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Advancing Care - September 2022



That ache in your belly: Is it a hernia?

You spent the weekend moving and lifting heavy boxes, and now your abdomen hurts. Could that pain in your belly or groin be a sign of a hernia? Yale New Haven Health surgeons describe the signs and symptoms and share details about a free screening on Oct. 15 if you think you have a hernia. 

A hernia is when an organ pushes through a weak spot in body tissue. It can develop between the muscles of the abdominal wall, the groin or the diaphragm causing a noticeable bulge along with pain – and it can be dangerous. Experts at Yale New Haven say that a hernia can lead to an obstruction or infection that requires emergency surgery. 

Symptoms of hernia may include:

  • A bulge or lump you can see or feel in the abdomen or groin
  • Bulge that is more noticeable or uncomfortable at the end of a long day, when you have been on your feet
  • Aching pain or a feeling of pressure in the area
  • A tugging sensation in the groin 
  • Pain or discomfort that gets worse with activities that put a strain on the abdomen, such as lifting, pushing, running, coughing or bearing down during bowel movements 
  • Discomfort with large meals and a feeling of being full very easily 
  • Acid reflux or heartburn 

It is important to call your doctor if you suspect you have a hernia. Wait too long and you could face a trip to the emergency room. A doctor typically can see or feel a bulge from a hernia during a physical exam, but some cases might require a CT scan, ultrasound or other imaging to diagnose the condition accurately.

If you think you have a hernia, YNHH is sponsoring a free screening session Saturday, Oct. 15 from 9 am – noon at Shoreline Medical Center, 111 Goose Lane, Guilford. Walk-ins are welcome; however, advance registration is recommended by calling 888-700-6543 or scheduling an appointment online. YNHH surgeons will conduct evaluations. Staff can schedule follow-up care if needed. 

The screening features interactive demonstrations of the hospital’s advanced da Vinci surgical robot, which surgeons use to perform same-day, minimally invasive hernia surgery. Last year, doctors at YNHH’s Shoreline Medical Center in Guilford performed the state’s first robotic hernia repair using the da Vinci Xi in an outpatient ambulatory setting. Surgeons performed the successful procedure in under two hours.

“The da Vinci Xi robot is the very latest and best available technology. It has opened new doors and given our Digestive Health team and patients new treatment options for even complex hernia repairs,” said Andrew Duffy, MD, medical director of YNHH’s Hernia Program, who also serves as associate surgical chief of Digestive Health for Yale New Haven Health and associate professor of surgery at Yale School of Medicine. “To actually have this technology here at Shoreline Medical Center allows us to do these types of operations and procedures that we would normally do in a regular hospital setting.”

Advantages of robotic surgery include three-dimensional images of the inside of the abdomen (as opposed to the two-dimensional in laparoscopic surgery), smaller scars and less pain. After the procedure, the surgeon closes the small abdominal incisions with a stitch or two or with surgical tape.

“Robotic surgery for hernia repair provides our patients a much faster, greatly improved recovery period,” Dr. Duffy said. “Patients can return to work and get back to recreational activities sooner with a lot less pain when compared to open surgery."

Yale New Haven Hospital offers comprehensive digestive health services to diagnose, treat and help people manage a wide range of gastrointestinal symptoms and conditions, including all kinds of hernias. For more information about YNHH’s Hernia Program, call 877-925-3637.


Preventing falls: Make your home a safer place  

As you get older, physical changes and health conditions – and sometimes the medications used to treat those conditions – make falls more likely. In fact, falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults.

Fractures of the wrist, shoulder and/or pelvis can have a devastating effect on independence. Falls are the cause of most broken hips, and only half of those who break their hip say that they get around as well as they did before their injury. 

Take a few easy steps to prevent falls at home:

  • Begin an exercise program. Ask your doctor about the best exercises for you. Walking, for example, can improve balance, coordination and muscle strength. 
  • Have your healthcare provider or pharmacist review your medications. Some prescription and over-the-counter medications may interact with others to make you dizzy or sleepy.
  • Have your vision checked at least once a year. Glaucoma or cataracts can increase your risk of falling.

