Health e-News
December 2013
Cold Weather Health Hazards
Healthy Holiday Parties
Don't Gain, Maintain
Cold vs. Flu
Handwashing Helps
Parking Lot Snow Safety
Unhappy Holidays
Spread Some Cheer: Volunteer
Clinic Holiday Hours
Breakfast With the Experts
Quick Links

As we usher in another holiday season, Affinity Occupational Health is here to help you make the most of your wellness efforts during this busy time of year.

This edition of Health e-News is packed full of valuable information, from ideas for healthy Christmas parties to weight management interventions and tips for staving off colds and flu. We're also focused on safety with helpful articles about winter parking lot safety and cold weather health risks.

Finally, read about keeping spirits bright with volunteering opportunities and help for the holiday blues. At Affinity Occupational Health, we care about more than just your physical health. We're invested in your morale, too.

Please pass along this valuable information to your employees. Their version of this month's newsletter is available at:

Happy holidays to all, 

Linda Hale-Graves

Director, Wellness and Employer Solutions

Affinity Health System

Cold Weather Health Hazards

By Christopher Westra, MD, Affinity Occupational Health

Cold weather presents increased risks to your workforce. It can directly injure the body, exacerbate physical injury and cause injury through alterations in the usual physical properties. However, you can mitigate the risk. Invariably all these injuries can be prevented with aggressive preparation.
Direct Injury
The physical elements of cold (cold temperatures, rain, sleet, snow and wind) can cause direct injury to the skin and body. The mildest form of injury is chill-blands, which is a skin injury. This readily occurs when uncovered skin is exposed to low temperatures and wind. More serious injury is frost bite. In frost bite, whole appendages (such as fingers, ears and noses) are physiologically compromised. This can result in amputation in severe cases. The most serious kind of injury is hypothermia. This type of injury compromises the physiology of vital organs such as the heart and brain.
Protect and Prevent
Cold joints and muscles lack the flexibility and resiliency that is present when appropriately warmed. Wind- and water-resistant outerwear can maintain adequate body heat, joint function and muscular flexibility. This is particularly important in relatively sedentary outdoor work. Appropriate head gear is another key to preserving core temperatures. Readily available personal protective equipment will assist employees in decreasing their exposure risk. Adequately maintaining equipment heaters and using accessory winterizing equipment (such as cab covers) to maintain extremity warmth can minimize the chances of injury. 
Wind Chill
Remember, air temperature is only part of the picture. Wind chills can cause harm beyond the digits on the thermometer. For a wind chill calculator, visit the National Weather Service online at
Slippery Surfaces
Ice and snow cause usually trustworthy surfaces to become slippery. These fall hazards can be a source of significant injury. Persistent maintenance of the workplace walking areas with snow removal and ice-melt products will minimize fall hazards and injury risk. Warning signage can appropriately alert employees to concerning surfaces.
Driving Hazards
Nowhere are the changes in physical elements more apparent than on the roadway. Pay attention to in-climate weather reports and warnings and heed them. Maintain ample fuel levels at all times in threatening weather. Be vigilant in maintaining the charge in cell phones. All vehicles should have an emergency kit, including a warm thermal blanket, chemical warming packets, and quick nonperishable sources of calories. A small shovel, a 20 to 50 lb bag of ice-melt or sand, a flashlight and battery powered radio are other reasonable accessories.
If vehicle accidents occur, stay with your vehicle. On high-traffic, slippery roads, be extremely reluctant with assisting other vehicles. This is a recipe for pedestrian vs. vehicle mishaps. Significant injury has occurred when a well-meaning motorist comes to the assistance of another vehicle only to be struck by an out-of-control passing vehicle.
Think Ahead
Most employees are prepared for the expected, but what would be needed if the job didn't go as planned? What would be needed if fundamental equipment failed or left them stranded? What would I do if I got wet? What equipment would I need? These are the questions that will help prepare employees for the upcoming winter when the elements can be critically demanding.

Try This! Workplace Wellness Tip:

Healthy Holiday Parties


You work hard all year round to encourage healthy habits in your employees. Why blow it in the name of holiday cheer? Office Christmas parties can be a part of your wellness efforts, not their undoing. Here's how:

Serve a Rainbow
Hors d'oeuvre displays can be a feast for the eyes--not the hips--by choosing colorful, nutrient-packed edibles such as raw fruits and vegetables, black bean salsa with blue corn chips, boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce or salmon fillets with whole-grain crackers. Think simple, natural recipes: if it's drowning in fat or fillers, don't serve it.

