Health

Opioid war being waged, with casualties close to home

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The chief toxicologist with Lucas County Coroner’s Office studies death for a living. He has never seen anything like the opiate epidemic. “There has never, ever, ever, ever been anything in our country like this,” Dr. Robert Forney said Sunday during an opioid forum sponsored by the Eastwood Community Improvement Corporation and led by Dr. Ted Bowlus, a Wood County commissioner and physician. “We are killing more people every year than we lost in the Vietnam War,” Forney said at the meeting held in Pemberville. The death statistics are similar to a 737 crashing each day. “The numbers are just unbelievable.” Forney’s toxicology work covers 21 counties, including Wood. In 2010, his office saw eight opioid deaths. By 2017, that number had jumped to 350. “There are going to be more in 2018,” he predicted. Others on the panel are working to prevent those numbers from growing in Wood County. Most recently, Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson set up the Addiction Response Collaborative. “There is an industry out there that hates what we’re doing here today,” Dobson said of the illegal drug trade. “We’re at war with that industry.” Dobson, who lost a stepson to opiate overdose, said his office takes that war seriously. “We’re one of the most aggressive offices prosecuting drug dealers who kill their buyers.” But that isn’t enough, he added. “In a war, we take in the refugees.” That’s where ARC comes in. Belinda Brooks and Deputy Ryan Richards work with ARC to keep track of opiate addicts and give them every opportunity to get clean. For Richards, that means random checks. “I want to make sure he knows I’m watching him.” For Brooks, that means getting the addicts set up with Medicaid and other services. “We stay with them for the long haul. It’s so easy for them to relapse,” said Brooks, whose daughter was an opiate addict. Since ARC started in November, the program has worked with 15 addicts – 14 who are still sober,…

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Optimal Aging Institute launching initiative to tackle opioid problems among older population

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Even in retirement, Nancy Orel stuck by some of a gerontologist’s favorite reading – obituaries and the coroner’s report. In the listing from the coroner’s office, she noticed something interesting. Of the six people listed as dying from opioid overdoses, three, were over 50. Yet when she went to see what programs were available to help address the toll the opioid epidemic is taking on older Americans, she couldn’t find any. She mention it to those engaged in the battle against opioid addiction, and they would not have given older Americans any thought. True the greatest number of addicts are under 50, but the rates of addiction and abuse are raising faster among those 54 and older. The federal Center for Disease Control doesn’t even keep tabs on how many older Americans die from opioids, she said. (The Wood County Health District does a better job, she said.) So when interim Dean Sue Houston, of Bowling Green State University, called Orel in to see if she maybe wanted to come out of retirement, she said “yes.” She’d retired as associate dean of the College of Health and Human Services less than a year before. Though she was enjoying retirement, she saw something more needed to be done. Orel told Houston that when she first proposed creating the Optimal Aging Institute it was to promote the research being done at BGSU on aging related issues, and foster more research. The Optimal Aging Institute was launched in March 2016 with a $1 million grant from Medical Mutual of Ohio. In November Orel took on the newly created position of executive director of research for the institute. That represents a shift at the institute. The institute will continue its focus on the aging in place and age-friendly communities under executive director Paula Davis working with the Wood County Committee on Aging. Denise Niese, executive director of the Committee on Aging, said the two groups have worked in tandem on programming, and now all programs will be offered…


