Researcher spells out threat of superbugs

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Superbugs may sound like a new summer time horror movie, but the dangers they pose are real. This past semester Dr. Shannon Manning, from Michigan State University, presented “Superbugs! Antibiotic Resistance Matters,” the keynote address of the Ned Baker Public Health Symposium. The talk, despite its sensational title, was aimed at those in public health. The talk delved deeply into biological mechanisms as Manning explained the rapid evolution of pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics and other treatments. The use of antibiotics, she said, goes back to well before people knew what they were. They were present in ancient beer, an unpalatable brew akin to liquid bread dough. Egyptians used honey and lard to treat wounds because of the anti-microbial properties. But superbugs arose only after scientists understood these properties and created drugs. This launched an evolutionary war between the drugs meant to cure diseases and the pathogens that cause diseases. While the antibiotic kills most of the pathogens, a few cells immune to the antibiotic survive, and thrive, creating new strains immune to the antibiotic. That led to the emergence of superbugs. “They can cause high rates of morbidity and mortality in human populations and also are causing high rates of disease in animal populations,” Manning said “Some of these superbugs tend to be more virulent causing more severe infections.” That leads to high rates of death and long-lasting health problems, she said. Patients end up “sicker for very long period of times.” “We do have a set a resistant pathogens that cannot be killed by any of known drugs that we have,” Manning said. “Many of these pathogens and others have developed resistance to many types of antibiotics. These are increasing in number.” None of this should have been surprising. Alexander Fleming the scientist who first isolated penicillin warned of the drug’s of overuse, Manning said. Unheeded, his warning was proven true quickly. At first penicillin was considered a miracle drug. Staph aureus killed 70 percent of its victims before the drug was discovered. Those fatalities dropped dramatically once people started taking penicillin. That prompted increased use of penicillin. Nature reacted, and drug-resistant strains evolved. Death rates rose again. Hospitals are battlegrounds. They have many patients who already have compromised immune systems and are targets for these new drug-resistant pathogens. The war between drugs and pathogens was engaged with drug resistant strains emerging as soon as a new drug was developed. That led to the evolution of the superbugs, pathogens resistant to not just the drug that targets them but to other drugs as well. It’s a global problem that’s complicated by the diversity in use of antibiotics. In some places they can be bought over the counter; some places they are not used at all. Even in the latter locations, Manning said, studies have found traces…

BG site selected for medical marijuana dispensary

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A Bowling Green location has been selected by the state as a provisional medical marijuana dispensary. The former Glass City Credit Union Building, at 1155 N. Main St., will be able to provide medicinal marijuana under the name Glass City Alternatives. The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy today awarded 56 medical marijuana provisional dispensary licenses. A total of 376 applications had been received. A provisional license is a temporary license issued to an applicant for a medical marijuana dispensary license, authorizing them to begin establishing a dispensary. All provisional license holders have six months to demonstrate compliance with the dispensary operational requirements to obtain a certificate of operation. Once a dispensary is awarded a certificate of operation, it can begin to sell medical marijuana to Ohio patients and caregivers in accordance with Ohio laws and rules. The state had been divided into four quadrants for medical marijuana sales – with Northwest Ohio to have 10 dispensaries. The region was broken into districts, with Wood, Hancock and Henry counties being combined into one district to be allowed one dispensary. No applicants filed for locations in Hancock or Henry counties. So that left Wood County to host a dispensary. The three applications filed with the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy were for sites at: 106 E. Napoleon Road, Bowling Green, with the business name of Debbie’s Dispensary, filed by Sara Presler. 1155 N. Main St., Bowling Green, with the business name of Glass City Alternatives, filed by Mark Jacobs. 2701 Woodville Road, Northwood, with the business name of Serenity Dispensary, filed by Deitra Hickey. House Bill 523, the Ohio law that in 2016 legalized marijuana for medical use only, tasked the Ohio Board of Pharmacy with determining which locations should be approved as dispensaries. A total of potential 376 sites were submitted, though just 56 were approved, according to Grant Miller, spokesperson with the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. The law requires 500 feet between any marijuana business and a school, church, public library or public playground. “We have to make sure they are complying with the rule,” Miller said earlier this year. “It’s an in depth process. Obviously, there’s a lot that goes into the application.” All the applicants were required to show the sites had proper commercial zoning, and that the community had not enacted a moratorium on the sale of medical marijuana. “When it comes to dispensaries and the way they interact with areas, it’s really up to the local areas. In the end, it’s down to the local town, township or city,” Miller said. “We are judging them on the merits we required.” In 2016, Bowling Green City Council considered a moratorium on medical marijuana, but decided against taking such action. The city attorney and city planning director suggested that council declare a moratorium…

