Health

Gardner talks funding, water, guns and abortion at town hall

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Since the lame duck session of state government usually brings some hasty legislative decisions, State Senator Randy Gardner spent Saturday morning conferring with his constituents. Always a history teacher at heart, Gardner tried to put the present in perspective by explaining past decisions. For two hours, he answered questions at his town hall meeting, then spent another hour talking with citizens individually. Though they didn’t always like his answers, the citizens at Saturday’s town hall meeting appreciated the willingness of the senator to hold a public gathering. “The next three weeks will be a really challenging time with big decisions,” said Gardner, a Republican from Bowling Green who has rotated between the state representative and senate seats since 1984. Adding to the unpredictability of the lame duck session will be the number of amendments tacked onto bills at the last moment. “Amendments will change the outcome of bills,” Gardner said. And it’s not unusual for amendments to present competing interests in the same bill, he added. Gardner has two of his own issues pending in the lame duck session. The Sierah Joughin bill creates a statewide database for law enforcement listing convicted violent offenders living in their jurisdictions. The bill is in response to the death of a 20-year-old woman from Fulton County, who was killed by a convicted violent felon. “I’m pretty optimistic,” this will pass, Gardner said. This bill has its critics, he said. Some feel the database could impede the rehabilitation of convicts. To better understand that criticism, Gardner said he met with Eddie Slade, who spent 31 years in prison for murder and burglary. “I have extra respect now for people who struggle to turn the lives around,” he said. But Sierah’s Law is in the best interest of communities, he said. Gardner’s other pending bill would “finally” see movement to get funding for the preservation of a healthy Lake Erie and help the agricultural community at the same time. Following are some of the other topics Gardner was asked about during the town hall. Hot button issues – guns, abortion and petitioning Marilyn Bowlus, of Pemberville, asked Gardner about pending house bills on “Stand Your Ground” gun laws and abortion rights. “It seems like Ohio is going backward,” Bowlus said. States that make it easier for people to justify…

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BG Rides wants to kick efforts into a higher gear

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Biking has many benefits. The rider gets exercise, and maybe sheds some pounds. Bike riding can help reduce the use of cars, and the resulting emissions. And for some folks it’s how they get where they need to go. For those people even the cost of an inexpensive bike can be a barrier. For a couple years, an informal group of bike enthusiasts has been gathering unwanted bicycles, rehabilitating them, and then giving or selling them for a minimal price. Now Kelly Wicks, one of the organizers of BG Rides, wants to step up the effort. They are meeting Wednesday, Sept. 19, at 6 p.m., in Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St. Anyone interested can contact Wicks at: kelly@groundsforthought.com BG Rides, Wicks said, started as an offshoot of the Community Rides in summer, 2016. He participated in the rides and from that sprouted the idea to connect unwanted bikes with bike riders. “We’re looking for help to see if there are other people  in the community interested in helping to take the group from its more informal nature to something more structured,” Wicks said. “In talking to  people in the community from various non-profits and international students, there’s a great need for bikes. For some people it’s an important form of transportation.” In its three summers of existence, BG Rides has distributed about 200 bikes, he said. The group would like more and wants to enlist more help to pursue that mission. “We fix those bikes up and either give them away or sell them for the cost of that it took to get them road ready.” Though it has been a low-key effort, Wicks said that Grounds for Thought gets multiple calls a month from people inquiring about finding a bike. “We need bikes,” he said. “We’re asking for bike donations.” Maybe landlords have abandoned bikes that can be refurbished rather than put out on the scrap heap. Even bicycles that can’t be repaired can be used for spare parts. Bicycling, Wicks said, is the second most common form of transportation after walking. “How many students have we seen come over from China or Europe and get here and not have any avenue to get around?” He added: “When you ride your bike a little bit, you become of aware of benefits.” Maybe it’s just “getting out and seeing your neighborhood,” he…


BGSU eyes Mercy College partnership as way to expand its nursing program

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University announced Wednesday an agreement with Mercy Health that will dramatically increase the number of nursing students it educates. BGSU and Mercy Health have signed a letter of intent to transfer operations of Mercy College of Ohio to the university. This marks just the first step of the transition that could take up to four years to finalize. First the trustees of BGSU, Mercy Health, and Mercy College need to approve the plan, then it will need to run a gauntlet of state, federal, professional and accrediting boards. That’s expected to take about a year. Then finalizing the arrangement will take  another two to three years. While many details are yet to be worked out, the goal is for BGSU to increase to 2,000 the number of nursing students. It now has about 350 who receive their clinical training through partnership with the University of Toledo. Earlier that summer the two institutions announced that partnership will end in 2022. Mercy College now has 1,300 students in Toledo and another 200 in an associate’s degree program in Youngstown. None of the students currently in either the BGSU or Mercy programs will not be affected by the change.  “This is an exciting day,” BGSU President Rodney Rogers said at a press conference announcing the partnership. “Clearly there is a tremendous need to insure we’re growing the number of nursing graduates.”  Bob Baxter, president and CEO of Mercy Health-Toledo Region said: “The demand for nurses and other allied health professionals far exceeds the supply in Ohio and the nation.”  By 2024 the country will need a million more nurses. That demand is driven by the aging of baby boomers, retirements in the health care field, and increasing demand by consumers for health care close to home. He said that the partnership builds on BGSU’s depth of academic programs and Mercy College’s 100 years of educating nurses.  The collaboration with Mercy Health will also offer BGSU faculty and students opportunities for research. Because of Mercy’s statewide network, clinical opportunities will be available around the state closer to here many BGSU students live. In entering into this plan, Baxter said, Mercy Health is responding to changing market conditions and the reduction in reimbursement for hospital-based nursing education programs. The transfer will allow Mercy Health to be able to focus on “its core business.” The need to…


