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Early detection key to treating cataracts in kids

in Contributors/Dr. Mark Siegel, MD FAAO/Health by

By Dr. Mark Siegel

Many people think cataracts only happen to older people, but children can get cataracts too. Both pediatric cataracts and cataracts from aging are a clouding in the lens of the eye that can cause blurry vision or blindness.

In adults, cataracts occur after the eyes and vision are developed and stable. Most adults can have good vision again after the cataracts are removed. Because children’s eyes are still developing until they’re 8 or 10 years old, untreated cataracts can have serious long-term effects on their vision. But early detection and prompt treatment can prevent permanent vision loss in children with cataracts.

Types, causes vary

Pediatric cataracts can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired (develop after birth).

They can occur in one eye (unilateral) or both eyes (bi-lateral). Bi-lateral cataracts can be asymmetric (one cataract is more severe than the other).

Cataracts may appear in different parts of the lens and range in size from tiny dots to dense clouds.

They can be caused by genetic predisposition, metabolic disorders such as diabetes or trauma to the eye that damages the lens. Sometimes they occur spontaneously.

A traumatic cataract in a child's eye. The injury also damaged the iris.
A traumatic cataract in a child’s eye. The injury also damaged the iris.

Early detection

An eye’s lens must be clear to focus the images it sees onto the retina, which then transmits the images to the brain. A cataract can prevent light from reaching the retina or cause light rays to scatter as they pass through the cloudiness. This distorts the retinal image.

For children, whose eyes and brain are still learning to see, distortion can lead to amblyopia (lazy eye). Without proper treatment, pediatric cataracts can cause abnormal connections between the brain and the eye. Once made, these connections are irreversible.

Most pediatric cataracts are detected when the child is examined at birth, before they even leave the hospital. Many more are detected by pediatricians at well-baby exams and some are noticed by parents. They are often noticed as a missing or irregular red reflex test on pediatric screening exams.

Acquired cataracts are most often diagnosed at vision screenings by the pediatrician or after an eye injury.

Pediatric cataract in a child born with aniridia (missing iris).
Pediatric cataract in a child born with aniridia (missing iris).

Long-term strategy

Treatment for pediatric cataracts can vary depending on the type and severity. But the vast majority of children need surgery to remove the cataracts. 

Unlike adults with full-sized eyes, children require specialized surgical instrumentation and techniques. When performed by an experienced pediatric cataract surgeon, cataract removal is generally safe. The most common risks include glaucoma, retinal detachment, infection and the need for more surgeries.

For most children, surgery is just the first step to rehabilitate the eyes. Ongoing treatment must repair eye-brain connections. This involves teaching the eyes how to focus properly.

After surgery, children often need some combination of contact lenses, intraocular lenses implanted in the eye or glasses. If amblyopia has developed, the child may need patching. This treatment involves covering the stronger eye to stimulate vision in the weaker eye.

Children who receive timely treatment and follow-up have a good prognosis. Successful outcomes may require years of individualized visual rehabilitation.

Dr. Mark Siegel is the medical director at Sea Island Ophthalmology at 111 High Tide Drive (off Midtown Drive near Low Country Medical Group). Visit

There are ways to save money on mental health medications

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By Judith Treadway

Over the last several decades, the use of psychiatric medications has greatly increased, and so have the costs. 

The average American takes 12 medications compared to seven medications 20 years ago. 

According to the National Health Center health statistics, more than 16 percent of Americans age 40 to 50 take antidepressants. 

While some generic drugs can be inexpensive, even they can vary drastically in costs in the same community. 

While doing research for this article, I found that Venlafaxine ER 75 mg costs $250 for 60 pills at one drug store and the same generic drug costs $40 at a neighborhood store. Switching to an immediate release formulation costs between $4 and $8. 

There are simple ways to save money on medications, but there are some possible pitfalls of using some methods. 


If you have insurance, look carefully at your plan’s drug formulary. A formulary is a list of the drugs for which your insurance company, Medicare or Medicaid, will pay its part of the cost. 

If your doctor can prescribe you a drug that is on formulary, on a low tier and that does not require prior authorization (a special explanation from the doctor), it will likely save time and money. 


Simpler forms of medication tend to be cheaper than those that are ending in letters like Xl, XR, etc. These usually designate that they are extended-release in some way. 

