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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Safety First on Halloween

Just because Halloween celebrates all things scary, doesn't mean you want any safety scares of your own.  Use these tips from USA.gov to make sure you and your family have a fun and safe holiday.

Pick Visible Costumes:  Pick brightly colored costumes to make it easier for cars to see trick-or-treaters on dark roads.  If the costume must be dark, apply reflective tape on the costume or candy bags to help them be more noticeable.  Flashlights are also good to carry.

Use Face Paint instead of a Mask with your Children’s Costumes:  Face paint may work better than a mask when it comes to visibility.  If you decide to paint designs on your kids' faces, follow the directions on the face paint package closely.  It's a good idea to test the face paint a few days before Halloween and be sure to avoid the eye area when applying.

Don’t snack while Trick-or-Treating:  Inspect all treats before allowing your children to snack on them.  Toss out any candy with opened or damaged wrappers and homemade treats. 

Consider using a Glow Stick:  Make sure costumes are flame resistant.  In luminaries or jack-o-lanterns consider using a glow stick or battery-powered lights instead of candles.

Monday, August 15, 2011


offer free or low-cost health coverage to children and families.

  • If you are eligible for health coverage from your employer, but are unable to afford the premiums, some States have premium assistance programs that can help pay for coverage.  These States use funds from their Medicaid or CHIP programs to help people who are eligible for employer-sponsored health coverage, but need assistance in paying their health premiums. 

  • If you or your dependents are already enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP, and you live in a state offering assistance (Florida), you can contact the Children's Health Insurance Plan or your State Medicaid office to find out if premium assistance is available. 

  • If you or your dependents are NOT currently enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP, and you think you or any of your dependents might be eligible for either of these programs, you can contact any of the groups listed here to find out how to apply.  If you qualify, you can ask the State if it has a program that might help you pay the premiums for an employer-sponsored plan:

  • Once it is determined that you or your dependents are eligible for premium assistance under Medicaid or CHIP, your employer’s health plan is required to permit you and your dependents to enroll in the plan – as long as you and your dependents are eligible, but not already enrolled in the employer’s plan.  This is called a “special enrollment” and you must request coverage within 60 days of being determined eligible for premium assistance. 

  • As a Florida resident, you may be eligible for assistance paying your employer health plan premiums. 

 To learn more, call for further information at 1-866-762-2237, or click here to go online to the FLORIDA MEDICAID website.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Stay Safe during a Lightning Storm


Since thunder and lightning storms happen frequently during the summer months, FEMA offers these tips on how to avoid injury during a lightning storm:
  • Avoid contact with corded phones.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords.  Unplug electronic equipment well before the storm arrives because power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing and bathroom fixtures because they can conduct electricity: do not wash hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes or do laundry.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls.
  • If you're caught outside during a storm, stay away from tall trees. Avoid open fields, beaches, and boats on the water. If possible, seek shelter in a thick growth of small trees or in a low lying area.  Also avoid anything metal such as golf clubs/carts, tractors, bicycles, etc. Seek shelter in a car if possible, but avoid touching any of its metal parts. 
      Because lightning is unpredictable and can strike 10 miles outside of  any rainfall the risk to individuals and property is increased.   If you feel you hair standing on end (which indicates lightning is about to strike) squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact it the ground. DO NOT lie flat on the ground.

      Lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.  The following are things you should check when you attempt to give aid to a victim of lightning:

  • Breathing - if breathing has stopped, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
  • Heartbeat - if the heart has stopped, administer CPR.
  • Pulse - if the victim has a pulse and is breathing, look for other possible injuries. Check for burns where the lightning entered and left the body. Also be alert for nervous system damage, broken bones, and loss of hearing and eyesight.
Your chances of being struck by lightning are estimated to be 1 in 600,000, 
but could be reduced even further by following these safety precautions.

Information provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New Generic Drugs in 2011-2012

Generic drugs can save you money. What are considered generic drugs? According to the FDA:
"A generic drug is identical--or bioequivalent--to a brand name drug in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics and intended use. Although generic drugs are chemically identical to their branded counterparts, they are typically sold at substantial discounts from the branded price."
Below are two lists* for drugs which are soon to become "generic" for the years 2011 and 2012.


