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4J Benefits and Wellness Newsletter – March 2016 – Issue 287

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Prepared by Julie Wenzl • 541-790-7682 • wenzl@4j.lane.edu • March 15, 2016 • Issue Number 287


Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of death from cancer. Colorectal cancer affects people in all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people age 50 and older.

If everyone age 50 and older were screened regularly, 6 out of 10 deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month, so it’s a good time to review the screening options available to us. Whether you are enrolled in a Synergy or Statewide Moda plan, colorectal cancer screening is covered at no cost if performed by an in-network provider on an outpatient basis.

The following services, including related charges, are considered preventive healthcare when recommended by the treating professional provider:

  • Routine flexible sigmoidoscopy and pre-surgical exam or consultation
  • Routine colonoscopy, including polyp removal and pre-surgical exam or consultation and related anesthesia
  • Double contrast barium enema
  • Fecal occult blood test

Laboratory tests are covered at the medical benefit level. Colorectal cancer screening is covered at the medical benefit level if it is not performed for preventive purposes (e.g., screening is for diagnostic reasons or to check symptoms). General anesthesia is covered at the benefit level of the related colorectal cancer screening if medically necessary. Otherwise, it is not covered.

Members may call Moda Customer Service to verify if colorectal cancer screening or any other preventive service is covered at no cost share: 866-923-0409.


Eugene has a multitude of wonderful hiking trails, but unfortunately, many of them come with a healthy supply of poison oak. I am familiar with the “leaves of three, let it be” rule and generally know how to avoid the plant. A recent brush with some twigs without leaves on Mt. Pisgah prompted me to do a little research.

Poison ivy, oak, and sumac are plants that can cause a red, itchy rash called allergic contact dermatitis. It is the most common skin problem caused by contact with plants.

If you are allergic to poison ivy, you’re more likely to be allergic to poison oak and poison sumac, because all three plants contain the same rash-triggering plant oil called urushiol. You’re also more likely to have an allergic reaction to other plant resins, such as the oil from Japanese lacquer trees (used on furniture), mango rinds, and cashew shells.

You can get the rash from:

  • Touching or brushing against any part of these plants, including the leaves, stems, flowers, berries, and roots, even if the plant is dead.
  • Touching anything that has come in contact with these plants, such as clothing, sporting gear, gardening tools, or pet fur.
  • Airborne contact from burning plants. Burning the plants releases particles of urushiol into the air that can penetrate the skin, eyes, nose, throat, or respiratory system

The usual symptoms of the rash are:

  • Itching.
  • Red streaks or general redness where the plant brushed against the skin.
  • Small bumps or larger raised areas (hives).
  • Blisters that may leak fluid.

Some people are very allergic to the oil. In these people, even a little bit of the oil may cause serious symptoms that need medical attention right away, such as:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of the face, mouth, neck, or genitals. The eyelids may swell shut.
  • Widespread, large blisters that ooze a lot of fluid.

Urushiol quickly penetrates the skin. The rash usually takes more than a week to show up the first time you have a reaction to the oil but can develop in a day or two on later contacts. The rash may form in new areas over several days, but you will only get a rash where the oil touched your skin. Scratching the itchy rash doesn’t cause it to spread but can prolong skin healing and cause a secondary infection. You can’t catch the rash from someone else by touching the blister fluid, so the rash won’t spread to others at school or work.

Self-care for a mild rash includes:

  • Washing the area well with mild soap and lukewarm water as soon as possible after contact.
  • Washing all clothes, shoes, socks, tools, pets, and toys that may have become contaminated.
  • Cool compresses may help during the blistering phase.
  • Use of a topical corticosteroid cream on the rash as directed by your doctor.
  • Calamine lotion can be used for the itching, but avoid skin products that contain anesthetics or antihistamines, which can cause their own allergic reaction.
  • Cool showers or a mixture of baking soda and water applied to the area may help relieve the itch. If sleep is a problem because of the itching, try an over-the-counter antihistamine at night.

Call your doctor or a dermatologist for:

  • Severe blistering, swelling, and itching
  • Symptoms in sensitive areas such as the eyes, lips, throat, or genitals
  • Fever
  • A rash over large areas of your body
  • A rash lasting longer than a week to 10 days
  • Blisters that become infected with pus

Get immediate medical help for any difficulty breathing or severe coughing after exposure to burning plants. In some cases, an oral steroid or other medication may be needed to relieve severe symptoms.

To avoid rashes from poison ivy or poison oak:

  • Remember the old adage: “Leaves of three, let them be.” Poison ivy and poison oak have a triple-leaf structure you can learn to recognize — and then avoid.
  • Avoid any contact with these plants when possible.
  • Cover your skin completely when hiking, camping, or working in forests and around shrubs; wear long sleeves, long pants, gloves, socks, and boots. Remember that you can also get a rash from indirect contact from clothes, pets, or tools that have urushiol on them.
  • Ask your doctor about over-the-counter skin products that contain a barrier such as bentoquatam to help protect the skin from urushiol if you work outside in forestry or other jobs at risk of frequent exposure.

Poison Ivy: Grows everywhere in United States except Hawaii and Alaska. In the East, Midwest, and the South, it grows as a vine. In the Northern and Western United States, it grows as a shrub. Each leaf has three leaflets. Leaves are green in the summer and red in the fall. In the late summer and fall, white berries may grow from the stems.

Poison Oak: Has oak-like fuzzy leaves in clusters of three. It has two distinct kinds: Eastern poison oak (New Jersey to Texas) grows as a low shrub. Western poison oak (Pacific Coast) grows to six-foot-tall clumps or vines up to 30 feet long. It may have clusters of yellow berries.


I’m hoping to compile a list of great songs with a walking theme and hoping for your help. Some ideas:

  • I Walk The Line – Johnny Cash
  • Walk Like an Egyptian – The Bangles
  • Walk of Life – Dire Straights
  • Walk on the Ocean – Toad the Wet Sprocket
  • Walking on Sunshine – Katrina & The Waves
  • Walkin’ After Midnight – Patsy Cline
  • Walking on the Moon – The Police
  • Walk On By – Cake

What would you add to the list? Please send your suggestions and I’ll share the list in a future newsletter.

If you need some inspiration, you can find the Surgeon General’s Walking Playlist station on Pandora: http://www.pandora.com/station/play/2810120466795340928

The information in this newsletter has been summarized. It is presented as information – not advice or counsel. In all instances, the benefits, conditions, and limitations as outlined in the 4J Master Contracts prevail over this representation. Please refer to your Benefits booklet or master contracts available at the District offices for additional information regarding your benefits plans.
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