allergy. An allergy to pollen is sometimes called “hay fever.” Seasonal allergies will affect people at the time of year when certain pollens are at their highest levels. The most common times of year for seasonal allergies are in spring, summer, and fall.

Juniper allergy in New Mexico

Seasonal allergies are a common problem in many parts of the world and New Mexico is no exception. One of the most common seasonal allergies in New Mexico is the juniper allergy. Twenty to 30 percent of the population is allergic to juniper. Junipers are coniferous plants of the cypress family. Only the male juniper plants produce allergenic pollen. The female plants are fertilized by the male plants and produce berries but not allergies. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, juniper allergy seems to affect people starting in February and can last through March and into April. Other allergies common to the Santa Fe area include allergies to mulberry or pig weed, cedar and chamisa.

Symptoms of allergies

Allergy symptoms vary depending on the severity of your allergies. Common allergy symptoms include:

  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • itching (especially the eyes, nose, mouth, throat, or skin)
  • runny nose or post-nasal drip
  • congestion (stuffy nose)
  • headache
  • pressure in the face (e.g. nose or cheeks)
  • watery, red, or swollen eyes
  • dark circles under the eyes
  • sore throat
  • feeling of ear fullness or ears popping
  • hives
  • difficulty smelling

Allergic reactions can also trigger an asthma attack in susceptible individuals. If you think you have allergies and your symptoms are interfering with your life, consider seeing a health care provider to discuss possible allergy medication and treatments.

What can be done to prevent or avoid allergies?

There are measures you can take to minimize or try to prevent exposure to things you are allergic to such as:

  • Keeping windows closed during high-pollen seasons
  • Wash hands after petting animals
  • Using dust and mite-proof bedding and mattress covers
  • Showering before bed to wash off allergens from hair or skin
  • Regularly washing bedding and vacuuming your home

Allergy Treatments

There are several allergy medications that can be used to treat allergy symptoms. These include:

  • Antihistamines help reduce sneezing, runny nose, and itching. These come in pill form as well as nasal sprays and some medications require a prescription.
  • Decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine relieve the stuffy nose of allergies. Decongestants come in pill form or as a nasal spray. Decongestant nasal sprays are available over the counter but should not be used for more than 3 days in a row as chronic use can cause rebound congestion that makes you even more congested after you stop using them. Using decongestants, particularly in pill form, can raise your blood pressure so you should ask your health care provider before using this type of medication.
  • Nasal steroid sprays are one of the most effective treatments for seasonal allergies. They reduce the reaction in the nasal tissues to inhaled allergens. Some nasal steroids are now available over the counter. You will have to use the nasal spray for 1-2 weeks before getting the full benefit.
  • Eye drops help improve symptoms of irritated, watery, itchy eyes. Some of these medicines are available over the counter and others require a prescription.
  • Allergy shots (also called immunotherapy) are an option for people who try other treatments but continue to have bothersome allergy symptoms. These shots include small amounts of allergen so that your body gradually gets used to the allergen. Over time, your allergy symptoms become less severe.
  • Complementary treatments such as acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine help control some people’s allergies. They can be particularly helpful for certain symptoms of allergies such as nasal congestion and allergy headaches. If you are interested in acupuncture, come to Aspen Wellness!

At Aspen Medical Center, we provide consultations for allergies as well. We can prescribe allergy medications and if necessary, we can provide allergy specialist referrals. If you are suffering from allergies, come in and see us today!

Andrew Ropp, MD

Medical Director

What is Primary Care?

What is Primary Care?

Primary care is the backbone of a well-functioning, efficient healthcare system. Primary care providers (PCP’s) can be physicians, physician’s assistants, and/or nurse practitioners who treat adults and children of all ages for their general healthcare needs. Usually the primary care provider (PCP) is the first contact and principal point of continuing care for patients. The PCP also coordinates specialist care that the patient may need. Primary care results in better health outcomes, reduced health disparities and lower spending, by avoiding unnecessary emergency room visits and hospital care. PCP’s, acting as guides for your health, are an important component in ensuring that the healthcare system as a whole is sustainable.

