Wood County youth vaping more, drinking alcohol less

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Local teens are downing more caffeinated energy drinks and inhaling more vapors. But fewer are using alcohol, painkillers, cigarettes, cocaine, meth and steroids. More than 10,000 students, in all of county’s public schools’ grades 5 to 12, responded to the biennial Wood County Youth Survey coordinated by Dr. Bill Ivoska. For those who question the wisdom of trusting kids to tell the truth on the surveys, Ivoska wholeheartedly agrees. “Kids lie. We know kids lie,” Ivoska said Friday morning as presented the findings of the survey to its sponsors, the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Services Board, the Wood County Educational Service Center, and the Wood County Prevention Coalition. The anonymous surveys are designed to catch kids who were fibbing. For example, students who reported using drugs with made-up names were booted from the results. Kids who reported to using all drugs, all the time, had their surveys tossed out. What was left were survey results that local experts feel accurately reflect drug, alcohol, and mental health issues faced by Wood County students. In some ways, the surveys reveal a “whack-a-mole” problem. When local services focus on one issue, that problem decreases. Meanwhile, another problem arises.  For example, local teens have faced heavy-duty warnings about smoking for years. The survey shows the results of that, with cigarette use down 84 percent in teens from 2004 to the present. “Think of the long-term health benefits for those kids,” Ivoska said. Local efforts have been so successful, that the results stand out as better than national trends. “Rates of decline in Wood County are sharper and faster,” Ivoska said. “We’re closing that gateway.” But when one gate closes, another one opens. Vaping has seen a 17 percent increase in use among seniors in the last two year. “Vaping is in a honeymoon period right now,” he said. Many teens consider vaping as a healthy alternative to cigarettes, especially with harmless sounding flavors like “bubblegum.” Vaping is also more difficult for people to identify among users. “You can sneak a vape in your locker” and no one would know, Ivoska said. The trends showed that alcohol use among Wood County students is down 46 percent, and binge drinking is down 63 percent since 2004. “Another great accomplishment,” Ivoska said. In the last two years, marijuana use went up with some older kids, while cough medicine use went up with some of the younger ones. Use of LSD ticked up a bit for all ages. The use of painkillers dropped – possibly due to local efforts to limit access and encourage older family members to discard old medications. “Grandma’s closet is getting cleaned out,” Ivoska said. The decline in heroin use may be attributed to kids seeing the effects of the drug on their older family members. Local law enforcement members told Ivoska that they aren’t busting up a lot of parties with heroin lately. “Kids today are scared to death of it,” he said. Another gateway closing, Ivoska said. “The lack of heroin is evidence of the good work we’ve done,” he said. But there is always more work left to be done. Of the seniors surveyed, 56.4 percent said they text when driving. A total of 229 admitted to drinking and…

Health district investigates possible sickening of people at fundraiser

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Health District is investigating the possible sickening of guests at a fundraising event Saturday at Glass City Boardwalk. The health district has received reports of 10 to 15 people becoming ill after attending an event for the “We Are Outdoors” organization on Saturday evening. The number of people sickened is actually close to 100, according to a person who attended the event and suffered from stomach and intestinal problems afterwards. So the health district’s sanitarians and epidemiologist are trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together to determine what may have caused people to get sick, according to Lana Glore, director of the environmental division at the health district. “We have just started our investigation,” Glore said Wednesday morning, after being notified by a few people late on Tuesday of their sickness. “It’s real preliminary right now.” A health district sanitarian inspected Glass City Boardwalk, at 27820 East Broadway Road, in Moline, Wednesday morning. The business hosts events such as wedding receptions, corporate gatherings, conventions and seminars. The sanitarian collected information on any sick employees, food handling practices, food temperatures, and food storage. The menu for the Saturday evening fundraiser was reportedly steak, potatoes, green beans and salad prepared by Glass City Boardwalk. Dessert was a sheet cake from Kroger in Perrysburg. The next step in the investigation involves health district epidemiologist Connor Rittwage interviewing those attending the event who were sickened, and look for commonalities in the items they ate that evening. Samples are reportedly being sought to send to Columbus for possible pathogens. An estimated 300 people attended the event, which was the inaugural fundraiser for “We Are Outdoors,” a group that combines the interest of hunters and fisherman with the concerns of environmentalists and conservationists. “Now we just have to put pieces together,” Glore said. Glore was uncertain if any of those who became ill had to be hospitalized. She said that past sanitarian inspections at the business had not shown any significant problems. Anyone who became ill after attending the event at Glass City Boardwalk should contact Rittwage at 419-352-8402, ext. 3259.

