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    Bluebonnet Dental Care to Host Free Dentistry Day Saturday, August 24

    Residents in the Baton Rouge community and surrounding areas will have the opportunity to receive free dental services at Bluebonnet Dental Care on Saturday, August 24.

    Doctors and team at Bluebonnet Dental Care will be improving the oral health of the community as part of Free Dentistry Day, a day dedicated to providing free dental care to the growing number of Americans without dental insurance. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 108 million Americans are living without dental insurance.

    “We understand that many people in our community and across the nation haven’t been to the dentist for a long period of time. Some don’t understand the importance of dental health, but more often than not, they don’t have the financial means,” said Burkhalter. “This event is a great opportunity for us to share our time and resources with those less fortunate and give back to the community.”

    There is increasing evidence that links oral health to overall health and well-being. The signs and symptoms of more than 100 medical conditions, including diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease and oral cancer may first be detected through traditional oral examinations.

    “Dental health is a vital part of a person’s overall health,” said Rome. “Through this event, we hope to educate patients on the importance of dental health and encourage them to adopt an ongoing oral care regimen.”

    During Free Dentistry Day, cleanings, fillings and extractions will be provided to patients on Saturday, August 24, between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. at 4451 Bluebonnet Boulevard, Suite A in Baton Rouge. Patients will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, please call 225-767-2273 or visit www.FreeDentistryDay.org.

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    Teens earn Emergency Medical Responder Certification

    Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation presented the 2019 graduating class of the College & Career Ready Emergency Medical Responder  Institute. The graduates, all Baton Rouge area high school students, obtained Emergency Medical Responder certification upon their successful completion of the 10-week EMR Institute.
    UREC’s 2019 College & Career Ready EMR Institute graduates are:
    • Adrianna Brown (Valedictorian)
    • Bridget Calhoun
    • Alexus Maiden
    • Leah Ruffin
    • Abria Scott
    • Aisha Smith
    UREC’s College & Career Ready EMR Institute prepares students attending high schools in Baton Rouge for careers in the medical field, while providing a pathway to industry-based certification. During the institute, scholars learned life-saving skills such as CPR, how to detect vital signs, trauma response and injury care management under the instruction of Bob Brankline with the East Baton Rouge Parish School’s Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC).
    Throughout the institute, scholars participated in lecture-based instruction at Southern University School of Nursing and hands-on, skills-based instruction at CTEC. Scholars also participated in work site visits with the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security (Red Stick Ready), Baton Rouge General Mid-City, ExxonMobil, Baton Rouge EMS & 911 Operations, Baton Rouge Fire Department, and Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University (Fran U).
     
    Adrianna Brown, class valedictorian, said the program taught her technical, leadership and effective communication skills. “I learned how to take blood pressure, splint legs and arms, and how to listen to and analyze people’s airways,” she said. “I would definitely recommend this program to others.”

    UREC held a graduation and pinning ceremony on June 12, 2019 at Southern University School of Nursing. Dr. Latricia Greggs, Chair of the Southern University’s BSN Program, delivered the keynote address. Greggs encouraged graduates to exercise empathy, patience, continued education, self-care, humor, trust and teamwork as they embark upon future studies and careers in the healthcare field.

    Photo (L-R): Danielle Duncan, UREC, Youth Program Coordinator; Adrianna Brown; LeahRuffin; Alexus Maiden; Dr. Latricia Greggs, Chair, Southern University School of Nursing BSN Program; Abria Scott; Bridget Calhoun; Aisha Smithand Kathryn Robinson, UREC, Youth Program Director.
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    Teens complete Emergency Medical Responder Institute

    Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation presented the 2019 graduating class of the College & Career Ready Emergency Medical Responder Institute. The graduates, all Baton Rouge area high school students, obtained Emergency Medical Responder certification upon their successful completion of the 10-week EMR Institute.
    UREC’s 2019 College & Career Ready EMR Institute graduates are:
    • Adrianna Brown (Valedictorian)
    • Bridget Calhoun
    • Alexus Maiden
    • Leah Ruffin
    • Abria Scott
    • Aisha Smith
    UREC’s College & Career Ready EMR Institute prepares students attending high schools in Baton Rouge for medial careers while providing a pathway to industry-based certification. During the institute, scholars learned life-saving skills such as CPR, how to detect vital signs, trauma response and injury care management under the instruction of Bob Brankline with the East Baton Rouge Parish School’s Career and Technical Education Center.
    Throughout the institute, scholars participated in lecture-based instruction at Southern University School of Nursing and hands-on, skills-based instruction at CTEC. Scholars also participated in work site visits with the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security (Red Stick Ready), Baton Rouge General Mid-City, ExxonMobil, Baton Rouge EMS & 911 Operations, Baton Rouge Fire Department, and Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University (Fran U).
     
    Adrianna Brown, class valedictorian, said the program taught her technical, leadership and effective communication skills. “I learned how to take blood pressure, splint legs, and arms, and how to listen to and analyze people’s airways,” she said. “I would definitely recommend this program to others.”UREC held a graduation and pinning ceremony on June 12, 2019, at Southern University School of Nursing. Dr. Latricia Greggs, Chair of the Southern University’s BSN Program, delivered the keynote address. Greggs encouraged graduates to exercise empathy, patience, continued education, self-care, humor, trust and teamwork as they embark upon future studies and careers in the healthcare field.

    Photo (L-R): Danielle Duncan, UREC, Youth Program Coordinator; Adrianna Brown; LeahRuffin; Alexus Maiden; Dr. Latricia Greggs, Chair, Southern University School of Nursing BSN Program; Abria Scott; Bridget Calhoun; Aisha Smithand Kathryn Robinson, UREC, Youth Program Director.
    ONLINE: www.urec.org here.
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    SU Ag Center Uses Hydroponic Growing System to teach students, urban entrepreneurs

    Scientists at the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center have partnered with Tera Vega to conduct research on a new Hydroponic Growing System. Hydroponics is a process of growing plants without soil in either sand, gravel or liquid.
    Through this research, the Center will train students and urban entrepreneurs on new technologies that will maximize crop production with limited space.
    Professor of Urban Forestry Yemane Ghebreiyessus, Ph.D., and senior research associate Milagro Berhane are working to perfect the system with aspirations of teaching potential urban entrepreneurs how to effectively grow crops in areas with limited space and generate personal and community wealth opportunities.
    For additional information about this research project, contact Milagro Berhane at milagro_berhane@suagcenter.com or Yemane Ghebreiyessus, Ph.D., at yemane_ghebreiyessus@suagcenter.com.
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    Seed to Stomach: Grow Baton Rouge’s Food Cubes, other innovations tackle hunger

    For organizers and volunteers of Grow Baton Rouge, the fight against food deserts in North Baton Rouge is beyond the “last mile” of getting fruits and vegetables to the community.

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    Produce on the Fresh Cube

    “We are committed to resolving this major problem, not only through our gardens, urban farms, and mobile markets but through an upcoming wave of innovative efforts and initiatives that will definitely have a great positive impact of NBR and the city as a whole,”said Jasiri Basel, executive director of THE CEO MIND Foundation.

    Innovative has been the perfect word to describe the ongoing presence of THE CEO MIND Foundation and its Grow Baton Rouge throughout the city. Since 2017, the group has established 11 gardens and two urban farms, launched three “Fresh Cube” mobile market vehicles, and a bus called “The Desert Destroyer.”

    It also houses science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and mathematics initiatives and programs ranging from a mobile innovation lab called “The Transformer” and Grill & Connect to a high-tech Youth Empowerment Zone at the MLK Community Center on Gus Young Ave. They also host Girls EmPOWERed, Womanhood 101, and Manhood 101 forums.

    The Transformer

    The Transformer

    Through the Grow Baton Rouge initiative, the foundation expands its mission into agriculture by providing seeds, launching community gardens in neighborhoods around the city of Baton Rouge, and giving 300 residents the knowledge and tools to begin growing at home.

    According to Basel, Grow Baton Rouge has a model that encompasses the full supply chain and logistics that involves area farmers, businesses, ag specialists, and certified growers–for starters.

    The latest Fresh Cube designed by THE CEO MIND Foundation for Grow Baton Rouge

    The latest Fresh Cube designed by THE CEO MIND Foundation for Grow Baton Rouge

    “It’s critical for communities to be able to feed themselves through sustainable farming. It not only aids overall but it’s critical for health and wellness. North Baton Rouge contains many miles, areas, and neighborhoods with food deserts and swamps,” said Basel.

    “We believe that as long as a community has land to grow food, that no one deserves to or should go hungry,” he said.

    Grow Baton Rouge hosts Market Days weekly at different locations. Visit the website, www.growbatonrouge.com, for times and locations.

    ONLINE: http://growbatonrouge.com
    www.THECEOMINDFoundation.org
    By Candace J. Semien
    @JozefSyndicate

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    South Baton Rouge Wellness Walk and Talk focused on ‘saving a life’

    The 2019 South Baton Rouge Wellness Walk and Talk was held on Saturday, May 18, 2019 at at the Dr. Leo S. Butler Community Center on East Washington Street.

    The half-day event commenced with opening remarks from State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith. The welcome was given by Theta M. Williams, and Mada McDonald, Chair and Co-Chair.  The opening prayer was led by the Reverend Dale Flowers of New Sunlight Baptist Church.  Warm-up exercises were conducted by Theresa Townsend and the Sensational Seniors.  The Walk was led by Grand Marshal Helen Turner Rutledge and the Michael Foster Project.  Different arrangements of music were played, leading the crowd in Second Line renditions.

    first pic

    After the Walk, it was time to Talk.  The Program began with Greetings, offered by Jeffery Corbin, assistant director of the Dr. Leo S. Butler Community Center.  Delores Newman gave a soul-stirring prayer, and a beautiful song was sung by Candace Addison, soloist.  The Walkers were then welcomed by Jared Hymowitz, as a representative of Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s Office, and also by Theta M. Williams and Mada McDonald, Chair and Co-Chair of the SBR Wellness Committee.

     

    Acknowledgments of the 2019 SBR Walk and Talk Committee were made.  Grand Marshall and Committee Honorary Chair was Helen Turner Rutledge. She conceived of the 2018 South Baton Rouge Breast Cancer Walk and Health Fair.  In her honor, she led the Walk riding in a fully decorated white Mercedes Benz. It was also her idea to host the 2019 South Baton Rouge Wellness Walk and Talk. All of the SBR Wellness Committee members were introduced.

    Jeffery Corbin introduced the Keynote Speaker and the Panelists taking part in the discussion about various health concerns.  The Keynote Speaker was Dr. Cordel Parris of Parris Cardiologist, CIS. The panel consisted of Dr. Rani “The Hip-Hop Doc” Whitfield, who served as the panel facilitator; Shirley Lolis, executive director of Metro Health Education; Dr. Burke Brooks, of the Ochsner Health Care System; and Randy Fontenot, speaking about Mental Health.  Following the panel discussion, the attendees participated in a Q and A session.nine

    Lunch was prepared and served by SBR Wellness Committee member Ann Brown Harris and her Supporting Angels. The meal was healthy and delicious.

    There were 18 vendors on-site from numerous and various groups and organizations giving out valuable information.  Booths and tents were set up to meet and greet all attendees.

    Outside, several mobile units were present: Cancer screenings – breast, prostate, and colorectal – were conducted by Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center/Prevention On-the-Go Program; Mobile Mammography was done by Woman’s Hospital; HIV testing was provided by Metro Health in their clinic within the Leo Butler Community Center.

    The East Baton Rouge Police Department provided on-site security.  The walk began at the Leo Butler Community Center and proceeded up East Washington Street to Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive, up to Louise Street, passing McKinley Middle Magnet School, leading to Thomas Delpit Drive, left in front of the McKinley Alumni Center, and back down to East Washington Street, to the Leo Butler Community Center where the walk ended.

    In 2018, the focus of the South Baton Rouge event was Breast Cancer, which was an outstanding event.  In 2019, the goal was to introduce healthy initiatives, health awareness tips and techniques to the participants.  The primary concentrations of this year’s event were heart health, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS and mental health.

    On May 18, 2019, a testimony that touched many touched and saved one life after a female had her mammogram screening.  Immediately she was sent to one of the local hospitals for further testing, after having an abnormal screening result.  Talk about “saving a life”.

    Joseph London of “A Family Blessing” was the photographer for the event and captured all aspects of the Walk and Talk.

    The South Baton Rouge Wellness Walk and Talk Committee members are: Jacqueline Addison, Marian Addison, Jeffery D. Corbin, Jr., Jennifer Cortes, Linda Daniel, Jonathan Dearborn, Sandra Elbert, Ann Brown Harris, Jared Hymowitz, Cynthia Jones, Glinda Lang, Mada McDonald (Co-Chair), Dynnishea Miller, Helen Turner Rutledge, DeTrecia Singleton, Christine Sparrow, Rene Smith, Dr. Susan Thornton and Theta M. Williams (Chair).

    All of the attendees and participants received a gift bag full of assorted items.  Special thank you to all individuals, businesses, and organizations that provided the items for the bags in support of the event, and to the Baton Rouge Community for their support of the 2019 South Baton Rouge Wellness Walk and Talk.

    By Mada McDonald
    Community Writer

    Photographs by Joseph London
    A Family Blessing

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    Invisible illnesses to be highlighted at ‘The Picture of Health’ exhibit, May 29

    A photography exhibit highlighting invisible illnesses will be unveiled on Wednesday, May 29 at The Healthcare Galley, 3488 Brentwood Drive, Suites 102 & 103, Baton Rouge. The Picture of Health exhibit is produced by Leslie D. Rose, a Baton Rouge based photographer and writer who suffers with fibromyalgia. The exhibit features more than one dozen Baton Rougeans representing illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, kidney disease, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, autism, psoriatic arthritis, high blood pressure, and more.

    Through the art of photography, The Picture of Health, shows people in the manner in which they present themselves daily. Using a mixture of head shots, full body shots, and shots of the individual’s hands holding up a sign detailing their illness, the exhibit focuses on the perceived normalcy of people housed in ill bodies. The mission is to highlight invisible illness, elicit compassion, and promote education on a variety of health issues. The Picture of Health  (4)_edit

    Inspired by her own diagnosis journey with invisible illness, Rose wanted to create something that would help non-ill people better understand what “sick” really looks like. In 2014, she was misdiagnosed with anxiety disorder. A diagnosis she believed as her husband had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. After three years of trying to yoga and meditate the pain and fatigue away, she was hit with neuropathy so bad that she could not walk on her own for a full week. This began a yearlong second opinion process. During which, she began counseling sessions to cope with the unknown chronic pain and other associated symptoms, which was later revealed to be fibromyalgia. All of this has always been met with a huge lack of compassion, because rarely does she “look sick.”

    Being so closely touched by a variety of invisible illnesses and having been misdiagnosed, shining light on invisible illnesses of all kinds became a passion project for Rose. This is why she started an online support group for women of color suffering with chronic pain. But this wouldn’t be enough – she had to find a way to help other people understand invisible illnesses. At the top of September 2017, it was a simple Facebook post that asked people to comment with a selfie if they have invisible illnesses. Some 100 plus photos later, she knew the project in her head was much bigger than she could imagine, and so The Picture of Health was conceived.

    The one night only exhibit kickoff to be held on May 29 is sponsored by Rose’s activism-based arts organization, CreActiv, LLC, in partnership with Dr. Leone Elliott and The Healthcare Gallery. The exhibit is curated by April Baham. The event will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and will feature brief remarks from invisible illness warriors and medical professionals.

    ABOUT CreActiv, LLC

    CreActiv, LLC is an activism-based arts organization with the mission of promoting and producing programming that heightens awareness, raises funds, and/or supports important issues through the use of the arts and partnerships. The organization currently houses two programs Louisiana Artists for Puerto Rico and The Picture of Health.  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram@Picofhealthbr.

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    Private, online therapy could be best choice when help is needed

    From her virtual private practice in Baton Rouge, Shameka Mitchell Williams helps people who are overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted. Her focus is singular: help them recover from pernicious experiences and toxic relationships. “I hold space for people who are hurt and confused to talk about what that relationship or marriage is really like without any judgment about how they should feel,” she says.

    A graduate of Louisiana State University and Washington University in St. Louis, Williams is a licensed clinical social worker who practices in Louisiana and Texas. She says she believes in the importance of helping her clients understand how their thinking shapes their experience and also how they are influenced by societal systems.

    Williams, who is the owner of The Chrysalis Center, LLC, is one of 300 licensed therapists in Louisiana who offers online video counseling according to the Psychology Today database. This Pensiri: A Talk with Shameka Mitchell Williams explores online video therapy, who can benefit from it, and why.

    As a therapist with more than a decade of experience in community-based programs, schools, psychiatric hospitals, and correctional facilities, you’ve seen mental health professionals expand their services from in-person counseling to teletherapy and now to  online video therapy. How should we be defining therapy and who can practice or treat people with therapeutic needs?
    SW: Therapy is a specialized, systematic, formal interaction between a mental health professional and a client (an individual, couple, family, or group) during which a therapeutic relationship is established to help resolve symptoms of mental disorder, psychosocial stress, relationship problems, and/or difficulties coping in the social environment. It is also to help the client achieve specified goals for well-being. The term “therapy” is used interchangeably with counseling. While many therapists provide both therapy and counseling, not every counselor is qualified to provide therapy. The term “counselor” is often applied to highly trained mental health, education, or legal professionals, but it is also used for volunteers with minimal training and for paid workers who provide guidance and structure in group settings (as in camp and dorm hall counselors).

    Shameka Williams

    Shameka Williams

    Is virtual or online therapy a growing service among practitioners? When did it begin?
    SW: Online therapy is definitely a growing service. It may have first begun taking shape as early as the 1960s, and it began growing as most people know it today in the early 2000s. Earlier names for it included teletherapy and telemental health care since clinicians started offering sessions by telephone before beginning to utilize email, chats, and video. Today, many clinicians offer a mix of in-person and online services, and some offer online services exclusively. There even exists an International Society for Mental Health Online, which formed in 1997.

    How can we tell if we need or could benefit from therapy? (in general)
    SW: If you are experiencing distressing changes in your normal mood or functioning that are present more days than not for a period of at least two weeks, you may want to consider consulting with a professional. It can be good to start with talking to a medical professional to rule out any physiological reasons for the changes.

    Should there be some type of diagnosis or referral to seek therapy?
    SW: You don’t need to have a diagnosed mental disorder to benefit from therapy. If you are simply feeling overwhelmed with what life is throwing at you, and your usual coping mechanisms are not working, you may benefit from having a therapist to help you identify and remove obstacles that are blocking the progress you’d like to make. An obstacle could be as simple as a negative thinking pattern that you do not recognize on your own.

    What are signs that a person may need therapy?
    SW: You could benefit from therapy if you find yourself.

      • Eating more or less than usual
      • Sleeping more or less than usual
      • Having unusual difficulty concentrating or focusing
      • Experiencing intrusive thoughts that are distressing
      • Worrying or feeling nervous more than usual
      • Withdrawing or isolating yourself from family and friends

    Are there any specific conditions or needs that someone would have that would make them a good candidate for online therapy over in-house therapy?
    SW: People who suffer from mental health disorders that make going out in public difficult, such as agoraphobia

      • People with limited physical mobility and those who do not drive or who have limited access to transportation
      • People who live far away from their nearest mental health professionals
      • Stay-at-home mothers with young children who would rather not arrange childcare and other caregivers who cannot be away for long periods of time
      • People who need/want a provider who is credentialed in a specialty, such as an intensive trauma-focused treatment, energy psychology, or perinatal/postpartum mental health
      • People who would not seek in-person treatment due to fear of being recognized at/near a therapist’s office
      • What are the pros of online therapy?
        SW: Convenience, Efficacy, and Privacy. Research has found online therapy to be just as effective as traditional in-person therapy for many issues including depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

        What are the cons?
        SW: Online therapy is not appropriate for clients who are a danger to themselves or others (i.e., suicidal or homicidal) or for those whose mental health is seriously impaired as with psychosis, delusions, or uncontrolled mania. Some elements of nonverbal communication will be missed when the ​client and therapist can only see each other from the​ ​ cropped view of a screen. Confidentiality could become an issue if the therapist is not using HIPAA-secure software, sites, or apps or if clients are not careful with securing their own electronic devices. Some insurance companies do not cover online therapy.

        Williams admonishes anyone considering online video therapy to do additional research to make sure their potential therapist is qualified and licensed to provide the service they are seeking.

        By Candace J. Semien
        Jozef Syndicate reporter
        @jozefsyndicate

        ONLINE: https://thechrysalisctr.com
        PsychologyToday.com
        BetterHelp.com
        talkspace.com
        breakthrough.com

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    Environmental racism grows as environmental groups turn increasingly white

    Clean drinking water. Lead paint abatement programs. Affordable energy bills. These are the day-to-day environmental justice issues that are vital to the health and financial well-being of communities – especially low-income families.

    But as environmental battles rage across the country, thousands of African-American children and adults are paying a heavy price with their health as elite environmental organizations are overwhelmingly managed by white leaders who appear to ignore key issues that disproportionately impact low-income communities, where African Americans and other people of color reside. As the diminishing African American voices for environmental justice becomes more prevalent, attention appears to be turning away from environmental hazards disparately plaguing urban areas dominated by Black people across the country such as the following:

    • Cockroach allergens are detected in 85 percent of inner-city homes across the U. S. and 60 to 80 percent “of inner-city children with asthma are sensitized to cockroach based on the skin prick testing,” according to the U.S. Institute of Health.

    • Approximately 11.2 percent of African-American children who live in urban areas are at risk for lead poisoning caused by lead-based paint, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    • A Center for American Progress report found that water contamination disparately “plagues low-income areas and communities of color across the nation” and that studies have “documented limited access to clean water in low-income communities of color.”

    These atrocities are being shoved aside by misaligned priorities. Instead of making a meaningful impact to health and pocketbooks, some environmental organizations focus on apparent vanity projects that garner media attention and money from well-heeled donors.

    Among the best examples is an issue playing out in Minnesota, where national environmental groups – including Greenpeace, 350.org and the Natural Resources Defense Council – are waging a major battle described as “resistance against the oil pipelines.” They also are running major fundraising campaigns off of pipeline protests – even though the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration notes that pipelines are “one of the safest and least costly ways to transport energy products.”

    Meanwhile, these organizations are all but ignoring the real issues facing Minnesotans. A report indicated that the state’s urban areas have unsuitable and outdated infrastructure, allowing storm water drainage to become a crisis. Yet another report found that the Twin Cities air pollution kills nearly 2,000 people a year taking its greatest toll on those in poverty, who also disproportionately shoulder the burdens of asthma, unclean drinking water, and lead poisoning.

    While the environmental groups are shoving environmental health issues aside, they also are promoting an agenda that will drive energy bills even higher for Minnesotans who are already spending far too much of their hard-earned money on energy costs. Families in Clearwater County spend 45.9 percent of their income on energy bills, while Roseau County families spend 44.5 percent – and virtually every county across the state sees energy bills eating away at more than 30 percent of income.

    The story is the same across the country, as Alabama families spend nearly 50 percent of their income on energy and Michigan families spend 30 percent and above.

    Some believe that these skewed priorities may be happening in part because of the lack of diversity in the environmental movement. A study by Green 2.0 recently found that the movement is only “getting more white,” as it continues to leave out people of color.

    The report indicated that nearly 70 percent of the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) staff was White. It also concluded that “the top 40 environmental foundations have gotten more White across full time staff, senior staff, and board members.”

    Green 2.0 is pressing to deal with the racial inclusion issue in order to infuse greater sensitivity into the environmental justice movement. Whitney Tome, executive director of Green 2.0, said in a statement, “Communities of color bring to bear experience and perspective on both problems and pathways to power building. As an organization, we plan to take a more aggressive approach to calling out the environmental movement for their lack of diversity.”

    She continued, “For the past five years, we’ve been working to ensure that the environmental movement and its leaders reflect the current U.S. workforce demographics.”

    These racial and economic disparities are happening around the country. For example, Louisiana ranks second-worst among U.S. states when examining a wide range of environmental indicators, including water and air quality, energy use and recycling, according to a recent analysis.

    While some environmental groups in the area have used their presence to fight issues that impact everyone, such as air quality or safe drinking water, other organizations, with the backing of Greenpeace, are instead focusing on anti-pipeline and anti-energy activism in the state.

    The singular focus on one environmental issue while appearing to ignore others implies the presence of environmental racism, a long-used description of the practice of allowing toxics to exist in communities of color.

    Meanwhile African-American led organizations are pushing environmental justice agendas, underscoring the importance of such issues in communities of color.

    “Clean water is a basic human right,” National Medical Association President Niva Lubin-Johnson, wrote in a commentary posted on Seattlemedium.com last fall. “At the National Medical Association (NMA), we see firsthand how this crisis in clean water creates a variety of healthcare problems for Black patients and their families.”

    Instead of seeking ways to make energy more elusive and expensive for communities of color, activist groups could use their initiative to aid in the abating of these most fundamental challenges that continue to push headwinds against many Black families and other families of color.

    “This is just the beginning,” says Tome of Green 2.0. “Environmental groups are now on notice.”

    By Hazel Trice Edney 
    Contributing Writer

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    Researchers find community-wide programs make a difference in healthy behaviors

    Researchers from LSU Pennington Biomedical Research Center have found that a community-level approach to obesity can inspire participants to adopt healthier weight-related behavior.  Their findings were published this fall in Health Promotion Practice, which includes peer-reviewed articles devoted to the practical application of health promotion and education.

    The results of the study are based on participants in 11 community-wide projects across the state funded by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation.  Through its Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana (“Challenge Grant”) project, the Foundation awarded more than $10 million in grants to local coalitions who implemented health-focused infrastructure improvements, policy changes, and programs like farmers markets, cooking classes and exercise classes.  Ultimately, Challenge Grant projects attracted more than $20 million in investments and included hundreds of partners.

    6 Health group exerciseAt the conclusion of Challenge Grant activities, there were indications for improvements in healthy eating and physical activity. Participants who were exposed to the program’s physical activity components were twice as likely to adopt the consumption of fruits, showed a more than two-fold increase in odds of consuming vegetables once per day, and showed a more than two-fold increase in the odds of engaging in physical activity and exercise outside of a regular job

    Participants who were exposed to the healthy eating component of the program were also almost twice as likely to report eating fruits and vegetables at least once per day.

    “The results of this study indicate that the Challenge Grant program resulted in positive changes in weight-related health behaviors among participants,” said study co-author Peter Katzmarzyk, PhD, FACSM, associate executive director for population and public health sciences at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

    “The results are consistent with the ‘small changes’ approach to obesity prevention.  In other words, small, positive changes in health-related behaviors are believed to be important in sustaining long-term health habits,” he said.

    The study’s co-authors stress the difficulty in controlling for factors that influence health outcomes in community program evaluation.  As a result, many other studies in this area have not produced measurable results, which makes the Challenge Grant evaluation stand apart.  Pennington researchers believe that the trends in behavioral changes observed in this study may yield significant results down the line.

    “As with many public health outcomes,” said study co-author Stephanie Broyles, PhD and associate professor of research at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, “the benefits of community-level efforts to reduce obesity may not be evident for many years.”

    The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation said the results of Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana have led it to continue funding similar efforts.

    “Based on this evidence, we are even more certain that communities working together to solve complex health problems stand the best chance of making systemic changes in health,” said Michael Tipton, president of the Blue Cross Foundation.

    The Foundation is currently accepting grant applications from community coalitions working to address public health issues and the upstream factors that cause them.  For those interested in submitting an application for the Foundation’s grantmaking program, Tipton encourages them to reach out to Foundation staff to begin a conversation.  Applications are accepted throughout the year, and it can take six to eight weeks to put together an application.