These medications are not always better than the immediate release, but they are usually more convenient and more expensive. Discuss with your doctor the cheaper immediate release versions, if available. 

Generic medications 

Some patients will say that they have to have the brand name medication, but brand name medication is almost always more expensive. Many drug stores now offer a long list of inexpensive generic drugs. Many cost only $4 for a month’s refill. 

The FDA requires that all generic drugs contain identical amounts of the same active drug ingredients; however, the shape, flavor, inactive ingredients and release may vary. 

Switching to a generic drug may not always be a good idea, for example, for seizure control. 

Many of the so-called big box stores have a $4 generic list for a 30-day supply and many are posted online. Some are also offering a 90-day supply for $10. 

Two pharmacy chains offer free antibiotics and free Metformin for diabetes and Lisinopril for hypertension with prescriptions. One now offers free Amlodipine. 


There are websites that may shorten the search for inexpensive generics. These sites are generally run by pharmacist groups. 

You enter the name of the medication you are seeking, the strength, your ZIP code and it compares prices at several local drug stores. Note, though, that these search sites do not cover all medicines or search all pharmacies, so you may still not get the absolute best price. 

It may be best to phone around to compare prices. 

Compassionate programs 

These are programs that are generally need or income-based for people without insurance to help someone who falls into the Medicare doughnut hole. Visit or

Additionally, most large pharmaceutical companies offer assistance for the brand-name medications. Individual websites for the medications also give guidance on how to apply. 

Coupons for medications can sometimes be found at the drug company website. These are usually for brand-name medications and are limited to so many per patient each year. 

Discount savings cards

These can be useful for people without insurance. They are generally free. When the patient uses the card, the discount varies.

Pill splitting 

This is the practice of cutting pills in order to save money. It works best with medication that is scored, i.e., has a line down the middle. 

The AMA and the Americans Pharmacists Association do not endorse the practice but reportedly acknowledged this can save money if done correctly. 

However, there are many medications that should not be split, including those with a hard coating, enteric-coated, time released, birth control or are bitter or crumbly. 

Mail order 

You may be able to order via your health plan and save that way. Make sure there is a safe delivery place that is in the shade. 

Internet medication orders may be fake, fraudulent or unsafe. The FDA has warned that medications ordered from overseas may not be the same as in the USA.

Dr. Judith Treadway is the chief of psychiatric services at Coastal Empire Mental Health in Beaufort.

Health briefs for September 7th-13th

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Baby London 100th birth in August 2017

Photo above: London Marie Gary became the 100th baby born at the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Collins Birthing Center when she arrived at 6:29 p.m. on Aug. 29. Mom, Melanie Queen, of Beaufort, and baby are both doing great, and by midnight Aug. 31, the birthing center’s dedicated team had delivered 11 more babies. According to the staff, it’s been over three years since the last time they topped 100 births in a single month. Photo courtesy of Charlotte Berkeley Photography.

Health & Wellness Expo to be held Sept. 14

A Health & Wellness Expo sponsored by the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce will be held from 4-7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, at Tabby Place in downtown Beaufort.

Guests will learn about the businesses that help make Beaufort County the healthiest county in the state. 

For booth inquiries, contact LaNelle at or 843-525-8537.

Foundation has new VP chief development officer 

Deborah Schuchmann
Deborah Schuchmann

Deborah Schuchmann has been named chief development officer of the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation, replacing Alice Moss, who led the nonprofit organization for 30 years before retiring earlier this summer.

“Debbie understands the critical role the Foundation plays in helping Beaufort Memorial stay at the forefront of medicine and provide the kind of high-quality care the community has come to expect,” said BMH President and CEO Russell Baxley. “She has been incredibly successful in raising awareness of the hospital’s needs and engaging the support of donors.” 

Schuchmann takes the top post after serving less than a year as the Foundation’s director of special gifts. In her first six months on the job, she secured three major donations and several estate gifts for upgrades to the hospital.

“There’s still a huge amount of opportunity to build a culture of philanthropy for health care in Beaufort,” Schuchmann said. “I want people to see their gifts to the hospital as an investment in their community whether they live here full or part time.”

Schuchmann came to Beaufort Memorial with 15 years’ experience in development, most of it in the healthcare field. Prior to joining the hospital, she served as chief development officer for Macon Volunteer Clinic in Georgia.