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, she said. More than 80 percent of opioid addicts get started by misusing prescription drugs, according to Kyle Clark, prevention education director with the Wood County Educational Service Center. “This epidemic is quietly creeping in several homes,” Brooks said. Many Wood County residents have lost loved ones, or know of someone who has, Wood County Chief Deputy Eric Reynolds said. “You’re all here today to be that spoke in the bicycle wheel,” he said. “All of you are here to do more.” Reynolds presented some stats on opioid deaths. In 2016, the nation saw 64,070 opioid overdose deaths, Ohio saw 4,050, and Wood County saw 21. The Wood County Sheriff’s Office administered six doses of Narcan to bring back overdose victims, while EMS departments used it 102 times. Recently, an off-duty deputy administered Narcan when an overdose victim ran his car into the deputy’s home, Reynolds said. A growing number of parents are losing their jobs and custody of their children due to their addictions, said Tom Clemons, executive director of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board. “There’s a real crucial needs for foster parents,” to care for those children left behind, Clemons said. Dobson compared opioid deaths to road accident fatalities. Those killed on…

Dozens ready to go bald for a cause at BGSU St. Baldrick’s event

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest private funder of children’s cancer research, will host one of its signature head-shaving events at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union at Bowling Green State University Feb. 18, when more than 60 people will shave their heads to raise money for lifesaving childhood cancer research. The event will include barbers from Ambrosia Salon & Spa, Bowling Green Mayor Richard Edwards, BGSU Interim President Dr. Rodney Rogers, BGSU Vice President for Student Affairs and Vice Provost Dr. Thomas Gibson, the St. Baldrick’s Honored Family the Roszmans, additional speakers, musical performances and a raffle. Over the past 6 years, BGSU has raised more than $108,000 for St. Baldrick’s, shaving 635 heads and donating 343 ponytails. Every 2 minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer worldwide, and in the U.S. one in five kids diagnosed won’t survive. Those who do survive often suffer long-term effects from treatments too harsh for their developing bodies. As the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, St. Baldrick’s is leading the charge to take childhood back from cancer. From its beginnings, St. Baldrick’s has believed that kids deserve the chance to be kids – fun-loving, carefree, refreshingly honest, and always a little goofy – and deserve the chance at a healthy future. That’s why donations raised at events like this have made it possible for St. Baldrick’s to fund more than $232 million to support the best childhood cancer research, wherever it takes place. About St. Baldrick’s Foundation As the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation believes that kids are special and deserve to be treated that way. St. Baldrick’s is leading the charge to take childhood back from cancer by funding some of the most brilliant childhood cancer research experts who are working to find cures and better treatments for all childhood cancers. Kids need treatments as unique as they are – and that starts with funding research just for them. Join us at to help support the best cancer treatment for kids.