Outpatient primary care services include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Chronic disease management (e.g. diabetes, asthma, COPD, depression, anxiety, hypertension, back pain, arthritis, thyroid dysfunction, etc.)
  • Comprehensive annual wellness visits and physical exams
  • Routine and same-day care for all ages
  • Pap smears
  • Family Planning
  • Immunizations
  • Care coordination
  • Weight management
  • Tobacco cessation
  • Cancer screening
  • Referrals to specialists
  • Laboratory tests

Continuity is a key characteristic of primary care, as patients usually prefer to consult the same practitioner for routine check-ups and preventive care, health education, and every time they require an initial consultation about a new health problem. It is generally recommended to follow up with your PCP at least once a year. PCP’s are like air traffic controllers who can help manage and coordinate care, especially for people with multiple complex medical problems. Therefore, it is always important to follow up with your PCP anytime there is lab work or other studies done, if/when you need medication refills, after seeing a specialist, after an illness or injury, or certainly if there is a major health event in your life such as a hospitalization or surgery. Your PCP needs to remain informed about your health status.

If you do not have your own PCP, Aspen Medical Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico is still taking some new primary care patients on a limited basis. We are always available for your urgent care needs (please see the previous blog for a discussion of urgent care). At Aspen Medical Center, we are here to help you get and stay as healthy as possible.

Andrew Ropp, MD

Medical Director

Gratitude

Gratitude

It’s time to celebrate Thanksgiving. This is not only a time when we get together with family and friends and eat lots of delicious food, but it is also a time to give thanks and be grateful.

Gratitude, from the Latin gratus, meaning “pleasing or grateful,” is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness, as well as better physical and mental health. There has actually been a great deal of research done on the effects of gratitude and the list of its benefits is almost endless. Perhaps this would be a good time to review some of the benefits of gratitude and to consider some advice on how to practice gratitude in daily life.

Studies show the following benefits of gratitude:

  • Gratitude improves happiness
  • Gratitude improves sleep quality
  • Gratitude improves self-esteem
  • Gratitude leads to more helpfulness and empathy
  • Gratitude improves resilience
  • Practicing gratitude makes you more optimistic and helps you feel better about your life
  • Grateful people are more hopeful and healthier
  • Gratitude improves relationships
  • Gratitude boosts the immune system

Gratitude helps us focus on what we have instead of what we lack. The practice of gratitude does not come easily to everyone and sometimes it is difficult to feel grateful but it is a feeling that can be developed. Here are some ways to cultivate gratitude:

  • Write a thank-you note. Help make yourself and another person happy too by writing a thank you note to someone who had a positive impact on your life.
  • Thank someone mentally. If you are too busy to write a note, just think of someone who did something nice and thank them in your mind.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. One way to bring more of the positive effects of gratitude into your life is to keep a gratitude journal. Write down three things that you are grateful for before you go to bed.
  • Count your blessings. Counting blessings is something that can be done either in writing or just in your head. Listing all the good things in your life and all the ways you are fortunate can be an effective way to experience thepleasant feeling of gratitude.
  • Pray. If you are religious, giving thanks through prayer is a way to cultivate gratitude.
  • Meditate. Meditation is a way to practice awareness of the present moment and bring more peace and balance into one’s life. Gratitude can be an object of meditation by focusing on what you’re grateful for. Make gratitude a habit!

Andrew Ropp, MD

Medical Director

What is urgent care?

What is urgent care?

Urgent care is medical care for an urgent problem that is not life threatening. Examples of life-threatening emergencies include a heart attack or a serious head injury. These require a visit to the Emergency Room (ER). Urgent Care centers such as such as ours, Aspen Medical Center in Santa Fe and Aspen Urgent Care in Espanola, New Mexico, are setup to assist patients with an illness or injury that does not appear to be life–threatening, but also can’t wait until the next day.


When faced with a medical problem that requires immediate care, it is sometimes difficult to determine if it is truly an emergency, or if it is an urgent care issue.

What is considered an emergency?

Urgent care is not a substitute for emergency care. In general, an emergency medical condition is one that can quickly endanger the life or limb of an individual.

Some examples of conditions requiring a visit to the ER include:

  • Compound or open fracture (bone protruding through skin)

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Fever in a newborn (less than 1 month old)

  • Heavy, uncontrollable bleeding

  • Extensive or severe burns

  • Severe abdominal pain

  • Severe chest pain or difficulty breathing

  • Signs of a heart attack (e.g. chest pain lasting longer than two minutes, possibly associated with shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, and/or pain radiating into the arm or jaw)

  • Signs of a stroke (e.g. sudden numbness, loss of vision, one-sided weakness, slurred speech, or confusion)

Dial 911 without delay for any medical problem that appears to be immediately life-threatening.

