Friday, July 26, 2019

Adult day health program is ‘a blessing’ to Gaye and Johnny Rosado

Eight years ago, Gaye Rosado’s life changed permanently when she suffered three brain aneurysms.

As Gaye received medical attention, her husband, Johnny, was the one to tell her the doctor’s diagnosis.

“I never even heard of a brain aneurysm until Johnny told me that I had one,” the former business owner said.

Gaye Rosado

A brain aneurysm occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bulges or balloons. If an aneurysm leaks or ruptures, it causes bleeding into the brain, which can destroy or damage brain cells. 

The experience took a heavy physical toll on her body.

“Gaye lost all mobility. She thought she was normal, but she wasn’t,” Johnny said. “She was so lost.”

Johnny, who works a full-time job, knew his wife needed a rehabilitation center and safe place to go during the day while he was at work. With assistance from the Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Aging and Adult Services, Gaye began participating in the adult day health program at The Ballington Center in June 2015.

A safe, caring space

Located in Shreveport, The Ballington Center serves adults ages 18 and older who need supervision or interaction during the day. The Office of Aging and Adult Services contracts with Volunteers of America North Louisiana to run the center.

The center’s adult day health program helps clients and their families have a safe, caring and loving environment to come to during the day. It serves clients who are not yet ready for nursing home care, but may not be able to be left alone at home during the day.

Services available at the center include an on-site nurse, exercise and games, arts and crafts, daily devotionals, meals and snacks, referral to other social services, and transportation to and from the center.

New lease on life

When Gaye first arrived at the center she spent many days sitting and staring at the wall, but soon she began to settle in and enjoy her time there. She loves to read, work on crossword puzzles, exercise and socialize with the friends she has made.

Gaye is also “paying it forward,” as she said, by helping a fellow client of the center, a man who experienced a brain aneurysm. She said helping another person who has been through an experience similar to hers helped her stay mentally and physically active. Johnny agreed, saying he couldn’t be more proud of his wife.

Gaye spends three days a week at the center and the other days at home with her husband. Johnny said the center is a blessing to him and Gaye, providing them both with peace of mind.

“I don’t have to sit and worry about her safety every day,” Johnny said.

Learn more about The Ballington Center here.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Beat the heat

As you may have noticed, it's hot out there. Summer heat poses real dangers and isn't something to be taken lightly. Take the time to read up on heat-related illness with this information shared by the Louisiana Department of Health last summer. A quick guide from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is available below — just click or tap on the image for a larger, easy-to-read version, or click here. Stay safe and beat the heat!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Danger remains even after the storm has passed

By KENYATTA ESTERS | Emergency Preparedness Manager, LDH Office of Management and Finance

Did you know that after a storm such as a tropical system has passed, many people are injured or die from hazards that are not directly associated with the storm?

In a 2016 study, researchers Dr. Edward N. Rappaport, former acting director of the National Hurricane Center, and Dr. B. Wayne Blanchard, retired Higher Education Project Manager at FEMA, analyzed 50 years of tropical cyclones and found that there were over 1,400 indirect deaths associated with these storms. These deaths included heart attacks, electrocutions and car accidents.

Let’s look at some of these “indirect hazards” of tropical systems and ways that we can prepare for them.

Credit: Rappaport and Blanchard (2016)

Cardiovascular incidents
Rappaport and Blanchard found that heart-related problems resulted in about 34% of all indirect deaths associated with tropical cyclones. Both the physical and emotional stress of dealing with a storm’s aftermath may result in a worsening of symptoms for those with heart disease.

  • Take breaks during strenuous post-storm activities such as debris removal.
  • If possible, work in groups or utilize community resources to assist in post-storm cleanup.
  • Ensure that all heart medications are refilled before a storm arrives, and check with your health insurance company to see if extra refills can be authorized before the storm.
  • Stay aware of stress levels after the storm. If you are overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety or depression, seek medical care and try to stay connected with friends and family. You can also use resources such as the Disaster Distress Helpline, a crisis counseling and support line for those experiencing emotional distress related to disasters.

Vehicular incidents
After a storm has passed, our first instinct can be to get in our vehicles to tour damage in neighborhoods. This can be a very dangerous action, as many roadways remain hazardous well after a storm has passed due to floodwaters and debris. Traffic lights may not function, and street and road hazard signs may be displaced. These hazards can result in dangerous traffic accidents.

  • Always remained sheltered after a storm until authorities tell you it is OK to leave your home.
  • When you are allowed to leave your home, always yield the right of way to any emergency vehicles that may approach.
  • Stay aware of road conditions through local news and radio stations and through the 511 travel information line.
  • Never drive around barriers or through flooded roadways, and be aware of downed trees and power lines.
  • If a traffic signal is not operating at an intersection, treat the intersection as an “all-way” stop.

 Visit or call 511 for travel information in Louisiana.

Power problems

Power outages can be an inconvenience for some, but may result in serious medical consequences for others. Many storms have affected Louisiana in the months of August and September, a period when the state experiences high and humid temperatures. The lack of cool air can make heat-related illness in vulnerable populations worse.

