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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

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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.

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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.”

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    “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.

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    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)
    Read more »
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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.

    Read more »
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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.

    Read more »
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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

    Read more »
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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

    Read more »
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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.

    Read more »
  • ,

    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.

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    “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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    Surprising signs you’re suffering from allergies and tips to manage them

    When you think of seasonal allergies, sneezing may come to mind first. But there’s a lot more to allergies than “achoo,” say experts.

    According to allergist Dr. Myron Zitt, there are many ways allergies can manifest. Here are a few less obvious signs that you may be suffering from allergies:

    • You can’t concentrate: You wake up with a runny nose and can’t stop sneezing but still head into work and struggle through the day. This situation often leads to a present but unproductive employee — something known as “presenteeism” — and unfortunately it’s very common for allergy sufferers.

    • Your nose is extra sensitive: Allergy sufferers may experience a heightened response to non-allergic conditions, such as wind, air pollution and dry weather. This occurs when the nasal passages and throat are inflamed from existing allergies, making them more sensitive.

    • You feel tired: Allergy symptoms can disrupt sleep, especially for people whose symptoms make it difficult to breathe through the nose. But even a full night’s rest may not ease that feeling of tiredness for some allergy sufferers.

    • You’re grumpy: The discomfort of allergy symptoms can interfere with people’s daily lives and lead to irritability.

    Do any of the above sound familiar? For those that are suffering from allergies, Dr. Zitt recommends the following allergy survival tips to better manage symptoms.

    • Know your triggers: Document your symptoms to get a better sense of your individual allergies. Visit your health care provider, preferably an allergist, to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

    • Avoid allergens: Avoid outdoor activities in the morning or plan ahead by wearing a hat and sunglasses to keep pollen away from your face.

    • Kick pollen to the curb: Pollen can stick to clothing and shoes. Invest in a good doormat and wipe down your shoes each time you enter. It’s also helpful to shower and change into fresh clothes to completely rid yourself of outdoor pollen.

    • Beware of bouquets: If you’re bringing flowers or plants into your home, choose them carefully. For example, sunflowers and chrysanthemums might offer a sweet floral aroma, but they’re known to bother people with ragweed allergies.

    • Don’t carpool with pollen: Keep car windows rolled up. Instead of opening windows turn on the air conditioning, or set your ventilation to “re-circulate” to avoid outdoor allergens and irritants.

    Additionally, over-the-counter antihistamines can offer relief from symptoms like itchy and watery eyes and a runny nose. One option is Allegra Allergy 24-Hour — now available in gelcap form. It can offer adults fast, non-drowsy relief starting in one hour and staying strong for 24. More information can be found at www.Allegra.com.

    Think beyond the runny nose. Allergies can take a toll on your entire quality of life. Take care of yourself by avoiding your triggers when possible and seeking relief when necessary.

    By State Point

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    Ursula White’s quest to understand women’s fat

    Local researcher looks for answers about body shape and health

    Long before Monroe native Ursula White earned a PhD and years before a distinguished career as a scientist was even a fleeting thought, she was a self-described curious child.

    “I always wondered about the world around me and why it worked the way it did,” said White. “I was always asking ‘Why?’”

    That insatiable curiosity is what drove White into her career as a biomedical researcher, but it’s her family background that led her to specialize in thebiology of fat cells (or adipocytes) and metabolic disease.
    “Many relatives on my mom’s side of the family struggle with their weight and have Type 2 diabetes. Growing up, I watched my great grandmother and grandmother struggle with the disease. All of my mom’s siblings are diabetic.”

    White’s great grandmother had only a fraction of the resources available to her to manage the disease that people with diabetes have today, and eventually one of her legs was amputated due to complications from the disease.

    Seeing the prevalence of the disease in her family left White concerned.“Am I destined to have diabetes, or are there things I can do to prevent it?” White asked. “You know genetics play a huge role, but there have to be other factors at play.”

    With those questions in mind, White entered LSU as a biology major, and eventually found herself as a student in a human disease course taught by Jackie Stephens PhD.
    White was intrigued by what she learned in  Stephens’ lectures about the important role that fat cells play in our bodies and how their actions can influence health.

    Upon entering graduate school, it was in White’s last laboratory rotation that she was sure she’d found her passion; and she again found herself learning from Dr. Stephens, who served as her advisor and mentor.
    After earning her PhD in adipocyte biology from LSU, White began working at Pennington Biomedical Research Center to pursue her interests in translational research, which applies important findings in basic science—like adipocyte biology—to significant developments in human research to enhance health and well-being.

    “My experiences from basic fat cell research sparked my interests to better understand how adipocytes behave in humans. While we know that there is fat in different areas of the body, we want to know if it differs by location,” said White.

    Now, White is hard at work on the Apple & Pear research study at Pennington Biomedical, where she is partnering with women in the community to try to understand why women carry weight differently and how it may affect health.

    “We know that women who are more apple-shaped and carry their extra weight in their abdomen are at a higher risk for heart disease, diabetes and other dangerous health problems, while pear-shaped women with more fat in their hips, thighs, and buttocks may be protected from these diseases” said White. “Now we want to know why the fat in the abdomen is different from the fat in the thighs and how these differences impact health.”

    White is determined to make a positive impact on the health of our community and our state through her work, and she knows first-hand about the power of people who participate in research.

    “If it weren’t for people who stepped up in the past to help scientists develop better diabetes medications, many people, including my mom’s siblings, may not be here today,” White said. “When you volunteer for a research study, you are actively changing people’s lives for the better. That’s why I do what I do every day—I want to help people live better lives.”

    If you are interested in participating in the Apple & Pear study, you may be eligible to receive health assessments, as well as nutritional/lifestyle counseling, at no cost to you, along with compensation for your time.

    ONLINE: www.pbrc.edu

    @jozefsyndicate

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    McKnight receives LDA Distinguished Service Award

    Hugh V. McKnight, DDS, of Baton Rouge, has been named this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Service Award that was presented during the 135th House of Delegates of the Louisiana Dental Association (LDA) on April 11, 2015, at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.

    The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor bestowed by the LDA and is given annually to individual members who exemplify the highest standards of professional conduct in dentistry and make extraordinary contributions in organized dentistry and their community.

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    Dr. McKnight has been a member of the LDA, the American Dental Association (ADA) and the Greater Baton Rouge Dental Association (GBRDA) for 36 he was the 1992 president and has served on LDA committees.

    He was the 1979-81 president of the Pelican State Dental Association and has been the assistant treasurer of the National Dental Association since 1992. He is a life member of the Pierre Fauchard Academy and a fellow in the International College of Dentists and the Academy of General Dentistry. He has served in consultant roles for the EBR Parish School Board, the Head Start Program, Earl K. Long Medical Center and the EPSDT Dental Medicaid Program. He’s currently a member of MCNA’s Dental Medicaid Advisory Committee.

    Dr. McKnight is a firm believer in giving back to the community. He is active with Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church (at 9700 Scenic Hwy. pastored by Rev. Jesse B. Bilberry, Jr.) in various capacities including Sunday school teacher and chairman of the Deacon Board (ministry). He is also a member of the Boy Scouts of America Board (Istrouma Area Council).

    He is married to Audrey McKnight, and they have three children Sheletha Yvette, Hugh, Jr. and Yolanda.

    The LDA is the largest professional health organization for dentists in Louisiana. It is a statewide grassroots organization whose purpose is to promote, advocate, and protect the dental professional. The LDA has over 1,900 members. For more information, visit www.ladental.org.

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    SU Ag Center to host C.H.E.F. Summer Cooking Camp for Youth

    The SU Ag Center, in collaboration with the LSU AgCenter, will sponsor a youth cooking school entitled, “Creating Healthy Enjoyable Foods” (C.H.E.F.), for youth ages 9-11 on July 13-17 and ages 12-14 on July 27-31.

