Category: News

Community Health Net Receives Ultra-Widefield Imaging Vision Machine for New Eye Unit

The machine will enhance eye care for underserved and underinsured populations.

Erie, Pa. – August 3, 2023 – Community Health Net (CHN), the leading Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) serving the Lake Erie region, has announced the acquisition of a Zeiss Clarus 500 HD Ultra-Widefield Fundus Imaging Vision Machine. This state-of-the-art equipment will enable Community Health Net to enhance its vision services and provide its patients with more accurate and comprehensive eye exams, regardless of their ability to pay.

The Zeiss Clarus 500 is a cutting-edge machine that captures high-resolution images of the retina, macula, and optic nerve head in a single shot. With its ultra-widefield technology, the machine can capture up to 133 degrees of the retina, providing CHN’s Optometrist with a complete view of the eye. The images produced by the machine are essential in diagnosing and monitoring various eye conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.

The Zeiss Clarus 500 is expected to significantly impact underserved populations in Erie County by improving access to advanced eye care services. “This machine is a game-changer for our patients, particularly those who are uninsured or underinsured,” said Craig Ulmer, CEO of Community Health Net. “With this equipment, we can provide high-quality eye care to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.”

The Zeiss Clarus 500 is now fully operational and available to patients at Community Health Net’s primary location at 1202 State Street in Erie. The machine was made possible by the generous donations of several organizations and individuals, including The Hamot Health Foundation, Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, Michelle Robertson, MJ Surgala, HRSA, Gateway, Kern Family Foundation, Erie Community Foundation, Erie Insurance, and the Community of Erie. Their support reflects their dedication to improving the health and well-being of the communities of Erie.

To learn more about Community Health Net’s services, visit their website at www.communityhealthnet.org.

 

About Community Health Net
Community Health Net is a Federally Qualified Health Center with seven locations and greater than 35 years of service. CHN is the preeminent, community-focused healthcare network advancing the wellness of the Lake Erie Region.  Its mission is to improve the region’s quality of life by providing professional healthcare services with compassion, respect, and dignity to all.

 

For Immediate Release
08/3/23

Contact

Community Health Net

Mary Lynn Slivinski

Director of Administrative Services

mslivinski@community-healthnet.com

814.454.4530 x227

 

August is National Immunization Awareness Month

 

Welcome to August, a month dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of vaccinations. National Immunization Awareness Month serves as a reminder for everyone to stay up-to-date with their immunizations and protect themselves and their communities against preventable diseases. In this blog, we will explore the facts surrounding vaccinations and the necessary actions individuals can take to ensure a healthier future.

 

Get the Facts

1. Vaccines Save Lives

Vaccines are one of the most successful public health tools ever developed. They have eradicated and controlled various diseases worldwide, saving millions of lives each year. By receiving vaccinations, we not only protect ourselves but also contribute to the greater well-being of our communities.

2. Vaccine Safety and Effectiveness

Before any vaccine is approved for public use, rigorous research and testing undergo multiple stages of scrutiny. Vaccines must meet strict safety standards set by health authorities, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The risks associated with vaccines are minimal compared to the potential harm caused by the diseases they prevent. Immunizations have proven to be highly effective in preventing illnesses and reducing their severity.

 

Take Action

1. Schedule a Check-up

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider for a comprehensive check-up, including a discussion about any vaccines you may need. Ensure that you have received all the necessary vaccinations recommended for your age and health condition. Your healthcare provider will review your immunization history, assess your current health status, and recommend any updates or boosters.

2. Stay Informed

Keep yourself informed about the latest immunization schedules and guidelines provided by reputable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Stay updated on new vaccines available and understand which vaccines are recommended for specific age groups or those with certain medical conditions.

3. Have Open Dialogues with Healthcare Providers

Engage in open conversations with your healthcare providers about vaccines. Discuss any concerns or questions you have and let them address your doubts. Healthcare professionals are the best resource for reliable information and can provide personalized advice based on your specific

August, recognized as National Immunization Awareness Month, serves as a crucial reminder for individuals to prioritize their immunizations. By getting the facts about vaccines and taking action, we can contribute to a healthier and safer community for everyone.

 


Call Community Health Net to schedule an appointment with a provider today: (814) 455-7222. Or visit www.communityhealthnet.org for more information.