    Information about Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana, contact information for Foundation staff members, as well as information about the organization’s grant programs, can be found online at www.bcbslafoundation.org/CHL

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    Supreme Court halts closure of abortion clinics in Louisiana

    On Feb. 7, the Supreme Court granted an emergency request from the Center for Reproductive Rights, blocking a law that would have shut down some of the last three abortion clinics in Louisiana . The law, which was set to take effect on February 8, would prohibit physicians from performing abortions unless they have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The justices voted 5-4 to grant the stay, with a dissenting opinion from Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

    An identical admitting privileges law in Texas was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2016 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a case brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights. In that case, the Supreme Court found that requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges “provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so.”

    “The Supreme Court has stepped in under the wire to protect the rights of Louisiana women,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The three clinics left in Louisiana can stay open while we ask the Supreme Court to hear our case. This should be an easy case—all that’s needed is a straightforward application of the court’s own precedent.”

    The Supreme Court’s stay comes after the Fifth Circuit upheld Louisiana’s admitting privileges law in a split 2-1 ruling last September. In January, the Fifth Circuit refused to rehear the case and also refused to put the law on hold while The Center petitioned for certiorari. In his dissent, Judge James Dennis warned that the Fifth Circuit’s decision to uphold the law would have “devastating effects on women’s rights to abortion”. He also noted that, “Women in poverty, who make up a high percentage of women seeking abortions in Louisiana, would be especially burdened by the closures, because any travel, child care, and required time off work would burden them disproportionately”.

    The law at issue, Act 620, would require any physician providing abortion services in Louisiana to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the procedure. There is no medical justification for this requirement, as abortion is extremely safe. In fact, the rate of major complications requiring hospitalization is about 2 in 1,000 women. Hospitals frequently deny admitting privileges to doctors who provide abortions for reasons ranging from ideological opposition to the fact that too few of their patients will ever need hospital care.

    The Center for Reproductive Rights originally filed this case in August, 2014.  Plaintiffs are a women’s health center, doctors and their patients. Julie Rikelman and Travis J. Tu are lead counsel for plaintiffs, along with local counsel Larry Samuel.

    Cases:  June Medical Services v. Gee

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    Working past 65? Here’s what to know about Medicare

    If you plan to work past 65 and keep the health insurance you’ve had from your job, you’re likely to wonder what, if anything, you need to do about enrolling in Medicare.

    About one in six older Americans now remains in the workforce beyond what was once the traditional retirement age. And the number of older workers will only grow over time.

    One reason is that Social Security now requires you to be at least 66 to collect your full retirement benefits. Retiring earlier means a smaller Social Security check.

    Then, too, a number of sixty-something workers continue to pursue their careers because they can’t afford to retire. Still others simply prefer to stay engaged and on the job.

    Whatever the reason for postponing your retirement, you still need to consider Medicare as you approach your 65th birthday and qualify for the health care coverage.

    First, you should visit with your company’s human resources manager to determine how your employer-provided insurance will fit with Medicare. That’s also true for anyone turning 65 and receiving health care through a working spouse’s group plan.

    Most workers will want to sign up for Medicare’s Part A, which usually has no monthly premium and covers hospital stays, skilled nursing, home health services and hospice care.

    Of course, like most rules of thumb, there’s always an exception. And this one is no different.

    If your employer coverage takes the form of a high-deductible insurance plan with a health savings account, you should defer enrolling in Part A. That’s because the Internal Revenue Service forbids you to continue contributing to your tax-advantaged savings account once you have Medicare.

    When you sign up for Medicare’s Part B, which covers doctor appointments and other outpatient services, mostly depends on how large your employer is.

    If your company or your working spouse’s company has 20 or more employees, your employer-provided insurance will remain your primary coverage and will pay your bills first. You can delay enrolling in Part B until you stop working.

    If you or your spouse’s company has fewer than 20 workers, Medicare will become your primary coverage, and your employer coverage will be secondary, so you should sign up for Part B.

    Assuming that you’re not yet receiving Social Security benefits, you’ll need to enroll in Medicare by contacting Social Security at 800-772-1213 orwww.socialsecurity.gov.

    Completing the online application is fairly simple and typically takes 10 to 30 minutes.

    You should do this during what’s called your “initial enrollment period,” which runs from three months before the month you turn 65 to three months after your birthday month. For example, if your 65th birthday is in September, you can sign up any time from June 1 until Dec. 31.

    There’s also the question of whether you’ll need to enroll in Medicare’s prescription drug coverage, also known as Part D, when you turn 65 or whether you can put off that decision.

    Again, you should consult with your company’s benefits manager. If your employer plan includes drug coverage that’s at least comparable to Part D coverage, you won’t need to sign up right away.

    When you do finally stop working, you’ll be able to enroll in Medicare (Parts A or B) without risking a late penalty during a special eight-month enrollment period.  You’ll also have two months to select a Medicare drug plan without a penalty.

    To learn more about how your employer health plan works with Medicare, visitwww.medicare.gov/publications and view the booklet “Medicare and Other Health Benefits: Your Guide to Who Pays First.” Or call 800-633-4227 to request a free copy.

    Understanding how your insurance choices fit together as you continue working beyond 65 will help you get the best care for your dollars.

    By Bob Moos
    Southwest public affairs officer
    U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
     

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  • Holiday season, a perfect time for dialogue on neglected mental health issues

    There is no perfect time to bring up this subject. But this is as good of a time as any.

    You would have to be literally living under a rock to ignore it. Mental health challenges in America are increasing at a meteoric rate. Traditionally, the holiday season can be stressful for any American. It’s much worse for those who already have issues.

    In this column, I want to do two things. First, we will examine good advice for anyone to adhere to during this season of the year. Secondly, let’s take a look at the tender, loving care needed for those who struggle throughout the year.
    Here are the tips for the general public when it comes to avoiding the holiday blues:

    • Stick as closely as possible to normal routines.
    • Make sure you get adequate sleep and rest.
    • Take time for yourself, but don’t isolate yourself. Spend time with supportive and caring people.
    • Eat and drink in moderation. The last thing you want to do is turn to alcohol, or drugs, for a boost.
    • Get in a little exercise even if you normally don’t. Do the stairs instead of the elevator at work. Park farther than closer at the mall. Take short walks.
    • For each day, stay organized by a “to do” list. Outside distractions and extra activities can complicate life. This can help keep it together.
    • Set reasonable goals and expectations for holiday activities such as shopping, cooking, entertaining, and partying. Over-planning sets you up for failure.
    • Set a budget from the outset – for everything. How much to spend on eating out? How much to spend on entertainment? Gift purchases? Don’t overdo it.
    • Carve out some “me too” time. Get away to yourself and listen to music or find other ways to exhale. Relaxation is key to balance during a time of hustle and bustle.
    • Never compare what you do or don’t do, to others. If someone you know well is doing way more, getting way more, giving way more, let them do them. You do you. Holiday joy is not a competitive sport.

    When we ignore sensibilities, the risk of fatigue, tension, loneliness, sadness, loss, frustration and isolation become real. Just let go and let it flow. Remember this moment will pass and life will return to a closer state of normalcy. Even then, these are good rules to follow to maintain that necessary balance.

    And whatever you do, don’t let people make you feel bad for any reason. Sometimes imagination can become the most formidable barrier between our thought process and true peace of mind. Sometimes they – whoever they may be – really aren’t talking about you. And even if “they” are, in the end, what does it matter.

    Keep in mind that people who care about you most are those you should care about most.

    Resist the temptation to be weighed down in fear during the holiday season. Remember the simplicity of the reality that this too shall pass. Keep constantly at the forefront of your thinking the simple truth that 95 percent of those things that we dreadfully fear never actually come to fruit- ion.
    As alluded to earlier, there are those among friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, associates, parishioners and organizational affiliation facing health challenges all year.

    If you don’t already know their reality, you can hardly ever tell just by looking. They can be the most attractive, best-dressed, well-educated, articulate, clever, witty, outspoken, creative, and resourceful people in the room. None of those have anything to do with the workings of a troubled mind.

    Mental illness takes myriad forms. Bipolar disorders. Depression. Anxiety or panic. Schizophrenia. Excessive phobia. Obsessive, compulsive disorder. Borderline personality disorder. Suicidal or self-harmful behavior. Dissociative disorders. Eating disorders. Post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychosis. Tourette’s syndrome.

    There is not enough space to delve into each. Perhaps at another writing, we can explore the symptoms, the effects, treatments.
    For now, the point is to urge one and all to recognize their existence and not to shun those who may be suffering. We need to embrace them on whatever level of familiarity we enjoy with them. Let them know they do not need to hesitate sharing their struggle.

    The Black community is particularly in need of addressing mental health among our friends, associates and family members. It does no good to offer some surface explanation for what we know is a deeper issue; no bandage to cover a virtual tumor.

    Finally, many African Americans suffer symptoms of these illnesses in silence and secrecy. We need to make more of an effort to encourage people to step forward for what is more often than not a treatable – if not curable – issue.

    The point is, African Americans need to embrace this cause with fervor through the holiday season and the year. There is no better time than now to launch a massive movement in our community encouraging heightened awareness, sensitive and necessary care for our mental health.

    By Vernon A. Williams
    Black Press USA

    This article originally appeared in The Chicago Crusader.

    Read more »
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    ‘Revolutionary health research initiative’ launched in Baton Rouge

    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and the National Institutes of Health launched a revolutionary health research initiative called “All of Us Research Program” in Baton Rouge.

    The All of Us Research Program is building the largest and most diverse health data resource of its kind by asking one million or more people from across the country of different races, ethnicities, age groups, geographic regions, gender identities, sexual orientations, and health statuses to share their unique health information. Many of these people have historically been underrepresented in medical research. Health data from such a large and diverse group of people will enable scientists to study how different factors – from genetics to exercise habits – affect a person’s health.

    Baton Rouge is one of the early cities in the nation to see a focused effort to recruit participants, led locally by Blue Cross. The All of Us Research Program recognizes Louisiana’s diverse population and unique health challenges and encourages residents to sign up for a chance to be part of the future of precision medicine.

    Precision medicine is an emerging approach to disease treatment and prevention that considers differences in people’s lifestyles, environments and biological makeup, including genes. With eyeglasses and hearing aids, we have long had customized solutions to individual needs. More recently, treating certain types of cancer is now possible with therapies targeted to patients’ DNA.

    By partnering with one million diverse people who share information about themselves, the All of Us Research Program will enable researchers to more precisely prevent and treat a variety of health conditions.

    “The All of Us Research Program is an opportunity for individuals from all walks of life to be represented in research and pioneer the next era of medicine,” said NIH director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “The time is now to transform how we conduct research-with participants as partners-to shed new light on how to stay healthy and manage disease in more personalized ways. This is what we can accomplish through All of Us.”

    “Here in Louisiana, a state rich in diversity, we have the opportunity to be part of this important research initiative, one that can go a long way in helping to address some of the state’s health problems,” said Dr. Vindell Washington, Blue Cross executive vice president and chief medical officer. “We all know the state of health in Louisiana is poor. We have some of the highest rates of obesity and chronic diseases in the country, and we are consistently at or near the bottom of rankings of health statuses. All of Us will lead to healthcare breakthroughs we believe will be beneficial for our people.”

    Leaders from Blue Cross, the Urban League of Louisiana, Mayor-President Sharon Weston-Broome’s Healthy City Initiative, Louisiana Department of Health, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, the NIH and the YMCA of the Capital Area spoke in support of the program.

    “Through The Mayor’s Healthy City Initiative, we bring together many key stakeholders who make Baton Rouge a healthier place.” said Hymowitz “Good, timely data is something we always struggle to identify. All of Us will help us to make more data-driven decisions to better support our community.”

    Partners were also able to get a more thorough understanding of what it means to take part in the All of Us Research Program, what information participants are asked to provide and how the research is being used to further precision medicine.

    “This initiative is important to Baton Rouge and populations who often are underrepresented in medical research,” said Judy Morse, President and CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana. “Without the preventative healthcare measures of programs like All of Us, it would be nearly impossible to detect and cure the diseases that plague our community.”

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    Federal lawsuit accuses drug maker of intentionally withholding safer HIV drugs

    A new federal lawsuit against Gilead Sciences exposes how the pharmaceutical giant is putting profits over people, especially oppressed groups including Black and LGBT communities, said renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump.

    Crump, along with co-counsel at the Hilliard Martinez Gonzales, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, and Morgan & Morgan law firms, announced the lawsuit against Gilead Sciences, accusing the company of intentionally withholding a safer HIV drug from hundreds of thousands of patients in order to extend the profitability of the patent it held on an older, more risky drug. The tactic, Crump said, unjustly affected patients in the Black, minority, and LGBT communities.

    In the lawsuit, Crump and co-counsel Bob Hilliard and Steve Berman assert that Gilead withheld a second-generation HIV drug that was safer and produced fewer side effects and complications, in order to prevent competition with its harmful first-generation drug until its patent expires in 2021. Gilead’s first-generation drug, known as TDF, can cause life-threatening side effects such as bone demineralization and kidney toxicity. For a person already living with HIV/AIDS, these side effects and toxicities turn a manageable condition into one that is potentially life-threatening.

    The HIV epidemic is characterized by extraordinary disparity regarding minority groups. Despite representing less than 13% of the U.S. population, in 2017 Black and African-American residents made up 44% of those who were newly diagnosed with HIV. Similarly, while Hispanics and Latino Americans made up 17% of the U.S. population in 2015, they made up 22% of people living with HIV. African-Americans have the highest rate of new HIV diagnoses compared to other races and ethnicities. More than 70% of all new HIV diagnoses in 2017 were in gay and bisexual men, as well as transgender women, of all races.

    “Gilead’s chosen path of inaction is causing tremendous harm to persons with HIV, particularly black and LGBT minorities, by keeping drugs that would reduce deadly symptoms off the market and unavailable to those who need them the most,” said Crump. “This lawsuit is a major step in the right direction toward racial equity in communities unevenly affected by HIV and exploited by pharmaceutical Goliaths like Gilead.”

    Because Gilead willfully grips the market with its monopoly, it is able to charge exorbitant prices – more than $3,700 a month – at the expense of the populations who need it most.

    “This new lawsuit seeks justice for underrepresented communities, providing a voice to those who may not have ever received one otherwise,” Crump said. “As long as Gilead continues to cravenly value profits over people, people living with HIV/AIDS will suffer from a lower quality of life. This must stop.”

    ONLINE: http://www.tdflawsuit.com.

    Feature photo of Ben Crump taken by Mark Wallheiser

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    Plants for every room of your home

    Gardeners know the benefits of digging in the soil. It elevates a person’s mood, improves mental and physical well-being and the outcome is always good – added beauty or tasty nutritional food.  But many of us are stuck indoors for the winter, have a lack of space to garden outdoors or just can’t get enough of this healthful activity.  Adding greenery indoors expands our gardening opportunities and provides the many benefits of living with and tending plants.

    Let’s start with the kitchen. Boost the flavor and nutrition of winter meals by growing leafy greens and herbs in a sunny window or under a cabinet with the help of a Growbar LED light fixture.  Start plants from seeds or purchase transplants to grow indoors. Place your indoor kitchen garden in a brightly lit location, free of cold drafts and with easy access to harvest and use. Then enlist the whole family and even your guests into harvesting greens for their salad and herbs to season their meals. This is sure to turn family and friend gatherings into unique and memorable experiences.

    Include plants in your home or work office. Greenery helps reduce stress even when working at your desk or tackling homework at the end of a long day. Set a few plants on or near your desk or other workspace. And don’t let a lack of light stop you from growing a bit of green stress relief. Stylish energy efficient full spectrum plant lights, like the Felt Pendant Grow Light (modsprout.com), fit any décor, direct light where it is needed and promote healthy plant growth.

    Take advantage of your bathroom’s high humidity. Grow ferns, orchids, bromeliads and other humidity-loving plants in this space.  Consider these and other low light plants like cast iron, pothos and philodendron if natural light is limited. Imagine stepping out of the shower into a mini tropical zone. What a nice way to ease into your day.

    Get a good night’s sleep with a bit of homegrown aromatherapy in the bedroom. Grow lavender, rosemary, chamomile and other soothing herbs in your bedroom in front of a sunny window, on a shelf or other naturally or artificially lit, bright location. Just be sure to give the plants a tap to release their fragrance into the air before crawling into bed for a long restful sleep.

    Bring the garden to your living room. Create your own miniature tropical, moss or desert garden in a terrarium that serves as a focal point in any living space or centerpiece on the dining room table. Use an open terrarium for succulents and other plants that need airflow, lower humidity and space to grow. Enlist closed systems for moss and tropical plants that benefit from the high humidity and condensation that provides continual watering. Select systems like the Botanica Biodome that minimize maintenance and provide easy access for tending mini eco-systems.

    Now’s a great time to consider rethinking your home décor to include greenery in every space. You and your family will enjoy improved air quality, elevated moods, a reduction in stress and the many other benefits plants provide.

    By Melinda Myers
    Guest Columnist

    Melinda Myers is the author of more than 20 gardening books and host of The Great Courses’ How to Grow Anything DVD series.
    ONLINE: www.MelindaMyers.com

    Grow herbs or other leafy greens indoors under a Growbar LED light fixture or near a sunny window. Photo courtesy of Modern Sprout

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    ‘Ms. Meta’ on frontline, empowering others facing HIV in Baton Rouge

    Meta Smith-Davis, 62, remembers the time she would sit on the porch saying, “You know they say that girl got that gangsta’?”

    “Yeah, she got AIDS,” she would say.

    Now, “Mrs. Meta” is the girl with HIV and a beloved counselor to hundreds of residents in and near Baton Rouge who are HIV-positive.

    Her message to them is clear: “There is nothing you can say to stop me. Nothing. You cannot stop me from loving you, from being here for you, for doing all I can to help you. There’s not any thing that you can tell me that I have not experienced personally, and​ I can tell you this, you do recover!”

    She is insistent with newly diagnosed clients, telling them, “You don’t have to die! People are living longer and fuller lives with HIV. Nothing in your life has to change when you take your meds and remain undetectable.”

    meta davis on screen

    As the assistant director of prevention for HAART: HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two, Smith-Davis is usually the first professional counselor​ to tell a client that they are HIV-positive. And she’s also the person who helps them develop a plan so that they are less afraid of living with HIV.

    “I do anything and everything that I have to do and can do to enhance the lives of someone living with HIV,” she said. Her commitment starts​ the moment she meets a client—whether their results are positive or not. Facing the results of an HIV test is frightening for many people and the team at HAART is focused on supporting people living with HIV/AIDS immediately.

    “We don’t let a client get out the door without helping them,” she said.

    Tim young

    Tim Young, HAART CEO

    This type of commitment is a standard the executive director, Tim Young, established at HAART. “He’s by far one of the finest men I’ve ever worked with. He’s fine human being,” she said. The non-profit organization is the largest in the state that offers a continuum of services for people with HIV/AIDS including primary health care, medications, housing, employment assistance, testing, and prevention education.

    Just after Smith-Davis was diagnosed in 2001, she walked into the HAART office for case management. She didn’t know anyone with HIV and needed help and support. “There was nobody. I felt disconnected from the world. (HAART) felt like home,” she said.

    She returned to HAART for ongoing care and to volunteer facilitating a workshop for women living with HIV. “Those women made me realize a sisterhood far greater than I knew I could have.” And it is that type of support and love that Smith-Davis said she sets to give every client. She goes to their medical appointments and helps them plan how to live their new life, especially if the client has to do so in secret.

    “I don’t care if they have to hide 30 pills in 30 different places in order to take the medicine, we will figure out how to keep them safe and how to keep them virally suppressed,” she said.

    She also shares strategies for safe sex based on the individual’s situation including same-gender sex. For one client she’d encourage them to use a condom correctly every time, for another the more realistic goal was to increase condom use by picking one day a week when they would always use a condom, then add days.

    Meta davis and menSmith-Davis, who is also a great, grandmother,  takes particular care of clients who appear to be in violent relationships. “Disclosing an HIV-positive diagnosis to a partner can add to or even start a violent relationship. So we counsel our clients very carefully. We don’t want a situation to escalate because one partner believes they can harm the other who is HIV-positive.”

    Her job, then, becomes to get the client to be as honest with her as possible. Especially, since it is required by law to disclose HIV-positive status prior to having sex. “This is required for the rest of their lives or they will face criminal charges and be labled a sex offender.” (Read: Things to understand about living with HIV)

    The self-described to’ up from the flo’ up, ex-con, drug-addicted, homeless Black woman living with HIV, said there’s nothing they can tell her that she has not dealt with personally. “That is truly one of the gifts God left me with coming from where I came from: I have the ability to relate to people in a whole different way,” she said. She uses this relatability to get youth—including her grandchildren—to talk about sex and HIV/AIDS. “We have to keep an open dialog or the streets will tell them all the wrong things.” She said the truth is no one has to get HIV. There are ways to prevent it.

    Meta davis award

    As the state co-chair of the Positive Women’s Network USA, Smith-Davis has met with politicians to advocate for better health services.

    After several sessions—even years—together, Smith-Davis and many of her HAART clients are now friends who she has helped reclaim their lives by getting healthier, pursuing education goals, having families, moving into apartments, and living open with HIV. She has worked with the Baton Rouge Stigma Index Project, and was named a Most Amazing HIV-Positive People of 2016 by HIV Plus magazine.

    She’s often celebrated as a hero for her work, but she said, “All I did was clean their mirror so they could see what I saw… All I did was clean the mirror so that they could do the work.” The work, she said, is being able to come to terms with an HIV-positive diagnosis and doing everything necessary to live a whole, healthy life.

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate writer

    More stories like this:
    Who Would’ve Thought?
    Fact: Eliminating stigmas can reduce the spread of HIV
    With HIV rates topping the nation, Baton Rouge needs HAART, Open Health, and PreP

    Read more »
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    Dr. Joia Crear-Perry joins state commission for healthy babies

    Dr. Joia Crear-Perry of New Orleans, was appointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards to the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies Advisory Council. Crear-Perry is an obstetrician and gynecologist and the President of the National Birth Equity Collaborative. She will serve as a representative of a community-based organization that works to prevent maternal mortality. The Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies Advisory Council was created to address racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes and incorporate a community-engaged, equity-focused lens into current programs and campaigns which seek to prevent maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity. The council shall promote safe and equitable care for every mother and every birth in this state.

    Read more »
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    Health department schedules statewide flu vaccine clinics

     With flu season starting, the Louisiana Department of Health is scheduling flu vaccination days to be held throughout the state. These one-day clinics will allow people to come in and get a flu shot at little or no cost to the patient.The flu causes approximately 500 deaths and nearly 3,000 hospitalizations each year in Louisiana. However, in Louisiana last year, there were more than 15,000 hospitalizations and more than 1,600 deaths from the flu. Of those more than 1,600 deaths, five were pediatric deaths.

    “Getting vaccinated not only protects you from the flu, but it also protects those around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness,” said Dr. Frank Welch, immunization director for the Louisiana Department of Health. “A flu shot is your best defense in both reducing your chances of getting the flu and spreading it.”

    These community flu clinics are open to the public, and walk-ups are welcome. Wear short or loose-fitting sleeves and bring your private insurance, Medicaid or Medicare card with you. For those without insurance, the shot will cost $10.

    Click here for the listing of all clinics.

    Flu Shot Facts

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Louisiana Department of Health recommend a yearly flu shot for everyone over 6 months of age who does not have a complicating condition, such as a prior allergic reaction to the flu shot.

    A flu shot is especially crucial for people who may be at higher risk for serious complications. This includes babies and young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions and people 65 years and older.

    The flu shot is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, who can pass on antibodies to their babies that will help protect them.

    The flu shot starts to offer partial protection immediately but takes about two weeks to offer full protection.

    Flu shots are also available at local pharmacies, clinics, doctor’s offices and federally qualified (community) health centers. Check flushot.healthmap.org for a flu shot provider near you.

    Visit www.ldh.la.gov/fighttheflu for more information and resources.

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  • Time again to shop for the best Medicare deal

    Now’s the time for Louisiana residents with Medicare to check their health and drug coverage for 2019.

    Medicare’s open enrollment period runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.

    Open enrollment is the best time to make sure your health and drug plans still meet your individual needs, especially if you’ve had any changes in your health.

    By now insurers should have notified you of any adjustments in your health or drug plan coverage or any changes in your out-of-pocket costs for next year.

    Even if you’ve been satisfied with your health and drug coverage, you may benefit from reviewing all your options. Shopping around may save you money or improve your coverage.

    Medicare Advantage remains a strong alternative for people who prefer to receive care through a private insurer rather than through Medicare’s original fee-for-service program. Most plans include drug coverage.

    The number of people buying Medicare Advantage plans is expected to grow by 11.5 percent to 22.6 million nationwide in 2019. Thirty-four percent of Louisiana residents with Medicare now opt to get their health care benefits this way.

    Many Advantage plans charge a separate premium on top of the Part B premium you’ll pay for Medicare’s medical insurance. Nationally, the average monthly cost for that separate Medicare Advantage premium will be $28 in 2019 — $1.81 less than this year.

    Louisiana residents in Medicare’s traditional fee-for-service program who want to add prescription drug coverage can choose from 26 drug plans with monthly premiums ranging from $16.90 to $88.10 – about the same premium range as a year ago. Nationally, the average premium for a basic drug plan in 2019 will drop by $1.09 to $32.50 per month.

    Look beyond premiums, though. The only way to determine the true cost of your drug coverage is to consider other factors like deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance.

    Medicare’s website – www.medicare.gov – has the best tool for helping you narrow your search for a new health or drug plan. Just click on “Find Health and Drug Plans.”

    After entering your ZIP code and the list of your prescriptions, you can use the “Medicare Plan Finder” tool to compare your coverage and out-of-pocket costs under different plans.

    The quality of a health or drug plan’s customer service should be considered, too. To help you identify the best and worst, the Plan Finder provides star ratings for each plan. The ratings range from five stars (excellent) to one star (poor); three stars are average.

    Higher-rated plans deliver a higher level of care, such as managing chronic conditions efficiently, screening for and preventing illnesses, and making sure people get much-needed prescriptions. Higher-rated plans also have fewer complaints or long waits for care.

    Besides using Medicare.gov, you can call Medicare’s toll-free help line at 1-800-633-4227 or consult your “Medicare & You 2019 Handbook,” which you should have received in the mail in the last few weeks.

    One-on-one benefits counseling is also available through your State Health Insurance Assistance Program. In Louisiana, you should call 1-800-259-5300.

    Medicare’s drug benefit continues to improve. You’ll enjoy more savings on your prescriptions. The “doughnut hole,” or coverage gap, will go away for brand-name drugs in 2019, which means you’ll receive a 75 percent break on those drugs after you pay your annual deductible and until you reach the threshold for catastrophic coverage, when you’ll pay substantially less.

    The coverage gap for generic drugs will remain for only one more year and will kick in for you once you and your drug plan have spent $3,820 in 2019. At that point, you’ll receive a 63 percent discount on your generics – a bigger discount than this past year.

    If you’re having difficulty affording your medications, you may qualify for extra help with your drug coverage premiums, deductibles and co-payments.

    The amount of help depends on your income and resources. But, generally, you’ll pay no more than $3.40 for each generic drug and $8.50 for each brand-name drug in 2019.

    Thirty-nine percent of Louisiana residents with Medicare’s drug coverage now get such a break.

    To learn more about whether you qualify for extra help, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.

    There’s no better time to check your Medicare health and drug coverage. Any changes you make will take effect on Jan. 1.

