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Are You Prepared for a Wildfire?

Untitled by Michael Held is licensed under CC0.

wildfire

Last week was Wildfire Awareness Week, and it’s getting to be that season…are you prepared?

The New Mexico Department of Health is stressing less about how to prevent starting wildfires, but instead, more about what to do to protect yourself if a wildfire occurs nearby. The smoke that a wildfire produces can be very dangerous, and business, schools and other facilities where people gather might want to consider becoming clean air shelters in the event of a wildfire.

The smoke is one of the most dangerous effects of a wildfire for people in an area where one is occurring. The smoke can cause eye and respiratory irritation and exasperate lung and heart problems.

Here are some tips from the New Mexico Department of Health on what to do to protect yourself before and during a wildfire:

  • Replace HVAC filters annually.
  • Use the “recirculate” function on an air conditioner during a wildfire.
  • Use smart judgement to postpone outdoor events when necessary.
  • Stay indoors when advised to.

To read more about wildfire season, please visit “What You Need to Know to Get Prepared for Wildfire Season.”

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A Second Cancer is Worse for a Younger Person than an Older One

MRI by liz west is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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A new study published in JAMA Oncology finds that for those people who develop a second cancer (meaning a new cancer, not a recurrence), it’s the older patients that are more likely to survive. Previous studies have been done to learn more about second cancers, but little has been done linking age as a factor to survival rate.

The study compared more than 1 million cancer patients from 1992 to 2008. It showed that younger people are more likely to survive just one cancer compared to older adults, but when a second one appears, it’s the opposite.

The research did not point out exactly why this is the case, but researcher have made several suggestions, including limitations on types of doses or treatment, reduced physical reserve, and social issues.

To read more about the study, please visit “Second Cancers Deadlier for Younger People: Study.”

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CMS 2016 Final Rule and Emergency Preparedness

Untitled by Brian Leaf is licensed under CC0.

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This past week, I had the privilege of attending the 2017 Emergency Preparedness Conference in New Orleans. It was a brand new topic for me, covering the four phases of emergency response:

  • Mitigation
  • Preparation
  • Response
  • Recovery

We heard from hospitals who served events like the Boston Marathon bombing, the Pulse Night Club incident, ransomware attacks, and and the recent flooding in August 2016. The focus of the conference, however, was on the the Joint Commission standards and, in particular, the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) final rule Emergency Preparedness Requirements for Medicare and Medicaid Participating Providers and Suppliers that went into effect on November 16, 2016.

According to a 2016 press release, the existing requirements for providers participating in Medicare and Medicaid did not include:

“(1) communication to coordinate with other systems of care within cities or states;

(2) contingency planning; and

(3) training of personnel.”

Given these deficiencies amid recent disasters, the CMS concluded that it was important to create a consistent foundation among all providers and suppliers, not just hospitals, to meet best practices in terms of having an emergency plan, policies and procedures, a communication, plan, and training and testing programs. This all includes coordinating with other stakeholders such as public health officials, responders, and other area providers to better effectively respond to events.

I am still thinking about discussions regarding non-clinicians and information professionals specifically, but my hope is that if there’s interest, we can feature an emergency preparedness expert on a future SCR CONNECTion to explore these intersections. Please feel free to email me with any thoughts: brian.leaf@unthsc.edu

Read more about this rule here.

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Poor Sleeping Patterns Get Worse With Age

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A new study finds that as seniors get older, it is just generally harder for them to get a good, restorative night’s sleep, which in turn could worsen health problems. Many medical conditions may make it harder for a person to sleep well, but a poor night’s sleep can also contribute to disease.

The researchers used dementia as an example–dementia patients often have a difficult time sleeping, and these poor sleeping patterns also speed up their memory decline.

Recognize that good sleep is critical to good health, right along with a good diet and regular exercise…and regular exercise can generally help get you a good night’s sleep as well.

Seniors should talk to their doctors if they notice they are consistently sleeping less than six hours per night.

To read more about the study, please visit “Good Sleep Does Get Tougher With Age.”

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SCR Regional Highlight: New YMCA and Library in San Antonio Team Up to Provide Wellness and Knowledge

Photo provided by San Antonio Public Library

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Together, the San Antonio Public Library System and the YMCA of Greater San Antonio opened a new facility in the quickly growing northwest San Antonio last November. The new facility has a shared lobby making it easy to learn how to improve your health in the Potranco Branch Library on one side of the facility, and then put that knowledge into action on the other side at the Mays Family YMCA at Potranco.

“Obviously a lot of our goals are the same,” said Cheryl Sheehan, San Antonio Public Library branch coordinator, in a Rivard Report article. “(We want) to change people’s live with health and information.”

The area where the new facility is located is a perfect spot, populated with many young professionals and families, but was underserved by these major institutions previously.

The YMCA branch will have extended hours to cater to the lives of the individuals it serves, and the library branch is considering something similar. The library has already installed after-hours hold lockers accessible in the shared lobby for YMCA patrons to pick up books they requested. And there is a Redbox-like machine where library patrons can browse books to checkout after hours, similar to how someone can rent movies through a Redbox.

The new YMCA branch also isn’t limited to just exercise equipment and summer camps–they’ve adapted to fit the needs of the community and promote overall wellness by building a test kitchen, while also hiring a registered dietician (in conjunction, the library will have healthy cookbooks), a peaceful outdoor area, a teen corner that will provide more independence, and a children’s area that will allow kids to learn through playtime.