Here are a few steps to make your home safer: 

  • Create a clear walking path through rooms. Ask someone to move the furniture so you don’t have to walk around it. 
  • Remove throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep them in place.
  • Reduce clutter. Don’t leave things on the floor or stairs because they become trip hazards.
  • Secure power cords for appliances, lighting and electronic devices next to the wall. If needed, have an electrician put in another outlet. 
  • Avoid using step stools. Keep items you use the most in a low cabinet so you can reach them easily. If you must use a step stool, get one with a hand grip. Never use a chair as a step stool.
  • In the bathroom, install grab bars near your toilet and in your tub or shower. Use nonslip mats in bathtubs and showers.
  • Improve the lighting in your home:
    • Put in brighter light bulbs.
    • Install an overhead light at the top and bottom of the stairs, along with light switches in both locations.
    • Use a nightlight so you can see the path from your bed to the bathroom. 
  • Install handrails on all staircases. Fix loose or uneven steps. 
  • Paint the top edge of each step with a contrasting color. It will help you see the stairs better. For example, use a light color of paint on dark wood. 
  • Keep your home at a comfortable temperature. Extreme heat or cold can make you dizzy and unsteady on your feet.
  • Get up slowly after you sit or lie down.
  • Wear supportive shoes when you are inside as well as outside. Choose shoes that fit snugly and have no-slip soles and a flat or low, wide heel. Avoid going barefoot. Don’t wear slippers, flip-flops, backless shoes, high heels or shoes with smooth leather soles. 
  • Write emergency numbers in large print and keep them near each phone.
  • Put a phone near the floor in case you fall and can’t get up. 
  • Wear a personal safety alarm.


“News & Knowledge” at your fingertips 

From prevention and innovation to families and wellness, Yale New Haven Health announces the launch of News & Knowledge, a hub dedicated to the latest articles and media releases featuring our clinical experts from across the system. Learn more at News & Knowledge.


Take a walk and chat with YNHH doctors

Take a walk and chat with local doctors as part of Yale New Haven Health’s Get Healthy Walk ‘N Talk with a Doc. The walk will be held on Sept. 24 from  9 - 10:30 am along the Farmington Canal Greenway Trail in New Haven. It will begin at the entrance on the corner of Shelton Avenue and Starr Street and last approximately one hour. Parking is available at New Freedom Missionary Baptist Church, 280 Starr St., New Haven Please arrive by 8:45 am. For more information, email Andy Orefice or call 203-688-5671. 


The Suites at YNHH: A place to stay for family

Did you know that Yale New Haven Hospital has a hotel for families and caregivers of patients who come to the hospital for short- or long-term inpatient care? Located at the corner of Dwight Street and North Frontage Road in New Haven, The Suites at Yale New Haven is just two blocks from YNHH’s York Street Campus, Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven and Yale New Haven Children's Hospital, and a short distance from YNHH’s Saint Raphael Campus. Shuttle service between the two campuses is available. Patients who prefer a day of rest before traveling home may book a stay at The Suites as well. 

The Suites offers all the comforts of home in a warm, welcoming setting. It includes 24 suites with extended stay options. Each suite, with full kitchen, can be reserved daily, weekly or monthly. A stay at The Suites includes complementary parking, wireless internet access, business center, exercise room, onsite laundry, 24-hour security and a 24-hour escort service to and from the hospital. 

Reservations are recommended. Call 203-654-7500 for details.


Find a Doc at YNHH

Are you looking for a physician? Call 888-700-6543 or visit our website’s Find a Doctor feature for information on physician specialties, office hours and locations as well as insurance plans accepted. Many of our physician practices offer telehealth video visits for your convenience. 


Billing questions?

Yale New Haven Hospital offers financial counseling to patients and families. Spanish-speaking counselors are also available. To make an appointment with a financial counselor, call 855-547-4584.