Health e-News
March 2013
What's On Your Plate?
Coffee: Good for You
Keeping an Eye on Safety
Programs to Motivate Healthy Eating
Robotic Surgery
Healthy Lunch Groups
Breakfast With the Experts
Which Screenings When?
Make a Personal Connection
Quick Links

"You are what you eat." You've probably heard this phrase many times before, and it's true. Nutrition plays a major role in employee health and wellness, and it's within each person's willpower to make wise choices. But how? In honor of National Nutrition Month, this edition of Health e-News is packed with helpful tips on better eating.


Nutrition is closely tied to preventive care. This month, Dr. Brian Harrison gives us insight on timely cancer screenings, as well as workplace eye safety.


We encourage you to share this valuable news with your employees. Their version of this month's newsletter is available at:

To your good health, 

Connie Mahaffey

Director, Wellness and Employer Solutions

Affinity Health System

PlateWhat's On Your Plate?  

March is National Nutrition Month, a time to learn more about making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. This month, we encourage you to eat right, every day. Here's how.
Get colorful!
Aim to make half of your plate vegetables and fruit. One way to accomplish this is to add color to your plate. Strive for at least three different colors aside from brown, beige and white. Think green for spinach, peppers and other leafy greens; red for tomatoes, red peppers, apples, and more; orange for carrots, tangerines, apricots, mango, etc.; blue and purple for grapes, blueberries, eggplant and more.
Other strategies include:
  • Make at least half of your grains whole grains.
  • Vary your veggies (vary your colors).
  • Focus on fruits (include colors).
  • Get your calcium-rich foods (low-fat dairy products).
  • Go lean with protein (lean cuts of meats, poultry, fish and vegetable proteins like beans and other legumes).
  • Cut back on sodium and watch your consumption of empty calories--those foods that have a lot of added fats and sugars but not much more.
  • Be aware of oversized portions, and the size of your plates, bowls or cups.
  • Move your body! Physical activity is key to a healthy lifestyle. Choose activities you enjoy and that motivate you.

CoffeeCoffee: Good for You!   

By Julia Salomón, Affinity registered dietitian

If you are a coffee drinker, there's probably nothing more appealing than the robust aroma of freshly brewed coffee. For millions of people all over the world, starting the day off with a hot cup of java has become a morning ritual, whether it's home brewed or purchased from the many coffee stores that dot urban and suburban neighborhoods. For many in the U.S., that morning cup of coffee has become a must-have. Indeed, statistics from the National Coffee Association show that more than half of American adults drink some form of coffee daily, and over 400 million cups of coffee are consumed every year.

What's in that cup?
Recent studies on coffee's health effects suggest that a moderate intake of coffee can be beneficial. Apparently, roasting coffee beans and then brewing them in water generates beneficial compounds that are good for our health. Coffee, whether full-strength or decaffeinated, contains substances such as antioxidants, magnesium, chromium and more, which have been shown to play a role in preventing many chronic conditions.

Research data shows that the number one source of dietary antioxidants in industrialized countries comes from coffee. Antioxidants are substances that prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are byproducts of normal metabolism such as breathing and exercising but are also formed from processes such as smoking, radiation, toxins and other environmental exposures. Antioxidants, which are found in fruits and vegetables, and (as literature confirms) coffee beans, can counteract the damage caused by free radicals.

Prevent disease--drink up
Studies have also shown that coffee plays a role in the preventing type 2 diabetes. Scientists speculate that it is not one particular nutrient in that cup of java that is beneficial, rather it's the combination of substances in it that make a difference. Aside from antioxidants, coffee's chromium and magnesium are involved in the function of insulin, the hormone which helps control blood sugar.

There is additional research that shows a correlation between coffee consumption and lower risk of heart disease. A recent study indicated a lower risk of heart failure in those who consumed coffee compared to those who did not. Studies also suggest a lower risk of stroke among women coffee drinkers.

Caffeine has some benefits
The caffeine in coffee may also provide some benefit. Aside from its stimulating effect, caffeine has been shown to increase the effectiveness of some pain killers. Many over-the-counter analgesics contain caffeine as an active ingredient. Other studies have demonstrated a correlation between coffee consumption and decreased risk of Parkinson's disease, which the data suggests is due to the caffeine in coffee. How it works, though, is unclear.