Hospital, chamber team up to offer blood analysis screenings

From BOWLING GREEN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Wood County Hospital and the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce will host their 14th Annual Blood Analysis Program on Saturday, April 28 from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., at the Wood County Hospital. This comprehensive blood analysis screening is for multiple health risk indicators including but not limited to kidney function, electrolytes, liver function and lipid profile and requires a 10 hour fast. Additional available tests are PSA for men and TSH (thyroid) for men and women. Cost of the program is $50 for BG Chamber Investors and $60 for Non-Investors, with $25 each for the additional tests. Blood pressure checks are also offered. The results of this fasting blood test should be used as a guide to determine your current health status and to make positive changes in diet, exercise or lifestyle to enhance your well-being. The screening should not take the place of routine physicals. Although normal ranges are listed, only you and your physician can establish what is normal for you. A report providing all test results will be sent to the participant or his/her physician. Proceeds from the event will go to support the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce and Wood County Hospital Foundation Scholarship Funds. The Wood County Hospital Foundation Scholarship is designated for full-time undergraduate students at BGSU. The scholarship is awarded annually to one student. The Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce Scholarship is a $2,000 award that is given annually to one Chamber-affiliated student for their study at BGSU. Appointments are required. Starting now, you can call the Chamber office at (419) 353-7945 to schedule an appointment. Registration will be taken until April 13th, or until all spots are filled. Prepayment is required at time of registration by cash, check or credit card, and must be paid prior to event.

Federal funding in limbo for community health center

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The uncertain status of federal funding for community health centers across the U.S. has left some local public health officials with a sick feeling. After several delays and missed deadlines, Congress did pass funding for CHIP – the Children’s Health Insurance Program – which provides matching funds to states for health insurance to families with children. Public health officials understood that the CHIP funding would be approved along with the federal funding for community health centers that serve low income patients. “That didn’t happen,” said Joanne Navin, a retired nurse practitioner from Bowling Green, who serves as board president for the Wood County Community Health and Wellness Center. The health center, located at the Wood County Health District on East Gypsy Lane Road, Bowling Green, was expected to get the $1.1 million promised by the federal government for 2018. With those funds last year, the center served about 1,500 unduplicated patients, making more than 3,700 visits for services such as pediatric, immunizations, screenings, chronic diseases, lab services, plus seniors, women’s and men’s care. “It is just frightening that the federal government is denying health care to citizens of this country,” Navin said. “They are playing politics with it.” Though the community health center accepts private pay patients, the primary purpose of the facility is to provide health care to low income, Medicaid patients. Patients pay on a sliding fee scale, explained Diane Krill, chief executive officer of the community health center. The lack of federal funding for 2018 has led to the facility not filling the behavioral specialist position that was vacated after a person retired last year, Krill said. The looming funding question is very frustrating for Krill, who expected the federal government to live up to its promises. “I see the stats out there,” Krill said, referring to the number of people served across the nation at community health centers. The failure to act on the funding has put at risk 9 million patients’ access to health care, 50,000 jobs, and nearly 3,000 health center sites. Some centers will be forced to close down, Krill said. The Wood County center does a good job of working within its budget, Navin said. But that doesn’t mean it can continue as is with its federal funding being yanked from the agency. “It will mean a big hit to the budget,” she said. “You can only cut so much.” Navin believes many in Wood County aren’t aware of the work performed at the community health center. “A lot of people in the county don’t realize how important this is to us. We’re reaching a lot of people in the county. These are people who care about their patients,” she said about the center staff and management. “It is a gem in our county that people are unaware of,” Navin said. “This is what we have – we don’t want to lose it.” The services offered at the Wood County Community Health and Wellness Center are based on a county health assessment of local residents’ needs. Krill referred to the care as a patient-centered medical home for many. “We’re putting the patient in the center of it,” she said, with staff helping to break down barriers for patients to get care, and following up…

