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Issue Home January 6, 2010 Site Home

Mt. View Garden Club Update
Children At Risk Of School Failure
Battling Heartburn
A Better Life With Diabetes
Avoid Foreclosure On Your Home
Beta Rho Chapter Members Recognized
Seniors Stand Up To Swine Flu

Mt. View Garden Club Update

The Mountain View Garden Club’s Hometown Award is given to area businesses and community organizations for improving the exterior of their facility by incorporating the use of flowers and landscaping. This year Linda Shuma, President and Helene Tinsley, Chairperson of the Award, presented awards to the Idlewild Ski Shop and the Clifford Historical Society for improvements to the Hoover School. Picture above (l-r): Linda Shuma; Sandy Wilmot, President of Historical Society; Helene Tinsley.

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Children At Risk Of School Failure
Submitted By Stephnie Thornton

Children in Susquehanna County are at moderate to high risk of school failure, according to a recently released state report. The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning’s “Program Reach and County Assessment, Fiscal Year 2008-2009” compiles information from the 2008-09 fiscal year on the number of children affected by seven risk factors for school failure. It also outlines the number of children in each county served by federally and state funded early childhood programs such as Keystone STARS, Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts and Early Intervention.

“Children falling under the factors that classify them as higher risk for school failure can overcome those risks if they have quality early education experiences before the age of five,” stated Stephnie Thornton, Program Manager of Susquehanna County CARES. CARES is a non-profit group dedicated to enhancing quality early care and education in the county. “Pennsylvania’s Reach and Risk report gives us a better picture of the needs of our young children and how well we are meeting those needs.”

According to the report, of the nearly 2,000 children under the age of five living in Susquehanna County:

49% live in households earning less than 200% of poverty (2000 US Census defines “low income” as below 200% of federal poverty level, which is equivalent to $34,058 for a family of four in 2000).

15% live in families whose mother has less than a high school degree.

20% of 3rd graders in area school districts scored below proficient on PSSA in reading in 2008.

Several programs are working to provide a quality early education to help prepare children for a successful future. According to the report, approximately 44% of Susquehanna County’s young children participate in publicly-funded programs such as Head Start, Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts, School Based Pre-K, and Keystone STARS. Some of the highlights include: 4% participate in Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts; 8% participate in Keystone STARS; 9% participate in Early Intervention; 8% participate in Head Start.

Children in four of Susquehanna County’s six school districts participate in some type of Pre-K classroom. Forest City Regional School District provides a full day experience; Blue Ridge School District and Susquehanna Community School District provide half-day programs, while Mountain View School District hosts a full day Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts classroom for 20 children.

School assessments show children involved in these programs are better prepared when entering Kindergarten.

For more information about the report or early learning programs in Susquehanna County, contact Susquehanna County CARES at (570) 465-5040 or

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Battling Heartburn
Submitted By William S. Peters, D.O., FACS

It seems that I hardly know anybody these days that doesn't have heartburn. Heartburn of course is a terrible feeling that people have in the lower chest, sometimes extending to the upper chest that feels like somebody is standing in your stomach pointing a flamethrower up your esophagus. This is almost always caused by acid reflux, otherwise known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. This is caused by the regurgitation of stomach content above a structure that we call the lower esophageal sphincter, which is the normal control valve mechanism that is designed to keep this very thing from happening. This regurgitation with presence of stomach content into the esophagus often causes changes in the lining of the esophagus. This can lead to malignant changes and other symptoms.

These symptoms can include most commonly heartburn, coughing, choking, dental complications and aspiration, which is sucking this liquid content into the lungs. Later complications can be stricture formation which is abnormal narrowing of the esophagus which causes trouble swallowing. The most dreaded complication is a change to these cellular lining of the esophagus called Barrett's esophagus which is part of a progression toward cancer of the esophagus. This is one of the more deadly kinds of cancer.

GERD can be congenital and/or be caused by environmental factors such as obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption, some medications and strangely enough, licorice which tends to lower the tone of the lower esophageal sphincter. Certain kinds of surgery can cause or contribute to this and so can eating shortly before bedtime.

Diagnosis is by history, which means that if the patient complains of typical heartburn it is important to investigate what the cause of the symptoms is. Other causes of this sensation can be heart disease, gallbladder disease, pancreatitis and a few other less common problems. Tools that are used to try to specify the diagnosis are upper G.I. series, endoscopy, esophageal pH testing, which is the measurement of the acidity of the lower esophagus, and also a test called esophageal manometry, which is measuring of the acidity of the lower esophagus.