New dental site won’t turn away uninsured patients

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   By the end of this year, people without dental insurance will have a place to turn for help in Wood County. “To be able to finally offer services is huge for us,” Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey said as he prepared for the groundbreaking ceremony for the new dental services expansion to Wood County Health Department’s Community Health Center. The dental clinic will have five exam chairs, offering services such as X-rays, minor surgeries and preventative care. Community health assessments have repeatedly shown unmet dental needs as a top health problem for local residents. The health department was able to secure nearly $900,000 from the federal government to cover the construction costs for the facility that extends off the east end of the health department at 1840 E. Gypsy Lane Road, Bowling Green. More than a decade ago, local officials who cared about public health and about children met at the county health department to discuss the lack of dental care for local children. At that point there was one dentist in the county who freely accepted Medicaid patients – Dr. Jack Whittaker. The problem wasn’t an easy fix with a clear culprit. Dentists are reimbursed at a lower rate by Medicaid than through private insurance. And the Medicaid patients often have significant dental needs because they have delayed treatment due to the expense. They often wait till the pain is unbearable, and the cost is escalated. Since then, the county offered a Band-Aid solution that has been a lifesaver to some residents. Once a month, the Smile Express parked its RV-size mobile dental unit outside the Wood County Health District to treat patients who otherwise would go without care. Though it made a difference in many lives, it was just scratching the surface of the unmet dental needs in the county. Every time the health district conducted an assessment of the county, the lack of dental services for low income residents ranked high on the list of needs. Wood County was not alone. In 2015, dental care was the top unmet health care need for nearly 157,400 children of all family incomes across the state, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Almost 486,000 children in the state lacked dental insurance, and nearly 340,000 had never been to a dentist. In Wood County that same year, 21 percent of children had not had a dental appointment in the past year, while more than 9 percent had never been to the dentist. Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children 6 to 11 years old, affecting about a quarter of all kids, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It worsens as they age, affecting almost 60 percent of those aged 12 to 19 years. The Ohio Department of Health cites that more than…

After split with UT, BGSU aims to expand its nursing program

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Like a cell that splits in order to reproduce, the nursing collaboration between Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo is coming apart. The goal is to graduate more nurses, said Interim Dean Sue Houston. The institutions announced this week the end of the collaboration which dates back to about 1972, Houston said. Originally BGSU’s partner was the Medical College of Ohio, before its merger with UT. It was UT, she said, that initiated the dissolution of the collaboration. “The University of Toledo approached us about their desire to be independent and pursue the nursing programs on their own,” Houston said. Once BGSU officials studied the options they realized it offered opportunities for BGSU as well. The separation has been “very agreeable” and “collaborative,” she said. There will be no change for either students already in the program or the class that enters in fall. Students who enter in fall, 2019 will be in the new program. Houston said the university now enrolls 100-120 students in a class. About 50 move into the clinical rotation. The culling of students after the second year is rigorous. All the pre-nursing students are ranked based on their performance in the first two years of pre-requisite courses and only the top students are accepted into the clinical rotation. Some are able to continue in a small collaboration with Mercy College. For some students “nursing may not be the major for them,” Houston said. “They don’t quite understand the science they need.” But “there are a many great students who might not quite have that GPA and might be great nurses, and it’s frustrating right now that we’re not able to meet the needs of those students. … It’s a very, very competitive process to get into the clinical rotation.” In some semesters the standard is higher than to get into medical school. By moving more pre-nursing students along to the clinical stage without lowering standards, “there’s great potential for this thing to grow larger.” (Two years ago, then Vice President for Academic Affairs John Fischer expressed concern about the impact of students taking College Credit Plus courses and not realizing how getting a low grade while still in high school could foreclose future options. Nursing was his prime example.) Graduating more nurses would address the growing demand for nurses. In making the announcement, the universities cited the Bureau of Labor Statistics: “Registered nursing is among the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2024. The nursing workforce is expected to grow by 16 percent to 3.2 million by 2024 with more than one million job openings for nurses due to growth and replacements.” Also, being phased out and then recreated by the individual institutions is a program to help nurses who have an associate’s degree or diploma earn their bachelor’s…

