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Health and Fitness

Health and Fitness

Thursday, April 10, 2014

CT Senate Votes to Ban sales of Genetically Engineered Grass Seed

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

The state Senate voted 25 to 11 tonight for legislation that would ban grass seed that is genetically engineered to resist pesticides and herbicides, a step that the Senate’s top leader calls necessary to protect the environment against the overuse of lawn chemicals. Opponents call the bill an overreaction to a product not yet on the market.

For the second time in two years, Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, has taken the lead on legislation addressing genetically modified organisms. Also for the second time, House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, is looking skeptically at a pet issue of his Senate counterpart.

It was unclear tonight if Sharkey would call a vote in the House before the session ends May 7, especially with House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, promising strenuous opposition, which likely means delaying actions.

Cafero said Republicans object to the substance of the bill and the method by which it was passed: Williams amended a pesticide bill to include the ban on genetically engineered seed. The ban never was subjected to a public hearing.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Internal Medicine Group Links Up With Norwalk Hospital

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Internal Medicine Associates of Westport (IMAW) has joined Norwalk Hospital Physicians and Surgeons, the employed physician group of Norwalk Hospital, it was announced today. Explaining the move, Jay Horn, IMAW president, said: “Our doctors can concentrate on the day-to-day care of patients and let a larger organization deal with the administrative tasks that frequently distract doctors from patient care tasks.” Pictured are the IMAW physicians (back row, l-r) Robert Teltser, Jay Horn, Nina Karol, and Robert Altbaum; (front row) David Baum, Jill Denowitz, and Robert Dresdner. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cutting Connecticut’s Trees Sparks Disagreement

By Jan Ellen Spiegel

www.ctmirror.org

Eric Hammerling has a bumper sticker on his car that says: “don’t blame the trees.” It refers to power outages   -– like the massive ones since 2011 after the tropical-style storms Irene and Sandy, and a variety of blizzards and nor’easters.

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Last week’s removal of trees at Westport’s Longshore Club Park did not involve potential power line issues but was highly controversial nevertheless. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for WestportNow.com

Falling trees and limbs that took out power lines are most often cited for the outages, and the upshot has been a rush by utilities, the state Department of Transportation, municipalities and individuals to cut trees back and down.

“We can blame the trees,” said Hammerling, executive director of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association. “But it’s mostly on us for failure to manage our roadside trees for many, many years.”

The management of trees –- what, where and how much to cut -– has become contentious in Connecticut. It pits those who are most concerned about keeping the lights on against those who believe we are verging on literal overkill in taking down trees.

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Monday, January 13, 2014

CT Exchange’s Private Insurance Customers Skew Older, Male

By Arielle Levin Becker

www.ctmirror.org

Sixty percent of the people who signed up for private health plans through Connecticut’s health insurance exchange are 45 and older, according to figures released today by the federal government.

That’s more than twice the share of people in the coveted under-35 age brackets. Twenty-one percent of enrollees are age 18 to 34.

The figures also show that Connecticut stands out as one of just two states with more men than women signing up for private plans through the exchanges. In Connecticut, 54 percent of enrollees are men and 46 percent are women. Nationally, the opposite is true: 54 percent are women and 46 percent are men.

The numbers, released today, cover the first three months of enrollment—Oct. 1 to Dec. 28—in public health insurance exchanges created by the federal health law commonly known as Obamacare.

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Sunday, December 08, 2013

Comings & Goings: Granola Bar Opens

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The Granola Bar opened today at Westport’s Playhouse Square.  The entrepreneurial owners, Julie Gaines and Dana Nooril (see WestportNow Dec. 3, 2013), who also produce and market Granola Oats in retail food stores, said the restaurant offerings range from full breakfasts and lunches with table service as well as bakery goods and coffee at the counter. They said everything is freshly made on the premises. Hours are Monday through Friday 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

CT Signs Up 3,847 for New Health Care Coverage

By Arielle Levin Becker

www.ctmirror.org

In its first 15 days of operations, Connecticut’s new insurance marketplace signed 3,847 people up for health care coverage as part of the law commonly known as Obamacare.

Most of the early customers were ages 55 to 64, and, among enrollees under 35, the majority will get Medicaid coverage. Two-thirds of those signing up for private insurance chose plans offered by the state’s largest insurer, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and small businesses have lagged behind individuals in signing up, with only 11 submitting applications so far, according to data presented to the marketplace’s board Thursday.