More people have health coverage – fewer exercising & eating right

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More Wood County residents have health insurance – but fewer are getting enough exercise and eating right to take care of their bodies. A Community Health Assessment is conducted for the Wood County Health Department every three years to gauge how adults, youth and children are doing with their physical and mental health. The survey looks at such areas as health care access, health behaviors, chronic diseases, social conditions, youth and child health. Alex Aspacher, community outreach coordinator for the Wood County Health Department, reported on the results of the survey during a recent meeting of the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. The survey found that more Wood Countians have health care coverage now. In 2012, approximately 15 percent of local residents had no health insurance. That number is now down to 6 percent. “People don’t just have insurance, they are using it more,” Aspacher said. A total of 61 percent of Wood County adults had routine health checkups in the last year, compared to 49 percent in 2015. However, local adults still need to take better care of themselves – by exercising more and eating less unhealthy food. The number of adults who are overweight or obese in the county shot up to 72 percent, compared to 66 percent in 2015. The statewide rate is 67 percent and the national rate is 65 percent. On the survey, adults admitted to daily habits of 2.4 hours of watching TV, 1.5 hours on their cell phones, 1.4 hours on their computers outside of work, and 0.4 hours playing video games. A quarter of those surveyed said they had no moderate exercise in the past week. The health department recognized this as a problem. “We spent this summer encouraging people to use free community options,” Aspacher said. On the survey, many adults identified lack of time and the cost of gym memberships as impediments to getting exercise. So the health department has been working to identify free exercise opportunities. The Centers for Disease Control recommends 2.5 hours a week of exercise for adults, and one hour each day for kids. The survey showed that many local youth and children are getting recommended amounts of exercise. The youth and child obesity rate in the county has dropped in the last three years. “Our kids are at least getting exercise – even if we’re not,” Aspacher said….


Drug & alcohol abuse prevention trumps politics in D.C.

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Preventing drug and alcohol abuse is not a political issue. Milan Karna saw that firsthand this week as he attended a roundtable discussion hosted by President Donald Trump at the White House. Karna, coordinator of the Wood County Prevention Coalition, was asked to attend the 20-year anniversary of the Office of the National Drug Control Policy’s Drug-Free Communities Support Program grant awards in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Karna was one of six grant recipients present from the 731 programs in the nation. The programs – which work to prevent drug and alcohol abuse by youth – were awarded $90.9 million. The Wood County Prevention Coalition’s piece of the pie was $125,000. This is the fifth year for the local coalition to receive federal funding. “The coalition is neutral,” Karna said. “It’s public service for the betterment of the entire community.” Karna was gratified that the current administration appeared to understand the value of the prevention programs. “I understand people have different feelings about different political figures,” Karna said. Both Ohio senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman have been long-time supporters of funding the programs – but the support of the administration was unproven. “It was encouraging to hear this administration has agreed to allow this program to continue,” Karna said. During the roundtable discussion, youths from some of the prevention coalitions spoke of the reasons behind their commitment to the cause. President Donald Trump shared his personal story of his brother’s alcohol addiction. “He seemed very sincere,” Karna said. “I could sense that he was personally affected.” Karna has his own personal story that spurs his efforts to prevent drug and alcohol abuse. Karna’s father had issues with alcohol and tobacco. He was able to quit drinking – but had a much tougher time with smoking – even after undergoing a quintuple bypass. “He was asking my brother and me for cigarettes,” shortly after the surgery, Karna said. His father, who grew up in Yugoslavia, started smoking at age 5. He died in 2012 at age 72. “I think that’s something that drives me,” Karna said. It’s a motivator for many. “I think this is an issue a lot of people care about. There is a lot of grief and energy to do something,” Karna said. That may be why the issue has the ability to cross political lines. “Prevention is something…


BG may completely snuff out smoking in city parks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Visitors to Bowling Green’s parks may soon be able to take a deep breath of fresh air without the chance of gagging on secondhand smoke. The Bowling Parks and Recreation Board is discussing the possibility of making all city parks completely smoke-free. The city has long banned smoking in park buildings. Then in 2007, the policy was taken a step further. “At that point the staff was very concerned about smoking near our programs and around our younger users,” said Kristin Otley, director of the city’s parks and recreation department. In order to keep smoking away from ballparks, playgrounds, and shelter houses, the park board banned smoking in all areas except parking lots. In 2015, vaping was included in the smoking restrictions. But on Tuesday evening, the parks and rec board discussed taking the smoking ban further. “Is now the time to go completely smoke free? It’s to the point when there are people doing it, it really bothers the other people,” Otley said. “So we’re just sort of exploring it.” A smoking ban seems to blend well with the park department philosophy. “One of our core values is health,” Otley said. “We want to make sure we’re providing healthy environments and opportunities to the community.” Both Bowling Green State University and Wood County Hospital have banned smoking on their campuses. It is guessed that some of those employees take a short drive to the parks for a smoke. “We’ve been getting a lot more people making comments,” Otley said. And park staff has noticed an uptick in cigarette butts being tossed in the parks. Natural Resources Coordinator Chris Gajewicz recently made signs to post at Wintergarden Park making it clear that people cannot smoke as they walk the trails. “How frustrating is that – when you’re trying to enjoy nature,” Otley said. The board seemed supportive of the complete smoking ban in the parks, but will continue to discuss the matter at the next monthly meeting. The only concern expressed was that a full ban could affect the park building rentals. The new requirement would be posted on rental rules. The new smoking rule would be enforced by park staff – as are the current restrictions. “For the most part, they respect that,” Otley said of those asked to extinguish their cigarettes. If staff ran into problems, they would call city…