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2 Perspective: Health | Saturday, May 4, 2013 | bangordailynews.com/browse/special-sections/

Clockwise from top: Photo courtesy University of Maine

Allison Doe, a 2012 University of Maine School of Nursing graduate, has used her technical skills to benefit the community. BDN Maine Photo by Debra Bell

Alexandra Pastore, a UMaine School of Nursing senior has used her skills in a variety of ways to help vulnerable populations. BDN Maine Photo by Debra Bell

Joshua Hughes, a UMaine School of Nursing junior, sees value in taking the skills he’s learning in the nursing profession to help those who need it most.

Practical skills for public service BY DEBRA BELL, BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTIONS WRITER

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t the University of Maine, student nurses are putting into action what they are learning in the classroom. And they’re doing it for the sheer love of nursing. So it should come as no surprise that UMaine student nurses are doing big things both in state, in country, and in the world. Allison Doe, a Bowdoinham native, graduated from the UMaine School of Nursing in May 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a minor in Spanish. Doe spent a year in Quito, Ecuador as part of a study abroad program at UMaine. But it wasn’t her first time in the country; a year before she entered UMaine’s program, she spent nine months taking classes and volunteering at the region’s largest public children’s hospital, Baca Ortiz. The experience left her with a taste for nursing and giving back. “I used my nursing education to become an AmeriCorps member with the Maine Migrant Health Program, to volunteer with the Chilean Red Cross while studying abroad in Chile, and to work as a Certified Nursing Assistant through school,” Doe said. She has also worked with migrant blueberry rakers in Down East Maine. Student groups also helped inform her decision to become a nurse, she said. She was active in the Orono Student Nurses Association, UMaine Nursing International, and National Student Nurses Association. “These groups offered many opportunities, such as a service learning trip to Belize, a chance to attend the NSNA Annual Convention, and a setting to meet many inspiring nursing peers,” Doe said. But nursing is more than a profession: It’s a call to public service, she noted. Today, she works as a registered nurse in Portland and recently signed up to become a Red Cross Disaster Relief nurse. “Everybody has unique experiences and skills,” Doe said. “It is important to share knowledge and empower others to learn and grow. With knowledge, we can care for our communities: local and beyond.” Current UMaine senior Alexandra Pastore, a Scarborough native, echoes that sentiment. Pastore will graduate in May, but has her eyes set on a profession that allows her to give back nationally and internationally. Pastore has participated in many outreach programs, including going on an independent medical mission to Xela, Guatemala; leading a trip to Ottawa, Canada to work with the homeless and HIV populations; and participating in alternative spring break. “At the root of nursing is compassion,”

Pastore said. “It is that compassion that drives us.” Compassion comes in the form of a chapter of Partners for World Health, a non-profit organization that collects unused supplies from medical facilities that can be used in third-world countries. “What [founder Elizabeth McLellan] is doing I’m so on board with,” Pastore said. “Not only is this good for third-world countries, but it’s good for the environment and reduces the cost of disposal for the facilities. It was an opportune moment for me to step into this role.” Pastore found her passion for emergency care through an externship at MidCoast Hospital in Brunswick and through her work as an emergency medical technician. “It’s those two together that have shown me that I have a passion for emergency care,” she said. Pastore also received the Maine Campus Compact Heart and Soul Award, which recognizes undergraduate students who are actively involved in turning campuses into places of democracy. Through civic engagement, leadership, service-learning,and many more skills, the award acknowledges students who are making a difference. Doing so is something UMaine nursing students excel at. Junior Joshua Hughes, a Glenburn resident, started at UMaine in pre-vet, then switched to nursing after his freshman year. “It’s a switch you can’t turn off,” Hughes said. “It’s all about the human touch, empathy, and using human communication skills to make a difference.” Hughes is associated with the Orono Student Nursing Association and participates in outreach events through the group. In February, he traveled to Belize with the UMaine student nurses. “Once we got there, we went into student nurse mode,” he said. The team of student nurses offered a wide array of services, including teaching preschoolers how to brush their teeth, holding community clinics, and providing nursing services to a deaf school and to elderly patients. Hughes will be in a leadership role next year in the student nursing association. He is the coordinator for the nursing department’s peer mentoring association and is the co-president of OSNA. And he’s excited to use the skills he has honed at UMaine to help people, because nursing isn’t just about the skills learned in the classroom; it’s about applying those skills in the real world.


bangordailynews.com/browse/special-sections/ | Saturday, May 4, 2013 | Perspective: Health

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Cast for Recovery gives women with breast cancer respite, fly rod in hand BY ARDEANA HAMLIN, BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTIONS WRITER  more at www.castingforrecovery.org

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he women who will attend the Casting for Recovery retreat held July 19-21 at King and Bartlett Fish and Game Club in Eustis will be there for two reasons: to get respite from the daily weight of dealing with breast cancer and to have fun. They also will be there to learn to fly casting, taught by Registered Maine Guide Bonnie Holding. Holding volunteered her fly-casting skills for a weekend a few years back when she attended a health symposium at Bowdoin College, where she heard a woman talk about Casting for Recovery.