ER visits are necessary for true emergencies, such as chest pain that is potentially a heart attack and severe injuries. Minor injuries and illnesses can be evaluated by our urgent care providers.

What conditions are appropriate to treat at an urgent care center?

Urgent health concerns are not considered emergencies but still benefit from prompt evaluation and treatment. Some examples of such conditions include:

  • Accidents and falls

  • Cuts that might require stitches

  • Breathing difficulties (e.g. mild to moderate asthma)

  • Eye irritation and redness

  • Earaches

  • Allergies

  • Fever or flu-like symptoms

  • Sprains, strains, and minor broken bones and fractures

  • Moderate back problems

  • Sore throat or cough

  • Skin rashes and infections

  • Urinary tract infections

  • STD testing

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea

The average cost of an ER visit is $2,250 according to insurer Cigna. In contrast, urgent care visits average $170. If one has an urgent care need, it is reasonable to visit an urgent care center first. However, if you are uncertain, it is always best to err on the side of caution and visit the ER if you think you might have a true emergency medical condition.

Aspen Medical Center here in Santa Fe and Aspen Urgent Care in Espanola, New Mexico provide urgent care services seven days a week. Aspen Medical Center is certified by the Urgent Care Association of America. We have x-ray and laboratory services on site. Our commitment to compassionate and convenient patient care ensure that patients with urgent medical needs receive the best medical expertise days, nights, weekends and most holidays.

Andrew Ropp, MD

Medical Director

Protect Yourself from the Heat

Protect Yourself from the Heat

According the Nature Conservancy, “More than 95 percent of New Mexico has experienced mean temperature increases over the last 30 years.” July is generally the hottest month of the year in Santa Fe with average daily high temperatures of 86°F. At this time of year, the risks of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke, are increased.

What are heat exhaustion and heatstroke?
Heat exhaustion occurs when your body gets too hot. If heat exhaustion goes untreated, it can lead to heatstroke. This happens when your internal body temperature reaches at least 104°F. Heatstroke is much more serious than heat exhaustion. Heatstroke can lead to shock, organ failure, or brain damage. In extreme cases, you can die from heatstroke.

What are the symptoms of heat exhaustion?
The symptoms of heat exhaustion include muscle cramps, heavy sweating, pale or cool skin, weakness and/or confusion, dizziness, headache, nausea +/- vomiting, rapid heart rate, and dark-colored urine which is indicative of dehydration.

What are the symptoms of heatstroke?
In addition to the symptoms of heat exhaustion listed above (with the exception of heavy sweating and pale or cold skin), warning signs of heatstroke include fever with a temperature of 104°F or higher, red or flushed skin, lack of sweating, trouble breathing or shortness of breath, fainting, and seizures.

How does a person get heat exhaustion or heatstroke?
Heat-related illnesses occur when a person is not able to keep him or herself cool. The main causes of heat exhaustion and heatstroke are hot weather and exercise. Your risk of heat-related illnesses is increased by prolonged exposure to high temperatures.

How can we prevent or avoid heat-related illnesses?
During hot weather, it is important to try to keep cool. This is especially true for babies, children, and the elderly who are more sensitive to the heat. If you are ill, overweight/obese, or have heart disease, you are also at greater risk. People who work outside or in hot settings are also at greater risk of heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

Try not to go outside when it is very hot. If you must go outside, wear light-colored, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Wear a hat or use an umbrella to protect yourself from the sun. Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher here in Santa Fe and surrounding areas. Drink plenty of water. If you are in a hot environment, drink water or other fluids every 15 to 20 minutes, even if you are not thirsty. If your urine is clear or light-colored, you are probably drinking enough water. If your urine is dark-colored, it may be a sign of dehydration. Try to limit or avoid drinks that contain caffeine (tea, coffee, soda, etc.) or alcohol. Avoid spending too much time outside between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m if possible. Take frequent breaks from the heat/sun and outdoor activities. Do not stay or leave a child in a parked car when it is hot outside. (If there is any danger of forgetting a child in a hot car, you can use the trick of leaving your left shoe in the back seat with the child.)