    The C.H.E.F. cooking school is designed to teach youth basic cooking principles and nutrition education based on the USDA’s, “MyPlate” food guidance system and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.

    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.

    “These camps are designed to teach children the basic principles of healthy eating,” said De’Shoin York Friendship, Associate Specialist for Nutrition at the SU Ag Center. “In many households the parents work and very often when kids get home from school they are home alone. Instead of choosing fast foods or frozen prepared foods, which may be high in fat or sodium, our cooking camps teach youth how to safely prepare nutritious snacks and meals, many of which do not involve the use of a stove,” she added.

    Both sessions will be held on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus in Pinkie E. Thrift Hall from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. To ensure the safety of all participants, only 12 youth will be accepted per session. Participants are required to bring a bag lunch and snack each day.

    To register for the camps, parents must submit a completed register form with the $30 registration fee. This fee, which must be pay in the form of a money order, includes all materials, food and attire needed for the camp. Money orders should be made payable to the Southern University Ag Center and mailed to: C.H.E.F., Nutrition Education Program, Southern University Ag Center, P. O. Box 10010, Baton Rouge, LA 70813.

    For additional information or to obtain a registration form, contact Kiyana Kelly or Marquetta Anderson-Reynolds at 225.389.3055 or via e-mail at, kiyana_kelly@suagcenter.com or marquetta_anderson@suagcenter.com.

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    The Diabetic Kitchen hosts ‘Why is Diabetes Called the Silent Killer?’

    The Diabetic Kitchen will host its monthly meeting, Thursday, May 28, at the First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 119 Jefferson Street in New Iberia. The 5pm meeting time is free and open to the public.

    Dr. Kimberly Smith Dauterive will explain why diabetes is called the “Silent Killer.” She will also discuss the complications of uncontrolled diabetes, including blindness, kidney failure, and blockage leading to limb amputation.

    The Diabetic Kitchen founder Nathaniel Mitchell Sr. said the meeting promises to be an information filled and lively exchange.

    ONLINE: www.thediabetickitchen.org

    or
    The Diabetic Kitchen on Facebook

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    Woman to Watch: Alma C. Stewart

    With the Louisiana Legislative session in active mode, this health care advocate is busy mobilizing Louisiana citizens and elected officials around all health equity issues from funding the Affordable Health Care Act, expanding Medicaid, and improving citizen’s access to health services.

    When Louisiana legislators in both the House and Senate Health and Wellness committees voted against two bills that would expand Louisiana’s Medicaid program so the working poor could get government-funded health insurance, Alma C. Stewart was there along with several hundred other advocates.

    In fact, if there is a conversation on state or national health care policies, Alma Stewart, is in the room or leading the discussion. For that, she is a Woman to Watch.

    Meet Alma C. Stewart
    Age: A Baby Boomer.

    Professional title: President and Founder of Louisiana Center for Health Equity and talk show host of “Today’s Health Topics” (which airs on WTQT 106.1FM every Monday at 7pm). I am also the CEO and owner of A. Charles Stewart Consultants.

    Organization: Louisiana Center for Health Equity
    The Louisiana Center for Health Equity works to address the increasing disparities in health and health care across Louisiana. A statewide nonpartisan, nonprofit IRS 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt, organization established in January 2010, LCHE is the only statewide non-profit organization in Louisiana with a mission solely of addressing disparities.

    Hometown: Natchitoches, LA, the “City of Lights,” and reared in Germany during the sixties.

    Moves made in 2014/Accomplishments: I lead two phenomenal collaborative initiatives. Over the past two years, I have organized the Campaign for Healthcare for Everyone – Louisiana, a broad diverse group of organizations and individuals fighting for expanded access to healthcare for ALL Louisianans. The Campaign is leading policy advocacy and grassroots efforts to close the coverage gap by allowing low income, mostly working, adults to obtain healthcare insurance through federal Medicaid funds as authorized by the Affordable Care Act. I also convened the Together We Are More Adolescent Health Collaborative, a community effort that implemented the inaugural Youth Peace Olympics to promote healthy living and help curb youth violence in Baton Rouge.

    What to expect from you in 2015? I am very pleased that the Louisiana Center for Health Equity will be celebrating our fifth anniversary. This is a monumental milestone for an organization that is making an impact throughout the state of Louisiana. Our Anniversary Celebration will highlight LCHE’s accomplishments. We will continue building momentum for better access to healthcare and closing the coverage gap, and addressing inequalities that affect individuals and families in Louisiana.

    Personal Resolution: To live a lifestyle that praises Jesus Christ and to enjoy His blessings, especially my family and friends.

    Company Resolution: To work to improve healthcare and health outcomes in Louisiana with a focus on inequalities through collaboration, community engagement, education and advocacy.

    Life motto: To joyfully and diligently be of service as a resourceful resilient advocate for health equity in Louisiana.

    What music are you dancing to? Variety

    What are you reading? Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History 1513 – 2008 by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. This book intrigued me because it is such a thorough historical collection. Initially, I was especially interested in learning more about what I missed as a child during the sixties when my family and I lived overseas because it was during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. I believe understanding history is important, especially for our youth.

    Mentors or Role Models: I have been fortunate to have people throughout my life that encouraged and coached me in different areas that were and still are enormously helpful. There are several people whose advice I value and seek for various purposes. Those who probably have the most influence are those who share spiritual wisdom and guidance as I strive to be Christ led.

    Watch her online at www.lahealthequity.org and or on facebook as alma.stewart.39

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    “Springing into Health” to demonstrate holistic treatment of cancer

    Join Councilwoman Ronnie Edwards, Gamma Eta Omega Chapter, area physicians, cancer survivors and a host of educators, pharmaceutical representatives, community vendors and public service agencies for “Springing into Health” Saturday, April 18, 9am, at the Charles R. Kelly Community Center, 3535 Riley Street.
    “I am excited to help bring attention to a unique panel discussion happening at 10am on holistic (spirit, soul and body) treatment of cancer through a partnership with the Center and stakeholders involved in wellness education, prevention, intervention, traditional treatment as well as alternative medicine. Since beginning my own battle against treatment for pancreatic cancer, I have been encouraged and inspired by their stories and tenacity to live against the odds. Their dramatic testimonials are quite compelling and offer hope to patients, families and friends of survivors with a focus on their unique journey (i.e., the medical diagnosis, their treatment plan, how family and friends helped them and what was their daily regime to get victory,” said Edwards.
    The general public is invited to take advantage of free health screenings for blood pressure, blood glucose and body mass Index (BMI). Included are free workshops and panel discussions regarding fitness and nutrition and stress management.
    To register, call 225.389.4831 or (225) 389-5464.

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    Everybody with Diabetes Counts classes offered Mondays through May 18

    Everyone with Diabetes Counts program is partnering with Jewel J. Newman Community Center to provide free diabetes education in North Baton Rouge and surrounding areas Mondays, April 13 – May 18, 10:30am in the Recreation Center of the Jewel J. Newman Community Center, located at 2013 Central Road.

    The EDC program is a national initiative of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. It is administered by Quality Insights in Louisiana as well as Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The program offers free classes that are open to people with diabetes, their family members and caregivers. Individuals with pre-diabetes can also benefit from these classes. The classes are designed to empower each participant with the knowledge to effectively manage diabetes, meet glucose targets, and prevent or manage complications from the disease. Participants will learn about diabetes risks, nutrition, weight management, stress control, how to properly manage medications and much more. Past participants have reported weight loss, improvement of lab results and a decrease in medications.

    “We are very excited to partner with the EDC program,” Carla Powell, Manager at the Community Center, said. “The need for diabetes education is so great in our area and we feel the community will greatly benefit from the classes. We hope our community members will also consider registering.”

    The classes will be by the Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network. For more information or to register for the upcoming class, email jjncc@brgov.com.

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    We, the People, are intelligent enough

    Since this is THE DRUM, I want to sound out a message that communicates a crucial warning for us which may have devastating effects on the lives and health of We, The People.

