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Health and Fitness

Health and Fitness

Friday, June 06, 2014

Connecticut and Climate Change: ‘We Get it Here’

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

Connecticut met an initial goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2010 and is on track to meet the next goal of going 10-percent those levels by 2020, according to a progress report issued today.

“We know that greenhouse gases are in fact affecting our environment, at least we believe that in this part of the country, and have precious little debate about it, I might add,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection released the report at Crest, a heating-and-cooling company in Hartford that spent $145,000 to install rooftop solar energy panels that are saving the firm $22,000 annually.

Solar energy is growing in Connecticut, but the biggest reduction in carbon pollution came from the state’s shift from coal to natural gas to produce electricity. Emissions in the power sector have dropped 31 percent since 1990 and 22 percent since 2005.

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Posted 08:11 PM
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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Local Hoarders the Focus of Task Force

By James Lomuscio

It’s the stuff of reality television that always seems to occur elsewhere and often appears more staged that real—hoarding.

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A special Westport task force is studying the hoarding and clutter issue in area homes. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

But to hear local officials tell it, hoarding is a local reality with at least 10 known cases in Westport and two in Weston, enough for the Westport-Weston Health District (WWHD) to recently announce the formation of the Safer Homes Task Force, a 10-member group comprising social workers and first responders.

According to Loren Pace, WWHD public health nurse and task force coordinator, the group of Westport and Weston town department representatives began to address the problem informally in June 2012. They have been meeting monthly and have just recently has gone public. Their next monthly meeting is set Tuesday, May 27 at 1:30 p.m. at WWHD offices at 180 Bayberry Lane.

“Our main objective is to protect the public health and safety of the client, the first responders, and the community,” Pace said.

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Posted 05:16 PM
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

CT Measles Cases: 3 in Past Decade, 3 More in 2014

Connecticut has had three confirmed cases of measles this year—the same number of cases as in the previous 10 years combined, according to public health officials.

All three people have recovered, and none of the three cases appear linked, according to the state Department of Public Health. The third case, announced today, occurred in an adult in New Haven County. The first two occurred in Fairfield County in February. One patient was a child and one was an adult.

DPH is urging people who are not sure if they’ve been vaccinated for measles to check with their doctors. People who had the disease in the past are considered to be immune.

According to the health department, people who are not immune to measles and are showing symptoms of the illness should call their health care providers rather than going to a health care facility to avoid exposing others.

—Ctmirror.org

Posted 10:23 AM
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Wednesday, April 09, 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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Posted 09:54 PM
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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

Posted 01:02 PM
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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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Posted 05:47 PM
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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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Posted 04:12 PM
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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

Posted 12:35 PM
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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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Posted 11:28 AM
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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

Posted 03:43 PM
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Thursday, June 13, 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

Posted 08:10 PM
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Tuesday, April 23, 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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Posted 08:03 PM
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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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Posted 03:55 PM
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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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Posted 11:02 AM
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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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Posted 04:44 PM
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