What do you do if you or someone you know has heat exhaustion or heatstroke?
If you suspect you are getting too hot, get out of the sun/heat into a cooler environment even if it is just into the shade. Lie down and elevate your legs to improve blood flow to the brain. Take off any heavy or tight-fitting clothing if possible. Apply cool wet towels to the skin or take a cool bath to help cool your body temperature. Drink fluids (water or a sports drink). Take frequent sips; do not guzzle. Avoid caffeine or alcohol.

When to call 911:

If someone is displaying the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion or heatstroke listed above, take their temperature. If the temperature is 104°F or more, call 911 and seek medical help immediately. If after trying to help someone cool down, symptoms do not improve or temperature is 102°F or higher after 30 minutes of treatment, call 911. If the person faints or has seizures, call 911. If the person stops breathing, call 911 and start CPR.

Just remember to stay hydrated and do your best to keep cool this summer!

Low Back Pain

Most people will not make it through life without suffering from back pain at some point in time. Back pain can occur in different areas of the back, but low back pain is particularly common. More than 30% of U.S. adults report having had low back pain within the previous three months. Most episodes of back pain will improve within 6 weeks or less, but some people develop chronic low back pain (low back pain lasting more than three months).

There are many different potential causes of low back pain but it can generally be prevented by learning how to improve your posture as well as proper techniques for lifting and exercising.

Sometimes back pain can be serious. Contact your doctor immediately or come to Aspen Medical Center to be evaluated if:

  • Pain goes down your leg below your knee
  • Your leg, foot, groin or rectal area feels numb
  • You have fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, weakness or sweating
  • You lose control over your ability go to the bathroom (to urinate or defecate)
  • Your pain was caused by an injury
  • Your pain is so intense you can’t move around

What causes low back pain? A muscle strain or spasm, sprains of ligaments (which attach bone to bone), joint problems or a “slipped disk” can all cause low back pain. A common cause of low back pain is using your back muscles in activities you’re not used to, such as lifting heavy furniture or doing yard work. Unexpected events such as falling or a being involved in a car accident can also cause low back pain.

A slipped (also called a herniated) disk happens when a disk between the vertebrae (or bones of the spine) bulges and presses on a nerve coming out of the spinal cord. Sometimes people who have a slipped disk don’t know what caused it or sometimes it comes from an activity such as lifting while twisting. Most of the time, slipped disks and other low back pain can be relieved by following a few simple methods.

Back pain can generally be treated with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Gentle stretches or exercises such as yoga can be helpful as well. Using a heating pad for 20 or 30 minutes can help with painful muscle spasms. Ice packs and massage can also be helpful. Weight loss is another way to help improve low back pain over time.

For chronic low back pain, acupuncture has been shown to be a helpful treatment. Multiple studies have shown acupuncture provides significant pain relief in people with chronic low back pain. The Joint Commission, an independent non-profit organization that accredits and certifies 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, recommends acupuncture as an treatment option for pain management. We offer low-cost acupuncture at Aspen Wellness (https://aspenwellness.care, phone: 505-466-5887). Often multiple or ongoing treatments are necessary to improve and maintain some level of pain relief. Acupunctureis a safe and healthy alternative to other treatments like narcotic painkillers which have multiple risks but are sometimes used for chronic low back pain. 

Journey to Nepal

I recently had the pleasure and privilege of working again with Himalayan HealthCare (HHC), www.himalayanhealthcare.org. HHC is a non-profit organization that has been working in Nepal for 25 years now. Their mission as stated on their website is “to create sustainable development programs in the remote areas of Nepal that will improve the quality of life for its people. Himalayan HealthCare achieves its mission by providing primary healthcare, community education, and income generation programs that enable people to be self-supporting in the long-term.” Founder, Anil Parajuli, and his wife Soni, and their wonderful family, are inspirational and a joy to work with.

 

My wife, Rachel, an acupuncturist, and our son and I were part of a team of seven international volunteers on the recent Spring 2017 Medical Service Trek. There was also a Nepali doctor, Dr. Trishna Chand Thakur, on the trek. The trek lasted for twelve days and we trekked to two villages, Shertung, and Lapa, and set up clinics there for a total of 5 days, treating hundreds of patients.