Schuchmann was past president of the Georgia Association of Development Professionals, an entity of the Georgia Association of Healthcare. In 2011, the Georgia Hospital Association honored her with the Great Ambassador Award. She also received the Strawberry Award for excellent customer service from the Medical Center of Central Georgia, where she worked for 12 years.

A graduate of the University of Georgia with a B.S. in Education, Schuchmann was a public school teacher in Macon for 11 years before segueing into the field of healthcare as a staff development instructor at the local community hospital. During her six-year tenure with Medical Center of Central Georgia, she earned a Master’s of Healthcare Administration from Mercer University in Atlanta.

After a brief move to Mobile, Ala., Schuchmann returned to the Medical Center of Central Georgia to take the newly created position of major gifts and planned giving officer. In 2012, she was promoted to senior development officer. 

“With cuts in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, donor support is more important than ever,” Schuchmann said. “Gifts to the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation are used to provide high-quality health care close to home.”

To reach Schuchmann at the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation, call 843-522-5722.

Why is it important to keep baby teeth clean?

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By Dr. Stephen Durham

It’s a common question among parents and even young dental patients themselves: “Why is it important to take care of baby teeth if they’re just going to fall out?” 

Even though the first set of teeth are temporary, they set the stage for oral health for a lifetime. If you fail to care for your child’s teeth early in life and don’t teach him or her proper self-care, it could cause problems for years to come.

Baby teeth are placeholders

Baby teeth do everything for young children that permanent teeth do for older children and adults. They help him or her speak, chew and smile at others. They also act as a placeholder in the jaw for the permanent teeth to come in later. 

Children typically start losing primary teeth around age 6 and continue to lose teeth until around age 12.

When a child loses a baby tooth prematurely due to decay or trauma, it disrupts the natural eruption process. The teeth coming in get confused and drift towards the open space instead of where they were supposed to grow. 

The results can mean crooked or crowded teeth – and a big orthodontist bill later. 

While trauma to the mouth happens, the loss of primary teeth due to decay is entirely preventable.

Oral healthcare

You don’t have to wait until your baby officially has teeth to start taking great care of his or her oral health. 

After each feeding, use a warm washcloth or gauze pad to wipe the gums clean. This helps to prevent tooth decay even though you don’t see any teeth. Believe it or not, decay can start as soon as the first primary teeth erupt around 6 months of age.

Plan to brush your child’s teeth yourself or closely supervise until at least age 3. 

Fluoride toothpaste is best, and the amount you put on the toothbrush doesn’t have to be any more than a grain of rice.

 If you have one of those toddlers who insists on doing it themselves – and what toddler doesn’t? – try the hand-over-hand method while teaching him or her. You can also model how you brush your own teeth.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that babies see the dentist by their first birthday or 6 months after the first tooth erupts. This is the ideal time for parents to receive additional instruction on dental care for young children.

A recipient of the 2012 Mastership Award from the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), Dr. Stephen Durham is a graduate of Clemson University and the Medical University of South Carolina College of Dental Medicine. He is a past recipient of the LVI Fellowship Award for Neuromuscular and Cosmetic Dentistry. Durham practices at Durham Dental at Town Center in Beaufort. For more information, visit his website at or call 843-379-5400.

Howe, Simpkins join staff at The Retreat

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Two local residents are the first hires for The Retreat at Lady’s Island, an assisted living and memory care community currently under construction at 9 Sunset Blvd. in Beaufort. 

Valerie Howe will lead The Retreat as executive director, with Rachel Longino Simpkins serving as sales director. Both women currently reside in Shell Point. 

A 30-year resident of the Beaufort area, Howe has worked in the healthcare industry for 20 years. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management and a Master of Business in Healthcare Administration from South University. 

Howe is licensed in the state of South Carolina as both a Community Residential Care Facility Administrator and a Licensed Practical Nurse. 

As an executive director hired during The Retreat’s construction, Howe will play many roles. 

During the building phase, she will coordinate with construction teams and assist the sales director with the promotion and marketing of the new community. 

Once construction is complete, the focus will shift to preparing for state certification and making ready for the first residents. After the grand opening she will assume a traditional executive director role, overseeing The Retreat’s daily operations. 