Brand Name----Generic Name----Availibility

Uroxatral------------------------- alfuzosin------------------------July
Tazorac----------------------------tazarotene cream---------------November


Brand Name----Generic Name----Availibility
Entocort EC-----------------------budesonide----------------------February
Diovan HCT----------------------hydrochlorothiazide--------------September

*these lists are provided by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit Independent Licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association.

Facts and Myths about Generic Drugs

Fact: 7 in 10 prescriptions in the United States are filled by generic drugs.

Myth: Brand name drugs are safer than generic drugs. Fact: FDA receives very few reports of adverse events about specific generic drugs. Most reports of adverse events are related to side effects of the drug ingredient itself.

To learn more facts and myths concerning generic drugs, please visit the FDA site.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Back-To-School Student Health Fair August 6th

Morton Plant North Bay Hospital is hosting a Back-to-School Health Fair for all Pasco County school students in grades Pre-K through12:

Saturday, August 6th, 2011
Morton Plant North Bay Hospital
Medical Arts Building
6633 Forest Avenue, New Port Richey, FL

To register, call 727-940-2804. Click here for maps and directions.

The following programs will be offered free of charge:
  • School/Sports Physicals
  • Cardiac Screenings: EKG & ECHO (high school student athletes only)
  • General Health Information
  • Fingerprinting provided by the Pasco County Sheriff's Office

All students under the age of 18 must have a signed permission slip or have a parent or guardian present with them on
the day of the event to participate. Permission slips will be provided upon registration.  All students ages 18 and older must bring photo identification.

In addition, the following services will also be provided by the Pasco County Health Department free of charge.  All students must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to receive these services:
  • Dental Screenings and Education
  • School Immunizations - please bring immunization records


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

1876 Newspaper AdvertisementTouting Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association Real Estate

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web SiteLocated at http://www.historicpelham.com/.Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.
Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog presents an image, and transcribes the text, of an advertisement published in a New York City newspaper in 1876 touting real estate in the new development in lower Westchester County being constructed by the Pelham Manor

Monday, July 18, 2011

City Island Horse Railroad Temporarily Shut Down in 1892 Over Cruelty Concerns

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site.Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/.Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.

I have been working on a history of the "horse railroad" that once ran in the Town of Pelham from Bartow Station to the end of City Island. Today's post adds additional research to the collection I have assembled so far. At the end of this post is a list of links

Friday, July 15, 2011

Another Newspaper Account of The Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site.
Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/.Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.
I have written previously much about the Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885.  For a few examples, see:

Monday, September 24, 2007: The Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885

Tuesday, September 25, 2007: More About the Pelhamville Train Wreck of 1885

Wednesday, September

Thursday, July 14, 2011

After Annexation of Part of Pelham by New York City, Mount Vernon Barbers Avoided Sunday Blue Laws by Operating in the Remainder of Pelham

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/.Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings. 
When New York City annexed large portions of the Town of Pelham in the mid-1890s, it annexed City Island.  At the time of the annexation, most Town officials -- including law enforcement officials -- lived on City Island or in other areas annexed by New York City.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Florida Kid Care - Income Eligibility 2011

Are you eligible for Florida Kidcare, Medicaid, or Healthy Kids? In order to make that determination, you first need to know where your family income falls in the poverty guidelines. See the new 2011 Federal Poverty Guidelines below:

The 2011 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia
Persons in family
Poverty guideline
For families with more than 8 persons, add $3,740 for each additional person.