    On Tuesday, March 31, 2015, the doors closed to the emergency room of Baton Rouge General Medical Center in Midcity. On April 15, 2013,  the doors of Earl K. Long Medical Center closed and on  August 5, 2012, Woman’s Hospital moved out of the community and on  August 6, 2012,  opened  at a remote location much further down Airline Highway.  I am not writing this column to allay blame. Quite the contrary, this calls to attention the need of a more responsible and watchful public whose purpose should, at least, make it more uncomfortable for policy makers and business leaders to fail to consider the concerns of all citizens. In the areas of health, politics, and economics, we all must push to have our say.  When the community fails to use its voice, the silence is deafening and dangerous.

    We, the People, can no longer allow our voices to remain silent while we announce that God “is perfecting those things that concern us,” and we do nothing to perfect them ourselves.

    I speak of my own failure to be more vigilant for I am a part of the equation as well. My complacency was driven home with the realization that a T.I.A (mini stroke) caused me to be admitted to a hospital which was open then but not now.

    It is time to become more proactive in the things that could potentially become a matter of life and death.  The “BEFORE” picture is crucial but the “AFTER” picture stands to be tragic when the lives of our families are at stake.

    We, the People, are intelligent enough, sophisticated enough, watchful enough to know who to vote for ENOUGH, to make our stand respected and considered.

    By barbara w. green
    Columnist

    barbara w. green is a licensed professional counselor, marriage and family therapist, ordained minister, and motivational speaker. Her columns are distributed nationally by the Jozef Syndicate. Follow her at www.barbaragreenministries.com.

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    Legislators say their top priority is North Baton Rouge’s health care service

    With the closure of the emergency room at Baton Rouge General Hospital Mid City, North Baton Rouge area state legislators issued the following statement regarding the closure and next steps to insure that citizens have continued access to health care services.
     

         “For months we have worked tirelessly with other community leaders, citizen groups, hospital executives, the medical community, and state health and hospital officials to avoid the closure of Baton Rouge General’s emergency room in Mid City. Sadly those efforts were not successful. And while we are encouraged that the state along with its private hospital partner Our Lady of the Lake have made an effort to expand the health care services available to residents at both the LSU Mid City and North Baton Rouge clinics, we are convinced that will not be enough to protect the health, safety and welfare of tens of thousands of hard-working North Baton Rouge area residents.

         What is particularly discouraging is that there are alternatives. Expansion of eligibility for the federally- funded Medicaid program would provide health care coverage to over 200,000 Louisiana citizens and ease the financial burden on health care providers and emergency rooms who now care for those uninsured. It is working in other states, like Arkansas, and it can work here.

         Another option is to re-think the state’s partnership with Our Lady of the Lake Hospital to provide additional state financial support for those hospitals and healthcare providers who treat the uninsured outside the public-private partnership agreement. A direct appropriation to those other hospitals that are impacted by the changing health care landscape should also be considered.

         Anyone who thinks that the closure of the Baton Rouge General Mid City emergency room will not have a ripple effect across not only East Baton Rouge but surrounding parishes as well is not grounded in reality. The effect of the closure will not only impact those who have depended on those services but anyone who is need of emergency health care services in the region, regardless of their insurance status or geographical location. For many it may be a matter of life or death.

         As state legislators and proud residents of East Baton Rouge Parish, we will continue to fight and advocate for a health care system that preserves the lives and livelihoods of our parish, our communities, our neighborhoods and our families.

    —From State Senators Sharon Weston Broome and Yvonne Dorsey Colomb and State Representatives Regina Barrow, Pat Smith, Ted James, Dalton Honore, and Alfred C. Williams.

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  • NAACP, BR General to meet on alternatives for ‘vital emergency services’

    The president of the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP and several NAACP officers statewide are   scheduled to meet with members of the leadership of Baton Rouge General Medical Center, 8:30am, Tuesday, March 25, at its Mid-City Location, 3600 Florida Blvd, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

    The purpose of the meeting is to consider workable alternatives to end vital emergency services at the Mid-City Campus. The NAACP said they will also emphasize the impending threat to the lives of all citizens in the Greater Baton Rouge Area due to loss of capacity in Capital City.  Janice Pellar, Chair of the Board of Trustees of BRGMC, Mark F. Slyter, President & CEO, and George Bell, Mid-City Administrator are expected to be in attendance.

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    Prefiled bill seeks to require DHH to provide health care coverage for La residents

    State Senator Ben Nevers of Bogalusa, has prefiled Senate Bill 40 for the upcoming legislative session.

    The health care bill would require the Louisiana  Department of Health and Hospitals to provide health care coverage with essential health benefits to every legal Louisiana resident whose household income is at or below 138% of the federal poverty level.

    The legislative session begins Monday, April 13 in Baton Rouge. SB40 will be heard in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. Follow this bill at La Leg Website: http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/BillInfo.aspx?i=226625

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    Citizen to deliver letter to OLOL president to find emergency room solutions

    A delegation of clergy, community leaders and concerned citizens will gather tomorrow, Thursday, March 19, at noon, outside of Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, in the 7700 block of Hennessy Blvd, as they seek to continue a dialogue with the leadership of Our Lady of the Lake Hospital and urge them to take the lead on developing solutions to address the impending closure of the Mid City ER and several specific problems that have led to that closure.

    They will meet at noon in the grassy area near the entrance to the in the 7700 block of Hennessy Blvd.

    Organizers with Together Baton Rouge said, “This is not a protest or a picket. We will, in a word, be delivering a letter — a letter from a broad group of clergy in our community addressed to Scott Wester, President and CEO of OLOL.”

    The letter asks Mr. Wester to work with the community through Together Baton Rouge to develop solutions on three fronts:

    1) That the Lake embrace and propose changes to its Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) with the State, so that the costs and funding for uninsured care is distributed proportionally to those institutions to the extent that they are providing that care;

    2) That the Lake take the lead on helping to develop a proposal for the continuation or restoration of emergency medical services in Mid City; and

    3) That the Lake do everything within its capacity to expand its provision of care to the uninsured and to prisoners under the CEA, pending more permanent reforms to that contract.

    “Why are we engaging the Lake on these matters, and not Baton Rouge General or our Governor? We are doing all three! ” wrote Fr. Rick Andrus of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in an email.

    But we do believe that the Lake is in the best position to take the lead on developing solutions, because of its mission to serve the least of these and the resources available to it under the CEA. We have a meeting scheduled with Mr. Wester later in the month, to engage him around the three goals outlined above,” wrote Andrus.

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    Accidental marijuana consumption send kids to hospital

    Marijuana Legalization Debate Continues

    Nationally, state laws surrounding marijuana use have been rapidly changing and, although marijuana use still remains illegal under federal law, many states are pushing for legalization. Currently legal in Colorado and Washington, states such as Oregon, California, Massachusetts, and Alaska are following suit with voters opting to legalize marijuana for recreational use. While many individuals are in favor of this push for marijuana legalization, others see the potential for serious problems to arise.

    Individuals who oppose the legalization of marijuana have pointed out that there is higher-than-average use in Colorado and Washington, which were the first two states to sanction recreational cannabis use. The national average for marijuana use is about 12 percent, while the average for Colorado sits at 19 percent and Washington only slightly lower at 18 percent, both of which are increases from the previous year. Furthermore, both states have been inundated with dangerous products, including things such as marijuana edibles, where it is impossible to determine the THC content or identify other potentially harmful additives.

    Hospitals have seen an increase in the number of children who are treated annually for accidental marijuana consumption and are providing reports that more and more teens are needing treatment for marijuana abuse. More specifically, in the beginning of 2014, 14 children in the state of Colorado were hospitalized for accidentally ingesting marijuana, which is a slight increase when compared to 2013 when only 8 children were sent to the hospital. Between 2008 and 2011, the number was even smaller, with only four children requiring this type of emergency care. With a lack of standards for marijuana products, medical professionals do not anticipate seeing a decrease in these numbers anytime soon. For this reason, those who oppose the legalization of marijuana believe that stricter controls and regulations need to be implemented in regards to the distribution of various forms of marijuana, including edibles, because there is currently no set standard for the amount of marijuana that is used in the creation of these products.