BGSU, UT to go separate ways with nursing programs

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS In order to meet the demand for more nurses in the region and across the country, The University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University will pursue independent nursing programs to educate additional health care providers. UT and BGSU currently partner in a joint nursing consortium. Moving forward with independent programs will provide opportunities for both universities to focus on separate strategies to educate and grow the supply of nurses, which is critical to meeting the future healthcare needs of the region. All current BGSU nursing students and new students beginning their studies in Fall 2018 will continue with the consortium program through graduation and will not be impacted by the change. Under the existing agreement, about 50 BGSU pre-nursing students annually go on to complete their required nursing coursework and clinicals through the UT College of Nursing after two years of pre-nursing studies at BGSU. While the students take their classes at UT during their junior and senior years, they remain BGSU students and are awarded their bachelor’s degree by BGSU. “Health care is a rapidly changing industry and universities need to continue to adapt to the changing environment in order to provide the best education for future health care providers,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “The nursing profession is more critical than ever and this new organizational structure will allow both UT and BGSU to grow our programs to better meet the need for more high-quality nurses in Ohio and beyond.” The demand for nurses in Ohio and across the nation far exceeds the current supply. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nursing is among the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2024. The nursing workforce is expected to grow by 16 percent to 3.2 million by 2024 with more than one million job openings for nurses due to growth and replacements. “We agree that the time is right to pursue new partnerships,” BGSU President Rodney Rogers said. “We recognize that there is growing demand for nurses throughout northwest Ohio. This provides both universities the opportunity to grow their respective programs.” UT and BGSU continue to be strong partners. Last year the universities announced a foreign language course exchange program. The universities also are partners in the Building Ohio’s Sustainable Energy Future (BOSEF) initiative, a joint program that encourages students to pursue research careers in renewable energy and sustainable environmental practices. Additionally, UT and BGSU are collaborating on the Regionally Aligned Priorities in Delivering Skills (RAPIDS) program, which allows universities to purchase state-of-the-art equipment for use in learning laboratories specific to regional workforce needs and then share these resources with other colleges and universities to help more students get a quality education more affordably. The universities also are focusing efforts on addressing the opioid crisis and Lake Erie water quality concerns.

