February is/was National Children’s Dental Health Month. We’ve seen some preschoolers and kindergarteners in HCLS walking around with materials from school promoting the importance of taking care of one’s choppers.  But honestly, couldn’t we all use a little refresher?  And, as Dr. Damian Blum, DMD discussed at the East Columbia Branch last month, dental health can affect overall health.

The Mayo Clinic reports that harmful bacteria can sometimes grow out of control and cause oral infections; some dental procedures and medications can disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in your mouth and may make it easier for bacteria to enter your bloodstream. They also report that “your oral health may affect, be affected by or contribute to various diseases and conditions, including:

  • Endocarditis—gum disease and dental procedures that cut your gums may allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream…. [which] can cause infection in other parts of the body—such as an infection of the inner lining of the heart.
  • Cardiovascular disease—some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke may be linked to oral bacteria, possibly due to…a severe form of gum disease.
  • Pregnancy and birth—gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
  • Diabetes–reduces the body’s resistance to infection—putting the gums at risk. In addition…[diabetics] may develop more-frequent and severe infections of the gums and the bone that holds teeth in place, and they may lose more teeth….
  • HIV/AIDS—oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.
  • Osteoporosis—may be associated with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.
  • Alzheimer’s disease–tooth loss before age 35 may be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Other conditions—may be linked to oral health include Sjogren’s syndrome—an immune system disorder—and eating disorders.

That’s some pretty scary stuff. So it doesn’t hurt for all of us to take a step back and think about our oral healthcare, much like our little ones have been encouraged to do all February. Let’s review some pointers that all kids and adults should remember about maintaining good dental health. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Institute, here are the most basic steps, from MedlinePlus, to a healthy mouth and teeth:

  • Brush your teeth every day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Clean between your teeth every day with floss or another type of between-the-teeth cleaner
  • Snack smart – limit sugary snacks
  • Don’t smoke or chew tobacco
  • See your dentist or oral health professional regularly

See, the steps are not really a big deal, and you don’t have to go alone. Did you know HCLS has books to help encourage/teach about oral healthcare, and databases(http://www.hclibrary.org/index.php?page=497#health) that can help you locate a doctor or dentist and evaluations of area practitioners?

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March is National Nutrition Month. Here are 7 Well & Wise tips to get you started on the path to better nutrition.

  1. Keep a food log.  Whether you use the old fashioned approach of paper and pencil or a new smartphone app like My Fitness Pal, record everything you eat and drink for at least five days. This will give you great insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your diet and help you create a plan for eating more nutritiously in the future.
  2. Breakfast- the most important meal of the day.  You’ve heard this before, but not only will eating breakfast help you consume less calories throughout the day, it will kickstart your metabolism, improve your mental focus and give you energy.
  3. Put down the sugary drinks. Drink water. Today, one in four Maryland children is overweight or obese.  Sugary drinks are estimated to account for 20 percent of the nation’s overweight problem and are the number one source of empty calories in children’s diets.
  4. Rock the Wok! Learn to make quick, easy and tasteful stir fry recipes. A great way to get more veggies into your diet.
  5. Lose the Salt9 out of 10 Americans eat too much salt.  Don’t blame it all on the shaker, though- sixty-five percent of salt consumption comes from food sold in stores. Check out this grocery store tour by a Johns Hopkins dietitian for more information.
  6. Portion Control is key to healthy eating. Our judgment of portion size is skewed. Learn to estimate serving size more accurately by using visual cues. (A 3 oz serving of fish is approximately the size of a deck of cards.  A tsp of butter is about the size of a single die. One serving of dry cereal is the size of a hockey puck.- not a medium-sized mixing bowl!)
  7. Nuts! Reach for these great sources of healthy monounsaturated fats. Nuts are one of the best sources of omega 3- a heart healthy fatty acid. In addition to omega 3, nuts contain the amino acid, L-arginine. L-arginine may relax blood vessels making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots. Arginine has also been shown to promote wound healing, and boost immune function.

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As HCGH celebrates its 40th Anniversary-  meet some folks who were in it for the long haul –

Joan Becker, Bob Simonsen and Nancy Guercio, today.

As HCGH celebrates it’s 40th year, we’d like to introduce you to our three longest-serving employees have been with the hospital since the beginning, witnessing its evolution from a small 59-bed facility surrounded by farmland to the current 249-bed medical center in the midst of a bustling community.

In October 1972, 15-year-old Nancy Guercio, PCA, ED, began working as a weekend employee before the hospital building even opened. A high school student, she worked in medical records in the Banneker Building, at the time home to the Columbia Medical Plan (CMP). She moved to the hospital when it opened in July 1973 and stayed when CMP left about a year later. She worked as an admitting counselor in the Emergency Department (ED) for several years, before moving up the ranks to serve as manager of Admitting. When her children were born, she began working part-time so she could be home to raise her three children. Guercio’s highest priority is her family and she appreciated the flexibility that working for the hospital afforded her.

A former Navy corpsman, Bob Simonsen, PA, Operating Room, joined the HCGH team in April 1973 and helped open the new ED. “A surgeon I had worked with in the Navy, told me the new hospital was looking for former corpsmen and medics to staff the ED, a very innovative move at the time,” explained Simonsen. After serving as a physician associate for a few years, Simonsen became the ED evening supervisor when he passed his physician assistant (PA) boards in 1975. He was then appointed the orthopedic PA for the hospital, in charge of the PA staff. Although he left his full-time position in 1990, he still works part-time in the Operating Room.