    By Bob Moos/Southwest
    Public affairs officer
    U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

    Read more »
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    State expands medical marijuana treatments

    Three years ago, the Louisiana Legislature approved medical marijuana as a treatment option for certain health conditions.

    The drug is expected to become available to patients this year.

    The number of people who could qualify has grown to about 100,000, after the Legislature expanded the program.

    A previous rule by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners limited doctors to recommending medical marijuana to just 100 patients each. But the state board voted  last month to eliminate that patient cap, out of concern that it would make the drug too difficult to access.

    Only a limited number of specially-licensed pharmacies will distribute medical marijuana  Louisiana has not legalized recreational marijuana.

    LSU and Southern University’s agriculture centers are growing the plant and will process the medicine into different forms, like oils, edibles or pills.

    Medical marijuana does not include the inhalation or vaping of cannabis. According to the law it cannot be in raw form or smoked.

    Around 30 physicians in Louisiana have been approved to recommend the drug.

    The list of debilitating conditions that will be eligible for treatment include:

    • Cancer
    • HIV+ status
    • AIDS
    • Wasting syndrome
    • Seizure disorders
    • Epilepsy
    • Spasticity
    • Crohn’s disease
    • Muscular dystrophy,
    • Glaucoma
    • Parkinson’s disease
    • Severe muscle spasms
    • Intractable pain
    • Post traumatic disorder
    • Some conditions associated with autism spectrum disorder.

    ONLINE: ldh.la.gov

    Read more »
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    Bone and Joint Health to be the focus of workshop, Oct 12

    The Southern University Ag Center’s Family and Human Development Unit will host a free personal health history workshop from 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on October 12 at the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union, on Southern University’s campus.

    This workshop will feature sessions on managing rheumatoid arthritis and other bone and joint conditions, eating healthy for bones and joints, weatherizing your home and emergency preparedness.

    There will also be a fire extinguisher demonstration.

    This is the third personal health history workshop hosted by the SU Ag Center. The previous workshops focused on developing a health journal to keep track of an individual’s person health history, proper foot care, how blood pressure and blood sugar levels respond to dietary factors, and low impact exercises.

    Preregistration for the workshop is required no later than October 10. To request a registration form or to preregister, email Milissia_jbaptiste@suagcenter.com or delores_johnson@suagcenter.com, or call 225-771-2583 or 225-771-3704.

    The Southern University Ag Center and SU College of Agricultural Land-Grant Campus together are called the Southern University Land-Grant Campus.

    Read more »
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    Fact: Eliminating stigmas can reduce the spread of HIV

    The fact remains: There are still many stigmas around HIV/AIDS which are critical barriers to preventing the disease from spreading. In a city like Baton Rouge where new HIV diagnoses register as some of the highest in the nation, prevention is critical to stopping the disease and saving lives, said Tim Young, executive director of the HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two Inc., or HAART.

    When HAART opened its doors more than 20 years ago, the organization could only hope to save the lives of residents who were HIV positive. Now, people are living longer—and in many cases— living healthier with the virus that causes AIDS.

    “It’s been an uphill challenge from the beginning,” said Young.

    A large percentage of that battle has stemmed from stigmas people hold about the disease, said Eugene Collins, director of prevention for HAART.

    According to Collins, minimizing and eliminating stigmas can contribute to slowing the spread of HIV.  Once sex is discussed in non-condemning manners, behaviors and practices that put people at risk can be talked about and addressed. In Baton Rouge, a large population of new diagnosis are men who have sex with men. This behavior may be open or in secret. “Needle sharing now has a lower impact” said Collins who said it’s important to have conversations “around the dinner table” about safe sex practices just like the nation has done around needle use. These conversations aren’t happening, he said, because families still do not want to address homosexuality, premarital sex, or promiscuity. “The attitude is that these behaviors are wrong so the risks around them aren’t talked about in homes or schools or churches,” Collins said.

    A March 2018 report from the Louisiana Department of Health showed 4,080 people living with HIV in Baton Rouge.

    “This is an epidemic,” said State Rep. Kenny Cox, (D-Natchitoches) earlier this year during the legislative session, “HIV/AIDS destroys families, homes, communities.”

    “As a nation and a community, many of us have been quick to judge those with HIV, saying their infection was some kind of retribution for certain behavior. But, we don’t say people with other kinds of viruses, a common cold for example, deserved their illness,” said Young.

    “We shun the things we fear, and in the beginning, there was a lot to fear from HIV.  At first, scientists weren’t even able to prove it was transmitted sexually. That’s why we employ people with HIV when we can, and train all of our employees on how they can’t acquire or transmit HIV to or from our patients or others.”

    “As a community, we should reduce stigma around HIV. Without education, we may fear someone with HIV.  Without that stigma, those who are undiagnosed would be less fearful about learning they may test positive and how others around them may react to that news. We harm our community when we create fear in people which prevents them from being tested and accessing treatment,” Young said.

    Collins insists that these discussions cannot only lead to prevention but can also lead people to primary care at younger ages.  Because HAART has established an extensive referral system, residents can be connected to a network of service providers to get support. And, if testing shows that the person is HIV-positive, HAART refers them to a provider and secures medical treatment at its Baton Rouge facility, Open Health Care Clinic at 3901 North Blvd.

    “Open Health Care Clinic believes that addressing adolescent healthcare needs is essential to promoting healthier behaviors into adulthood, thereby bridging the gap between pediatric and adult primary care,” stated Lori Lauve, Open Health’s director of development.

    Open Health is a federally qualified health center which provides provide advanced medical services for every phase of a person’s life regardless of their financial or insurance status, Lauve stated in a news release. The services include pediatrics, dental, behavioral health, infectious diseases, preventive care, and endocrinology. It has extended hours, and is open for weekend appointments and walk-ins.

    The clinic provides primary care services to the entire Baton Rouge community with special care for people who are HIV-positive or who have been diagnosed with AIDS. “It’s whole care for the whole community,” said Young.

    He and Collins agree that community education and frank discussions about sexual behaviors are key to decreasing stigmas around HIV/AIDS and ultimately preventing the spread of the disease. Another tool for prevention is a medication called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). It is known by its brand name Truvada and can prevent people who are at high risk of contracting HIV from getting infected. PrEP assistance is provided at Open Health, HAART, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Baton Rouge Black Alcoholism Council,  CareSouth, Planned Parenthood, and Emerging Care of Louisiana. They also provide free HIV testing.

    Advances in prevention and treatment are bringing us closer to ending HIV, said Young. “I foresee a future when (Baton Rouge) finally has zero HIV transmissions reported in a year. That will be something for all of us to celebrate.”

    ONLINE:  http://www.haartinc.org/
    www.ohcc.org

    By Candace j Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter
    @jozefsyndicate

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    COMMENTARY: Getting to the heart of America’s diabetes crisis

    About 30 million Americans have diabetes, and an estimated 1.5 million more are diagnosed each year. More than 25 percent of seniors have diabetes, and minority populations are at the greatest risk of developing this disease. African Americans, for instance, have a 77 percent higher risk of developing diabetes compared to White Americans. Hispanic Americans have a 66 percent higher risk.

    Most meticulously monitor their blood sugar, as they know that failing to keep diabetes in check can damage the kidneys, eyes, and feet. But even so, about 50,000 Americans start dialysis each year because of diabetes-induced kidney failure. More than three million Americans with diabetes experience partial vision loss. And over 70,000 undergo limb amputations due to diabetic ulcers.

    The disease also threatens the heart. People living with diabetes are more than twice as likely to develop a heart problem — and up to four times as likely to die from cardiovascular disease. Yet half of people living with diabetes aren’t aware of this risk.

    That needs to change. Educating doctors and patients about the connection between diabetes and heart disease could save millions of lives and billions of dollars.

    Type 2 diabetes changes how the body processes glucose — a sugar found in foods. This results in chronically high levels of blood sugar, which can lead to life-threatening health problems.

    People with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to be hospitalized because of heart problems. And an estimated 68 percent of people with diabetes age 65 or older lose their lives to heart disease.

    People with diabetes also often develop high levels of bad cholesterol, low levels of good cholesterol, and high triglycerides — a situation that is often associated with coronary heart disease. And many struggling with diabetes are also obese, which puts the heart at greater risk.

    The combination of diabetes and cardiovascular disease is a major driver of healthcare spending. Diabetes alone costs our nation $245 billion a year in medical spending and lost productivity. Heart complications account for a quarter of the medical costs.

    Raising awareness of this diabetes-heart connection can motivate change that America needs to chip away at the increasing burden of chronic disease.

    Medical professionals play a crucial role in educating people about the diabetes-heart connection, recommending changes needed to manage diabetes, protect the heart, and following progress.

    People with diabetes and their families play a role, too — supporting healthier, active lifestyles, tracking and managing glucose levels, asking their healthcare providers about diabetes and heart health, and following through on treatment recommendations.

    Policymakers can also help. State and federal funds are used to educate the public about diabetes and heart disease. Making sure that efforts to address diabetes or cardiovascular disease effectively raise awareness of the linkage between them would spark impactful action.

    Getting to the heart of America’s diabetes crisis is long overdue. It’s time to make the diabetes-heart connection and save millions of lives and dollars in the process.

    By Ken Thorpe 
    Kenneth E. Thorpe is a professor of health policy at Emory University and chairman of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease.

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    With HIV rates topping the charts, Baton Rouge needs HAART, PrEP, and Open Health

    The HIV AIDS Alliance for Region Two, Inc., or HAART, is the 19th largest nonprofit in the state, with a budget of more than $25 million. But with an HIV AIDS population of more than 5,000 people in the nine-parish Baton Rouge region, and more than 20,000 people in state, the need for HAART services far surpasses its budget.

    “We have been assisting those with HIV for nearly three decades and it’s been an uphill challenge from the beginning, said Tim Young, HAART CEO.

    In 1995 when HAART first opened its doors, the medical community was focused on keeping people with HIV alive. Since then, doctors and researchers have learned to treat HIV more effectively, which means fewer people are dying and people are living longer with their disease, said Young.

    “When I began working at HAART, new medications were literally getting people out of their death beds,” he said.

    Many people were seeing health improvements from the new medications that were becoming available, but many still were not, and even those who did often experienced serious side effects.  Today, the medications are so effective that someone who acquires HIV can have a normal life expectancy if they adhere to an effective medication regimen.

    “Now, we are learning how to assist people who have been living with HIV for as long as HAART has been in existence. That’s an amazing advancement. We assist many to cope with the challenges of helping to raise their grandchildren, something many thought would never be possible,” Young said.

    HAART’s original role was to anticipate the services people living with HIV needed and weren’t receiving and to serve as the fiscal agent for Ryan White funding in the Baton Rouge area with other organizations to provide direct services. “The first thing we did was to recognize the need for a larger network of providers to serve an increasing number of people who were living with HIV disease with the advent of new effective medications.  In the late ‘90s, we added Volunteers of America, Family Service of Greater Baton Rouge, and Care South to the network of Ryan White funded providers.”

    These relationships aid HAART in providing medical treatment, medication assistance, and case management to assist patients in navigating the health care system. HAART also provides medical transportation, dental services, and mental health services. HAART has established Baton Rouge’s Open Health Care Clinic, located at 3801 North Blvd., to expand medical services and serve the wider community. “Over the past three decades years we’ve built an enduring community asset and positioned it to become an integral part of the health care network for decades to come,” Young said.  “HAART has grown from a small organization, coordinating funding for a network of providers for a single disease, to one of the largest community health centers in the state, poised to grow its own network of clinics across the city, serving both children and adults from every walk of life.”

    “The day of novel treatments is actually already here. Early on, patients had a complex medication regimen that was difficult to achieve and often had side effects, some almost as serious as the disease itself.  Multiple pills, some with and some without food, every four hours meaning interrupted sleep and other complications were normal. Now, for most with HIV, treatment is one pill once a day. That’s remarkable when you consider how far we’ve come in a relatively short period of time, although a lifetime for some and sadly too late for others.  And they achieve complete viral suppression, so no more damage can be done to themselves by the virus and they can’t transmit it to others,” Young said.

    But, in a city with the highest rates of newly diagnosed HIV cases in the nation, is HAART positioned to slow down the spread of the virus that cause AIDS? Young explained, “Despite the educational messages, many continue to participate in risky behaviors which expose themselves and others to HIV transmission.  We’ve always relied on people changing their behavior and now we have a biomedical preventative that can protect them even if they don’t take other measures to protect themselves.

    The newest weapon against HIV is a one-a-day pill called PrEP. This Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis pill is a daily dosage of the HIV medication Truvada.

    “It works a little like birth control (pills) where a person takes it everyday to stop the virus from attaching to the immune system if they become exposed,” said Eugene Collins, director of prevention for HAART.

    “HIV disease is not just a threat to those who acquire it, but to potentially much larger numbers of people if left unchecked. It’s our responsibility to assist persons with HIV, not only to improve their personal health, but to ensure they don’t pass it on to others,” Young said.

    After testing positive, Baton Rouge residents are provided services through HAART’s Red Carpet linkage program that gets them connected “immediately” with medical and mental health appointments, employment assistance, and housing. “We provide a total continuum of care, medically and socially,” said Collins.

    According to Young, the strongest tools for HAART are the dedication and commitments of the non-profit’s board and staff. “We bring strong technical skills in the areas of medicine, psychology, finance, and marketing to bring awareness about the epidemic in our community and the solutions to limit and reduce its growth. Our new PrEP program, our new opioid-abuse outreach program ,and the broad spectrum of health and wellness services we bring to our patients are our strengths, thereby strengthening the community,” he said.

    HAART has survived for 22 years despite the constantly changing health care environment, and HIV care changes even more than health care in general.

    “We’ve been successful as a health care resource because we’ve been guided by a strong community-based board of directors, made up of experienced professionals who help us to look ahead and chart a successful vision for the future. Health care will continue to evolve and HAART will adapt to change so we may continue to pursue our mission and commitment to our community.  I’m confident of that,” said Young who is also CEO of Open Health Clinic. ℜ

     By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter
    @jozefsyndicate

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    Study looks at whether exercise improves older African-Americans’ memory

    Scientists at LSU Pennington Biomedical Research Center are recruiting participants for a study on dementia prevention in older African Americans.

    The project is unique because few studies to date specifically developed behavior change interventions for older African Americans that target preventing dementia, said Robert Newton Jr., who designed the project with Owen Carmichael, Ph.D.

    “The goal of Program for the African American Cognition and Exercise (PAACE) study is to increase our knowledge of the effects of behavior change programs on dementia prevention,” Newton said. Study participants will be randomly assigned (flip of a coin) to one of two behavior change programs:

    • A 12-week physical activity program, which includes weekly physical activity sessions; or
    • A 12-week successful aging program, which includes weekly small group seminars.

    Each program will take place in a community setting.

    Pennington

    Pennington

    “African Americans experience dementia, or severe problems with thinking skills that impact the ability to live independently at a higher rate than members of other ethnic and racial groups. Behavior change programs are safe, well-tolerated, and have shown some promise in reducing risk factors for dementia,” Newton said. “We hope to reduce people’s risk of developing dementia.”

    However, before Newton and Carmichael could study the effects of behavior change interventions, they first had to develop a program in which older African-American adults would participate. While there have been several interventions developed for African-American adults, those plans were not specifically designed for older African Americans.

    “Our first aim is to gather information directly from older African Americans, aged 65-85, about the kinds of activities they want to engage in and use this information to develop behavior-change programs,” Newton said. “Our next aim is to determine if the interventions will be effective in a group of older African Americans.”

    If the behavior change programs work as intended, Carmichael and Newton may be able to achieve their final aim – determining if the intervention affects participants’ thinking skills.

    Newton is an associate professor and director of the Physical Activity and Ethnic Minority Health Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical. His primary focus is examining how physical activity and exercise training interventions affect the health of African-American adults and children.

    Carmichael is an associate professor and director of biomedical imaging at Pennington Biomedical. His research focuses on brain aging.

    Funding for the study was provided by BrightFocus Foundation, a nonprofit supporting research on Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration and glaucoma.

    For more information about the study or to participate, visit here, call 225-763-3000 or email clinicaltrials@pbrc.edu.

     

    Read more »
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    NAACP honors Stewart with Cobb Award

    On July 16, Louisiana Center for Health Equity President Alma C. Stewart received the NAACP Dr. William Montague Cobb Award “For her outstanding efforts to advance health policy, health advocacy, and social justice in the State of Louisiana.” The award was presented at the NAACP Annual Convention in San Antonio. This award is given annually in recognition of the legacy of Dr. William Montague Cobb, who served as the President of the NAACP from 1976 to 1983, to honor individuals and organizations that have made a significant impact in the field of health.

    Stewart has served as the state health committee chair for the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP since 2014. She also organized the statewide, multi-year Campaign for Healthcare for Everyone Louisiana in 2013. The goal of this campaign was to advocate for statewide policy change and build grassroots momentum to implement Medicaid expansion by 2016.

    In an effort to address Louisiana’s high rate of uninsured adults, keeping the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP and HCEL partner organizations engaged, over the course of three years Stewart organized public testimony at legislative hearings, rallies, press conferences and prayer vigils under the mantra of “Dying for Coverage” as part of a movement to bring attention to this issue on a state and national level. HCEL was successful in shaping public opinion about Medicaid expansion which polls favorably in Louisiana despite cascading contributions from well-financed conservative out-of-state organizations that have opposed it. She coordinated the hosting and production of a gubernatorial candidate forum on healthcare that was televised and livestreamed across the state in 2015. Alma has personally penned numerous articles and delivered countless speeches and presentations.

    On January 12, 2016, Governor John Bel Edwards signed an executive order expanding Medicaid in Louisiana on his first day in office making Louisiana the first state in the Deep South to expand Medicaid. Not only was this a win for Stewart and her organization, the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP and others, but also for the hundreds of thousands of people who gained health insurance when this law went into effect on July 1, 2016. “Many of the more than 470,180 Louisiana citizens who now have health insurance coverage, in rural and urban areas, under the Medicaid expansion are doing so for the first time, and are receiving preventive care, early diagnosis and treatment for cancer, diabetes, mental health conditions, and addictions. Early diagnosis and access to care both help reduce costs to the state and the healthcare system,” said Stewart.

    The infusion of federal dollars for Medicaid expansion created and supported 19,200 jobs that have brought in state and local tax receipts of $103 million and $74.6 million, respectively, according to a March 2018 report by the Louisiana State University’s Public Administration Institute. Medicaid expansion saved the state $199 million in fiscal year 2017, according to a 2017 report from the Louisiana Department of Health. The reasons include the state spending match is lower under Medicaid expansion than it was before, both for most Medicaid populations and for supplemental payments to hospitals. The decrease in the uninsured population has also reduced “disproportionate share payments” to hospitals for people without coverage who receive treatment.

    “Medicaid expansion has benefitted Louisiana in several ways and there is growing evidence to support the fact that it is working. Moreover, it is saving lives. That’s why the NAACP Dr. William Montague Cobb Award means so much to me,” said Stewart.

    About Louisiana Center for Health Equity

    Louisiana Center for Health Equity which is a statewide 501(c) (3) tax-exempt organization, dedicated to the mission of addressing health and healthcare disparities, and fostering health equity in Louisiana. Founded in January 2010, the organization has partnered with over forty other Louisiana organizations on a state, local and national level to eliminate health disparities caused by poverty, lack of access to quality health care, and unhealthy environmental conditions.

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    COMMUNITY EVENTS: Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair, August 4

    The Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair is scheduled for Saturday, August 4, 8am – 1pm at Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church located at 8742 Scenic Highway, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

    There will be a Faith Walk to begin the event at 8am.

    The Health Fair will promote preventive health care services, to bring about awareness to the services that are available and to assist people in making improved health decisions for their family. The fair will also provide healthful information and practices to the Scotlandville Community.

    The Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair will include on site examinations, educational information, blood pressure checks; cancer awareness; cardiovascular-heart healthy tips; immunizations, mental health counseling; diabetes tests and consultation; cholesterol-glucose screening; foot examinations (podiatry); hearing screenings; nutrition consultations; oral health; prescription medication management; vision; and tobacco use dangers. There will be drawings for gift cards and door prizes.

    The Baton Rouge Community is invited to attend.

    Submitted by Mada McDonald

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    COMMENTARY: Medicare steps up its fight against diabetes

    Diabetes affects as many as one in four older adults with Medicare. It costs hundreds of billions of dollars to treat and results in the loss of tens of thousands of lives every year.

    If we could better control diabetes, we’d be taking a huge leap toward creating a healthier America.

    Diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t respond to the insulin it does make. Insulin is what your body uses to process sugar and turn it into energy.

    When too much sugar stays in your blood, it can lead to serious complications and even life-threatening problems, including heart disease, strokes and kidney damage.
    Medicare is committed to fighting the diabetes epidemic.

    If you’re on Medicare and at risk for diabetes, you’re covered for two blood sugar screenings each year at no out-of-pocket cost to you. Risk factors include high blood pressure, a history of abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels, obesity or a history of high blood sugar.

    If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, Medicare will help pay for blood sugar self-testing equipment and supplies, as well as insulin and other anti-diabetic drugs. In the event of diabetic foot disease, it will also help pay for therapeutic shoes or inserts as long as your podiatrist prescribes them.

    Because living with diabetes can pose day-to-day challenges, Medicare covers a program to teach you how to manage the disease. With a written order from your physician, you can sign up for training that includes tips for monitoring blood sugar, taking medication and eating healthy.

    If you’d like to learn more about how to control diabetes, visit Medicare’s website at www.medicare.gov or call Medicare’s 24/7 help line at 1-800-633-4227 and visit with a counselor.

    In addition to the 30 million Americans with diabetes, another 86 million live with a condition known as pre-diabetes, where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis.

    Pre-diabetes is treatable. But only one in 10 people with the condition will even know they have it. Left untreated, one in three will develop the full-blown disease within several years.

    Confronted with those statistics, Medicare is ramping up its efforts to prevent diabetes among the millions of Medicare beneficiaries who are at a heightened risk of developing it.

    Several years ago, Medicare partnered with YMCAs nationwide to launch an initiative for patients with pre-diabetes. The pilot project showed that older people could lose weight through lifestyle counseling and regular meetings that stressed healthy eating habits and exercise.

    About half of the participants shed an average of 5 percent of their weight, which health authorities say is enough to substantially reduce the risk of full-blown diabetes. Through adopting a healthier lifestyle, people diagnosed with pre-diabetes can delay the onset of the disease.

    Based on the trial program’s encouraging results, Medicare is now expanding its coverage for diabetes prevention. Using the pilot project as a model, it will help pay for a counseling program aimed at improving beneficiaries’ nutrition, increasing their physical activity and reducing stress.

    If you have Medicare’s Part B medical insurance and are pre-diabetic, you’ll be able to enroll in a series of coaching sessions lasting one to two years and conducted by health care providers as well as community organizations like local senior centers. There will be no out-of-pocket cost.

    Medicare is currently recruiting partners to offer the program so that it will be widely available to beneficiaries.

    Diabetes can be a terribly debilitating disease. It can mean a lifetime of tests, injections and health challenges. Every five minutes in this country, 14 more adults are diagnosed with it. And in the same five minutes, two more people will die from diabetes-related causes.

    If we can prevent more diabetes cases before they even start, we can help people live longer and fuller lives, as well as save money across our health care system. 

    By Bob Moos
    Southwest public affairs officer
    U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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    Retiring? You have a choice to make on Medicare

    When you retire and qualify for Medicare at 65, you’ll need to decide how you’d like to receive your health care benefits.

    Because you’ll be new to Medicare, you may not realize you have two options.

    One is to join the government’s fee-for-service program that’s existed for 53 years. The other is to buy a Medicare Advantage plan from a private insurer.

    The choice may seem bewildering at first, so let’s go over each option.

    With traditional fee-for-service coverage, you may go to any doctor, hospital or other provider that accepts Medicare. Medicare pays the provider a fee for the service you receive. Once you meet your annual deductible, Medicare typically covers 80 percent of the cost for your care.

    You have a few choices for covering the other 20 percent:

    • You may use your retiree health plan from your former employer, if you’re retired and have such a policy. Some retiree plans may cost less or provide more benefits than other supplemental coverage.
    • You may qualify for Medicaid, if you have limited income and savings. Besides helping with your out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and co-insurance, Medicaid may pay for your monthly Medicare premiums.
    • If neither of those applies, you may buy a “Medigap” policy from a private insurer to cover what Medicare does not. There are 10 kinds of Medigap plans, with different benefits, so you’ll need to decide which is best for you.

    If you choose the traditional fee-for-service program, you’ll probably also want to buy a prescription drug plan to go with your other coverage.

    Traditional Medicare remains the favorite among people wanting the broadest possible access to doctors, hospitals and other providers. When coupled with a supplemental plan, it also makes your health care costs relatively predictable.

    Still, 33 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries – including 33 percent of Louisiana residents with Medicare — now prefer to get their health care benefits through a private insurer. The number of people buying private Medicare Advantage plans has more than doubled over the last 10 years.

    With Medicare Advantage, insurance companies contract with the government to provide care. Every private plan must cover all the benefits that traditional Medicare covers. In some cases, Medicare Advantage plans may offer extra benefits, like routine hearing or vision care.

    Many plans charge a premium on top of the amount you’ll pay each month for Medicare’s Part B medical insurance, but there’s no need to buy a supplemental Medigap policy. Likewise, most Medicare Advantage plans include drug coverage with their other benefits.

    The premiums, deductibles and co-payments will vary from one Medicare Advantage plan to another. But all plans, by law, must have annual limits on their overall out-of-pocket costs.

    Unlike the traditional fee-for-service program, most Medicare Advantage plans require you to go to doctors and hospitals within their network of providers or pay more for getting care outside the network.

    Still, the private health plans have been especially popular among people with low to moderate incomes. They provide relatively affordable supplemental coverage, with lower premiums than those for Medigap policies.

    So, which is better — the traditional fee-for-service coverage or a private Medicare Advantage plan? That depends on your own circumstances and preferences. What’s best for one person may not work as well for someone else.

    To find out more about your options, you can visit www.medicare.gov and browse through the “Medicare and You” handbook. The website will also give you detailed information about the Medigap and Medicare Advantage policies available in your area.

    Becoming informed will help you select the health care option that best fits your needs. It will also help you avoid mistakes that may cost you money.

    By Bob Moos/Southwest regional public affairs officer for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

     

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    Fifth Annual Family Fit Day is Saturday, May 19

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, Healthy BR, BREC, Humana, Ochsner Health System, and Our Lady of the Lake invite residents to attend the Fifth Annual Baton Rouge Family Fit Day on Saturday, May 19 from 8:30am to 12pm at BREC’s City-Brooks Community Park.

    “Family Fit Day is our chance to showcase the abundance of healthy lifestyle resources our parish has to offer,” said Mayor Broome. “Each year, we look forward to bringing community partners from across the parish together to promote holistic, healthy habits for adults and children in our community.”

    Activities include runs, walks (for people and pets), and bike rides. Organizations will offer fitness classes such as Zumba, yoga, and karate, healthy cooking demonstrations, children’s activities, bike safety classes, and much more. All activities are free and open the public.

    Family Fit Day 2018 will also feature two new events. “Bike with the Mayor” offers participants the opportunity to bike alongside Mayor Broome, EMS paramedics, and representatives from Bike Baton Rouge and Front Yard Bikes around the City Park Golf Course. Riders should bring their own bicycles in order to participate.

    This year’s event will also debut the Inaugural Family Fit Day 4k in partnership with Sports BR. Registration for the run will benefit the following local charities:

    · Abounding Love Ministries
    · Adult Literacy Advocates
    · Anna’s Grace Foundation
    · Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge
    · Deaf Focus
    · Fathers On A Mission
    · Forum 35
    · Maison des Amies of Louisiana
    · March of Dimes Baton Rouge
    · SportsBR Foundation
    · STAR (Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response)

    For more information or to register for the run, visit:

    https://secure.getmeregistered.com/register.php?event_id=129750&c=60654_659984.