Coffee lovers beware
In spite of all the benefits of coffee, it is prudent to point out that both regular and decaffeinated coffee contain acids that can exacerbate symptoms of heartburn. Consult with your doctor about your coffee consumption if you suffer from heartburn. It is also good to remember that coffee acts as a mild diuretic, meaning you will need more trips to the bathroom as your consumption of coffee increases.

To benefit from all that a cup of joe has to offer, it is important to remember a few things. First, enjoy the coffee; that is, keep the beverage simple and avoid the extra sweeteners and flavorings that will increase the calories of this fabulous concoction and do more harm than good to your waistline. Second, while research shows there is a benefit to consuming coffee, do so in moderation. Two to three cups of coffee a day may be enough to reap its many health benefits. Remember, more of a good thing is not necessarily better!

EyesKeeping an Eye on Safety 

March is Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month

By Brian Harrison, MD, Affinity Occupational Health 


Good eye health is an important part of work place safety! Think about people whizzing around the plant on tow motors. These drivers need good vision for good public safety, just like drivers on the streets do. For example, the Department of Transportation requires that truck drivers be able to see 20/40 in each eye, or better, and have 70 degrees of side vision in each eye. Safe tow motor driving requires good vision, too. If you drive a tow motor, your side vision ought to be good enough that when you are in your car, looking straight ahead through the windshield, you should be still able to see things pass by through the side windows, without needing to turn your head or your gaze. If you can't see as well as that, then have a full exam by your eye care provider.

A thorough eye exam includes:

  • Tests of your vision
  • A painless test for glaucoma ("the sneak thief of sight")
  • A dilated eye exam (drops to widen the pupil, for the doctor to see your retina)
    --during your twenties, you should have this full exam at least twice
    --during your thirties, at least three times
    --during your forties, at least four times
    --after age fifty, every one or two years 
    Have the dilated exam even more often if you have special risks, such as:
    --Diabetes, which is a leading cause of blindness and requires an annual exam
    --Previous eye trauma or eye surgery
    --Family history of glaucoma
    --African American descent, which increases glaucoma risk. 

To keep your good vision, protect your eyes at work. Every day in the U.S., more than 2,000 people suffer eye injuries at work. Temporary or permanent vision loss will happen in up to 10 percent of these people. And, about 90 percent of these injuries could have been prevented with proper eye protection. 

The best defense is good preparation! When starting a job, anticipate hazards it may cause, such as flying objects (bits of metal or glass), moving tools, dust and other particles, chemicals, and harmful radiation. Then eliminate these hazards as well as you are able before starting the task. Use machine guards, work screens, splash guards, and other engineering controls to best advantage. Keep your distance! And use proper eye protection. Never use a carpentry hammer to strike anything other than nails or other hardened steel. Never hit a chisel without eye goggles. 

Wear safety eyewear whenever there is a chance of an eye injury. Even if you are just passing through an eye hazard area, protective eye wear must be worn. 

Use the right type of eye wear. Side shields are needed wherever flying particles, flying objects, or dust might contaminate your eyes. But, this isn't enough if you are working with chemicals; you will then need goggles. If welding, always lower the welding visor, no matter how brief the welding job or how quick you think you are with your tools. Less than one second of welding flash will cause severely painful flash burns. And, you won't know you burned your eyes until several hours later. That will mean a trip to the doctor, sometimes even the emergency department, in the middle of the night. Very inconvenient - and very painful! 

If you, a co-worker, or a family member suffers an eye injury, proper first aid can save valuable time and possibly prevent vision loss. When working with chemicals, whether at work or at home, always know where eye washing can be done. It is best to have a first aid kit with a commercial bottle of eye wash at home and at work. If chemicals splash into the eye, immediately flush it with water or any other drinkable liquid that is immediately available. Hold the eye under a faucet or shower, or pour water into the eye with a clean container. Keep the eye open and as wide as possible while flushing. Continue flushing for at least 15 minutes. Remember, the solution to pollution is dilution! 