Our health information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist the public in learning more about their health. Community Health Net providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

 

Sources:

– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Their website provides comprehensive information on vaccines, including recommended immunization schedules, vaccine safety, and common vaccine myths debunked. Visit: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/index.html

– World Health Organization (WHO): The WHO’s Immunization section offers global immunization data, guidelines, and resources. It covers topics such as vaccine research, vaccine-preventable diseases, and vaccine safety. Visit: https://www.who.int/immunization/en/

– Food and Drug Administration (FDA): The FDA’s website provides information on vaccine approvals, regulatory processes, and vaccine safety monitoring. Visit: https://www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics

July 28th is World Hepatitis Day

 

World Hepatitis Day is just around the corner, and it’s time to raise our voices and shine a spotlight on this silent global epidemic. On July 28th, individuals, organizations, and communities all over the world come together to educate and advocate for the prevention and treatment of viral hepatitis. As we join forces to combat this mighty foe, let’s unveil its secrets and take action to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

Viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver caused by a viral infection, affects millions of people worldwide. But what makes this disease truly menacing is its stealthy nature. Often, you may not even realize you have it until severe complications arise. That’s why raising awareness is key to fighting back.

 

 

Get The Facts

Here are some important facts about hepatitis that you need to know:

1. Types: Hepatitis comes in five forms – A, B, C, D, and E. Each type has its own causes, modes of transmission, and varying levels of severity.

2. Prevention: Hepatitis A and B can be prevented through vaccination, while hepatitis C can be prevented by avoiding exposure to infected blood and practicing safe injection practices.

3. Testing: Regular screenings and tests are crucial in detecting hepatitis at early stages. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine if you should undergo hepatitis testing and to learn about available screening options.

4. Stigma: Unfortunately, hepatitis still carries a heavy burden of stigma and discrimination. By educating ourselves and others, we can combat this prejudice and create a more supportive environment for those affected by the disease.

5. Treatment and Support: The good news is that hepatitis is a preventable and treatable disease. With appropriate medical care, many individuals can live healthy lives. Seek medical attention if you suspect you may have contracted hepatitis, and don’t hesitate to reach out to support groups and organizations for guidance and resources.

 

Take Action

Now that you’re armed with knowledge, how can you actively participate in World Hepatitis Day? Here are a few ideas:

1. Spread the Word: Utilize your social media platforms, newsletters, and community networks to raise awareness about World Hepatitis Day. Share informative content, personal stories, and reliable sources to educate others.

2. Get Tested: If you haven’t already been tested for hepatitis, use this occasion as a reminder to check your status. Encourage family, friends, and colleagues to do the same.

3. Educate Others: Participate in educational events within your community. Spread awareness about hepatitis and its prevention.

4. Support Organizations: Consider donating your time, resources, or funds to organizations like CHN Community Health Net of Erie PA that work tirelessly to provide hepatitis prevention, testing, and treatment services to underserved populations.

 

Remember, every action counts, no matter how big or small. By coming together on July 28th and beyond, we can create a world where hepatitis loses its grip on our communities. Learn more about medical care for people living with Hepatitis at https://www.community-healthnet.com/programs/.

 

Call Community Health Net to schedule an appointment with a provider today: (814) 455-7222.

Our health information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist the public to learn more about their health. Community Health Net providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Health Facts is a public service announcement of Community Health Net.

 

Sources:

– World Health Organization. (2021). Hepatitis: Key Facts. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hepatitis-a.

– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). World Hepatitis Day. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/worldhepday.htm.

– World Hepatitis Alliance. (2021). World Hepatitis Day 2021. Retrieved from https://worldhepatitisday.org/.

– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Viral Hepatitis – Statistics & Surveillance. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/statistics/index.htm.

Taking Control of Your Health: National HIV Testing Day

 

In our journey toward overall well-being, we often neglect an essential aspect of self-care: our sexual health. As we focus on physical fitness, mental well-being, and healthy eating, it’s crucial to include regular HIV testing as a cornerstone of our self-care routine. National HIV Testing Day, observed on June 27th, is an opportunity to emphasize the significance of HIV testing. In this blog post, we’ll explore why HIV testing is essential and how it empowers individuals to take control of their health.

 

Self-Care: Prioritizing Health in All Aspects of Life:

At Community Health Net, we firmly believe that self-care is a fundamental component of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. While HIV testing might not be on everyone’s self-care radar, it is a vital step toward protecting oneself and others. By making HIV testing a routine part of our self-care regimen, we can ensure our overall well-being.