Forum in Pemberville to discuss opioid crisis, Feb. 11

Submitted on behalf of EASTWOOD COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT CORPORATION An Opioid Forum and Panel Discussion: Prevention Through Education will be held Sunday, Feb. 11, at 2 p.m. at the Pemberville Legion Hall, 405 E. Front St., Pemberville. The event was organized by Dr. Ted Bowlus (Wood County Commissioner) and sponsored by the Eastwood Community Improvement Corporation (the intent to preserve the communities of Eastwood School District). Dr. Robert Forney (Chief Toxicologist, Lucas County Coroner’s Office) will be keynote speaker. Presentations will be offered on: How serious is this problem? What is addiction? What is Wood County doing about it? What can the public do? Panel Discussion will address questions from the public. Speakers Include: Paul Dobson – Wood County Prosecutor, Director of the Addiction Response Collaborative (ARC) Belinda Brooks – Addiction Response Collaborative (ARC) Ryan Richards – Addiction Response Collaborative (ARC) Tom Clemons – Executive Director of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board Aimee Coe – Director of Community Programs (ADAMHS Board) Kyle Clark – Director of the Wood County Educational Services Center Milan Karna – Wood County Prevention Coalition Coordinator Eric Reynolds – Wood County Deputy Sheriff Dr. Ted Bowlus – Wood County Commission, Board Certified Physician, adjunct professor of Neuroscience Nancy Orel – Professor Emeritus (BGSU), Executive Director of Research, Optimal Aging Institute (BGSU) For more information; Call Dr. Bowlus at 419-351-4091  

Free dental care for kids offered, Feb. 2

Submitted by GIVE KIDS A SMILE . On Friday, February 2, 2018, members of the Toledo Dental Society will provide free dental care to hundreds of Northwest Ohio children at three locations as part of the annual “Give Kids a Smile” program. As many as 400 children will receive free dental care, including simple teeth cleanings, fillings and even tooth extractions. This is the fifteenth year that the Toledo Dental Society has locally sponsored the “Give Kids a Smile” program. The American Dental Association created “Give Kids a Smile” in 2003 as a way to raise awareness of the importance of dental care for disadvantaged children. Dentists and hygienists will provide the care for children up to and including age 18, from 8 AM until 5 PM, at these three locations. Appointments fill quickly. Call as soon as possible. The Dental Center of Northwest Ohio 2138 Madison Avenue, Toledo, OH. Appointments: (419) 241-6215 U.T.M.C. Dental Residency Program, Main Hospital 2nd floor – Clinic 2-A 3000 Arlington Avenue, Toledo. Appointments: (419) 383-3504y 1 in 4 children aged 2 to 11 years has untreated cavities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Poor diet and lack of adequate oral hygiene are largely responsible. The National Institutes of Health report that 80 percent of tooth decay is found in just 25 percent of children. # The Owens Community College Dental Hygiene Clinic, 2nd floor of Health Technology Hall (The tall building with the big “O” sign at the top) 30335 Oregon Road, Perrysburg, OH. Appointments: (567) 661-7294 The need for pediatric dental care is great. Nearly 1 in 4 children aged 2 to 11 years has untreated cavities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Poor diet and lack of adequate oral hygiene are largely responsible. The National Institutes of Health report that 80 percent of tooth decay is found in just 25 percent of children.