Howe is a board member of the South Carolina Association of Residential Care Homes. She is also president of the Healthcare Network Group of the Lowcountry, a regional organization working to enhance the quality of care for all Lowcountry residents by creating a network of local healthcare professionals. 

Rachel Longino Simpkins comes to The Retreat at Lady’s Island with experience in senior living and hospice. 

A Georgia native, Simpkins joined the Marine Corps in 1994, serving in communications for the 3rd Force Service Support Group – a vocation that took her as far away as Japan and eventually to Beaufort. 

Simpkins chose to stay in the area to finish college and make her home. 

As sales director, Simpkins will work with seniors and their families to find the right fit of services and accommodations for each person. 

She will also promote The Retreat through presentations and other events. 

Expected to open in early 2018, The Retreat at Lady’s Island will offer three stories of senior living with views of the waterway, marina and nearby marsh. 

Retreat residents will enjoy private assisted living suites and studios, each with a private bathroom and kitchenette. 

On the first floor, those with Alzheimer’s disease or similar memory issues will find a refuge in the secured Memory Care wing. Other on-site amenities will include a waterfront patio, fitness center, physical therapy center, movie theater, salon, chapel and more. 

For more information on The Retreat at Lady’s Island, call 843-379-9502 or visit The Retreat’s Facebook page at

A health tip: Buy, visit or participate in the arts

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By Katherine Tandy Brown

During the 2008-era economic downturn, fear of another Great Depression caused many people who supported the arts on a regular basis to pull shut the purse strings for a while. 

A lot of folks took a break from purchasing books and visual art and from attending concerts and plays. A slew of the creatives who produced these works had to get even more creative, taking “real world jobs” to supplement the reduced income from their usual endeavors. 

I remember one day in 2010 walking into the Charles Street Gallery, a Beaufort institution beloved by art-appreciators and art opening-goers alike. On the counter was a bumper sticker propped up as a sign, “The Recession is Over … Buy Art.” 

Still today, that message rings true, perhaps now more than ever, for several reasons.

Obviously, supporting those who make a living beautifying the world through sight, sound and/or touch is a noble thing to do. 

Contributing to the life path of a talented soul who is enriching the world is one of those “feel good down to your toes” kind of experiences you can get whenever you acquire an intricate, handmade fiber wall hanging, buy a book penned by an as-yet unheard of, first-time novelist, or cheer for the actors in a community theater production. 

Not so obvious, but definitely as important as financial contributions, are the personal benefits of exposure to art of all sorts. To clarify “exposure,” I mean turning off the TV and taking in a bit of culture. You know, visiting a museum, rockin’ at a festival – Spoleto, anyone? – popping into a Beaufort art gallery on a First Friday evening, taking in a play, attending a Beaufort Symphony or chamber music performance, or supporting a writer at a book signing and curling onto your front porch glider with an icy lemonade for a good read.  

Here’s what might happen when you add art to your days. 

The serotonin boost the arts can give you will ease the blues and lift your spirits. 

Years ago, I attended an exhibit of Alexander Calder’s whimsical circus-themed mobiles and stabiles at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. The day was dreary – rainy and chilly – and the gathered crowds were wet-footed and grumbly. 

About halfway through the exhibit, I realized that my heart felt lighter and I began to exchange pleasantries with other attendees, complete strangers until that time. 

Afterwards, I sat on a bench that afforded a view of the exhibit’s entrance and exit doors. A noticeable number of people who carried stressful demeanors into the rooms of art left with wide smiles, laughter and light-filled eyes. 

Your perspective will recharge when you get out of your same old-same old daily routine, out of that comfort zone, to revel in the arts. One of the 12 Step program’s oh-so-true slogans is “If you keep on doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep on getting what you’re getting.” 

Instead of binge-watching after work, treat yourself to a play or comic performance at the USCB Center for the Arts. Your mind will appreciate your hitting the “Refresh” button.

Visual art can beautify and add personality to your home, inside and out. Hanging art in a house’s interior is a given that can add color and vibrancy to a room, including the bathroom. (Give your guests something to talk about!)

Going a step further, a historic home in downtown Beaufort displays paintings on its outside walls. Every single time I drive by, I smile. And you can enliven your porch or garden with an exquisite sculpture, or better yet, a silly one.