How to protect people, pets and pipes against the cold

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   We might as well get used to it. The cold dipped down to minus 4 degrees early this morning, and temperatures aren’t expected to get to 20 or above for another week. For some, the frigid temperatures are more than a cause for discomfort. The brittle cold can lead to burst pipes, frozen paws, frostbitten fingers and car problems. Some professionals in Bowling Green accustomed to dealing with the complications of cold weather offered some advice on how to protect people, pets, pipes and vehicles during these frigid temperatures. First, how people can prevent harm to themselves … “I wouldn’t be out more than a half hour at a time,” said Kevin Hosley, registered nurse at Wood County Hospital Emergency Department. And bundle up. “Any exposed skin should be covered.” People with lung problems or the elderly should avoid being out in this brittle cold, Hosley added. The most serious risk to humans is hypothermia, when the body’s temperature drops dangerously low, said Alex Aspacher, community outreach coordinator with the Wood County Health District. “Basically, your body starts to lose heat faster than it can replace it,” Aspacher said. One symptom of hypothermia is confusion, so “somebody might not know they have it,” he added. Hunters and homeless people are susceptible, but in these frigid temperatures some people are at risk even if they aren’t outside. Especially vulnerable are babies or older people in very cold homes. “Older people lose body heat faster” and babies aren’t able to generate heat the way others can to keep themselves warm, Aspacher said. If hypothermia is suspected, the person’s temperature should be taken. If below 95 degrees, 911 should be called, he said. Any wet clothing should be removed, and the person should be placed in a warm room and bundled in blankets – an electric blanket if available. The other risk with the cold is frostbite, when skin is exposed, commonly on the face, hands and feet. Aspacher explained that in frigid weather, the…


Do’s & don’ts of talking with loved ones with dementia

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The room was crowded with people desperately seeking ways to connect with loved ones who have dementia. The secret, the speaker said, is to stop expecting people with dementia to be who they used to be. Belinda Cytlak, a memory care consultant with Waugh Consulting, recently presented a program at Wood Haven Health Care on how to communicate with people who have dementia. When Cytlak asked how many in the audience know someone with dementia, every person raised a hand. “The family and friends have the toughest time,” she said. Cytlak spoke from experience, with her mother having dementia. “The hardest thing was to give up who my mom was,” she said. That doesn’t mean giving up on loved ones, but just changing expectations of them. It can be difficult for family members or friends to realize that today’s lunch is no longer a safe topic of conversation. “Anyone who has dementia has a problem with short-term memory,” Cytlak said. So the typical questions about lunch or recent visitors can make a person with dementia feel frustrated or like a failure, she said. “We put that person with dementia in a position where they know they don’t know – and they don’t want to fail,” Cytlak said. Above all, she said, don’t dispute facts with a person with dementia. “My mom used to say her big brother just came to visit. He’s been gone for eight years,” Cytlak said. But it was futile to say “No Mom, your brother wasn’t here.” Trying to use logic is not helpful. In fact, reasoning often causes a conversation to “spiral out of control.” If a loved one with dementia gets agitated or angry over their lack of short-term memory, Cytlak suggested trying to redirect them. Family and friends should come up with “conversation starters,” that can bring back pleasant memories. Cytlak recommended that loved ones try to “live in their world.” Her mom loved cooking, so talking about recipes was a topic enjoyable to both…


Wood County Hospital to be honored for promoting employee wellness

From WOOD COUNTY HOSPITAL COLUMBUS – The Healthy Business Council of Ohio (HBCO) will recognize 73 Ohio employers for healthy worksite practices during the 14th annual Healthy Worksite awards presentation. Wood County Hospital will be recognized with the silver award for medium size businesses. These awards recognize Ohio employers who demonstrate a commitment to employee wellness through comprehensive worksite health promotion and wellness programs. Applicants are scored on the extent their wellness programs facilitate and encourage employee health, enhance productivity and ensure a healthy work environment. “Wellness programs are effective tools to engage employees in a more productive culture,” David Cowden, Chair of HBCO said. These programs most importantly help employees become healthier and happier, but also help drive down healthcare costs while driving up the bottom line.” All worksites, large and small, public and private, for profit and nonprofit, are eligible to apply for the Healthy Worksite Award.  All applications were reviewed and evaluated using objective criteria. Three levels of achievement were awarded — Gold, Silver and Bronze. Other applicants, who meet basic criteria, received a Recognition award. Increasing the number of worksites receiving awards is an objective in Ohio’s Plan to Prevent and Reduce Chronic Disease: 2014-2018, an objective being led by HBCO. The ceremony will be held at 12:30 p.m. on January 25, 2018, at the Nationwide Hotel and Conference Center in Columbus, Ohio as part of the Health Action Council 2018 Columbus Symposium. The symposium features national experts on health reform, health care systems and health benefits. Below are the recipients for the 2017 Healthy Ohio Healthy Worksite Award: Small Business: ≤ 300 employees (21 awards) Gold Award: Certified Angus Beef; City of Kettering; Lake Shore Cryotronics, Inc.; LifeCare Alliance; The Dupps Company; WBC Group LLC Silver Award: Bricker & Eckler LLP; City of Montgomery; Columbus Zoo and Aquarium; Healthy New Albany; United Way of Central Ohio, Inc. Bronze Award: Community Action Committee of Pike County; Corporate One Federal Credit Union; Custom Design Benefits LLC; Delaware General Health District; Findley Davies / BPS&M; HKM Direct Marketing;…