To read more information about the Federal 2011 Poverty guildlines, click HERE. Also, if you need to view the income amounts at the varying percentages over 100% of poverty level, please click HERE. The next step is to look at the Florida KidCare Eligibility chart. Below is a brief summary:

• Children ages 0 through one, up to 200% of the federal poverty level, are covered under Medicaid (Title XIX and Title XXI funded)

• Children ages one through five, up to 133% of the federal poverty level, are covered under Medicaid (Title XIX funded)

• Children ages one through five, at 134% to 200% of the federal poverty level, are covered under MediKids (Title XXI funded)

• Children ages one through five, above 200% of the federal poverty level, are covered under MediKids full pay

• Children ages 5 through 18, up to 100% of the federal poverty level, are covered under Medicaid (Title XIX funded)

• Children ages 5 through 18, at 101% to 200% of the federal poverty level, are covered under Healthy Kids (Title XXI funded)

• Children ages 5 through 18, above 200% of the federal poverty level, are covered under Healthy Kids full pay

To learn more or apply for Florida KidCare, please click HERE to visit their web site.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP)

Affordable Healthcare Insurance

The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan makes health insurance available to people who have had a problem getting insurance due to a pre-existing condition.

The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan:
  • Covers a broad range of health benefits, including primary and specialty care, hospital care, and prescription drugs.
  • Does not charge you a higher premium just because of your medical condition.
  • Does not base eligibility on income.
To be eligible for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan:
  • You must be a citizen or national of the United States or reside in the U.S. legally.
  • You must have been without health coverage for at least the last six months. Please note that if you currently have insurance coverage that doesn’t cover your medical condition or are enrolled in a state high risk pool, you are not eligible for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.
  • You must have a pre-existing condition or have been denied coverage because of your health condition.

Florida PCIP offers a choice of plan options to fit your needs (different levels of premiums, calendar year deductibles, prescription deductibles and prescription copays) at more affordable premiums.

Follow these links for more PCIP FAQs and information on the Affordable Care Act.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New Dietary Guidelines to Replace the Food Pyramid

Your food and activity choices each day affect  your health -- how you feel today, tomorrow and in the future.  The tips below are a good starting point toward a change for a healthy diet and a healthier you: 
 More in-depth information can be found by following each topic link above and by visiting the Ten Tips Nutrition Education SeriesSample menus are available to show how all the recommendations for each food group and nutrient intake can be integrated into a weekly menu.  You can also find tips for eating out and key information on vegetarian diets, and more.

Improving what you eat and being active will help you to reduce your risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and obesity. 

For additional resources check out:
• www.DietaryGuidelines.gov
• www.Health.gov/paguidelines
• www.HealthFinder.gov

 Information supplied by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion

Friday, June 24, 2011

30th Commemoration of HIV/AIDS

National HIV Testing Day (NHTD): June 27


Thirty years ago this June, an article reporting the first known cases of what we now call AIDS was published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Since then, extraordinary progress has been made in treating and preventing HIV, and annual new infections have fallen by more than two-thirds since the height of the epidemic.

Despite this progress, HIV remains a crisis in our country. Over the last three decades, prevention efforts have helped reduce new infections and treatment advances have allowed people with HIV to live longer, healthier lives. But as these improvements have taken place, our nation's collective sense of crisis has waned. Far too many Americans underestimate their risk of infection or believe HIV is no longer a serious health threat, but they must understand that HIV remains an incurable infection. Today, the most infections are among people under 30—a new generation that has never known a time without effective HIV treatments and who may not fully understand the significant health threat HIV poses. The reality remains that about 50,000 new infections occur each year in the U.S. and, today, more than one million people are living with HIV in our nation. Reducing HIV rates in the U.S. is not only possible – it’s imperative – and new advances in HIV prevention hold promise in changing the course of this epidemic.

How can I find out more about HIV and AIDS?
You can call CDC-INFO at 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636); TTY access 1-888-232-6348. CDC-INFO is staffed with people trained to answer your questions about HIV and AIDS in a prompt and confidential manner in English or Spanish, 24 hours per day. Staff at CDC-INFO can offer you a wide variety of written materials and put you in touch with organizations in your area that deal with HIV and AIDS.

On the Internet, you can get information on HIV and AIDS from www.AIDS.gov or www.cdc.gov/hiv


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Sunscreen Labels to Help you Get the Best Protection

Beginning next summer the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is changing sunscreen labels to make it easier for you to pick a product that offers the protection level you want.  The labels will clearly tell whether a sunscreen protects against sunburn, skin cancer and signs of premature skin aging; and whether it is a broad spectrum product.