Joan Becker started working as a part-time weekend telephone operator in August 1973. A neighbor of HCGH, Becker was told about the part-time job by a friend who worked at the hospital. She and another part-time weekend operator would pick up work in the hospital on weekdays, assisting with hospital billing. “We would look at the bills and pull patient records and x-rays to compare the charges to what was actually done,” she explained. “We used to work out of a little conference room in the basement next to the double elevators, which is now the EVS closet.” Becker currently serves as the director of telecommunications and said, “The place has grown enormously. Every wall in this hospital has moved and I think I have moved every phone that is here.”

What Are YOUR memories of the early days?

If you would like to share memories of your time at HCGH, please send them to HCGH_news@jhmi.edu.


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By Cherise Tasker

Check out the new Heath IT Cancer Resources Guide. The site takes an innovative approach to cataloging informative medical websites and apps. Many excellent websites offer wellness and health resources, but this site goes a step further by dividing the resources within a patient-supportive framework. The 76 digital tools are divided in five categories as follows: Decision Making, Education, Information and Treatment management, Social Support, and Lifestyle Management.

The eHealth Initiative is a unique nonprofit collaboration between nonprofit and commercial healthcare organizations; community and academic centers; and medical, clinical, and information technology professionals. The diverse influences and perspectives allow the organization to advocate for health information technology that meets the needs of patients, providers, payers, and quality monitors. For example, innovative technology will help care providers communicate electronically through health information exchanges (HIEs). Patients will have access to more efficient, state-of-the-art healthcare that is not limited by the patient’s area of residence. These cooperatives are being built specifically with healthcare in mind and with the privacy considerations unique to patient care. For example, many of Maryland’s hospitals and long-term care facilities are already members of CRISP (Chesapeake Regional Information System for Our Patients), an HIE dedicated to data sharing for improved patient care. As HIEs evolve, patients will more easily be able to move between care providers who will all be able to access critical medical documentation in a secure electronic environment.

Not only are health technology experts taking on the challenge of interconnectivity within states, they are addressing the national challenge as well. Regional Health Information Exchanges (RHIOs) would connect hospitals in different states and between HIEs. The RHIO networks would allow community providers to share data with local hospitals and academic centers. Patients needing specialty care in other locations or patients experiencing health issues while traveling could be cared for more quickly and expertly when care providers have access to medical problem lists, prescription records, prior laboratory results, and existing diagnostic studies such as EKGs. The information would be available through secure, private portals accessible only after patient consent and staff access verification.

Each of us can go digital with our own health information. Creating an online personal health record (PHR) collects medical data in an automated environment that one can access from anywhere there is a computer with Internet. A PHR is a convenient way to keep track of one’s medications, for example. In case of a medical emergency, a trusted friend or family member could access the information and provide it to healthcare providers. Free online PHR programs are available on websites such as WebMD. Several of Maryland’s hospitals have PHR programs as part of their online tools for their patients. Howard County General Hospital has information on its website about creating a PHR, including a link to a free program created by the American Health Information Management Association.

Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.

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Howard County classes and events for the whole family to enjoy!

February 23,  7:00 p.m. Evening In The Stacks: Sparkle And Spurs. Join us for a spectacular evening in the grand new HCLS Miller Branch featuring live music, literary entertainment, silent auction, and fine food and drink. HCLS Signature Event. Cocktail attire. Black tie optional. Sparkly accessories and boots encouraged.

February 23, 2:00 p.m. Math Circle Are you good at math? Do you love numbers? Join the HCLS Math Circle at the East Columbia Branch to learn about patterns and intricacies in the world of mathematics. Use logic and problem solving skills to solve brain teasing problems. Ages 11-14.  Register online or by calling 410.313.7700.

February 26, 10:30 a.m. Just For Me. Class at the Glenwood Branch for children ages 3-5 who are ready for an independent class that includes creative expression, listening comprehension, and early reading skills. 30 min. Register online or by calling 410.313.5579. Also offered 2/27 at 10:15 & 11:15 a.m. at the Elkridge Branch; no registration required.

February 27, 7:00 p.m. Terrariums: A Garden Under Glass. Design and create a garden under glass at the Miller Branch. Ages 11-17.  Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

February 28, 10:15 & 11:30 a.m. The World Around Me. A class at the Miller Branch exploring simple social studies concepts inspired by children’s literature. Multi-week series. Ages 3-5; 45 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15-30 minutes before class. Offered again on 2/22 at 10:15 & 11:30 a.m. at the East Columbia Branch.

March 7, 6:00-8:00 p.mDon’t Be Defeeted! Foot, heel and ankle problems can really limit your daily activities. Join orthopedic specialist Dr. Ricardo Cook to discuss common complications and injuries, and the most effective physical therapy, medications and surgical options. FREE, but registration is required.  Call 410-740-7602 for more information.