Shrink the Sugar
Ok, so the holidays aren't the holidays without a few sweets at the table. But be aware that party-goers are suckers for the power of suggestion. If you offer brownies as big as Santa's sleigh, they will eat them. Likewise, bite-sized servings satisfy the sweet tooth without breaking the calorie bank. Offer a variety of desserts in mini cupcake papers for festive portion control.

Play Reindeer Games
Here's a wild idea -- focus on fun, not food. Hire a band so guests can dance the night away, or plan a competition with big prizes. Pictionary, a treasure hunt, a billiard tournament... it doesn't matter what activity you choose. If it offers a chance to win an iPad or flat-screen TV, guests will play. 

Don't Gain, Maintain 

It's that time of year again! Time to start your "Don't Gain, Maintain" challenges. The goal is for employees to maintain their current weight over the holiday season, between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Everyone whose pre-holiday and post-holiday weigh-ins prove steady will be rewarded with a prize.
For ideas, help, and resources to develop this or other fun fitness challenges to keep employees focused on wellness during the holidays, call Affinity Occupational Health at 1-800-541-0351.

Cold vs. Flu  

How to read--and treat--your symptoms

Cough, congestion, aches, chills. Cold and flu season is upon us. But which do you have? And why does it matter?
"Both the common cold and influenza--the flu--are respiratory illnesses, but they're caused by different viruses. In general, flu symptoms are more severe than the common cold and can lead to complications such as pneumonia or bacterial infections," says Richard Menet, MD, a physician with Affinity Occupational Health.
Get the FACTS
While many cold symptoms can mimic the flu, there are five FACTS that generally point to influenza:
Sudden symptoms
Fever, headache, severe body aches and chills are red flags for the flu. Sneezing, runny or stuffy nose and sore throat are more likely tied to a common cold. Flu symptoms often appear suddenly, within three to six hours, whereas cold symptoms might appear more gradually. Both illnesses may make you feel tired, but with the flu this symptom is more extreme. "Flu sufferers may not be able to function off the couch. They're likely to sleep all day," Dr. Menet says.
Stop Flu in Its Tracks
If you suspect you have the flu, it's a good idea to see your doctor right away so he can test for the influenza virus and prescribe an antiviral medication such as Tamiflu. If taken within 12 to 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms, antivirals can stop the flu from spreading throughout your body and shorten the duration of your misery. "Antivirals can also reduce the incidence of influenza-related lower respiratory tract complications such as pneumonia," says Dr. Menet.
"Just" a Cold
Cold symptoms can drag you down, but over-the-counter medications can help. "Just be sure not to take medication for symptoms you don't have," advises Dr. Menet. "Cold medicines are formulated for every possible combination of symptoms, so you should be able to find one tailored to what ails you."
Unlike antivirals, however, cold meds don't attack the virus; they just relieve symptoms. The only cure for the common cold is time.
Keep Yourself and Others Healthy
Remember, prevention is the best medicine. Ward off winter bugs by washing your hands often, and get a flu shot. If you are struck by a nasty virus, do your co-workers a favor and take a sick day. Some things are best kept to yourself.

Handwashing Helps           


It's National Handwashing Week! Frequent and proper handwashing is the key to killing germs and preventing the spread of colds and flu. You might already know that, but do you really know the right way to wash your hands?  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here's how:


1. Wash your hands with warm running water and soap.


2. Rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds (as long as it takes to sing once through the ABCs or "Happy Birthday").


3. Be sure to wash your wrists, the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails.


4. Leave the water running while you dry your hands on a paper towel.


5. Protect your hands with the paper towel while you turn off the water. This will prevent your clean hands from touching the faucet--a potential source of germs. 


When soap and water aren't available, gel sanitizers or wipes containing 60-90 percent ethyl alcohol or isopropanol are the next best thing. Keep these in your car, purse or desk. Using a dime-size amount of gel, rub your hands together, covering all surfaces of the skin and nails, until the gel is dry. 


And, to be safe, try not to touch your mouth, nose or eyes. Germs can easily enter your body through your facial cavities.


Now go wash up and enjoy a healthy winter!  

Parking Lot Snow Safety 


Ah, winter. The warm cozy fires, the sparkling holiday lights, the first fresh flakes of snow... which keep coming and don't let up until June. As employers, we need to ensure the safety of our staff and customers in the midst of snow-piled parking lots and ice-glazed sidewalks. Here are some handy tips for avoiding winter wonderland injuries.