BG Middle School ‘Ending the Silence’ on mental health

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Silence can be soothing – but not if it allows warning signs and the stigma surrounding mental health issues to go unnoticed. Bowling Green Middle School counselors Debra Ondrus and Alyssa Santacroce presented a program to the board of education Tuesday evening about “Ending the Silence at BGMS.” The school partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Wood County to focus on emotional and mental health. National statistics show that one in five Americans suffer from mental health issues, Santacroce said. For students, those problems can affect their academics and daily lives. Bowling Green Middle School is the first school in Wood County to work with NAMI to offer this for students, Ondrus said. Staff and students worked together to recognize the signs of mental health problems. Through the program, they tackled the topics of: Decreasing the stigma Identifying warning signs Finding positive coping skills Treating the problem Recognizing signs of suicide Students not only talked about how to help themselves, but also how to help others who are suffering. “I was amazed,” Ondrus said of the ideas students came up with to help others. One student vowed to stop calling other people “crazy.” Another wanted to start reaching out to those in obvious distress. The students learned that mental illness is not a life sentence, Ondrus said. “Just like a physical illness, mental illness is treatable.” One area that Santacroce and Ondrus found especially lacking was the area of positive coping techniques. When students were asked to identify how they cope with life stresses, their answers primarily focused on playing video games, watching TV or using their cell phones. Students were given ideas of other stress relievers, given information on area resources and were reassured, “there is help,” Ondrus said. A video called “If we all speak loud enough,” stressed that mental illness needs to be talked about in the open. To understand the impact of the “Ending the Silence” program, all the students were given pre- and post-tests with questions about identifying signs of problems, how to help themselves, and being comfortable talking about mental health. The post-program tests show significant positive changes. Eighty-five percent of the students said they had learned something new. “Which is great. These are life lessons,” Santacroce said. Twenty-four students filled out referrals forms either for themselves or for their friends who they are concerned about. Those students are being reached out to by staff. “I’m really glad kids shared with us,” Santacroce. Though the topic is uncomfortable, Ondrus stressed the importance of getting it out in the open. “Knowledge is power,” she said. In an effort to offer more coping options for students, a “Why Not Wednesday” program is scheduled each week after school. Students do activities like hula-hooping, zumba, and participate in an “escape” room. Yoga and healthy relationship groups are also being planned. Ondrus explained the high school already has a “Signs of Suicide” program and the elementaries are looking for an age-appropriate mental health program. In other business at the board of education meeting: Winners in the Safety Kids Calendar Contest were recognized, including Whitney Bechstein, middle school; Isa Wan, Crim Elementary; Claire Rieman and Charlotte Grillot, both of Conneaut Elementary. Superintendent Francis Scruci reported his “coffee chats” have…

Flu season packs a punch with a feverish pitch

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This season’s flu strain is packing a punch and is showing no sign of giving up anytime soon. Though no “outbreaks” have been reported yet in Wood County, the flu has many local residents coughing, with fevers and headaches. On top of that, the H3N2 strain that is hitting throughout the U.S. also brings with it vomiting and diarrhea. “It’s a bad flu season, said Alex Aspacher, community outreach coordinator with the Wood County Health District. Part of the reason is that the H2N3 strain blanketing the country is resistant to the immunizations that many Americans got to ward off the flu. “The vaccine is a little less effective against that strain,” Aspacher said. Doctors’ offices and hospitals are required to report flu cases to the health district. As of last week, 38 Wood County residents had been hospitalized due to the flu. Public health officials realize there are many more local residents suffering from the flu who tough it out and do not seek medical care. No deaths have been reported in Wood County, though Lucas County has seen one child and three adults die from the flu this season. Those most susceptible to the H3N2 flu strain are people with weakened immune systems, the elderly and children. Some Toledo area emergency rooms are struggling to handle all the flu cases flooding through their doors. Some hospitals have asked that flu sufferers seek care at other sites like urgent care centers, to relieve the demands on emergency rooms. Wood County Hospital Emergency Department is handling the increased patient load so far. “We are getting several flu cases,” said emergency department nursing supervisor Renee Baker. “They are right on track with other years.” The symptoms being seen at the Wood County ER include respiratory issues and “a lot of nausea,” she said. “So far we’ve been able to handle it. We haven’t had to divert anyone,” Baker said. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found widespread influenza in all states except Hawaii and the District of Columbia. Doctors’ offices, clinics and emergency rooms all over the country are feeling the impact from the flu. Generally, people most at risk for complications are older people, children and people with weak immune systems. It has been an early flu season that seems to be peaking now. According to the CDC, there were 11,718 new laboratory-confirmed cases during the week ending Jan. 6, bringing the season total to 60,161. Those older than 65 represent the largest group hospitalized, though people within the 50-to-64 age range and children younger than 5 are also experiencing high rates of hospitalization. H3N2 seasons are associated with higher rates of hospitalizations and deaths, as well as with lower vaccine effectiveness, possibly as low as 30 percent for this season. This strain tends to produce more severe symptoms, particularly among older persons. Wood County Health District is providing information on how long-term care facilities can best respond to widespread influenza activity. Influenza generally spreads more quickly in inpatient facilities, and older people are at greater risk to acquire the illness and experience more serious symptoms. While influenza usually affects older people the most, it can also be severe or fatal for children and young adults. This year’s flu…

