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By: Dr. Vincent Nelson, Medical Director of UnitedHealthcare of South Texas

Summer is here, and for many in Texas, that means trips to destinations domestic and abroad. An all-time record 234.1 million passengers are expected to fly U.S. airlines between June 1 and Aug. 31, up from 224.8 million a year ago, according to Airlines for America. That includes more than 30 million travelers on international flights.

However, about 20 percent of people suffer some type of illness or injury while on vacation, the most common of which include food poisoning and car crashes. Before you hit the road or take to the skies, consider these tips to make sure your health, safety and wallet are covered while you’re away:

  1. Know Before You Go: Before traveling out of your home state or internationally, take time to review your health plan and understand what it covers. People traveling domestically should check if their health plan offers a national or local network of hospitals and health care providers, and confirm what level of coverage is available at out-of-network facilities. For people planning to travel overseas, it is important to contact their primary care doctor or travel medicine clinic to determine what pre-screenings or immunizations might be recommended or required, based on their health history and the countries they will visit. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) enables people to search a list of countries and determine what vaccines they should consider.  

  2. Find Care Anywhere: Many health plans now offer telemedicine and mobile apps to support their customers’ health needs, including the ability to access a digital ID card, connect with a registered nurse 24/7, and identify nearby care providers, hospitals, pharmacies and urgent care facilities. Public websites, such as and, enable people to compare cost information for hundreds of common medical services, helping people evaluate their options for care. For international trips, contact your global insurance carrier to find out about the availability of approved medical facilities at planned travel destinations.
  3. Protection Abroad: Most domestic health plans provide limited coverage overseas, so people should consider international medical coverage to help alleviate concerns about quality of care and financial anxiety. People should look for global policies that can provide foreign-language translation, direct you to appropriate facilities or support evacuation to alternative facilities, and work with local health care providers to coordinate and monitor care. Most domestic insurance won’t cover prescriptions abroad, so for long vacations ask your care provider for enough medication to cover the duration of the trip (as well as check that specific medications are legal in the countries you are visiting). Some international health plans may include prescription drug coverage that enables people to fill prescriptions at local retail pharmacies.
  4. Get Your Credit: Even with international coverage, consider carrying an extra credit card with a large limit to use for unanticipated medical expenses. Foreign hospitals will typically want upfront payment, rather than billing the health plan. Get clear and complete copies of all bills, medical records and discharge notes for reimbursement from your health plan. Some global health plans do provide direct payments to foreign hospitals and care providers, eliminating a potential inconvenience and providing peace of mind.
  5. Be A Savvy Medicare Traveler: Original Medicare in nearly all cases applies to the United States only and does not extend overseas or across the border (other than in cases in the Northern U.S. where the nearest hospital is in Canada). Some Medicare Advantage and Medicare supplement plans offer worldwide emergency coverage for foreign travel, although some have restrictions and lifetime limits. Finally, it’s important to account for the working condition of durable medical equipment needed for the trip, such as glucose monitors and insulin pumps, before departure.

Following these tips will help you focus on fun, friends and family during summer vacations, while helping alleviate stress from health care access or insurance issues during a medical emergency. For more information, visit

Dr. Sadia A. Durrani

 Richmond, TX…OakBend Medical Group is pleased to announce the addition of Dr. Sadia A. Durrani. Durrani is a board-certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist who strongly believes in the power of effective listening, tender examinations and personal attention to each patient in a respectful atmosphere. She focuses on a comprehensive health care approach giving particular emphasis to patient education. She wants her patients to have an active participation in their health care decisions while practicing evidence-based medicine. She enjoys her specialty and the opportunity to maintain long-term relationships with her patients. She feels pride in teaching her patients in adolescent years, caring for them during their pregnancy and improving their quality of life after menopause.

Dr. Durrani believes that every patient deserves quick recovery, better pain control and improved quality of life after obstetrics and gynecological procedures. She manages normal and high-risk pregnancies as well as women who want a vaginal birth after previous cesarean section birth. She also practices the full spectrum of gynecological care with a special interest in minimally invasive surgery and pelvic reconstructive surgery for urinary incontinence and prolapse.

Durrani received her medical degree from University of Health Sciences Lahore, Pakistan after her education from the Convent School. She started her career in the United States at Harvard Reproductive Endocrine Science Center Boston in Translational Research (applying finding from basic science to enhance human health and well-being). Durrani published her work in peer-reviewed journals and presented at the National Conference of ACOG (The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists). She also co-authored a book chapter about complex genetics of infertility. She chose Rutgers New Jersey Medical School for her residency training in Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health. After working at Trinitas Regional Medical Center as an obstetrician and gynecologist for three years, she joined Rutgers again as a clinical assistant professor. There she was actively involved in teaching medical students and OB/GYN residents in addition to taking care of patients from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.