Flavorful e-cigs target vulnerable teen users

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Decades ago, public health officials realized the lunacy of using a cartoon character to promote cigarettes. That was the beginning of the end for Joe Camel, the cool pool-shooting, cigarette-puffing character. The big colorful camel had become as easily recognizable as the Disney logo to youth, according to Dr. Megan Roberts, from Ohio State University, who spoke about adolescents and new tobacco products to the Wood County Prevention Coalition last month. As the use of traditional cigarettes has dropped among teens, the use of alernative tobacco products is up. Those new products include vaping – the inhaling and exhaling of aerosol produced by e-cigarettes or similar devices like vape pens. While cartoon characters have been banned from tobacco marketing, fun flavors are allowed – 7,764 flavors in fact – ranging from chocolate, to “mango tango,” to “cinna-MMM.” “Adolescents respond to tobacco marketing,” Roberts said. Despite restrictions, tobacco products are advertised heavily in places like convenience stores or gas stations. “They are plastered with tobacco ads.” The tobacco industry spends more than $9 billion a year on marketing, she said. A study of adolescents and cigarette advertisements showed that flashy tobacco ads increase activity in youths’ brains. Ads for flavored tobacco created brain activity in kids who weren’t tobacco users. An eye-tracking study showed kids focused longer when flavored tobacco ads were shown. The colorful ads combined with the fruity flavors create the perception that e-cigarettes are harmless, cool, even fashionable, Roberts said. “These are chemicals that can be dangerous when inhaled,” especially for developing brains, she said. Though smoking regular cigarettes is no longer as popular with adolescents, there are many other options out there for them now – cigarillos, e-cigs, hooka, juuls. In 2014, e-cigarette use surpassed cigarette use in middle and high school students in the U.S., Roberts said. Many teens and adults consider these newer options as safe, but Roberts disagreed. Hookah, she said, which involves tobacco being smoked through a water pipe, has the same risks as cigarettes. “With every puff, the user is inhaling carcinogens,” she said. “It’s not a harmless water vapor.” The same goes for cigarillos, which are tiny cigars. E-cigs, devices that deliver nicotine and other additives through inhaled aerosols, are not only flavored, but are also shaped like everyday items that adults don’t realize are e-cigs, Roberts said. “There are many different shapes and sizes,” she said. “Some look like pens and some look like USB drives.” “Those are extremely popular among young people,” Roberts said. “Parents don’t know what they are.” In some cases, teens can be vaping from the smaller devices in class, without teachers realizing, she said. Many youth and their parents don’t realize that some of the cigarette alternatives still contain addictive nicotine, cancer-causing chemicals, heavy metals and volatile organic compounds, she said. Tobacco…

Hospital offers robotic-assisted surgical system

From WOOD COUNTY HOSPITAL Wood County Hospital is excited to announce the recent acquisition of the da Vinci Xi Surgical System. The da Vinci Xi System was designed with the goal of further advancing the technology used in minimally invasive surgery. The System can be used across a spectrum of minimally invasive surgical procedures and has been optimized for multi-quadrant surgeries in gynecology, urology, and general surgery. The system’s advanced features include wristed instruments, 3D-HD visualization, intuitive motion, and an ergonomic design. As with all da Vinci Surgical Systems, the surgeon is 100 percent  in control of the robotic-assisted da Vinci System, which translates his/her hand movements into smaller, more precise movements of tiny instruments inside the patient’s body. The Xi System’s immersive 3D-HD vision system provides surgeons a highly magnified view, virtually extending their eyes and hands into the patient. Wood County Hospital will welcome the community to attend an open house, and the opportunity test drive this new technology on May 31 from 5-7 p.m. in the Wood County Hospital Surgery Waiting Area. There will be live demonstrations from the surgical staff and interactive tables for the community to learn more about the technology offered at the hospital as well as behind the scenes tours of the state-of-the-art surgery center. Beverages and snacks will be available, and an iPad mini will be raffled off to one lucky attendee. Register for the event by visiting “Wood County Hospital has a long history of innovation in offering surgical services to its community.  We have been studying the robotic technology for some time, and believe that the Xi robot will truly make good the promised benefits of robotic surgery.  Patients receiving robotic procedures often have reduced blood loss, shorter lengths of stay, and faster returns to normal activity than with traditional approaches.  We have six surgeons on our Medical Staff who have experience using robotic technology and are thrilled to be bringing this capability to the patients of Wood County.” – WCH President, Stan Korducki  

Massage therapist Audrey Leslie lends helping hands to people with a variety of needs