March 15 OR March 20th. Living With Diabetes.  Have you recently been diagnosed with diabetes or have you been living with diabetes and would like to improve your health? Our diabetes specialists will teach you how to change your habits, give you practical, attainable solutions for staying healthy and design a diabetes management plan to fit your lifestyle. Living with Diabetes is a two-day, interactive, group course taught by an endocrinologist, diabetes nurse educator, dietitian, psychologist, podiatrist, and exercise specialist. Choose a day program or a condensed evening program. Day classes are held Friday and the following Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Evening classes are held Wednesday and Thursday from 6:00 -9:00 p.m. Most insurance plans cover all or part of this program.  The Bolduc Family Outpatient Center at Howard County General Hospital. For more information or to register, please call 443-718-3000

March 25, 7-0:00 p.m. Common Gastrointestinal ConditionsLearn about common gastrointestinal issues, screening recommendations, and treatment approaches to conditions that can be a sign of something more serious. Presented by gastroenterologist Preston Kim, M.D. FREE.  Howard County General Hospital, Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center. 10710 Charter Drive.

March 27, 7-8:30 p.m. The ABCs of Adult Blindness. Age-related Macular Degeneration, Blepharoptosis (drooping eyelids), Cataracts and more. Are you always the last one in the car to read the road signs? Wondering why you can’t read the newspaper anymore? Join us as we explore common reasons for vision impairment and find out what can be done to improve your eyesight. Presented by Vanessa Lima, M.D. FREE. Howard County General Hospital, Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center. 10710 Charter Drive.

April 23, 6-8:00 p.m. Shouldering the Burden. Having difficulty raising your arm or lifting things? Common shoulder injuries, such as rotator cuff and labrum tears, as well as degenerative conditions like arthritis can cause joint pain and limit motion. Johns Hopkins orthopedic surgeonDr. Uma Srikumaran will discuss surgical and other options to lighten your load. FREE.Howard County General Hospital, Johns Hopkins Medicine Wellness Center. 10710 Charter Drive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Did you take our advice and give yourself a break on Valentine’s Day last week? Whether you did or not, we’re not here to judge.  In fact, there is one siren song of that ridiculous day that sometimes we all seem to have a little trouble resisting—sweets.  Yes, the cheesy heart-shaped boxes full of deadly decadence are often as bad for your self-esteem as they are for your body.  But a little sweet, especially chocolate… (need we say more?)! The temptation can be so strong.  Fortunately, a lot of people are realizing that staying healthy and sane don’t have to be at odds.

Take for example the following healthier twist on a luscious treat from the If It Makes You Healthy cookbook by Sheryl Crow (yep, that Sheryl Crow) and Chuck White.

Chocolate-Avocado Mousse Martinis with Fresh Raspberries

Ingredients

  • 2 large ripe avocados
  • 1/2 cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder (I like Green & Black’s organic fair trade cocoa powder)
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/2 pint fresh raspberries, for garnish

Instructions

1. Halve and pit the avocados and scoop out the flesh. Transfer the avocado flesh to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Using a spoon, break up the avocado a little in the food processor.

2. Add the cocoa powder, agave nectar, vanilla extract, and almond extract to the processor and process for 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then process again until the mousse is very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

3. Taste the mousse and if not sweet enough, add more nectar, 1 teaspoon at a time. Pulse to mix.

4. Spoon the mousse into martini glasses or similar serving vessels. Cover the glasses with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.

5. Serve the mousse chilled and garnished with raspberries.

We hope this can quench the chocolate craving without sending you into a spiral of shame.  We should have known that someone who has written as many songs about love and heartbreak as Ms. Crow would understand the need for a nice, rich treat.

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February is Heart Month – Howard County Resident Learns the Importance of Calling 911

Columbia, Md. – As he finished dinner on Oct. 2, Bob Kronberger was focused on preparing for an evening meeting…the last thing on his mind was a heart attack. “I got up from the table

and was sweating like crazy,” he explained. “I laid down and felt pain in my chest, but I was in total denial. I didn’t think it was any kind of emergency.” It was Bob’s wife, Barbara, who insisted they call 911. “I said ‘no way’ but she was adamant and thank God she did. I really credit her with saving my life. People like me will try to get out of calling 911, but someone has to take charge and make the call and she did it!”

When a heart attack happens, delay in treatment can be deadly. Learn the warning symptoms of a heart attack, and know the single most important thing you can do to save a life: call 911 immediately for emergency medical care. Bob Kronberger is thankful that his wife insisted on making that call.

When firefighters and paramedics arrived, the electrocardiogram (EKG) showed that Bob was in the middle of a specific type of heart attack, called a STEMI (ST segment elevation myocardial infarction). “The paramedic said, ‘we are taking you to the hospital you’re having a heart attack’,” said Bob. “Once I heard her say it out loud, everything felt real – that’s when I got scared.”

Because of the strong, cooperative relationship between Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) and the Howard County General Hospital Emergency Department, the EMTs were able to activate the hospital’s Heart Attack Team of physicians, nurses and technologists, so that the cardiac catheterization suite was prepared for his arrival.

“When I got to the emergency room, I felt like a rock star with all of these people gathered around me,” said Bob. He was whisked off to the cardiac catheterization laboratory, where interventional cardiologist Feroz Padder, M.D., was able to remove the blood clot that was creating a 100 percent blockage in Bob’s right coronary artery and place a stent to keep the artery open.

“From the 911 call takers, to the staff at the hospital to our paramedics – it’s really because of great partnerships like these that we can bring about the best patient outcome,” said Kevin Seaman, M.D., HCDFRS Medical Director. “It’s also important to emphasize the importance of learning CPR because bystanders can make all the difference in helping save someone’s life.”