She is a Fellow of Amercian Congress of OB/GYN and member of the American Medical Association and Harvard Postgraduate Medical Association. Dr. Durrani speaks Urdu, Saraiki, Punjabi, Hindi and English fluently.

She lives with her husband Zaka ,a cardiologist by profession, 5 year old daughter and a 2 year old son. The family loves to travel, enjoys gardening and outdoor sports. Dr. Durrani loves to spend a few hours a week at a local community center with special needs kids.

Dr. Nagarajan is located at 22001 Southwest Freeway, Suite 100, Richmond, Texas 77469. If you’d like to meet the new doctor or need an appointment you can reach her office at 281-239-5020.

Dr. Hamid Hamdi

Memorial Hermann Mischer Neuroscience Associates (MNA) is pleased to announce the addition of board-certified neurologist Hamid S. Hamdi, M.D. Dr. Hamdi will join us as a general neurologist at Mischer Neuroscience Associates-Sugar Land and Mischer Neuroscience Associates-Katy.

“We are pleased to have Dr. Hamdi as a part of our team of talented neurologists at Memorial Hermann Mischer Associates,” said Dong Kim, M.D., Director of the Memorial Hermann Mischer Neuroscience Institute at the Texas Medical Center and professor and chair of the Vivian L. Smith Department of Neurosurgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. “His expertise in neurology will provide those patients being treated in Sugar Land and Katy with the utmost attention and care.”

Prior to joining Mischer Neuroscience Associates, Dr. Hamdi held a faculty position as clinical assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine in New York City. He also completed a fellowship in neurorehabilitation at the Hospital for Joint Diseases at New York University School of Medicine.

Dr. Hamdi received his medical degree at Dow Medical College in Karachi, Pakistan, and completed his neurology residency at Nassau County Medical Center, where he was also chief resident.

For more information on Mischer Neuroscience Associates, visit:

“Volunteering with Rudy Rasmus, Simeon Queen, and Temenos to take action to serve people living on the streets has changed my life. My two boys and husband will never be the same,” said Susie Hughes, Cisco’s Enterprise Account Manager. Susie leads a team of 50 technical wizards working with Houston Methodist Hospital System. Activating Cisco’s People Deal where Cisco pays employees for 40 hours to volunteer in local communities, Susie Hughes encouraged 50 colleagues who serve Harris Health, UT Health, Texas Children’s Hospital and other TMC institutions to volunteer on Super Bowl Sunday to serve Texas Bar-B-Que to 600 homeless people with Temenos.

The experience was life changing. Susie and Cisco are making strategic investments to partner with Houston Methodist Hospital System on their digital population health initiative. She is a 10-year veteran of Cisco’s healthcare practice and leads the South in her commitment to exploring the digital fingerprint of population health. Her team connects the unconnected and provides security, infrastructure, and collaboration tools to Houston Methodist. To start this journey, Susie met Rudy Rasmus and toured Temenos supportive housing for the homeless. Sparked by passion to make a difference, she and her team invested more than 400 hours to innovate and for the first time offer digital population health services to the most vulnerable people without a home.

Susie and her team continue to make progress so homeless people find alternatives to seeking a medical home beyond the emergency department. On a Saturday, you might find Susie volunteering with Temenos to offer conversation, clothes, and breakfast for people who are in need of someone to care. Susie is a compassionate soul that is committed to being there for people.

Kristi Chisum, Susie’s Global Enterprise Regional Manager, nominated Susie for Giving Back Award. Susie was selected from a team of 1,500 Cisco Global Enterprise Segment employees. She is donating the award to Temenos to offer supportive housing services to the homeless. The Jackie Lyles Group, based in Houston, Texas, are innovation consultants that reveal the client’s brilliance and value through our evidenced based research model, the Flow Value Model™. Please go to for more information.

Photo: left to right:Mia Williams and Kristin Rice-Council

Richmond, Tx– Do you sometimes feel that you are on a carnival ride with your world going round and round? Do you get dizzy when you jump out of bed or stand up or turn around too quickly? At OakBend Medical Center’s rehabilitation clinic, they frequently hear patients ask… “Do I have the Vertigo?” or the common complaint “Every time I move, my world is spinning and I can’t stand up!” Does this sound familiar to you or someone you know? In some cases, just a few positional maneuvers can help “reset” your world upright again.