The data was the most comprehensive presented so far, and according to CEO Kevin Counihan, is more than federal officials wanted states to release.

Unlike Connecticut, which chose to develop and run its own marketplace known as a health insurance exchange, 36 states have exchanges that are run fully or in part by the federal government. The federal government has faced criticism for its handling of those exchanges, including not reporting how many people have enrolled so far.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Inside Scoop on Sleep Disorders

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Norwalk Hospital sleep disorders expert Christopher Manfredi told the Westport Rotary Club today there is a direct link to weight gain by Americans and lack of sleep. Addressing the club’s weekly meeting at Bertucci’s Restaurant, he said humans need eight hours of sleep a night and anything less could have medical consequences, including weight gain. The director of the hospital’s Sleep Disorders Center also said those who take two or more medications to control high blood pressure are likely to suffer from sleep apnea -– a chronic condition that disrupts sleep. Manfredi, board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary disease and critical care medicine, said in 70 percent of all patients who report sleep apnea, “snoring is a symptom.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Earthplace Screens Film About Toxic Threats

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Toxic threats in daily life was the theme of a documentary film, “Unacceptable Levels,” screened tonight at Westport’s Earthplace. Ed Brown, award-winning writer/director of the film, took part in a post-screening discussion about his work. The event was sponsored by the Town of Westport’s Green Task Force, along with Clean Water Action Connecticut. Shannon McAvoy (above), development coordinator for Clean Water Action Connecticut, introduced the film to the audience of more than 60. Contributed photo

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Experts Discuss Effects of Trauma on Children

By James Lomuscio

George Hagman, director of outpatient services at Greater Bridgeport Community Mental Health Center, was part of a trauma team sent to Newtown shortly after the Sandy Hook massacre to counsel children at another town elementary school. What he found, he said, was heartbreaking.

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Christina Hoven addresses tonight’s meeting on children and trauma at the Westport Public Library. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

“It had been many years since I worked with children,” he said about his time at Newtown’s Middle Gate Elementary School. “It broke my heart to see how pained and troubled they were.”

Hagman was one of two featured speakers tonight at a Westport Public Library talk titled “The Aftermath of Trauma in Children: Helping Newtown and Lessons from 9/11.” 

The other speaker was Christina Hoven, associate professor of clinical epidemiology in psychiatry at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Tick-Borne Disease in Southern Connecticut

By Grace Merritt

www.ctmirror.org

Yale researchers have discovered a tick-borne illness so new to people in the United States that it doesn’t have a common name.

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The actual size of the adult tick is only the size of an apple seed. The young deer tick is the size of a poppy seed. Photo by Geoffrey Attardo

The new bacterial infection is spread by the same deer tick that causes Lyme disease and causes a recurring fever, muscle aches, fatigue and, sometimes, a rash and neurological problems.

Using blood tests, researchers have found evidence of infection in 18 cases in southern Connecticut and Westchester County, N.Y. They estimate that the infection can found in 1 percent of the population in areas where Lyme disease is found.

There are currently no tests available for the illness. So far, patients have responded well to a short course of doxycycline, the antibiotic used to treat Lyme disease, said Peter Krause, a senior research scientist at Yale School of Public Health who worked on the study.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

As State Ages, Governor Presents a Plan for Expanding Home Care

By Arielle Levin Becker

www.ctmirror.org

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will unveil a plan to dramatically shift the way seniors and people with disabilities receive services by increasing the availability of home care while offering funds for the nursing home industry to eliminate beds and change their business models, according to documents obtained by The Mirror.

The effort has significant implications for the state’s growing population of seniors and for Connecticut’s finances. More than 10 percent of the state’s budget is now spent on long-term care paid for through Medicaid, and the number of people getting the services is expected to rise by more than 20 percent by 2025.

The plan is the product of more than a year of work by state officials, consumers, advocates, and the home care and nursing home industries, and builds on more than a decade of policy goals. It is intended to address several major barriers that policymakers say make it significantly harder to get care at home than to get a bed in a nursing home.

Those include a fragmented system of getting coverage for home care, workforce shortages, the lack of accessible and affordable housing and transportation, and the discharge of patients from hospitals to nursing homes, where they often stay.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Whooping Cough Making Record Comeback Here and Nationally

By Grace Merritt

www.ctmirror.org

Whooping cough, a childhood scourge in the 1940s, has had a resurgence in Connecticut as part of a national epidemic.