Nepal is still recovering from the devastating earthquake that occurred at 11:56 am local time on April 25, 2015 with a magnitude of 7.8 to 8.1 on the Richter scale. The earthquake killed 9000 people and injured another 22,000. The death toll likely would have been much higher except that it occurred in the middle of the day when many people were out of their homes. It triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest killing 21 people there making it the deadliest day on the mountain in history. About three and a half million people were made homeless. In the villages we visited, 80% of the homes were destroyed
or made uninhabitable by the earthquake.
After the earthquake, there were multiple aftershocks as well, one of which killed at least another 200 people. There was an estimated $10 billion in damage done by the earthquake which is about 50% of Nepal’s nominal GDP. Needless to say, this has had an enormousimpact on the people of Nepal and two years later, recovery is still underway.

There was much evidence of infrastructure development and there are actually plans to build roads into the villages we visited which will make trekking there obsolete. Himalayan HealthCare has done over 65 Medical-Dental treks since 1992. HHC is involved in the rebuilding effort and over the years has built schools and libraries, served over 180,000 patients so far, improved sanitation, and contributed to education with literacy classes and scholarships for college students from these impoverished communities. There is a documentary on their work titled Hearts in the Himalayas, viewable on Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahAH9uyzq9g

On our trek, we treated patients with a range of medical problems, everything from hypertension and back pain to congestive heart failure and seizures. People were very appreciative and kind. I was struck by the resiliency, joy, and strength of these people who live in very remote mountainous areas. If you are looking for a charity to contribute to, I strongly encourage you donate to Himalayan HealthCare. Or if you are in the medical or dental fields, please consider joining a trek while they are still happening. HHC qualifies as a 501(c)(3) organization so donations are tax deductible. I can guarantee you that your money will be put to good use, as I have witnessed their work myself.

Get out and exercise

Get out and Exercise!

Regular exercise is one of the keys to living a healthy life. Living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, we are blessed with 300 sunny days per year. Although it can get cold at times in the winter, there are opportunities to stay physically active, whether indoors or outdoors, year-round.

There are multiple benefits to exercise. I have often joked that if I could put all the benefits of exercise into a pill and sell that pill, I would become an instant multi-millionaire! Unfortunately, at this time, no such pill has been developed so you actually need to get up off the couch and move your body to get the benefits.

What are these benefits? According to the CDC, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,

physical activity can help:
Control Your Weight.
Reduce Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease.
Reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome.
Reduce Your Risk of Some Cancers.
Strengthen Your Bones and Muscles.
Improve Your Mental Health and Mood.
Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult
Increase your chances of living longer
See this link for more details: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/

What kind of exercise is right for you? That is a complicated question. If you have any concerns about possible heart disease or a heart problem, you should consult your doctor or health care provider before starting any rigorous exercise program. If you like, call Aspen Medical Center Urgent Care & Primary Care for an appointment or just walk in.

I suggest finding some type of exercise you enjoy. Walking, for many people, is an easy and accessible form of exercise. I walk to work everyday. One common recommendation is to try to get 10,000 steps a day. There are many apps and devices to help achieve this goal or the goal can be individualized. You can join the Aspen Wellness Walkers, sponsored by Aspen Wellness, our acupuncture clinic and wellness center. We usually sponsor a walk somewhere in Santa Fe every weekend. For more information, go to https://www.meetup.com/Aspen-Wellness-Walkers/

Other types of exercise include rock climbing, hiking, swimming, biking, skiing, and jogging. Some people like to dance. Others play sports such as basketball, soccer, pickle ball, volleyball, softball, or tennis. Others like yoga, Tai Chi, or Zumba. I believe there is an appropriate exercise for everyone. All you have to do is start. Ideally try to work up to an average of at least 30 active minutes (e.g brisk walking) 5 days a week. This can do wonders for your mood and your overall health. Good luck!