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Audrey Leslie was helping a friend when she found her mission. The friend had a sore back and asked Leslie for a massage. Leslie obliged. “You’re really good at this,” the friend said. “It wasn’t at until that moment that I realized I could do this for a living,” Leslie said. “That people would pay for me this.” That was in 2011. She was at an occupational stalemate. She didn’t know what she wanted to do, but “I wanted a career where I could help people.” She attended what was then the Healing Arts Institute in Perrysburg (now the Orion Institute.) “I absolutely fell in love. I’ve been doing that for the last six years,” she said. Leslie, after working inside a salon, is venturing out on her own, opening a studio within Blush at 100 S. Main St. in downtown Bowling Green this week. She sees clients by appointment only. Call 419-806-9317. Leslie said it was time to hang out her own shingle and take advantage of tapping into the business acumen of veteran entrepreneur Lee Welling, owner of Blush. “My passion is helping people with pain and fatigue,” she said. “That’s what I’m good at. … Massage is the oldest form of medicine.” Some are recovering from injuries, some dealing with chronic disorders such as fibromyalgia. A mother of three, she’s also certified to do prenatal massage. “I always had a plan in future to have classes for mothers of newborns on how to massage their babies.” Aroma therapy and essentials oils, which she is also certified in, play a big part in her practice. Leslie does CBD massage using oil made from hemp – it’s 100 percent THC free, she notes. “It’s amazing for auto immune disorders, fatigue, muscle ache and brain fog,” she said. She can use it as part of a massage. She also has products she can sell. Leslie, 34, grew up in Bowling Green and graduated from Bowling Green High School. She attended Bowling Green State University for two years. She worked in preschool until she had her first child.  “I became a mother and realized I just wanted to be a mother.” She was looking around for options when she had her epiphany about massage therapy. She noted that Ohio has some of the strictest regulations on massage therapy. She sees about 20 clients a week. Some come weekly, some every six week. Some show up just when they have an acute problem. One has been coming three times a week to deal with a chronic problem. “People do massages for all sorts of reasons,” Leslie said. “I see a lot of people who are really stressed and looking for a way to alleviate that stress. Some people like to treat themselves,” she said. “A majority are working toward a goal…

Workshop to address “Treating Pain Responsibly,” May 30

Submitted by BG MANOR “Treating Pain Responsibly,”  free event will be held on Wednesday, May 30, 4:30-7:15 at the Wood County Senior Center, at 305 N. Main Street, Bowling Green. The free event will feature dinner at 5:30 p.m and presentations beginning at 4:30 p.m. from Dr. Nancy Orel, Emeritus Professor at BGSU, Dr. Jeff Swartz, physician at Falcon Health Center, Dr. Mickey Frame, Chiropractor at Whole Health at Falcon Health Center, Lon Muir, pharmacist at Falcon Health Center and Stephanie Wise from Zepf Center. Dr. Nancy Orel will be presenting from 4:30-5:30 p.m. on “The Impact of the Opioid Crisis on Older Adults” Her presentation will start with an overview of how the opioid crisis impacts older adults.  She will discuss more than just the increasing rate of opioid overdose deaths amongst older adults. Instead, she will include discussion on how opioids for chronic pain may be more difficult to obtain (due to recent policy), the problems with misusing opioids, how to safely disposal of unused opioids, and how grandparents are being asked to raise their grandchildren because of the opioid crisis. She will also discuss the economic and emotional toll of the opioid crisis. Dr. Swartz, Dr. Frame and Lon Muir will be presenting from 6-7 p.m. on the “Whole Health Approach.” Stephanie Wise from the Zepf Center will be doing a Narcan training/distribution from 7-7:15 p.m. The event is sponsored by Bowling Green Care Center and Bowling Green Manor, for more information, contact Jeff Miller at 419-351-6514.