The outbreak peaked in Connecticut in September with 178 cases reported in 2012, though numbers are still coming in. This is a big increase from 68 cases last year, and roughly double the normal caseload for the state, said Kathy Kudish, epidemiologist with the state Department of Public Health.

“Compared to the last decade, this is the highest number of cases we’ve seen,” Kudish said.

Many of the cases were reported in the western part of the state, predominantly in Fairfield and Litchfield counties, Kudish said. She said it is unclear precisely why that area had higher numbers. It could be that the disease is circulating more there or simply that the area is better about testing for and reporting the illness, she said.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Health District Seeks Homes With Wells for Study

As part of a study of the extent of pesticide contamination of private wells, the Westport Weston Health District, in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Public Health, is offering to collect and have tested 10 homes in Westport and 10 homes in Weston, free of charge.

Homes selected for the study should have been built before 1980 and may have undergone pesticide applications to control termites, according to an announcement on the Town of Westport website.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health is conducting similar sampling of private wells in other municipalities throughout Connecticut, an announcement said.

Test results will be provided to each participating homeowner with a letter explaining the meaning of the results with suggestions as to how to correct any problems identified.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Film About Concussions Draws Crowd of Parents

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About 75 persons tonight attended a Westport Public Library screening of the film “Head Games” that describes the increasing awareness of the concussion crisis in American sports. Westporter Ann Sherwood, whose child suffered a concussion, gets a show of hands after asking the audience, “How many of you here tonight are parents?” Pippa Bell Ader, an organizer of the evening’s event, said her 16-year-old son, a high school sophomore, suffered a concussion playing touch football. She said the purpose of the screening was “to improve concussion awareness, to understand the dangers of repetitive concussions and the need for safety practices.” Ader said the film can be acquired on iTunes for $6.99. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Thursday, August 09, 2012

Health District Urges West Nile Precautions

Mark Cooper, director of the Westport Weston Health District (WWHD), said today “it was only a matter of time” before mosquitoes trapped in Westport tested positive for the West Nile virus, and he urged residents to take a series of precautions.

On Tuesday, the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program announced that mosquitoes tested positive in 32 towns including Westport. (See WestportNow Aug. 7, 2012)

“With the frequent rains and hot temperatures, there are perfect conditions for mosquitoes to breed, and West Nile Virus to amplify within the mosquito population,” Cooper said. “This is something that happens every year.”

To prevent mosquito bites, Cooper suggested residents wear clothing that covers skin surfaces, use mosquito repellents and “eliminate any pool of water that mosquitoes can lay their eggs in around their home or business.”

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Judge Rules HealthBridge Violated Federal Law

By Aroosa Masroor

www.ctmirror.org

An administrative law judge has issued a decision on two issues raised in a hearing on the controversy between New Jersey-based HealthBridge Management and the employees of five Connecticut nursing homes.
Some 600 employees of the homes—one in Westport—have been on strike since July 3 to protest what they call unfair labor practices.

Administrative Law Judge Steven Davis, in a 23-page ruling issued July 20, agreed with the National Labor Relations Board and New England Healthcare Employees Union, District 1199, that HealthBridge violated the National Labor Relations Act by preventing workers from wearing stickers or distributing flyers advertising that HealthBridge has been the subject of a labor board complaint.

But in the second issue, the judge sided with HealthBridge.

Since the company’s contract with its five Connecticut health care centers—in Danbury, Milford, Newington, Stamford and Westport—expired March 16, 2011, the homes stopped deducting union dues from the employees’ paychecks. The company also refused to remit those funds to the union.

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07/27/12 09:23 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Plan Set to Collect Life-Saving Umbilical Cord Blood

By Grace Merritt

www.ctmirror.org

Hoping to collect a wider variety of potentially life-saving stem cells, a state committee wants to launch a public umbilical-cord blood collection program by the end of the year.

Under the plan, Connecticut mothers who have just delivered babies could opt to donate their post-birth umbilical cord and placenta to a public blood bank. The donated cord blood, which is rich with stem cells, could be extracted and then transplanted into someone with a deadly disease, possibly saving that person’s life.

Cord blood transplants have been used to treat bone marrow cancers, such as leukemia and multi myeloma; and genetic diseases, such as sickle cell anemia.

