Monthly Archives: May 2015

Pennsylvania County Offers Free Air Conditioning Systems to the Disabled and Elderly

Opening up Floor Vent Heater
Mercer County, PA, is offering free air conditioners to qualifying senior citizens and to people with disabilities, through its Medi-Cool program.

“Medi-Cool allows us to provide many people of need in our community with an air conditioner so they can live comfortably,” Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes announced.

According to a May 10 Lawrenceville Patch article, Mercer County residents aged 60 and older will be able to qualify for a free air conditioner if they have a documented health condition and meet the Medi-Cool program’s income eligibility requirements. Once approved, they will receive a voucher for a free 5,000 BTU air conditioner.

Additionally, county residents 18 and older who have a disability may also qualify for a free air conditioning unit.

With the start of summer just around the corner, Hughes encouraged older people and people with disabilities to find out if they qualify for Medi-Cool, one of the county’s most popular programs.

And when these air conditioners are properly cared for and maintained, they can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years — keeping Mercer County residents cool for many summers to come.

Mercer County’s Medi-Cool program is facilitated by Catholic Charities, the Diocese of Trenton, and program partner Rise, a Hightstown-based nonprofit social service organization, reports. The program receives its funding through the county’s Department of Human Services, Office on Aging.

In order to qualify for a free air conditioner, applicants are required to submit proof of residency, proof of income, proof of assets, and documentation from their primary care physician that lists any medical illness or condition that would benefit from having an air conditioner.

During the hottest days of the year, no one should have to live in discomfort and face the potential health risks that come with high temperatures. This is where Medi-Cool comes in to help.

A Woman’s Fibroids Nearly Killed Her

young medical doctor in hospital
Fibroids are benign, muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus. According to John Hopkins Medicine, they affect about 30% of women ages 30 to 45. In many cases, fibroids are not that big of a problem. Although they can cause abnormal menstrual bleeding, lower back pain, and abdominal pressure, many women don’t even realize they have them, as the majority of fibroids are small, and asymptomatic.

Bridget Taylor’s fibroids, however, nearly killed her.

The 40-year-old British woman suffered heavy periods, fatigue, bloating, thinning hair, and general feelings of unwellness for three years. Each time she went to the doctor asking about her symptoms, her physician told her that she was probably just feeling worn out.

Her low levels of iron, which she discovered through a blood test, revealed something was definitely wrong, though. When her stomach became unusually swollen, she admitted herself to Kensington and Chelsea Hospital’s emergency room in west London.

Staff there tried to do a pap smear test, but couldn’t because there was something blocking it. So they referred her to a gynaecologist, who the next day found that Taylor had two fibroids. One was the size of a pea, and the other tumor was as big as a six-month-old fetus, or about the size of a head of lettuce.

Taylor underwent uterine fibroid surgery, which nearly took her life.

The operation was supposed to only take half an hour, but after the procedure began, doctors found 12 more fibroids. She wound up staying under the knife for a whopping five hours.

“After the operation, the next morning the surgeon came in to see me and gave me a big hug and said: ‘Miss Taylor, do you believe in God? In nine out of 10 cases you would be dead,'” Taylor told The Voice.

Apparently, Taylor had begun to bleed out, and they nearly removed her uterus, but she for some reason stopped bleeding.

“The consultant said no one has ever had that number of fibroids and managed to avoid a hysterectomy or blood transfusion,” Taylor said.

Although doctors aren’t sure what causes fibroids, they have found several factors linked to an increased risk of problematic fibroids. A woman with a family history of fibroids stands an increased risk of having them, too. Obese women have a two to three times greater risk of fibroids.

Ethnic origin, too, is a big factor. A study published in 2013 by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine reported that “African-American women had substantially more fibroids” with an average of 9.9 fibroids compared to the 4.5 average of Caucasian subjects.

Taylor, who is African Caribbean, has not had any problems since her operation, and urged other women to learn from her experience, saying “Push for that blood test and ultrasound as that is the only thing that will show you’ve got fibroids.”