In the months since his heart attack, Bob has been participating in HCGH’s Cardiac Rehabilitation program. With the help of supervised exercise sessions and educational presentations about healthy eating and lifestyle, Bob says he has a whole different attitude on life. He has lost 30 pounds and is making healthier food choices.

“My whole experience has been great,” says Bob.

HCGH’s Cardiac Catheterization Program is co-chaired by Peter Johnston, M.D., from The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and George Groman, M.D., from HCGH.

 

Additional Helpful Information

Heart Attack Symptoms

    • Chest pain or pressure, tightness, squeezing, burning, aching, or heaviness in the chest
    • Shortness of breath
    • Profuse sweating
    • Dizziness
    • Unusual discomfort in left arm or jaw
    • Nausea
    • A choking sensation
    • Anxiety or a feeling of impending doom
    • No symptoms occur with a silent heart

View a special video explaining the differences in heart attack symptoms between men and women, presented by Adrian L. Preston, M.D. 

What to do if you are experiencing symptoms 

      • Call 911 immediately
      • Cardiologists recommend chewing one adult aspirin while waiting for emergency responders to arrive.

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By Barbara Cornell

Pack your kid a superhero’s lunch. Image by adonis hunter/ahptical

We’ve kind of hit the doldrums of winter at about mid-February and I’m guessin’–just guessin’– that the mini lunchbox crowd has gotten a little tired of their usual lunch fare as have the parents who pack the lunchboxes. It has been a long time since I have been responsible for anyone’s lunch but my own, but I do remember the days when I would rather just throw my hands up and give the kids lunch money rather than make another bagged lunch for school.

Howard County Library System has some books full of ideas that might save the day! One thoroughly organized and well-written book is The Healthy Lunchbox: How to Plan, Prepare & Pack Stress-Free Meals Kids Will Love by Marie McClendon and Cristy Shauck, 2005. Lots of helpful sidebars and chapter intros and “over 60 nutritious recipes” are included. The recipes alone make this worth a check-out for your own lunch as well as the kids’.

I have mixed feelings about Lunch Boxes and Snacks by Anabel Karmel, 2007. Some of the recipes look wonderful and I’d like to see them on my dinner table, but in spite of the beautifully staged color photos, I’m not sure the author grasps the realities of the school lunch box. For her sticky drumsticks, a little “extra foil around the ends” might not be enough to keep hands cleanable. That said, her home made bars and muffins look unimpeachable!

How about something for the vegan family? Vegan Lunch Box, by Jennifer McCann, 2008, may be just the ticket with 130 “amazing animal-free lunches.” If you are used to eating vegan, none of the ingredients will throw you. McCann is also the author of Vegan Lunch Box Around the World and can be found at Vegan Lunch Box.

If you have the time and the inclination to, shall we say, “play with your food,” there is the too cute for words Yum-Yum Bento Box: Fresh Recipes for Adorable Lunches by Crystal Watanabe and Maki Ogawa, 2011. Here just about everything has a face and a name. A bento is a Japanese boxed lunch and since the Japanese say it is important to “eat with your eyes,” these are tiny little feasts for the eyes. Some of the ingredients may not be in your local market, but we have Lotte Plaza nearby and many small local stores that will have what you need.

My last suggestion is Chris Butterworth’s 2011 How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? This sounds like what your child might say if he just discovered that there is nothing in his box that he can trade away for a candy bar. It’s found in the children’s side of the library, aimed at 5-8 year-olds, and is actually subtitled “The Story of Food.” Its whimsical cartoon figures demonstrate how your apple juice, your carrot, and even your chocolate are grown and processed and finally make it into your lunch. Simple and sweet, this book ends with advice on a healthy plate (not exactly USDA’s “MyPlate” but close).

The recurring piece of advice in each of the books I researched was to make sure the child is involved in the choice and preparation of his or her meals—including lunch—and they will likely eat a more healthy diet with much less stress and drama.

Barbara Cornell joined the Howard County Library System in 1993 as Assistant Branch Manager at the new Elkridge Branch.

Since 2000 she has enjoyed a shorter commute to the Glenwood Branch.

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Saturday, Feb 16, 3:30 p.m. Care Giver’s Support GroupThis free support group for care givers meets the 1st Tuesday of each month at 3:30 p.m. or the third Saturday of each month at 10:30 a.m. at Howard County General Hospital’s Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center, 10710 Charter Drive.  This support group is designed for people who are caring for a loved one with a chronic illness. FREE. Call 410 740-5858 for more information and to register.

February 15/19, 8:30 a.m. – 2:30p.m. Or February 20/21, 6:00- 9:00 p.m. Living with DiabetesIf you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes–or even if you have been living with diabetes for some time and would like to make a commitment to improve your health–this course will teach you how to change your habits and will give you practical, attainable solutions for staying healthy. Our diabetes specialists will not tell you what to do–instead they will empower you with information and design a diabetes management plan to fit your lifestyle.  Living with Diabetes is a two-day, interactive, group course taught by an endocrinologist, diabetes nurse educator, dietitian, psychologist, podiatrist, and exercise specialist.  The class is held at The Bolduc Family Outpatient Center at Howard County General Hospital. Choose either a day program or a condensed evening program. Day classes will be held Friday and the following Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Evening classes are held Wednesday and Thursday from 6-9 p.m. Most insurance plans cover all or part of this program. For more information or to register, please call 443-718-3000.