Be Heart (and Muscle) Smart - Not every business's budget covers professional snow removal. If shoveling and plowing duties fall to a staff member, make sure he or she is in good enough shape to handle the physical activity. Poor ergonomics or overexertion can lead to muscle strain and even heart attacks. Instruct shovelers to push the snow in front of them and lift with the legs, not the back.


Salt and Light - Keep steps and walkways well-lit and clear of ice and snow. Sprinkle rock salt or sand to melt what the shovel missed. Maintain an ample supply of de-icing compounds on site.


Stick with It - Never leave a snow blower or snow plow unattended. Make sure all people are out of the path of the blowing snow, and if the blower becomes stuck with packed ice or snow, NEVER try to clear it by putting your hand in the machine while it's running.


Lend a Glove - Keep a few shovels, ice scrapers, gloves and boots on hand for employees who are caught unaware. Encourage staff to keep their cars equipped with snow- and ice-removal tools for the drive home from work, but for those who don't, a little planning on your part will help ensure safety.

Unhappy Holidays

Depression Intervention Services 


"Have a holly jolly Christmas... it's the best time of the year!" Great song, but real life is not always so cheerful. For some, the holidays come wrapped in stress or sadness. Family circumstances, loneliness, unrealistic agendas and expectations, seasonal affective disorder--these are just some of the triggers leading to unhappy holidays. 


Affinity Occupational Health offers a depression intervention tool to help your employees recognize and get help for their depression. This web-based interactive screening invites participants to take a confidential self-assessment of their symptoms and struggles. Based on their answers, they are directed to follow up with the appropriate treatment provider including EAP and/or their primary care physician. 


For more information, call us at 1-800-541-0351.

Spread Some Cheer: Volunteer
'Tis the season for giving! This year, instead of the usual office gift exchange or department after-hours cocktail party, why not rally employees around a good cause? It's a great way to build team morale while boosting the spirits of people in need this Christmas season.
Salvation Army Bell Ringers - All it takes is a couple hours of your time and a friendly smile to encourage store patrons to support year-round programs by donating to this annual charity drive.
Adopt-a-Family - Love to shop? Fill your cart with gifts and necessities for needy families in our area, or volunteer to sort and distribute packages.
Fill Their Plates - Several agencies and churches in our area need volunteers to serve holiday meals.
Party People - Many organizations invite volunteers to help with annual holiday parties for at-risk youth, seniors or disabled residents.
Crafty Christmas - Volunteers are needed to make hospital tray favors, sew quilts or decorate stores, to name just a few. 
For a complete list of volunteer opportunities available throughout our communities, and information on how to get involved, visit to download a holiday guide.

Reminder: Affinity Medical Group
Holiday Clinic Hours


Tuesday, Dec. 24 - Christmas Eve
All clinics will close at noon.
(Includes Urgent Care and Pediatric Departments)


Wednesday, Dec. 25 - Christmas Day
All clinics will be closed.
(Includes Urgent Care and Pediatric Departments)


Tuesday, Dec. 31 (New Year's Eve)
All clinics will be open until 5 p.m.
Urgent Care and Pediatrics will not have clinic hours after 5 p.m.


Wednesday, Jan. 1 (New Year's Day)
All clinics will be closed with the exception of the following departments:
Urgent Care (7:30 a.m. - noon)
* 1855 S. Koeller St., Oshkosh 920.223.7300
* 3329 N. Richmond St., Appleton 920.380.2715
Urgent Care (8 a.m. - noon)
* 101 Main St, Neenah 920.727.4343
Pediatric Services (8 a.m. - noon)
* 740 Deerwood Avenue Neenah 920.751.9600
* 1855 S. Koeller St., Oshkosh 920.223.7200


To reach a physician on call or to ask general health care questions, call Affinity NurseDirect at 800.362.9900. Emergency departments at our hospitals will be open 24 hours a day through all holidays.

Cereal with blueberriesBreakfast With the Experts


Save the date!  
Wednesday, Jan. 8
7:30 - 9:30 a.m.
Bridgewood Resort and Conference Center
1000 Cameron Way, Neenah
Topic details will be coming soon. Watch your e-mail for more information!
To register for this free seminar, contact Stefanie Armstrong at  
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. 


Cindy Budiac
, account manager for Affinity Occupational Health, is available to help clients determine the right services and programs for their needs. Cindy has more than 15 years of experience in clinical health care, sales and business development. As our newest account manager, Cindy looks forward to meeting you and partnering on all your occupational health needs. 

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