How an Athletic Wear Line Might Help Attract Girls to STEM With Designs

Boutique display window with mannequins in fashionable dresses
A student at Columbia University has created a new line of athletic wear to help encourage young women to become more interested in science. Epidemia Designs was created by Lizzie Chochran, a 24-year-old aspiring doctor, and feature biology-themed designs.

Chochran created the line last year, and the first prototypes were released in January. The line centers around workout gear and accessories for young women in bright colors and interesting human-body-inspired prints. According to the Huffington Post, Chochran started a Kickstarter campaing for fund the Epidemia Designs debut line of activewear leggings.

The theme for the first line is “She’s Got It,” which encourages and celebrates female empowerment. The prints on the leggings will feature designs inspired by brain cells, nerve synapses, epithelial cells, and heart muscle. The leggings are called “She’s Got Brains,” “She’s Got Nerve,” “She’s Got Guts,” and “She’s Got Heart.”

Athletic wear is already a trend that’s been growing in popularity for the last several years; sales of activewear to women increased 6.7% between 2010 and last year. Popular teen stores like Victoria’s Secret’s PINK and American Eagle’s Aerie both have a focus on trendy-looking workout clothes, and it’s a trend that teens are picking up quickly.

According to Business Insider, activewear is now more popular than denim among upper-income female teens.

Teens spend about 20% of their money on clothing, and the most popular store for teens to shop is Nike, an athletic clothing retailer. More of the top athletic wear stores for teens are Under Armour, Adidas, and Lululemon.

When it comes to getting girls interested in science, Chochran chose the right channel. There is a growing focus on getting girls involved in the STEM fields in the U.S., and trendy athletic wear could be an effective way of encouraging that.

“I think that there is still a belief among young girls that the sciences are men’s fields and, with Epidemia Designs, I hope to play a part in changing that perception,” Cochran told the Huffington Post in an email interview. “We hope that our designs will serve as conversation starters and, through interesting, appealing patterns, further the idea that science is for girls, too.”

Uber, Goodwill Team Up to Collect Clothing Donations

Charity Worker Collecting From Couple In Street
Last Saturday, 52 American cities and 10 international cities participated in Uber and Goodwill’s “Spring Cleaning” initiative, donating millions of pounds of clothing with the touch of a button.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that on May 2nd, Uber users were able to donate their used clothing by clicking a “GIVE” button found on the mobile app. The transportation app featured the button for one day only, partnering with the charitable organization Goodwill to take the used clothing free of charge.

Users who clicked on the button summoned an Uber driver to pick up their lightly used clothing and donate it to the nearest Goodwill at no cost to the customer.

New York, Orange County, Kansas City, and Tuscon were just a few of the more than 50 cities able to participate in the donation event. Foreign cities such as Dubai, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, and Utrecht participated as well.

This is not the first clothing donation drive of its kind. Last year, Uber and Goodwill had a similar spring cleaning campaign in New York and two more cleaning campaigns in Boston and San Francisco last fall.

“Both Uber and Goodwill strive to make a meaningful impact on local communities, and we are thrilled to once again team up with Goodwill to make donating fast and easy for Uber users,” said David Plouffe, Uber’s Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy. “Those who participate in this campaign are not only checking something off their to-do list, but supporting Goodwill and its mission to strengthen communities by providing job placement and training for people in need.”

Clothing drives such as this are important, considering the stupendous waste of textiles that occurs every year. According to The Atlantic, average clothing purchases in the United States increased nearly five times since 1980. From 1999 to 2009, textile waste grew by 40%. More than 10.5 million tons of textiles are discarded in landfills every year, as Americans recycle or donate just 15% of their used clothing. Moreover, only about one-eighth of reusable textiles was recycled last year.

“This innovative and exciting partnership demonstrates Uber’s commitment to local communities on a national and international scale,” said Kim Zimmer, Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President of Global Development at Goodwill.

“This collaboration has made Spring cleaning and donating an easy task, while ensuring that their clothing is not only diverted from landfills, but also goes toward supporting efforts to put people back to work,” she said.

Much of the clothing will go to the homeless and poverty-stricken in the U.S. and abroad. The U.S. has a serious homelessness problem, with more than 600,000 homeless people on any given night, according to a report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. There are considerably more people who live indoors but suffer from extreme poverty. Philadelphia alone, for example, has 440,000 residents living under the federal poverty line.