February 20th, 7:00-8:30 p.mBreast Cancer Support Group. This free, ongoing support group for Breast Cancer patients is facilitated by Mary Dowling, LCSW-C.  FREE. For more information or to register, please call 410 740-5858.

March 7, 6:00-8:00 p.mDon’t Be Defeeted! Foot, heel and ankle problems can really limit your daily activities. Join orthopedic specialist Dr. Ricardo Cook to discuss common complications and injuries, and the most effective physical therapy, medications and surgical options. FREE, but registration is required.  Call 410-740-7602 for more information.


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It’s Valentine’s Day. This means you’ve suffered through or will endure a number of ridiculous conversations about the holiday. Is it a conspiracy theory constructed by greeting card companies and the Knights Templar? Should feminism have destroyed it for supporting outdated and destructive stereotypes? Is it the pressure to find the right gift that destroys relationships or is it that you’re just really bad at gift giving and maybe don’t know your partner that well in the first place? And what on earth happens to the stuff that isn’t sold–is there a vast wasteland of tchotchkes covered in pink glitter and hearts? Can we go there?!

Oddly, the conversation we never seem to have at Valentine’s Day is about sex. So today we’re going to talk about sex! Specifically, about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), so that if your life choice is to have sex, you can do so with minimal risk to yourself and your partners.

FACT: Anyone can get an STI.
Let’s get something out of the way early. STIs don’t just happen to “those” girls or “those” guys, because there is no such thing as “those” people, there’s only us. People who get STIs include people who have sex with lots of people, and people who have sex with only one person their entire life. They happen to people the first time they have sex and the 50th time. Anyone can get one, so the important thing is safety.

Fact: You can still get an STI if you’re a “virgin.”
Because so many still define virginity as someone who hasn’t had penile-vaginal  intercourse, there are a lot of ways to have sex while still technically remaining a “virgin” in the eyes of others. And all those ways can lead to STIs, including non-penetrative sex.

FACT: Lots of people have STIs and don’t know it.
You might have seen terrifying pictures or heard horror stories about the worst case scenarios when it comes to STIs. You might be picturing them right now. Stop that. Look at the adorable baby animal picture instead.
The thing is, many STIs have minimal indicators, and some like Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are often asymptomatic, but can have severe consequences, especially for women.

FACT: Just because you see a doctor, doesn’t mean you don’t have, or can’t get an STI.
Things are real and happen, even if a medical professional hasn’t told you about  them. Also, when you go in for your exam, do you know what STIs you’re being tested for? Is it all of them? Have you ever asked? Many doctors don’t conduct routine STI screenings, or only test for a few. And, unfortunately, some STIs don’t have definitive tests. So the only way you know you have them is if you develop the symptoms.

FACT: Condoms and dental dams aren’t foolproof.
You should still use them anyway. They don’t really make sex “safe,” but they do make it significantly safer and have decreased the spread of a number of STIs. However, even if prophylactics are used correctly, there are incurable STIs that are transmitted by skin contact, and so you need to make sure you’re talking with your partner and your doctor about risks.

So seriously, talk to your kids about the things they need to know, or to your partners if you have them. If you think it’s an awkward conversation to have before you have sex, it’s probably infinitely more awkward, sad, and frustrating to have after a visit to the doctors.

For more information you can find these at your local library:
The Book of Love: Every Couple’s Guide to Emotional and Sexual Intimacy
Sexpertise: Real Answers to Real Questions about Sex
It’s Perfectly Normal: A Book about Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health
Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ “Go-To” Person about Sex

Or you can read AP Sex Ed online here.

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More bad news for the Boomer generation- those born 1946 – 1964.

Although great medical advances have been made in the Boomer lifetime, contributing to greater life expectancies, the Boomer generation may be much less healthy than the previous Silent Generation.

A study released online last week in the JAMA Internal Medicine examined the health status of aging Baby Boomers relative to the previous generation. Here are the grim statistics:

  • Overall, only 13.2 percent of Boomers reported themselves in “excellent health” compared to 32% of individuals in the previous generation
  • Diabetes has more than doubled in just one generation. 15.5% of Boomers have diabetes compared to only 6.2% of individuals in their parent’s generation
  • High Blood Pressure? 43% of Boomers vs 36.4% of the Silent Generation
  • Obesity increased to 38.7% of Boomers from 29.4% in the previous generation
  • High Cholesterol is clogging up the works for 73.5% of Boomers versus only 33.8% of individuals in the Silent Generation

So that’s bad news, but it’s an active generation, right? They run and compete in triathlons and walk the Malls and they know the importance of physical activity, don’t they? Well…  Boomers might talk the talk, but they surely don’t walk the walk.

  • Only about 35% of Boomers exercise more than 12 times per month- down from nearly 50% a generation ago
  • More than half of all Boomers report NO regular physical activity

On a national level, what exactly does this generational good-health deficit mean? According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Boomers made up 26.1 percent of the population. Unless these health statistics turn around, the Boomer Generation could strain our workforce numbers and, in the coming decades, impact our ability to provide adequate healthcare- important considerations for future policy planning.

