Health

Pass the turkey – not food poisoning – on Thanksgiving

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Sure, Butterball has a turkey hotline for novice Thanksgiving cooks on Thursday. But it’s doubtful that their emergency operators have to tell many people not to use the hot cycle of the dishwasher to thaw out their frozen turkeys. That was one bit of advice dished out by the Wood County Health District to a local food establishment years ago. When asked last week for some tips on how Thanksgiving hosts can prepare a feast without poisoning their guests, the restaurant inspectors revisited some unforgettable turkey tragedies. In many cases, restaurants want to serve up all the holiday favorites, but just don’t have room to safely thaw out giant turkeys in their refrigerators. So they devise some creative methods. Registered sanitarian Julie Nye told about the turkeys thawing in a mop sink. That’s a no-no. Then there was the turkey in the dishwasher, with the appliance working double time to also wash all the vegetables for the trimmings. “They thought it would thaw faster,” Nye said. “There are creative ways to thaw that become a public health nightmare.” The best advice is to plan ahead, so the bird has time to thaw in the refrigerator. If you find your turkey still slightly frozen on Thanksgiving morning, don’t panic. It is safe to place a turkey under cold running water to help it thaw, registered sanitarian Jillian Bodey said. Following are more safety tips from the health district sanitarians, so your guests don’t get sick from the feast. Top on the list – wash your hands … often. “The number one thing we can remind people to do is handwashing,” Nye said. That rule is especially important in between handling an uncooked turkey and any food item raw and ready to eat. “Handwashing is top for everybody,” said Lana Glore, director of environmental services at the health district. “It’s amazing what that will prevent.” And for good measure, wash the produce even if…


Old prescriptions adding to opiate crisis – 5 sites accepting drop-offs year-round

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Across the U.S., many household medicine cabinets have old pill bottles tucked away … just in case they are needed later. That tendency to save prescriptions is adding to the opiate crisis in the nation, according to local law enforcement, public health and education leaders. An estimated 75 percent of opiate addictions start with prescription drugs. “One piece of our heroin problem is in our medicine cabinets,” Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said Wednesday during a press conference at his office. Once people no longer need their prescribed medications, many have the habit of hanging onto them. “I’m just going to hold onto this till I need it someday.” But too often, those drugs are found and used by someone other than the original patient. So local officials in Wood County have established safe drug disposal boxes in five locations that are available year-round and round-the-clock to people wanting to dispose of old drugs. National Drug Take Back Day is Oct. 28, but the Wood County Educational Service Center, Wood County Sheriff’s Office, Wood County Health District, and some law enforcement chiefs throughout the county want to offer disposal sites 365 days a year. “We cannot make significant gains in combating the drug epidemic by simply taking back our unneeded prescriptions one or two times a year,” Kyle Clark, director of prevention education at the Wood County Educational Service Center, said. “Our community needs to take action now.” The Drug Enforcement Administration approved permanent drug take-back boxes in Wood County are located at: Bowling Green Police Division, 175 W. Wooster St. Perrysburg Police Department, 300 Walnut St. Perrysburg Township Police Department, 26611 Lime City Road. North Baltimore Police Department, 203 N. Main St. Wood County Sheriff’s Office, 1960 E. Gypsy Lane Road, Bowling Green. The drugs are collected from the boxes by the DEA, which incinerates them. “If people would be diligent in cleaning out their medicine cabinets, they can take advantage…


Helping local vets who came home with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As many as 25 percent of the U.S. veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan returned home with traumatic brain injuries. Thirty percent came back with post traumatic stress disorder. In Wood County, it’s estimated that 60 veterans are now living with the effects of TBI or PTSD. Many of the traumatic brain injuries were caused by IEDs (improvised explosive devices) frequently used in recent wars. So when Mary Hanna, executive director of the Wood County Veterans Assistance Center, got a call offering her office a $10,000 grant to help treat those problems, she jumped at the chance. “It was very humbling. We will be the first county office to receive funds to do this,” Hanna said. The need is great, she said. “TBI and PTSD dramatically impacts their ability to get through daily functions,” at school, on the job, and with their families. Hanna contacted the Speech and Hearing Clinic at Bowling Green State University, and a partnership was formed to use the grant to help local veterans. “I’m getting ready to notify each veteran about these services,” which will be offered at no cost, Hanna said of the 12,895 veterans living in Wood County. The grant came from Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, founder of the Resurrecting Lives Foundation, who has made it her mission to get better care for veterans returning home with the often invisible injuries of TBI and PTSD. In many cases, veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan went right from school to war, Gordon said. They never had to navigate in society before – and now some are faced with doing that with a TBI or PTSD. Services to treat such injuries by veterans organizations are still lagging, she said. “It’s not well diagnosed and treated in the civilian world. It’s like the new global epidemic,” she said. “It’s only in the last decade that we can see well inside the brain.” Some Vietnam veterans are just…