 

Why Get Tested for HIV?

 

1. Knowledge is Power:

Knowing your HIV status empowers you to make informed decisions about your health and take proactive measures to safeguard yourself and those you care about. Early detection of HIV leads to timely treatment and care, significantly improving health outcomes and quality of life.

 

2. Breaking Down Stigma:

HIV-related stigma can act as a barrier to testing and care. By getting tested, we challenge the stigma surrounding HIV, promoting a culture of acceptance and support. Testing demonstrates that HIV is simply a medical condition that anyone can face.

 

3. Protecting Your Partners:

Getting tested for HIV is not just about your personal health; it’s also about protecting your sexual partners. By knowing your HIV status, you can engage in open and honest conversations about sexual health with your partners, making informed decisions together and taking steps to prevent transmission.

 

4. Early Intervention is Key:

HIV is a treatable condition, especially when detected early. With advancements in medical science, individuals living with HIV can lead long, fulfilling lives with proper care and treatment. By getting tested, you open doors to timely interventions, ensuring access to necessary medical care and support.

 

On National HIV Testing Day, we invite you to join us in prioritizing your sexual health as an integral part of your self-care routine. Regardless of who you are or your station in life, HIV testing is a crucial step toward taking control of your health and well-being. By getting tested, you not only empower yourself but also contribute to breaking down stigma, protecting your partners, and ensuring early intervention if needed. Learn more about medical care for people living with HIV at https://www.community-healthnet.com/programs/.

 

Call Community Health Net to schedule an appointment with a provider today: (814) 455-7222.

Our health information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist the public to learn more about their health. Community Health Net providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Health Facts is a public service announcement of Community Health Net.

 

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). National HIV Testing Day. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/library/awareness/testingday.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). HIV testing. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/guidelines/index.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). HIV treatment. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/livingwithhiv/treatment.html

June is Men’s Health Month

 

More than 13% of U.S. men aged 18 and over are in fair or poor health. But making healthy decisions can improve the health of men and boys.

 

Get the Facts

Men in the U.S. die at higher rates from heart disease, cancer, and unintentional injuries than any other causes. And the health of racial and ethnic minority men lags behind the general population.

Experts agree that men and boys can improve their health by getting regular checkups, eating healthy, staying active, quitting smoking, and taking care of their mental health.

 

Take Action

Small changes can make a big difference. Try these today:

  • Take a walk instead of watching TV
  • Eat a green salad instead of fries
  • Drink water instead of soda or other sugary drinks
  • Call your doctor to schedule an appointment if you are overdue for one

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends more ways to improve men’s overall health:

We will protect this heart.  

  • Healthier food choices build a healthier heart. Make fruits and vegetables half of your plate.
  • Limit alcohol to one drink a day, or choose not to drink at all.
  • Cope with stress through exercise, making time to relax, and spending time with others.

Bro, you don’t even have to lift. Getting just 30 minutes of exercise each day can help you live longer and healthier.

Preventive Maintenance. See a doctor for regular checkups even if you feel healthy. Doctors can provide vaccines, and they can test for:

  • Certain cancers
  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • STDs (sexually transmitted diseases)
  • Mental health conditions

Quitting Time. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other health problems, including risk of erectile dysfunction. If you smoke, make a plan to quit. Your doctor can help.

Hey man, you good? If you feel down, sad, or hopeless for two or more weeks, or get little pleasure from things you once enjoyed, you may be depressed. Don’t try to “tough it out.” Talk to your doctor and get the treatment you need.

Men with depression are at risk for suicide. If someone you know is in crisis, get help right away:

  • Call 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
  • Call 911 for emergency services
  • Go to the hospital emergency room

Be #VaccineReady. Talk to your doctor to get your COVID-19 vaccines and your other shots.

Alcohol Use. Excessive alcohol can not only lead to heart disease and cancer, it can also  interfere with testicular function and male hormone production. Choose not to drink, or drink only in moderation.

For Older Men

Some healthy actions are especially important for older men.