“... it was the first time

in two years she had thought of something other than being sick.”

BONNIE HOLDING, REGISTERED MAINE GUIDE

“I was somewhat naive and had no idea what volunteering entailed,” she said. But after more than 10 years with the program, she is now one of the prime organizers of the Casting for Recovery retreat in Maine. Casting for Recovery had its beginnings in 1996 in Vermont when a breast reconstruction surgeon and a fly fisherman, both women, went fishing. The organization’s mission is to provide flyfishing retreats tailored for women who have or have had breast cancer. The retreats are designed to promote and support mental and physical healing. Only 14 participants are accepted for each retreat, and they are chosen by a lottery system. Those whose names are drawn attend the retreat free of charge.

Why fly fishing? “The casting motion mimics some of the motions of soft tissue recovery used in therapy,” Holding said. But it’s much more than that. “At the first retreat I went to, I was teaching a woman to cast. I saw her shoulders start to shake, and at first I thought she was laughing, then I realized she was sobbing. She was crying, she told me, because as she struggled with trying to figure out how to cast the line it was the first time in two years she had thought of something other than being sick,” Holding said. “She told me it felt like a boulder had been lifted off her shoulders. I see that kind of response every year at Casting for Recovery,” she said. Each year the retreat has been held at different locations, such as Eustis, Grand Lake Stream, Ashland, Wilson’s Mills, Rockwood, and Middle Dam on the Richardson Lakes in Rangeley. Therapists, medical professionals and instructors volunteer their time to staff the retreat. “The first evening everyone gets introduced, and they all become friends in the first five minutes, as if they were young girls at summer camp,” Holding said. “For most of them, they are stepping outside the box; they have never fly fished before,” she said. “They hang out, chat. I try to make things as lighthearted as possible. I pass around Jiffy Pops, and we make s’mores. “I teach them how to cast and tie the knots related to fly fishing, but there’s time for swimming, canoeing, kayaking, or to just sit and be. On Sunday they put on waders, and off they go to fish for trout and salmon, or whatever they can catch,” Holding said. Although the retreat is free to women with breast cancer from throughout Maine, each

Photo courtesy of Lori Simon, Casting for Recovery

A participant in a Casting for Recovery retreat is all smiles as she not only learns to fly cast, but as she realizes that she has a fish on her line.

retreat costs $10,000-$12,000, and those funds must be raised, primarily through the Fish Tails and Cocktails silent auction and raffle held in February at Sugarloaf. Holding said it takes many volunteers to organize the event. Retreat alumni also raise funds. T-shirts adorned with an image of brook trout created by artist Georgette Kanach of Gray are sold to raise funds. And artist Vito DeVito of Long Island, N.Y., raises funds for Casting for Recovery through sales of a print of a painting of Holding and her husband, Blaine, in a canoe at Steep Bank Pool on the Kennebago River. National sponsors of Casting for Recovery include The Hartford, L.L. Bean, Smartwool, Under Armour and Sisters on the Fly. But all the effort is well worth it, Holding said, when she recalls the woman from Iowa

who attended the retreat several years ago. The woman had never done anything on her own until then. She got on the plane alone to fly east where she had never been. She drove alone to the camp over terrain unfamiliar to her, and she saw her first moose. She didn’t want to fish. She wanted to stand in the water in waders in the current with her arms in the air. “It’s just washing all this stuff away,” she told Holding. Since 1996, Casting for Recovery has served more than 5,000 women of any age and stage of breast cancer treatment. To learn more about Casting for Recovery in Maine, to donate auction goods or otherwise assist with fund-raising, call Holding at 246-4102 or email edgeofme1@ yahoo.com. For additional information or to apply to attend the program, visit castingforrecovery.org or call 888-553-3500.

Dream Big. Plan Ahead. “It's just washing all this stuff away.”

Plan for tomorrow by investing today in the NextGen College Investing Plan® We’ve always used rhymes and little tricks to jog to pay for qualified higher education expenses.* Assets can be used at any U.S. accredited our memories, right? Th ink of “Th irty days post-secondary institution, including hath September…”; “righty tighty, lefty MAY IS graduate schools and trade schools as loosey”; “i before e except after c.” Well, well as some foreign schools. here’s another one. Try using May 29th (5/29) as a reminder to consider opening Control. Decisions about the account MONTH investments or making a contribution to Maine’s and how the funds are used Section 529 plan, the NextGen College are always in your hands. Your beneficiary Investing Plan®. Section 529 plans are a popular does not have access to the account. way of investing for college costs because of the Easy, Affordable Contribution Options. significant advantages they can offer. Contributions can be as small as $50. You, as well Tax Benefits. Withdrawals, including any as friends and family, can make contributions by earnings, from a NextGen account will be federal check at any time or through automated payments. and state income tax-free as long as assets are used

529

Section 529 on 5/29 – it’s a catchy way to remind you that the best time to invest for college is now. Ask your Maine bank, financial advisor, or FAME about Maine benefits.