    Healthy BR will provide restrooms, drinking water, giveaways, and more. Participants will receive a free fitness tracker that tracks time, steps walked, distance, and calories burned. Any participant who walks more than 2,000 steps or visits 15 tents on the day of the event will receive a Family Fit Day t-shirt.

    For additional details on Family Fit Day, visit:

    http://www.healthybr.com/events/family-fit-day

    Read more »
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    Project Power Summer Camp opens registration for youth

    Applications are being accepted for the free American Diabetes Association’s Project Power Summer Camp at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge. The camp will be from June 11–15, 2018, and is free of charge for children (ages of 7 to 12) who are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

    For more information about the camp or to register a potential camper, please contact the American Diabetes Association office at 504-889-0278, extension 6078, or go online at www.diabetes.org/camppowerupbatonrouge. You can also contact Pennington Biomedical for more information at 225-763-2923.

    Read more »
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    South Baton Rouge Breast Cancer Walk and Health Fair start at 7am, May 19

    The Wall of Fame Committee, Councilwoman Tara Wicker, Susan G. Komen® Baton Rouge, State Rep. Patricia Smith, Sen. Yvonne Colomb, and other community groups and civic-minded individuals are hosting a community-wide breast cancer walk and health fair on Saturday, May 19, 2018, 7am—1pm at the Dr. Leo S. Butler Community Center, 950 East Washington Street.

    Woman’s Hospital and Mary Bird Perkins-Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center will have mobile units on site for health screenings; and other valuable information and services will be available, as well as free t-shirts, conference bags and other exciting giveaways. Please help us to encourage strong participation in this important community event!

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    COMMENTARY: 3 ways stress takes a toll on your body

    April is Stress Awareness Month

    Did the latest challenge at work bring on a tightening in your stomach? Does constant worry about a loved one’s health make you physically ill yourself?

    Everyone at some point feels the effects of stress. Not everyone deals with stress in the best way, though.

    “Often stressed-out people seek relief through alcohol, tobacco or drugs, but that just makes matters worse,” said Richard Purvis, a health and wellness practitioner and author of Recalibrate: Six Secrets to Resetting Your Age.

    “Instead of relieving stress, those toxic substances tend to keep the body in a stressed state, causing even more physical problems.”

    April is Stress Awareness Month, a good time to reflect on how the demands and anxieties of daily life put a strain not just on our minds, but on our bodies as well.

    Stress, of course, is not always a bad thing. It does serve a positive purpose.

    “It can keep us alert and prepares us to avoid danger,” Purvis said. “But stress becomes a negative factor when a person faces continuous challenges without any time mixed in for relief or relaxation.”

    As a result, he said, people become overworked, and stress-related anxiety and illness can occur. The strain leads them to suffer from such ailments as headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain and problems sleeping.

    Purvis says a few examples of how stress can play havoc on our bodies include:

    • Musculoskeletal system. When we experience stress, it’s natural for our muscles to tense up. “It’s the body’s way of guarding against injury and pain,” Purvis said. Usually, the muscles relax once the stressful event passes. But chronic stress keeps the muscles in a constant state of guardedness. “When muscles are taut and tense for long periods of time other reactions in the body are triggered,” he said. Chronic muscle tension in the shoulders, neck and head can lead to tension-type headaches and migraines.
    • Respiratory system. Stress causes people to breathe harder. “That’s not a problem for most people,” Purvis said. “But if you suffer from asthma or a lung disease such as emphysema, getting essential oxygen can be difficult.” He says some studies show that acute stress events – such as the death of a loved one – can trigger asthma attacks in which the airway between the nose and the lungs constrict. Also, rapid breathing associated with stress – or hyperventilation – can result in a panic attack in some people.
    • Gastrointestinal system. Sometimes people who are stressed will eat much more than usual. Sometimes they will eat much less. Neither is healthy. “You can get heartburn or acid reflux if you eat more food or different types of food, or if you increase how much alcohol you drink or tobacco you use,” Purvis said. When you’re stressed, the brain sends alert sensations to the stomach. Your stomach can react with “butterflies,” nausea or pain. “Severe stress can cause vomiting, diarrhea or constipation,” he says. “If your stress becomes chronic, you might develop ulcers or severe stomach pain.”

    So what’s to be done? Purvis pointed out that stress is a natural occurrence in life and happens to everyone.

    “Since you can’t avoid your job, bills, or other life experiences, the best thing to do is learn to manage stress,” he said. “You won’t avoid stress entirely, but it is possible to minimize the effects by eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and taking care of yourself in general.”

     

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    COMMUNITY EVENT: Celebrate National Minority Health Month

    Submitted news

    UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Louisiana will celebrate National Minority Health Month in April 2018. This year’s theme released from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health  is “Partnering for Health Equity.” Join us for a time of Community Awareness and free events.

    According to OMH director Dr. Mathew Lin, “Partnerships at the national, state, tribal, and local levels are vital to the work of reducing health disparities.”  UnitedHealthcare will host a series of events that will partner with local government, private, and public community stakeholders.

    The Kick-Off event will be a Lunch and Learn held at the Exxon Mobil YMCA, 7717 Howell Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA. From 12:00 noon until 2:00 pm. This event will feature a key-note speaker, Robert L. Newton, Jr., PhD, Director of the Physical Activity and Ethnic Minority Health Laboratory Director of the Physical Activity and Ethnic Minority Health Laboratory and allow community partners in health equity to share available services that can benefit the community.

    UnitedHealthcare has a host of partners including EBRP District 2 Metropolitan Councilwoman Chauna Banks, the Jewel J. Newman Community Center, Baton Rouge Primary Care Collaborative, Southeast Community Health Systems, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, and the Exxon Mobil YMCA, Save-A-Lot Grocery Store, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center Pediatric Residency Program, Southern University School of Nursing and Allied Health, Southern University AgCenter, and Smiles on the Go to name a few.

    These community partners and more will host a series of events throughout the month of April.

     

    Diabetes & Hypertension Awareness Fair – Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    Southeast Community Health Systems, 6351 Main St. Zachary, LA at 4:00 pm -6:00pm

    Health Equity Community Summit and Panel Discussion – Thursday, April 19, 2018

    Jewel J. Newman Community Center, 2013 Central Road, Baton Rouge, LA. Doors opening at 4:00 pm for vendor fair and panel discussion at 6:00 pm.

    Preparing Healthy Meals with Community Grocery Stores – Saturday, April 21, 2018

    Save-A-Lot Grocery Store, 12200 Plank Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70811 at 10:00 am until 2:00 pm

     

    Each event is free, opened to the public, and will provide, food, presentations, valuable health information, and more. Come out and learn what an important role partnerships play in health equity for our community!

    For more information, please contact Deborah Jones with United Healthcare Community Plan at 225-413-2198 or email deborah_w_jones@uhc.com.

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    Nurses focus on ‘community medicine’ to restore healthcare desert

    There is a new healthcare provider in north Baton Rouge. That news alone should spark hope in many residents from Zachary, through Baker and Scotlandville, and on to Mid-City. But most residents do not know that the Champion Medical Center on Howell Blvd. now houses the Louisiana Healthcare Services and its three providers. Open every day, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the new clinic provides medical care for the entire family, a Medicaid application center, family planning services, as well as onsite lab services.

    Most importantly, Louisiana Healthcare Services provides these services in the middle of a healthcare desert in East Baton Rouge Parish. “We are a drop of water in this desert,” said registered nurse Nicole Thomas.  She and Leah Cullins, FNP, own Louisiana Healthcare Services which opened at 7855 Howell Blvd. in June 2017.

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    Thomas said when she and Cullins began planning the clinic, they looked for an area with the greatest need. “The first thing both of us said was north Baton Rouge,” Thomas said. “Knowing that there were a lot of things that were going to fight against us. Lack of resources are in this area, and not just health resources but food resources; resources period are just scarce,” she said knew that those would be a battle for us, we decided to push through them.”

    In 2013, Earl K. Long Memorial Hospital was closed then later demolished in 2015 and replaced with the LSU Health Baton Rouge North Clinic with 15 treatment chairs. An ER was opened in 2017 as an 8,800-square foot addition built adjacent to the existing clinic. The facility includes an infusion clinic and services for primary care and oncology. It sits on Airline Hwy, 3 miles away from Louisiana Health Services. The Jewel Newman Community Center still houses the Baton Rouge Primary Care Collaborative Health Center at 2013 Central Road—nearly 5 miles north. And the Margaret Dumas Mental Health Center is open a mile away on 3843 Harding Blvd for mental health and substance abuse treatment. None of these facilities are designed for patients to regularly see the same health care provider in order to manage their health. Similarly, there are no other doctor offices or primary care facilities within the five surrounding zip codes.

    “There have been so many barriers to care for so long in the community,” said Thomas who grew up in the same community. As a student at Glen Oaks Medical Magnet High School, she was introduced to healthcare through the school’s medical training classes. She graduated from Southern University School of Nursing and worked as a nurse at what she called “the best hospital ever,” Earl K. Long Memorial Hospital, then to home health, and managed care with United Healthcare. It opened her eyes to the business of healthcare although she still had a “yearning for the clinical aspect.”

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    She said she began asking herself what more she could do to have an impact. “What legacy am I going to leave behind?” she asked. “For me coming back to open a clinic here was purposeful. I realized that every single step of my journey that I went through, every job, every up, and every down was to get me to prepare me to be here,” said Thomas.

    “Here” for both she and Cullins is in north Baton Rouge providing what they called “community medicine.”

    DSC_8414

    “This (at LHS) is where you come to establish a relationship with your doctor,” said Collins. “This is where you come for the personalized care.” As a child, Cullins watched this community medicine being practiced by Black doctors in South Baton Rouge. “I saw how these doctors cared for patients. Taking whatever they could afford to pay at the time. Sometimes it was some type of commodity or produce; most times patients paid in cash.”

    Thomas said she saw the same community medicine being practiced while she was a high schooler completing clinical rotations with nurses at Earl K. Long Hospital emergency room. “This nurse gave it literally her all. Seeing how she was able to truly provide care for the patient and make an impact,” she said. “You change the entire course of their lives.”

    As a result, Louisiana Healthcare Services allows patients to pay a minimal fee of $65 for visits without insurance and providers make house calls to care for established patients.

    “This is the type of care people deserve,” Cullins said. As a nurse practitioner, she is the primary care physician for hundreds of patients.

    Along with family care, the clinic offers wellness screenings, immunizations, HIV and chronic disease management, illness treatment, and family planning services. The extended hours of 8am to 8pm allow LHS to accept walk-ins. There are three providers—one bilingual—and an onsite lab. Medicaid application assistance are available. Cullins said they partner with specialists across the city who provide obstetrics, cardiac, dermatology, and pharmaceutical services for LHS patients. In the near future, LHS will house specialists “so that our patients won’t have to travel out of their communities — miles from their homes—to be cared for,” Cullins said.

    “We’ve hit many brick walls,” said Thomas. “We are writing our own blueprint as we go. We are doing what matters in order to impact this community the most.”

    For instance, in January, a team from LHS joined volunteers with LaMOM at the Baton Rouge Free Health Clinic and provided dental, medical, and vision care to more than 1,400 residents over three days. “This service was so needed, and with all the providers and medical staff there, we couldn’t assist everyone. There were so many,” said Thomas.

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    “People stood out in the freezing cold as early as 4am, lined up waiting for the doors to open,” said Cullins. Many of them had not been seen by doctors for years. Cullins remembered siting with one patient who need to received dental care but their blood pressure was too high. “They were hypertensive and had no medicine and no doctor,” she said. After sitting with them and explaining the severity of their health and its impact on their teeth, Cullins said she was surprised when the patient said, “You’re the first doctor to sit next to me and touch my hand.” After some time, Cullins said, they were able to lower the patient’s blood pressure so that the dentist could repair her teeth.

    IMG-4577“We’ve got to start seeing doctors who care about us,” said Cullins. One of their goals is to build on their partnerships with providers and specialists who will care for patients on site. “We (LHS) are needed,” she said.

    The surmounting HIV and AIDS cases in Baton Rouge is also a major concern for Collins and Thomas. The city is number one in the nation for new HIV cases. In 2015, more than 3,700 residents reported having the disease and the number is growing quickly. “We can prevent this and we can help our patients live longer with the disease,” said Cullins who specializes in HIV/AIDS management.

    “This is a vulnerable community, from hypertension, diabetes, HIV, and other conditions” said Thomas. “Their care starts with a primary care physician not in urgent care or the emergency room.”

    “We both know how it feels to be disadvantaged and being told no for services…This is a legacy we’re building here,” Cullins said.

     

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

    Photos by Hodge Media Group

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    Public asked to comment on future of Medicaid-management care March 14 – 16

    The Louisiana Department of Health is seeking public input as the State moves towards improving its Medicaid managed care program. Those who are interested in learning more about the department’s plans are invited to attend one of three forums scheduled this week.
    The forums will allow participants to learn about, and provide input on, Medicaid’s next Request for Proposals (RFP) for new Medicaid-managed care contracts. This competitive process will begin in early 2019. The meetings will be held at the following dates, locations and times:
    March 14
    Baton Rouge
    Our Lady of the Lake, Main Auditorium
    5000 Hennessy Blvd., Baton Rouge
    6 pm to 8 pm
    March 15
    Lafayette
    Lafayette General Hospital, Administrative Office
    920 W. Pinhook Road
    6 pm to 8 pm

     

    March 16
    Lake Charles
    Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, Sherman Conf. Center
    1701 Oak Park Blvd.
    11:30 am to 1:30 pm
    Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee will be attending the March 15 forum in Lafayette.  “The future managed care approach will emphasize rewarding providers for better care, improving whole-person care and excelling at population health management,” said Gee.
    With more than 1.5 million Louisiana residents enrolled in Healthy Louisiana, Medicaid’s managed care program, the Department of Health is committed to designing a procurement to find the best health plan partners to achieve the “Triple Aim” of better care, better health, and lower costs in the Medicaid program.

    “The Department is early in the policy development and information gathering stage for this future procurement and looks forward to public input in the design process,” said Jen Steele, Medicaid director.

    Currently, the state has contracts with five managed care plans to provide specific Medicaid benefits and services to eligible children and adults in Louisiana.

    The current Medicaid-managed care contracts will expire on December 31, 2019, and the new Medicaid managed care contracts formed through the RFP will be in place for January 1, 2020.

    All meetings are open to the public, and pre-registration is not required. For more information, visit www.makingmedicaidbetter.com or email healthy@la.gov.

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    Summit scheduled to engage communities around improving health, addressing gaps

    The Louisiana Center for Health Equity is hosting a statewide conference, the 2018 Health Summit: Engaging Communities for a Healthier Louisiana, March 20 at the C.B. Pennington Jr Building Conference Center, 6400 Perkins Rd., Baton Rouge.

    LCHE and the Campaign for Healthcare for Everyone – Louisiana in collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Health-Office of Public Health, and our summit partners, will serve as the hosts. This signature conference is designed to share knowledge among a broad audience with a goal of developing a framework for the mobilization of communities to address social and economic gaps that impact the health of Louisiana residents.

    This year’s summit will build upon the work done in the 2016 and 2017 Health Summit’s to continue our collective efforts toward improving health in Louisiana. Check out the preliminary agenda here:

    The distinguished speaker lineup includes:

    • The Honorable John Bel Edwards, Governor of the State of Louisiana
    • Senator Regina Barrow, Chair, Select Committee on Women & Children, Louisiana State Senate
    • Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, Office of the Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge
    • Dr. Parham Jaberi, Assistant Secretary, Louisiana Department of Health, Office of Public Health
    • Patti Rose, Ed.D, Rose Consulting and Faculty Member, Florida Atlantic University’s Graduate School of Business, Author, Health Disparities, Diversity, and Inclusion, Context, Controversies and Solutions, First Edition
    • Dr. Corey Hebert, CEO, Community Health TV, Assistant Professor LSU, Assistant Professor, Tulane University, Chief Medical Officer, Dillard University
    • Judy Lubin, PhD, MPH, Center for Urban and Racial Equity
    • Jennifer Mathis, JD, MA, Deputy Legal Director & Director of Policy & Legal Advocacy, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
    • Michael McKnight, B.S., Vice President of Policy & Innovation, Green & Healthy Homes Initiative
    • Alexander Lu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology, Francis Marion University
    • Ritney Castine, Principal and Chief Strategist, Imagine Greater
    • J. T. Lane, M.P.H., Senior Director, Alvarez & Marsal Public Sector Services, LLC
    • Sarah M. Gillen, M.P.H. Chief Operating Officer, Louisiana Public Health Institute

    Keynote:

    Patti Rose Ed

    Patti Rose Ed

    Patti Rose, E.D., is director and founder of Rose Consulting and previously served as president and CEO of Plainfield Health Center in Plainfield, New Jersey and as vice president of Behavioral Health Services at The Jessie Trice Center for Community Health, one of the largest community health centers in the nation, in Miami, Florida. She is the author of several books, including, Cultural Competency for Health Administration and Public Health, Cultural Competency for the Health Professions, and  Health Disparities, Diversity and Inclusion: Controversies Contexts and Solutions by Jones and Bartlett Learning. She also has published articles including a piece in the Harvard Journal of Minority Public Health, which focused on teenage pregnancy in the Black community. Dr. Rose’s passion is to travel the globe to understand the world and to share her knowledge of various cultures, history, health education and health promotion, health disparities, globalism and diversity through her writing, teaching and speaking engagements. Her current research is focused on health disparities, particularly in the United States, from a social justice vantage point, utilizing a cultural lens, and through comparative analysis, from a national and global perspective.

    ONLINE: 2018 Health Summit

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    Black mothers keep dying after giving birth, researchers blame racism

     Tennis superstar Serena Williams recently made international headlines after telling the harrowing story of how, after giving birth to her daughter, she had to demand life-saving treatment from hospital staff who didn’t take her seriously. Her story renewed public interest in a topic that needs more attention: Black women in the U.S. are nearly four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than White women.

    According to the CDC, a pregnancy-related death can occur not only during pregnancy but also within one year after the end of pregnancy. There has been a steady increase in U.S. pregnancy-related deaths, but Black mothers are disproportionately affected.

    In Louisiana, Black women are nearly four times as likely to die within one year of birth as White women, Louisiana obstetrician Dr. Joia Crear Perry, president of National Birth Equity Collaborative, wrote in an essay for The Root. The maternal mortality rate for the state is 19.6 per 100,000 live births, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.Joia PerryWhile chronic conditions like heart disease, hypertension and diabetes are usually said to be the main culprits, research shows that some other issue may be to blame for this disparity: racism.

     In a joint investigation, NPR and ProPublica collected more than 200 stories from Black mothers, and revealed that “the feeling of being devalued and disrespected by medical providers was a constant theme.”

    Black mothers from around the country told terrifying stories about how doctors wouldn’t believe them about health conditions until it was almost too late and even regularly dismissed their pain. These stories revealed how Black women are facing these issues regardless of education and income.

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    The publications also highlighted the story of Shalon Irving, a 36-year-old mother and an epidemiologist from Atlanta who collapsed and died three weeks after giving birth. She insisted to nurses, “It just doesn’t feel right” and was sent home anyway with only a prescription.

    As reported by NPR, Irving was researcher working to eradicate disparities in health access and outcomes who has become a symbol of one of the most troublesome health disparities facing Black women in the U.S. today: disproportionately high rates of maternal mortality.

    Chronic stress caused by racism outside of the healthcare system also influences the health of Black mothers, reproductive justice advocate Elizabeth Dawes Gay, MPH, wrote for The Nation.

    “Black people experience chronic stress resulting from exposure to overt and covert racism and micro-aggression, which can range from something as basic as intentionally avoiding eye contact to the extreme of being harassed, abused, or killed by police,” Gay wrote.

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    Erica Garner on Time.com

    Some believe this chronic stress contributed the tragic death of activist Erica Garner, daughter of the late Eric Garner. Vox reported that the stress of her father’s chokehold death by police, combined with her chronic health issues, could be the reason why the 27-year-old mother died just four months after giving birth to her second child.

    “The US has failed to deal with its high rates of maternal mortality on many fronts — particularly for women of color,” Vox staff writer P.R. Lockhart wrote.

    These grim statistics reveal that something needs to be done about pregnancy-related deaths among Black women. But what will the solution look like?

    Gay said the first step is acknowledging racism’s role.

    “We won’t go far in solving the American maternal-health problem without first acknowledging and then addressing how racism—both inside and outside the health-care setting—harms Black moms,” she said.

    By Anastasia L Semien
    Contributing writer
    Anastasia Semien is an award-winning digital journalist whose work has been published in publications across the country. This article was featured at WeBuyBlack.com. Follow her at @AnastasiaSemien
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    Federal class action suit filed against Johnson and Johnson on behalf of buyers

    Co-counsel Ben Crump says people of color were ‘victimized twice’

    This week, new documents were uncovered as part of existing lawsuits filed by ovarian cancer and mesothelioma victims. The documents indicate J&J knew for decades that cancer-causing asbestos and heavy metals were prevalent in the talc used in its Johnson’s Baby Powder and other products but failed to put a warning label on them. J&J stock prices plummeted after this and earlier disclosures.

    Rosen Law Firm, a global investor rights law firm, and Ben Crump Law, a civil rights and personal injury firm, announced the filing of a federal securities class action lawsuit on behalf of purchasers of the securities of Johnson & Johnson between Feb. 22, 2013, and Feb. 7, 2018, both dates inclusive (“Class Period.”) The lawsuit seeks to recover damages for J&J investors under the federal securities laws.

    FL-2015-Justice-Benjamin-Crump-large

    Ben Crump

    According to the lawsuit, throughout the Class Period defendants made false or misleading statements, and failed to disclose that J&J has known for decades that its talc products include asbestos fibers and that the exposure to those fibers can cause ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. J&J’s denials that talc could cause cancer and mesothelioma were materially false and misleading, and the company concealed contingent liabilities and loss of future revenues from the product. As a result of the company’s actions, the lawsuit claims, investors suffered damages when the true details entered the market.

    Crump said Johnson & Johnson engaged in “cynical tactics to market these products to women of color, while knowing their potential harm.”

    “Johnson & Johnson devalued Black lives by expressly marketing a product to Black customers that they knew for decades to be harmful,” Crump said. “Given that many Black workers’ retirement funds depend on government pension funds that invest in this stock for their retirement, Johnson & Johnson victimized them twice, jeopardizing their physical and their financial health.”

    In the 1990s, Johnson &Johnson began a concerted effort to boost the sales of its baby powder by “targeting” Black and Hispanic women, according to a company memorandum made public in recent lawsuits that led to multimillion-dollar verdicts against the powder manufacturer. In the past, Black women have reported significantly higher use of feminine hygiene products, including genital powder. A 2015 case-control study in Los Angeles found that 44 percent of Black women reported using talcum powder, compared to 30 percent of white women and 29 percent of Hispanic women.

    Rosen said the class action lawsuit has already been filed. Anyone wishing to serve as lead plaintiff, must move the Court no later than April 9, 2018. A lead plaintiff is a representative party acting on behalf of other class members in directing the litigation. Anyone wishing to join the litigation should go to http://www.rosenlegal.com/cases-1288.html or contact Phillip Kim or Daniel Sadeh of Rosen Law Firm toll-free at 866-767- 3653 or via email at pkim@rosenlegal.com or dsadeh@rosenlegal.com. Rosen Law Firm represents investors throughout the globe, concentrating its practice in securities class actions and shareholder derivative litigation. Since 2014, Rosen Law Firm has been ranked #2 in the nation by Institutional Shareholder Services for the number of securities class action settlements annually obtained for investors.

    Ben Crump is well known for representing clients in a wide range of civil rights and personal injury cases and is a former president of the National Bar Association. He has been recognized by the National Bar Association as the Nation’s Best Advocate and listed on The National Trial Lawyers’ Top 100 Lawyers. His firm also focuses on practice areas that include class actions, personal injury, wrongful deaths, and workers’ compensation.

    The Rosen and Crump firms announced a partnership earlier this year to expand and diversify reach and help bring justice to organizations and individuals impacted by securities fraud and corporate misconduct throughout the world.

     

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    Ask Dr. Kevin: Understanding clinical trials and sickle cell disease

    Clinical trials are critical to bringing new medicines to people who need them, particularly those affected by conditions with limited treatment options, such as sickle cell disease (SCD). These studies, which determine the safety and effectiveness of new investigational treatments, rely on the participation of volunteers. Without enough volunteers, researchers are unable to complete the research required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to evaluate if a new drug should be made available to patients. Therefore, the only way to get any drug approved by the FDA and accessible to patients in need is through clinical trials.

    Unfortunately, finding enough patient volunteers is often a challenge in conducting clinical trials, and this has been particularly true for trials exploring new treatment options for SCD, which occurs in one out of every 365 African American births. Although African Americans make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, they comprise only 5 percent of clinical trial participants overall.

    Fear and misunderstanding about clinical trials likely contribute to the difficulty of recruiting participants. Recently, Pfizer and the NNPA collaborated on a national poll consisting of 741 participants to learn more about perceptions of SCD and clinical trials in the Black community. A majority of respondents indicated a willingness to participate in future clinical trials for SCD, if given appropriate knowledge and recommendations from health care professionals. Of those who indicated that they would not participate in clinical trials, ‘fear of uncertainties’ was the most cited reason.

    To help address some of these uncertainties, I’m here to answer the most common questions about clinical trials. It is my hope that this information will help you make an informed decision should you or a loved one choose to participate in a clinical trial in the future.

    Are clinical trials safe?

    Strict guidelines and supervision are in place to protect the safety of people who take part in studies—from careful study design to periodic monitoring of study data by independent experts. That said, clinical trials are designed for research purposes, and because of this, there is some level of risk involved. However, before an investigational drug can be given to clinical trial volunteers, researchers must complete a rigorous screening and preclinical testing process (in the laboratory and in animals), which can take up to six years to complete.

    If I participate in a clinical trial, will I get a “sugar pill” or placebo instead of a real drug?

    Participants in a clinical trial using a placebo will always be informed if there is a possibility they could be receiving the placebo, which looks identical to the real drug but does not contain the active ingredient. However, the vast majority of studies are not placebo-controlled trials, and patients in the clinical trial who are not receiving the drug under study will receive the current standard of care available to the public. Patients who take part in clinical trials will never be asked to sacrifice quality of care.

    Will it be expensive to participate in a clinical trial?

    Patient care costs are generally covered by health insurance, as they are for tests and treatments you would receive even if you were not involved in the research. The majority of participants in clinical studies receive at least some reimbursement from their health insurance. Most often, the clinical trial sponsors will pay for the study therapy and insurance companies will pay for the routine care procedures, such as blood tests.

    Before participating in clinical trials, I recommend checking with the researchers regarding your financial responsibilities as a patient, as well as with your health insurance carrier regarding coverage.

    How do I find out about clinical trials?

    You can always talk to your doctor; however, he or she may not know about all available clinical trials that might apply to you. Only approximately 1 in 5 patients say that their health care professionals have talked to them about participating in a clinical trial.

    As for resources, the National Institutes of Health has an online database that is a great tool to search for appropriate trials: https://clinicaltrials.gov. Another great resource is “I’m In,” a campaign to build awareness about the importance of diversity in clinical trials, especially among African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic populations. You can find more information on Pfizer’s Clinical Trial page, too.

     

    What’s the timeframe for clinical trials?