    Those who are in favor of marijuana legalization are stating that it is completely irresponsible to draw these types of conclusions with less than a year of data. Marijuana research has drawn a variety of conflicting results and has been limited because of the federal ban.

    Treatment centers, like Acadiana Addiction Center, believe that, despite the legalization of this substance, it is still important to recognize that marijuana can be a dangerous drug that must be used with caution.

    “The legalization of any substance does not eliminate the possibility that overuse will result in harmful effects,” said Care Speranza CEO of Acadiana Addiction Center. “The potential for developing an addiction to marijuana remains, and the detrimental consequences that can arise from such an addiction must not be ignored.”

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    Summit on Louisiana Families of Color to present quality of life, incarceration reports, Feb. 27

    PICO Louisiana and The Micah Project along with members of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus will come together, Feb. 27, at the Southern University Ag Center to present a Summit on Louisiana Families of Color. Reports presented at the summit will show the connection between the health and quality of life of children and the injustice of mass incarceration.

    There will also be a discussion on how to prepare communities for civic engagement and the La. Legislative Black Caucus will hear public concerns through guided discussions around these issues. This FREE event will be an opportunity to learn more about the systems that perpetuate injustices in our state and how your voice can make a difference in creating real change in the lives of our families.

    Date: Friday, February 27, 2015
    Time: 9 am – 2:30 pm
    Location: Southern University Agricultural Research & Extension Center Baton Rouge, LA
    Breakfast and lunch will be served and free parking is available

    THIS SUMMIT IS FREE and open to leaders, clergy, and concerned citizens who want to assure that ALL families of Louisiana are thriving and ALL children of Louisiana are healthy. Space is limited.


    Register online at http://summitonfamilies.eventbrite.com

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    ER closure creates ‘Jindal Death Zone’

    Baton Rouge legislators and citizens gathered on the steps of the capitol regarding the proposed closure of the Baton Rouge General Mid-city  Hospital Emergency Room.   Almost before the diverse crowd could finish saying “amen” for Victory and Power Ministries Pastor Ralph Moore’s invocation, Senator Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb was at the  mike laying out the problem with closing the only emergency facility for people in the heart of the city pointing out if you work downtown, live or work for Exxon  or business in the chemical corridor you are in a “Jindel Death Zone”.  The District 14 democrat called the plan to shut down the last critical care facility in central Baton Rouge “bad government”.  “We know that if Mr. Jindal gets sick he has a helicopter at his disposal,” Dorsey-Colomb said.

    Republican Governor Bobby Jindal  has refused Medicare Expansion causing millions to be without insurance coverage. One colleague of then legislator Bobby Jindal reminded those present at the rally that he had helped push LaCHIP through in 1998. It is a Medicaid expansion program for children.

    State Representative Edward “Ted” James was on hand for what he considers and emergency situation.  The lawyer and McKinley High School grad wishes Earl K. Long had not been shut down before he was elected to office.  The District 101 representative says he wants to work to help fix this problem.

    Senator Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb calls the center of Baton Rouge a "Jindal Death Zone" with the proposed closure of the last critical care emergency room in the area. Photo by Stephanie Anthony

    Senator Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb calls the center of Baton Rouge a “Jindal Death Zone” with the proposed closure of the last critical care emergency room in the area. Photo by Stephanie Anthony

    Father Richard R. Andrus pastor of Saint Paul Catholic Church told the crowd, “the Gospel demands justice”. He also said that in the case of heart attack or a stroke every moment counts. “Our Lives Matter!,” Andrus said.

    Senator Sharon Weston Broome served as moderator of the rally and although the Baton Rouge delegation has not thus far been included in the conversations for solutions they have made individual suggestions including having major corporations like Exxon donate annually to the General.  Another suggestion was to readjust  the state contribution to the B.R. General emergency room to be on par with its contribution to Our Lady of the Lake Regional ME=edical Center.  A stop gap suggestion was to extend the shutdown date beyond 60 days. Several participants suggested that all urgent care clinics operate 24 hours a day until the crises is over.  Most agreed the best long term solution was to have Go. Jindal accept the federal Medicaid expansion.

    By Stephanie Anthony
    LDPnews

    Feature Image: Student activist Blair Brown holds sign with a question at the February 11, 2015 rally at the Capitol regarding the closing of the Baton Rouge General Hospital Emergency Room. photos by Stephanie Anthony

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    What Will You Find During Medicare Open Enrollment?

    Your health needs change from year to year. And, your health plan may change the benefits and costs each year too. That’s why it’s important to review your Medicare choices each fall. Compare your current plan to new options and see if you can lower some costs or to find a plan that better suit your needs. Open Enrollment is the one time of year when ALL people with Medicare can see what new benefits Medicare has to offer and make changes to their coverage.

    Whether you have Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll still have the same benefits and security you have now:

    • Certain preventive benefits – including cancer screenings – are available at no cost to you when provided by qualified and participating health professionals. The annual wellness visit lets you sit down with your doctor and discuss your health care needs and the best ways to stay healthy.
    • Medicare will notify you about plan performance and use its online Plan Finder to encourage enrollment in quality plans.
    • In 2015, if you reach the “donut hole” in Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, you’ll get a 55% discount on covered brand name drugs and see increased savings on generic drugs.
    • It’s worth it to take the time to review and compare, but you don’t have to do it alone. Medicare is available to help.
    • Visit Medicare.gov/find-a-plan to compare your current coverage with all of the options that are available in your area, and enroll in a new plan if you decide to make a change.
    • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) 24-hours a day/7 days a week to find out more about your coverage options. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.
    • Review the Medicare & You 2015 handbook. It’s mailed to people with Medicare in September.
    • If you have limited income and resources, you may be able to get Extra Help paying your prescription drug coverage costs. For more information, visit socialsecurity.gov/i1020 or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778.
    • Get one-on-one help from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Visit
    • Medicare.gov/contacts or call 1-800-MEDICARE to get the phone number.

    This message is brought to you by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

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    Open enrollment begins with improved Medicare plans

    Fall is a wonderful time of year. Changing leaves. Cooler weather. It’s also the season for people with Medicare to review their current Medicare coverage, as Medicare Open Enrollment begins.

    As we prepare for Medicare Open Enrollment, which began on October 15 and ends on December 7, Medicare wants everyone to know that quality continues to improve both in Medicare Advantage and in the Part D Prescription Drug Program.

    Each year, plan costs and coverage can change. During open enrollment, seniors and people with disabilities across the country have the opportunity to review their current Medicare coverage and see if they want to make any changes for the next year. It’s important for people with Medicare to take the time to make sure their current situation still meets their health care needs best.

    To help people choose a plan, Medicare calculates plan “star ratings” for Medicare health and prescription drug plans. Each plan gets a number of stars on a scale of 1 to 5—with 5 being the best—based on quality and performance. These ratings are designed to help people with Medicare, their families, and caregivers compare plans, in addition to information on their premiums and benefits.

    This year, people with Medicare who choose to enroll in a Medicare health or prescription drug plan will have access to more high-rated, four- and five-star plans than ever before. Approximately 60 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees are in a Medicare Advantage Plan earning four or more stars in 2015, compared to an estimated 17 percent back in 2009. Likewise, about 53 percent of Part D enrollees are currently enrolled in stand-alone prescription drug plans with four or more stars for 2015, compared to just 16 percent in 2009. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, enrollment in Medicare Advantage will increase to 42 percent to an all- time high of over 16 million and Medicare Advantage premiums will have decreased by 6 percent.