The key is to flush immediately. Don't stop to remove a contact lens; just begin flushing over the lens immediately, it may even wash out. Eye drops are no substitute! This takes gallons of water, not just a few drops of contact lens solution. 

Seek immediate medical treatment after 15 or more minutes of flushing. Also, seek treatment if any specks in the eye do not wash out. If anyone is struck on the eye, seek medical attention if there is reduced vision, black eye, or continuing pain. See a doctor at once if anything cuts or punctures the eye, especially a flying particle. 

Want to know more about eye safety, eye problems, and taking care of your work site? Visit and go to "Vision Learning Center." And don't forget - get your eyes checked! 

Eating wellPrograms to Motivate Healthy Eating 
Looking for ways to boost employee nutrition? Try these fun and effective interventions available from Affinity Occupational Health.
Nutrition Journaling Programs
Affinity offers a wide range of nutrition journaling programs designed to motivate your entire workforce to start eating healthy.  Options include:
Bite It & Write It--Focuses on enjoying each of the main food groups in moderation and with appropriate portion sizes each day.
Can the Soda--Emphasizes the importance of drinking less soda daily or cutting it out completely, and drinking more water to maintain proper hydration and weight maintenance.
FiberFit--Most people need more fiber. This program helps your workforce increase their daily fiber and better understand its health benefits.
Naughty or Nice Choices--This journaling program is designed to show participants exactly how much fat and sugar they consume each day. The goal is to eat less "naughty" choices than the recommended total amount of daily fat and sugar, and to eat the daily recommended amounts of healthy foods or "nice" choices.
Get Your 5 a Day!--This journaling program is designed to show exactly how many servings of fruits and vegetables participants are consuming each day.
Wellness Presentations
Looking for a topic for your next lunch-and-learn or all-staff meeting? Our wellness experts will come on-site to share helpful information on a variety of nutrition topics, including:
Decoding Food Labels--Learn how to solve the food label mystery! Participants will learn how to read and effectively use food labels to improve their nutrition choices and overall health.
Portion Distortion--Bigger is not always better. Maintaining a healthy weight means eating the right foods in the right amounts. Participants will learn how portion sizes have grown through the years, what portion sizes should look like for different foods, and tips to control how much they eat.
Eating on the Run--Lack of time and the convenience of fast food are major reasons why people forego healthy eating. While finding a healthy, balanced diet on the go may be difficult, it can be done. This presentation will offer participants around-the-clock tips with specific, realistic examples to help them eat healthy on the run.
Healthy Recipe Makeover--Do you have a recipe that you love to make, but feel guilty eating or preparing because it has too much fat and calories? Bring your favorite recipe(s) in for a recipe makeover! Participants will learn how to transform favorites into healthier choices without sacrificing the flavor.
Colorize Your Day!--Give employees the motivation they need to incorporate fruits and vegetables into their diet. Participants will learn which fruits and vegetables are highest in important vitamins and minerals and learn creative ways to add fruits and vegetables to the day.
Healthy University
Healthy University is an innovative approach to on-site wellness education. Classes build upon each other, providing participants with the knowledge and skills they need to improve their health. Our curriculum is tailored to the needs and interests of each worksite. Employees are encouraged to participate in the entire series, but they may elect to just attend the classes that interest them most.
Classes are divided into two categories:
1. The Core Curriculum--classes that provide the educational foundation necessary for improving health. Topics in this area may include nutrition, diet, exercise basics, stress management, back care, etc.
2. The Electives--classes that address a variety of interests and provide a fun and motivational approach to achieving personal health-related goals. Topics in this area may include healthy recipe makeovers, exploring integrative medicine, relaxation techniques, introduction to yoga, etc.
Healthy University Cookbook
As part of the Healthy University program, your employees have the opportunity to submit unhealthy versions of their favorite recipes to be "made over" into a healthier version. Affinity Health System will then include your employees' healthy recipes in our 160+ recipe book that can be printed and distributed to your employees.
For more information or a comprehensive menu of interventions, call Tammy Davis at Affinity Occupational Health, (920) 628-1532.