1-800-228-3734 FAMEmaine.com/nextgen * To be eligible for the favorable tax treatment afforded to any earnings portion of withdrawals from Section 529 accounts, such withdrawals must be used for “qualified higher education expenses,” as defi ned in the Internal Revenue Code. Any earnings withdrawn that are not used for such expenses are subject to federal income tax and may be subject to a 10% additional federal tax as well as state and local income taxes.

Photo by Thinkstock

NextGen is a Section 529 plan administered by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME). Before you invest in NextGen, request a NextGen Program Description from your Maine bank or financial advisor, or call FAME at 1-800-228-3734 and read it carefully. The Program Description contains more complete information, including investment objectives, charges, expenses and risks of investing in NextGen, which you should carefully consider before investing. You also should consider whether your or your designated beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state’s 529 plan. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner& Smith Incorporated, a registered broker-dealer, member SIPC, is the program manager and underwriter.


4 Perspective: Health | Saturday, May 4, 2013 | bangordailynews.com/browse/special-sections/

Benefiting

from an annual

Know before you go

physical

BY ARDEANA HAMLIN, BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTIONS WRITER  more at www.pchcbangor.org

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efore going to an appointment for an annual physical with a healthcare provider, it’s wise to think about how to make the most of the time, usually a halfhour, the visit will take. Most patient records are now kept electronically, which cue providers as to what tests may be due for a patient. Those tests may include a colonoscopy, a pap smear, or a mammogram or pertain to the management of chronic conditions such as diabetes. As a result, the provider may focus primarily on the those aspects, said Dr. Robert P. Allen, executive medical director, Penobscot Community Health Center in Bangor. The patient may then feel the pressure of time during the visit and not ask enough questions. But there are things a patient can do to become an equal partner in the visit.

“...there are things a

patient can do to become an equal partner in the visit.”

R. ROBERT P. ALLEN EXECUTIVE MEDICAL DIRECTOR PENOBSCOT COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTER IN BANGOR

Allen offers these suggestions: • Think about what to discuss with the healthcare provider prior to the visit. • Bring an up-to-date, accurate list of the medications and the dosages you are taking. • Make a list of the issues you want to talk about. • Give the list to the provider at the beginning of the visit, not at the end of it. • The patient should maintain control of the visit and direct what issues are to be discussed. • The patient should politely request face-to-face time with the provider if there appears to be too much focus on the

computer screen or the provider’s agenda. That said, Allen also points out that the advent of the computer screen in the examining room is here to stay -- and with good reason: • The patient’s entire record is instantly and easily accessible, including lab test results and other information. • There are no hard-to-read handwriting issues pertaining to prescriptions since they are sent electronically to the pharmacy. • It’s easy to input data, and it is stored safely and securely, according to Allen. “It’s a great tool, a powerful, quality tool,” he said. Electronic medical records also aid with the medical-visit documentation that insurance companies, quality measurement organizations and government agencies require. As for receiving a list of issues that the patient wants to discuss at the beginning of the visit, “That’s a big help,” Allen said. At the end of the visit, the patient should check with the provider to make sure that instructions for aftercare or information pertaining to medication has been clearly understood. The key question to ask at the end of the visit is, “Did I understand instructions correctly?” Allen said. When parents bring a child to a medical appointment, they should understand that they are the child’s spokespeople, he said. This is another instance where bringing a list of issues to discuss is helpful to parent, patient and provider. It also can be helpful, especially if the patient is elderly, to have a family member with some medical knowledge accompany the patient to ensure that the right questions will be asked, Allen said At the conclusion of the visit, Allen suggests that the patient express appreciation to the provider and shake hands, which will underscore that fact that the visit has been a person-to-person exchange -- and that both patient and doctor are on the same page.

Photo by Thinkstock

Before arriving at a medical provider’s office for an annual physical, a patient should write a list of questions to be discussed with the provider. According to Dr. Robert P. Allen, executive medical director at Penobscot Community Health Center in Bangor, such preparation can benefit the patient.