Saturday series explains how to age in place

From OPTIMAL AGING INSTITUTE Bowling Green State University’s Optimal Aging Institute will present a Saturday morning series on Aging in Place, April 7, 21, and 28 from 10-11:30 a.m. at the Wood County District Public Library. Participants will learn about universal design, preventing falls, no-cost/ low-cost ideas for modifications, safety checklist to evaluate your current home, zero-step entries, how to improve your lighting, bathroom/kitchen renovations, resale considerations, and more. Our moderator and chief presenter is Joy Potthoff, Ed.D, retired interior design educator and co-chair of the League of Women Voters BG Committee on Senior Concerns; she is assisted by Paula Davis, director of the BGSU Optimal Aging Institute. Program #1: Saturday, April 7, 10-11:30 a.m. In this first session, Dr. Potthoff will introduce universal design’s chief features, and participants will receive a checklist to identify problems in their own homes. Guest speaker Lauri R. Oakes, RN, MBA, Joint Replacement Nurse Navigator at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, will discuss how to keep your body healthy and strong to avoid falls – and how to keep our pets from sending us to the hospital! Program #2: Saturday, April 21, 10-11:30 a.m. (NOTE — NO program on April 14!) Dr. Potthoff is joined today by interior designer Sharon Gargasz; together they will discuss lighting, furniture, entries, and room modifications. Lisa Myers, LISW-S, Director of Social Services, Wood Co. Committee on Aging, will share options available for funding aging in place. Participants will also receive information from the National Council on Aging about reverse mortgages. Program #3: Saturday, April 28, 10-11:30 a.m. In this final segment, Dr. Potthoff will complete our discussion of home modifications. Joining her will be Bill Abbott from W H Abbott, Finish Carpenter/ Home Remodeling, and Al Green, Broker, A.A. Green Realty, who will answer your questions about remodeling for aging in place, and how that might affect your home in the real estate market. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUESTED by April 4, for planning purposes; however, all are welcome. To register, go to Questions? Please call the BGSU Optimal Aging Institute at 419-372-8244.

BGSU to hold Public Health Symposium, April 12

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University will hold its third annual Public Health Symposium, focusing on superbugs, antibiotic resistance and their effects on the general public, April 12. The symposium will feature three speakers, including Shannon Manning from Michigan State University as this year’s Ned E. Baker Keynote Speaker, which was established to honor contributions in the field of public health. Manning’s current research focuses on the molecular epidemiology, evolutionary genetics and pathogenesis of bacterial pathogens. She has contributed to more than 75 publications and book chapters in the field of public health, and she currently serves as an ad hoc reviewer for the National Institutes of Health. Amanda Smith, the Ohio Department of Health Antibiotic Stewardship program director, and Hans Wildschutte, a BGSU associate professor of biology, will also speak during the symposium, which includes a Q&A session. Smith has experience working on the infectious diseases unit of a pediatric hospital and as an infection control preventionist in a dialysis clinic. Wildschutte’s research is mainly directed at understanding the impact of environmental factors on the emergence of multi-drug resistant pathogens, as well as the use of natural bacteria as a possible source of novel antibiotic discovery. The symposium, which will be held from 8 a.m. to noon in 308 Bowen-Thompson Student Union, is hosted by BGSU’s College and Health and Human Services. Admission to the symposium is $40, with free entry to all Board of Health members, local health department employees in Ohio and Michigan, and BGSU and University of Toledo faculty and students. The symposium will also offer continuing education units for certified health education specialists, nurses, sanitarians and long-term care administrators. Registration is required by visiting or calling 419-372-6040.

Wood County Hospital offers new treatment option for addicts in withdrawal

From WOOD COUNTY HOSPITAL Wood County Hospital is now offering medical stabilization services to help people overcome withdrawal symptoms from drug and alcohol addictions through New Vision™ medical stabilization service. “Wood County Hospital is excited to offer this program in partnership with New Vision. As the numbers of patients struggling with drug and alcohol abuse increase, the Hospital more frequently receives patients suffering from medical comorbidities as well as addiction. This service will help those patients medically stabilize so that they are better able to enter substance abuse treatment. We are blessed to have many behavioral health treatment agencies in Wood County, and hope that by having this service we can more effectively collaborate with them.” – Stan Korducki, President,Wood County Hospital. The New Vision™ service serves adults with a medically supervised hospital stay for inpatient stabilization, which usually lasts three days. The inpatient stay will include prescreening, assessment, admission, medical stabilization and discharge planning. Upon admission, an assessment will be completed with an evaluation of the patient’s medical history, a physical, a laboratory workup and nursing assessment. Discharge planning will occur prior to leaving the hospital; the patient will be referred to appropriate community-based treatment programs to help prevent relapse and continue their treatment. New Vision™, a hospital-based medical stabilization and withdrawal management service, is provided through a partnership with SpecialCare Hospital Management Corporation of St. Charles, MO, and is currently offered in many hospitals across the United States. SpecialCare has been providing inpatient medical stabilization in collaboration with short-term acute care hospitals for over 25 years. More information can be found at For more information about the New Vision™ medical stabilization service please contact New Vision at Wood County Hospital Monday through Friday at (419) 728-0604.