Broad spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher will protect against all three.  Anything less than 15 SPF will only protect against sunburn and soon will be labeled with a warning that reads "Skin cancer/skin aging alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.  This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging".  Future labels will also include information on how much time a user can expect to get the declared SPF level of protection while swimming or sweating. 

Spending time in the sun increases the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.  To reduce this risk, consumers should regularly use sun protection measures including:
  • Use sunscreens with broad spectrum SPF values of 15 or higher regularly and as directed.
  • Limit time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense.
  • Wear clothing to cover skin exposed to the sun; for example, long-sleeved shirts, pants, sunglasses, and broad-brimmed hats.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours, more often if you’re sweating or jumping in and out of the water.
Follow this link for more information on sunscreen, basic information on skin cancer and skin safety.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Improve the Air Quality this Summer

The Air Quality Index is a tool used to express the local air quality on a daily basis to help you determine if there are any health risks.  The AQI is expressed on a scale from 0 to 500 with the higher scores indicating greater levels of air pollution and health concerns.  There are six color coded AQI categories that range from "good" to "hazardous".  Follow this link to check the air quality in your area and obtain important information.

Some groups (children, older adults, and people with lung or heart disease) are more sensitive to poor air quality and may need to take extra precautions by avoiding prolonged periods or heavy outdoor activity. 

You can take steps to improve the air quality index this summer by:
  • Refueling your car after dusk
  • Limiting engine idling
  • Avoiding using gas powered lawn equipment
  • Conserving electricity and set your air conditioner at a higher temperature
  • Combining trips or using public transportation

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cutbacks may jeopardize safety

I would have to complete over 150 med reviews per month to make up for revenues lost due to government cutbacks.

Sue had been taking Cymbalta for fibromyalgia when she became acutely aware of an oft-forgotten ill-effect while visiting Paris. Contemplating the magnificent Eiffel tower as though it were a mere “peanut butter sandwich” (not her favourite), she realized something had gone askew.

“I would rather feel the pain than a lack of feeling,” she told me. “Will you help me wean off this dreadful thing?”

So I did some sleuthing, whilst looking at all of Sue’s meds, and had her come in for a chat thus meeting the requirements of a med review, and billing tax-payers $60. Next, I proceeded to get a new prescription for the half-strength capsules, billing the $70 consultation fee with the aim of eventually stopping the mood-blunting-culprit completely, and I intend to do a follow-up in a month for a $15 fee.

Instead of adding to our work load, would it not be much simpler to just compensate us for what we already do?

It is ironic that I completed my very first med review and consultation—according to the new B.C. government requirements—on the eve of the damning Vancouver Sun article pointing out that Canadians pay top dollars for generics, with B.C. taking the hit.

Yes, UBC researchers say that if the rest of Canada followed Ontario’s model for generic drug pricing, we could save nearly $1.3 billion a year. But the study does not take into account new money some provinces are giving pharmacies to help compensate for services like patient consultations and medication reviews. In fact, it only serves to reinforce in people’s minds the idea that pharmacists work for free.

In all I spent about half an hour—between dispensing—doing some research, phoning up the drug company and printing out interesting reading material for my patient on what to expect upon Cymbalta withdrawal.

Loss of Cymbalta sales aside, my first med review and consultation has been a most rewarding experience, as helping others always is. But from a business perspective, my mind is blown away by the impossible number of med reviews (over 150 per month) that would go to make up for lost yearly revenues due to government cutbacks.

And while I can understand the need to separate our professional allowances from product reimbursements, I am afraid that the need to candy-wrap what most of us have already been doing on a daily basis in order to justify billing, may be leading to inadequate compensation. Ultimately, pharmacists are being asked to do more (in paper-work requirements) for less, and patients are still under the illusion that the most readily accessible professional lives on air alone.