Many people have seen Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Vertigo where Jimmy Stewart has difficulty running up the tower to save Kim Novak because his world is spinning out of control. Vertigo is an imbalance of a person’s Equilibrium, specifically the Vestibular System. The Vestibular System is a person’s internal compass, located in the inner ear that tells your head which way is up. Disturbances to the Vestibular System can linger for a few seconds or become chronic. Simple daily activities such as dressing, walking, or sitting up from bed can become terrifying due to the fear of having a vertigo spell. The fear of falling from dizziness can also become debilitating which may impact your quality of life or even rob you of your independence. Fortunately, in most cases this does not have to happen.

Many types of vertigo are treatable by Certified Vestibular Therapists. It may take several sessions or, in some cases, can be relieved in only one treatment. Receiving vestibular rehab therapy early has been shown to reduce the risk of recurrence, and significantly reduce the risk and fear of falling. OakBend Medical Center has two certified vestibular therapists, Mia Williams and Kristi Rice-Council. These therapists are trained to help patients discover how vertigo is affecting their lives and what can be done to treat the cause.

If you are having these types of experiences, don’t delay. Speak with your doctor and explain your symptoms; he or she can write you a prescription for therapy for Vertigo/Dizziness. You don’t have to live with certain types of dizziness and having treatment from Certified Vestibular Therapists can set your world upright again!

Richmond, Tx– OakBend Medical Center celebrated the success of the hospital’s employee giving campaign, “Seeds of Generosity,” by holding a reception in the Joe & Doris Gurecky Atrium after hours last week.

The three week campaign, which ran from April 24 to May 12, raised $90,000 for the hospital’s Vision 2020 Campaign. An employee giving campaign is considered a success if there is at least a 10% participation rate by employees. Through checks, cash, credit cards and payroll deductions, the participation of OakBend Medical Center employees reached an amazing 25%.

A certificate of appreciation was given to several departments that reached milestones within the campaign. The first department to reach 100% participation was the Facilities department; the highest cumulative donation was from the Radiology department and the highest average donation was from the Nursing Administration department.

The monies raised will be used to help renovate the 4th floor of the hospital, upgrading the rooms, lighting and flooring to reflect the same feel and comfort of the third floor Jack and Billie Wendt Acute Care for the Elderly (ACE) Unit. Once the fourth floor is completed, the renovations will move to the fifth floor of the hospital.

Board President, Jeff Council, spoke to the crowd of employees and board members stating, “We are so proud of OakBend’s employees. Their generosity knows no bounds. They believe in our vision and mission and are more than willing to help make a difference in our hospital.”

Last week, Camp For All 2U brought the joy of summer camp to patients at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. The program transforms areas of the hospital into camp, providing patients who may not get the experience of camp outside of the hospital the opportunity to enjoy a variety of games and activities. A different theme each day, camp activities included archery, a petting zoo, arts and crafts and much more.

“We are so excited to have Camp For All 2U here at West Campus for the first time,” says Matt Schaefer, president of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. “For many of these patients, this is the only opportunity they will have to experience camp this summer due to their current medical condition. To provide them with the chance to temporarily forget what they are going through and just enjoy being a kid is what it’s all about.”

Camp For All 2U at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus was generously sponsored by Wood Group. For more information about Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, visit For more information about Camp For All, visit”

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 By Bob Moos/Southwest public affairs officer for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Our nation faces its deadliest drug epidemic ever.

For years, Americans overestimated the benefits of opioids and underestimated the risks. Many people became regular users of these narcotic pain killers, often quite innocently, with a prescription from a doctor after surgery or an injury or as treatment for a chronic condition. Few thought their growing dependence on the pain killers would lead to addiction.

  • The numbers describe the magnitude of the crisis now confronting us:
  • Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in this country has nearly quadrupled.
  • Also since then, deaths from prescription opioids have more than quadrupled.
  • Every day, 91 Americans die from an opioid overdose.

Older adults are especially affected. About 2.7 million Americans 50 or older abused pain killers in 2015 when they took them for reasons or in amounts beyond what their doctors prescribed. Also, people 65 and older have had sharp increases in opioid-related hospital stays and emergency room visits.

No one is suggesting that someone undergoing surgery, recovering from an injury or having major medical problems should be denied pain medications. But 236 million prescriptions were written for opioids last year in this country – enough to give every American adult a bottle of pain killers.

Combating the opioid epidemic has become a major federal priority. The Department of Health and Human Services is following a five-pronged strategy of stepping up public health monitoring of the problem, supporting research on pain and addiction, improving access to treatment, making overdose-reversing drugs more available, and promoting better ways to manage pain.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year published guidelines for clinicians prescribing opioids for chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care and end-of-life care. The federal government is also providing states with nearly a half-billion dollars for prevention and treatment programs. Another half-billion dollars in grants will follow next year.