  • Take your medications, vitamins, and supplements only as directed.
  • Call your doctor when you’re feeling sick. It can make the difference between life and death. Don’t wait.
    • Your doctor may recommend additional screenings for bone health, hearing and vision, and more.
    • Check with your doctor to get vaccinated against flu, shingles, tetanus/diphtheria, and pneumonia.
    • Tell your doctor if you have erectile dysfunction (ED), or difficulty getting or maintaining an erection. ED is common among older men, it can be treated, and it can be a warning sign of heart disease.
  • Use sunscreen year round, and wear a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Get enough calcium and vitamin D.
  • Exercise your brain. Join a book club, take a class, or do word puzzles, number puzzles, or jigsaw puzzles.
  • Do weight-bearing exercises like walking and jogging, plus weightlifting.
  • Spend time with others to stay mentally, physically and emotionally fit.

And encourage the boys and men in your life to take charge of their health!

 

Call Community Health Net to schedule an appointment with a provider today: (814) 455-7222.

Our health information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist the public to learn more about their health. Community Health Net providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Health Facts is a public service announcement of Community Health Net.

 

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2022, October 31). Excessive Alcohol Use is a Risk to Men’s Health. CDC.Gov. Retrieved May 10, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/mens-health.htm

—. (2022, October 14). Men and Heart Disease. CDC.Gov. Retrieved May 10, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/men.htm

—. National Center for Health Statistics (2023, January 18). Men’s Health. CDC.Gov. Retrieved May 10, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/mens-health.htm

—. (2022, June 6). Prostate Cancer Statistics. CDC.Gov. Retrieved May 9, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/statistics/index.htm

Health in Aging (2019, June). Tip Sheet: Good Health in Later Life for Older Men. HealthInAging.com. Retrieved May 13, 2023, from https://www.healthinaging.org/tools-and-tips/tip-sheet-good-health-later-life-older-men **

National Institute of Mental Health (2017, January). Men and Depression. Nimh.nih.gov. Retrieved May 13, 2023, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/men-and-depression

National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (n.d.). Brother, You’re on My Mind. Nimhd.nih.gov. Retrieved May 13, 2023, from https://www.nimhd.nih.gov/programs/edu-training/byomm/index.html

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (2022, December 22). Men: Take Charge of Your Health. Health.Gov. Retrieved May 10, 2023, from https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/doctor-visits/regular-checkups/men-take-charge-your-health

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Minority Health (OMH) (2022). Men’s Health Month. HHS.Gov. Retrieved May 9, 2023, from https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/mens-health/index.html

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

 

Mental health affects how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Each year in the U.S., 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 youth experience a mental health disorder. But for many people, recovery is possible.

 

Get the Facts

What is Mental Illness

A mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, behavior, or mood. Mental illness deeply impacts day-to-day living and may also affect the ability to relate to others.

Mental illness includes conditions such as schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar, borderline personality disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, anxiety, eating disorders, suicide, addiction, and others.

Mental illness can affect anyone. Half of all mental illness begins by age 14 and 75% by age 24.

 

Risk Factors

  • Genetics, environment and lifestyle, a stressful job or home life, traumatic events, biological factors in the brain, alcohol or drugs, and feelings of loneliness or isolation can all contribute to mental illness.
  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and thoughts of suicide were found to be more common among students across gender, racial and ethnic groups.
  • Black students were more likely to attempt suicide than students of other races and ethnicities.
  • And people who have illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, or cancer are at higher risk for depression.

Complications

Alcohol use disorder can range from mild to severe, and even a mild disorder can lead to serious problems. Drinking too much can harm your health. Every year, excessive alcohol use is responsible for more than 140,000 deaths in the U.S. and caused 1 in every 5 deaths of U.S. adults aged 20-49 years.

Signs and Symptoms

Each mental illness has its own symptoms. Common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling very sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulty understanding or relating to people
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Increased hunger or lack of appetite
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Difficulty perceiving reality
  • Overuse of alcohol or drugs
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to do handle daily activities or stress
  • Intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance

For children, symptoms may include:

  • Changes in school performance
  • Excessive worry
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Frequent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums

Take Action

Diagnosis 
No medical test can accurately diagnose mental illness. Instead, a mental health professional will use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to assess symptoms and make a diagnosis.

Treatment
Treatments for mental illness vary by diagnosis and by person. A health care provider can help develop a treatment plan that may include medications, therapy, psychiatric rehabilitation, and peer support.

If you feel that you sometimes drink too much alcohol, your drinking is causing problems, or if your family is concerned about your drinking, talk with your healthcare provider. Early treatment is important. Behavioral therapies, mutual-support groups, and/or medications can help people with AUD achieve and maintain recovery.