    I’m often asked, “Why does a new treatment take so long?” The short answer is that treatment takes as long as it does because the cardinal rule of medicine is “First, do no harm.” Thus, the development of a new therapy is a multi-stage, complex process that has to meet the highest standards of patient protection.

    Clinical trials, which generally take 5 to 10 years, are at the center of the rigorous science that demonstrates the safety and efficacy of a medicine and provides a thorough view of its benefits and risks, and is the only avenue to bring medications to patients in need.

    By Dr. Kevin Williams
    Chief Medical Officer, Pfizer Rare Disease Unit

    ONLINE: more information about sickle cell disease, the collaboration between the NNPA and Pfizer Rare Disease, and a new nationwide poll conducted by Howard University to deepen understanding and gauge perceptions around SCD and clinical trials among African Americans.

     

    Dr. Kevin Williams is the chief medical officer for Rare Disease at Pfizer. He pursued medicine after being inspired by his father’s work as a general practitioner in his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Follow Pfizer on Facebook and Twitter.  This article is the third installment in the “Ask Dr. Kevin” series, brought to you by Pfizer Rare Disease in collaboration with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) to increase understanding of sickle cell disease.

     

     

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    Love your heart more

    Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States and that every 1 in 4 deaths that occur in America are heart related.

    It doesn’t have to be that way, said health providers at the Louisiana Healthcare Services in Baton Rouge.  “Often times heart disease can be prevented by simply making modifications to your daily life,” said Nicole Thomas, RN. According to Thomas, four modifications can be made right now to decrease chances of battling heart disease.

    Make Healthier Food Choices. Listen we know here in the south we are know for the best cuisine and cajun foods however we need to be smart about it. So instead of getting the southern fried fish, try the grilled salmon or the blackened fish. Instead of adding a side of fries add a side salad. Instead of adding mayo, add honey mustard. It’s all about making better choices.

    Exercise More. Now we know that this is a big one for some people but guess what a few extra steps can turn into a mile. So even if you cant run on a treadmill at the gym for a whole hour, instead of taking the elevator all day while at work, takes the stairs all day. Instead of riding around looking for the closet parking spot, park further out which will require you to walk more. Rather than sitting outside watching the kids play, join them in a game of basket ball or riding bikes.

    Stop Smoking. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke devise a plan to stop such as decreasing week by week how many cigarettes you smoke. Rather than reaching for a cigarette at the first sign of stress, take a walk to blow off some steam. There are even medical alternatives that your medical provider can provide to assist with kicking the habit.

    Develop a Relationship with a Primary Care Provider. The best thing you can do is to have a relationship with a Primary Care Provider who is fully vested in helping you to live your best life. This means attending annual wellness screenings, having further testing done for that pain that you feel in your chest, receiving care for that headache that just wont go away, and asking questions when you don’t understand.

    Located at 7855 Howell Place, Set. 103B, in Baton Rouge, the Louisiana Healthcare Services has primary care providers available daily 8am – 8pm. Call (225) 810-3188.

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    Know Your Liver educational session planned for Feb 24

    Rarely are we informed about the importance of a healthy liver, or the ramifications of an unhealthy one. The L. K. Davis Liver Disease Awareness Association was created with this in mind, setting out to address liver health issues in our families and communities. Consisting of physicians, nurses, practitioners, health coaches, counselors, liver disease patients, caregivers, and many other interested parties, our goal is to help educate the public about the necessity of a healthy liver, and support those affected by liver disease, from early diagnosis through end-stage. Our services are free, and all donations are tax-deductible.

    Our first educational session of KNOW YOUR LIVER will be held on February 24, at the Carver Branch of the EBRP Library, at 11am. Our educational sessions will be held monthly, as will our support group meetings for liver patients and their caregivers.

    L. K. Davis Liver Disease Awareness Association is a non-profit organization, which collaborates with local health-care providers, drug/alcohol treatment programs, veteran’s services, schools, and others, in the common interest of liver disease awareness.

    For more information about this topic, email liver.disease.awareness@gmail.com.

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  • Cervical Health Awareness Month begins

    January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. Each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer. HPV (human papillomavirus) is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity, and it causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV don’t know they are infected.

    Learn how Cervical Health Awareness Month can make a difference here.

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    Tips to help women prepare for long-term healthcare

    Women spend much of their lives caring for others. As mothers and wives, they never seem to stop giving to their families and husbands.

    So who will take care of mom if she needs long-term care? Or will she plan ahead for her long-term care?

    It’s important that she does. Women typically outlive men by an average of about five years. According to aarp.org, more than two-thirds of Americans 85 or older are women. And about 79 percent of 65-year-old women will need long-term care during their lifetime, according to a study by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute.

    Women often become long-term caregivers for their husbands or other family members. And as statistics show, they are also more likely to become widowed before needing long-term care themselves. Her husband’s needs may have further drained assets, leaving the widow with less financial wherewithal to apply to her own care.

    “Women too often don’t adequately plan ahead for LTC needs,” said Lisa Odoski, a financial professional focusing on women’s well-being and Vice President of the Fried Group, the parent company of TFG Wealth Management.

    “At the same time, research shows among unpaid care-givers in the U.S., two-thirds are women. They sacrifice a lot – sometimes their own careers or reducing their regular work hours.

    “Women today have a greater risk of needing LTC services and of becoming unpaid caregivers. It’s an important time for them to develop an LTC strategy that helps preserve their total financial future.”

    Odoski gives three tips to help women prepare for their long-term care:

    • Educate yourself. Family financial planning used to be almost exclusively the men’s turf. Those days are long gone, and with many houses running on two incomes and women outliving men, women need to make planning for their distant future more of a priority. But an AARP survey showed 60 percent of women hadn’t considered how they would pay for long-term care. “They should start by consulting an investment expert and financial planner,” Odoski said. “They need to get up to speed on senior care costs, insurance and savings plans.”

    • Know your retirement benefits and your spouse’s. Women should take advantage of their employer’s retirement plan and not delay in saving for their future, including the last years they may spend alone. It’s especially important, in the event of divorce or their spouse’s death, to know their spousal rights in regard to their spouse’s pension, Social Security or veteran’s benefits. “They don’t want to be in a position where most of their spouse’s benefits are going toward their own care,” Odoski said.

    • Think long-term with your budget. Women should have specific goals and a plan to save towardthem. The statistics say the goals should include a portion devoted to long-term care insurance, which covers a wide spectrum of products and services. “They should lay out all monthly and annual spending needs and crunch the numbers to determine what they’ll need in later years in order to maintain their familiar lifestyle,” Odoski said. “They need to look at all LTC options. Medicare and private insurance usually aren’t enough to cover long-term care anymore.”

    “After decades of taking care of others,” Odoski said, “women more than ever need to know how to take care of themselves.”

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    Mission to help Baton Rouge kids move more

    Three quarters of children in the United States are not meeting physical activity recommendations, according to a recent report authored by concerned health experts from around the country and by scientists from Baton Rouge at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center. The report, compiled by the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance, indicates that nearly 63 percent of children are exceeding screen time guidelines, meaning that a majority of kids are sitting more and moving less. These habits put our country’s children at risk for obesity, diabetes and related chronic disease as they get older.

     Here in Louisiana, one out of every two children is considered overweight or obese*. That statistic is unacceptable to Amanda Stain, Ph.D., an assistant professor of research in the Pediatric Obesity and Health Behavior Lab at Pennington Biomedical, who is working to find creative ways to improve children’s health.

    “We know that if we can help children develop healthy habits such as moving more when they are younger, they are more likely to continue those habits past adolescence into adulthood,” said Staiano.

    According to Staiano, the first step to helping kids move more is understanding why they aren’t already moving enough. That’s why she is leading the TIGER Kids research study, which is researching ways to increase kids’ physical activity and decrease sedentary behavior to improve their overall health.

    During the course of the study, Staiano and her team are using state-of-the-art technology like activity trackers and global positioning systems (GPS) to follow kids’ physical activity patterns for seven days to learn more about what prevents them from being active and what motivates them to move more. Kids in the study will also use a mobile phone app to share more information with researchers about who they are with and what they are doing—for example, spending time at the park with friends—when they are most physically active.web tigerkids_poster 9.75x9.75

    “This is a great way for me to teach my daughter about healthy habits,” said Brandy Davis, whose daughter, Ariamarie, is participating in the TIGER Kids study. “Both my son and I have been a part of research studies at Pennington Biomedical before, and we have really gotten some great health information from participating in those studies. My daughter was so excited to be a part of the TIGER Kids study because she is fascinated by the activity trackers and all the great information she’ll get about her own activity levels.”

    Staiano said the TIGER Kids study is still looking for children between the ages of 10 and 16 to participate in the study. In addition to great health information they can share with their doctor, participants who complete the study will also receive compensation for their time.

     

    TIGER Kids Study with Pennington Biomedical

    Study Purpose

    The TIGER Kids research study will evaluate ways to: increase kids’ physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior (help kids move more and sit less), encourage healthy eating, and assess other factors that may influence school performance, body image, stress and mood.

    TIGER Kids participants will also receive valuable health information at no cost. Each participant is eligible to receive a copy of:

    • their lab work; including blood sugar and cholesterol tests;
    • a printout of their DXA scan, which includes total body fat, total muscle mass, total lean mass and bone density readings; and
    • a copy of body measurement data including height, weight, waist circumference, body mass index, blood pressure and heart rate.

    Study Qualifications

    To qualify, participants in this study should:

    • Be between 10 and 16 years old
    • Not be on a restrictive diet

    Compensation

    Total compensation for the completion of this study is $100.

    Study Contact

    Parents, are you ready to see if your child qualifies for the TIGER Kids study? Visit http://www.pbrc.edu/TIGERKids to screen online or call 225-763-3000.

     

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    High blood pressure redefined for first time in 14 years: 130 the new high

    High blood pressure should be treated earlier with lifestyle changes and in some patients with medication – at 130/80 mm Hg rather than 140/90 – according to the first comprehensive new high blood pressure guidelines in more than a decade. The guidelines are being published by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) for detection, prevention, management and treatment of high blood pressure.The guidelines were presented this week at the Association’s 2017 Scientific Sessions conference in Anaheim, Calif., the premier global cardiovascular science meeting for the exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians.

    Rather than 1 in 3 U.S. adults having high blood pressure (32 percent) with the previous definition, the new guidelines will result in nearly half of the U.S. adult population (46 percent) having high blood pressure, or hypertension. However, there will only be a small increase in the number of U.S. adults who will require antihypertensive medication, authors said. Additionally, more African-Americans, a population that faces a higher risk for high blood pressure than other demographics, will have high blood pressure under the new guidelines. Fifty-six percent of women will be affected compared to 59 percent of men, which reflects an increase from 42 percent for women and 46 percent for men. This now means African-American men have the highest rate of hypertension while, previously, black women did.

    These guidelines, the first update to offer comprehensive guidance to doctors on managing adults with high blood pressure since 2003, are designed to help people address the potentially deadly condition much earlier.

    The new guidelines stress the importance of using proper technique to measure blood pressure. Blood pressure levels should be based on an average of two to three readings on at least two different occasions, the authors said.

    High blood pressure accounts for the second largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths, following smoking. It’s known as the “silent killer” because many times there are no obvious symptoms, and it significantly increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.

    Paul K. Whelton, M.B., M.D., M.Sc., lead author of the guidelines published in the American Heart Association journal, Hypertension and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, noted the dangers of blood pressure levels between 130-139/80-89 mm Hg.

    “You’ve already doubled your risk of cardiovascular complications compared to those with a normal level of blood pressure,” he said. “We want to be straight with people – if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it. It doesn’t mean you need medication, but it’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure, mainly with non-drug approaches.”

    Blood pressure categories in the new guidelines are:

    * Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg;
    * Elevated: Top number (systolic) between 120-129 and bottom number (diastolic) less than 80;
    * Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89;
    * Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg;
    * Hypertensive crisis: Top number over 180 and/or bottom number over 120, with patients needing prompt changes in medication if there are no other indications of problems, or immediate hospitalization if there are signs of organ damage.

    The new guidelines eliminate the category of prehypertension, which was used for blood pressures with a top number (systolic) between 120-139 mm Hg or a bottom number (diastolic) between 80-89 mm Hg. People with those readings now will be categorized as having either Elevated (120-129 and less than 80) or Stage I hypertension (130-139 or 80-89).

    Previous guidelines classified 140/90 mm Hg as Stage 1 hypertension. This level is classified as Stage 2 hypertension under the new guidelines.

    The impact of the new guidelines is expected to be greatest among younger people. The prevalence of high blood pressure is expected to triple among men under age 45, and double among women under 45 according to the report. For African-Americans, high blood pressure develops earlier in life and is usually more severe.

    Damage to blood vessels begins soon after blood pressure is elevated, said Whelton, who is the Show Chwan professor of global public health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and School of Medicine in New Orleans. “If you’re only going to focus on events, that ignores the process when it’s beginning. Risk is already going up as you get into your 40s.”

    The guidelines stress the importance of home blood pressure monitoring using validated devices and appropriate training of healthcare providers to reveal “white-coat hypertension,” which occurs when pressure is elevated in a medical setting but not in everyday life. Home readings can also identify “masked hypertension,” when pressure is normal in a medical setting but elevated at home, thus necessitating treatment with lifestyle and possibly medications.

    “People with white-coat hypertension do not seem to have the same elevation in risk as someone with true sustained high blood pressure,” Whelton said. “Masked hypertension is more sinister and very important to recognize because these people seem to have a similar risk as those with sustained high blood pressure.”

    Other changes in the new guidelines include:

    * Only prescribing medication for Stage I hypertension if a patient has already had a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke, or is at high risk of heart attack or stroke based on age, the presence of diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease or calculation of atherosclerotic risk (using the same risk calculator used in evaluating high cholesterol).

    * Recognizing that many people will need two or more types of medications to control their blood pressure, and that people may take their pills more consistently if multiple medications are combined into a single pill.

    * Socioeconomic status and psychosocial stress are now recognized as risk factors for high blood pressure. In some urban communities, socioeconomic status can affect access to basic living necessities, medication, healthcare providers and the ability to adopt lifestyle changes.

    The new guidelines were developed by the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and nine other health professional organizations. They were written by a panel of 21 scientists and health experts who reviewed more than 900 published studies. The guidelines underwent a careful systematic review and approval process. Each recommendation is classified by the strength (class) of the recommendation followed by the level of evidence supporting the recommendation. Recommendations are classified I or II, with class III indicating no benefit or harm. The level of evidence signifies the quality of evidence. Levels A, B, and C-LD denote evidence gathered from scientific studies, while level C-EO contains evidence from expert opinion.

    The new guidelines are the successor to the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC7), issued in 2003 and overseen by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). In 2013, the NHLBI asked the AHA and ACC to continue the management of guideline preparation for hypertension and other cardiovascular risk factors.

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    Personal Health History Workshop opens for registration through Oct 13

    Deadline to pre-register is October 13

    The Southern University Agricultural Land-Grant Campus’ Family and Human Development Unit will host a Personal Health History Workshop, Tuesday, Oct. 31, at the SU Ag Center, 181 B.A. Little Dr., from 9am to 2:30pm.

    The free workshop will show individuals how to create a personal health history journal that can be used to keep track of not only their health history, but also the health history of their family’s including illnesses, medications, treatments and any past medical procedures. This information is often asked for by medical professionals when being admitted to the emergency room or seeing a doctor for the first time.

    Topics covered during the workshop will include:

    • Knowing Your Family Medical History
    • How to Get The Most from Your Doctor’s Visit
    • What’s a Power of Attorney
    • What’s a Living Will
    • Eating Healthy at Every Age
    • Harmful Effects of Tobacco
    • USDA Rural Housing Repair Program

    The event is free, but pre-registration is required.  To request a registration form or to pre-register, email milissia_jbaptiste@suagcenter.comdelores_johnson@suagcenter.com or call 225-771-2583, 225-771-3704.

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    Youth sought for TIGER Kids health study

    The TIGER Kids research study is looking at ways to improve the overall health of future generations. The study will evaluate ways to: increase kids’ physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior (help kids move more and sit less), encourage healthy eating, and assess other factors that may influence school performance, body image, stress and mood.

    Researchers are using state-of-the-art technology, including activity trackers and global positioning systems to monitor physical activity, advanced imaging (MRI and DXA) to measure body fat, and mobile phone messages sent through an app to help identify what motivates kids to make healthy choices.

    ONLINE: www.pbrc.edu/tigerkids

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    SU Ag Center provides recommendation to the board for medical marijuana vendor

    Southern University’s medical marijuana evaluation committee provided the Board of Supervisors with information on the top three vendors who have submitted applications to become the University’s medical marijuana cultivator.

    The committee recommended Med Louisiana, Advanced Bio Medical, and Southern Roots Therapeutics to the board for approval to enter into contract negotiations during a special board meeting on Sept. 8.

    Upon hearing the recommendations of the committee, the board decided to postpone their selection of a sole vendor to contract with to give them additional time to review the applications.

    The board is set to vote on the selection of a cultivator during their regularly scheduled board meeting on Sept. 22.

    Seven vendors submitted applications to become the medical marijuana cultivator of Southern. The vendors are Advanced Bio Medical, Aqua Pharm, Citiva Louisiana, Columbia Care, Med Louisiana, Southern Roots Therapeutics and United States Hamp Corporation (USHC).

    Senate Bill 271 (Act 96) by Senator Fred Mills gave the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center and the LSU Agricultural Center the right of first refusal to be licensed, either separately or jointly, as the production facility for medical marijuana in the state of Louisiana.

    Additional information about Southern University’s Medical Marijuana Program is available at, http://www.suagcenter.com/PageDisplay.asp?p1=12549

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    Report: Louisiana one of worst for Black women

    A new report from the nonpartisan Institute for Women’s Policy Research reveals troubling data about the economic and social challenges Black women face in Louisiana.

    The report studied factors like political participation, employment, income, and family structure. It finds Black women concentrated in lower-paying jobs (even relative to their academic achievement), being paid less than white women and men in similar occupations, and having more limited access to health insurance, often while acting as their family’s primary breadwinner.

    “Black women continue to experience structural barriers to progress that have roots in the nation’s legacy of racial and gender discrimination and exploitation. A shifting political landscape has put Black women even more at risk for disenfranchisement and marginalization,” the report states.

    The state-by-state analysis reveals Black women in Louisiana as experiencing some of the nation’s most difficult circumstances. The report cites Louisiana as the most perilous place to be a Black woman. Among its key findings:

    Black women in Louisiana (and Mississippi) make less money than anywhere else in the country. In 2014, their median annual earnings were just $25,000. The median income for women nationwide was $38,000. Only 28.3 percent of Black women in Louisiana worked in managerial or professional occupations.

    In 2014, one in three Black women in Louisiana (31.3 percent) lived below the poverty line.

    In Louisiana, fewer Black women were covered by health insurance than in any other state (72.3 percent of the population had insurance). (This report was compiled using data from 2014, before Gov. John Bel Edwards expanded Medicaid coverage related to the Affordable Care Act — it’s possible this statistic has been affected, for the better, by that expansion.)

    According to Gambit magazine, “the needs of Black women as a population need to be championed by lawmakers — even though Black women in Louisiana also have the nation’s largest political representation gap relative to their proportion of the population, with no women of color (or women at all, actually) serving at the national level.”

    The report was compiled with the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance An executive summary of the report, including conclusions and recommendations, is online at www.domesticworkers.org.

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    Louisiana groups release statements on GOP’s repeal failure

    After the Senate rejected Republicans’ plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, several Louisiana organizations released statements showing their pleasure. Here are their words:

    From the Louisiana Center for Health Equity  president Alma C. Stewart:
    The Louisiana Center for Health Equity is pleased that millions of Americans can breathe a sigh of relief. After several failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it remains the law of the land. Today, 51 Members of Congress stood up for the American people protecting them from losing their healthcare coverage. It is disappointing that neither Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy nor Senator John Kennedy was among them. We are thankful for our many supporters who made their voices heard over and over. As we celebrate a victory today, we acknowledge that there remains work to be done to ensure that everyone has access to affordable quality healthcare. We urge Congress to allow this work go forward in a bipartisan manner.

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    COMMENTARY: New healthcare bill the wrong choice for African Americans

    In 1954, Thurgood Marshall and a team of NAACP attorneys argued the landmark civil rights case, Brown v. Board, before the Supreme Court. They demonstrated to the Justices that segregated schools violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause — that separate was and would always be unequal.
    Our representatives are on the brink of instating a health care plan that epitomizes separate and unequal. Thirteen U.S. Senators — all white men — sat behind closed doors in Washington, D.C. and crafted a replacement to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
    Their proposed bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), based off of the House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA), would only benefit people like themselves — healthy, wealthy white men — and quarantine the rest of the country into the confines of high cost, low quality health care.
    The Senate’s inequitable protection plan would disproportionately hurt the sick, the poor, the elderly, women, and people of color. It would make healthcare more expensive for seniors and people who are already sick, increase out-of-pocket costs for doctor’s visits, slash subsidies to help low-income people pay for health insurance, and cut Medicaid support to states by three-quarters of a trillion dollars.
    In more than twenty years as a health and social policy professional, I have witnessed the dire consequences of African Americans living without health care, and I have watched the ACA repair some of the most egregious inequities in our health care system. If the Senate bill passes, the impact will be devastating, and, in many cases, lethal.
    The current version of the Senate’s health care plan is projected to cause some 22 million people to lose their coverage by 2026, including 15 million next year. It also proposes to cut more than $772 billion from the Medicaid program over ten years and phase out additional funding for its expansion. At the same time, the bill proposes tax cuts of $700 billion that will largely benefit high-income individuals and big businesses — especially profiting the top one percent of earners. In effect, cuts to Medicaid for the poor and to premium subsidies for low-income people will serve to refund the rich.
    The Senate’s plan grants several allowances to states that hold the potential for serious harm. The plan permits states to opt out of providing essential health benefits that made coverage under the ACA more comprehensive, such as maternity and mental health care. States that opt out of providing these essential benefits would receive their share of $112 billion over ten years to help offset the states’ cost for covering those who need care most and likely set up high-risk insurance groupings. This provision would incentivize states to mark up the cost of coverage for people with certain needs, ostracizing them to their own costly risk pool.
    But the sick are not the only ones that the Senate plan puts at risk: under the new bill, low-income families and individuals would also be significantly hurt by the cuts to Medicaid. Proposed changes to Medicaid would make it more likely that states will reduce much-needed services or cut back enrollment. The resulting increased cost of care would be hurtful to elderly Americans, most of whom experience a decline in income, but they would be especially crippling to African-American seniors, who experience poverty at twice the rate of their white counterparts.
    The ACA cut the uninsured rate for African-American adults by almost half between 2010 to 2015 and eliminated the inequity in uninsured rates between African-American and white children. For the first time in history, thanks to the ACA, a Black child is no longer more likely to be uninsured than a white child. The new bill threatens to undo all of this progress. Suddenly, health care and insurance will once again be out of reach for many African Americans, nearly a quarter of whom were living below the poverty line in 2015.
    Further, the BCRA is an assault on the health of women of all races. The bill would prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding for at least one year, including Medicaid and Title X, despite its status as a source of care for services that women need, such as contraception and screenings for cancers and STDs.
    Our nation does not need a new health reform law. The ACA is the most comprehensive legislative effort to improve and democratize health care access in our nation’s history. We need to bolster the ACA’s promises of progress, not regress to conditions that were unacceptable then and are indefensible now. We need Congress to develop policies that help prevent illness, better manage disease, and facilitate health and well-being in our society overall. Our government’s focus should be on repairing and strengthening the ACA, not replacing it–much less with a dangerous, divisive alternative. It is time to put all of America first.
    By Marjorie Innocent
    Guest Columnist
    Join the NAACP on social media with the hashtag #BeInTheRoom. Dr. Marjorie Innocent is senior director, NAACP Health Programs. Contact: Malik Russell, director of communications, mrussell@naacpnet.org, 410-580-5761 (office)
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    Sims to lead Medical City Fort Worth

    Jyric Sims has been named chief executive officer for Medical City Fort Worth after a national search. The Baton Rouge native has more than 17 years of health care experience and began his career as a certified nursing assistant before being promoted to leadership and business development roles, including director of operations at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He was also senior vice president and chief operating officer for the Tulane Health System in New Orleans. Sims earned a bachelor of science degree from Louisiana State University.

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    C.H.E.F. Youth Cooking Camp starts July 24

    The Southern University Agricultural Land-Grant Campus, in collaboration with the LSU AgCenter, will sponsor its “Creating Healthy Enjoyable Foods” (C.H.E.F.) youth cooking camp for youth ages 9-11 on July 10-14 and for ages 12-15 on July 24-28.

    The C.H.E.F. cooking camp is designed to teach youth basic cooking principles and nutrition education based on the USDA’s, “MyPlate” food guidance system and Dietary Guidelines.CHEF CAMP REGISTRATION FORM

    Each day, participants will work together to create an entire meal while learning healthy eating and physical activity principles, food preparation, kitchen and food safety, common cooking terms, proper food handling, measuring techniques, critical thinking and team building skills, planning and time management.

    Both sessions will be held on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus in Pinkie E. Thrift Hall from 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. Only 12-16 participants will be accepted for each session. Participants are required to bring a bag lunch and healthy snack each day.

    Registration for the camp is $25 and must be accompanied with a completed registration form and mailed to: C.H.E.F., Nutrition Education Program, Southern University Ag Center, P. O. Box 10010, Baton Rouge, LA 70813. Payment must be made in the form of a money order payable to the Southern University Ag Center.
    The deadline to apply for both camp sessions is Friday, June 30th.

    To enroll or for additional information, contact Kiyana Kelly or Marquetta Anderson at 225.389.3055 or via e-mail at, kiyana_kelly@suagcenter.com or marquetta_anderson@suagcenter.com

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    300 Black women sought for polycystic ovary syndrome research in BR

    LSU’S Pennington Biomedical Launches New Study Aimed at Understanding Genes Involved in Common Hormonal Disorder Affecting Women

    A new study at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center is looking to identify genes that increase the likelihood of a woman developing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

    PCOS is a hormonal disorder which prevents many women from getting pregnant. It affects one in 12 women worldwide (15 percent of reproductive age women) and is the most common reason many women have trouble getting pregnant. PCOS can cause irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain and is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

    Through a Gene Mapping of PCOS study, researchers are examining which specific genes, among women of different races, lead to this disorder. The study is being conducted in collaboration with PCOS physician scientist, Dr. Andrea Dunaif, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and M. Geoffrey Hayes, PhD., of Northwestern University.

    The Pennington Biomedical portion of the study is focused on African-American women, and the center is seeking 300 women of African-American heritage to participate. Women should be between the ages of 18-40, have been diagnosed with PCOS and not taking any medications.  (To volunteer, call 225-763-3000 or visit www.pbrc.edu/healthierLA)what-is-PCOS

    “Mapping the genes that increase the likelihood a woman could develop PCOS could help many families who suffer from this condition, which affects not only fertility but metabolic health as well,” said Leanne Redman, PhD, LPFA Endowed Fellow and associate professor, who is leading Pennington Biomedical’s work on the study.

    “We know that PCOS runs in families, so genes play an important role. We also know that the number of women affected differs by ethnic groups,” said Redman. “So by studying the genes of large groups of women from diverse ethnic backgrounds, this research study hopes to identify the specific genes that increase PCOS risk, so we can better understand how the disorder develops. This information could lead to new treatments for PCOS.”