As important as the federal partnerships with states and communities will be in addressing this nationwide menace, stemming the increase in opioid-related deaths will demand the attention of all of us. That means not just government officials and health care professionals. It means anyone who may be needing some form of pain medication, as well as family members and friends.

An all-hands-on-deck response is the only way we’re going to get a handle on an epidemic that has taken 25 years to develop. Here’s what you can do yourself to fight it:

  • If you’re due for surgery, visit with your physician beforehand to find out what you’ll be given for pain relief afterward and how long you should expect to be on it. If you continue to pop pills beyond that, talk with your doctor about the safest way to wean yourself off them.
  • Be aware of the warning signs that you’re becoming too dependent on your medication. Do you have memory problems or trouble focusing on the task at hand? Are you forgoing important obligations? And probably the surest sign of all: Are you going to another doctor or elsewhere for more medication because your doctor won’t write a prescription for you any longer?
  • If it’s possible, ask a family member or friend to help you through your recovery period and track your use of pain medication to make sure you’re following the recommended dosage. Remember that addiction is a medical matter and not a moral failing. It takes courage to seek help. Treatment can include counseling or medication or both.

Opioids have their pain-relieving benefits. But they’re also powerful drugs that, without proper precautions, can quickly send you down the slippery slope of addiction.

If you think you or a loved one may have become too dependent on opioids, consult with the prescribing physician.  Also, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers a confidential help line that can connect you with treatment services in your area. Call 1-800-662-4357 and begin to end this public health emergency.

On Wednesday June 28th  Sarangoo, an 11 year old girl from Mongolia, underwent a lifesaving heart procedure at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.  This procedure corrected the congenital heart defect she was born with, Atrial Septal Defect (ASD.)

Sarangoo was able to travel from her home in Ulaanbaatar Mongolia to Houston TX via the HeartGift program.  HeartGift provides lifesaving heart surgery to children from around the world where specialized medical treatment is either scarce or nonexistent.

Sarangoo has been in Houston recovering from her heart repair and is scheduled to return to Mongolia on July 9th.  Her stay and medical care is possible because of volunteers and donors in our community.  Sarangoo and her Mother, Enkhtuya are being hosted by the Wheeler family of Houston (77089.)

“The generosity of the Houston community is amazing, providing medical partnerships, financial donations, a host home and volunteers to assist with translation.”   Rachael Wright, Executive Director.


National non-medical in-home care provider expands to Katy area to meet community’s growing need for companion and personal care services

FirstLight Home Care, an award-winning provider of non-medical in-home care, today announced the opening of its new location in Katy. Cypress resident Donna Spiser owns the new location, which offers a variety of companion and personal care services to residents of Cypress, Katy and the surrounding communities.

The FirstLight Home Care office is located at 535 E. Fernhurst Drive in Katy and serves area seniors, veterans, new mothers, those recovering from surgery and other adults in need of assistance. FirstLight caregivers are available to help with many needs – from personal hygiene and household duties such as cooking, cleaning and running errands, to mobility assistance and dementia care.

“After my family’s experience with hiring caregivers for my father who had dementia with Lewy bodies, we were all drawn to this business because it had the potential to enhance the lives of people who deserved dignity,” Spiser said. “My background in federal law enforcement will hopefully help us attract caregivers with integrity and provide our clients with an additional level of comfort.”

Donna is a retired federal agent with a Juris Doctorate (law) degree from the University of Texas and undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University. She will be running the business with her sister Jeannine Landes.

“Donna and Jeannine’s goal to build a business to help people achieve the quality of life they deserve, coupled with their personal experience as caregivers for their father, makes them the ideal individuals to open FirstLight’s only office in the Katy and Cypress areas,” said Jeff Bevis, FirstLight Home Care Chief Executive Officer. “We can’t wait to see the positive impact their work is sure to have on the clients and communities they serve.”

Since opening its first franchise location in 2010, FirstLight Home Care has experienced steady growth and is now operating 235 locations in 32 states throughout the U.S.

For more information on FirstLight Home Care of Katy, visit

About FirstLight Home Care

FirstLight Home Care is a top rated non-medical home care provider with a network of offices that provides 85,000 hours per week in care for more than 2,700 clients in over 32 states. The company has created a new standard in home care by combining best practices with innovative approaches to make them an emerging market leader in a rapidly-growing industry. Companion and personal care services can be provided at private residences, assisted living and retirement communities, nursing homes, adult-family homes or group homes. Clients include seniors, new mothers, individuals recovering from surgery, adults with disabilities and anyone who might just need a little extra care or assistance. Visit to learn more.