Many people can return to meaningful roles in social life, school, and work especially when they start treatment early and play a strong role in their own recovery process.

Prevention

There’s no sure way to prevent mental illness. But these practices may reduce your risk:

  • See your doctor regularly.
  • Get help when you need it.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Do not drink alcohol, or drink in moderation.
  • Stay connected to family and friends. Talk to people you trust about how you are feeling.
  • Make time to unwind and do activities you enjoy.
  • Take breaks from the news, including on social media.

Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

“988” is the nationwide phone number to connect directly to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Call or text 988 to connect with mental health professionals.

Veterans, service members, National Guard and Reserve members, and those who support them can press “1” after dialing 988 to connect to the Veterans Crisis Lifeline. For texts, Veterans should continue to text the Veterans Crisis Lifeline short code: 838255.

 

Call Community Health Net to schedule an appointment with a provider today: (814) 455-7222.

Our health information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist the public to learn more about their health. Community Health Net providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Health Facts is a public service announcement of Community Health Net.

 

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2023, February 13). Adolescent and School Health: Mental Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/mental-health/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2022, September 14). Depression Is Not a Normal Part of Growing Older. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/aging/depression/index.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2022, September 13). Mental Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/index.htm

Mayo Clinic (2023). Mental Illness. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/symptoms-causes/syc-20374968

National Alliance on Mental Illness AMI (n.d.). Mental Health Awareness Month. NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from https://nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Mental-Health-Awareness-Month

National Alliance on Mental Illness NAMI (n.d.). About Mental Illness. NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness

Lynn Denning: A Healthcare Hero Passionate about Helping People

Written by DaWayne Cleckley for Community Health Net

Lynn Denning is the Medical Services Coordinator at Community Health Net, having joined the organization in 2022. She is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the medical offices, along with monitoring the organization’s LPN and medical assistants. Lynn’s passion for helping people is rooted in her family’s history of volunteering in the community.

Lynn Denning, LPN
Lynn Denning, LPN

“I was a preschool teacher; a child counselor at the Safe Net,” Lynn recalled her past experiences. However, it was her grandmother’s illness that made her realize her calling. “I realized at that moment that I could take care of people,” she said. Lynn’s passion for helping people goes back to her childhood when her family frequently volunteered in the community. “During high school, I volunteered at the food bank and helped with hurricane relief efforts down south,” she added.

Lynn began her nursing career in 2008 as an LPN in the acute care department at Abbington Crest Nursing Home. She worked her way up to become an Infection Control and Staff Development Nurse, earning a certification as an Infection Preventionist through the CDC. “We had a lot of staff come and go due to COVID burnout. That meant cooking meals; breakfast, lunch, and dinner for patients,” Lynn said, describing the challenges she faced during the pandemic.

Lynn was diagnosed with two types of cancer, and after a year of treatment and surgery, she was eager to find a job that would allow her to continue helping people. Fortunately, a position became available at Community Health Net, an organization that helps the underserved population in the community. “I looked at the mission and what they did for the community. I saw that they helped the underserved. I saw it as a huge opportunity to serve the community again. It’s a big change from nursing home, but I love it here,” she shared.

In her role at Community Health Net, Lynn mentors the nursing staff, ensuring that they treat everyone with empathy and understanding, making a difference in their lives every day. “I want to make sure our staff treats patients how they would like to be treated. That’s the most important thing we can do,” she said.

Lynn enjoys spending time with her family and friends at her camp in the Alleghany Mountains, where she kayaks and bonds with her loved ones. When asked where she sees the community in 5 years, Lynn expressed her hope to see a healthier community that is full of understanding and empathy for the underserved and those with mental health issues. “I want to see people come together and help each other,” she concluded.

Lynn Denning is a healthcare hero who is dedicated to helping people in need. Her passion for helping others stems from her family’s history of volunteering in the community and her own experiences as a nurse. Her hard work and dedication have made her an essential member of the team at Community Health Net, where she is committed to making a positive impact in the lives of others.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Introduction

Millions of Americans suffer from Alcohol use disorder (AUD). But AUD can be prevented, and with effective treatment, people can and do recover.

Get the Facts

What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?