Shining some light on winter and holiday blues

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   ‘Tis the season for depression and disappointment. Though the holidays are expected to bring cheer and glad tidings, to many the season stirs feelings of sadness and inferiority. The holidays are then followed up by months of cold days and prolonged darkness, leading to the “winter blues” for some. “This season brings out the best and worst of everybody,” Aeryn Williams, director of Family Service of Northwest Ohio, in Wood County, said during a recent presentation on “Surviving the Winter Blues” sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Wood County. First, comes Christmas – a time when many people strive for the perfect family Christmas cards with everyone in matching outfits, unique gifts for teachers, and the latest trendy recipes on Pinterest. But reality often intrudes with kids screaming on Santa’s lap, the annual retail rush, and recipes gone wrong. “We end up comparing ourselves to Martha Stewart or Pinterest,” Williams said. And inevitably, we can’t live up to those lofty goals. “Comparison is the theft of joy.” Williams shared her own experience of trying a homemade Peppermint Patties cookie recipe with her niece. The cookies came out looking more like a mess left by the dog on the lawn, than the picture perfect samples on Pinterest. But her 7-year-old niece came to the rescue. “She said, ‘We might not be making Peppermint Patties, but we’re making memories,’” Williams recalled. The Christmas season not only makes us strive for perfection, but also for super-human strength, Williams said. We look forward to the season all year, “but before you know it, your calendar is jam packed and we’re stressed out.” Williams offered some advice that can actually be used year-round. “’No’ is a complete sentence,” she said. “During the holidays, we don’t feel we can say ‘No.’” Prioritize. Maybe you should skip the cookie exchange this year, or miss the annual gathering with people you hardly know. “Stop ‘should-ing’ all over yourself,” Williams said. Give yourself a break. Instead of putting…


Cleanup of contamination left at Cooper set at $1.2M

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The cost to clean up contamination left behind on a Bowling Green industrial site is expected to hit more than $1.2 million. The Ohio EPA held a public hearing Wednesday evening to explain the cleanup proposal and take citizen comments about the plan for the Cooper Standard Automotive property at 1175 N. Main St. An investigation of the site found an area contaminated by Trichloroethylene (TCE), a common industrial solvent. “TCE was formerly used in industry as a cleaning agent,” Ghassan Tafla, from the Ohio EPA Division of Environmental Response and Revitalization, explained during the public hearing. “It worked magically on auto parts to clean the grease,” Tafla said. However, later TCE was found to pose a threat to the environment and public health. It is now only used in lesser amounts by the defense department. The local contamination is believed to have occurred before Cooper Standard Automotive or Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. owned the site, since neither of those operations used TCE. Cooper Standard Automotive purchased the 25-acre site from Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. in 2004. The property had been used by Cooper Tire to manufacture rubber hoses and seals for the automotive industry. The previous owner of the site from 1964 to 1977 – Gulf & Weston – reportedly used TCE in its manufacturing of truck bodies, refuse packers and associated parts. That original company on the site is expected to be responsible for the cleanup, according to an EPA official. Gulf & Weston reportedly has insurance to cover such contamination and had made an agreement with Cooper Tire. The TCE contamination was discovered in 1986 during the removal of underground storage tanks that held xylene, which was also used to degrease equipment. The contamination has been identified in the area west of the plant building, in the area of a former above ground tank which contained TCE. The Cooper Standard Automotive plant currently employs about 370 people. Those employees are not at risk from the contamination, according…