This is perhaps why some pharmacists will be tempted to cheat the system, a maddening phenomenon that I suspected could happen but did not expect to encounter so soon…

A few days after my med review, I was filling a prescription for a new patient when I noticed that her profile included a recent med review allegedly performed at another pharmacy. Curious about how she had found the whole process, and eager to compare this with my own experience, I asked how the med review had been, only to meet with a blank stare.

“What’s that?” the woman asked—no, she is not on Aricept.

“You mean the pharmacist did not sit you down last month to go through all your medications with you …?” I queried in disbelief.

The woman looked at me in alarm afraid she had been billed for something she had not asked for… “ Well no… the pharmacist did nothing different than what she always does…

While not excusing the pharmacist, I can totally understand why someone might be tempted to bill without sitting the patient down for 20 minutes. Yet her unethical demeanor is highly detrimental to the profession and very unfair for those of us who are trying to do things right. Ultimately, abuse of this sort could result in the government pulling back its offer.

But there may be another alternative.

Instead of adding to our work load, would it not be much simpler for the government, private insurers and private payers to just compensate us for what we already do?

Being fully aware that it is not I who will be paid, but the business, I should still be able to bill every time I counsel a patient on a new prescription, every time I phone a doctor to clarify a dosage or to change an order. I should bill, as my doctor does, for every telephone consultation and not just for sit-down med reviews. I should be paid (the business compensated) fairly for every justifiable refusal to fill, and not only when the patient is a Pharmacare subscriber.

True, in B.C. we are currently reimbursed for adaptations and renewals, but adaptation requires lengthy documentation. Also, some physicians are instructing us not to adapt.

And so, until both the government and the public can better appreciate all the hidden work that we do to improve health outcomes, all walk-ins with queries shall be escorted to the Consultation Room. Phone callers will be asked to make appointments.

Yes, patients’ best interests must always come first. But if business is stressed and pharmacists overworked, patient safety will be jeopardized and the interests of no one at all will be served.

Written for the Canadian Healthcare Network under the title "My first paid med review: Professionally satisfying, financially unjustified" on May 24 2011.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Florida KidCare health insurance

Child Health Insurance
You Can Afford

Through Florida KidCare, the state of Florida offers health insurance for children from birth through age 18, even if one or both parents are working. It includes four different parts. When you apply for the insurance, Florida KidCare will check which part your child may qualify for based on age and family income.
Some of the services Florida KidCare covers are:
  • Doctor visits
  • Check-ups and shots
  • Hospital
  • Surgery
  • Prescriptions
  • Emergencies
  • Vision and hearing
  • Dental
  • Mental health 
Follow this link for information on eligibility and cost.

There are several ways to apply for Florida KidCare:
 If  you've applied for Florida KidCare before, call 1-888-540-5437 to update your information by telephone.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Featured Condtion/Disease: Heart Disease

We are featuring a childhood/infant disease or condition informational post every other Friday.  Today's topic is Heart Disease.


Heart disease, also called cardiac disease, is a heart defect. The word cardiac refers to the heart. Cardiac or heart disease means the heart muscle can't properly deliver oxygen and other essentials to the organs and tissues. Heart disease includes many different conditions. The heart pumps blood all over the body to bring oxygen and nutrients to the cells of the body.

If you have a child from the age from birth to three years old, you can have your child screened for heart disease through the Florida Early Steps program.  Click here to see a list of Early Steps offices in your area.

More Information

To get more information, click here. 

*Most of the information provided here is from the Teach More/Love More site, click here to visit their site.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Featured Condtion/Disease: Sciolosis

We are featuring a childhood/infant disease or condition informational post every other Friday.  Today's topic is Sciolosis.


Scoliosis is not a disease, but rather a word describing a condition of the spine (also called a backbone) when very curved. Some curves are normal in the spine. Some places we all usually have curves are in the neck, in the upper back and in the lower back. We need these spinal curves to help the upper body maintain proper balance. Curves in the spine to the left or right are not normal, and are called scoliosis.

A child can be born with scoliosis. A child can develop the lateral curves gradually over childhood. We don't know what causes most cases of scoliosis. The curvature of the spine from scoliosis may develop as a single curve like the letter C or as two curves shaped like the letter S.