Nonsurgical measures are usually tried first. These things work most often but not always. There is nothing that works 100% of the time. We recommend very significant weight loss in obese patients. We strongly recommend refraining from the use of tobacco, alcohol and licorice. As gravity has something to do with this mechanism, people are encouraged to place the head of their bed upon four-inch blocks, but this can create a sleeping problem for anyone else who sleeps in the bed with the patient. Medications can include over-the-counter drugs or the more effective prescription drugs including what doctors refer to as H2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors, antacids or barrier medications such as Carafate. Being that medications can be expensive and rarely have serious side effects as well as lose their effectiveness over time, there are also surgical procedures that are very effective in controlling this problem. Surgery is likely to be more effective in controlling the long-term side effects of this problem because surgery actually stops the reflux rather than simply changing the acidity of the fluid that comes back into the esophagus. Surgery is effective long-term, having 90% effectiveness at about 10 years from the surgery. It can be done by the traditional open method, or laparoscopically which is with very small incisions instead of one large incision. There is now a completely noninvasive procedure that is done with a scope placed through the mouth and down into the esophagus that also can create a barrier to the reflux.

If heartburn has been a problem for you, ask your doctor about it as it can be a very serious problem the longer it is let go.

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A Better Life With Diabetes

(StatePoint) Living with diabetes doesn't have to be the impediment to a productive life that it once was.

According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 2008 saw $171 million invested in researching cures and treatment. What all this means for the 23.6 million Americans afflicted with diabetes, is that there are many new medical innovations and simple lifestyle changes that can help keep the disease in check.

Precautionary Measures

The most important precaution for those with diabetes is to constantly track blood glucose levels. Fortunately, there are a variety of blood glucose meters to choose from, each one fitting the needs and budget of most patients. There is even word of a special tattoo on the horizon that will change color when blood sugar levels change.

Maintaining oral health and hygiene is also important, as people with diabetes are at higher risk of gum problems.

Keeping Limbs Healthy

Even with the requisite maintenance involved, diabetes can still lead to other, far more troubling, health problems. Diabetics can be prone to circulatory problems in their limbs and to foot ulcers, which left untreated can eventually lead to deformity and possibly even amputation. But treated properly and early, limbs can potentially be saved. One product that has been found to be effective treating ulcers in several trials is Medihoney, a dressing now being widely adopted in hospitals and wound care centers to dress wounds and burns. Available in multiple formats for a wide variety of wound types, it's a great way to keep a small problem from becoming much bigger.

New Treatments Coming

A number of trailblazing ways to treat diabetes could also be on the way. While pancreas transplants have shown to treat the ailment, there are several newer less-invasive developments being studied. For instance, Derma Sciences (DSCI), the company behind Medihoney, is in the midst of clinical trials testing DSC127, a new drug believed to activate a type of stem cell in a patient's own body. What this ultimately does is help treat the lower-extremity ulcers that have proven to be such a problem in dealing with diabetes. If the product is approved for market, it could empower patients in a whole new way.

The key is to stay current on new treatments to deal with the daily challenges of diabetes. Over the past few years, diabetes research has come a long way. And considering the first insulin pump had to be strapped to a patient's back like a knapsack, living with the ailment could soon become easier and safer than it has ever been.

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Avoid Foreclosure On Your Home

(StatePoint) It might not be the buzz-worthy topic it was a year ago, but the foreclosure crisis in the United States has continued to hit homeowners. With between four and five million mortgages in America already in default, roughly one in eight American homeowners are showing signs of default and missing payments.

But with some helpful tips and quick, decisive action, homeowners might be able to avoid the unthinkable. Here are some ways to avoid foreclosure.

Deal With Your Lender Now

Wait too long and you'll have few viable options. By calling your lender and tracking down the loan modification or foreclosure department, there's a far greater chance of finding some sort of solution. Start by inquiring into modifying your loan. You might be able to move your debt to the end of the loan's life or temporarily lower interest rate and payments until your financial situation rebounds. While a number of lenders are envisioned as faceless companies, there is the possibility of some negotiation.

Find Equity in Your Home

By establishing what kind of market value your home might have, factoring in any liens placed on it and the costs of sale, you can find out if your home is even worth saving. Once you've calibrated all these factors, not to mention your own emotional attachment to the home, you may find that selling could be a reasonable alternative to foreclosure.

Manage Your Loan Yourself

Now that Americans are beginning to learn more about the lending industry, some companies have unveiled products to help users assess the risk of defaulting on their mortgage while empowering them to resolve their mortgage issues and modify their own loans.

One such product is eTurboMod, new do-it-yourself loan modification software that allows users to e-file and manage their loan and mortgage documents in order to save on costs and fees. Help videos and calendars make the process fast and easy. In fact, the company behind the product, We Save Homes Inc. (WESA), is so confident about the software it offers a money-back guarantee if a user's loan modification is not successful.