Finding the recipe to cure food inspection issues

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Though the Wood County Health District has the power to shut down restaurants, the preferred outcome is that food establishments clean up their acts instead. When health sanitarians come across restaurants with serious issues, many of the violations are corrected on the spot. To make sure the problems have been solved, repeat inspections are often conducted. “It’s based on the severity of the violations,” said Lana Glore, director of environmental services at the Wood County Health District. Inspectors are sticklers for food temperatures and other issues that can lead to public health risks. The sanitarians’ biggest tool is education. But if that doesn’t clear up the problems, then restaurant owners can be called in for administrative hearings at the health district office. If the violations are serious enough, an injunction or restraining order can be issued. “Ben has the right to order immediate closure,” Glore said of Ben Batey, the county health commissioner. “Our expectation is the food license holders are responsible for knowing the rules,” Glore said. “We hold that license owner responsible for training people.” But before any license is yanked, the sanitarians will make multiple attempts to educate the owner and those in the kitchen. Sometimes there are language and cultural barriers involved. The health district has learned that the biggest cultural gap appears to occur with some Asian restaurants. “We offer handouts in Mandarin Chinese,” Glore said of the educational materials. “That’s the language that seems to be the biggest barrier.” The Wood County Health District has not had to hold an administrative hearing on a local restaurant since 2015, involving Charlie’s in Perrysburg. Glore said that restaurant agreed to a “last chance agreement” and has been doing well. But sanitarians are always on the lookout for restaurants that have ongoing critical violations. “We have a couple on our radar right now,” Glore said. The intent isn’t to shut places down, but clean them up, she stressed. In Bowling Green, one of the food establishments with the most critical violations recently is the Old Town Buffet at 1216 N. Main St. On Nov. 30, Old Town Buffet was found to have seven critical and 15 non-critical violations. The critical violations included: –          Raw shrimp was stored under raw chicken, and mozzarella sticks were under raw chicken – which risks cross contamination. –          Foods were not being held at proper temperatures in the cooler. –          Foods were sitting out at room temperature, like the eggs and bok choy. –          Foods being held in the refrigerator for more than 24 hours were not properly date marked. –          The concentration of the chlorine sanitizing solution did not meet minimum requirements. –          Equipment surfaces and utensils were dirty, including a build-up on food containers, scoops, counters, cutting boards and other equipment. –          The handwashing sink was not easily accessible. Many of the violations were corrected at the time of the inspection at Old Town Buffet. However, the problems are ongoing at the location. During previous inspections last year, the restaurant also had several critical violations. On May 10, the site had six critical and nine non-critical violations, and on Feb. 7, the restaurant had five critical and eight non-critical. Upon a return visit on Dec. 29, the site had two critical violations….

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 in conjunction with the committee to avoid duplication. Orel will direct the new research driven initiative, also working with Niese of the Committee on Aging. They have a long-standing close working relationship. In 2005, they created the No One Is Immune project that dealt with seniors and HIV/AIDS. Orel said back then “no one was assuming older adults were at risk for HIV. No one is assuming older adults are at risk for opioid overdose or addiction. Because of that no one is doing prevention education programs.” When she looked around at agencies dealing with the elderly, she found they had information on how opioids can be used to address chronic pain “but nothing warning them about opioid overdoses or how the opioid crisis affects them personally.” Older patients are three times more likely to be prescribed opioids than younger patients, in part because they suffer more chronic pain. At this point the initiative is still in the formative stages. Orel and Niese are finishing up a grant proposal for funding from Cardinal Health. Orel said she hopes programming will begin in spring. “I know we’ll start it in Wood County and extend it throughout Ohio and possibly nationally.” As with the HIV programming, the initiative will cast a wide…