Project Connect serves with no strings attached

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   They started lining up in the darkness at 6:45 a.m. – waiting for Project Connect to open Wednesday at 9 a.m. “Before the doors opened we had a line around the building,” said Erin Hachtel, co-chair of the fifth annual Project Connect coordinated by local social services and held at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Bowling Green. The one-day event is a one-stop shop for goods and services for people in the Bowling Green area. “It’s to bring together people who have needs with people who can provide for those needs,” Hachtel said. The needs were varied. People came for a warm meal and bags of food to take home, for dental exams and vision checkups, for flu shots and birth certificates, and for winter coats for entire families. They went home with all that and more at no cost to them. As always, those seeking help were not called patients, consumers or clients. They were called “guests.” “Project Connect is a hospitality event where everyone is welcome,” Hachtel said. Help is offered with no strings attached. “We don’t ask at the door for them to prove they are in need.” Each guest was assigned to a volunteer, who helped them navigate through the sea of services offered. Barbara Ramsay, of Bowling Green, had come to the program before – but this year she was using a wheelchair. Her goal was to get food, a winter coat for her “grandbaby,” some leads on rental housing that is handicapped accessible, and a copy of her birth certificate. The Wood County Health District printed off the certificates for 110 people, with a donor paying the costs. “I think it’s awesome,” Ramsay said, holding her certificate. Further down the hall, Danielle Lashaway, of Rudolph, was getting her hair cut for the first time in more than a year. “I always wear my hair up. It’s time for a change,” she said, smiling. Lashaway also had…


Writer reaches beyond trauma of rape, 9/11 to confront PTSD

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Julia Torres Barden grew up as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center rose above the New York skyline. “I spent my whole childhood watching them get bigger and bigger,” she said in a recent interview. That childhood started in the projects in the South Bronx, amidst her fellow Puerto Ricans, and then later in Upper Manhattan. On the day of the 9/11 attacks she was back in Manhattan on business. She was watching the aftermath of the first plane striking on a large screen in Times Square with a group of strangers. At that moment they assumed it was an accident, then the second plane struck. “It was devastating … to see them collapse like that. Those towers were raise in glory throughout my childhood,” she said. Now there was a sense of the city being under attack. Torres Barden, now of Perrysburg, recalls in striking detail the next couple days, being trapped in her hotel room, watching far too much TV coverage. She remembers the constant bomb threats to the Empire State Building, Grand Central Station, the Lincoln Tunnel, which was her exit from the city, At the time, she said, she was just concerned with making it through the day, and getting back to her husband and three sons in Virginia. It would be a few years later when she would realize the toll the attack took on her, when suddenly found herself struggling to breathe. What she and doctors thought was an allergic reaction to nuts, turned out to be the emergence of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Torres Barden has written a book “NewYoricanGirl … Surviving My Spanglish Life,” that deals with her life’s traumas and her recovery. On Saturday, Oct.  14, from 2 -4 p.m. she will sign and talk about the book at Gathering Volumes, 196 E. Boundary St., Perrysburg. Then at 4 p.m. there will be a community conversation about mental illness with a therapist. Torres Barden…


Cuts to services for people losing vision are short-sighted

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   State cuts in services for older adults with vision problems are being called short-sighted by a local agency who serves people in the region with vision impairments. Adults 55 and older, with mild or moderate vision problems, will no longer be eligible for vision rehabilitation services through Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Independent Living Older Blind program. That means the services that help adults adapt as their sight fails will no longer be funded. The Sight Center in Toledo currently helps area residents learn to live independently as their eyesight worsens. “There’s a transition, and the earlier you can make that transition, the better,” said Tim Tegge, of the Sight Center. Tegge, of Bowling Green, has lived his entire life with vision problems. People who experience loss of vision later in life are often terrified about the changes they face. “I see people every day who come in who have the gut punch of losing their sight,” Tegge said. The three Sight Centers across the state have been a major resource for those people, he added. But less than a month ago, the state OOD “blindsided” the Sight Centers by announcing that older adults with mild and moderate vision problems would no longer qualify for services. That decision makes no sense, Tegge said, since addressing vision loss early, while people still have some vision, is the best method. “It’s a missed opportunity,” he said. Several Wood County residents will be affected by the change. The Sight Center in Toledo historically serves around 40 to 50 Wood County residents per year with clinical services. As many as 75 percent of those people would no longer be eligible for services after the cuts. The services help people learn such tasks as navigating with a white cane, managing finances, using technology, reading prescriptions and performing other daily living activities. “How to cook safely without the sight that someone is used to,” he said. “I think…