SurgeonsWhat's Happening at Affinity 

Reap the Benefits of Robotic Surgery

If you've seen Affinity's "do the robot" commercials recently, you might be wondering what robotic surgery is all about. This advanced surgical option is a highly precise, minimally invasive technique that may reduce healing time and speed a patient's return to work and normal activities. Affinity surgeons use the robotic system for gynecologic surgery (hysterectomy), urological surgery, throat surgery and general surgery.

Faster recovery
Compared to traditional procedures, robotic surgery involves smaller incisions and less wear on the body. "This minimizes post-operative pain and speeds healing and recovery," says Thomas Mahoney, MD, gynecologic surgeon with Affinity Medical Group. "Many people will return to work sooner, use less pain medication and spend less time in the hospital, usually one night or even less." Many of his hysterectomy patients returned to work, at least part-time or with restrictions, at the two-week check.

How does da Vinci robotic-assisted surgery work?
The da Vinci Surgical System is a laparoscopic surgical robot that integrates the latest advancements in robotics and computer-enhanced technology with a surgeon's skills, using 3D images.

Small incisions are used to insert small instruments and a high-definition 3D camera into the body. Seated at the console, the surgeon views a magnified, high-resolution 3D image of the patient's inner body at the surgical site. The da Vinci Surgical System imitates the movement of a surgeon in real-time to maneuver through surgery.

The surgical robot cannot be programmed to perform surgery. Rather, the da Vinci is controlled by the surgeon throughout the entire surgical procedure, offering greater accuracy, flexibility, and comfort.

Is it right for you?
The da Vinci Surgical System can be especially helpful for:

  • patients with a history of previous surgeries or scarring
  • patients who are overweight
  • sleep apnea patients
  • complex surgeries requiring greater precision or 3D visualization.

For more information, visit us online at Or visit our YouTube site to see a special video about one of Affinity's robotic hysterectomy patients. 

PotluckTry This! Workplace Wellness Tip:

Healthy Lunch Groups  

This National Nutrition Month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day! "Eat right your way" means eating your favorite foods, but in a healthy way. 
Organize a "Healthy Lunch" monthly potluck group and lighten up the lunchroom! Regular potlucks can be enough to knock even the most dedicated person off of the healthy lifestyle track. Typically they're full of high-calorie dips, heavy casseroles, and tempting sweets. Encourage employees to lighten up their favorite foods by making healthy ingredient swaps, and then trading recipes.
Fun lunchtime potluck themes can revolve around the season. Try lighter holiday menus for Thanksgiving or Christmas and "Healthy Grill" in the summer with veggies, turkey burgers on whole wheat buns, and fruit salad. Don't forget about "Healthy Harvest" in the fall to use up the bounty from the garden!
To get things started:
1. Designate an organizer to gather the list of everyone who wants to participate.
2. Break the list into four teams and assign each team three months. For example, Team 1 takes January, May, and September, so that each team brings lunch only three times per year.
3. Each team will be responsible for creating a healthy menu and bringing healthy items into the lunchroom on their assigned months.
Everyone who participates gets to reap the benefits of a monthly healthy potluck (with recipes shared) while only bringing the goodies a few times a year! Start a potluck culture in your organization that is social, healthy, delicious, and FUN!
Cereal with blueberriesBreakfast With the Experts


Health Care Reform: Should You "Pay" or "Play"?
Presented by Robert Simandl, JD
Simandl Law Group, S.C.

Wednesday, March 13
7:30 - 9:30 a.m.
Bridgewood Resort and Conference Center
1000 Cameron Way, Neenah

Robert Simandl, of the boutique labor and employment firm of the Simandl Law Group, S.C., will lead a discussion on the health reform act provisions on "Pay or Play" and the business decision points in health plan design and operation. Bob will discuss the requirements for "Pay or Play" and the hidden pitfalls for employers. He will also explore plan design and operational issues to accomplish plan exclusion of employees and how the exchanges can become a part of the planning process for employers. Also, a discussion on the effective use of wellness plans in cost containment will be included in this timely presentation.
Robert Simandl is the founding member and principal at Simandl Law Group. He has over 25 years of experience advising clients on a wide range of employee benefits, labor and employment law issues. He counsels employers on all aspects of workplace law compliance. He earned his undergraduate degree, with honors, from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and his J.D. from Marquette University Law School, graduating cum laude.
To register for this free seminar, contact Tammy Davis at (920) 628-1532 or

ListWhich Cancer Screenings When?