Power outages can be especially dangerous for citizens who use electricity-dependent medical equipment such as oxygen concentrators, feeding pumps and nebulizers. Injuries from falls can occur due to the lack of light, and frozen and chilled foods can become contaminated due to lack of refrigeration. Unsafe generator usage during power outages can lead to deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • If you or your loved ones are sensitive to heat or use electricity-dependent medical equipment, be sure to plan for evacuations well in advance of a storm.
  • Instead of open flames as light sources, use flashlights and battery-operated lanterns to prevent fires.
  • Purchase battery-operated fans to use in homes.
  • Stay away from downed power lines that could still be electrically charged.
  • Heed any boil water advisories.
  • Never use a generator inside your home. The CDC recommends using generators more than 20 feet away from your home, doors and windows.
  • To prevent foodborne illnesses, discard refrigerated foods when the power has been off for four or more hours.

With a little preparation and awareness, you will be capable of keeping yourself and your loved ones safe before, during and after a storm.


For more information on how to stay safe from both direct and indirect hazards of tropical systems, visit these links:

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Emotional and psychological disaster preparedness

By DR. JAMES E. HUSSEY | Medical Director, LDH Office of Behavioral Health

Tropical weather in the Gulf this week has us on our toes, ready to spring into action if things get nasty. While here in Louisiana we’re always ready for the possibility of high winds and torrential rains, we usually look to the practical side of things: Did we stock up on food and water? Is the generator ready to go?

Those things are undeniably important, but it’s also a good idea to be prepared mentally and emotionally. Natural events such as a storm can unfold in minutes to hours, yet the feelings and emotions they evoke can linger for weeks, months and even years after.

Psychological preparedness can help you think logically and wisely during and after disasters, helping to keep you physically safe while also weathering the emotional storm.

Disaster-related stress can affect anyone, but some people may be more vulnerable than others. They may include those with disabilities, existing mental health issues, children, the elderly and those who have been previously impacted by floods, hurricanes and other disasters.

VIDEO: Dr. Hussey on emotional and psychological disaster preparedness

Recognizing disaster-related stress

FEMA has some online resources aimed at coping with disaster. First, it is important to be able to recognize signs and symptoms of disaster-related stress, and to seek counseling or assistance. According to FEMA, some symptoms may include:
  • Difficulty communicating thoughts
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty maintaining balance in their lives
  • Low threshold of frustration
  • Increased use of drugs/alcohol
  • Limited attention span
  • Poor work performance
  • Headaches/stomach problems
  • Tunnel vision/muffled hearing
  • Colds or flu-like symptoms
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Reluctance to leave home
  • Depression, sadness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Mood swings and easy bouts of crying
  • Overwhelming guilt and self-doubt

It’s OK to seek help

If disaster-related stress starts wearing you down, it’s perfectly normal and OK to ask for help. Here are some helpful resources:
  • The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people those in emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK.
  • For non-emergencies, check the Office of Behavioral Health directory for local community behavioral health services in Louisiana.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a Disaster Kit for recovery workers, which includes wallet cards, guides for parents, caregivers, teachers and others. There is also a SAMHSA Disaster App.

Contact your primary care doctor and/or your insurance plan for referrals to behavioral health specialists.

Physical and emotional health

FEMA also recommends that you take steps to promote your own physical and emotional health and healing by healthy eating, rest, exercise, relaxation and perhaps even meditation. It is important to maintain a normal family routine as much as possible and to lean on your existing support groups of family, friends and religious institutions.

Be prepared

For many people, having a disaster supply kit stocked and a family disaster plan ready is a great comfort. When the storm comes, you’ll be ready to go. For more information, click here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Beach Monitoring Program helps keep your summer safe

Before you hit the beach for your summer vacation, you may want to have a look at the Louisiana Department of Health’s Beach Monitoring Program website to see if any advisories have been posted for your vacation destination.

The program tests the water at 24 beaches along the Louisiana coast to determine if those beaches meet quality standards set forth by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. All 24 beaches are along the state’s coast and are tested weekly. Those beaches include:
  • Constance Beach
  • Cypremont Point State Park
  • Elmer’s Island
  • Fontainebleau State Park
  • Grand Isle State Park (four sites)
  • Grand Isle Beach (three sites)
  • Gulf Breeze Beach
  • Holly Beach (six sites)
  • Lake Charles’ north and south beaches
  • Little Florida Beach
  • Long Beach
  • Martin Beach
  • Rutherford Beach

The program tests these waterways for bacteria from human or animal waste that could potentially cause disease, infections and/or rashes. Whenever these bacteria are above an acceptable level, a swim advisory is issued. Advisories are posted at the beach with a diamond-shaped sign and on the program’s website.

Contaminants can enter water in a number of ways. Sometimes, it is a case of sewage discharge. In other cases, it could be from large amounts of rainfall increasing runoff that enters waterways.

Swim safety

Swim advisories do not mean that the beach is closed, however. LDH recommends that anyone with a compromised immune system or open wounds not swim in the water, but the public can swim at their own risk.

If there is a swim advisory, there are a number of ways to reduce your chance of illness, including:
  • Avoid putting your head under the water if you choose to swim.
  • Do not get into the water if you have open cuts, sore or wounds. If you do choose to get into the water, ensure that you have waterproof bandages to cover any open cuts.
  • After swimming, shower with soap and water.
  • Avoid eating seafood caught from waters where there are visible chemicals, algae is present, and there is an advisory.
  • Pets should not be allowed to swim in or drink from waterways that are under advisory.
  • Avoid areas with visible algae. Algae can be blue, bright green, brown or red, and can have a strong odor like rotting plants.

If you feel ill after entering the water or swimming, contact your doctor immediately.

If you’d like to learn more about swim advisories, you can visit LDH’s Beach Monitoring Program website here or the U.S. EPA’s BEACH program here.