Seven ways to stay healthy during cold and flu season

During the colder months of the year (which in Santa Fe, New Mexico is generally from October to April or even May), there are many upper respiratory viruses circulating that can cause colds and flu-like illnesses. This leads to missed work, doctor’s visits, and generally not feeling well—it is no fun to be sick. In the worst case scenario, influenza, or the flu, can lead to hospitalization and every year some people even die of influenza. These viruses are very contagious so when you get sick, you can expose others and make them sick as well. Although there are possible treatments for influenza (the flu), there is no cure for the common cold. Therefore, prevention is key. Here are 7 ways to improve your chances of staying healthy during cold and flu season:

1. Wash your hands. It is very important to wash your hands frequently. Wet your hands, use soap to create a lather, and then rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds; then rinse and dry. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails. This is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs and decrease your chances of getting sick.

2. Get regular exercise. It is important to get regular exercise to help your body stay healthy and to maintain a strong immune system. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends aerobic exercise. Most healthy adults should get 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week, or a combination of the two. Exercise helps the body function more efficiently and helps the immune system fight off potential illnesses.

3. Drink water. Our bodies are more than 50% water. In order to stay healthy, it is important to keep hydrated. Drink plenty of water everyday. One common recommendation, the “8×8 rule,” is to drink 8 eight-ounce glasses of water a day.

4. Get adequate sleep. If you want to stay healthy, it is important to get adequate sleep every night. When you don’t get enough rest and get “run down,” it can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to illness. Adults vary in how much sleep they need, but most of us need 7 to 9 hours a night. Children and adolescents need more sleep.

5. Get your flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get the flu shot every year, ideally before the end of October. However, getting the flu shot later in the season is okay too. In New Mexico, the flu season can last until May. The flu shot helps decrease your risk of getting the flu. It will also protect your loved ones from exposure to the flu. At Aspen Medical Center, we offer flu shots every year.

6. Eat healthy. In order to maintain an optimally functioning immune system, it is also important to eat a healthy diet. There are many different dietary recommendations out there, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid junk food (sodas, chips, candy, pre-packaged food and fast food), and eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, in addition to whole grains, and healthy fats (e.g olive oil) and protein (eggs, fish, legumes, nuts, and lean meats).

7. Minimize your stress level. The immune system can be affected by stress. Some stress is inevitable, but intense prolonged stress can lead to sickness. It is important to find healthy means of coping with stress such as relaxation or calming exercises. Prayer, meditation, journaling, or talking with friends, family, or a counselor are all ways to help deal with stress. Acupuncture and massage also help alleviate the negative affects of stress. If you have anxiety, depression, or other condition that interferes with your normal functioning, then seek out a mental health practitioner or medical provider.

The 100 Mile Challenge Has Begun!

April 4th – July 12th

Week 4 – Next Group Walk – Fort Marcy Park

Next Group Walk – Fort Marcy Park – Sunday, April 25th 8:30am (Click here for info)

Don’t worry, it is not too late to register! Whether you consider yourself a couch potato or a fitness expert…

…Imagine yourself doing something BIG this year to improve your body, brain, mood, and overall health. Imagine a bunch of other people in your community joining you in this endeavor and how the group motivation will help propel all of you to your goals. Imagine a big party to celebrate your achievement! Aspen Wellness invites you to join the 100 Mile Challenge – a challenge to walk, jog, or run 100 miles within a hundred days. People of all ages and levels of fitness are welcome to join.

Your Registration Includes

As a member of the 100 Mile Challenge you will receive a chart to log your miles, a list of great walking paths, a totebag, a t-shirt, a pedometer, and a 50% off coupon for an acupuncture treatment at Aspen Wellness. You will be invited to weekly walks in a variety of places around Santa Fe. You will have the option of receiving motivational emails with health and fitness tips. And finally, when our 100 days are up, we’ll have a party to celebrate our efforts and achievements. Join now and please forward this link to anyone you want to join you in the first annual 100 Mile Challenge!

*How can I reach the 100 Mile goal?

Customizing Your Challenge

You can join our weekend group walks, or just walk in your own neighborhood, on your own schedule.  You can customize the 100 Mile Challenge to suit your own needs and goals. You may not be able to walk one mile per day but would rather walk several miles during the week or on the weekend. You may want to swim, bike, or Zumba your way to the hundred miles. You may want to double the challenge or even triple the challenge. It’s all about getting active, setting a goal, and enjoying the camaraderie of others. Let’s challenge ourselves and let’s have fun!