BG woman puts needles to work knitting knockers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Peg Cranny has knitted since a child, making afghans, sweaters, caps. But now her focus has shifted to making knockers – that’s right, knitted knockers. Cranny, of Bowling Green, works with the national Knitted Knockers program that provides prostheses for women who have had mastectomies. She has been donating the knockers to the Maurer Family Cancer Care Center at Wood County Hospital, where they are given to cancer survivors at no cost. Cranny has not had cancer, but she has friends who have had mastectomies. “I feel sympathy for the women who have had breast cancer. It must be devastating to lose a breast,” she said. “If I can help in any small way to make them feel better about themselves, then I’m happy.” One out of eight women will experience breast cancer in their lifetime. There are 50,000 mastectomies done a year in the U.S., and 90 percent of those women will wear breast prostheses at least for a while. Many of the women find the traditional breast prostheses to be hot, heavy and expensive, Cranny said. That’s where her knitting skills come in. “They have thousands of women who do this across the U.S.,” she said of the national program. Cranny learned to knit as a Brownie, “and I’ve knitted ever since,” she said. “I like to knit and I like to knit fast projects,” Cranny said. She makes knocker sizes from A to DDDD. “I can whip that out in an hour or two,” she said of the smaller A sizes. The national Knitted Knockers program has strict standards on the type of soft, cotton yarn that must be used. “They are very picky about the quality,” she said. Though knitters can spice it up by using all colors of yarn. The knockers each have a small hole in the back, where they are filled with polyfill. Some women add a coin or two to make it more like their realistic…


Opioid addiction is the talk of the town

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News State Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) was understating matters when he said last Wednesday that the opioid epidemic has “a lot of people talking.” He said this just as a “BG Talks: Heroin and Opioids in Bowling Green and Wood County” was just getting underway at the Wood County District Public library. The moderator for the panel discussion Kristin Wetzel, began the session painting a bleak picture of the crisis nationwide, 948,000 overdoses in 2016, and 13,219 fatalities. These numbers are enough to get anyone talking. On Thursday afternoon, State Rep. Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) convened a roundtable of state politicians, law enforcement officials, and treatment experts to discuss the crisis. This Wednesday, Sept. 20, the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce will host a seminar on the epidemic. See details here. Both Gardner and Sprague noted that the legislature has done more than talk about the issue. In a budget year when the legislature faced tight finances, it budgeted an increase of $178 million more to combat the epidemic. Still, Gardner said, frustrations over the progress remain. Eight years ago, Belinda Brooks, of Solace of Northwest Ohio, got “a crash course” in the issue. Her then 18-year-old daughter became hooked on opioids after a serious ATV accident. She was prescribed Percocet and Vicodin. Having some self-esteem problems, the daughter suddenly realized “she was the life of the party when she took them.” That led to heroin. And at 19 she got pregnant, and even that wasn’t enough to get her to kick the habit. Charlie Hughes, of the Northwest Community Corrections Center, said of addicts “their brain has convinced them they need (the opioid) to survive.” “My life changed,” Brooks said. Afraid she would fall apart, she reached out to other parents in her situation, and formed the support group Solace. “I made many mistakes,” Brooks admitted. “I hid her addiction. I thought I could fix her. … When it comes to addiction all your…


