Health Notes

Health Notes

Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Services and Reston Hospital Center will be offering two sessions of a Safe Sitter course to girls and boys ages 11-13 who are interested in babysitting.

The first session will be offered at the Cascades Community Center (stone house) from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 29, and 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 30. Loudoun County Public Schools are closed on these dates for the winter holiday.

The second session will be offered at the Broadlands Community Center, 43004 Waxpool Road, from 8:30 a.m. -3:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 19, and 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 20. Loudoun County Public Schools are closed on these dates for Martin Luther King Day and a student holiday.

Safe Sitter teaches injury prevention, safety for the sitter, basic childcare skills and lifesaving techniques such as rescue breathing and the Heimlich maneuver. The program is a nationally recognized course and is taught by certified instructors. Megan Descutner, RN, director of community relations for Broadlands Regional Medical Center, and Joy Brown, manager of the Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Services' Public Education and Passenger Safety Programs will teach the course.

The fee is $50 and includes course materials and snacks. Students must bring a lunch and a beverage each day.

Call Broadlands Regional Medical Center at 703-858-3465 to register.

The Loudoun Cooperative Extension is offering a newsletter for seniors, "As You Age." The research-based newsletter was created by professors at Virginia Tech in the fields of human development and nutrition, foods and exercise. For a free copy, contact Kalinda Santos or Beverly Samuel at 703-777-0373.

The Community Resilience Project of Loudoun County is offering a free, anonymous online mental health screening. The online assessment tool screens for depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders. The tool is available on the Loudoun County Government Web site at The tool will remain effective until October of 2004. If needed, the resource will inform users of where to obtain further professional mental health services.

Cancer Care Programs. Loudoun Cancer Care Center, 14 Pidgeon Hill Drive, Suite, 130, Sterling, offers a variety of free support and educational programs to the community. To register for a program, or for more information, call Karen Archer at 703-444-4460.

American Red Cross Classes. Classes include adult, child and infant CPR, first aid, babysitter training and more. Advance registration required and there is a fee. Call 703-777-7171. Visit

Loudoun Health Web Site. The Loudoun County Health Department has expanded its Web site with information on water and sewage issues as well as biosolids. There are also numerous links to health department forms, including temporary food event permits, hotel permit applications and swimming pool operator applications. Click on

Loudoun County Free Clinic. Clinic needs volunteers for Wednesday and Thursday nights from 5:30-9 p.m. Needed are administrative, Spanish interpreters, physicians, nurses, lab tech and pharmacist volunteers. The non-profit clinic provides acute, non-emergency quality health care services to uninsured Loudoun County residents. Call Lyle Werner at 703-779-5412. E-mail

Depression and Manic Depression Support Group. The Sterling/Reston Chapter of DRADA, meets the first and third Tuesdays of the month, from 7-9 p.m. For more information, contact Ginny at 703-758-0564. DRADA stands for Depressive and Related Affective Disorders Association, a nonprofit, self-help group sponsored by Johns Hopkins, which has been in existence for over 20 years.

Free Cancer Screenings. Free breast and cervical cancer screenings are available through the Loudoun County Health Department for women between the ages of 40 and 65 who live in Loudoun County meeting income and program guidelines. Applicants must be able to document legal residency, meet poverty guidelines, lack health insurance (or their health insurance deductible does not cover or meet screening and mammography costs). Women must apply in person at the Loudoun County Health Department Clinic in Leesburg to determine eligibility. Screening services include a physical breast exam, a Pap test, and referral for a free mammogram when recommended. The Health Department Clinic is located at 100 Heritage Way N.E. in Leesburg in the Shenandoah Building in the Wal-Mart Plaza Shopping Center. Call 703-737-8474.

Domestic Violence Group for Women. A 10-week group for women previously or currently emotionally, verbally or physically abused is being offered by LAWS (Loudoun Abused Women's Shelter). Issues addressed will be the impact abuse has on children, why some people are abusive, evaluating healthy relationships and legal concerns. A children's group runs concurrently with the women's group. Call for more information at 703-777-6552.

Compassionate Friends. A support group for parents who have lost a child meets the first Wednesday of the month at St. James Episcopal Church, Janney Parlor, 14 Cornwall St. N.W., Leesburg. For more information, call 703-724-7623 or e-mail

Signs of Heart Attack. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), in partnership with the American Heart Association and Red Cross, offers educational materials, including a booklet and video, for health-care workers, heart-attack patients and the public through the NHLBI Web site at For more information, also visit,,, and

Taking Medications. A package of publications on taking medications correctly and ordering them safely online is available from The Federal Consumer Information Center and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The package contains "FDA's Tips for Taking Medicines," "Drug Interactions: What You Should Know" and "Buying Prescription Medicines Online: A Consumer Safety Guide." The materials are free. Call 888-878-3256 and request the "Your Medications" package, or send your name and address to Your Medications, Pueblo, CO 81009.

Asthma Auto Program. Program offered by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Maryland-Greater Washington, D.C., Chapter, is accepting donations of unwanted vehicles to raise money to fund educational programs, asthma care training, scholarships, research, and patient assistance for area residents. Call 800-727-9333. Subscribers to Allergy Alert, a free e-mail notification service, will be notified automatically when conditions in the area are expected to be near uncomfortable levels. The Allergy Alert forecast considers more than 1,470 biological and meteorological factors and is based on 20 years of historical pollen data gathered by a national network of professionally trained pollen counters.

Senior At-Home Exercise. The National Institute on Aging has designed an at-home exercise program for older people. The program is based on medical research and emphasizes exercises for endurance, strength, flexibility and balance. To order the exercise book and 48-minute video, send a check or money order for $7 payable to the National Institute on Aging to NIAIC, Dept. BR, PO Box 8057, Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057. Call 1-800-222-2225 or visit for more information.