Similar to a blood drive, donors would not get any direct benefit from the donation except perhaps the satisfaction of helping someone. “It’s an altruistic thing to do,” said Dr. Edward Snyder, professor of lab medicine at Yale University. He is chairman of the Connecticut Cord Blood Collection Program Committee, which is developing the program.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

‘Spook-tacular’ Happenings on Main Street

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Studio 44 Dance and Fitness Center located at Westport’s 44 Main St. celebrated Halloween tonight with nine different “spook-tacular” performances. The night opened with a bang with a Soprano-themed gangster garbed Jazz number choreographed by Sue Benton and Luisa Tanno. A hip hop presentation of Michael Jackson’s Thriller was one of the night’s highlights as was the dead beauty queens who danced with famed New York choreographer Eddie Villanueva to a Lady Gaga-inspired piece. For more information visit http://www.studio44danceandfitness.com. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Insurance Department Reduces Anthem’s Rate Hike

By Arielle Levin Becker

www.ctmirror.org

The Connecticut Insurance Department has turned down a request by the state’s largest health insurer to raise premiums by 12.9 percent for more than 25,000 individual-market policies, instead granting the company a 3.9 percent increase.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield had said that the higher increase was needed to account for rising claims costs, increased use of services by members, and state and federally mandated benefit changes.

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But the insurance department found that a smaller increase was appropriate. Actuary Paul Lombardo wrote that the lower figure was based on reducing the operating margin for the plans and removing “underwriting wear-off” from Anthem’s calculations. Underwriting wear-off refers to the decline in members’ health status since they first bought the policies, making them poorer risks.

The 3.9 percent increase could take effect Jan. 1 for about 25,000 policies covering an estimated 48,000 state residents who buy private insurance on their own rather than through their employer.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Massive Soil Cleanup Planned at Bridgewater

By James Lomuscio

Westport hedge fund Bridgewater Associates has applied to the state and the town to begin a massive clean up of contaminated soil left by a previous occupant at its 25 Ford Road headquarters site straddling both sides of the Saugatuck River.

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Town officials said Bridgewater’s cleanup application will be reviewed beginning next month. A sign notifies passersby of the work. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Much of the heavy metal soil contamination was caused by coal ash used to fill in wetlands years ago and by waste products left behind by Dorr-Oliver, Inc. of Milford, state officials said. Town officials estimated the clean up could cost several million dollars.

Dorr-Oliver had occupied the 5.89-acre site for 18 years, according to Maurice Hammel, remediation director of the Bureau of Water Protection and Land Resources for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

Bridgewater Associates did not respond to requests for an interview. But David Fiereck of Loureiro Engineering Associates of Plainville, who submitted the application for Bridgewater, stressed the chemicals left behind pose “no immediate danger, but do not meet the state threshold.”

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Westporters Help Launch AIDS Clinic in Zimbabwe

Two Westporters are part of a team establishing an HIV/AIDS clinic in Zimbabwe where 13.7 percent of the adult population, or 1.1 million are infected by the virus.

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A doctor explains the B.E.A.T. AIDS initiative and how to take precautions to prevent acquiring the HIV/AIDS virus to a group of Zimbabweans. Contributed photo.

Called World Health Clinicians, (WHC) Inc., the non-profit foundation has reached an agreement with the government of Zimbabwe to create an HIV/AIDS clinic at historic Victoria Falls
 
Westport resident Andrew Wilk is serving as WHC’s board chairman. He is the former chief creative officer of Sony BMG Music and before that, executive vice president at the National Geographic Channel. 
 
“I can’t stand by knowing I can save a mom and her baby for $3 per day,” Wilk said.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Doctor: Surgery Center’s Violations Being Corrected

By James Lomuscio

A Westport doctor said today that his Center for Ambulatory Surgery in Westport should be reopened by the end of the month as he works with the state Department of Public Health (DPH) to rectify 23 violations investigators cited during visits early last month.WestportNow.com Image
The Center for Ambulatory Surgery at 32 Imperial Ave. was ordered closed by the state for health violations. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The plastic surgery center at 32 Imperial Ave. had its license suspended May 24 and $4,000 fine imposed due to problems found “that may cause a risk to public health,” a DPH report said.

“The state came to my facility and found various deficiencies, 90 percent of which had to do with paperwork,” said Dr. Joel B. Singer, 69, a Compo Road South resident who has lived in town more than 38 years.

“Since then I have been put on notice, and we have been complying. I have basically corrected most of them, and we’re still working on it and plan to have all of the deficiencies corrected by the middle of this month.”

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Whooping Cough Vaccine Available

The Westport Weston Health District today announced the availability of a vaccine against whooping cough.

