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HealthiER Holidays 

Heart Healthy Treats; Help for Emergencies

By Amy Morgan


The month of December offers many opportunities to celebrate with tasty treats. It seems everywhere you turn there’s a new temptation. Take a healthier option to the dessert table this year. Pomegranate Pistachio Bark is sure to turn heads, and it’s packed with antioxidant rich ingredients. This luscious bite is just one of the recipes in the second cookbook created for the community by Jennifer Meachum, R.D.N., L.D., Physicians Premier SA Regional Marketing Manager.  


Last year Physicians Premier enlisted Jennifer to draw upon her nutrition background to create a cookbook with healthy, easy-to-prepare recipes to help people make better menu choices. Now she is back with a second edition, HealthiER Occasions, a cookbook filled with healthy and delicious recipes for every celebration throughout the year from Valentine’s Day to Thanksgiving — and everything in between. 


“At Physicians Premier we understand the importance of celebrating special occasions with family and friends. This cookbook helps balance health and happiness all throughout the year with delicious and easy recipes,” 

she said. 


Drop by the free-standing emergency room, located west of Highway 281 on Highway 46 near the HEB Plus, to pick up your free copy of the cookbook. Or email, and Jennifer will be happy to mail you one.

Despite your precautions, Aunt Theresa from Tulsa might overindulge in all the traditional holiday fare while visiting. What should you do if her symptoms of indigestion alarmingly begin to mimic that of a potential heart attack? She’s miles from her usual doctors, and many offices are closed over the holidays.   


What may seem like a minor problem can exacerbate quickly, says seasoned physician Lonnie Schwirtlich, M.D. Physicians Premier can handle any type of traumatic injury or illness. The facility includes on-site X-rays, CAT scans, a full laboratory and ultrasound and is staffed by board-certified emergency room doctors. 


This season, Dr. Schwirtlich already has seen several serious cases of bacterial pneumonia secondary to flu. It’s common for someone to recover from a viral infection just enough to believe they are well enough to travel, he said. A few days later, they suddenly develop fever and chills and think they are having a relapse. Unfortunately, it’s something far worse – a bacterial superinfection. “This can be life threatening,” Dr. Schwirtlich said. “It’s really important to be aware of and get treatment fast.” 


People may worry that their insurance won’t cover the cost of out-of-area emergency care. Patients have the right to obtain care if they believe their condition is life altering or threatening. Federal law requires insurance companies process an ER visit at the in-network level and guarantee coverage in a true emergency. 


When in doubt, call Physicians Premier. The highly trained medical staff will triage your problem over the phone and help you decide if you should come in. They also can contact your family doctor back home to coordinate care and convey treatment information. 


“We are glad to do that,” Dr. Schwirtlich emphasized. “We want to get people taken care of appropriately so they can get back to enjoying their holiday with their family.” 


Pomegranate Pistachio Bark

½ cup pistachios, shelled, salted and chopped

12 ounces of dark chocolate melting wafers

½ cup pomegranate seeds



Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pistachios on a baking sheet pan in a single layer. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool. Melt dark chocolate according to package directions, until chocolate is smooth. Pour melted chocolate onto parchment paper lined baking sheet pan, spreading into an even layer. Sprinkle chocolate evenly with pistachios and pomegranate seeds. Refrigerate until the chocolate has set, approximately 20 minutes. Break bark into pieces and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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