Photo by Thinkstock

Get relief from the pain of sunburn BY METRO CREATIVE SERVICE

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ummer draws people outdoors to enjoy fun in the sun. But not every aspect of summertime weather can be pleasant, especially when sunburn rears its blistery head. Despite the health warnings about sun exposure, people still venture outdoors repeatedly without the use of a protective product with a high enough SPF. Side effects of failing to protect the skin can include nasty burns and an increased risk of skin cancer later in life. Perhaps individuals fail to take sunburns seriously because they don't associate sunburns with anything dangerous. But sunburn is just like any other burn and the skin pays the price. Most people wouldn't intentionally set fire to their skin or play with caustic chemicals. But they will spend hours in the sun unprotected. Just like the flames of a fire, the sun can cause serious burns, even secondand third-degree ones. A second-degree burn causes not only damage to the epidermis, or the outer layer of skin, but extends deeper into the dermis as well. A third-degree burn seriously harms the entire epidermis and dermis, as well as nerves and fatty tissue contained within, according to The Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. Because the epidermis and hair follicles are destroyed, new skin will not grow. Sunburn can occur after roughly 15 to 30 minutes of exposure to the sun. The burn itself may not show up for hours later, which is why people often think they've avoided a burn. The results of sunburn are often pain, redness and potential blistering, depending on the level of damage. Although there is no specific treatment for sunburn, there are some remedies that can help the pain and help to speed up recovery. The best way to treat sunburn is not to get it in the first place. This means being diligent about applying sunblock before going outdoors.

• Drink plenty of water. Damaged skin may not be able to properly inhibit the loss of moisture from the body, resulting in dehydration. Drinking water can replenish fluids needed for comfort and health. • Over-the-counter pain medications may alleviate stubborn pain. If the pain is very severe, consult a physician, who might feel prescription-strength pain relievers are necessary. There also are topical pain-relief sprays that temporarily dull the pain and cool the skin. • Cool, wet compresses as well as lotions that soothe can be helpful and reduce swelling. Look for ones with natural ingredients, such as aloe vera. • Oral antihistamines can help when the skin eventually starts to peel and becomes itchy. • If blisters are present, leave them be until they break on their own. Prematurely breaking sunburn blisters can increase the risk of infection. An antibiotic cream may be applied after the blisters break to speed up healing and prevent infection. • If the sunburn is severe or accompanied by a fever, consult a physician.


bangordailynews.com/browse/special-sections/ | Saturday, May 4, 2013 | Perspective: Health

Two-wheeling:

ride right, ride safe

BY BRIAN SWARTZ, BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTIONS EDITOR

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ith spring finally here, bicyclists are hitting the Maine highways and byways. To ensure a safe riding season, consider these tips: • Keep a bike properly maintained. Just like a lawn mower or a car, a bicycle has moving parts: wheels, chain, sprockets, etc. Riding gradually coats those parts with dirt, dust, and water; gummed-up parts gradually affect the bike’s function. Periodically clean a bicycle. Lubricate the y Thinkstock chain and check all connections for tightness. We don’t want a wheel suddenly separating from the bike, do we? If that happens, a helmet really comes in handy. So do bandages … and maybe an ambulance and paramedics.

Sooner or later loose gravel, a flat tire, and even inattention will drop a bicyclist on the ground — so wear a helmet. • Ride right. From Augusta’s point of view, a bicyclist is a motorist lacking a motor, so a bicyclist must ride “with” traffic, not against it. This means riding on the right side of the road, preferably darn close to the white line (if it exists). Maine law stipulates that a motorist “give” a bicyclist 3 feet of space when passing on a cyclist’s left. Some bicyclists like to ride a few feet “inside” the white line, thus limiting the lane width; except in places where a shoulder

“The helmet was no

longer usable — — but my skull was.”

BDN Photo by Brian Swartz

BRIAN SWARTZ BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTIONS EDITOR

• Maintain the proper tire inflation. Underinflated tires force a cyclist to pedal harder, thus creating unnecessary exertion that can strain leg muscles or a knee. • Adjust the seat for the rider’s height. Ever notice a bike rider — often a child — sitting too low on the bicycle and pedaling extremely hard? Such exertion makes the sport less fun and strains joints and muscles. Proper seat height eliminates the unnecessary effort. • Install a side-view mirror somewhere — and use it. Mount a mirror on the left side of the handlebar or attach a mirror to the helmet or, for we ocularly challenged bicyclists, to the eyeglasses. Adjust the mirror so it provides an adequate view to the rear. Learn how to glance quickly at the mirror to monitor approaching traffic. • Wear a helmet. Don’t leave home without it. On a sun-kissed Wednesday in May 2010, I left home about 6:30 a.m. on a 7-mile jaunt. About 7 a.m., a bike-stopping collision slammed me onto Bangor-area pavement. My left shoulder struck first as I spun 180 degrees and separated from the bike; then my head collided with the faded asphalt, and I heard and felt the neck fascia crack. Later, after inspecting my gear, I discovered that the force of impact had fully cracked my L.L. Bean helmet just behind my left ear. The helmet was no longer usable — — but my skull was. According to the doctor who examined me later that morning, “If you hadn’t been wearing your helmet, I would not be treating you right now.” Maine law does not mandate that a bicyclist don protective head gear, but the law of averages will catch up with most bicyclists.

Above: Wearing their helmets and riding single file to the left of the yellow center line, Riley and Rachael Hastey of Sullivan pedal their bicycles along the Ellsworth recreational trail near Sunrise Glass.