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 body prioritizes which areas to keep warm, so the extremities are likely to suffer first. If frostbite is suspected, the area should be warmed with an electric blanket or warm water – not hot water, Aspacher cautioned. The frostbitten areas should not be massaged, and the person should avoid walking on frostbitten toes and feet. The health district also advises that people should be prepared for power outages by having a three-day supply of water, canned food, medications and pet foods in their homes. A cold weather kit should also be stocked with duct tape, a weather radio and a wrench to shut off burst pipes. Next, how to protect your pets … House pets aren’t accustomed to any extended exposure to these type of temperatures, said Janet Duty, of the Animal Hospital at West Ridge in Bowling Green. Some dogs get really excited about playing out in the snow – but people need to keep an eye on them. “Indoor dogs are not as adaptable,” Duty said. “Watch for signs of them limping. Snow gets stuck between their toes” and the pads on their paws can be cut by ice. Outdoor animals, such as barn cats, need to have places to cuddle up out of the wind. “Make sure…

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 of them. Pay attention to the person’s senses, she advised. What do they like to smell – molasses cookies, certain flowers? What was a favorite food – candy, pie, beer? Did they prefer Frank Sinatra or Glenn Miller? Don’t forget the sense of touch that can bring back memories – with pets, or fabrics such as lace. And old photos or adult coloring books can prompt good conversations. “Give them a tool of how to get into their long-term memory,” Cytlak said. And avoid questions all together if those cause stress. Instead of saying, “do you remember our first puppy?” try saying, “I was thinking about that dog we had….” “So they don’t have to feel bad about not knowing an answer,” she said. Let people with dementia be helpful – many still feel that need to be useful, she added. “My mother absolutely loved to help anyway she could.” Let them set the table – it doesn’t need to be perfect. Of course, there are limits. She talked of a former mechanic who always asked to leave the facility where he was living so he could work on this truck. Rather than just say “no,” Cytlak suggested telling him that a friend of his was fixing the brakes so…

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; HORAN Associates; MarshBerry; Metals USA – Wooster; Principle Business Enterprises   Medium Business: 301-1,000 employees (16 awards) Gold Award: American Showa, Inc.; Grange Insurance; NK Parts Industries, Inc.; Ohio Public Employees Retirement System; Pickaway County Commissioners Silver Award: City of Dublin; City of Westerville; Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers; Equity Trust Company; MillerCoors Trenton Brewery; MS Consultants, Inc.; Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board; Wood County Hospital Bronze Award: Automated Packaging Systems; Eliza Jennings Sr Care Network; Maumee City Schools   Large Business: 1,001+ employees (36 awards) Gold Award: Akron Children’s Hospital; Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center; City of Cincinnati; City of Columbus; Dayton Children’s Hospital; GE Aviation; Huntington National Bank; MetroHealth Medical Center; Montgomery County; Nationwide Children’s Hospital; OhioHealth; Premier Health; Total Quality Logistics; TriHealth; Youngstown State University Silver Award: Alliance Data; American Greetings; Battelle; Case Western Reserve University; Columbus City Schools Wellness Initiative; Cooper Farms; Genesis HealthCare System; Kettering Health Network; Lake Health; Mercy Medical Center; Ohio Department of Health; ProMedica; Southern Ohio Medical Center; Union Hospital Association; University of Cincinnati; Westfield Insurance Bronze Award: Emerson; Fifth Third Bank; Lucas County Board of Commissioners; Marathon Petroleum Company; Mercy Health   For more information and to register for the Health Action Council 2018 Columbus Symposium, visit For more information…