Build a healthy habit
Get in better shape or lose some weight
Learn about the many great places to walk or run in Santa Fe
Make friends!
Registration Fees:

The 100 Mile Challenge began April 4th. Late registrations will be accepted anytime during the challenge. However, t-shirts are only guaranteed to those who register by May 1st.

Adults – $20 Children under 17 – $10

Click here for online Registration Form (You can also register in person at Aspen Medical Center or Aspen Wellness)

Take the 100 MILE CHALLENGE! April 4th – July 12th, 2015

Presented by Aspen Wellness

KICKOFF – Saturday, April 4th 9:00am

Click here for more information

Whether you consider yourself a couch potato or a fitness expert…

…Imagine yourself doing something BIG this year to improve your body, brain, mood, and overall health. Imagine a bunch of other people in your community joining you in this endeavor and how the group motivation will help propel all of you to your goals. Imagine a big party to celebrate your achievement! Aspen Wellness invites you to join the 100 Mile Challenge – a challenge to walk, jog, or run 100 miles within a hundred days. People of all ages and levels of fitness are welcome to join.

Your Registration Includes

As a member of the 100 Mile Challenge you will receive a chart to log your miles, a list of great walking paths, a totebag, a t-shirt, and a 50% off coupon for an acupuncture treatment at Aspen Wellness. You will be invited to weekly walks in a variety of places around Santa Fe. You will have the option of receiving motivational emails with health and fitness tips. And finally, when our 100 days are up, we’ll have a party to celebrate our efforts and achievements. Join now and please forward this link to anyone you want to join you in the first annual 100 Mile Challenge!

Customizing Your Challenge

You can customize the 100 Mile Challenge to suit your own needs and goals. You may not be able to walk one mile per day but would rather walk several miles during the week or on the weekend. You may want to swim, bike, or Zumba your way to the hundred miles.  You may want to double the challenge or even triple it if you are ambitious. It’s all about getting active, setting a goal, and enjoying the camaraderie of others. Let’s challenge ourselves and let’s have fun!

  • Build a healthy habit
  • Get in better shape or lose some weight
  • Learn about the many great places to walk or run in Santa Fe
  • Make friends!

Registration Fees:

The 100 mile Challenge will officially begin April 4th. Late registrations will be accepted anytime during the challenge. However, t-shirts are only guaranteed to those who register by May 15th.

Adults – $20   Children under 17 – $10

Click here for online Registration Form (You can also register in person at Aspen Medical Center or Aspen Wellness)

Introducing Aspen Wellness!

ASPEN-WellnessLOGFinal9-14 (3)

At the end of 2014, Aspen Medical Center expanded its mission of offering top quality urgent care and primary care by opening a complementary and alternative healthcare center. Aspen Wellness is located right beside Aspen Medical Center.  Acupuncture treatments are just $25 per session and both appointments and walk-ins are welcome.  Chinese herbs, bodywork, and a wide range of energywork and alternative healing modalities are also available. Aspen’s focus is on the prevention of disease and the promotion of health and wellbeing. With that in mind, Aspen Wellness offers a weekly Qi Gong class (Wednesdays from 4:00-5:00) and a walking club.  Classes on nutritious cooking, stretches for back pain, and the Aspen Wellness 100 Mile Club are currently being developed. 

What can acupuncture treat?

Try acupuncture for pain of any kind, stress, depression, anxiety, allergies, digestive issues, weight loss and more. For a more comprehensive list of conditions and information about other healthcare services and programs, visit the Aspen Wellness website at http://www.aspenwellness.care .

Call Aspen Wellness for an appointment or just walk in. The hours are 10am-2pm Monday through Thursday. Additional hours are available by appointment. Call 505-466-5887 to schedule.

Aspen Medical Center & Aspen Wellness…we’ve got you covered!

Skin Cancer Prevention

urgent-care-santa-fe-skin-cancer-preventionSkin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with more than 3.5 million cases being diagnosed annually.

According to the Skin Care Foundation, one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point in their lives.

The most common form of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma, followed by squamous cell carcinoma. Malignant melanoma is less common but more deadly.

The incidence of melanoma appears to be increasing with an estimated 76,690 new cases in 2013. There are other less common types of skin cancer as well.

The most important risk factor for the three types of skin cancer mentioned above is sunlight which is a source of ultraviolet radiation.

There is ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. Both types of UV radiation can damage the skin and lead to wrinkles, skin cancer, and other skin problems.