Other Ways to Stop Foreclosure

Complicated as the lending industry can be, there are some helpful nuggets of information that not everyone knows about. For example, active military personnel and their families are actually protected from foreclosure. Bankruptcy can also immediately stem the foreclosure tide, but not without significantly hurting future credit.

There is also the chance to see if the foreclosure itself is defective. If you're willing to consult an attorney, you can find if your loan violated any laws or was subject to certain filing errors.

"While some state and federal government officials are looking to fix the foreclosure crisis in the long term, homeowners can take a few small steps now towards avoiding the problem entirely," points out Ryan Boyajian, president of We Save Homes, Inc.

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Beta Rho Chapter Members Recognized
Submitted By Cindy G. Reynolds

A festive holiday atmosphere at the Religious Education Center in Montrose was the setting for the December meeting of the Beta Rho Chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International. President Susan Lee conducted the business meeting, which included reports by committee chairs who were in attendance. Nominations chair, Philippa Follert, announced the proposed slate of officers for the 2010-2012 biennium. They are Dr. Ann Way, president; Emily Alt, first vice president; Holly Snitzer, second vice-president; Emily Perkins, recording secretary; and Sharon Wolfe, corresponding secretary.

Pictured (l-r): Beta Rho members Margaret Stone and Sue Kipar who received their 25 year membership pins at the December Chapter meeting in Montrose.

First vice-president Bonnie Gregory organized a lovely presentation ceremony recognizing members Sue Kipar and Margaret Stone for their 25 years of membership in the Society. Bonnie eloquently honored them by reflecting on their contributions to the chapter and to education after which she presented them with their 25 year pins and an angel. Following the ceremony, members congratulated the two women and then participated in a craft activity organized by Jeanette Saulo. Using pint jars and dry ingredients, members enjoyed holiday conversation as each created a lovely decorated gift jar of Fruit Crisp Topping Layers with a recipe tag.

The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International is a professional honor society for women educators with more than 115,000 members. Established in 16 member countries around the world, the Society defines its mission as promoting professional and personal growth of women educators and excellence in education. The Society offers more leadership training opportunities for women educators than any other professional organization.

Society activities for 2010 include the Alpha Alpha State Fifth Annual Creative Arts Retreat to be held in White Haven April 23-25. A variety of sixteen different activities will be offered including a watercolor painting workshop for beginners presented by chapter member and local artist, Cindy Reynolds. The State Convention will be held at the Nittany Lion Inn, State College , June 11-13. Local members who are actively involved at the state level include Carol Goodman, chairman of Personal Growth and Services Committee and Joan Peters who is a member of that committee as well. Cindy Reynolds, chairman of the state Research Committee has also been asked to design the cover for the program booklet featuring the theme, “Start from the Heart, Rekindle the Passion.” The International Convention, held every other year will be in Spokane, Washington, July 20-24.

The next Beta Rho Chapter meeting will feature an Irish Celebration under the direction of Bonnie Gregory in the Tunkhannock Methodist Church on March 6. Chapter members will be entertained by the talented Celtic Dancers from Bobbie Jo Kelsey’s Windwood Hill Dance Academy in New Milford.

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Seniors Stand Up To Swine Flu

(SPM Wire) It's easily been the hot-button medical story of the past year, but the H1N1 (also known as Swine Flu) pandemic has seen some interesting statistics when it comes to who must be treated. Considered a high-risk group with most large-scale health-scares, seniors somehow have bucked the trend and shown impressive resiliency against the pandemic.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention even has listed them near the bottom of the H1N1 vaccine priority list.

Last spring, when parents and children alike expressed their fears of the growing Swine Flu scare and pharmaceutical companies rushed to distribute a vaccine, the CDC released its findings showing that seniors over 60 years of age had a surprising advantage in the fight against the disease. The CDC found that 64 percent of Swine Flu cases occurred amongst five- to 24-year-olds. But in a surprising and unexplained twist, only one percent of flu patients were 65 years or older.

Original speculation was that H1N1 simply hadn't reached the senior community yet, but the reasoning behind these numbers could be far more scientific.

Medical experts now believe that by being exposed to countless seasonal flu vaccines over the course of their lives, seniors may actually have built up something of an immunity to the virus. That concept and the numbers backing it up have compelled the CDC to put seniors at the bottom of the priority list for the H1N1 vaccine, which primarily has been topped by children and pregnant women.

Of course, before opting not to get vaccinated or to get the vaccine, be sure to consult your doctor, as everyone's medical status and condition is different.

The CDC encourages seniors to get their regular flu shots and has made this vaccine available to those of an advanced age, but it looks as if the elderly may have accrued a whole new kind of wisdom when it comes to battling Swine Flu.

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