Overall, the facility is able to combine two important components for a person’s well being and bring them together in a cohesive unit.

To read more about the new facility, please visit “YMCA and SAPL United to Bring Wellness to Northwest San Antonio.”

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Prepare Yourself for Flood and Tornado Season in Texas

Untitled by Eutah Mizushima is licensed under CC0.

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For native Texans, you may be well aware of the weather episodes that come with the warmer weather that spring brings–often tornadoes and floods. We want to know though, are you prepared if one of these were to happen right now?

There are three steps you need to take to be ready:

  1. Make a plan
  2. Build a kit
  3. Get informed

When making a plan, have one for every sort of disaster or weather even that could happen. Where should family members meet if they need to evacuate the house? Do you have a basement you can take shelter in during a tornado or hurricane? If not, what should you do?

When putting your kit together, make sure to include plenty of water and non-perishable food items. Make sure it’s in a portable container in case you need to take it with you. Also, don’t forget a first-aid kit in case someone is injured.

Finally, get informed by listening to the news to know when a severe weather event might occur. Also be aware of some basic statistics, like on average, how many tornadoes strike Texas each year and generally when can you expect the,?

Even if you don’t live in Texas, being prepared for an emergency is something anyone can do.

To find out more about how to prepare yourself for an emergency, please visit texasprepares.org.

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When Too Many Lab Tests are Bad for Your Health

Running a Test by Myfuture.com is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

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Imagine you visit your doctor and get some shocking news. You have a rare disease with no cure or treatment and only have a few months left to live. After you come to terms with the news, you start making arrangements, perhaps work on some of those things on your bucket list. Then you get a call from your doctor; there’s been a mistake, you’ve been misdiagnosed, and now have a long life to look forward to.

While this may sound like the plot to a feel-good movie or a hypothetical philosophical debate, the issue of over diagnosis is a very real one. Over diagnosis is a side effect of screening tests, which are given to people who seem healthy to find unnoticed problems. While these screening tests can help catch chronic health conditions early, in some cases the results can be harmful.

Screening tests are not 100% accurate, so while they are helpful for finding hidden disease, they can also give inaccurate results. The situation described above might be the consequence of getting a false positive for a screening test, when the test results incorrectly indicate a disease. Also possible is a false negative, which means you’re told you don’t have the disease when you do, perhaps causing you to ignore symptoms that appear later on.

According to Dr. Barnett S. Kramer, a cancer prevention expert at NIH, “I wouldn’t say that all people should just simply get screening tests. Patients should be aware of both the potential benefits and the harms when they’re choosing what screening test to have and how often.”

When deciding whether to get a screening test, a number of factors should be considered, like your age, family health history, or lifestyle exposures like smoking. You should also consult with your healthcare provider to determine what screening tests are right for you and how regularly you should have them.

To find out more, you’ll soon be able to watch the archived recording of our recent webinar SCR CONNECTions – Over Diagnosis: Why Too Many Lab Tests are Bad for Your Health starting April 17 on our website.

Source: Adapted from NIH News in Health Article “To Screen or Not to Screen? The Benefits and Harms of Screening Tests,” March 2017 <https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/Mar2017/feature2>

National Library Week

Photo by Lisa Smith, NNLM SCR

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This week is National Library Week, which we are proud to celebrate since we are a branch of the National Library of Medicine, and our program office is housed within the University of North Texas Health Science Center, Gibson D. Lewis Library in Fort Worth, Texas.

This year’s theme is “Libraries Transform.” The theme is perfect, particularly for Lewis Library, because the library profession has been trying to transform the public’s perception that not all libraries are filled with tons and tons of books anymore now that we have moved into the digital age. In fact, in the Lewis Library there is only one small room that now has hard copies of books!

There are plenty of ways to get involved in this year’s National Library Week. See below for a couple of ideas.

  • Participate in the #expertinthelibrary campaign. Share what your expertise is!
  • Share your story through the 2017 video challenge. If you’re interested in learning about some of the librarians in the SCR region, check out our Meet Me Monday series.
  • For those who aren’t a librarian, simply visit a library! Some provide makerspaces where people can design and print 3-D creations. Many have begun to borrow out ukuleles to their patrons!

For more details about this week-long event, please visit the American Library Association’s website and the Libraries Transform Campaign website.

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Loneliness Could Lead to a Worse Cold

Untitled by Mojpe is licensed under CC0.

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Having a cold, or being sick in any regard, is never fun. But new research is suggesting that if you’re lonely, a cold might feel even more miserable.

The study looked at 159 individuals who were all single ages 18-55 that were all infected with the common cold through nose drops.

The study was unable to prove true cause-and-effect, however it did show a difference in the severity of symptoms.

“[Chris] Fagundes [psychologist] and [Angie] LeRoy, [study co-author] found that people who said they had less “social support” had cold symptoms that were more severe compared to people who felt more socially included,” according to the MedlinePlus article.

To read more about the study, please visit “A Lonely Heart Could Worsen a Cold.”

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This Week is National Public Health Week

Untitled by Julia Raasch is licensed under CC0.

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It’s National Public Health Week! This annual health observance is hosted by the American Public Health Association, which tries to promote public health so that the United States can become the healthiest nation in one generation (by 2030).

But just what exactly is public health? “Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play,” according to APHA’s website. An example of public health is how a doctor will treat you when you are sick, but public health advocates are trying to prevent you from getting sick in the first place.

There are plenty of ways to get involved this year. Here’s a few ideas:

For more information on National Public Health Week, visit its website.

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