BDN Photo by Brian Swartz

Left: Two cracks mark where the helmet worn by a bicyclist struck asphalt after the wearer was involved in a May 2010 collision in the Bangor area.

does not exist — most Maine roads fall within that category — lane hogging is not necessary. And it’s terribly bad PR for bicyclists in general. • Observe all traffic laws: “stop” at the appropriate sign or on “red” and go on “green.” Don’t plow through stop signs and red lights; doing so is illegal — and targets the cyclist for T-boning. • Wear bright clothing. Dress to be seen. Wear a bright yellow or red or blue or fluorescent orange, some color that does not occur naturally outdoors in Maine. • Always pay attention. Ride as if every motorist is blind and cannot see a bicyclist anywhere at any time of day. Be aware of traffic, its amount and speed and location in proximity to the bike. Never assume what a motorist will do. When in doubt, yield the right of way. Better yet, get out of the way. • Kill the music. Sight and sound are the most critical senses for a bicyclist. Ditch the ear buds and iPod and focus on seeing and listening. At those moments when upcoming distractions prevent a cyclist from checking the side-view mirror, the ears can detect vehicles approaching from behind.

BDN Photo by Brian Swartz

A southbound bicyclist and a northbound motorist pass in opposite directions on Route 1A in Frankfort in late April 2013. Wearing a helmet and a bright jersey, the bicyclist is riding in the breakdown lane, the proper place for him to be on the busy highway.

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6 Perspective: Health | Saturday, May 4, 2013 | bangordailynews.com/browse/special-sections/

Healthcare summer camps attract kids to careers BY DAVID FITZPATRICK, BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTIONS WRITER

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fter many childhood treatments for a congenital cataract condition, Michelle Osgood had zero interest in any sort of medical career. She always knew her plan: become a teacher like her mother. But in the summer before high school, she attended the first year of The Aroostook Medical Center’s Survivor Aroostook Health Center Career Exploration Camp, which exposed campers to everything in medicine. “The camp is just extraordinary,” Osgood said. “They work so hard to make sure that students have such an eye-opening experience.”

“It’s a way to incorporate

team-building… with fun, hands-on learning experiences in different types of healthcare career fields.”

KENT COREY DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS AND SUMMER-CAMP COORDINATOR, EMCC

Campers visited the hospital’s cardiovascular lab and radiology, learned about physical therapy, made splints, and sutured steaks. Ultimately, the camp covered all aspects of medicine in four days. Then came Day Five. The campers were abruptly roused from bed for an unexpected mock disaster drill where they were the first responders. “The adrenaline rush we all got rushing out there, pretending to be doctors and nurses — that really clinched it for me,” Osgood said. “I was totally hooked.” In high school, she took classes to prepare for pre-med and graduated as valedictorian. On a full scholarship, she double-majored in chemistry and biology in four years at Husson University, while also becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant and working at Ross Manor in Bangor. She’s worked in TAMC’s emergency department since 2011, and this July she’ll begin attending Lincoln Memorial University DeBusk College of

Osteopathic Medicine. The camp began in 2002, when thendirector of nursing at TAMC, Jane Daly, had read about a out-of-state nursing camp for girls modeled on the TV show M*A*S*H. TAMC had a major nursing shortage then, but Daly and Barbara Turner, TAMC’s healthcare recruiter, saw even broader potential. “We decided to create a very interactive camp that would be a week long for eighthgrade students,” Turner said. TAMC had already run its thrice-yearly High School Health Career Exploration evening program, but the camp would attract students earlier. The camp focused on compassion in patient care, but also on teamwork, emulating the TV show “Survivor,” with campers broken into competing tribes. “We always tell them, in healthcare it’s not just one person taking care of the patient — it’s a team,” said Turner. Each year the camp brings in guest speakers; Acadia Hospital comes up every year to talk about drug awareness, and last year the local ER asked to talk about bath salts. The Maine Wheelers, a wheelchair basketball team, attend, as do others with various disabilities. Campers learn from them how they got their disabilities and what it’s like to live with them. Campers are exposed to 16 healthcare careers and engage in mock surgeries, performing laparoscopies on cardboard dummies. It’s serious education disguised as lots of fun. “At the end… they don’t want to leave,” Turner said of many of the students. “There was something that captured them.” The program has had its influences. In 2009, officials from Eastern Maine Healthcare and TAMC met with Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor to discuss the possibility of establishing a similar camp there. Camp Survivor, for ninth and 10th graders, also emulates the TV show and is now in its fourth year. Students visit Eastern Maine Medical Center’s dialysis center, robotics center, radiology, and nursing program. The camp partners with Husson,

Photo courtesy of The Aroostook Medical Center

Mary McCarthy, RN (left) and Kim White, RN (right) help give two masked campers hands-on training with real equipment at the hospital at the 2012 camp.

which has a high-tech nursing laboratory complete with an artificial human. “It’s a way to incorporate team-building… with fun, hands-on learning experiences in different types of healthcare career fields,” said Kent Corey, EMCC’s director of athletics and summer-camp coordinator. Nationwide, such camps are becoming popular. In Maine, the Franklin Community Health Network has run its Scrub Club healthcare summer camp for several years, the University of New England has held Maine-based dental camps, and a healthcare camp is being considered in Calais. The camps are having effects on students like Osgood; last year, the University of Maine at Fort Kent graduated five TAMC campers from its nursing program. Turner said such camps are key to slowing Maine’s “brain drain” — showing kids that there are viable medical careers in Maine, and that kids don’t have to leave the state and never return. And we need more such camps, she says.