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    Dr. Vindell Washington named Blue Cross chief medical officer

    Dr. Vindell Washington has joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana as chief medical officer. He brings to the state’s largest health insurer extensive experience in leading clinical teams and in health IT, most recently as the national coordinator for healthcare information technology in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    Prior to that, Washington was at the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System in Baton Rouge for more than seven years, leaving as president of the medical group, which includes more than 500 medical providers and 1,400 employees. While at the health system, he also served as vice president of performance excellence and technology and chief medical information officer.

    Washington is a board-certified emergency medicine physician. Before coming to Baton Rouge, he served as chief executive officer of Piedmont Emergency Medicine Associates, a large private group in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    He received his undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University and his medical degree from the University of Virginia. He also received a Master of Science degree in healthcare management from the Harvard School of Public Health.

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    Make the most of Medicare’s drug coverage

    Medicare offers prescription drug coverage to everyone with Medicare.

    It’s a good deal. Medicare subsidizes the outpatient drug benefit, generally paying about 75 percent of the program’s costs. Unless you already have comparable drug coverage through another source, you should consider getting it when you sign up for Medicare’s health care coverage at 65.

    There are two ways to get drug coverage. If you’re in Medicare’s traditional fee-for-service program, you can purchase a “stand-alone” drug plan from an insurance company. Or, if you decide to buy a private Medicare Advantage health plan, you can choose one that includes drug coverage.

    To find the “stand-alone” drug plans and the Medicare Advantage health plans with drug coverage available in your area, visit Medicare’s “plan finder” at www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan. You can also call Louisiana’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program for help at 1-800-259-5300.

    You’ll see there are significant differences in premiums and deductibles, in the co-payments the plans charge, in the particular drugs they cover and in the pharmacies they use. That’s why it’s important to look at your prescriptions and individual circumstances when comparing plans.

    Ask yourself: Which plans cover the drugs I take? Which plan gives me the best overall price on all my drugs? Which plans allow me to use the pharmacy I want? Which plans let me get drugs through the mail? What are the plans’ quality ratings, such as for customer service?

    You’ll discover that many plans place drugs into different “tiers.” The higher the tier, the greater your share of the cost will usually be. If you find that a prescription of yours is in a higher tier, you may want to ask your doctor whether there’s a drug in a lower tier that would work as well.

    You may also encounter plans that follow “step therapy.” That means you must first try a less-expensive drug that’s been proven effective for most people with your condition before you can move up to a costlier drug. However, your doctor can request an exception if the costlier drug is medically necessary.

    Medicare drug coverage is just like other kinds of insurance – you buy it to protect yourself if and when you need it. Even if you’re not on any prescriptions now, enrolling in a drug plan with a low premium guarantees you’ll have coverage should your health decline and you require medication.

    After you pick a plan that meets your needs, call the company offering it and ask how to join. You may be able to join online, by phone or by paper application. Don’t be alarmed when you’re asked to provide the number on your Medicare card during the enrollment process. In this case, it’s OK.

    The plan that’s best for you this year may not be the best next year. If so, you can switch to another plan between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7 each year. Indeed, it’s smart to check all your options every fall to make sure you have the plan that best fits your needs and pocketbook. Your new coverage then begins on Jan. 1.

    If you’re having difficulty affording medications, you may qualify for the government’s “extra help” program. Your annual income can’t be more than $18,090 if you’re single or $24,360 if you’re married. Also, your resources can’t exceed $13,820 if you’re single or $27,600 if you’re married.

    Generally, you’ll pay no more than $3.30 for each generic drug and $8.25 for each brand-name prescription in 2017. Forty-one percent of Louisiana residents with a Medicare drug plan get extra help. To apply, visit the Social Security website, at www.socialsecurity.gov/i1020, or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.

    People with Medicare have saved hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year thanks to their drug coverage. Be sure to make the most of yours.

    By Bob Moos
    Southwest public affairs officer
    U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

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    LETTER: Ask legislators for more health centers in schools

    Dear Citizens:

    Did you know that there are 63 School-Based Health Centers in 27 parishes in Louisiana? They are medical offices in a school, staffed by physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and licensed behavioral health professionals. School-based health centers keep children in school by providing medical and mental health care on campuses. More than 70,000 students have access to health care through these centers. There are many benefits including reducing absenteeism and tardiness, reduction in hospital emergency care, the prevention of suicide and depression, and keeping children in school so that they can graduate. We know that 96 percent of students treated in a center RETURN to class.

    We need more school-based health centers in our schools and in more parishes throughout Louisiana. Yet, today the funding for existing School Based Health Centers is in danger due to state budget cuts to healthcare.

    As the president of the Louisiana School-Based Health Alliance and a health professional, I have spent countless hours working with partners across the state to get MORE health centers in our schools. Why? Because they keep students in school and parents at work. They provide Louisiana children with acute care for minor illnesses and injuries, prescriptions for medications, immunizations, diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases and mental health services. Parents must give permission for their children to be treated.

    Please ask your legislator to fight for School-Based Health Center funding. It’s for children and parents. I encourage you to contact your legislator today and ask him or her to restore funding for School-Based Health Centers.
    Louisiana School-Based Health Alliance

    Tabitha J. Washington, MHA
    President

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    Medicare can help patients manage chronic illnesses

    Caring for yourself when you have a chronic illness like diabetes or heart disease is hard work. When you have more than one such illness, it can sometimes seem overwhelming.

    Seventy percent of Louisiana residents with Medicare have at least two chronic conditions. They often must juggle visits to several doctors, as well as the separate trips for follow-up tests. Then they must make sure they’re taking the right medications at the right times.

    Managing a number of chronic illnesses all at once can quickly become a full-time job. Unless it’s done right, you can compromise your quality of life and possibly increase your risk of a long-term disability or an earlier-than-expected death.

    That’s why Medicare is encouraging your health care providers to work together more closely to coordinate the treatment of your chronic conditions, so that you can spend less time sitting in medical offices and more time doing whatever you enjoy.

    To keep you healthy, Medicare has expanded a benefit called chronic care management. It provides higher payments to doctors and other providers to help you live with chronic disease.

    Through this benefit, your health care practitioner will assist you in keeping track of your medical history, your medications and all of the other health care providers you see. You’ll receive a comprehensive care plan that outlines your treatments and goals.

    You’ll also have 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week access to health care professionals for urgent needs from the comfort of your home. Does that sound like something that might interest you?

    To qualify for chronic care management services, you must be enrolled in Medicare’s traditional fee-for-service program, or you must be in the Medicaid program and receiving Medicare benefits. You also must have at least two chronic illnesses that pose a serious threat.

    The list of eligible diseases includes asthma, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, hepatitis, heart failure, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS, osteoporosis, schizophrenia and stroke, among others.

    If you think you might benefit, ask your doctor to explain the various services you’d receive, such as:

    • At least 20 minutes a month of chronic care management services
    • Personalized assistance from a dedicated health care professional who will work with you to create your care plan
    • Coordination of care between your pharmacy, specialists, testing centers, hospitals and more
    • Phone check-ins between visits to keep you on track
    • 24/7 emergency access to a health care professional
    • Expert assistance with setting and meeting your health goals

    Your out-of-pocket cost for chronic care management will be the same as your share for other Medicare Part B services, so you may have a deductible or co-payment. But if you have Medigap or retiree supplemental health insurance, you may not have to pay those out-of-pocket expenses.

    Also, chronic care management can help you avoid the need for more costly services. By acting now and managing your health, you may be able to head off hospitalization and more serious treatment in the future.

    Chronic care management means having a continuous relationship with a dedicated health care professional who knows you and your history, provides personal attention and helps you make the best choices for your health. For more about the program, call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 or visit http://go.cms.gov/ccm.

    Navigating your way through the health care system can often be bewildering and time-consuming. Medicare’s chronic care benefit gives you and your loved ones the assistance you need to manage your medical conditions so that you can focus on the things you love.

    If that sounds right for you, talk with your doctor or nurse about the program.

    By Bob Moos
    Southwest public affairs officer for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

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    Losing healthcare access, Medicaid too risky for Louisiana

    There are very few things, if any, more important in life than our health. As such, it’s important that we as Louisiana residents are mindful of the gains we’ve made through the Affordable Care Act as well as through Medicaid expansion here. For the first time ever, insurance companies are mandated to cover preventative care services and are also prohibited from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

    As the first state in the Deep South to expand Medicaid, Louisiana has positioned itself to be at the cutting edge of healthcare reform. With more than 420,000 individuals who now have health coverage under Medicaid expansion, Louisiana residents are receiving life-saving early detection because of an increase in health screenings and treatment of health conditions including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Sadly, however, many of the gains that have been made over the last few years are on the verge of being lost.

    On May 3, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) signaling the first victory toward President Donald Trump’s repeal and replace agenda. Though this reform impacts the entire nation, it poses significant concerns for poor states like Louisiana which, prior to Governor John Bel Edwards’ decision to expand Medicaid, had one of the highest uninsured rates in the country. A 2017 survey conducted by LSU’s School of Mass Communication noted that, “About three-fourths of Louisiana residents approve of the state’s decision to expand its Medicaid program last year under the auspices of the federal ACA. [However], the public remains deeply divided over the ACA itself, but opinion is shifting in a more favorable direction.” That being considered, it’s highly likely that many Louisiana residents, even those in favor of passing Trump’s AHCA, will be disgruntled to discover its potentially negative impact on Medicaid funding in Louisiana. If the Senate successfully passes the AHCA, those with pre-existing conditions could be forced out of the insurance marketplace into a “high risk” pool. There could be a reduction in the benefits now offered that cover preventative care services. This could have a major impact on the health of Louisiana residents.

    As of May 8, more than 6,400 Louisiana women were screened for breast cancer; 103 were diagnosed with cancer. Additionally, 8,823 Louisiana residents were screened for colon cancer. Of those individuals 2,593 of them successfully averted colon cancer by having polyps removed, and 82 individuals were diagnosed. These statistics make it clear that the issue of protecting the ACA and Medicaid expansion is about saving lives. In order to ensure that our state continues to move forward in providing access to healthcare for all of its residents, we must take action now prior to the U.S. Senate vote.

    Join other advocates and:

    • Stand together for health at the State Capitol. The “Health Day at the Capitol” is May 24 at 9am, hosted by the Louisiana Center for Health Equity in conjunction with the Campaign for Healthcare for Everyone Louisiana and a number of other community organizations. The event will feature a press conference on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol, followed by a display of resources in the Capitol Rotunda until noon. This is an opportunity to stand together in support of health care, showcase your organization and services, network with others, share your concerns, attend committee meetings and connect with legislators. (www.facebook.com/LACenterHealthEquity/).
    • Contact your U.S. Senator now. The Senate is taking up the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Contact your U.S. Senator now. Senator Bill Cassidy and Senator John Kennedy can be reached at (202) 224-3121. Select option “1”.
    • Subscribe to Louisiana Center for Health Equity newsletter. Stay informed about healthcare advocacy efforts and the work of LCHE partners. Go to http://www.healthcareeveryone.org/ and subscribe. The Louisiana Center for Health Equity is a nonpartisan non profit IRS tax exempt public charity 501(c)(3) organization. LCHE works to address the increasing disparities in health and healthcare across Louisiana. LCHE represents the interest of health equity by promoting the elimination of health disparities caused by poverty, lack of access to quality healthcare and unhealthy environmental conditions with a focus on health and wellness.

    By Alma C. Stewart, R.N., M.S
    Founder and President, Louisiana Center for Health Equity
    Convener, Campaign for Healthcare for Everyone – Louisiana
    Host, “Today’s Health Topics,” a weekly radio show on WTQT 106.1 FM.

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    Responsibility rests with Cassidy, Kennedy to stop health care bill

    “Today’s vote is deeply troubling news for hundreds of thousands of Louisiana families who struggle to afford health coverage or who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions. Congress rushed its vote on the American Health Care Act without getting an independent analysis of its impact from the Congressional Budget Office. That means we have no idea how much worse the bill has gotten, or how many people would lose coverage,” wrote Louisiana Budget Project director Jan Moller on the passage of the American Health Care Act.

    He added:

    What we do know is this: At a minimum, the bill would strip coverage from 24 million Americans - including 466,500 in Louisiana - over a decade. It would decimate the Medicaid program by cutting $800 billion, and increase pressure on the state budget to make up the lost revenue. It would strip away legal protections for people who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions such as cancer or diabetes, resulting in premium hikes that would make coverage unaffordable for those who need it most.

    The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but it has been a godsend for Louisiana patients and the state’s economy. It has pumped billions of dollars into Louisiana and brought the state’s uninsured rate to a record low.

    It’s critical to remember that the AHCA is not yet law. The responsibility now rests with Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy to stop this bad bill, and work to strengthen the historic health care progress that’s been made in Louisiana.

    Read more »
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    Farm to Work program enrollment extended

    Farm to Work program participants receive fresh, locally grown and seasonal produce delivered directly to the work site during the 10-week spring/summer and fall/winter growing seasons. In addition to the produce, participants receive reminder emails, recipes, tips and storage guidelines to get the most from their produce.

    The Farm to Work Program will be offered at the Dow Westside YMCA, Paula G. Manship YMCA, A.C. Lewis YMCA and Southside YMCA. The program will run from May-June during the summer season, and again from October-December during the winter season.

    Those wishing to participate in the program should enroll by April 21st in order to receive your fresh produce in time.

    Cost:
    One time per season $5 enrollment fee, plus:
    5 Box Plan: $25/box x 5 boxes = $125 total cost, every other week delivery
    10 Box Plan: $25/box x 10 boxes = $250 total cost, every week delivery

    ONLINE, click here.

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  • ,,,

    8 ways to optimize your sleep

    While a healthy lifestyle requires a balanced diet and exercise, sleep is another pillar of overall wellness that is both essential to your health and success, and often overlooked.

    By simply making small changes to your daily routine you can improve your quality of sleep. Follow these tips from Dr. Sujay Kansagra, Mattress Firm’s sleep health consultant and director of Duke University’s Pediatric Neurology Sleep Medicine Program, and get on your way to better rest and a healthier life.

    1. Manage your sleep time. Rather than trying to accomplish everything on your to-do list at the expense of sleep, reverse your approach. As the average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep each night, make sure to set aside the time needed for a full night of rest.
    1. Stay on schedule. Try to keep your bedtime and wake time consistent on both weekdays and weekends. With time, your brain and body will acclimate to these set times, but until then, rely on an alarm – not only to wake in the morning, but to keep you from staying up too late at night, too.
    1. Find a routine. A routine performed 20-30 minutes prior to bed every night can subconsciously ease your brain into sleep. Unwinding with a book, taking a warm bath or meditating are all ways to slow your mind and transition toward peaceful rest.
    1. Brighten up the morning. Getting plenty of bright light in the morning helps keep your sleep timing on track, particularly if you wake up early. Make opening the drapes and blinds your first task each morning.
    1. Ditch the clock. Fixating on the time can create stress and keep you up at night. Instead, set your alarm, turn your clock around and forget about the time.
    1. Get moving. Research shows that exercise can act as a natural sleep remedy, often leading to a more sound slumber. However, if you exercise late and have difficulty falling asleep, consider moving your workout earlier in the day. The increase in body temperature from exercise tends to be prolonged, sometimes making it hard to fall asleep.
    1. Kick the caffeine habit. Morning caffeine can linger in your system until it’s time to sleep. Coffee, tea, dark sodas and dark chocolate are the main offenders for most people.
    1. Pay back debt. If you are chronically deprived of sleep, allow your body extra sleep time to make up for the loss. In these cases, even 8-9 hours each night may not be enough. Allow your body to catch up then commit to more consistent sleep patterns in the future.

    Find more resources to help improve your sleep, including tips on how to purchase a new mattress, at DailyDoze.com.

    By Family Features
    Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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    Holmesville receives loan for drinking water system improvements

    The Louisiana Department of Health recently awarded a $1.9 million loan to the Holmesville Water System through the State’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund. This low-interest subsidized loan will help improve Holmesville’s water system.

    LDH and Holmesville officials closed the loan in February. The proposed project includes improvements to two water treatment facilities with new treatment units and storage tanks and a new well and emergency power equipment at one of the facilities. Also, the system will use the funds to make modifications to the electrical control systems and chlorination system to comply with the EPA’s drinking water standards.

    In addition to the loan, the Fiscal Year 2016 Drinking Water Capitalization Grant allowed for additional subsidies in the form of principal forgiveness of up to 20 percent of the loan’s principal, with a cap of $500,000 of principal forgiveness per project.

    Through this special provision, the fund will provide additional financial assistance in the form of principal forgiveness in the amount of $384,000 for this loan for the Holmesville Water System.

    “Consistent access to safe, clean drinking water is critical to the health and well-being of any community,” LDH State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry said. “The Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund provides an affordable way for communities and water systems such as Holmesville to update their drinking water systems and keep their residents safe.”

    Loans made through this program have low interest rates and repayment periods capped at 20 years. Both public and privately-owned community water systems and nonprofit, non-community water systems are eligible for these loans. Once a loan has been approved, water systems can use the funds to make necessary improvements. As the systems pay back the loans, the principal and interest are used to make more money available for loans to other communities. All projects funded by these loans are approved based upon a priority ranking system. Among other factors, projects that address the most serious risks to human health and those that ensure compliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act are given the highest priority.

    Congress established State Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Programs in 1996 as part of the amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. The program is jointly funded by an annual grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the individual participating states. In Louisiana, the fund is administered by the LDH Office of Public Health.

    “The Fund allows the Department of Health to provide communities with low-interest subsidized loans,” said Jennifer Wilson, program manager for LDH’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund. “This allows the communities to make needed infrastructure improvements and protect public health.”

    Read more »
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    Take a mindful approach to fighting Spring allergens

    While springtime means blooming flowers, warmer temperatures and more time spent outdoors, it also means allergies and pollen. Tackling dust mite matter, tree pollen and animal dander is completely different from protecting your home against the winter flu and requires a new regimen of preparation and cleaning.

    Take on spring allergens by refreshing your home with these simple practices, and help get your family ready to enjoy the warmer months.

    Prep for Bed. Allergens don’t go to bed when you do; they can continue to irritate even while you’re sleeping, causing a restless slumber. To help ensure allergens and pollens aren’t tracked into bedrooms, leave a laundry basket in the hall and have family members remove their clothing before entering their rooms. A quick rinse in a warm shower before bed can help you relax and wind down while also washing away any unwanted pollens still stuck in your hair or on your skin.

    Freshen Fabrics. Clothing, towels and bed linens – items you come in contact with multiple times a day – can trap pollens, dust mite matter, allergens and dander.  It’s important to not only rinse these items but to use a detergent that removes allergens and is gentle on skin, like all free clear liquid and mighty pacs, laundry detergent for sensitive skin. The liquid detergent removes 99 percent of everyday and seasonal allergens, including the top spring allergens: tree and grass pollen, and is the No. 1 recommended detergent brand by dermatologists, allergists and pediatricians for sensitive skin.

    Ingredients Matter. Taking preventative measures against spring allergens can start in a surprising place: the refrigerator. While most people think about treating allergens in their homes and on their clothes, they tend to forget that a good diet is also a good defense. Avoiding aged, pickled or fermented foods like blue cheese and kimchi with naturally occurring histamines can help prevent coughing, sneezing and itching triggered by spring allergens. Instead, look to boost your meals with ingredients found in the Mediterranean Diet, such as fresh fruits and vegetables like apples and broccoli as well as nuts and fatty fishes that have essential vitamins and nutrients known to fight allergy symptoms.

    Give Pets a Makeover.  Your furry friend may be one of the biggest culprits for sneaking allergens and pollen into the house, so this season make sure to give pets twice-a-week baths to wash out dander and pollen. Remember to also wash pet beds and chew toys that are thrown around the yard to help prevent allergens from being transported into and throughout your home.

    With these four steps to help protect your home and family against spring allergens, you can start enjoying a healthy, clean spring.

    By Family Features
    Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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    Weight loss webinar features comedian, actress Kim Coles

    “Could it be that hormones have a direct affect on weight loss?” asks naturopathic doctor and owner of Bulivian.com, Tabatha Carr ND. Set to bring her insightful take on the five key factors that inhibit weight loss, the good doctor will address hormones, sugar, toxins, and the emotions that hinder good health. Making the message lively, comedian and actress Kim Coles will bring her love of empowering people via her transformational program entitled G.I.F.T.S.

    “When I uncovered the strategy to reverse some of the most common health problems, I knew I was on to something. I knew I could bring many back to vibrant health so they could be proud of their body and be confident enough to go get their dreams,” said Dr. Carr.”

    The live Bulivian weight loss webinar will address:

    * Weight challenges
    * Hormone issues
    * Blood sugar issues
    * Circulation issues
    * Low energy levels

    Bulivian is based in Oklahoma City, OK and is founded by Dr. Tabatha Carr.For more information, visit www.bulivian.com. To register, visit www.bulivian.com/gethealthy

     

     

     

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    The Diabetic Kitchen to host 1st International 5K Walk/Run for a Cure of Diabetes, Alzheimer’s

    Members of The Diabetic Kitchen and the Village Members have teamed up to host a 5K Walk/Run to promote a greater awareness of Diabetes health and wellness, Saturday, April 8, 2017, in Coteau, La. The Run will begin and end at 7913 Champa Avenue, in the Lanexang Village.

    “Both groups realized that we’re facing an alarming increase in Diabetes and Diabetic-related illnesses by far too many family members and friends. This collaboration resulted in the opening of a door to a partnership. As a result, we formed an Information, Education, and Hope-Filled Outreach Pocket of Help for our communities and this 5K Walk/Run is an attempt to keep more and better interest in health and health care issues,” said Nathaniel Mitchell Sr., founder/CEO of The Diabetic Kitchen.

    The Event will begin with:
    Registration…………………………………7:00 am
    Prayer and Warm-up…………………….8:15 am
    Walk Begin………………………………….8:30 am

    Cost:
    Adults 18 and Over………………………$15.00
    Youth 12 – 18 Years Old………………..$10.00
    Teams of Five……………………………..$40.00
    Free for Youth 11 Years and Younger
    Booth Space………………………………..$20.00

    Contact: The Diabetic Kitchen, 337-519-3010

    ONLINE: www.thediabetickitchen.org
    The Diabetic Kitchen on Facebook

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    COMMENTARY: Take ‘alternative facts’ in small doses, avoid anxiety

    In a survey released earlier this month by the American Psychological Association, 57 percent of Americans say they are feeling more stress due to the current political climate, while 66 percent were stressed about the future of our nation and 49 percent were stressed about the outcome of the presidential election. In fact, 52 percent of Americans said the Presidential election was a very, or somewhat signi cant source of stress.

    Suffice it is to say that those who voted, and their candidate of choice won, are rejoicing that they participated in the process. On the other hand, those whose candidate did not win, are nonetheless pleased that they participated in the process.

    But the rhetoric has only just begun. Every news station that covers the political climate contributes to the dis-ease of rendering the “good, the bad and the ugly” as they see it. The problem is that the public is left to sift through what is true, not so true, or what is false, and then quell their emotions in the process, so as not to walk out of the door on their way to work, church, shopping or wherever shaking their heads or feeling “some kind of way.”

    So what is the public to do? This is what the therapist says: First, understand in your conscious self that the news must be taken in-the-moment with a recognition of the slant of the person who is delivering the information–or alternative facts. Whatever your opinion, there’s an argument for it.

    This counselor suggests that you take the information in small doses, avoiding an overdose that might cause anxiety, anger, and sleepless nights. Avoid indulging in deep political conversations on the job because it can potentially become devisive. Additionally, keep political conversations light at lunch. Remember, you do have to return to work.

    One of the things that has “made America great” is our ability to express our opinions. Lately, however, it is advised that we should know, more than ever, the company we keep. Less the “company we keep” might become the company that discards and shuts down the ability to express opinions. Opinions are like tires, someone said: at some point in time, EVERYBODY HAS ONE. Stress and anxiety are frequent invaders of our calm and even temperaments. It seems that we find ourselves doing more and more to avoid “flying off the handle” or stepping on someone else’s toes. While there are several causes to which we connect our stress levels, have you noticed that one of the prominent stressors, lately, is the current political climate?

    Here’s what the Counselor suggests:
    • Remember that however we think or feel, there’s a television or radio station that agrees with our slant. You might just want to listen to that station only.
    • Consider limiting your intake of caffeine so you won’t become edgy when someone says something that may cause disagreement or offense.
    • Take deep breaths and think about what you are going to say BEFORE you say it. After you say it is too late.
    • Get enough sleep so you won’t be cranky on the job. Turn in earlier and avoid letting the news or a disturbing movie be the last show you watch.
    • Remember that “opinions are like at tires; everybody has one.” Keep your cool and remind yourself that your opinion is the best one to YOU!

    By barbara w. green

    Certified counselor and minister in Baton Rouge. She is the author of The Parent Anointing and The Great One. Follow her on Facebook or at www. barbaragreenministries.org

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    Ponchatoula officials take water seriously

    Long known for its good water, Ponchatoula took it seriously last year when reports of isolated incidents of discoloration reached City Hall, ordering tests as well as reviewing the entire system’s history.

    To update the public on what is being done, Superintendent of Ponchatoula Sewerage and Water, Dave Opdenhoff, recently gave a behind-the-scenes tour of the department’s operation and history since his hiring in 1988.

    His career Navy background brought years of study and experience concerning water. One area of his work onboard ships was that of converting sea water to drinking water.

    He continued adding to his certifications in this field when, upon retiring from the Navy, he and his wife, the former Barbara McMurray, settled in Ponchatoula, her home town.

    The State of Louisiana certifies in five categories: water production, water distribution, water treatment, wastewater collection and wastewater treatment.

    Ponchatoula does not require a water treatment certification because it uses ground water only. Based on population, Ponchatoula requires Class Three certifications. Opdenhoff went beyond in his studies, earning Class Four certifications which qualify him to work in larger cities such as New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

    At the time of his employment, there were two water towers – one on Tower Road and one at Athletic Park. Water in the system flowed from east to west with that from Athletic Park mingling with water from Tower Road.

    There were no government requirements to disinfect water and later, with the Federal Clean Water Act, came the stipulation cities could maintain their systems without disinfecting if testing showed no negative results.

    There had never been any negative results in Ponchatoula’s water but “seeing the handwriting on the wall” and learning it was just a matter of time before disinfecting would be required, the City starting injecting chlorine some twenty years ago.

    The water was occasionally discolored but it was never a matter of publicity because every municipality had (and has) discoloration at times. Back then, the remedy was a simple matter of opening a fire hydrant and flushing.

    After Katrina’s population explosion, Mayor Bob Zabbia made the decision to add an additional water well for storage.

    Katrina brought a lot of unexpected things to light, one such, not enough emergency generators. With lessons learned from the magnitude of the storm, the town’s planning included applying for and receiving grants to equip about 90% sewerage pumping stations with emergency back-up generators.

    The next step at this point, Zabbia and the City Council began the search for a site for the new well to help meet the needs of the growing population.

    After negotiating with Melvin Allen, DDS, whose dental office was on a tract of land on Highway 51 North, the city procured a parcel of this land to drill the new well and construct a tower at the same location.

    After construction began, when it was determined the parcel of land was not large enough to accommodate the tower, no additional land there could be purchased; thus, the city then bought land from Ed Hoover across 51 North with sufficient room to construct the new water tower. With its being built about the time of Walmart’s arrival, many residents mistakenly thought Walmart built or paid for the tower but it was all funded and paid for by the City with State Capital Outlay funds.

    New Well Causes Challenges

    With the new tower came a couple of problems: 1. Its water flowed from west to east and this “stirring” caused occasional complaints of discolored water. 2. In 2014, the state changed chlorine requirements because of brain-eating amoeba. This increased the levels from “trace” amounts of chlorine to “0.5 parts per million” at the end of the system. Opdenhoff added he believes Louisiana has the highest mandated residual chlorine amounts in the nation.