Alcohol use disorder is a chronic, progressive disease that is fatal if untreated. It is sometimes called alcoholism, alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, or alcohol addiction. People with alcohol use disorder have problems controlling their drinking. They may be preoccupied with alcohol or continue to use alcohol even when it causes problems.

Causes

Certain areas of your brain are associated with the experience of pleasure, judgment, and the ability to exercise control over your behavior. Over time, drinking too much alcohol may change the normal function of those areas of your brain. This may result in craving alcohol to try to restore good feelings or reduce negative feelings. Lasting changes in the brain caused by alcohol misuse can prolong AUD and make people who are in recovery vulnerable to relapse.

Complications

Alcohol use disorder can range from mild to severe, and even a mild disorder can lead to serious problems. Drinking too much can harm your health. Every year, excessive alcohol use is responsible for more than 140,000 deaths in the U.S. and caused 1 in every 5 deaths of U.S. adults aged 20-49 years.

Signs and Symptoms

Unhealthy alcohol use includes any alcohol use that puts your health or safety at risk or causes other problems. If your drinking repeatedly creates distress and problems in your daily life, you likely have alcohol use disorder. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Being unable to limit how much alcohol you drink
  • Wanting to cut down on how much you drink
  • Spending a lot of time drinking, getting alcohol, or recovering from alcohol use
  • Feeling a strong craving or urge to drink alcohol
  • Failing to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home due to alcohol use
  • Continuing to drink alcohol even though you know it’s causing you problems
  • Giving up or reducing social and work activities and hobbies to use alcohol
  • Using alcohol in situations where it’s not safe, such as when driving or swimming
  • Developing a tolerance to alcohol so you need more to feel its effect or you have a reduced effect from using the same amount
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating and shaking, problems sleeping, hallucinations, and agitation when you don’t drink, or drinking to avoid these symptoms

Risk Factors

A person’s risk for developing AUD depends, in part, on how much, how often, and how quickly they consume alcohol. Other factors that increase the risk of AUD are:

  • Alcohol use that begins in the teens
  • Genes. The likeliness of developing AUD may be partially hereditary.
  • Family history. The risk of AUD is higher for people who have a parent or other close relative who has problems with alcohol.
  • Having friends or a close partner who drinks regularly
  • Depression and other mental health problems
  • History of trauma
  • Bariatric surgery. Some studies indicate that having bariatric surgery may increase the risk of developing AUD or relapsing after recovering from AUD.
  • Drinking too much on a regular basis

Take Action

Treatment

If you feel that you sometimes drink too much alcohol, your drinking is causing problems, or if your family is concerned about your drinking, talk with your healthcare provider. Early treatment is important. Behavioral therapies, mutual-support groups, and/or medications can help people with AUD achieve and maintain recovery.

Prevention

Alcohol use disorder is preventable. Parents can play an important role in giving kids a better understanding of the impact that alcohol can have on their lives. You can help prevent teenage alcohol use by setting a good example with your own alcohol use.

 

Call Community Health Net to schedule an appointment with a provider today: (814) 455-7222.

Our health information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist the public to learn more about their health. Community Health Net providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Health Facts is a public service announcement of Community Health Net.

 

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2022, April 14). Alcohol Use and Your Health. CDC.gov. Retrieved March 13, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2022, December 7). Preventing Excessive Alcohol Use. CDC.gov. Retrieved March 13, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/prevention.htm

Gerchalk, R. (2022). Alcohol Awareness Month. Retrieved March 13, 2023, from https://alcoholawareness.org/alcohol-awareness-month/

Mayo Clinic (2022, May 18). Alcohol Use Disorder. MayoClinic.org. Retrieved March 13, 2023, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-use-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20369243

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (2021, November 7). April is Alcohol Awareness Month. NCADD.org. Retrieved February 21, 2023, from https://ncadd.us/about-ncadd/events-awards/alcohol-awareness-month

March is Colorectal Health Awareness Month

Introduction

Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that affects the colon, rectum, or anus. It is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. However, there are ways to prevent colorectal cancer, and regular screening tests can help detect it early and reduce deaths from this disease. March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so let’s learn more about this disease and what we can do to prevent it.

Get the Facts

What is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer is a disease that occurs when cells in the colon, rectum, or anus grow out of control. The colon is the first part of the large intestine, the rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus, and the anus is the opening of the large intestine to the outside of the body. Abnormal growths called polyps can form in the colon or rectum, and over time, some of these polyps may turn into cancer. Polyps can form in the colon years before invasive cancer develops.