It said the state Department of Public Health Immunization Program has provided the District with a supply of the vaccine in an effort to vaccinate all eligible individuals against pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

Vaccination with pertussis-containing vaccine is recommended for all persons who have close contact with infants, a news release said.

Eligible persons include post-partum women, mothers and fathers of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) babies, adoptive families, siblings, and household contacts and caregivers of infants less than 12 months.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Westport Board Advises Norwalk Hospital

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Members of Norwalk Hospital’s Westport Community Advisory Board took part in an update session at the hospital with advisory boards from other communities. Pictured (l-r) are (front row) Doree Levy, Shelly Kassen, Helen Garten, Teresa Giegengack, Monica Wheeler, and Jonathan Roth; (back row) Norwalk Hospital President and CEO, Dan DeBarba, Norwalk Hospital Foundation Board Member, Amy Schafrann and Christopher Sawch. Board members represent Westport in offering feedback to Norwalk Hospital about the health care needs and interests of area residents.To learn more or get involved, contact Suzanne Schintzius at (203)852-2386 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wrecker Fans

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Cousins Sophia Blum (l), 5, and Charlotte D’anna, 6, watch today’s Staples-Trumbull game. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Report: Nursing Home and Assisted Living Rates Rise

Nursing home and assisted living rates rose significantly from 2009 to 2010, according to the Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs released today by Westport-based MetLife Mature Market Institute.

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Private room nursing home rates rose 4.6 percent to $229 per day or $83,585 per year, while assisted living rose 5.2 percent on average to $3,293 per month, or $39,516 per year.

These increases come on top of increases from 2008 to 2009 when both nursing home and assisted living costs were up 3.3 percent.

Costs for home health aides and adult day services were unchanged in the past year. Home health aide costs remain at an average price of $21 per hour, while adult day services costs are still $67 per day.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Checking Westport’s Waterways

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Volunteers from Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection were out checking the water quality and the fish species and population of Stony Brook behind the office building on Sylvan Road South. Westport Conservation Director Alicia Mozian said the monitoring by the DEP’s Fisheries Division indicates water quality—the greater the fish populations and species variety, the healthier the stream. In addition to Stony Brook, the DEP will be sampling in the Saugatuck and Aspetuck Rivers in coming days, she said. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for WestportNow.com

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Friday, August 20, 2010

New Haven Resident Tests Positive for West Nile

The State Mosquito Management Program today announced that a New Haven resident has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV) infection and has been hospitalized.

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“We wish this person a speedy recovery from this serious illness,” said Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. J. Robert Galvin. “This case reminds us of how serious West Nile virus can be and how important it is to do what we can to protect ourselves from mosquito bites.”

So far this season, positive mosquitoes have been identified in 12 towns, including Westport. In addition to this confirmed case, there has been one probable case of West Nile virus infection identified this year

The Department of Public Health said the New Haven resident between 60 -69 years of age became ill during the second week of August and is currently hospitalized.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Health Director Urges Vigilance for West Nile Virus

The director of health of the Westport Weston Health District said today that confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in mosquitoes in towns surrounding Westport and Weston should heighten residents’ awareness of the dangers of mosquito bites.WestportNow.com Image
Mark A. R. Cooper:  take precautions. File photo

Mark A.R. Cooper, said the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program found mosquitoes trapped in Norwalk, Bridgeport, Bethel, Orange, and Meriden have tested positive for the virus.

“As West Nile Virus continues to circulate and intensify within the mosquito population, it is likely mosquitoes in Westport and Weston will also become infected, if they have not already done so,” he said in a news release.

Cooper urged residents to begin taking precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

RTM Committee Okays Health District Budget Restoration

UPDATE The Representative Town Meeting (RTM) Finance Committee voted 6-3 tonight to recommend restoration of $13,793 cut by the Board of Finance from the 2010-11 requested budget of the Westport Weston Health District.WestportNow.com Image
Mark A. R. Cooper: cuts will affect emergency response. File photo

The vote followed a warning from the District’s director that unless there is restoration of funds cut from its budget, there will likely be a series of health-related repercussions affecting Westport beaches, schools, farmers markets, septic systems, and the District’s response to emergencies.

Mark A. R. Cooper outlined the possible effects in a letter to Michael Rea, chairman of the RTM Finance Committee.

Cooper said the cut will actually mean a hit of $19,115 to the District budget because by state statute, the District would have to simultaneously reduce Weston’s budget contribution by $5,323.

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