    This was the beginning of the severe discoloration problem and the old habits of flushing fire hydrants in selected areas no longer worked.

    One of the biggest puzzles was (and is) why the water of side-by-side neighbors differs. Neighbor A has discolored water and next-door Neighbor B has perfectly clear water.

    Trying to figure this out was running officials “crazy” and they called in a reputable expert, knowledgeable in the field of water who works with the state and numerous municipalities, Bill Travis of Thornton, Musso, and Bellemin, Inc., based in Zachary, La.

    After studies and testing, Travis reached the conclusion that the towers at Athletic Park and Tower Road showed “no measurable amounts of manganese” but the new well on Veteran’s (U.S. 51) did.

    Also, numerous brown-water samples from residents were tested and showed “measurable amounts of manganese”.

    This new tower had been on-line about a year so now the entire distribution had manganese. At that time, the Athletic Park tower was out of service for rehabilitation so the majority of the water was being produced at the Hwy 51 well with the flow going from west to east, stirring the water more.

    The question became, “How to treat manganese?” This was not just a Ponchatoula problem but a parish and state problem.

    Problem Solving Begins

    The prescribed treatment was the use of a “sequestering” agent that is injected into the water.

    Manganese bonds with water molecules and cannot be seen or tasted. But, add chlorine, and the molecules come out of suspension and present as discoloration.

    Thus the city started with the sequestering agent and phosphate.

    Why phosphate?

    Our water is naturally super soft. When visitors or new residents come from the North, they are usually shocked when doing laundry with their usual amounts of detergent, they are overrun with suds. Or, when bathing, they can’t seem to rinse well from so much soap. The problem with “soft water” — it can be corrosive to pipes.  The water technicians ran “coupons” – steel/copper based on 30, 60, and 90 days, determining City water could be corrosive to pipes.

    Their recommendation was that in addition to chlorine, the remaining two wells have phosphate added. This is currently being done.

    Coupon testing continues to see if treatment is having an effect or if it needs to be increased or decreased.

    In addition to having water chemically analyzed and performing corrective actions, Ponchatoula has hired a firm to do a “modeling” of the water system based on information provided: pipe size, storage elevations, pumping, etc.

    This firm is creating a computer model which the city will be able to use to confirm pressure and flow at any location.

    Modeling will show things such as these: 1. If an area does not have the desired flow, it could mean a valve is closed or broken or the original map of piping is flawed. This will allow the City to pin-point the area and take corrective action. 2. It will enhance the fire department’s ability to fight fires plus help homeowners in another way as state insurance will use this in determining the fire department’s rating.

    An Electronic Help is Added

    Further aiding the City, Ponchatoula is one of a few municipalities in the area to have a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) System.

    This computerized system monitors the sewer system every two hours and the water system every two minutes. Instead of the prior countless trips made to twenty-plus locations day and night, now a large screen in Opdenhoff’s office shows each location complete with what each well is doing: how much water is being produced, volume in a tank, pressure, how much chlorine, etc. In addition, it gives the ability for his cell phone to turn a well on or off from wherever he is.

    Example: Recently SCADA showed a problem with a chlorine injection system, one that was unable to be done at the tank. Opdenhoff took that well out of service and it was out the entire time of the freeze. The two remaining wells kept volume and pressure exactly where they were supposed to be.

    While the well was down for repair to the injector, the City moved ahead with inspection of the tank. That was due this summer but with winter being the lowest use of water, a crew drained and inspected this tank on Tower Road that usually stores 300,000 gallons of water. This was the first time since its construction in 1982. Now it is recommended every five years.

    Workers were pleased and surprised at what was found in the tank: There was some accumulation of sand in the bottom, stains on walls, and rust in the roof, less than expected.

    While the well is down and tank drained, a hired company will come in to pressure wash, super-chlorinate, and identify what needs to be done for rehabilitation to that tower. (Rehab is scheduled for 2018 so that is from July 2017 forward. The evaluation will be sent to an engineering firm to design the scope and solicit bids for rehabilitation.)

    In the meantime, after cleaning, super chlorination and refilling the tank, it will sit for forty-eight hours before water samples will be taken and delivered to the Health Department in Amite for testing. Twenty-four hours later, a second sample will be taken and turned in. If no problems are found and the results come in early enough, the tank will be put back into service.

    The SCADA system does calculations and monthly reports on water usage and can compare rainwater and how much is getting into the sewer system. It has taken a year to get this far and only one site is left to be on-line.

    Occurrences Minimized

    The recent winter freeze came at a time of year when the normal use of water is at a low of 850,000 gallons a day; but customers dripping faucets to prevent broken pipes used over two-million gallons each day of the freezing temperatures. With all this use, the city did not flush any lines and the few reports of discolored water were not unusual in any municipalities after dripping faucets. Next item the City is addressing is a “soft” flush of all fire hydrants to clear the stems of each before the major flushing of the system. This “soft” flush already has begun in the southwest section and will continue across the City by section. The major flushing will be conducted after the modeling maps are completed so the system can isolate areas and flush without disturbing the entire system.

    Further learned, no water provider can ever guarantee no discolored water. Such things as a house fire, a broken pipe, filling of water tanks from fire hydrants by commercial businesses (without asking) can stir water systems enough to cause discolored water. With the work that has been accomplished over the past couple of years and the final system-flushing, incidents of discolored water should be few and far between.

    Meanwhile, Opdenhoff explained the rehabilitation work done on the Athletic Park Tower. From the ground below, the average person can see only the nice shiny paint job, but much more was done. Rusted-out areas of the catwalks were removed and replaced. Ladders inside and out were removed and replaced to meet current safety codes. Workers replaced the rusted-out top vent and enlarged the overflow pipe along with rewelding the fill pipe outside the tank, replaced all threaded fasteners, removed all finishes inside and out to bare metal to ensure no remnants of lead paint remained before priming and painting.

    In addition to the tank rehabilitation, the electrical system was upgraded from the 1963 equipment to the most up-to-date electronic equipment.

    With normal inspections of the tank at five-year intervals, any minor issues can be addressed and this rehab should keep the tank in service for at least the next twenty years.

    The City requests that any citizen with a water problem contact Ponchatoula City Hall at 386-6484.

    By Kathryn Martin
    Special to The Drum

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    BRCC ultrasound students seek volunteers for free exams

    The Diagnostic Medical Sonography (Ultrasound) program at Baton Rouge Community College is seeking volunteers for ultrasound exams. The exams will be conducted by students enrolled in the ultrasound program under the direct supervision of course instructors who are Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS).

    All volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, with pregnant volunteers being especially desirable. Exams must be scheduled by appointment. To schedule an appointment, or to ask questions, call Mike Beauford at (225) 216- 8046 or Richard Goldsmith at (225) 216-8498. If there is no answer, leave a voicemail with your first and last name, phone number and state your exam of interest.

    General exams offered include the Abdominal Ultrasound for those who experience pain on the right side after eating. Individuals interested in participating must fast – no food for six hours prior to exam. Obstetric Ultrasounds are available for women who are at least 10 weeks pregnant. Volunteers may bring a flash drive to save ultrasound photos. The Carotid Artery Ultrasound is available for those who want to screen for risk of stroke.

    Exams available for interested volunteers who are age 50 and older include the Ultrasound of Arm and/or Leg Arteries to check circulation for PAD -Peripheral Arterial Disease; Ultrasound of Arm and Leg Veins to check veins for leg swelling or varicose veins; and Ultrasound of the Thyroid, the gland in the neck that regulates metabolism.

    For Carotid Artery and Thyroid scans, volunteers should wear shirts with loose collars; for leg scans, volunteers should wear shorts that can be pulled up thigh high; and for arm scans, volunteers should wear T-shirts.

    The Diagnostic Medical Sonography program, located at BRCC’s Frazier site, 555 Julia St., Baton Rouge, always seeks volunteers for students to practice exams. Anyone not immediately interested may contact the department for further information.

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    Crisis counseling can help families cope with recent flood

    Recovery efforts in Louisiana continue following the historic August floods, and many survivors are still coping with the immediate effects of the disaster. While obvious problems such as home repair preoccupy some Louisianans, there is a quieter, more ominous issue that may threaten flood survivors.

    Disaster-related distress is a silent, serious threat to any individual affected by a major disaster. It can manifest in the form of depression, anxiety or even post-traumatic stress disorder. According to the National Center for PTSD, more than 50 percent of those affected by major disasters develop some kind of clinically significant stress disorder.

    Disaster-related distress is particularly treacherous because it is virtually unpredictable. While individuals with preexisting stress disorders or addictions are more likely to suffer from disaster-related distress, it can attack anyone at any time. Even individuals who show no signs of stress-related disorders immediately after a disaster may develop a condition years later.

    Disaster-related distress, like any other illness, is most easily recognized by its symptoms. While symptoms vary by case and may be mistaken for symptoms of other illnesses, disaster-related stress disorders usually produce a combination of the following warning signs:

    • Headaches
    • Chest or muscle tightening
    • Fatigue
    • Inability to sleep
    • Overall restlessness
    • Uncontrollable anger, sadness or fear
    • Lack of appetite
    • Substance abuse
    • Social withdrawal
    • Suicidal thoughts

    Individuals exhibiting many or all of these symptoms should seek treatment from a licensed therapist immediately. If left untreated, disaster-related distress can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and/or suicidal tendencies.

    While the diagnosis and treatment of disaster-related distress may seem like a daunting process, it is not one that flood survivors and their loved ones need to go through alone. All survivors of the August flooding can take advantage of free disaster crisis counseling available through FEMA and the state of Louisiana.

    The Crisis Counseling Program is funded by FEMA and implemented by the state. The purpose of the program is to provide survivors with free, local counseling services that promote resilience, empowerment and recovery.

    The crisis counselors available through the Crisis Counseling Program are local people, many of whom have also been affected by flooding. These counselors are not therapists; they come from all careers and walks of life. However, they have all been trained to educate, support and inform survivors. If necessary, the crisis counselors can refer survivors to therapists for diagnosis and treatment.

    Crisis counselors are available at all FEMA disaster recovery centers. To find a center near you, call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 or text DRC and your ZIP code to 43362. You can also find a center near you by downloading the FEMA mobile app or going online to fema.gov/drc.

    For more information regarding the Crisis Counseling Program or to set up an appointment for counseling, call the Louisiana Office of Behavioral Health at 866-310-7977 or the Disaster Distress Hotline at 800-985-5990.

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  • COMMENTARY: Don’t increase drug co-payments for the most vulnerable

    In our nation, African Americans die about five years earlier than their white counterparts.

    Unfortunately, this gap could soon widen. Federal officials are considering changes to a Medicare program that would make it tougher for low-income African-American patients to afford their medicines. Without those drugs, they may get sicker and incur higher healthcare costs.

    Specifically, officials are targeting the Medicare Part D Extra Help program, which helps low-income seniors and people living with disabilities pay for prescription drugs. To qualify for the program, beneficiaries must make less than $17,820 per year and have few assets. Extra Help guarantees that enrollees will not have to pay more than $2.95 for generic medicines or $7.40 for brand-name ones.

    To cut Medicare costs, officials want to force Extra Help beneficiaries to switch from brand-name drugs to cheaper generic ones. So they have proposed doubling the co-payments on brand-name drugs and lowering them for generic ones.

    African-American patients would feel the sting of these changes the most. Seventy percent of African-American Medicare Part D beneficiaries are enrolled in Extra Help, compared to 54 percent of Hispanic beneficiaries and 40 percent of all beneficiaries.

    Disrupting African Americans’ doctor-approved treatment plans is particularly cruel, since African Americans suffer higher rates of chronic diseases. They are 40 percent more likely than whites to have high blood pressure. The rate of diabetes among African Americans is 77 percent higher than among whites.

    If co-pays for brand-name drugs double, many patients will find them unaffordable.

    Patients would respond to the higher costs in one of two ways–and both are disastrous.

    Many patients might stop taking their medicines or take them less frequently, to make the supply last longer. Studies show that small co-pay increases in Medicaid reduced cancer patients’ adherence to their prescription regimens. They predictably got sicker, requiring more emergency room visits that resulted in higher healthcare costs.

    Or patients might switch to generic prescriptions, as officials hope. Generics are usually a great option for patients.

    But sometimes, patients experience negative side effects when they switch from a brand-name drug to a generic. That is because even though generics have the same active ingredients as brand-name drugs, they can have different inactive ingredients that affect how patients’ bodies react.

    For example, patients who substituted the brand name version of an antidepressant for the generic version experienced “intense side-effects not seen when using the brand name drug.” They felt jittery and nauseous and no longer “clear.” That is because the generic version released the active ingredients faster than the brand-name drug.

    Such negative reactions, which are harmful in and of themselves, spell double trouble if they cause patients to stop taking their medicines entirely. A study of nearly 500,000 Medicare Part D beneficiaries with diabetes found that those who did not adhere to their medicines had higher rates of hospitalization, ER visits, and death compared to those who adhered.

    Increased visits to the hospital raise healthcare costs for patients and the healthcare system as a whole.

    Health care providers do not prescribe brand-name prescriptions on a whim. They have good reasons for choosing those versions over generics.

    Disregarding the health care providers’ expert opinions and depriving low-income seniors of these drugs will harm their health and likely increase costs. Access to the appropriate medicines is a life or death matter, especially for low-income, African Americans.

    Millicent Gorham is executive director of the National Black Nurses Association.

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    The Drum readers show solidarity with #WhatADoctorLooksLike

    Black doctor asks to help Delta passenger, denied by flight attendant

    On October 9, Dr. Tamika Cross was more than a Delta Air Lines passenger heading to Minneapolis. Cross, a physician from Houston, was a sympathetic medical professional who “jumped into doctor mode” to aid an unresponsive passenger. But, her effort to assist was shunned by a flight attendant because she did not look like a doctor.

    In a detailed Facebook post, Cross wrote, “the attendant said, ‘Oh no sweetie put your hand down, we are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel, we don’t have time to talk to you’. ”

    Cross, a resident OBGYN physician at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, said when a second call was made for a physician on board to “press your button” to assist, she did. While the man was still in need of help, the same flight attendant then asked to see her credentials and bombarded her with question such as, “What type of doctor are you? Where do you work? Why were you in Detroit?,” Cross said.

    Then, when a “seasoned white male approached the row and said he is a physician,” the flight attendant told her “thanks for your help, but he can help us, and he has his credentials.” 10 Cover doctors

    In her post, Cross explained that the flight attendant shunned her because of her race and was confident in the abilities of the white male doctor who also did not present credentials.

    Cross said that about 10 minutes later, when the ill passenger’s health began to improve, the flight attendant actually asked her advice about what to do next. Cross complied with the request and said vitals were needed and a glucometer to test blood sugar levels. The flight attendant eventually apologized several times to her, even offering her SkyMiles.

    “I kindly refused,” Cross wrote. “This is going higher than her. I don’t want SkyMiles in exchange for blatant discrimination. Whether this was race, age, gender discrimination, it’s not right.”

    In a written statement, Delta Airlines said it reached out to the doctor and is investigating the incident. “We are committed to treating all passengers with kindness and respect,” it stated.

    Diversity magazine wrote, “Many Black doctors have had similar experiences when their abilities have been questioned due to appearance.”

    Cross’s post went viral with more than 88,000 likes and 42,000 shares. Black female doctors stood in solidarity with Cross and began posting pictures of themselves using the hashtag: #WhatADoctorLooksLike.

    The Drum readers proudly shared photos and names of South Louisiana doctors, giving local awareness to the tag.

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    Louisiana flood victims adjust to living in FEMA housing units

    FEMA Manufactured Housing Units (MHUs) are property of the government, and all occupants living in them must follow certain guidelines for their own protection and the protection of their property. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding these guidelines.

    Q: I just moved into my FEMA MHU. Is there anything I need to pay for?  

    A: If your MHU is located on your property, you are responsible for paying all utility charges, including deposits and any other administrative fees. You are also responsible for any charges associated with the installation or usage of phone lines, cable and/or internet. If your MHU is on a group or commercial site, you do not have to pay for utilities, but you may still be responsible for phone, cable, and/or internet charges.

    Q: I want cable and internet in my MHU. How should I get them installed?

    A: You can start by calling your preferred provider to see if they install cable and internet in mobile homes. If they do, then they are authorized to drill holes necessary for running cable in accordance with their normal installation procedure. If your provider charges an installation fee, you are responsible for paying it.

    Q: Can my cable provider install a satellite dish or receiver on my MHU?

    A: Satellite dishes and receivers cannot be installed on your MHU. Your provider must install the dish or receiver using a separate, temporary pole. You are responsible for any additional fees associated with the installation.

    Q: Does my MHU come with a security system?

    A: FEMA MHUs do not come equipped with a security system. If you need a security system installed, you must contact FEMA for written approval prior to obtaining your MHU.

    NOTE: Smoking is not allowed in FEMA manufactured housing.

    Q: Can I paint my MHU or hang picture frames?

    A: You cannot paint or otherwise alter the interior or exterior appearance of your MHU. However, you are allowed to make small adjustments that would qualify as normal wear-and-tear, such as putting small nails in the wall to hang picture frames.

    Q: Can I landscape around my MHU?

    A: If your MHU is on your property, you can landscape around it. If your MHU is on a group or commercial site, or if it extends into a property you do not own, you must contact FEMA for written approval prior to landscaping.

    Q: Who can stay with me in my MHU?

    A: Anyone named in your FEMA license agreement can stay in your MHU with you. With FEMA’s approval, you may be able to add or remove occupants from your license agreement within seven days of signing.

    Q: Can I keep my pets in my MHU?

    A: You can keep up to two domesticated animals in your MHU. They must wear ID tags at all times and be up to date on their shots. Pets cannot be left unattended outside of the unit and must be leashed at all times. No pens or kennels are allowed outside of the MHU. You are responsible for cleaning up after your pet, both inside and outside of your MHU.

    Q: Are any items or substances prohibited in my MHU? 

    A: Any items or substances related to illegal or criminal activity are prohibited in your MHU. Additionally, you cannot store or use grills, fire pits, fireworks, propane tanks or other combustible substances inside or outside of your MHU.

    Q: What happens if I lose power to my MHU, or if one of my appliances stops working?

    A: If you lose power, cable or internet to your MHU, call your provider for assistance. If there is an issue with your MHU or its appliances, contact FEMA for assistance.

    Q: Will I get a washer and dryer?

    A: While washers and dryers can be hooked in to your MHU, you will have to purchase or provide the appliances yourself.

    Q: Do I have any other responsibilities regarding my MHU?

    A: Part of the FEMA license agreement for your MHU requires you to search for long-term housing options. While you may be able to recertify for your MHU beyond the dates originally specified in your license agreement, you may need to surrender your MHU back to FEMA if other long-term housing is available.

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    Open Health Care Clinic opens in Mid-City Baton Rouge

    The Caring Clinic of Louisiana, a provider of HIV management and treatment since 2007, launched its new brand, Open Health Care Clinic in Mid-City Baton Rouge.

    Open Health Care Clinic is a full-service, primary health care option located at 3801 North Blvd. The new name is a result of the clinic’s new designation as a Federally Qualified Health Center.

    The facility receives annual federal funds from the Health Resources & Services Administration to provide quality healthcare to the medically underserved in our community. Administrators said Open Health also qualifies for enhanced reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid, as well as other benefits.  Open Health Care Clinic provides advanced medical services for every phase of a person’s life regardless of their financial or insurance status. Extended hours, weekend appointments and walk-ins are welcome.

    Image-1Open Health Care Clinic is the health services division of HIV/AIDS Alliance Region Two, Inc. (HAART), the legal recipient of the FQHC designation. This new designation enables HAART to transform its clinic to a broad-based provider of quality healthcare. HAART has established an extensive referral system linking together a network of service providers in order to increase access to support services for families.

    ONLINE: www.ohcc.org.

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    EBR residents asked to report debris collection needs

    Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden is asking residents for help in identifying where debris still needs to be collected following the devastating flooding of August 2016.

    Any residents whose flood debris is currently placed curbside and in need of collection should contact the City-Parish by completing a web-based form the Department of Information Services – GIS Division has established specifically for these remaining debris collection needs. The form, located at http://gis.brla.gov/reportdebris, allows residents to easily report their address, contact information, type of debris in need of collection, and – if available – attach a photo of the debris pile so that responding crews know exactly where to go and what to expect when they arrive.

    Residents can also call 1-888-721-4372 with their address, contact information, and a description of the debris that has yet to be collected.

    In an effort to most efficiently direct debris removal trucks and resources throughout impacted areas, City-Parish officials are asking residents to only place flood debris curbside and to do so in separate piles according to the type(s) of debris needing collection. Any construction or re-construction materials should be disposed of by the contractor performing this work in accordance with the typical approved manner of disposal.

    Last week, debris removal operations officially moved into their second phase, which now involve more targeted flood debris collection passes based on any debris known to have not been collected during the first phase of operations. Nearly 1.6 million cubic yards of flood debris have been collected since efforts first began August 20, which continues to serve as one of the largest ever flood debris removal efforts of its kind.

    Residents interested in tracking the progress of these efforts can go online to access a web-based, interactive map identifying areas where debris is picked up during this second phase of operations. This map, updated daily, can be accessed by clicking the following link: http://gis.brla.gov/debris

     

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  • Child abuse increases after natural disasters

    KIDLINE, 1-800-CHILDREN, a resource for stressed parents

    Research shows that rates of child abuse increase anywhere from three months to one year following a natural disaster, and Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana is encouraging parents suffering from additional stress post-flood to call KIDLINE, 1-800-CHILDREN, to speak with a trained counselor if they need support.

    KIDLINE is a toll-free, statewide helpline providing parenting information, crisis counseling, referrals to community resources, help for victims of child abuse and information on Louisiana’s Safe Haven Law. The line is currently available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, but will move to 24 hours in January 2017 and will also include web chat and phone text capabilities.

    “Natural disasters such as the recent flood we experienced cause us to lose not only our homes and cars, but also our routines and regular sources of support,” said Amanda Brunson, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana. “Add to that an increased feeling of powerlessness, and parents can become overwhelmed, which is why we want them to know that KIDLINE is a resource available to them.”

    Children are also experiencing more stress after the flood, but may not be able to verbally express it or process their emotions. This leads to reactions such as bed wetting, complaints of not feeling well and clinginess, which adds to a parent’s stress level and increases the risk of maltreatment.

    A study conducted in 2000 found that child physical, sexual and emotional abuse increased three, six and 11 months after Hurricane Hugo in South Carolina and the Loma Prieta Earthquake in California. Another study found that intentional child traumatic brain injuries increased in the six months after Hurricane Floyd in North Carolina.

    “Knowing this information, we want to start this conversation now, when we’re about two months out from the flood. We want parents to be aware of their own stress level and to take care of themselves, as well as take care of their children. And we’re calling on everyone in the community who didn’t flood to commit to watching out for their friends and neighbors who did,” said Brunson.

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    Tips to develop sound eating habits

    Have your past commitments to healthy habits faded? Recharge your resolve and remember the importance of developing and following sound eating habits.

    Nutrition experts say an important step is to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great Flavors and social experiences that food can add to life.

    “Food nourishes the body and provides necessary fuel to help you thrive and fight disease,” said  Kristen Gradney, dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.

    “In addition to providing nourishment, food is also a source of pleasure and enjoyment. Take time to enjoy healthy foods and all the happiness they bring to your life.”

    Gradney offers a few tips to get started:

    • Enjoy Food Traditions and Social Experiences: There is an obvious social component to food. Whether it’s a nightly family dinner, a special occasion or social gathering, food often plays a central role. Enjoy the food at these gatherings while also taking time to appreciate the company around you.

    Research indicates that family meals promote healthier eating and strengthens family relationships.

    • Appreciate Foods’ Pleasures and Flavors: Take time to appreciate the flavors, textures and overall eating experience. In today’s busy world, we often eat quickly and mindlessly. Instead, savor your food, eating slowly one bite at a time to focus on the different flavors and textures. Stop and take time in between bites.

    Eating slowly not only allows you to enjoy your food, but it also can help you eat less by giving your stomach time to tell your brain you are full.

    • Develop a Mindful Eating Pattern: How, when, why and where you eat, are just as important as what you eat. Think about where you eat the majority of your meals. Do you eat lunch at your desk or dinner in front of the television?

    Instead of multitasking through meals, take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to find a nice place to mindfully eat.

    • Consult a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist: A healthy lifestyle is much more than choosing to eat more fruits and vegetables. It’s also essential to make informed food choices based on your individual health and nutrient needs.

    A registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) can educate you and guide your food choices while keeping your tastes and preferences in mind. RDNs are able to separate facts from fads and translate nutritional science into information you can use. Find an RDN in your area by visiting the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics site at www.eatright.org. The site also contains articles, recipes, videos and educational resources.

    By taking the time to enjoy what you eat, you can develop a healthier relationship with food.

    By StatePoint

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    Flood victims encouraged to pre-register for DSNAP benefits

    The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services is encouraging those who have experienced loss or damage in the severe storms and flooding to pre-register for benefits under the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

    DCFS is preparing a DSNAP application for parishes included in the initial federal disaster declaration for the State of Louisiana. Those parishes currently include East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena and Tangipahoa – although the list is expected to grow rapidly.

    DSNAP, formerly called Disaster Food Stamps, provides food assistance to eligible households who do not receive regular SNAP benefits and who need help buying groceries due to lost income or damages following a disaster. The state must request that the federal government initiate DSNAP, but can only make the request after the president activates the Stafford Act and approves the parish for In

    dividual Assistance.

    After the state makes its request, it is expected that the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services will respond quickly. In the meantime, DCFS is preparing potential DSNAP application sites and encouraging impacted residents to pre-register for benefits either online or by phone.

    The best way to pre-register is online at www.dcfs.la.gov/preregister. However, residents can also pre-register by phone beginning tomorrow, August 16, at 1-888-LA-HELP-U (1-888-524-3578) daily between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Callers will select the appropriate language and then select options 3 and 3. All pre-registrants will have to provide the following information:

    • Name, Social Security Number and Date of Birth for each household member 
    • Current address and parish of household 
    • Monthly income for each household member 
    • All liquid assets for each household member (cash on hand, checking, savings)

    The information will be kept securely on file and will be confidential.

    The pre-registration process does not guarantee benefits, but is designed to save time, minimize long lines and prevent applicants from coming to the site only to find out that they do not have the right information needed to apply.

    Residents who are already pre-registered for DSNAP do not need to pre-register again. If the state’s DSNAP request is approved, residents who live in an eligible parish and have pre-registered must still visit a DSNAP application site to verify their information and identity to determine final eligibility and receive benefit cards, if eligible.

    Households that receive regular SNAP benefits and live in parishes where DSNAP is activated DO NOT have to visit a DSNAP site to receive supplemental benefits. These households that receive regular SNAP benefits and live in parishes where DSNAP is activated will automatically have supplemental benefits added to their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards if they are not already receiving the maximum allotment for their household size. 

    As with all programs, DCFS works to ensure this program and others are available for eligible applicants by aggressively protecting against fraud in benefits programs year round. Strong safeguards are in place to ensure that only eligible citizens receive DSNAP benefits, to identify those who are dishonest about their eligibility and to pursue recoupment and/or prosecution.