You’ll no doubt escape from the “troubles of the world” for a while, lower your stress level, and even strengthen your immune system. 

Take in one of the dozens of events hosted by the Pat Conroy Literacy Center. You’ll no doubt expand your mind, hear emerging and established writers, and have the opportunity to engage in heady discussions. Its Facebook page is a resource of ways to experience the art of writing, which I believe is exactly what our treasured bard Conroy had in mind.

The South Carolina Lowcountry’s abundance of nature and exquisite natural light are magnets for creative people who share their talents in a myriad of ways. Pick one, and treat yourself to a soul-healing dose of the arts.

Katherine Tandy Brown has traveled the world as a freelance writer for 25 years. She teaches memoir, travel writing and writing practice in USCB’s OLLI Continuing Ed program and in her downtown cottage. A certified writing coach, she is penning her first novel, “One to Go: An Equine Thriller.”

Health briefs for August 10th-16th

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BMH Lowcountry Medical Group adds PA

Margaret Miler
Margaret Miler

Beaufort Memorial Lowcountry Medical Group has added a new board-certified physician assistant to its medical staff. 

Margaret Miler, PA-C, will be working with board-certified gastroenterologists Drs. John Crisologo and Richard Stewart. The GI team also includes board-certified physician assistant Kimberly Thorpe.

A Charleston native, Miler joined the busy multi-specialty practice after working a year at East Cooper Coastal Family Physicians in Mount Pleasant. Her duties at the internal medicine clinic, which specializes in geriatric care, included performing physical exams; ordering and interpreting labs and other diagnostic studies; making diagnoses and developing and implementing treatment plans; and overseeing care and follow-up for hospitalized patients. 

A magna cum laude graduate of the College of Charleston with a degree in biology, Miler served as a certified medical assistant in Summerville for a year before beginning her physician assistant studies at the Medical University of South Carolina. She graduated in 2015 following five-week rotations in eight different specialties, including Internal Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Emergency Medicine, Pediatrics and Family Medicine. 

Miler has been an active volunteer with several local charitable organizations in Charleston, including a yoga marathon for Louie’s Kids and a yoga flow for clean water benefiting Water Mission. In 2012, she participated in a medical mission trip to Costa Rica.

Along with the GI practitioners, Lowcountry Medical Group includes specialists in family and internal medicine, gynecology and cardiology. 

To make an appointment with Miler or any of the practice’s health care providers, call 843-770-0404.

Alzheimer’s patients topic of discussion

As people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias progress in their journey and the ability to use words is lost, families need new ways to connect.  

RiverOaks Assisted Living is offering a discussion on tips on how to communicate with a person struggling with Alzheimer’s.

This discussion will be held from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15, at RiverOaks Assisted Living, 1251 Lady’s Island Drive in Port Royal.

To reserve a space and for more information, contact Candace at 843-521-2298 or via email at

This free educational program is hosted by RiverOaks Assisted Living and Alzheimer’s Family Service of Greater Beaufort.

Take care when watching eclipse of the sun

in Contributors/Dr. Mark Siegel, MD FAAO/Health by

By Dr. Mark Siegel

On Monday, Aug. 21, the entire United States will see a partial eclipse of the sun. Parts of 11 states will experience a total solar eclipse, including South Carolina. 

If you get a chance to see it, make sure to take care of your vision during the eclipse. 

To see a complete eclipse of the sun, you need to be in the right place. The area that will have a complete eclipse – the path of totality – is only 70 miles wide and will move across the continent very quickly. Plan now for where you want to be. You may want a backup plan in case weather gets in the way of your view of the sky. Beaufort County is NOT in the path of totality, therefore we will only see a partial eclipse.

The only time it is safe to look directly at the sun is when it is completely covered by the moon during the totality phase of the eclipse. You must protect your eyes during the rest of the eclipse or you could damage your retina, possibly causing blindness.

Areas outside the path of totality will have a partial eclipse. Only part of the sun is blocked even at the peak of the eclipse. In those areas, there is no safe time to look at the sun with the naked eye. 

You must protect your eyes while watching the entire eclipse. This would include those of us in Beaufort County.

A truly awe-inspiring event, a solar eclipse is when the moon blocks any part of the sun from our view. The bright face of the sun is covered gradually by the moon during a partial eclipse, lasting a few hours. 