    For people with Medicare, this is good news in how they receive care. Plans that are higher rated deliver a high-level of care, such as improving the coordination of care, managing diabetes or other chronic conditions more efficiently, screening for and preventing illnesses, making sure people get much-needed prescription drugs, or getting appointments and care quickly. A high rating also means these plans give better customer service, with fewer complaints or long waits for care.

    If you have Medicare and need assistance, you can visit Medicare.gov, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), or contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). You should have received the 2015 “Medicare & You” Handbook and important notices from your current plan, Medicare, or Social Security about changes to your coverage. If you’re satisfied with your current coverage, there’s nothing you need to do.

    Better quality in Medicare health and prescription drug plans isn’t the only good news for people with Medicare. For most seniors who have Original Medicare, the 2015 Part B premium will stay unchanged for a second consecutive year at $104.90. This means more of seniors’ retirement income and any increase in Social Security benefits will stay in their pockets. The Part B deductible will stay the same as well.

    Medicare is working hard to make sure this good news continues so that seniors and people with disabilities will continue to get the health care coverage they deserve.

    By Marilyn Tavenner
    Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator

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    SU Ag Center launches Ebola information webpage

    The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center is making it easier for the clients in its 64-parish area to access information about the Ebola Virus.

    The Center has launched a page on its website (www.suagcenter.com) with up to date information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the transmission, signs and symptoms and prevention methods for the virus.

    “With three Ebola infections in our neighboring state of Texas, it is paramount that the Southern University Ag Center provides the citizens of Louisiana with the information they need to make informed decisions about the virus and take note of the prevention methods that are available,” said Southern University Ag Center Chancellor Leodrey Williams, Ph.D.

    According to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals website, the state has been working to ready its public health and medical infrastructure. “While we certainly hope that we never have an Ebola case in Louisiana, we are committed to ensuring that our health care system and our emergency responders are prepared,” stated the website.

    To view the Southern University Ag Center’s Ebola information page, visit http:// www.suagcenter.com.

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    La. Attorney General blocks Ebola waste disposal in state landfill

    A temporary restraining order has been granted blocking the disposal of incinerated waste from the Dallas Ebola victim’s personal items and belongings at a Louisiana landfill, announced Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.

    It was reported that six truckloads of potential Ebola contaminated material collected from the apartment where the Dallas Ebola victim became ill were brought to Port Arthur, Texas late last week to be processed at the Veolia Environmental Services incinerator. From there the incinerated material was slated to be transported to the Chemical Waste Management hazardous material landfill in Calcasieu Parish for final disposal.

    The temporary restraining order, signed by Judge Bob Downing Monday afternoon in Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District Court, requires Veolia to cease and desist any transport of the incinerator ash from the treated Ebola contaminated waste in Texas to the State of Louisiana.  It also requires the company to provide the State of Louisiana with information regarding the transportation and treatment of the waste, as well as well as provide a listing of Texas waste landfills authorized to accept such potentially hazardous materials.  While Chemical Waste Management has publicly stated it would not accept the ash content, the temporary restraining order makes the declaration legally binding by commanding the company not to accept or dispose of any incinerated ash or other medical waste originating from Ebola contaminated materials. 

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    Cured of sickle cell

    Baton Rouge native confirmed as first person cured of disease

    image

    In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the nature of Sickle Cell began to become clearer and doctors and researchers proved that Sickle Cell comes from an inherited gene from both mother and father. To date, as many as 140 thousand Americans are living with Sickle Cell  with another 2 million people carrying a gene that could potentially be passed down to their children. But with so many Americans affected and all of the research done over the one hundred years since western discovery, there is no cure for the disease.

    However one Baton Rouge native subsequently had been cured through a marrow transplant meant to save her life from another disease.

    Here’s her story.

    In 1976, Kimberlin Wilson George was two years old and newly diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia. Beginning treatment at Earl K. Long under the care of Dr. Shelia Moore, the Wilson family learned more about the disease and became active participants with the Sickle Cell Foundation of Baton Rouge.

    “Throughout my childhood I would have a Sickle Cell crisis every other week,” George said. “I would remember my arms and legs being in excruciating unbearable pain. I would just lay there crying while parents and grandmother prayed and took turns rubbing my arms and legs. When the pain reached an intolerable level I would be on my way to the emergency room at our Lady of The Lake Hospital where they knew me well.”

    Because of the pain and extended hospital stays, George missed lots of school and activities that children her age would normally be involved.

    “Life as I saw it for me was just going to be filled with lots of pain and hospital stays,” she said.

    But by age 8, George said she experienced a Sickle Cell crisis she will never forget.

    “I was in lots of pain and had pneumonia,” she continued. “Of course I was admitted to the hospital and tests were run only to find more abnormalities. My parents were then put into contact with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. Once there more tests were run and the only news I remember is that I had three months to live.”

    It was then that the Wilson family also learned that their daughter had AML Leukemia. She was admitted to St. Jude where doctors decided to experiment with one of their first bone marrow transplants to get rid of the cancer.

    George’s transplant – with marrow supplied by her younger brother Shongo – was done in 1983 in Birmingham at The University of Alabama Medical Center. She was then transported back to St Jude for one year.

    “The outcome of my transplant was miraculous,” George said. “I was not only cured of the Leukemia, but also of Sickle Cell. This stunned the doctors and was also proof that God answers prayers. After I was discharged and returned home, I was confined to the house for a while. This was ok with me because I knew that there would be no more pain and I could now live a much normal life.”

    George returned to school her ninth grade year and graduated in 1992. She went on to study at Xavier University of Louisiana, later transferring to Southern University A&M College where she graduated with a degree in child development.

    Finally healthy, George taught first grade for one year, then opened a childcare center that she operated for 11 years.

    “Throughout my adult life I ran into a few obstacles, the side effects from the medication, I thought that I would never have a family and I had a deteriorated hip bone, but I kept going strong,” George said.

    The only other medical issue George ever ran into again was a total hip replacement in 2002. She has since married and has three children.

    George’s results are extremely ill-typical and she is the first person ever documented to have been cured of the disease, which included chemotherapy.

    “I live a wonderful life, live it to the fullest and thank God for living it every day,” George said. “Because of my family, many other people, the bone marrow transplant and God, I stand before you today the first person in the world to be cured of Sickle Cell and the second person to have had two blood diseases still living.”

    One of the most important things that people can do is to get tested to see if they are carriers of the disease. The next step is to get informed. Sickle Cell Warriors is a fact-packed forum where patients can share information with each other (sicklecellwarriors.com), and the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (sicklecelldisease.org) is a national advocacy group that caters to both patients and health care providers. Next, investigate clinical trials and get vaccinated because almost all sickle cell patients are immune-compromised, it’s all the more vital to keep on top of all recommended vaccinations.

    As a survivor, George would also suggest you get support, likewise many patients report getting tremendous benefit from support groups.

    “Understand you might not be the only one dealing with what you’re dealing with – always remain positive,” George said. “Just be as strong as you can, and always try to involve yourself with positive people.”

    To date, about 25 adults have received chemotherapy-free stem cell transplant for sickle cell disease in recent years. Approximately 85 percent have been cured, including Chicagoan Ieshea Thomas, who was the first Midwest patient to receive a successful stem cell transplant to cure her sickle cell disease without chemotherapy in preparation for the transplant, in 2012.

    By Leslie D. Rose
    The Drum

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  • ,,

    Women`s Help Center celebrates 20 years

    For the past 20 years the Women’s Help Center has been dedicated to upholding family values through offering women and families facing an unplanned pregnancy life-affirming support and compassionate care. The Women’s Help Center, located at 7515 Scenic Hwy in Scotlandville, provides free services to women and their families including: pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, HIV testing, prenatal and parenting classes, abstinence support, and compassionate counseling.