     


     


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    Researchers to reduce food deserts using vertical farming

    Researchers at the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center are using vertical farming techniques to increase vegetable production in food deserts.
    Food deserts are areas described as lacking access to fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy whole foods. In Louisiana these areas are growing concern because many of its residents lack grocery stores within convenient traveling distance to access affordable, healthy food options.
    The goal is use these techniques—aeroponics, hydroponics, and aquaponics—to establish potential productivity of traditional row crops like tomatoes. Aeroponics, a soil-less process of growing plants by nourishing their suspended roots with air or mist. Hydroponics, a method of growing plants using only liquid nutrients in water, and Aquaponics, the soil-less growing of plants through the use of hydroponics and raising fish together in one system. These techniques have the ability to grow crops indoors, on balconies, and in limited spaces. According to researchers, this is especially beneficial in designated food desert areas. SU Ag Center researchers James Henson, PhD, Marlin Ford, Asebe Negatu, Ph.D. have begun growing lettuce, tomatoes, basil, bell peppers, and eggplants in the systems.
    ONLINE: www.suagcenter.edu

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    Time to get SMART, set goals addressing diabetes

    Diabetes takes a disproportional interest in the minority community and one Baton Rouge area mental health professional thinks it’s time for the community to return that interest with deliberate game plans aimed at limiting the devastation caused by this chronic-disease killer.

    Charles Martin

    Charles Martin

    Charles Martin, Capital City Health Center director of behavior health, has both professional and personal viewpoints regarding the challenges of diabetes. His parents and grandparents were insulin-dependent and he is recovering from a diabetes-related limb amputation. Even when the challenges seem great, Martin invokes the daily prescription of NFL coach Chip Kelly: Win the day.
    Instead of simply resolving to turn the tide on diabetes, Martin encourages another tactic: Goal setting.

    “We people living with diabetes may have the fear that we will be gun-ho in January with everyone else making New Year’s resolutions,” Martin said. “But then, are we going to burn ourselves out?”
    “We start fast and we fizz quickly, but it goes back to Chip Kelly and that motto ‘Win the day.’ We are just going to take it one day at a time. It goes back to this attitude that this is something that we have to do daily. When we think about renewing the mind, we should be reminded that our prayers ask ‘give us this day, our DAILY bread.’”

    Martin encourages the ‘attitude of daily’ as a tool in diabetes management. “We must remember that we are consistently inconsistent,” he said. “The goal is to be consistently consistent. To do that, we must take it one day at a time and try to max out that day.”

    10 black_hands_testingThis deadly opponent packs a daunting record against Blacks who are greatly disproportionately affected by diabetes. More than 13 percent of all Blacks above the age of 20 are living with diabetes. In addition, Blacks are 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites.
    Diabetes is one disease that can spawn serious complications or makes a person susceptible to related conditions. Blacks are significantly more likely to suffer from the diabetes complications of blindness, kidney disease and amputations.

    No matter how great the challenge, Martin said setting goals helps properly address the fear. “A goal is just a tool to put you to work,” he said. “It puts me in charge!”

    Good health is important, but it will not just happen. SMART Goals provide a road map to success because those goals are Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

    If you want to accomplish a task, you set a plan, you set deadlines and you take action. Most people are familiar with SMART goals in the workplace, but they also apply to health. For example, let’s say you wanted to an A1C of 7.5, but your level is now 11. It would be unrealistic to say you wanted reduce your A1C to 11 in next month. It would be more realistic to set up a SMART goal:
    • Specific – I will decrease my average fasting blood sugar by 2 points each week. 10 SMART-goals
    • Measureable – I will keep track of blood sugar levels three times daily so I can track my
    progress towards my goal.
    • Attainable – Is the goal attainable for me? Your diabetes care team should be consulted about ways to reduce your A1C and risk of complications.
    • Realistic – Is the goal realistic for me? Lowering one’s blood sugar is a great goal, but drastic drops can increase changes of hyperglycemia.
    • Timely – I will make an appointment with my care team every three months in 2016 to evaluate my A1C with hopes to start 2017 near 7.5.

    Other goals that will impact blood sugar control include getting regular and sufficient exercise, gaining or losing weight, following a diabetes nutrition plan, and being more compliant to medication schedules.

    Diabetes is associated with an increased risk for a number of serious, sometimes life-threatening complications in minority communities. Good diabetes management, however, can help reduce risks, but many people are not aware that they have diabetes until they develop one of its complications.
    Martin warns that even those with the best goal-related intentions can face the obstacles of anxiety and depression. Anxiety can feed the overwhelming fear of failing to control one’s diabetes. “It is the fear that I’m not going to reach my goal so I stop before I even get started,” he said.

    It is important to know the warning signs of depression and plan ahead to combat it. “Exercise does help with depression,” Martin said. “Take a walk. If you are bound to the inside, use can goods to do arm curls. You will feel better if you make efforts to get more exercise.”
    “We often get so depressed that we isolate ourselves and we don’t have the social connections that we need. If you are aware of the possible pitfalls of depression, you are able to make a plan and incorporate that into your ‘I’m going to win the day.’”

    The counselor puts himself in the classroom in which he is teaching. In this calendar year, he will attempt to achieve tighter blood sugar control and with the aid of physical therapy, learn to walk using a prosthetic limb. There will be 365 days in his year, but his mantra will remain “win the day.”

    By Frances Y. Spencer
    Special to The Drum

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  • Oliver to keynote top Blacks in healthcare awards gala

    Healthcare industry’s top leaders celebrated for a larger purpose 

    BlackDoctor.org, the leading online health destination for African Americans, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions announced today that Bob Oliver, President & COO of Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc., will keynote the 3rd Annual Top Blacks in Healthcare Awards Gala on Thursday, April 21, 2016 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore, MD.

    “I am honored to be a part of such an esteemed group being recognized at the Top Blacks in Healthcare Awards Gala,” said Bob Oliver, President and COO, Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. He added, “I’d like to thank BlackDoctor.org for the instrumental role they have played in activating leaders and the healthcare community around this critical mission. Addressing disparity is essential to advancing healthcare equality, from the boardrooms to the hospital rooms. I, similar to the other honorees, am proud to stand tall with BlackDoctor.org so we can reduce disparity and increase opportunity.”

    The 3rd Annual Top Blacks in Healthcare Awards Gala will honor 24 individuals who have made outstanding contributions to medicine and health. These highly esteemed and accomplished individuals were identified and selected by alumni from the 2014 and 2015 Top Blacks in Healthcare Awards recipients as well as key individuals from partner organizations such as the National Medical Association, Johns Hopkins University and the American Hospital Association.

    Oliver is a 25 year veteran of the pharmaceutical industry. In his current role, Mr. Oliver manages a diverse portfolio of marketed and pipeline products across the neuroscience, cardiovascular, oncology and medical devices markets. He also leads the efforts in the emergence of Digital Medicine solutions.

    “Oliver exemplifies all of the unparalleled qualities that define our honorees, past and present. BlackDoctor.org looks forward to setting the tone for the evening, and for our collective work beyond the celebration, with his address,” said Reggie Ware, CEO of BlackDoctor.org.

    The 2016 Top Blacks in Healthcare Awards Gala Sponsors are Bayer Corporation, Novartis, Eli Lilly, & Company, Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc., (OAPI), and Pfizer.

    For the second year, Blackdoctor.org will have legendary BET host and radio personality, Donnie Simpson, as Master of Ceremonies.

     

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    Pill could deliver insulin without the paIn

    Researchers are developing an insulin pill that could soon offer a pain-free blood sugar management option to people with diabetes.

    “With diabetes, there’s a tremendous need for oral delivery,” said Samir Mitragotri, professor in the chemical engineering department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who specializes in targeted drug delivery. “People take insulin several times a day and delivery by needles is a big challenge.”

    More than 29 million individuals in the United States have undiagnosed or diagnosed diabetes, according to 2014 estimates from the Centers for Disease Control. Many of these people require regular insulin shots.

    A diabetes pill under development could do away with needles by delivering insulin via a capsule filled with mucoadhesive patches. ‘People take insulin several times a day and delivery by needles is a big challenge,’ said Samir Mitragotri.

    Blacks are disproportionately affected by diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

    Some 13.2 percent of all Blacks aged 20 years or older have diagnosed diabetes. Blacks are 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes as non Hispanic whites, the ADA reported.

    For those who don’t like needles, the discomfort injections can pose is a huge barrier to compliance, said Amrita Banerjee, a postdoctoral researcher in Mitragotri’s lab. “It can lead to mismanagement of treatment and complications that lead to hospitalization.”

    A pill could circumvent the discomfort associated with the needle while potentially providing a more effective dose, researchers said.

    “When you deliver insulin by injection, it goes first through the peripheral bloodstream and then to blood circulation in the liver,” Mitragotri said. Oral delivery would take a more direct route, and, from a physiological point of view, a better one.

    While oral medications to help the body produce insulin have been around for a while, a pill that delivers insulin remains a highly sought goal of diabetes medicine. The main obstacle to its development has been getting the medication past the hostile proteolytic environment of the stomach and intestine without destroying the protein itself.

    In the case of the new pill, the key is a combination of enteric-coated capsules and insulin-loaded mucoadhesive polymer patches that were optimized by Banerjee as part of her research. The new pill has demonstrated its ability to survive stomach acids with the protection of the enteric-coated capsule and deliver its payload to the small intestine.

    There, the capsule opens up to release the patches that adhere to the intestinal wall, preventing access of proteolytic enzymes to insulin and, with the aid of a permeation enhancer, depositing insulin that can pass through to the blood.

    “This is the first essential step in showing that these patches can deliver insulin,” Mitragotri says, adding that the concept still needs to undergo additional stages of testing and improvement before it can be considered as a viable treatment for diabetes.

    The drug-loaded mucoadhesive patches show early promise for other forms of therapy, as well.

    “We can deliver many proteins that are currently injected,” Mitrago said, adding that other protein-based therapies such as growth hormones, antibodies, and vaccines could potentially be put into patch form for painless delivery and improved patient compliance.

    The researchers presented their findings at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists’ annual meeting and exposition. The National Institutes of Health funded the work.

    By Sonia Fernandez
    Contributing Writer
    University of California Santa Barbara

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    Standing Strong in Sickle Cell benefit concert scheduled for Feb 19

    Come lift a joyful noise for a wonderful cause! The Voices of Hope Gospel Singers of Baton Rouge are sponsoring a gospel concert benefiting the Baton Rouge Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation. The details for the concert are as follows:

    Voices of Hope Gospel Singers of Baton Rouge Present

    “Standing Strong in Sickle Cell”

    A Gospel Concert Honoring Families Affected by Sickle Cell Disease

    Nazarene Baptist Church

    1707 Spanish Town Road

    Baton Rouge, LA 70802

    Friday, Feb. 19, 2016

    7:00 pm

    2016 marks 42 YEARS of the Foundation’s service to 11 parishes in the state of Louisiana. BRSCAF is the only organization whose mission is to provide supportive medical and social services to people living with sickle cell disease in these parishes. We need your help to ensure client support.

    ONLINE: www.brscaf.org

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    Walmart welcomes non-profit’s grant applications from $25K to $200K

    Calling Louisiana Nonprofits! Walmart Foundation to fund local programs focusing on hunger relief, healthy eating and career opportunities

    Walmart Foundation has opened the application period for its State Giving Program funding cycle welcoming Louisiana nonprofits with programs focusing on hunger relief, healthy eating or career opportunities to apply for funding. This year, the State Giving Program will provide grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000 and local organizations from across Louisiana are encouraged to apply.

    “The Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program is another way we extend our mission to help people live better,” said Bob Mulack, market manager of Walmart. “In addition to the thousands of community service hours our associates perform and the in-kind donations that are spread throughout the communities we serve, these State Giving grants allow us to help nonprofit organizations fulfill their mission and continue on their path of service.”

    To be considered for support, prospective grantee organizations must submit applications through the Walmart Foundation State Giving Program’s online grant application. Eligible applicants must have a current 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in order to meet the program’s minimum funding criteria. Grant requests must be submitted online by Friday, Jan. 29 at http://corporate.walmart.com/_foundation_/apply-for-grants/state-giving-program.

    In 2014, the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program awarded grants to Louisiana organizations totaling more than $26 million. Launched in 2008, associate-led State Advisory Councils work with the Walmart Foundation to help identify needs within their state, review grant requests and make funding recommendations to the Foundation.

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  • Alternative cold, flu remedies prove reliable

    While flu and cold are common to every region of the world, different cultures have developed their own solutions to tackle the all-too-familiar and dreadful symptoms.

    Today it’s thought that 70 percent of your immune system lies in your digestive tract, so many of these alternative healing methods rely on food for its curative properties. While some alternative treatments have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration for efficacy, many people swear by them. If you are suffering this cold and flu season, incorporating these remedies into your get-well plan could be worth a shot.

    • In Japan: Hot green tea is poured over a crushed ume, which is an alkaline-rich Japanese pickled plum. Drinking this “umeboshi tea,” full of iron and potassium, is said to help ease fever associated with the flu.

    • In the Dominican Republic: A paste of honey, finely chopped onion and garlic, and the juice of at least half of a lime, is taken before bedtime. The garlic and lime juice, rich in vitamin C, boosts immunity.

    • In France: For those with the flu, a homeopathic approach is taken using Oscillococcinum. This unusually named medicine has been a favorite flu fighter of the French for more than 70 years. Clinical studies show that it reduces the duration and the severity of fever, chills, fatigue, headache and body aches. It is recommended that you take it at the first sign of flu symptoms.

    • In China: A restorative dish is made from healing fritillaria bulbs (Chuan bei mu) and an Asian pear. The center of the pear is scooped out to form a bowl. A teaspoon of honey is mixed with fritillaria extract, which is then poured into the pear. The covered dish is steamed for 45 minutes to create a warm elixir to soothe the throat. For maximum effect, a honeysuckle and licorice root tea chaser provides added immune support.

    • In South America: A plate of sliced onions is placed on a nightstand overnight. The scent from a freshly chopped onion helps break up mucus and congestion, just as it causes the eyes to water and nose to run while cooking. Loaded with sulphur compounds, onions also improve circulation.

    For more helpful tips about the flu, visit www.Oscillo.com for access to a four-part podcast series “Tackling the Flu, Naturally.” Experts explain how the flu virus works and why having a strong immune system is so important.

    By StatePoint

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  • ,,

    Students use arts to bring World AIDS Day awareness

    KENTWOOD—French poet Victor Hugo said, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words.” On Dec. 1, this statement was backed by three lyricist at Kentwood High Magnet School as they battle rapped during the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center’s, “Dream Big! End It” World Aids Day event.

    Contestants were challenged to develop an artistic piece for their peers that would bring awareness about ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

    More than 200 students filled the Kentwood High School gym anxiously waiting to cheer on their favorite contestant. AIDS Healthcare Foundation Regional Coordinator Sashika Baunchand told students about the startling statistics on HIV/AIDS cases that were just released this month.

    Kentwood High School Battle Rapped winners from left are Corey Moore second place winner Lil' James Gibson third place winner and Cornelius Moore first place winner

    Kentwood High School Battle Rapped winners from left are Corey Moore second place winner Lil’ James Gibson third place winner and Cornelius Moore first place winner

    For example, the Baton Rouge metro area ranks second among major United States metro areas for new HIV infection diagnoses, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

    Comedian Tony King told the youth that these statistics were not being “shared to scare them, but to help them make sound decisions when it comes to things that can ultimately affect their future.”

    “Ending the AIDS epidemic is possible, but only by educating our youth and connecting them with people who have access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services,” said Baunchand.

    The World AIDS Day activities began at the St. Helena College and Career Academy, as gifted and talented art students Shy’Janae Hookfin and Javier Smith unveiled the “Dream Big! End It” social change mural.

    Students at Kentwood High Magnet School gathered during their lunch shift for a Poetry Slam, using word play to encourage their peers to dream big and end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

    Organizers said “Dream Big! End It” means empowering youth in Louisiana, to take a stand for people who may not necessarily be able to stand for themselves.

    “It encourages the students to be a voice of reason when their peers are being pressured into compromising situations. It also opens the door for dialogue with key decision makers in congress when youth dream big to end this crippling epidemic,” said Nicolette Gordon, assistant area youth agent at the SU Ag Center.

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  • ,,

    Student organizations collect 200 drinks for BR Sickle Cell

    Southern University student organizations, Association of Women Students (AWS) in conjunction with the Alpha Tau Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. held sports drink drive to benefit Baton Rouge Sickle Cell.

    To share the spirit of giving AWS and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. rallied the Jaguar Nation together in support of sickle cell. The end result was collecting nearly two-hundred bottles of sports drinks. During this long event students flocked to the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union Cotillion Ballroom to leave their contributions. The completion of the drive and the foundations recent participation in a health fair at the university is cultivating new ideas for future partnership.

    “I understand the importance of giving back especially during this time of year. I’m also familiar with the trials of the disease because I know someone who lives with it which contributed to the need for a successful drive. I look forward to helping Baton Rouge Sickle Cell more in the future,” said Harris.

    Sickle cell anemia is a genetic disease that affects red blood cells. It changes the cells from flexible disks into rigid crescents. Dehydration is a severe complication of sickle cell disease caused my loss of water in the body. Dehydration can create slow movement in blow flow causing a painful event for a person with sickle cell disease. The Baton Rouge Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation, Inc. is a 42-year-old non-profit that provides support and advocacy services to more than 600 individuals living with Sickle Cell Disease in 11 parishes.

    ONLINE: www.brscaf.org
    ###

    Pictured from left to right: Zana Harris President AWS, Lorri Burgess Executive Director Baton Rouge Sickle Cell, Sarah Thanni Vice-President AWS and Dorlissia Robinson Secretary AWS.

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  • ,,

    SU Ag Center’s Fall Gardening Workshop Draws Large Crowd of Gardeners

    The near-freezing morning temperature didn’t stop almost 100 attendees from showing up for the Southern University Ag Center’s Fall Gardening Workshop, held on November 24 in A.O. Williams Hall – SU Ag Center.

    Prior to the start of the program, attendees were treated to smoothies and a juice breakfast bar made from vegetables grown in the Center’s Urban Demonstration Farm. Stephanie Elwood, Extension Associate at the SU Ag Center, provided the attendees with recipes to make the smoothies and juices at their homes during her presentation on Fall Season Planting and Smoothie and Juice Gardens.

    SU Ag Center Vice Chancellor for Extension Dr. Gina E. Eubanks welcomed the packed crowd to the workshop and to the Southern University Ag Center.

    Other presentations included Pollinators and Pests: Encouraging Healthy Ecosystems, which explained how some insects assist in the pollination of plants; Bee Keeping: Raising Queen Bees in the City, which discussed how to transplant a queen into a bee colony and maintain a bee colony in an urban environment; The Human Element: Maintaining and Growing an Urban Agriculture Community, which focused on community gardening and Non-traditional Uses for Traditional Crops, such as harvesting and selling banana leaves and making jelly from corn cobs.

    Attendees were also given the opportunity to share topics that they would like to learn more about during the next workshop with the Ag Center’s staff.

    The workshop ended with a tour of the Southern University Ag Center’s greenhouses and its Urban Demonstration Farm.

    The Fall Gardening Workshop was co-sponsored by the Southern University Ag Center, its Wisteria Alliance Program and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program.

    For additional information about gardening, the SU Ag Center’s Urban Demonstration Farm or to schedule a tour of the Farm, contact Mila Berhane, Stephanie Elwood, Dawn Mellion Patin or Zanetta Augustine at 225-771-2242.

    PHOTO: Zanetta Augustine, Extension Associate at the SU Ag Center standing on far right in purple, leads Fall Gardening Workshop attendees on a tour of the Center’s greenhouse on November 24. (Photo by LaKeeshia G. Lusk, SU Ag Center.)

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  • ,,

    Instructor launches book on managing diabetes

    The Sims Memorial Library at Southeastern Louisiana University will host a book talk and signing featuring SELU sociology instructor Rebecca Hensley to introduce her new book, Your Life Isn’t Over ~ It May Have Just Begun! A Mini-Manual on Managing Diabetes, Tuesday, Nov. 10, in Room 313 at 5:30pm.
    “This is the book of tips, hints, and inside information that I wanted – and needed – when I was diagnosed with diabetes myself in 2008, but it didn’t exist,” said Hensley. “After years of hearing doctors say that most of their diabetic patients struggle with managing their condition, I decided that maybe I could inspire others by sharing how I manage diabetes while living a high quality life.”
    Library director Eric Johnson said the event also recognizes November as National Diabetes Awareness Month.
    The American Diabetes Association estimates that there are more than 21 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the United States and another 4,500 being diagnosed every day. Hensley said she remembers feeling overwhelmed when she was first diagnosed. “A lot of the materials I received early on were either too scientific, very complicated, or pretty boring,” she said with a laugh. “Some of the things I most needed to know to succeed I had to figure out on my own.”
    “My book is intended to help other people with diabetes get over the hump of fear and depression they may be dealing with. I’m not suffering,” she said. “In fact, I’m healthier, more fit, and even happier than I would have been had I not developed this disease that has helped me do the things everybody actually ought to do but doesn’t. And I eat chocolate every day.”
    The book talk is open to the public and free of charge. Light diabetic-appropriate refreshments will be served.

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  • ,,

    Ag Twitter Town Hall planned for Oct. 14

    The Southern University Ag Center will participate in the Ag Is America Twitter Town Hall on Oct. 14 from 9:30 a.m. – 10 a.m.

    Researchers and extension experts from the Southern University Ag Center, along with the University of the District of Columbia, Kansas State University and North Dakota State University will be available to answer questions about various programs during the Town Hall.

    The SU Ag Center will specifically discuss its “Fast Track Gardening Program,” which provides agricultural training to incarcerated and adjudicated youth, during the meeting.

    The general public is invited to tweet questions about the program to @AgisAmerica and include the hashtag #AGisChat in your tweet. For additional information about the SU Ag Center’s Fast Track Gardening Program, visit http://www.suagcenter.com

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  • ,

    Don’t call her a champion!

    Call Colette Greggs a hero or a champion and she would snap back “no I’m not!” She also doesn’t want to be called a healer, a life giver, or a living donor.

    But the truth is Colette Greggs is all of that.

    The moment she entered Oschner’s Medical Center after having donated her kidney to Muriel Haysbert, who has suffered with lupus for a decade, Greggs became one of 6,000 living donors who will give an organ this year.

    She also became Haysbert’s hero even though Greggs refuses to accept the label. “I am so blessed. God used her as a vessel to return my life (and) to give me a quality of life that I wanted.”   Read entire story.

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  • ,

    Kiwanis to bowl for kids, Aug.22

    The Kiwanis Club of South Baton Rouge and several regional Kiwanis Clubs are coming together for the 2nd annual “Bowling for Babies” bowl-a-thon, Sat., August 22, 2pm, at Circle Bowl, 8878 Florida Blvd. 

    The bowl-a-thon is organized in the spirit of The Eliminate Project: Kiwanis eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus. Tetanus kills one baby every nine minutes or about 160 newborns each day. Kiwanis International is raising US$110 million by 2015 in an effort to protect at least 61 million women and their future babies who are at risk of this deadly and highly preventable disease.  The event supports Kiwanis’ mission to serve the children of the world.

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    Brookstown residents invited to play in the street Aug. 1

    Broadway street in North Baton Rouge will be blocked off Saturday, Aug. 1, 10am – 2pm for neighborhood residents to come out and play as part of a new program hosted by Pennington Biomedical Center and ExxonMobil.

    Here’s how it works: neighborhoods come together to close off a street or a section of a street on a regular basis to allow children to get outside and play in spaces where they may not normally be able to play, said Pennington officials.

    This program affords children and families in a local neighborhood increased space to play outside and engage in physical activity.

    Caught You Playing web

    “That’s why researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center are working to re-imagine the neighborhood street as a playground of sorts to benefit area children and increase their options for physical activity.”

    Pennington Biomedical’s Dr. Stephanie Broyles and Dr. Robert L. Newton Jr. study community health and helped bring the Play Streets concept to Baton Rouge. “Efforts like this one are really critical in ensuring the health of our city’s children, considering that one in two of Louisiana’s children is currently overweight or obese,” said Dr. Broyles.

    “Playing outside is a fantastic opportunity to get away from the television, phones and other screens that can consume our time. Play Streets incorporates physical activity into life so that children are having fun while they exercise,” added Dr. Newton.

    Modeled after successful programs in cities such as New York and Chicago, Pennington Biomedical is leading the local effort in partnership with the ExxonMobil Foundation and the BREC Foundation. Enthusiastic support from area leaders such as Baton Rouge District 5 City Council Member Ronnie Edwards also helps to make these events possible.

    “Coming together with other impactful community partners and neighbors to bring this innovative program to North Baton Rouge is just one example of how collectively we can make a difference. Our neighbors have embraced the Play Streets model, and ExxonMobil is glad to sponsor this pilot program, which we hope will find great success,” said Stephanie Cargile, spokesperson for ExxonMobil.

    PlayStreets_HalfPage

    “The opportunity to study new ways to encourage individuals to become more active is a way to create change in this segment of the quality of life in our community. The BREC Foundation, through its “Charting A New Course” campaign, is happy to support this initiative,” said BREC executive director Carl Stages.

    “The pilot program event in Brookstown is collaborative and it has been designed by their community members to fit their unique needs and resources,” Broyles said. “Programs like this have the potential to transform communities into healthier places for children to grow up, which is what Play Streets is all about.”

    (Photos provided by Pennington Biomedical Center)

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    DHH asks residents to take precautions against mosquitoes

    Health department confirms three new cases of West Nile

    The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) has confirmed three new cases of West Nile virus this week, the first cases of 2015. This week’s new infections include two cases of neuroinvasive disease, one in DHH Region 2 and one in Region 6. The third case, also in Region 6 was asymptomatic.

    About 90 percent of all West Nile virus cases are asymptomatic, while about 10 percent will develop West Nile fever. Only a very small number of infected individuals will show the serious symptoms associated with the neuroinvasive disease. Residents who are at least 65 years old are at higher risk for complications, but everyone is at risk for infection.

    “There is an opportunity for you to get bitten every time you step outside, whether you’re taking a quick walk to the mailbox or spending hours at the ball park,” said State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry. “You need to take the proper steps to protect yourself and your home from mosquitoes every time you go outdoors.”

    Last year, Louisiana saw 61 cases of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease in the state. DHH has been tracking West Nile Virus for more than a decade, and statistics about its occurrence in Louisiana can be found online at www.dhh.louisiana.gov/fightthebite.

    Protecting Yourself

    If you will be outside, you should wear a mosquito repellent containing DEET. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that repellents should contain no more than 30% DEET when used on children. Insect repellents also are not recommended for children younger than 2 months. CDC recommends that you always follow the recommendations appearing on the product label when using repellent.

    • Apply repellent on exposed skin and clothing. Do not apply under your clothes or on broken skin.
    • To apply repellent to your face, spray on your hands and then rub on your face.
    • Adults should always apply repellent to children.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors for long periods of time.
    • Avoid perfumes and colognes when outdoors for extended periods of time.
    • Make sure that your house has tight-fitting windows and doors, and that all screens are free of holes.

    Protecting Your Home

    • Reduce the mosquito population by eliminating standing water around your home, which is where mosquitoes breed.
    • Dispose of tin cans, ceramic pots and other unnecessary containers that have accumulated on your property. Turn over wheelbarrows, plastic wading pools, buckets, trash cans, children’s toys or anything that could collect water.
    • Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers. Drainage holes that are located on the container sides collect enough water for mosquitoes to breed.
    • Check and clean roof gutters routinely. They are often overlooked, but can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.
    • Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens can become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate.
    • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. A swimming pool that is left untended by a family for a month can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Be aware that mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on swimming pool covers.

    Travel Precautions

    Anyone traveling abroad should also take these same precautions to protect themselves from mosquitoes in other countries. Mosquitoes in other parts of the world, including the Caribbean, South America, Asia, Africa and Europe, might infect you with chikungunya or dengue fever. For more information about these diseases, visit the CDC’s website by clicking here.

    The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about DHH, visit www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH’s Twitter account and Facebook.

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