Other risk factors for skin cancer include severe blistering sunburns, lifetime sun exposure, and tanning. Being in the sun too often and for too long can lead to skin cancer even if you don’t burn.

So, how do we prevent skin cancer? The best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect yourself from the sun. Try to avoid outdoor activities between 10am and 4pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest. If you have to be outside, seek shade.

And remember that clouds and water don’t protect you. Sixty to 80% of the sun’s rays go through clouds and can reach swimmers at least one foot below the surface of the water.

The sun’s radiation can also reflect off water, snow, and white sand. Snow reflects 85% of UV radiation. Continue reading

GRAND OPENING EVENT!

Hey Wonderful Santa Fe!

Come join us THIS SATURDAY (4/6) for our Grand Opening Event!

We’re going to have some delicious food, awesome gift certificates, and excellent music provided by Mr. Limn. (check him out online! https://soundcloud.com/mrlimn)

Aspen Medical Center is dedicated to serving the Santa Fe community with top-notch Urgent Care and Primary Care as well as ensuring a great time at this Grand Opening Event!

Be sure to get you and your friends here early to get your name in the hat for the gift certificate drawing!

See you this weekend!

Dr Ropp Working with Himalayan Healthcare

gearing-up-medical-service-trip-himalayas

In March and April of 2012, I had the pleasure of working with Himalayan Healthcare.  They are an amazing non-profit organization helping poor villagers in the mountains of Nepal since 1992.  Co-founded by Anil Parajuli, they provide  medical care, education, and income generating opportunities to the rural people of Nepal.

Twice a year, they lead volunteer medical treks into the beautiful mountains of the Ganesh Himal.  Our trek lasted ten days and we trekked through snow, rain, mud, fog, and over two mountain passes, the highest of which was 13,000 feet above sea level.  We visited two remote villages along the way where we planted trees, met with villagers, and set up medical clinics where we treated hundreds of people with otherwise little or no regular access to healthcare.  It was an awesome experience.  The people were incredibly hospitable and appreciative, the scenery was incredible, and I made friendships that I hope will last a lifetime.

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Join Dr Ropp at Hearts in the Himalayas: A Documentary

Date: 3/12/2013    Event Location: Santa Fe REI     Event Fee: Free     Time: 6:00 – 7:30 PM MDT

 

Description: Join Himalayan Healthcare for a special screening of Hearts in the Himalayas. This award-winning documentary showcases their volunteer work over a two year period providing medical care to rural villagers in the mountainous regions of Nepal.

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Caring For The World Films announced today its film Hearts In The Himalayas has won a prestigious Award of Merit in the Women Filmmaker category from the Best Shorts Competition. The award was given for director Debi Lang’s compelling humanitarian documentary Hearts In The Himalayas which profiles the extraordinary work of Nepalese NGO Himalayan HealthCare, a driven and dedicated volunteer organization that provides medical care, education, and income generation opportunities to the people of rural Nepal.

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Seasonal Allergies

Overview and Allergy Symptoms

Chamisa, Mulberry, Pig Weed, Cedar and Juniper Allergies

allergies

An allergy is the body’s overreaction to substances that do not cause a reaction in someone who is not allergic.  These substances are called allergens.  There are many different types of allergens including mold, animal dander, dust, pollen from trees, grass, and weeds like chamisa, mulberry, pig weed, cedar and juniper.

An allergic reaction to pollen is a seasonal allergy and can be called hay fever or allergic rhinitis.  Allergy symptoms include runny nose, itching, and nasal congestion.  Seasonal allergies will affect people at the time of year when certain pollens are at their highest levels.

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Seasonal Flu or Influenza Symptoms and Treatment

Influenza or “the flu” is a contagious viral respiratory infection.  It is spread from person to person and can cause mild to severe symptoms.  Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly and often include:  fever over 102°F, stuffy nose, nausea, chills and sweats, fatigue, muscle aches, cough, headache, and loss of appetite.  Flu symptoms usually last for one to two weeks.

Coughs are one of the most common symptoms of childhood illness and should not be confused with the flu. Although a cough can sound awful, it’s not usually a sign of a serious condition as long as they do not “whoop” after prolonged episodes of coughing or having fits of coughing that are so severe that they can’t stop to catch their breath. Continue reading