Signs and Symptoms

Colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer may not cause symptoms at first. However, if you experience a change in bowel habits, blood in or on your stool, diarrhea, constipation, feeling that the bowel does not empty all the way, abdominal pain, aches, or cramps that don’t go away, or unexplained weight loss, talk to your doctor.

Risk Factors

The risk of colorectal cancer increases after age 50. However, the number of new colorectal cancer cases in people younger than 50 has been increasing in the U.S. Other risk factors for colorectal cancer include inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, ovarian cancer, having had colorectal cancer or polyps in the past, and being Black.

Take Action

Treatment

Treatment for colon cancer usually involves surgery to remove the cancer. Depending on how advanced the cancer is, a doctor may perform other treatments such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted drug therapy, or immunotherapy.

Prevention

The most effective way to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer is to get screened for it routinely. Screening should begin by age 45 and continue regularly to age 75. Different types of screening tests include stool tests, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, and CT colonography. Talk to your doctor about which test is right for you and how often you should be tested.

Other Preventative Measures

In addition to getting screened, you can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, limiting alcohol consumption, not smoking, and knowing your family’s health history.

Coping and Support

A cancer diagnosis can be emotionally challenging. It is important to learn about your treatment options and talk to friends, family, or medical professionals for support. The National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society are resources that can help you become better informed about your diagnosis and treatment options.

Call Community Health Net to schedule an appointment with a provider today: (814) 455-7222. Or click here to contact us.

Our health information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist the public to learn more about their health. Community Health Net providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Health Facts is a public service announcement of Community Health Net.

 

Sources

American Cancer Society (2020, July 30). What is Cervical Cancer?  Retrieved January 3, 2023, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/about/what-is-cervical-cancer.html

National Cervical Cancer Coalition (2023) Understanding Cervical Cancer Prevention. Retrieved January 3, 2023 from https://www.nccc-online.org/understanding-cervical-cancer-screening/

February is Children’s Dental Health Awareness Month

A child’s smile is a beautiful thing! And strong, healthy teeth are important for more than just bright, confident smiles.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, a time to focus on the importance of children’s oral health, especially how to prevent cavities. Cavities are one of the most common chronic diseases in childhood. Children and adolescents are at higher risk for cavities than adults. But with good dental health habits, cavities are easily preventable.

Get the Facts

  • Cavities happen when the bacteria in your mouth metabolize (eat) sugar. The bacteria then produce acid that eats away at the hard outer surface of the teeth, which is made of enamel and dentin. Enamel and dentin contain a lot of the mineral calcium.
  • Sometimes called cavities or tooth decay, cavities affect more than 1 in 5 children aged 2 to 5 years. More than half of children aged 6 to 8 have had at least one cavity in their baby teeth (also called primary teeth). And more than half of adolescents aged 12 to 19 have had a cavity in at least one of their permanent teeth.
  • Cavities can lead to pain, infection, tooth loss, feelings of unhappiness – especially for teens – and problems eating, speaking, and even learning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children who have poor oral health often miss more school and receive lower grades than other children.

The good news is there are a few simple ways for parents and caregivers to prevent cavities in children.

Take Action

So, What Can Parents Do?

Teaching your child good habits and good attitudes about dental health at an early age can help them maintain good oral health for a lifetime. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend simple steps to protect children’s oral health:

For Babies 

  • After each meal, gently wipe your baby’s gums with a soft, clean cloth.
  • Avoid putting your baby to bed with a bottle.
  • Schedule your child’s first dental visit by their first birthday, or when their first tooth appears.

For Children 

Brushing

    • Brush your child’s teeth twice each day.
      • Use a soft, small-bristled toothbrush.
      • For children under age 2, use plain water to brush.
    • When your child is old enough to brush on their own, watch them while they brush.
      • Make sure they use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
      • Make sure they spit out the toothpaste instead of swallowing.

Children who brush their teeth each day with fluoride toothpaste will have fewer cavities. For children under age 2, talk to your dentist or doctor about when to begin using fluoride toothpaste. And learn more about fluoride below.

What to Eat?

A healthy diet is important for strong, healthy teeth. Getting plenty of calcium will help your child’s teeth grow strong. Good sources of calcium include:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt (unsweetened is best)
  • Spinach
  • Collard greens
  • Black beans (canned)

Sugary foods and drinks feed the bacteria that cause cavities. So, limit drinks and foods that have added sugars.