Regular cancer screenings are an important part of preventive care. But many people avoid them, fearing they're inconvenient, uncomfortable, or might reveal something they'd rather not know. How can employers encourage their workers to make these screenings a priority?

Affinity Occupational Health expert Brian Harrison, MD, gives us a helpful list of do's and don'ts.



1. Make it personal. Provide targeted messages to men and to women, according to age group. For example, those above 50 years old and those below need different messages. Please see this chart of recommended screenings. And, remind everyone that their own individual family history may require additional screening.

2. Keep it simple. In fact, standard recommendations are simple (see this chart).

3. Keep it positive. People find motivation in testimonials about the peace of mind and satisfaction that comes from completing these tests. Completing recommended tests puts the mind at ease, both for the individual and their loved ones. And staying up-to-date gives a feeling of relative control over something that seems "out of control" - namely cancer. Instead of feeling powerless, people who complete screenings and take other cancer-prevention steps (avoiding tobacco and excess alcohol, plus sensible nutrition and exercise) feel they are "doing something!" They feel assertive in a positive way.

4. Talk about cancer prevention, not just cancer detection. Colonoscopy particularly lends itself to the idea of positive preventive thinking. Colonoscopy uniquely prevents cancer, not just detects it. When colonoscopy leads to removal of a polyp, one can have confidence that polyp will never become a cancer. To promote colonoscopy, promote it as a cancer-preventing procedure, not just a cancer-detecting test.



1. Don't over-generalize. Men and women need different messages, as do people of different ages. Not everyone needs cancer screening. Emphasize age- and gender-specific recommendations. Don't send messages that mistakenly make people think everyone needs screening every year. And, individualized recommendations from treating physicians always trump blanket recommendations.

2. Don't over-complicate. The worse way is to promote other types of screening that don't have endorsement from national cancer research organizations. Stick to the accepted recommendations such as those in this chart.

3. Don't frighten. Testimonials about how someone found they had cancer on a screening evaluation, and otherwise would not have known it, may actually scare some people away from testing. Surveys show many people actually would "rather not know!" This belief may seem misinformed, but remains a major obstacle. So, emphasize the peace of mind cancer screening brings, and the fact there are ways to prevent, and not just detect, cancer. This less threatening, more welcomed invitation to cancer screening won't frighten people away from participating. 

HandshakeMake a Personal Connection: Patients and Providers


Do your employees need help connecting with a health provider? The Affinity Occupational Health Connection Specialist is your employee concierge, dedicated to connecting your employees to a primary care provider. The Connection Specialist, Sarah Jedlicka, will meet personally with employees, serving as their readily accessible liaison, answering questions and providing insight into a perfectly matched physician relationship for your workers and their families.


Sarah is available to come on-site and provide the following services:

  • Set up a booth to meet and greet your employees with a variety of information on Affinity's services
  • Provide information on Affinity Medical Home and our specialty providers
  • Answer questions about which providers are taking new patients
  • Meet one-on-one with employees to provide a concierge-level service to help them find a physician
  • Sarah can even help employees set up their first appointment.

Get Connected!
If you wish to invite Sarah on-site to participate in an upcoming wellness event, or a group or one-on-one employee meeting, please call Tammy Davis at (920) 628-1532 to arrange an appointment.

Your Affinity Occupational Health Sales Team 
Holly Tomlin, manager of wellness and employer solutions for Affinity Occupational Health, enjoys building relationships with clients while finding creative solutions for their needs.  Holly's background includes 15 years of experience in the health care field, with a strong background in employee assistance programs and occupational health. As a certified massage therapist, Holly has a special interest in educating others on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, including wellness and prevention initiatives. 

Tammy Davis, account manager for Affinity Occupational Health, provides corporate clients with valuable information regarding services offered through Affinity Occupational Health. She works closely with clients to determine their specific needs for health and wellness services. Tammy has a bachelor's degree in business administration from UW Oshkosh and over 20 years of experience in marketing, sales, and customer service.

To contact Holly or Tammy, call the Affinity Occupational Health office located in Menasha, at 1-800-541-0351, or e-mail or