Are eye ‘floaters’

dangerous?

BY METRO CREATIVE SERVICE

D

ark spots, specks, "webs" and other shapes that seemingly dance around in a person's field of vision are often referred to as "floaters." Such floaters are typically harmless, but there are instances when they can be indicative of something more serious. The perception of floaters in the eye is called myodesopsia. They are particularly noticeable when looking at a light-colored background, such as the sky.

“... floaters are typically

Photo courtesy of The Aroostook Medical Center

Campers from the Blue Tribe in 2012 participate in a mock disaster drill where they take on the roles of first responders. Campers split into color-coded tribes, as the camp is modeled after the Tv show “Survivor.”

“We need to help groom our youth for healthcare careers,” she said. “I tell them, ‘I want you to be my nurse, my doctor, when I get older.’” Osgood agrees. “Especially in Northern Maine, it’s so important,” she said. “I think Aroostook County kids need to take care of Aroostook County people.” Osgood plans to return to Maine and work at TAMC. Last year, she attended the 10th anniversary of the inaugural camp and spoke to the young campers, who were amazed that a girl from Easton was on her way to becoming a doctor. “It was hard for them to believe I had made it,” she said. “It was really humbling.” For information about the Presque Isle summer camp (June 17-21 at UMPI), contact Barbara Turner at bturner@tamc.org or (207) 768-4028. For the Bangor camp (June 24-28 at EMCC), contact Alissa Downing at summercamps@emcc.edu or (207) 974-4796.

harmless, but there are instances when they can be indicative of something more serious.” WHAT CAUSES FLoATERS?

Floaters are formed when very small pieces of the eye's gel-like substance, called vitreous, break loose in the inner back portion of the eye. Vitreous is the part of the eye between the lens and the retina and contains a clear jelly called the vitreous humor. The vitreous has a gel-like consistency initially, but as a person ages the vitreous begins to dissolve and liquefy. Some of the undissolved gel particles can break off and float around in the more watery center of the vitreous, forming floaters. Shadows from the floating particles, and not the debris itself, are what you actually see in the eye. As light passes through the eye, shadows from the particles are cast onto the retina. They seem to move around in the eye following the rapid movement of the eye.

WHEN SHoULD I BE ALARMED? Most eye floaters are quite common and not dangerous at all. However, consult an eye doctor if the floaters interfere with your quality of life or impair your ability to read or drive a car. If floaters suddenly increase or are

accompanied by light flashes or losses in peripheral vision, this could be a sign of a serious condition known as retinal detachment. The National Eye Institute offers that a retinal detachment occurs when any part of the retina is lifted or pulled from its normal position at the back of the wall of the eye. Left untreated, a retinal detachment can lead to permanent visual impairment or even blindness in a matter of a few days. Surgery is required to seal any holes in the retina or to reattach the retina to the back of the eyeball.

PREvENTIoN AND TREATMENT Many eye conditions, including floaters, are a hereditary condition. If someone in your family is prone to severe eye floaters, there is a good chance you may experience the same. However, taking some precautions can help improve eye health and reduce your risk of developing floaters. • Avoid excessive rubbing of the eyes. • Do not sleep face-down where the eyes will be rubbed in sleep. • Recognize some medications carry side effects that can affect the eyes. Talk to an optometrist about medications you take and discuss potential alternatives. • Avoid risky sports. Head and eye trauma can lead to new eye floaters. Blows to the head and face can cause vitreous material to detach. If you have floaters that are dense and numerous, a procedure called a vitrectomy may be recommended. This procedure removes the vitreous gel along with the floating debris, replacing the gel with a salt solution. A vitrectomy is a potentially risky procedure, so it's often reserved only for those suffering from severe floaters. Experimental laser therapy to dissolve the floaters is another potential treatment option, though this procedure is still being studied and isn't widely used. Most floaters are left untreated, and patients are advised to simply live with them and learn to cope. Eye floaters are common and usually carry no risks. If they become prevalent or are accompanied by flashes of light, visit your eye doctor as soon as possible.


bangordailynews.com/browse/special-sections/ | Saturday, May 4, 2013 | Perspective: Health

7

Taking a bite out Maine air is cleaner! of dog bites Unhealthy levels still occur BY DEBRA BELL, BDN MAINE SPECIAL SECTIONS WRITER

BY JACKIE FARWELL, BDN MAINE STAFF

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hen man’s best friend bites, stop, evaluate the situation, and respond calmly. The Centers for Disease Control reports that each year in the United States, 4.7 million people will be bit by dogs. In 2011, the CDC reported that children between ages of 5 and 14 represented 78,000 reportable dog bites that end up at a doctor’s office or ER. And by the time they are 12, more than 50 percent of children will have been bitten by a dog.