  • At mealtime, serve water instead of juice or soda.
  • Fruits and vegetables are much better for oral health than cookies, candies, or even fruit drinks.

During Pregnancy 

Did you know that good oral health begins before a baby is even born?

Gum disease during pregnancy can harm the mother’s health and may be linked to low birth weight in babies. Mothers can unintentionally pass cavity-causing bacteria to newborns. And children are three times as likely to have cavities if their mothers have high levels of untreated tooth decay.

During pregnancy, it’s important to:

  • Make and keep regular dental appointments.
  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice each day.
  • Drink fluoridated tap water every day. (Learn more about fluoride below.)
  • Talk to a dentist or doctor about ways to prevent or manage dental problems.
  • If you have nausea or “morning sickness,” rinse your mouth with 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed in a glass of water after you get sick. This will help wash stomach acid away and keep your tooth enamel safe.

At School 

It’s no surprise that most childhood cavities occur in the back teeth. Even with regular daily brushing, the back teeth can be hard to reach.

Dental sealants can be applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to prevent cavities. Dental sealants are applied quickly, easily, and pain-free, and they prevent 80% of cavities.  Many schools offer dental sealant programs for children. If your child’s school has a sealant program, sign your child up to participate. If they don’t, ask your child’s school to start one. Or ask your child’s dentist to apply sealants if it’s appropriate.

Fluoride: Good or Bad? 

Fluoride is a mineral that naturally occurs in water and in many foods. Many communities adjust the amount of fluoride in their tap water to help prevent tooth decay. Here’s why:

  • When you eat sugary foods, bacteria in your mouth produce acid that eats away at the hard surface of your teeth (the enamel and dentin). Teeth become weaker and more likely to develop cavities.
  • Fluoride helps rebuild the surface of the tooth in three ways.
    • It makes teeth strong and more resistant to acid.
    • It can stop early tooth decay by putting hard minerals back into teeth.
    • It interferes with bacteria’s ability to make acid.
  • Children living in communities with fluoridated tap water have fewer cavities than children whose water is not fluoridated.

You can learn about the amount of fluoride in your community’s tap water. Visit My Water’s Fluoride.

To prevent cavities, there should be 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water.

Is there too little fluoride in your community’s water? Ask your dentist or doctor if your child should use fluoride supplements, such as tablets, lozenges, or drops taken orally.

Smiles are empowering. And they’re an important part of your child’s overall health. So, remember, to prevent cavities:

  • Brush each day
  • Limit sugar
  • Fluoride in water and toothpaste can help.
  • Visit your dentist regularly.
  • Smile!

 

Call Community Health Net to schedule your child’s dental exam today! Call (814) 456-8548.

Our health information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist the public in learning more about their health. Community Health Net providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

 

Sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics (2020, December 10). Oral Health Campaign Toolkit. Aap.org. Retrieved January 21, 2023, from https://www.aap.org/en/news-room/campaigns-and-toolkits/oral-health/  

American Dental Association. Burger, D. (2022, October 19). 2023 National Children’s Dental Health Month approaching. ADA News. Retrieved January 21, 2023, from https://www.ada.org/publications/ada-news/2022/october/2023-national-childrens-dental-health-month-approaching

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (n.d.). Children’s Dental Health. Retrieved January 21, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/publications/features/childrens-dental-health.html  

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2022, April 6). Children’s Oral Health. Retrieved January 21, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/childrens-oral-health/index.html 

Cleveland Clinic (2022, May 2). 22 Calcium-Rich Foods. Retrieved January 21, 2023, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/calcium-rich-foods/. 

Department of Health and Human Services: Head Start and Early Head Start (2022, November 16). Brush Up on Oral Health: Understanding How Fluoride Helps Prevent and Repair Tooth Decay. Retrieved January 22, 2023, from https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/oral-health/brush-oral-health/understanding-how-fluoride-helps-prevent-repair-tooth-decay

National Institutes of Health. Guarnizo-Herreno, C. C., & Wehby, G. L. (2012, June 23). Children’s Dental Health, School Performance, and Psychosocial Well-Being. Retrieved January 21, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22727866/. 

World Health Organization (2017, November 9). Sugars and Dental Caries. Retrieved January 21, 2023, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sugars-and-dental-caries. 

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