Most parents first notice that their child has a crooked back or the body looks asymmetrical (one side looks higher than the other or the child looks tilted). Things to watch for:
  • Walks with the head tilted.
  • Shoulder blade (a bone in the back) sticks out.
  • A tilted hip bone or one hip or shoulder higher than the other.
  • Leans to one side when standing or walking.
More Information

To get more information about Sciolosis, click here. 
*Most of the information provided here is from the Teach More/Love More site, click here to visit their site.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Featured Condition/Disease: Muscular Dystrophy

We are featuring a childhood/infant disease or condition informational post every other Friday.  Today's topic is Muscular Dystrophy.


Muscular Dystrophy (MD) is a degenerative disease in which the muscles of the body get weaker and weaker and slowly stop working. Degenerative means the condition worsens slowly over time. Your child's muscles need many different kinds of proteins to stay healthy. When you hear the word "protein" you might think of such food as meat and peanut butter that contain protein. Your body also makes proteins, and your genes tell your body how to make proteins your muscles need. Children with muscular dystrophy have genes that have the wrong information or leave out important information, so the body can't make these proteins properly. Without these proteins, the muscles break down and weaken over time. As this happens to muscles, children with muscular dystrophy begin to have problems with the way their bodies work.


Among the nine types of muscular dystrophy, seven affect children. The seven types are:

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: The protein dystrophin helps to keep muscle cells whole and healthy. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy happens when this protein is missing. It usually begins in early childhood (between the ages of 2 to 6). Duchenne eventually affects the heart and breathing muscles. Children with this kind of Muscular Dystrophy don't usually live beyond the early 30s.

Becker Muscular Dystrophy: This form of MD also happens when the body does not make enough of the protein dystrophin. It is very similar to Duchenne MD but often less severe. Many children with this type of MD have heart problems. Children with Becker's MD though usually live to middle age older.

Emery-Dreifuss Muscular Dystrophy: This type is caused by a sudden change in the genes that produce proteins in the muscle cells. Each cell has a nucleus surrounded by a membrane where the proteins are suddenly changed. It usually begins by age 10. This type of MD progresses slowly. Heart complications are common.

Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy: This type is caused by a change in any one of a possible 15 genes that affect proteins the body needs for muscles to work. The beginning of this form of MD can occur anytime during childhood through adulthood. Limb-Girdle usually progresses slowly.

Faciosapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy: It is usually diagnosed by age 20. Faciosapulohumeral MD usually progresses slowly with some periods when the muscles worsen rapidly. It is caused by a missing DNA on chromosome 4. DNA is a necessary component of all living matter and a basic material in the chromosomes.

Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy: The disease appears at birth in one form, but another form begins in teen or adult years. The progress of changes in how the muscles work can last 50 to 60 years. It is caused by a repeated section of DNA on either Chromosome 3 or 19. DNA is a necessary component in all living matter.

Congenital Muscular Dystrophy: It is caused by changes affecting some of the proteins needed by muscles and can affect the eyes and brain. The disease begins at or very near birth. Sometimes this type progresses slowly, but still can cause a shortened life span.

More Information

To get more information, click here. 

*Most of the information provided here is from the Teach More/Love More site, click here to visit their site.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Featured Condtion/Disease: Spina Bifida

We are featuring a childhood/infant disease or condition informational post every other Friday.  Today's topic is Spina Bifida.


Spina bifida, a condition present at birth, includes three kinds: Occulta, Meningocele (mild disabilities or problems later), and Myelomeningocele. This fact sheet is about the most serious -- Myelomeningocele.

Spina bifida occurs while the baby is still developing and growing inside the mother. The baby's spine doesn't develop correctly. At birth the spinal cord is open at the back or exposed (also called a neural tube defect). Early in pregnancy, cells form a closed tube (neural tube) that eventually becomes the baby's brain and spinal cord. A neural tube defect happens when the tube does not completely close. A neural tube defect can happen anywhere on the spine, but usually happens to the lower part of the spinal cord. A child born with a neural tube defect usually will have difficulty walking, and may need leg braces, crutches, a walker and, in some cases, a wheelchair (Gargiulo, 2001).