    In support of its mission, the Women’s Help Center held its 16th Annual Leaving a Legacy of Life Fundraising Banquet and Silent Auction on Friday, August 15, 2014.  Featured speaker Dr. John R. Diggs Jr, a board-certified Internist, who has put his medical training and 15-plus years of clinical experience to work in developing a series of messages advocating the sanctity of human life and the proven benefits of sexual restraint, captivated the audience with his dynamic presentation.  Featured musical guest, Anita Jarrell-Robertson, melted the hearts of the crowd with her captivating voice and shared testimony of her life-changing experience. All proceeds from this event will be used to help The Women’s Help Center continue to serve families in need.

    Community news submitted by Natalie Thomas
    Photography by James Walker

    image

    Charles “Trey” Thomas III, Rev. Gene Mills, Senator Sharon W. Broome, Barbara Thomas, Dr. John Diggs, Charles Thomas II.

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    Ministers partner to help combat chronic illnesses

    Imagine your next fellowship with a wider selection of fresh fruits and healthy vegetables. That’s the prescription from Baton Rouge’s “Hip Hop Doc,” Dr. Rani Whitfield. It’s also a game plan that nearly 30 Baton Rouge area pastors agreed would work as a starting point for their churches with the end goal of improving the fitness of their congregations.

    That group of pastors gathered at Pennington Biomedical Research Center on August 28 for the East Baton Rouge Area Ministers Day, a time for them to learn more about healthy choices and to join in the fight against chronic diseases affecting our community.

    “More times than not, chronic health problems stem from obesity,” explained Dr. William T. Cefalu, executive director of Pennington Biomedical. “What we do here is try to eliminate chronic disease, and we believe a healthy community starts with you.”

    Diabetes and obesity are the top two chronic illnesses in our country, and the cost to Louisiana is approximately $1.37 billion annually. In many parts of Louisiana, the prevalence of diabetes is 50 percent higher than the national average.

    According to Cefalu, up to 30 percent of people with diabetes don’t know they have it, despite its debilitating effects. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. and one of the leading causes of amputations—two very compelling reasons why ministers at the event are partnering with Pennington Biomedical. They want to ensure their members are healthy throughout their lives.

    “The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,” said Rev. Donald Sterling, East Baton Rouge Parish Minister’s Conference President, who plans to take the message of healthy living back to his congregation. “The information that we’ve learned today—it’s going to go a long way in helping our people lead healthy lives. We as preachers can’t preach about health unless we take care of ourselves, so we need to be at the forefront, letting our people know they can lead productive lives if they’re healthy.” Rev. Sterling is Pastor of Israelite Missionary Baptist Church of South Baton Rouge and Pastor of Greater St. John Baptist Church.

    Sterling and his fellow pastor, Rev. Conway L. Knighton of St. Mary Baptist Church, were so moved by the statistics on diabetes that they agreed to also help Pennington Biomedical recruit for clinical trials, such as ARTIIS, which examines the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar in Black men.

    “I want to get some of the people from Pennington [Biomedical] to do an orientation, to share the word with people I know about what good health can do for you,” said Knighton.wpid-wp-1410314926550.jpeg

    Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden praised Pennington Biomedical for its in-depth research of chronic issues like diabetes that largely effect the Black population, including his brother, who was a double amputee before he passed away.

    “What we’re doing is trying to pass the message [that] you’ve got to eat right, you’ve got to exercise, you’ve got to watch your weight, because all of these things together can make a difference in the quality of life you have,” said Holden. “Because Pennington [Biomedical] is out there administering all these studies, they’re out there trying to ensure that you live a long and happy life.”

    Pennington Biomedical is also recruiting diabetics for several other studies, including GRADE and D2D, and participants may be paid for their time and in some cases may receive free medicines. To see if you are eligible to participate, call 225-763-3000 or go to www.pbrc.edu/healthierLA.

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  • Study: Blacks exposure to pollution greater than whites

    By New American Media

    Communities of color across the United States are exposed to disproportionately high rates of pollution, according to engineering and environmental researchers at the University of Minnesota.

    Researchers looked at the variations in pollution exposure across race, income, education attainment and other categories, and found race to be the dominant determining factor.

    The study, titled National patterns in environmental injustice and inequality: Outdoor NO2 air pollution in the United States, found that Black people and other minorities breathe in air with 38 percent more noxious nitrogen dioxide than whites because of their close proximity to power plants and the inhalation of vehicle exhaust.

    Lower-income Americans and those with lower education attainment also were exposed at higher rates than their richer and more educated counterparts, respectively.

    While other studies have examined disparities in exposures to environmental risks, including air pollution, at a city, state and regional level, the Minnesota researchers say their study is the first to use satellite observations, measurements by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and maps of land uses to explore disparities in exposure to air pollution nationwide.

    Nitrogen dioxide is one of the toxic pollutants monitored and regulated by EPA and causes respiratory ailments. Thus, the health implications of the disparities in exposure found in the UM study could be substantial, researchers claimed. For example, the study estimates that if non-whites breathed the lower nitrogen dioxide levels experienced by whites, it would prevent 7,000 deaths from heart disease alone among minorities each year.

    Researchers believe the study could be a resource for monitoring and evaluating other areas of environmental disparity.

    “National patterns in environmental injustice and inequality” was published in the April 15 issue of PLOS ONE, a leading peer-reviewed scientific journal.

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  • Diagnosis leads to transformation: Q&A with Jeffery Woods

    WHEN JEFFERY WOODS’ WIFE SURPRISED him an expensive T-shirt he said, “I put it on, it looked horrible and I felt so bad”. Instead of returning the shirt, he hung it in his closet as motivation to get back into shape. Over the course of one year, the 42-year-old father of two was able to transform from a flabby 245 pounds back to the lean 187-pound athletic build he had as a high school athlete. The married 42-year-old father of two answers questions about his new lifestyle.

    Who is Jeffery Woods?

    I am happily married to my wife Racquel and we have two children named Laci and Clayton. Laci is a se- nior in High School and Clayton is a 1st grader. Throughout the last couple of years I have managed to work full time, support a family and complete doctor- ate in Organizational Leadership. This surely could not have been done if I did not exercise daily and maintain great eating habits. The exercise and proper diet provided me with the fuel to keep going.

    How did your health start to take a turn for the worse or was it always generally poor?

    Well, couple with the diagnosis of CardicSarcoidosis about 15 years ago, prednisone was prescribed and the battle began to fight the bulge. As you can see in the pics, I went from a size 32 to a 38 in no time. Prior to my illness I was al- ways fit and successfully completed the Marine Corp Marathon in 4:28. The following year as I was training for my 2nd Marathon and the JFK 50 miler I passed out during an or- ganized Flag Football Game. I will spare you the long diatribe, but it is a good story because I ended up finishing the game, Neverthe- less, fast forward 15+ years and at 12:00 Noon today, in celebration of my fitness accomplishments I am registering for the Marine Corp Marathon. In summary, I was fit once before and experienced a life altering obstacle which did not kill me, but motivate me to enjoy everyday of my life.

    How bad did it get before you made a change?

    My level of fitness was so bad it impacted me physically, mentally and socially. I refused to go to public pools because I was so embarrassed about my image. This saddens me to say, but I felt so bad about my image, I missed the opportunity to take my daughter to the public pools. In addition, I laughed at myself at how out of shape I was as I walked up the stairs and was out of breath.

    What was the breaking point or epiphany that made you change?

    Honestly, my wife gave me a really nice T-shirt and when I put it on, it looked horrible! I felt so bad because it was an expensive T-shirt and she said “I can take it back” and I said no. I hung the T- shirt up in my closet and it wearing it in public became part of my mo- tivation to get back into shape.

    What fitness regimen do you use?

    I utilized insanity workouts five times per week, I run 13 miles every Saturday, and I do a casual 40-mile bike ride on Sundays. I have continued this routine over the last year.What have you done to ensure maintenance of this fitness level, or are you still moving toward a goal?I continue to follow my exercise plan and watch the diet. Typically I do my weights two days a week and supplement my strength training with Push-ups, Pull-ups and Sit Ups. In addition, I will use workouts that are shared in the magazine which provide diversity in my exercise routine. I have a goal this year which is to complete my fourth marathon in 4 hours which is what my time was over 15 years ago.