And snapping or biting aren’t the first clues a dog gives that it’s feeling uncomfortable, intimidated, or unhappy. Even more, growling is not a punishable offense: It’s a warning. “There are four victims in a dog bite,” Hanson said. “The person who was bit, their family, their extended family, and the dog itself. Most dogs go out of their way not to bite, and they give lots of signals. However, it’s usually the dog that is singled out and pays serious consequences with its life.” If there is a dog bite, it’s important to debrief from the incident, Hanson said. “We have look at what else was going on when the bite happened,” he said. Green Acres Kennel Shop, 1653 Union St. in Bangor, will offer “Be a Tree” programs on Saturday, May 18 at 2 p.m. and again on Sunday, May 19 at 1 p.m. The seminars are aimed at children ages 5-9, their parents, and caregivers and will discuss when a dog is safe to approach and how to avoid dog bites.

aine's air is cleaner than in years past, but too many of the state's residents are breathing in pollution that contributes to a host of serious health problems, according to a new report. In the American Lung Association's 14th annual "State of the Air" report, released on April 24, none of Maine's counties received a failing grade for air pollution, but some areas recorded spikes in unhealthy air-quality days. The report, covering 2009-2011, examined the two most widespread types of air pollution: ozone, the main ingredient in smog, and air-particle pollution, based on readings from official monitoring sites across the country. Ozone, a gas that occurs naturally in the atmosphere in small amounts, is fueled by emissions from cars and trucks, smokestacks, coal-fired power plants and chemicals such as paint fumes. Particle pollution consists of tiny specks of pollutants, from a wide range of sources including power plants, tailpipes and

fumes that can trigger an asthma attack. "If I'm traveling on the highway, I absolutely have to close the car up completely, because of the big trucks and the fumes they put off," Colman said. Particle pollution, sometimes called soot, can lodge deep in lung tissue and even pass into the bloodstream, according to Jeff Seyler, president and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. Spikes in the pollution can contribute to heart attacks and stroke, while exposure over months and years contributes to cancer, he said. Particle pollution is especially dangerous to infants, children, seniors, people with lung or heart disease, and those who work or exercise regularly outdoors, Seyler said. While those groups are particularly vulnerable, air pollution does not necessarily cause such health conditions. Ozone is a powerful respiratory irritant, and new evidence warns that it can harm the cardiovascular, central nervous and

BE PART oF THE SoLUTIoN: KNoW HoW To PREvENT A BITE How do you stay safe around dogs? The roles of a responsible pet owner and dog-smart parents are to teach children some basic safety tips. • Do not approach unfamiliar dogs. Photo courtesy Debra Bell

Lizzie is clearly feeling uncomfortable, worried, and stiff. While she might not bite at this moment, she is asking the photographer to back off and give her some space.

• Do not surprise a dog by petting it. • Allow them to sniff you first. • If you’re approached by an unfamiliar dog, remain motionless like a tree.

And it’s not stranger-dog danger that people need to be aware of. Most dog bites are from a dog the person knows. It could be a family dog, a neighbor’s dog, or a friend’s dog. And the fact is that any dog from a chihuahua to a Great Dane can bite. But the best prevention is good preparation. According to Green Acres Kennel Shop owner Don Hanson, one reason that people are bit is due to not understanding dog body language.

• Do not look into the dog’s eyes. • Ask permission before petting a dog. • Do not run or scream away from the dog. • If the dog knocks you over, become a ball and stay still like a log. • Do not play with a dog unless it’s supervised by an adult. Report strays or an unusual acting dog immediately to an adult • Do not disturb a dog while they are sleeping, eating, or tending to puppies. • Immediately report a dog bite to an adult. • What can parents or guardians do to keep their children safe? • Children should never be left alone around dogs, Green

BDN File Photo by Kevin Bennett

Bryan Wentzell, conservation advocacy manager for the Appalachian Mountain Club, fills out a visibility data sheet while on the North Ridge trial on Cadillac Mountain in April 2004. Wentzell was checking ozone levels using a small card indicator and was among a small group hiking the trail to raise awareness of poor air quality in Acadia National Park and all of Maine.