During the brief period of a total eclipse when the moon fully covers the sun (only a couple of minutes), the light of day gives way to a deep twilight sky. The sun’s outer atmosphere (called the solar corona) gradually appears, glowing like a halo around the moon in front of it. Bright stars and planets become more visible in the sky.

Watching a solar eclipse is a memorable experience, but looking directly at the sun can seriously damage your eyes. Staring at the sun for even a short time without wearing the right eye protection can damage your retina permanently. It can even cause blindness, called solar retinopathy.

There is only one safe way to look directly at the sun, whether during an eclipse or not: through special-purpose solar filters. These solar filters are used in “eclipse glasses” or in hand-held solar viewers. They must meet a very specific worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2.

Keep in mind that ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, or homemade filters are not safe for looking at the sun.

Here are some steps to follow for safely watching a solar eclipse:

• Carefully look at your solar filter or eclipse glasses before using them. If you see any scratches or damage, do not use them.

• Always read and follow all directions that come with the solar filter or eclipse glasses. Help children to be sure they use handheld solar viewers and eclipse glasses correctly.

• Before looking up at the bright sun, stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.

• The only time that you can look at the sun without a solar viewer is during a total eclipse. When the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets dark, you can remove your solar filter to watch this unique experience. Then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear very slightly, immediately use your solar viewer again to watch the remaining partial phase of the eclipse.

• Never look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other similar devices. This is important even if you are wearing eclipse glasses or holding a solar viewer at the same time. The intense solar rays coming through these devices will damage the solar filter and your eyes.

• Talk with an expert astronomer if you want to use a special solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars or any other optical device.

For information about where to get the proper eyewear or handheld viewers, check out the American Astronomical Society. 

NASA will have a live stream of the eclipse that can be watched online, which is exactly what we’ll be doing.

Dr. Mark Siegel is the medical director at Sea Island Ophthalmology at 111 High Tide Drive (off Midtown Drive near Low Country Medical Group). Visit

Health briefs for August 3rd-9th

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BMH offering online ER check-in

Patients with non-life-threatening conditions needing to go to the Beaufort Memorial Hospital (BMH) Emergency Department can now  “save their spot in line” for an ER visit, cutting down the time they spend in the waiting room. 

With the hospital’s new convenient self-scheduling service, patients can go online and choose from a list of available check-in times. After checking in digitally, they will receive an email with details on their upcoming visit, including information on how to reschedule or cancel their visit.

“Rather than have to sit in a waiting room when you’re feeling ill, you can stay in the comfort of your own home until the time of your visit,” said Beaufort Memorial Hospital Emergency Department Director Kevin Kremer. “If we get busy and need to bump back the visit, you’ll receive an electronic notice.”

The free service is available to all patients whether or not you have insurance or are on Medicare or Medicaid.

Upon arrival, patients will be evaluated by a healthcare professional to assess their condition and determine the best course of treatment. 

“If sicker patients come into the Emergency Department, they may be seen first,” Kremer said. “In an ER, patients are triaged based on the urgency of their illness or injury.”

New patients are asked to arrive early to complete necessary paperwork. They should bring a valid photo ID, their insurance card if they have healthcare coverage, and any prescription drugs or supplements they take. 

For more information on Beaufort Memorial’s online ER check-in or to use the free service, visit 

Red Cross announces emergency blood shortage

Thousands of people have responded to the emergency call for blood and platelet donations issued by the American Red Cross in early July, but there continues to be a critical summer blood shortage. Eligible donors of all types are urgently needed. 

After issuing the emergency call, the Red Cross has experienced a 30 percent increase in blood donation appointments through mid-July.

About half of the appointments were scheduled by donors using the free Blood Donor App or at 

Despite this improvement, blood products are still being distributed to hospitals as fast as donations are coming in, so more donations are needed to meet patient needs and replenish the blood supply. 

“The blood supply is like a cell phone battery, it constantly needs recharging,” said Nick Gehrig, communications director, Red Cross Blood Services. “We sincerely appreciate those who have responded to the call to help save lives and encourage those who haven’t to consider rolling up a sleeve and give the gift of life. It only takes about an hour but can mean a lifetime for patients.” 