Food Allergies. The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, formerly the Food Allergy Network, has launched an electronic newsletter for teens with food allergy. "Food Allergy News for Teens" is a bimonthly newsletter distributed free to teen-agers by e-mail. The newsletter covers topics such as dating, dining out, managing food allergy on the job, and tips on carrying medications. To sign up to receive the newsletter, log on to

National Cancer Institute (NCI). Check out its Web site,, for the latest information. Billed as "a one-stop resource for cancer information" the site reorganizes NCI's information sites and cancer.trials within Information in the site is arranged by topic.

Wheelchairs for Seniors and Disabled. Three Wishes Program makes power wheelchairs available to senior citizens (65 years and up) and the permanently disabled with no cost to the recipient if they qualify. The power wheelchairs are provided to those who cannot walk and cannot self-propel a manual wheelchair in their home, and who meet the additional guidelines of the program. No deposit is required. Call 800-451-0971 for more information.

Inova Blood Donor Services Blood Drives. For locations and times to donate blood, call 1-866-256-6372

Birth Mother's Support Group. Meets weekly in northern Virginia for any woman who has ever placed a child in adoption and would like to meet with others who have done the same. For more information call Pat Cunningham or Stephanie Hayden at Catholic Charities at 703-425-0100.

Foster Parents. To participate in the foster parent program, call Children's Services of Virginia at 703-331-0075 or visit for more information.

American Lung Association of Virginia. Organization offers an e-mail service to residents in areas affected by smog-unhealthy levels of ozone pollution, which includes the Northern Virginia-Metropolitan D.C. area. Subscribers will receive smog alerts the day before ozone pollution levels are predicted to be unhealthy. Individuals with chronic lung or heart disease and sensitive populations, such as children and the elderly, can then take action to protect themselves by reducing or limiting outdoor activities. High concentrations of ozone can cause symptoms such as coughing, throat irritation and difficulty breathing, and also may increase susceptibility of the lungs to infections, allergens and other air pollutants. The daily forecast is provided to the American Lung Association from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. For more information on ozone pollution and to sign up for the Smog Alert, visit

Dog Bites. Virginia Department of Health offers a "Guide to Protect Children from Dog Bites." For this information on how to be safe around dogs, contact the Virginia Department of Health's Center for Injury and Violence Prevention toll-free at 1-800-732-8333.

Assisted Living. "Choosing an Assisted Living Facility: Considerations for Making the Right Decision," a booklet produced by the Consumer Consortium on Assisted Living (CCAL) in cooperation with the MetLife Mature Market Institute, can be ordered by calling 703-533-8121. Single copies are $10 each.

CCAL offers the following tips to begin the search for a facility:

* Make an accurate and honest assessment of your physical, financial, mental and lifestyle needs;

* Visit as many facilities as you can to get a sense of the choices in your area;

* Narrow down your selection to the top two or three choices, and return to those facilities and ask lots of questions. Talk to the residents;

* Ask to review a copy of the Resident Agreement (facility contract);

* Ask to review the licensing or certification inspection report;

* Make an unannounced visit to the facility.

Reach to Recovery Program. The American Cancer Society offers free services to women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo recent surgery. A trained volunteer who has survived breast cancer is available to talk with patients confidentially, provide helpful information and offer emotional support. A Reach "kit" is given to each patient, which includes a leisure bra, a soft prosthesis for mastectomy patients, exercise items and literature. Call 703-938-5550.

The Y-Me National Breast Cancer Organization. Group provides free services including educational programs and lectures, brown-bag seminars, quarterly newsletters, and a 24-hour HOPEline. The HOPEline (703-461-9616 or 1-800-970-4411) is staffed by trained breast-cancer survivors who provide information and emotional support to callers. Call 703-461-9595 or visit for more information.

Health Care Decisions. To help Virginians make better-informed health-care purchasing decisions, Virginia Health Information (VHI), a nonprofit independent organization, has published information on its Web site,, that reports on the inpatient cardiac care provided at all licensed hospitals in Virginia. The information compares their performance and mortality outcomes. VHI's study is based on more than 100,000 cardiac patient discharges submitted by Virginia hospitals for the year 2000.

Nutrition and Fitness. American Heart Association offers many tools to improve nutrition and fitness. At the grocery store, shoppers can look for the heart-check mark on products, signifying foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Quick and tasty heart-healthy recipes as well as tips for grocery shopping and ingredient substitutions can be found at Many cookbooks, such as the "American Heart Association Quick & Easy Cookbook," can be found in area bookstores.

Online information and support can be found at, with such features as Ask an Expert, Personal Stories, and Health Planners, which include weight and nutrition calculators, exercise diaries and more.

Two lifestyle brochures, "Managing Your Weight" and "An Eating Plan for Healthy Americans," are available free by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

A free, 12-week physical-activity program, sponsored by Bayer, "Choose to Move," helps women make simple changes that result in increasing their activity level. Call 1-888-MY-HEART to receive a registration packet.

The Lifestyle Medical Program provides oxygen, medications and nebulizers at no cost to patients with severe breathing problems, such as asthma, emphysema and COPD. Patients must meet additional guidelines to qualify for the program. Call 800-519-4480 for more information.

Breast Cancer Help. American Institute for Cancer Research offers a free brochure, "Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer," which provides guidelines and tips on how to control dietary and other lifestyle factors that affect a woman's risk for breast cancer. Also available is "Questions and Answers about Breast Health and Breast Cancer," which provides detailed information on breast cancer risk, treatment and early detection, including how to do a self-examination. Call 800-843-8114, Ext. 25.