Last night Greysi Reyna, Assistant Director for the Ramirez Library in Harlingen, was honored at an event celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program at the UT Health Science Center. Armando Lopez, Director of the Lower Rio Grande Valley AHEC, presented the plaque with Dr. Adela Gonzalez, Executive Director for the Center for South Texas Programs, officiating. Greysi has a 15-year affiliation with the AHEC program, beginning in 1995 with her appointment as circuit librarian for the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
Greysi Reyna Honored at AHEC Celebration
H1N1 Vaccine Arriving in SA, South Texas
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!
Health comparisons and disparities in South Texas
The new South Texas Health Status Review, recently published by the UT HSC’s Institute for Health Promotion Research, provides a comprehensive, statistical comparison of health factors in South Texas with the rest of the state and country.
The review is available in PDF format from the Institute’s website at http://ihpr.uthscsa.edu/rpt_toc.html.
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]
Health Lotería #11: La estrella
Well, after a bit of an unplanned break, we’re back again with the Health Lotería. This week we feature “la estrella” [the star] — because here in South Texas it’s nearly time for a very important annual event: Operation Lone Star.
This year, 2008, marks the tenth year for this cooperative program of the Texas Armed Forces, the Health and Human Services Commission, and many other volunteers. Over the course of two weeks — from July 28 to August 8 — the program will offer medical and dental services and health information, totally free of charge, to the entire community at eight sites in seven counties across South Texas.
This HHSC press release and this article from the Rio Grande Guardian explain Operation Lone Star, but the most important questions are: Where and when? Here are the important details, and if you click on the links, you will find maps for the service locations:
Clinics open from July 28 to August 1:
Brownsville: Raul A Besteiro Middle School, 6280 Southmost Road
Mission/La Joya: Cesar Chavez Middle School, Expressway 83 and Showers Road
Raymondville: Raymondville High School, One Bearkat Lane
San Juan: PSJA High School, 805 W. Ridge Road
Clinics open from August 4 to August 8:
Laredo: United South High School, 4001 Avenida Los Presidentes
Rio Grande City: Fort Ringgold Middle School, Fort Ringgold Campus
Zapata: Zapata Middle School, 17th Avenue and Carla Street
Clinic open from August 6 to August 8:
Hebbronville: Hebbronville Middle School, 910 N. Willhelma
This is a great opportunity and a very important program — please help spread the word!
Health Lotería #12: La garza
This week on the Health Lotería, “llegaron los picos largos de la feria de San Juan…” ["here comes long-bill from the fair of St John..."] — that’s right, it’s la garza [the heron]! And the heron brings along the health topic of clean drinking water.
For an introduction, we recommend the Environmetal Protection Agency website titled “Drinking water and health: what you need to know.” Also, the page on “Drinking Water” in medlineplus.gov is very full of information and important links.
Of course, a natural disaster — like Hurricane Dolly that affected the Valley this past week — can quickly change the stability of the drinking water system. According to this news which came out yesterday around 5pm, there are various parts of the Valley where health officials are currently recommending that residents boil their water before drinking it, to prevent the spread of possible water-born illnesses as a result of flooding and other problems in the wake of the hurricane:
- North Alamo Water Supply Corporation (Includes parts of Donna, Weslaco, Elsa, Edcouch y La Blanca)
- La Villa
- Laguna Madre Water Supply (includes South Padre Island, Military Highway WSC, only those served by Las Rusias Plant)
- Sebastian Municipal Utility District
- Port Mansfield
- Santa Rosa
If you live in one of those areas or know someone who does, it’s important to verify with the authorities (the water service provider) that your water is safe to drink; if not, you should boil it for at least a minute before drinking it.
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.
HOPE exhibit in Laredo
On Wednesday, November 14, Julie and Linda, librarians at the UT Health Science Center exhibited at the 10th Annual Health Occupations Planning Exposition (HOPE) in Laredo, TX. They talked to over 100 high school and middle school students about medical librarianship and MedlinePlus™.
How Will Health Care Reform Affect the Use of Curanderismo?
Will easier access to health care affect the use of complementary and alternative medicine in the Valley? With changing health care reform, only time will tell whether it will have an effect on the use of folk healers among the Valley population. While some may use Curanderismo because they can’t afford conventional treatment, others choose this method of treatment because they don’t trust conventional doctors, or because of tradition. Still many, according to Albert Salinas, a curandero in Edinburg, see clients who use Curanderismo in conjunction with conventional treatments. Complementary use of the traditional healing arts may be the best way to take advantage of modern medicine while not abandoning one’s beliefs. According to Antonio Zavaleta, director of the Texas Center for Border and Translational Studies at the University of Texas-Brownsville, “We don’t want to discourage people from visiting curanderos. We only want them to stop if we see they are being harmed”.