    What’s the single most important piece of advice you now would give?

    Watch the DIET! This is key. If you have a limited amount of time to exercise, watch the calories and processed foods and enriched products. And lastly, we all face choices and exercising and proper eating habits should not be one. As the brain needs oxygen, our bodies need the right fuel and physical ac- tivity in order to enjoy life.

    How did you celebrate reaching your goal?

    I have a tattoo which I got af- ter I achieved my fitness goal. It is called Ichi-go Ichi-e and is used in Japanese tea ceremonies symbol- izing for us to enjoy every encoun- ter life presents, as we will never have it again. This is my mantra now to maximize my life and it first starts with being physically, men- tally and spiritually fit. I owe this feeling of “utopia” to fitness and a strong desire to have the best life I can possibly have

    By Cameron James 

    City News Manger

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  • Men’s Health : A guide to cancer screenings

    BY AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY

    IN HONOR OF NATIONAL MEN’S Health Week Month take time to encourage The American CancerSociety is encouraging men to talk to their doctors about appropriate screening tests they need to stay well based on their age and risk factors.

    Thanks to advancements in screening test many cancers can be found early, when they are preventable or easier to treat.

    Colorectal Cancer

    Many colorectal (colon) cancers begin as growths called polyps, and if these polyps are found through regular testing and removed before they turn into cancer, the disease can be stopped before it starts. Start testing at age 50, or younger if people in your family have had colon cancer. Talk to your doctor about which test is right for you.

    Lung Cancer

    The Society does not recommend routine lung cancer screening for people who are at average risk of the disease. However, we do have guidelines for people who are at high risk due to a history of smoking. If you answer “yes” to all of the following questions, you may be a candidate for screening. Talk to your doctor about the benefits, limitations,

    and potential harms of lung cancer screening to decide if it’s right for you.

    • Are you between the age of 55 and 74 years old?

    • Are you in fairly good health*?

    • Do you smoke at least 30 packs of cigarettes a year?

    • Are you still smoking, or have you quit smoking in the last 15 years?

    If you and your doctor decide that you should be screened, you should get a low dose CT scan every year until you reach the age of 74, as long as you remain in good health. Screening should only be done at facilities that have the right type of CT scan and that have a great deal of experience in CT scans for lung cancer screening.

    *Screening tests are meant to find cancer in patients who do not show symptoms. To achieve the best potential benefit from screening, patients should be in good health. For example, they need to be able to have surgery and other treatments to try to cure lung cancer if it is found.

    Prostate Cancer

    The American Cancer Society does not recommend for or against routine prostate cancer testing for men. Instead, we recommend that, starting at age 50, men take the opportunity to make an informed decision with their health care provider about screening for prostate cancer after receiving information about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits associated with testing. Testing should not occur in the absence of this informed decision-making. Men at high risk, including African American men and those with a family history of the disease, should have this talk earlier, at age 40 or 45.

    Skin Cancer

    During your regular checkups, have your doctor check your skin for signs of skin cancer. If you notice any changes to existing moles, tell your doctor right away.

    About half of all men in the US will develop cancer in their lifetime. Leading a healthy lifestyle combined with following the recommended screening guidelines can reduce your risk for developing cancer, or find it early when treatment is more likely to be successful. Remind dad about the importance of regular exercise, refraining from tobacco use, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a nutritious diet, and staying safe in the sun.

    Find more ways to help men stay well and get well by visiting cancer.org/menshealth or by calling The American Cancer Society anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345.

     

     

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  • Tips to Reduce Allergens in Your Home this Season

    Many people seek refuge indoors around this time of year, when outdoor air is full of pollen and other allergens. For allergy sufferers, however, the air indoors can prove to be just as problematic.

    Dust that collects in a home contains common household allergens such as dust mite particles and animal dander. If dust is disturbed from furniture, hard surfaces and carpet, those allergens can become airborne and reduce indoor air quality.

    May is designated National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, and it is an excellent time to make your home cleaner and healthier by removing common household allergens and improving your indoor air. Even if you don’t have asthma or allergies, everyone can benefit from better indoor air quality.

    “The way you clean your home is important. Most household cleaning routines only re-circulate allergens throughout your home rather than removing them,” said Justin Bates, president of Stanley Steemer, International, Inc. “If your cleaning routine doesn’t specifically focus on dust and allergen removal, you may be only moving them around, sending allergens back into the air.”

    To maximize your cleaning efforts while reducing allergens, consider these simple tips.

    • Dust hard surfaces regularly with moist cloths or special dry dusters designated to trap and lock dust.

    • Wash your bedding and linens often. Doing so can help you control dust mites in your home.

    • Vacuum often. Although cleaning can sometimes trigger allergic reactions by releasing dust into the air, vacuuming floors once or twice a week will reduce surface dust and allergens. Make sure your vacuum has a high efficiency air filter to capture dust.

    • Use a certified professional carpet cleaning service to deep clean your carpets to remove the stains, spills and dust that regular vacuuming leaves behind. Be sure to use a service that’s qualified to reduce allergens in the home. Stanley Steemer’s Professional Carpet Cleaning service is the first to be certified asthma and allergy friendly by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

    Independent testing proved Stanley Steemer’s proprietary cleaning process removed 94 percent of common household allergens, including 92.8 percent of cat dander, 97.8 percent of dog danger and 91.4 percent of dust mite allergens. The process also reduces exposure to bacteria and mold by 90 percent within 24 hours of cleaning. AAFA recommends a certified professional carpet cleaning every three to four months.

    • Protect yourself when doing housework by wearing a mask. After cleaning, consider leaving for a few hours to avoid allergens in the air.

    • Reduce pet dander. If you have allergies, don’t keep pets with feathers or fur, such as birds, dogs and cats in your home. Animal saliva and dead skin, also known as pet dander, can cause allergic reactions. If you already have a pet, keep it out of the bedroom.

    • Shut out pollen. Inspect your windows for a film of pollen on the frame or sill. Prevent pollen from entering your home by keeping windows and doors closed. Use an air filter and clean it regularly or run the air conditioner and change the filter often.

    Over 70 million Americans suffer from asthma and allergies. If you’re one of them, be proactive. National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month is the perfect time to eliminate triggers in your home so you can breathe more easily. A cleaner home is a healthier home.

    For more tips on reducing allergens in your home, and more information about asthma and allergy friendly carpet cleaning services, visit StanleySteemer.com.

     

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  • No love like self-love

    May is National Masturbation Month. The celebration of May as National Masturbation Month began in 1995 in San Francisco as a response to the forced resignation of then U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders. Elders made history as America’s first Black Surgeon General.

    After a speech at the United Nations World AIDS Day in 1994, an audience member asked Elders about masturbation’s potential for discouraging early sexual activity. She answered, “I think it is something that is part of human sexuality and a part of something that perhaps should be taught.” That statement was the end of Elders’ career as America’s first black Surgeon General.

    Masturbation can be defined as an act of self-love. It’s an essential tool for self-awareness and enhancing our most intimate relationships.

    Like partner sex, solo sex is one of the most gratifying human experiences we have. Many of us live life at a frenetic pace – rushing through most everything we do in our lives. Too often, masturbation is simply done as a quick, easy means to achieve orgasm. Seldom do we consider the sensual component of solo sex. If we took our time and focused our thoughts and energy on the erotic pleasures that our own touch can offer us, we would soon discover just how sensuous autoeroticism could be.

    Self-pleasure can be just as fabulous as actual intercourse as you can masturbate whenever you want. You’re free to experiment with fun, sometimes-unusual sex toys, without worrying about being judged or hurting anyone’s feelings. Who knows what gets you off better than you? Plus, you don’t need to stock up on condoms or worry about birth control. Self-pleasure is always exactly as short or long as you want it to be, so go ahead and be selfish! Self-love is the BEST love!