Acres Kennel Shop owner Don Hanson said. Parents and guardians must maintain supervision at all times when a child and dog are interacting to keep both canine and child safe. The non-profit Doggone Safe, doggonesafe.com, offers these tips for parents and guardians. 1. Teach your child not to hug or kiss a dog on the face. A safer place is to scratch the dog on the chest or the side of the neck. 2. Be a tree if a strange dog approaches. The more boring Photo courtesy Don Hanson

Lizzie is having a great time playing the field. Her eyes are softer and almond shaped and she has a relaxed and open mouth that seems to be smiling.

you are, the faster the dog will lose interest. 3. Do not tease the dog or invade its space. 4. Actively supervise children while they’re around the dog. 5. Invest in growing a relationship with the dog through

“Kids don’t inherently know the signs for when a dog is feeling uncomfortable,” Hanson said. “Dogs communicate tons. It can be with their eyes, their ears, or there might be growling. If the dog is growling, most people recognize that this is something to pay attention to.” Dogs use their bodies, from eyes to tails, to communicate how they’re feeling. The way a dog’s mouth appears, how their eyes look, how their tail is being held, and their stance all give important clues.

training. Involve all family members in training classes. Choose positive-reinforcement obedience classes and do not pin, shake, choke, roll the dog, or hold the dog down. He may redirect any anxiety onto a weaker family member. 6. Make children a positive fact of life. Training can help in this. Condition your dog that good things come from children. 7. Spay or neuter your dog. An altered pet will be calmer, healthier, and also controls the pet population. 8. Take your dog into the world. Expose the dog to lots of new positive experiences.

Photo courtesy DoggoneSafe.com

The best thing to do if you think you might be bit by a dog is to “be a tree.” That means that you should stop. Pull in your limbs and look down. Dog experts all recommend not running or screaming from the dog that might bite.

burning wood, that are suspended in the air. Maine has made progress on ozone levels, with Androscoggin County, for example, improving its grade from a B in the last report to an A, said Ed Miller, an Augustabased spokesman for the American Lung Association of the Northeast. Four counties -- Androscoggin, Aroostook, Oxford and Sagadahoc -- made the list of cleanest counties for ozone pollution, receiving A grades and reporting no days with unhealthy levels, he noted. At the same time, York and Hancock counties earned D grades for ozone, Miller said. On particle pollution, Maine saw no grade changes from last year. Bangor was one of 16 cities nationally considered the cleanest for particle pollution, which was measured by both daily spikes and annual levels. Hancock County tied for 10th on the list of the top 25 cleanest counties in the country for annual particle pollution. But Aroostook and Oxford counties each reported a "red" day, which indicates that concentrations of particle pollutants over a 24-hour period exceeded national limits for healthy air. That's new for Maine -- last year no county in Maine recorded a red day, Miller said. "Why is this troubling? Because while an orange day means the air is unhealthy for sensitive groups, a red day means the air is unhealthy for all of us," he said. The "disturbing trend" of such short-term spikes in particle pollution also was seen nationally. "We want to see residents in every county in Maine breathing in healthy air so parents don't have to worry that poor air quality might cause their child to have an asthma attack, and people who suffer from lung diseases or are otherwise at heightened risk of being adversely affected by air pollution don't feel like they need to stay inside," Miller said. For Deborah Colman, 60, of Hermon, air pollution has triggered breathing problems and even hospital stays. Colman, a retired nurse who suffers from emphysema and bronchitis, said she avoids venturing outside on high ozone days and always makes sure to roll up her car windows to steer clear of diesel

reproductive systems, as well as increase the risk of lower birth weight in newborns, he said. "When ozone levels are unacceptably high, it harms human health and threatens lives," Seyler said. "Breathing in ozone pollution is often compared to a sunburn on the lungs or having sandpaper rubbed against your lungs, but it's far more harmful than that sounds." More broadly, the Clean Air Act and stronger pollution standards have put a major dent in air quality problems across the U.S., the report found. The country's air has gotten cleaner even as the population, the economy, energy use, and miles driven have increased greatly, the report said. The authors also credited reductions in emissions from coal-fired power plants and the transition to cleaner diesel fuels and engines. Still, nearly 132 million people in the U.S., or 42 percent of the population, live in counties with air that's unhealthy too often, the report found. The Lung Association urged the EPA to issue final regulations for cleaner gasoline and car emissions, defend the Clean Air Act against industry polluters and continue working to clean up coal-fired power plants, the source of much of the pollution drifting into Maine from the Midwest. The group also called for beefing up airquality monitoring programs. The report collected data from only about 900 counties, less than a third of all counties nationally. In Maine, four counties have no monitors for ozone or fine particles (Franklin, Lincoln, Somerset and Waldo), while five monitor for only one of the two pollutants, Miller said. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection places the monitoring devices, which can cost around $10,000 and up, in areas of high priority, based on "our best technical and scientific judgement," said Andrew Johnson, who oversees air monitoring data for the department. Given the cost and Maine's vast geography, DEP picks sites where pollution problems are anticipated to affect both people and the environment, based on historical data and activities such as traffic that contribute to pollution, he said. To view the State of the Air report, visit stateoftheair.org.


8 Perspective: Health | Saturday, May 4, 2013 | ďƒœbangordailynews.com/browse/special-sections/

BDN Maine Perspective Health  

The third in our series of publications featuring information you need to know about health in Maine.