‘Real Men Wear Pink’ … for an entire month

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some men are uneasy about wearing pink. Not Ben Batey. And that’s a good thing, considering Batey will be wearing pink every day during the month of October. Batey, Wood County’s health commissioner, has signed up for the American Cancer Society fundraiser called “Real Men Wear Pink.” Ten men from Northwest Ohio were asked to take the pink challenge to raise funds for breast cancer research. Batey is the only one in Wood County. In order to wear pink every day for the month, Batey is having to augment his wardrobe. “My wife went out and bought me a bunch of pink shirts,” he said. “I told her not to go too crazy, it’s just for one month.” Some days it may be a pink tie, or pink socks. So far he hasn’t purchased any pink pants or jackets. Batey was approached to take the “Real Men Wear Pink” challenge by Kami Wildman, outreach coordinator at the county health district. He agreed – and then he saw the rules. “I thought she just meant occasionally,” wearing pink – not every day. “But by then I was committed,” he said. Batey actually doesn’t mind wearing pink. “That’s never been an issue for me,” he said. Batey has decided to take the pink challenge a step further – well, many steps further. He has promised to walk one mile in Wood County for every $100 that people contribute to the cause. “If I’m going to be asking people to contribute and support this cause, I want to do something as well,” he said. The goal for each of the 10 “Real Men Wear Pink” participants is to raise $2,500. If Batey meets that goal, he will be walking 25 miles through the county. And if he raises more, he promises to walk more. “I’ll do it,” he said. In fact, several of Batey’s exercise buddies have offered to wear pink and walk with him….


Library to host panel on drug crisis, Sept. 13

On Wednesday, September 13 at 7 pm the Wood County District Public Library will host a panel discussion on heroin and opioid use and addiction and their impact on our community. Panelists include Sen. Randy Gardner; BGPD Chief Tony Hetrick; Charlie Hughes of Northwest Community Corrections Center; Solace of NW Ohio’s Belinda Brooks; and Aimee Coe of the Zepf Center. Learn what is being done locally to fight this epidemic, and what you as a community member can do to help. For more information, contact the library at 419-352-5050.


Pro-choice campus group to protest HerChoice march

FORCE at BGSU will hold a protest of HerChoice’s annual “Life Changes Everything” fundraising walk Saturday, Sept. 9, at 8:30 a.m. 531 Ridge St., Bowling Green. The protest will start on the sidewalk across from HerChoice and follow alongside them as they walk for two miles. (Their registration opens at 8:30 a.m. and the walk starts at 9.) Donations for the Aggie Fund,  a local fund that s  financially assists those who are seeking an abortion but are unable to raise the full amount. According to the protest organizers: “HerChoice—a pregnancy center in Bowling Green—advertises free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds to students, but they do not provide unbiased care. They are a Christian organization with the goal of ending abortion, which they claim has ‘devastating effects’ on women.”


Protestors in BG won’t let Portman forget vote to repeal Obamacare

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Other controversies and crises may have knocked the continuing fight over the Affordable Care Act out of the headlines, but for some citizens it is not a dead issue: it is an issue of life or death issue. About a dozen protestors gathered at Wooster Green in Bowling Green Thursday late afternoon to send a message to U.S. Sen. Rob Portman. The gathering was organized by several liberal groups – For Ohio’s Future Action Fund, Indivisible OH5, and MoveOn.org. “This demonstration is to remind people that this fight to protect the ACA is not over,” said Jeremy Bernstein, from For Ohio’s Future Action Fund. Public health care is a “great, great value” for children, elderly and disabled. Dennis Slotnick, another organizer, said the protest was meant as a reproach to Portman, whom the group had earlier praised for voting against the House version of repeal and replace. Then when the issue came before the Senate again, he voted for the so-called Obamacare-light proposal. Slotnick said he felt Portman still “has it in him” to continue to support health care for the public. “But he has to be disciplined in some ways by his constituents.” he said. The group planned to send a letter with a photo of the protest. Several of them spoke of their own experiences with the Affordable Care Act. For Melissa Kritzell, Findlay, having the coverage under the ACA when she was being treated for ovarian cancer saved her life. She traveled to Washington D.C., she said, to tell Portman her story to Portman, but “they’re not listening to us.” “Rob Portman equivocated for a long time,” Anesa Miller, of Bowling Green, said. “He showed a lot of signs that he was going protect the ACA, going to protect the people of Ohio, especially the opioid addicts of Ohio and then he voted against us, and I don’t want him to think we failed to notice that or have so quickly…