Very few people suffering from mental illness are violent

From NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR MENTAL HEALTH The mass shootings in recent months and years have brought the subject of mental illness to the forefront. Though a dialogue about mental illness is useful and timely, it is unfortunate that in the wake of school shootings the public tends to associate mental illness with violence.  Organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness want to point out that people with mental illness rarely become violent. Mental illness contributes to only 4 percent of all violence, and its role in gun violence is even lower (Swanson et al, “Mental Illness and Reduction of Gun Violence and Suicide: Bringing Epidemiologic Research to Policy,” Annals of Epidemiology 25 (2015) 366-376.) Mental illness is common; according to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five Americans suffers from a mental illness at any given time. But violence by people with mental illness is not. As a 2011 Harvard Mental Health Letter states: “Most individuals with psychiatric disorders are not violent. Although a subset of people with psychiatric disorders commits assault and violent crimes, finding have been inconsistent about how much mental illness contributes to this behavior and how much substance abuse and other factors do.” People living with mental illnesses—depression and anxiety disorders as well as severe and chronic mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder—are our family, friends, and neighbors. With the proper treatment, they can live happy and productive lives and contribute to the community. While mental illnesses are not curable in the sense that contagious diseases can be cured, they can be managed the way diabetes can be. Treatment works, if people can get it. Sadly, shame and fear often keep people from the treatment that can change their lives. The stigma that still haunts mental illness makes affected individuals afraid to ask for help lest they be labeled “crazy.” Associating violence with mental illness only strengthens this stigma. People living with mental illness are far more likely to become victims of crime than to commit crimes. And, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, the most common form of violence associated with mental illness is suicide. The tiny minority of mentally ill people who become violent have often been victims of childhood violence. Some have suffered domestic violence, childhood sexual abuse or trauma, and damage from alcohol and drugs. Untreated symptoms of psychosis such as delusions or paranoia may somewhat increase the potential for violence. Ironically, stigma and misunderstanding can keep the very people who need mental health care the most from getting it. There’s no doubt that the mental health system in our nation needs improvement. We need more acute care and crisis beds in hospital, and to improve quality and outcomes for people in crisis or struggling with chronic conditions. Early intervention and screening in our communities and schools are helpful. Accurate information…

Luck of the Irish won’t help drunk drivers

From SAFE COMMUNITIES OF WOOD COUNTY St. Patrick’s Day has become one of the nation’s most popular times to celebrate and party. Unfortunately, too many people are taking to the roads after drinking alcohol, making this holiday also one of the most dangerous. In fact, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the deadliest holidays on the road our nation’s roads. During the 2012-2016 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18), 269 lives were lost due in drunk- driving crashes. In 2016, drunk driving killed more than 10,000 people in our country, and every single one of those deaths was preventable. To keep the roads safer, Wood County Safe Communities is reaching out with an important life-saving message and warning: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. If you plan to celebrate with alcohol this St. Patrick’s Day, follow these tips to stay safer:  Before celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, decide whether you’ll drink or you’ll drive. You can’t do both.  If you’re planning on driving, commit to staying sober. If you’ve been out drinking and then get behind the wheel, you run the risk of causing a crash or getting arrested for a DUI.  Help those around you be responsible, too. Walking while intoxicated can be deadly, as lack of attention could put you at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.  If someone you know is drinking, do not let him or her get behind the wheel.  If you see someone who appears to be driving drunk, pull over to a safe location and call the police. Your actions could help save a life. Remember this St. Patrick’s Day: Plan Before You Party! Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.

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…