    You’ll never wake up regretting what happened last night. No one will care if your nether regions haven’t been trimmed in weeks. Yes, pubic hair is apparently making a comeback, but seriously, your vibrator couldn’t care less how you wear your bush.

    When we allow ourselves adequate time for self-pleasuring, our erotic mind and body are given sufficient time to reveal their secrets. We soon learn firsthand:

    What turns us on and off.

    What makes us feel sexy and uninhibited.

    What erogenous zones are most arousing.

    What feels good when done slow and gentle or hard and fast.

    How long we like to be stimulated.

    How sensitive our genitals are.

    The best way to reach orgasm.

    How to expand our sexual capacity into multiple orgasmic bliss!

    Choose a time and place to tempt your inner sex God or Goddess to come out and play and a time of day or evening when you are assured lengthy privacy. Consider a location that you feel comfortable, safe and uninhibited such as the bedroom, shower or bath. Turn off the phone and lock the door or do whatever you have to do to ensure privacy. Gather together any items you think you would want or need – lubricant, lotions, food, towel, a mirror, sensual fabrics, pillows, sex toys and erotic photos or literature. Creating a time and place for your erotic self-pleasuring will make you feel relaxed, sexy and free.

    Use your imagination rather than porn. Not only does watching porn leave nothing to the imagination, it provokes a fast-and-furious release making it one of the leading causes of premature ejaculation in men. By using our imagination instead of porn during masturbation, we prolong the intensity and duration of our pleasure. If you have difficulty using your imagination during solo sex, try using erotic photos or reading erotic literature. Some tantric sex instructors recommend using images of just the genitals of the opposite sex.  Find what works best for you.

    Engage ALL of your senses. To truly experience a luxurious session of self-play, engage as many of your senses as you can – sight, sound, smell, taste and of course, touch.

    Sight: Consider masturbating in front of a mirror. Watch closely as arousal transforms your body into a sensuous scene. Notice the changes in your skin tone especially around your genital area. Become your own sensual trigger.

    Sound: Include whatever music turns you on and makes you feel sexy during your next solo session. Also pay attention to the sounds you make when becoming aroused – the groans, moans, whimpers and sighs.

    Smell: Use erotic-scented candles or lotions such as jasmine or lavender when masturbating. Scent is a powerful memory trigger. Use it during solo sex and then again for partner sex to help you recall the pleasure of your sexual sessions. When we become aroused, we emit a scent – notice if you can detect yours the next time you are masturbating.

    Taste: Lick yourself all over – from your fingertips down the rest of your body. Add the occasional nibble. Taste yourself – add a touch of honey or whipped cream to the experience if you like.

    Touch: Caress, tickle and touch your entire body especially your erogenous zones. Spend time discovering what rhythm and stroke feels best, especially against your genitals. Rub your body with fur, velvet, silk, satin, ice, oil, honey or lotion. Revel in the different sensations.

    Regular self-pleasuring increases our capacity for pleasure. The more pleasure we get, the more we want. The more we learn to enjoy, the more we can handle. We soon discover that orgasm is not a goal to be achieved quickly for the process is just as rewarding. By slowing down and taking ample time to focus on our own complete sensual fulfillment through sexual self-love we learn to become truly great lovers to both ourselves and our partners.

    Get naked and enjoy the sound and scent of your own body. Let go of the pressure, enjoy touching and exploring what feels good. You’ll find that as soon as you release the pressure of reaching the Big-O, the juices will flow! Simply relax. Breathe and be patient. Self-pleasure and knowing what turns you on takes time. You are your own teacher, soon to be your own master.

    The silence and shame that shadow masturbation have long and deep roots. Beyond religious condemnation, the practice was not long ago considered an affliction for which medical doctors used the cruelest of instruments and techniques to control. Yet, women with hysteria were also medically treated by being masturbated by the physicians who eventually built elaborate room sized vibrators to take over the handwork of bringing women to orgasm.

    Back in 1995, Good Vibrations launched National Masturbation Month to protest the firing of Clinton appointed U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders. Conservative members of the administration blasted Elders when she responded to questions regarding safe sex by saying that “Masturbation is something that perhaps should be taught.”

    Getting over our discomfort with masturbation and healthy sexuality is not just important for ourselves, but even more so for the next generation. Opening the dialogue with the young people in your life and normalizing the language of sexuality is one of the most important steps you can take to build sexual health into your family’s future.

    Sigmund Freud said, “The only thing about masturbation to be ashamed of is doing it badly.” Indeed, masturbation is one of the healthiest behaviors we can add to life. It helps maintain genito-urinary health and teaches us to become and remain responsive sexual partners. Learning how to experience pleasure alone can have a meaningful impact on a number of sexual problems between couples.

    Accepting the full responsibility of our own sexual nature, needs and preferences is the gift you bring to a healthy sexual relationship with someone else. There is no wrong or right way to masturbate so don’t dismay. You can be dressed or undressed, sitting up or lying down, whatever feels good for you is the right way. Get to know your body, every nook and crevice could be holding some sensual delight, if you don’t explore – you won’t find out. So get naked and empower yourself!

    By Hasina Ifra

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  • Tips to Reduce Allergens in Your Home this Season

    Many people seek refuge indoors around this time of year, when outdoor air is full of pollen and other allergens. For allergy sufferers, however, the air indoors can prove to be just as problematic.

    Dust that collects in a home contains common household allergens such as dust mite particles and animal dander. If dust is disturbed from furniture, hard surfaces and carpet, those allergens can become airborne and reduce indoor air quality.

    May is designated National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, and it is an excellent time to make your home cleaner and healthier by removing common household allergens and improving your indoor air. Even if you don’t have asthma or allergies, everyone can benefit from better indoor air quality.

    “The way you clean your home is important. Most household cleaning routines only re-circulate allergens throughout your home rather than removing them,” said Justin Bates, president of Stanley Steemer, International, Inc. “If your cleaning routine doesn’t specifically focus on dust and allergen removal, you may be only moving them around, sending allergens back into the air.”

    To maximize your cleaning efforts while reducing allergens, consider these simple tips.

    • Dust hard surfaces regularly with moist cloths or special dry dusters designated to trap and lock dust.

    • Wash your bedding and linens often. Doing so can help you control dust mites in your home.

    • Vacuum often. Although cleaning can sometimes trigger allergic reactions by releasing dust into the air, vacuuming floors once or twice a week will reduce surface dust and allergens. Make sure your vacuum has a high efficiency air filter to capture dust.

    • Use a certified professional carpet cleaning service to deep clean your carpets to remove the stains, spills and dust that regular vacuuming leaves behind. Be sure to use a service that’s qualified to reduce allergens in the home. Stanley Steemer’s Professional Carpet Cleaning service is the first to be certified asthma and allergy friendly by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

    Independent testing proved Stanley Steemer’s proprietary cleaning process removed 94 percent of common household allergens, including 92.8 percent of cat dander, 97.8 percent of dog danger and 91.4 percent of dust mite allergens. The process also reduces exposure to bacteria and mold by 90 percent within 24 hours of cleaning. AAFA recommends a certified professional carpet cleaning every three to four months.

    • Protect yourself when doing housework by wearing a mask. After cleaning, consider leaving for a few hours to avoid allergens in the air.

    • Reduce pet dander. If you have allergies, don’t keep pets with feathers or fur, such as birds, dogs and cats in your home. Animal saliva and dead skin, also known as pet dander, can cause allergic reactions. If you already have a pet, keep it out of the bedroom.

    • Shut out pollen. Inspect your windows for a film of pollen on the frame or sill. Prevent pollen from entering your home by keeping windows and doors closed. Use an air filter and clean it regularly or run the air conditioner and change the filter often.

    Over 70 million Americans suffer from asthma and allergies. If you’re one of them, be proactive. National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month is the perfect time to eliminate triggers in your home so you can breathe more easily. A cleaner home is a healthier home.

     

    Read more »
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