The impact on a personal and individual level is even more significant. In addition to increased financial costs, Boomers will struggle with quality of life issues. While statistics may indicate that Boomers will live longer, they also indicate that the value of those additional years may be diminished by poor health.

Change is never easy… but surely it’s time to change?

 

Baby Boomer, Mary Catherine Cochran works as a Senior Communications Project Manager at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine where, among other things, she manages and writes for the Well & Wise blog.

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Don’t end up feeling like a sitting duck on Valentine’s Day. Photo by Marilyn Roxie.

At Well & Wise, when we do not have anything to post from one of our fantastic contributing bloggers, we, who are behind the scenes, try to put together some interesting or useful tidbits.

We, as a rule, do not like to draw attention to the man behind the curtain, but today we will step out long enough to admit that at least one of us is a happily married-type person and another is a happily single-type person. Yet both are in complete agreement that Valentine’s Day is for chumps. Does this attitude make us unromatic? Perhaps. Unsentimental? Definitely. Unkind? Certainly not. In fact, we hope to provide a little comfort to those of you not completely lost in a hazy vision of long-stemmed roses and candy hearts.

Miss/Mr. Lonely Hearts vs. Wonder Woman and Superman

For as enlightened as we are supposed to be, it is shocking how attached our society is to attachment. But good old Thoreau never found a “companion that was so companionable as solitude.” Even our married representative and partner wouldn’t even have considered the idea of marriage if they had not agreed early on that they should remain friends and individuals in their union—a merger rather than a buyout or hostile takeover. And our single representative refuses to engage in this conversation other than to say, “Books not boys.” So what is wrong with the idea of being alone and not lonely. Nothing. So don’t believe the Valentine propaganda. Instead, check out:

Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After by Bella M. DePaulo

I Didn’t Work this Hard Just to Get Married: Successful Single Black Women Speak Out by Nika C. Beamon

Love for Sale-Don’t Fall for the Propaganda

Another problem we have with this pink, fluffy “holiday” is its vast commercialization. Really, cash for romance smacks of something illegal. Valentine’s Day wasn’t really a moneymaker until the early 1900s, but now it is a multibillion-dollar-a-year venture (as discussed in a fantastic NPR piece The Dark Origins of Valentine’s Day). Do not buy in to the hype.In fact, you may kill some hours during Valentine’s Day by reading up on how depressingly commercialized everything has become:

What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael J. Sandel

Consumer Culture by Heidi Watkins

 Why Does My Candy Heart Say “Tilt,” or the Food Factor

Have you ever noticed the food factor to this holiday? Flowers and candy. Fancy dinners. Aphrodisiacal cocktails. And, yes, candy hearts. It would seem most folks’ need to sublimate a desire for love or sex with food  is at the very core of Valentine’s Day. Don’t be a Valentine victim; fight the food fest with a true notion of love by caring for yourself or the ones you love with healthful choices:

The Food Lover’s Healthy Habits Cookbook by Janet Helm

Eating Mindfully:How to End Mindless Eating & Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food by Susan Albers, Psy.D.

True Romance, If You Insist

If you find yourself still a fool for love and romance, then at least skip the esteem-crushing, diet-busting, commercial aspects of this Hallmark holiday.  Try your luck with true emotion rather than emotional substitutes:

On Kindness  by Adam Phyllips and Barbara Taylor

This Emotional Life: Family, Friends & Lovers by NOVA

How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry by Edward Hirsch

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Saturday, Feb 16, 3:30 p.m. Care Giver’s Support Group. This free support group for care givers meets the 1st Tuesday of each month at 3:30 p.m. or the third Saturday of each month at 10:30 a.m. at Howard County General Hospital’s Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center, 10710 Charter Drive.  This support group is designed for people who are caring for a loved one with a chronic illness. FREE. Call 410 740-5858 for more information and to register.

February 12, 5:30- 9:00 p.m. Adult, Child and Infant CPR/AED. This course will teach you the skills needed to clear an airway obstruction perform cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and teach you how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). At the successful completion of this course, you will earn a two- year American heart Association completion card. $55.  HCGH Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive Columbia.  Call 410 740-7602 for more information.

February 15/19, 8:30 a.m. – 2:30p.m. Or February 20/21, 6:00- 9:00 p.m. Living with Diabetes.  If you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes–or even if you have been living with diabetes for some time and would like to make a commitment to improve your health–this course will teach you how to change your habits and will give you practical, attainable solutions for staying healthy. Our diabetes specialists will not tell you what to do–instead they will empower you with information and design a diabetes management plan to fit your lifestyle.  Living with Diabetes is a two-day, interactive, group course taught by an endocrinologist, diabetes nurse educator, dietitian, psychologist, podiatrist, and exercise specialist.  The class is held at The Bolduc Family Outpatient Center at Howard County General Hospital. Choose either a day program or a condensed evening program. Day classes will be held Friday and the following Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Evening classes are held Wednesday and Thursday from 6-9 p.m. Most insurance plans cover all or part of this program. For more information or to register, please call 443-718-3000.

March 7, 6:00-8:00 p.m. Don’t Be Defeeted!  Foot, heel and ankle problems can really limit your daily activities. Join orthopedic specialist Dr. Ricardo Cook to discuss common complications and injuries, and the most effective physical therapy, medications and surgical options. FREE, but registration is required.  Call 410-740-7602 for more information.