Opiates bring addicts to their knees; recovery programs help them stand again

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Matt Bell knew he had hit rock bottom when he called the police. “I had a gun in my mouth,” he said Thursday to the crowd of people gathered to hear about the opiate crisis and the steps being taken locally to stop it. It had taken Bell several years to get to that point. He had led a charmed childhood, with a loving family, earning straight As in school and competing as a star athlete in three sports. Bell was so squeaky clean that he broke up with his first girlfriend because she smoked cigarettes. Bell went to college on an athletic scholarship for baseball, and had three professional teams scouting him. But that all changed when he tore his rotator cuff and was prescribed 90 percocets. Ninety percent of the time, opiate addictions start with prescribed pain pills, he said. He was hooked. “The pills got too expensive, so I switched over to heroin,” Bell said. The dealer gave him his first hit of heroin for free – knowing Bell would be back. Bell shared his story about opiates, along with health officials who are trying to find answers, a mom who nearly lost her daughter to opiates, and a court official who helped put together a program to help inmates avoid the drugs when they leave jail. “Opiates, heroin specifically, is what brought me to my knees,” Bell said. He tried rehab many times, overdosed three times, and was arrested four times. But Bell told a story of success – like many of those speaking Thursday at the opiate program at the Wood County Health District during National Health Center Week. Now Bell leads the Team Recovery program, helping others live without opiates. “This is not an inner city problem. This is a community problem,” Bell said. Ohio has the distinction of being top in the nation for opiate deaths, with 4,139 last year – or 11.3 people a…


Norovirus in doughnuts suspected in sickening local residents

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   About 30 cases of possible norovirus from doughnuts are being investigated in Wood County. More than 200 people have reportedly been sickened by a fast spreading norovirus outbreak that started at a Maumee doughnut shop. Lucas County Health Department began investigating after patients reporting stomach flu symptoms were found to have eaten food from Mama C’s Donuts, 924 Conant St. The Wood County Health District is investigating if the approximately dozen illnesses reported to its office this week are a result of the norovirus, according to Alex Aspacher, spokesperson for the health district. At least two Wood County business – one being Grounds for Thought, on South Main Street in Bowling Green – purchase doughnuts from Mama C’s, and has purged its shop of the pastries. “Grounds has done everything they needed to do,” Aspacher said. “They have been very cooperative.” The virus, which causes stomach flu like symptoms, spreads very easily, he said. So Grounds for Thought has been working closely with health district staff. Kelly Wicks, who owns Grounds with his wife Laura, said the product was pulled and staff sanitized as instructed. “We’re working with them very closely,” he said of the health district. Wicks said the owners of Mama C’s are very conscientious and hard-working. “I feel bad for the owner of Mama C’s,” he said this morning. Ground for Thought has found the doughnut shop to be very dependable and plans to continue serving the business’ goods. “This is an unfortunate situation and we stand behind Mama C’s.” The other Wood County location that purchases doughnuts from the Maumee shop is the Marathon gas station at the corner of Ohio 25 and Roachton Road in Perrysburg. Symptoms of norovirus include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, fever, and body aches. Anyone currently experiencing the symptoms should call the health district at 419-354-4306. Often referred to as the “stomach bug,” norovirus illness can make a person feel extremely sick with…


Help for those caught up in opiate epidemic: Call 211

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County has all types of services for people dealing with the opiates epidemic – for addicts trying to kick it, for families struggling as they watch, for schools trying to prevent opiate use before it begins, and for physicians who prescribe opiates. But if people aren’t aware of the services – they may as well not exist. So here is the one number they all need to know – 211. “We’ve done a lot to try to reduce the barriers,” said Tom Clemons, executive director of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board. “In a nutshell, 211. Call 211.” Clemons said it became glaringly obvious to him over the last month or two, when a number of local agencies were not aware of the resources open to Wood County residents facing the opiate epidemic. So last week, Clemons and some members of his agency and board met with the county commissioners about helping them reach people in need. “We’re trying to get the word out,” he said. “Help is here.” As an example, Clemons said that Wood County’s recovery housing program for male opiate addicts often has open slots. “A lot of times people are in need, but they aren’t aware of services,” he said. Clemons asked if small brochures, stressing the need to dial 211, could be placed at every desk of county employees who take calls from the public. The brochures are already being carried by law enforcement throughout the county, he said. During the Wood County Fair, information was handed out at several booths. “We also realize we have to go old-school as well,” Clemons said. Three town hall meetings about opiates have been held – in Bowling Green, Perrysburg and North Baltimore. Clemons listed several different approaches in place to attack the opiate issue. “Treatment by itself is inadequate,” he said. Prevention education is offered, including training for teachers. “That’s always the best…