Nearly 61,000 fewer blood donations than needed were given through the Red Cross in May and June, prompting the emergency call for donations in early July. The shortfall was the equivalent of the Red Cross not receiving any blood donations for more than four days. 

To schedule an appointment to donate, use the Blood Donor App, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce the time it takes to donate.

As a special thank you, those who come out to give blood or platelets with the Red Cross through Aug. 31 will be emailed a $5 Target eGiftCard.

Alzheimer’s patients topic of discussion

As people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias progress in their journey and the ability to use words is lost, families need new ways to connect.  

RiverOaks Assisted Living is offering a discussion on tips on how to communicate with a person struggling with Alzheimer’s.

This discussion will be held from 10:30-11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 15, at RiverOaks Assisted Living, 1251 Lady’s Island Drive in Port Royal.

To reserve a space and for more information, contact Candace at 843-521-2298 or via email at

This free educational program is hosted by RiverOaks Assisted Living and Alzheimer’s Family Service of Greater Beaufort.

Two seats open on mental health board

The Beaufort County Legislative Delegation is now receiving applications to fill two vacant seats on the Coastal Empire Mental Health Board. 

The purpose of this board is to administer the Coastal Empire Community Mental Health Center in a manner such that the services provided will assist citizens with serious mental illnesses and serious emotional disturbances to improve the quality of their lives.

Board members must be:

• Representatives of local health departments, medical societies, county welfare boards, hospital boards and lay associations concerned with mental health as well as labor, business, civic groups and the general public. 

• One member of the board must be a medical doctor licensed to practice medicine in South Carolina. 

The delegation will also consider consumer and family representation, including parents of emotionally disturbed children and adolescents, when recommending and appointing members to the board. 

The board meets from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of every other month.

Qualified citizens who are willing to serve should contact delegation liaison Cindy Maxey at 843-255-2260 or at for an application.  

All applications must be submitted by Friday, Aug. 11, to be considered.

What Hollywood says about karma

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By Chris Suddeth

The eminent parapsychologist and famed ghostbuster, Dr. Peter Venkman, said it best when the soon-to-be ghostbusters got kicked out of their cushy New York University digs. 

“Call it fate, call it luck, call it karma, I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe we were destined to get thrown out of this dump.”

Before the ghostbusters became the ghostbusters, they had no money and no practical skills, having been in academia for too long. They were cast out into the cold of their collective dark night of the soul in this now classic 1984 film. However you want to term this “call to action,” why do bad things happen to good people and scoundrels win the lottery? Riddle me this: Is karma supposed to spin out everybody that cuts you off and cuts you down on the highway of life? 

Don’t have a real answer other than the instant karma pages you might please your thumb with on Instagram, do you? 

To a certain extent, I do wish karma worked in this manner. It’d be oh so satisfying, so who wouldn’t? 

Sometimes it does in a delicious manner, but it’s best thought of in the grand scheme of our life’s purpose. I usually think of it in terms of past lives working issues out in this life, because it didn’t get worked out in ancient Egypt. 

Let’s table that convo and stick to this lifetime for simplicity’s sake. 

Were you the “Little Engine That Couldn’t?” And it just didn’t work out despite your greatest efforts and most fervent prayers? And when it didn’t work out, it was crushing, wasn’t it? Perhaps even soul crushing? It’s only soul crushing if you let it be and perhaps you should let it be for a while. After all, you never know if defeat leads you to saving New York City from the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Seriously, think back on life’s tapestry and see if things haven’t worked for the highest and best of your life’s purpose. Karma works for your highest and best, not the most comfortable and convenient. 

Karma gets in your face to teach you lessons with people, places and things until you get it. How long does that take? Well now, that’s up to you, isn’t it? Your life purpose and the timing of your awakening to it are not determined by mystics like me. We can only shed light into the darkness. Those things are up to the individual at the helm.  

How well do you listen, really listen? This is part of meditation. And yes, karma does resort to pain when we become hard of hearing. This deafness happens to the best of us; that’s why “bad” things happen to good people.

We’ve come so far since the inception of the ghostbusters, that now we need only stream the answers of karma and its bonds to others through our smart TV. Just watch and listen. The answers tempt us, taunt us, haunt us and even beat us over the head until we check the life lesson off the list. Thanks for listening. Next time we’ll chat about the Karma Chameleon.

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