 

 


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By Wendy Camassar

Now that we are well into the winter season, your skin may be showing signs of the harshness of cold, dry weather. Even though good, old Punxsutawney Phil has predicted an early spring, it’s not too late to winter-proof your skin to get through the remaining weeks of winter. There are several skin-saving steps to take to combat winter itch, dry flakes, and redness around the nose. Here are some tips I’ve found that may help combat your skin’s common problems for this time of year:

Dry, Flakey Skin: Cold weather can cause skin to become overly dry and begin to flake. Try to use a mild exfoliant one to two times per week to avoid over drying and irritation. After showers and exfoliating, use a moisturizer that contains humectants (ingredients that will attract moisture to the skin) and one that is more emollient in texture to really seal in water. I recommend using an exfoliant for the body separate from one for the face. You want to go as gentle as possible here to avoid irritation.

Chapped lips: Our lips don’t have oil glands; therefore, they become dry easily. Using a good lip balm will help keep lips soft, healthy, and moist. I prefera natural brand, like Burt’s Bees Lip Balm, to use during the winter. Avoid licking your lips to keep them moist because doing so will only cause them to chap and dry out faster. I try to avoid lip balms that contain petrolatum. This ingredient is good at creating a barrier to protect the skin, but it doesn’t allow for additional moisture to come through. The end result can often be drier skin than before.

Chapped hands: Try an emollient moisturizer before going out, but don’t forget to put your gloves on! The skin on the back of our hands is thin, and cold weather will cause it to dry and crack quickly. Keep several tubes of hand cream in your car, desk, home, and purse and use it often during the winter.

Winter itch: Try to resist prolonged hot showers this time of year. Even though hot water warms us up, it can have a drying effect on the skin. Switch over to a mildly warm shower, pat dry with a towel, and then immediately apply your moisturizer. The more wet the skin is when doing this, the better. You want to trap as much moisture to the skin while applying lotion because this will keep the skin’s surface hydrated longer.

The key is hydration following exfoliation, and limiting the skin’s exposure to the elements as much as possible. Don’t forget sunscreen if you will be outside on a sunny winter day. Sunscreen in winter is just as important as in the summer; however, you can usually use a lower SPF during this time of year. I like to purchase foundations and moisturizers that have a sunscreen in them to take care of two things with one product.

Online Resources:

Top Five Winter Skin Problems and How to Solve Them
10 Winter Skin Care Tips

Library Resources:

The New Science of Perfect Skin: Understanding Skin-Care Myths and Miracles for Radiant Skin at Any Age by Daniel Yarosh
Skintervention: The Personalized Solution for Healthier, Younger, and Flawless-Looking Skin by Scott-Vincent Borba

Wendy Camassar is an Instruction and Research Specialist at the Central Branch of the Howard County Library System.  Prior to joining HCLS, she worked as a freelance makeup artist for several years.  She enjoys hiking with her family, exercising, reading, and organic foods and skin care products.

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From patient to volunteer – making a difference in Cardiac Rehab

Bill Bishop assisting a patient.

On a cold January day in 1991, William (Bill) Bishop was stacking firewood when he felt a chest pain and was having trouble breathing. At first he thought it was just the cold air, but then realized something was very wrong and came into the HCGH’s ED to learn he had just had a heart attack. He was under the care of cardiologist David Jackson, M.D., who has been the medical director of the HCGH Cardiac Rehabilitation program for 30 years.

Eighteen years later, on a hot August day in 2009, he had a second heart attack. This time he recognized the symptoms and called 911. Julie Miller, M.D., a Johns Hopkins cardiologist on duty that day at HCGH, was able to treat him locally. She performed a stent procedure on Bishop and he continued to see Jackson for follow-up treatment.

“Dr. Jackson tried to sign me up for the HCGH Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, but, since I was working at the Columbia Gym and could exercise there, I didn’t feel it was necessary for me to enroll.” Bill realized that he wasn’t doing all that he should to maintain a healthy lifestyle and was not exercising consistently. “In October 2009, I entered the 36-session Cardiac Rehab program under the care of Dr. Jackson, where I was carefully monitored, encouraged, and have truly improved my general health and fitness,” Bishop continued.

After finishing the program, he wanted to give something back to the department, and asked Preeti Benjamin, manager of Cardiac and Pulmonary Services, if she needed any volunteers. She said she’d be happy to have his help, and Bishop became a morning volunteer (Mon, Wed. and Thurs.) assisting the staff and cardiac rehab patients. “It’s a way to pay back for all of the help I got here! They run a well-organized program and all of the staff members are very serious about their work. Some of our patients need guidance performing their exercises or just want to talk. If they ask a question that I can’t answer, I refer them to one of the staff members.” He also noted that the camaraderie that develops among patients, clinicians and volunteers helps patients build the confidence they need to get back to the activities they care about. “It definitely made a difference in my life,” Bishop said.

Benjamin, who has been with the Cardiac and Pulmonary Services for 13 years, remarked, “Volunteers like Bill and all of our staff have a positive effect on our patients. The patients have connected with Bill and he’s made some of them want to give back to the hospital in a number of ways, including donating to the Howard Hospital Foundation.” Benjamin added, “The patients enrolled in the program are actively engaged in adopting a healthy lifestyle by increasing their exercise endurance, eating healthier food and practicing stress management techniques. Our rehab program can improve their overall health, wellbeing, and outlook on life.”

