The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is reimbursing school districts for the costs associated with retrofitting school buses with devices that reduce pollution emission. An estimated 36,000 school buses carry 1.3 million children in Texas every school day.
Staying Well. Connected.
Rebates for reducing school bus emissions in Texas
Drugs and Drug Interactions
One increasing challenge in health information is helping consumers to be aware of the variety of drugs and supplements they may be taking, keep track of them, and understand their use, effects, and possible interactions and side-effects. When helping patients who may not be able to get regularly updated drug information from their doctors — such as Winter Texans or other visitors whose regular doctors may be far away — it’s important to be able to provide consumer-oriented drug-information sources that they can use to understand drug topics despite their complexity and fluidity. Here are a few suggestions:
- DrugLib.com is a drug information database that can be searched by drug name, condition, or category and includes FDA alerts.
- ExpressScripts’ DrugDigest tool includes a drug library and comparison tool, as well as a helpful interaction checker where you can enter a set of drugs and check the interactions between those drugs as well as interactions with food and alcohol.
- The FDA’s MedWatch site provides drug safety information and an RSS feed of the latest safety alerts. [thanks pilgrimtinker at Learn to Live]
- iGuard.org is a service launched earlier this year that allows patients to enter the list of drugs they’re taking; iGuard then provides an analysis of the risk of interaction problems, and allows user to sign up for a personalized alert service with new information, alerts or discoveries about their specific set of drugs. [thanks Joshua Schwimmer at TechMedicine]
- Last week, Thomson launched PDRhealth.com, a new consumer-oriented site based upon Thomson’s PDR products for health professionals. The new site supports the PDR drug information with background information on conditions, and online tools like risk factor analyzers to support health decision-making.
Finding equivalent consumer-oriented sites in the Spanish language is a bit more difficult. Two options include:
- BuenaSalud.com includes a searchable Enciclopedia de Medicamentos that provides helpful information on quite a few drugs.
- PortalFarma.com, from the professional organization of pharmacists in Spain, provides an online database that does offer interaction information; unfortunately, although it is available to the public, the presentation is not very consumer-friendly.
Hidalgo County to be Part of National Children’s Study
Approximately 1,000 children from Hidalgo County will be taking part in a study, sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, along with several other federal agencies. Women who are pregnant, or going to become pregnant will be chosen for the study, which will examine social and environmental factors (such as diet, pollutants, and poverty) on the children’s health and development. The children will be followed from their time in the womb until their 21st birthday.
“The goal of the study is to get a handle on all aspects of pregnancy and childhood….that includes biological, phyiscal, chemical and social factors.” according to Dr. Daniel Hale, an investigator with the study and pediatrics professor at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Hispanic Heart Health discussed at the AHA Scientific Sessions
A recent study indicates that significant percentages of Hispanics have borderline high or high total cholesterol, low levels of good cholesterol, and borderline high or high levels of triglycerides. The study, which was based on the results of the 2007 Summer Heart Health Campaign survey and screening of almost 3,000 Hispanics in four cities (Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; Miami, FL; and New York/New Jersey metro area), was released at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions. The recent survey and screening effort is part of the Alliance’s Para un corazón saludable (translation: For a healthy heart) campaign. The campaign, led by the National Alliance for Hispanic Health (http://www.hispanichealth.org/), and sponsored by an educational grant from AstraZeneca was launched to improve awareness and understanding of heart disease risk factors, including high cholesterol, in Hispanic communities. Leading Hispanic cardiologists will convene for the inaugural Hispanic Cardiologist Leadership Network meeting at the AHA 2007 Scientific Sessions to discuss these and other issues critical to the improvement of heart health among Hispanics.
The UCSF Fresno Center for Medical Education and Research is developing and testing best practices which aim at breaking down the communication barriers than can compromise care. Hablamos Juntos, a project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, seeks to improve the quality of health care for Latinos ” the largest ethnic minority (~ 38.8 million) in the United States. Approximately 14 million speak English with limited proficiency. One of the projects has developed symbols for health signage that provide more effective guidance for patients. These 28 health care symbols are available in the public domain and free to anyone to download. There are no fees associated with their use and written permission is not needed.
Health Literacy & Winter Texans
It’s that time of year again: the Great Migration has begun, and the RVs can be spotted headed southbound on I-35, I-37, US-77 and US-281. Although the high fuel prices might mean fewer Winter Visitors this year, South Texas will once again welcome thousands of retirees escaping the Frozen North (today’s forecast for MN-WI-upper MI: 6-10″ of lake effect snow, but Harlingen’s looking mostly sunny with a high of 89!).
To help us serve Winter Texans’ health information needs, the HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has just released a helpful tool called the Quick Guide to Health Literacy and Older Adults. In a national assessment of health literacy, only three percent of the older adults surveyed were found to be proficient in health literacy. Persons with limited health literacy have more adverse health outcomes including less frequent use of preventive services, higher hospitalization rates, and more emergency room visits. For older Americans, difficulties with health literacy can complicate already challenging health problems since as many as 80 percent of older Americans have at least one chronic disease. The Quick Guide to Health Literacy and Older Adults is designed to provide useful strategies and suggestions to professionals who work with older adults to help bridge the communication gap between professionals and older adults. [thanks to Siobhan for the tip]
Halloween Candy Buy-Back
Here’s an interesting public health idea that I hadn’t come across before. Last week, on the day after Halloween, Driscoll Children’s Hospital’s Orthodontics Department in Corpus Christi held a Halloween Candy Buy-Back. The organizers paid kids $2 per pound (with a 5-pound limit) to hand over their candy. Dr Deji Fashemo BDS MPH explains, “We can’t do anything orthodontically unless kids have strong healthy teeth and good gums,” and says he hopes the event will educate youngsters on the bad things candy can do to teeth, and encourage them to moderate their candy-eating and especially stay away from sticky, hard candies and taffy-like candies.
A little websearching suggests that Halloween Candy Buy-Back events like this are now happening all over the country, including one group of dentists across the US and Canada who bought back candy for $1 a pound and then sent it off to overseas soldiers. Regardless of the direct effect of such an event on kids’ candy intake, it certainly seems like an interesting and effective way to promote awareness and discussion about the effects of candy on dental health!
Partnering for a Difference in Nueces County
The UT Health Science Center-San Antonio, in conjunction with the South Texas Colonia Initiative, is training a group of Nueces County colonias residents about health risks and resources, in hope they will spread the information with others. Health concerns being addressed through the program include hypertension, obesity, renal failure and early detection of different forms of cancer. Similar programs along the Texas-Mexico border have helped decrease cardiovascular disease and complications from diabetes.
Dr. Thelma Hurd, a surgical oncologist with the UT Health Science Center, is involved in training the community volunteers, who will hopefully be able to spread the information on the resources and assistance avaible to those in need. In Dr. Hurd’s words….”We educate the community and give them the skills to educate the rest of the community”.
CDC Statistics show low level of regular leisure-time physical activity among Hispanic Adults
A recent report by the CDC, available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/200706_07.pdf, indicates that only 22.6% of Hispanic adults engages in regular leisure-time physical activity. Physical activity is one of the Leading Health Indicators for the Healthy People 2010 project, which has as its primary goal to help to help individuals of all ages increase life expectancy and improve their quality of life. Read more about the Healthy People 2010 project at http://www.healthypeople.gov/.
Health Literacy – Presentation by Oralia Bazaldua, PharmD
Last month Oralia Bazaldua provided an excellent overview of health literacy, with a focus on health literacy in South Texas. The video and slides are available from the UTHSCSA Department of Family and Community Medicine’s grand rounds online library.