Spina bifida differs for every person. Many children with spina bifida have hydrocephalus (a build-up of fluid on the brain). Because children with spina bifida have problems with the spine, the fluid in the brain does not drain properly.

Other potential difficulties occurring with spina bifida include full or partial paralysis (the inability to move part or all of the body). Children with spina bifida and full or partial paralysis also may have problems with weight gain and obesity.   Since children with spina bifida usually have damage to the spine, they can have problems with the nerves controlling the bladder and bowels. (These nerves are in the lower part of the spinal cord.) They may have problems controlling their bladder and bowel (unable to tell when they need to use the bathroom).

Children with spina bifida more likely have learning disabilities, problems with depression and an allergy
to latex (reaction to a common type of rubber). They sometimes have social and sexual issues because they may go through puberty at a younger age than most children.


If you have a child from the age from birth to three years old, you can have your child screened for spina bifida through the Florida Early Steps program.  Click here to see a list of Early Steps offices in your area.

More Information

To get more information about spina bifida, click here.

*Most of the information provided here is from the Teach More/Love More site, click here to visit their site.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Housing For Seniors

What to Look For in a Nursing Home

Looking for housing options for yourself, an aging parent, relative, or friend?  Do some research first to determine what kind of assistance or living arrangement you need; what your health insurance might cover; and what you can afford. Then check here for financial assistance resources and guides for making the right choice.

The following are some tips on what to look for in a nursing home to help prevent bad care and abuse of your loved one:

  • Get a durable power of attorney for medical care so that you can make health care decisions and review medical records.
  • Request a complete facility profile from the State Health Department, Licensing and Certification Department for the facility you intend to use. Note the number of complaints, the fines assessed and whether the fines have been paid.
  • Notice how many people in the facility seem to be in stupors or in bed or unable to walk or talk. If many patients fall into this category, be wary of over medication at the facility, especially with the psychotropic drugs Haldol, Thorazine, Mellaril and Prolixin.
  • Visit at different times during the day, including meal times. Take notice of the types of food and nutritional balance. Dehydration is a problem, so make sure water is available at all times and that it is easily accessible to the patient.
  • Be sure the patient is actually seen by the doctor and talk with the doctor personally. If the doctor is difficult to contact, bring in another doctor to examine the patient.
  • Take seriously any complaints the patient has about mistreatment by the staff. Don't accept the facilities statement that the patient is old and doesn't know what's going on.
  • Check the patient's body for bedsores, particularly the tailbone, feet and hips. Stage 4, the most serious stage of bedsores, causes death in many cases.
  • Report any signs of bad care to the state licensing office in your state that licenses and regulates nursing homes. Be sure to follow up on the complaint to insure accountability.

Types of Care Facilities

Board and Care: This type of facility does not require to have either nurses or doctors on staff. They provide meals and activities for residents, as well as some help with dressing, eating and hygiene. In most of these facilities, residents must be ambulatory.

Independent-Living Facilities:
These facilities include retirement centers, mobile-home parks and single-family homes. Levels of care vary. Some serve meals in common dining halls, while others may have assisted living services.

Intermediate-Care Facilities:
These facilities provide medical care to people who need 24-hour supervision and occasional skilled nursing care. Residents must be able to walk or use a wheelchair and have some control over bowel and bladder functions.

Skilled Nursing Facilities:
Around-the-clock nursing supervision and care for residents who need help with dressing, eating, bowel and bladder care, and taking prescription medications. Different types of therapy, such as physical, speech or occupational, is also provided. This type of care is very institutional and being run mostly by large corporations for profit.

Sub-Acute Care Facilities:
These facilities provide care outside the acute-care wards of hospitals. They are basically for patients on respirators or nasal/tube feeding.

Who Pays:
Pay for these types of care vary from private pay, MediCare (the federal health insurance program for the elderly) or by MediCaid (the federal/state partnership providing health care for the poor).

Other Resources:
Filing a Complaint
Foundation Aiding the Elderly
Housing for Seniors