 

Diane Dunn is a senior communications project manager in the Public Relations department at Howard County General Hospital.

 


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Yep, according to the International Union Against Cancer, cancer is is still not a focus of global health agendas and urgent action is needed to raise awareness about cancer and develop practical strategies to address the disease or millions of people will continue to die.  Yes, millions! The World Health Organization confirms that cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and makes up about 13% of all around deaths. So why a day devoted to it?

The World Cancer Day Organization states that the day gives us a “chance to raise our collective voices in the name of improving general knowledge around cancer and dismissing misconceptions about the disease.” In fact, this year World Cancer Day will focus on Target 5 of the World Cancer Declaration: “Dispel damaging myths and misconceptions about cancer, under the tagline ‘Cancer – Did you know?’”

So what should one do on World Cancer Day? Since this year is all about dispelling myths, communication is key.  Here are some suggestions from the World Cancer Day Organization:

  • Get the word out using Twitter / Facebook pages (global hashtags and key messages to share via social platforms are provided  in the advocacy toolkit).
  • Use the “Cancer Myths vs Facts” Facebook application. This application will be launched for World Cancer Day 2013 – be sure to use it and share it widely to spread the truth about cancer on this day.
  • Use the World Cancer Day poster which has been designed specifically for the 2013 campaign. You can use it digitally or as a printed document to promote the day and the theme.
  • Place the World Cancer Day logo on your website, link to www.worldcancerday.org, and upload an article about the day onto your site.
  • Share the Declaration with the public, and encourage them to sign-up on World Cancer Day.
  • Add to the World Cancer Day online map of events and activities.
  • Translate: Help bring the messages and tools of the World Cancer Day campaign to a wider audience. It would be useful to have additional translations for the posters and fact sheets. Contact communication@uicc.org if you are interested in helping.
  • Adapt the World Cancer Day poster, by adding your organization’s logo before you disseminate it. Design files are available upon request.
  • Help disseminate or display the four World Cancer Day Fact sheets and the World Cancer Day Evidence sheets, and Cancer infographics.
  • Help by organizing fund-raising activities and/or sub-level campaigns using World Cancer Day messaging.
  • Call on government to ensure that cancer interventions, across the entire continuum of care from prevention to early detection, treatment and palliation, are adequately addressed in the Global Action Plan. For more information and supporting documents, the  UICC Advocacy toolkit may come in handy.
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February 2, 11:00 a.m. I’m Going To Be A Big Brother Or Sister. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings offered at the Miller Branch. Enjoy stories and activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding your baby. Resources for parents, too. Ages 3 & up, with adult; 30 – 45 min. In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine.  Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.  Offered again on 2/5 at 7:00 p.m.

February 4, 10:15 & 11:30 a.m. Twist And Shout. Learn the moves and dance to some tunes at the Miller Branch. Ages 2-5 with adult; 30 min. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

February 4, 10:15 a.m. Freeze! Warm-up at the Savage Branch with “The Freeze Dance,” get cozy while listening to winter stories, then cool off with a frozen treat! Ages 3-5; 30 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15-30 minutes before class.

February 4, 11:30 a.m. Just For Me. Classes at the Savage Branch for children ages 3-5 who are ready for an independent class that includes creative expression, listening comprehension, and early reading skills. 30 min. Also offered 2/5 at 10:30 a.m. at the Glenwood Branch; Register online or by calling 410.313.5579. And 2/6 at 10:15 & 11:15 a.m. at the Elkridge Branch; no registration required. Also on  And again on 2/6 at 7 p.m at the Miller Branch; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15-30 minutes before class.

February 4, 3:30-5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring at the Glenwood Branch offered by Howard County General Hospital. No registration required.

February 5, 7:00 p.m. Guided Meditation. Guided meditation presented at the Miller Branch by Star Ferguson-Gooden, M.Ac., L.Ac. Enjoy a guided mindfulness meditation designed to impart a feeling of peacefulness and connection. Register online(http://host.evanced.info/hclibrary/lib/eventsignup.asp?ID=43727&ret=http://host.evanced.info/hclibrary/lib/eventcalendar.asp?ln=ALL) or by calling 410.313.1950.

February 6, 7:00 p.m. Holistic Vegetable Gardening. Kent Phillips comes to the Glenwood Branch to teach how to create a sustainable organic vegetable garden using plant nutrients and integrated pest management. Part of the Master Gardener series. Register online or by calling 410.313.5577.

February 6, 7:00 p.m. From Seeds To Seedlings. Discover how to jump start spring gardening. Presented by Jo Ann Russo at the Miller Branch. University of Maryland Extension – Howard County Master Gardeners. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

February 7, 10:15 & 11:30 a.m. The World Around Me. A class exploring simple social studies concepts inspired by children’s literature. Multi-week series. Ages 3-5; 45 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15-30 minutes before class. Also on 2/8 at the East the Ast Columbia Branch at 10:15 and 11:30 a.m.

February 7, 10:30. Super Sports. Are you interested in learning about sports? Join i9 Sports staff at the Central Branch for stories, activities, and crafts relating to popular team sports. Ages 3-5; 30 min. Register online or by calling 410.313.7880.

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