Real Estate Insider Predicts Massive Changes in the Coming Decades

happy couple with key of new home
A prominent real estate expert told audience members that commercial real estate is going to experience significant changes in the next few decades.The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that on April 28th, renowned businessman and “futurist” Christopher Lee predicted that the Internet will supersede retail stores and colleges, among other institutions, leading to less (or at least different) commercial real estate. Speaking at the “Leaders Predict the Future” conference at the Westin Richmond Hotel, Lee said that the country is “over-retailed” as online shopping continues to dominate overall retail sales.

“Online retail sales will make shopping centers obsolete,” Lee told the audience. Lee, the president and CEO of CEL and Associates Inc., a real estate industry consulting firm based in Los Angeles, thinks that retail malls and smaller shops may become obsolete as companies such as Amazon take over the retail market.

To stay afloat, Lee recommends for shopping malls to switch over to other fields including entertainment, government services, and even residences.

Interest rates for commercial mortgages are unusually low, leading to a boon in commercial real estate. Some mortgage plans offer interest rates as low as 3.50% for five-year plans and 4.50% for 20-year plans.

Lee offered an inimitable take on the future of commercial (as well as residential) real estate. He outlined his view of history, dividing periods of time to indicate major shifts in real estate and consumption with major “transitional” gaps in between.

The “Age of Consequences and Restructuring,” for example, started in 2013 and will end in 2018. The “Age of Globalization and Knowledge” (2023-2028) and the “Age of Robotics and Non-Land-Based Environments” (2033-2038) will follow suit.

In the last period, Lee believes the workforce will shrink by up to 30% due to robotics and, among other things, people will look toward building structures over the ocean to accommodate a swelling global population. The ocean is an “uptapped resource,” as he phrased it.

He also predicts that higher education will change as more schools are offering online classes to students. Up to 15% of current universities could disappear, leaving the rest to become “centers for research.”

Lee concluded his talk by offering those in commercial real estate this advice: adapt to change to be successful.

Cloud Chasing Is the New Extreme Sport, but Is This Form of Vaping Healthy?

e-cigarette and e-liquid

Vaping — that is, using devices like electronic cigarettes and rechargeable vapor pens — has been gaining popularity in the United States for the past eight years. But now this alternative to cigarette smoking is branching out into another industry: extreme sports.

Competitions in “cloud chasing” pit vaping enthusiasts against one other to blow the biggest plumes of smoke, and these contests are catching on among young people.

Vape shops regularly hold contests, like the ones that recently took place in Plano, TX, and were profiled by the Wall Street Journal.

Not only do they spell profits for vape shops, but even competitors themselves can win big bucks when they compete — even through something like a sponsorship. Prizes can include gift certificates or even cold, hard cash — several hundred dollars up to thousands in some of the larger competitions.

Peter Denholz, owner of the Henley Vaporium, in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, said the “cloud chasers” are something like celebrities in the vaping community.

“There are people emerging in the industry, they are getting famous due to the fact that they’re the largest cloud blowers,” Denholz said.

Denholz explained to WPIX 11 in New York that cloud chasing is a new form of rebellion among young people. But instead of sneaking off to smoke a cigarette, “Today what they do is they go do something healthier but just as rebellious, which is going out and getting a vape,” he said.

Using a vaporizer, he explained, is a “healthier lifestyle” that gets people away from smoking cigarettes.

Those claims are currently debated by government officials and health organizations around the country, especially as more teenagers pick up the habit.

According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, vaping among teens is on the rise and has jumped eightfold in the past year.

Some critics blame the many candy and fruit flavors, like watermelon, vanilla cupcake, and Skittles, that are available for the devices. Today there are more than 7,700 different e liquid flavors for sale across 466 brands, with around 250 more per month being introduced into the market, according to the New York Times.

But for adults, vaping isn’t about smoking — cloud chasing competitions are more like an anti-smoking rally, according to one competitor.

Matt Maynard, a judge at one of the vaping competitions in Plano, told the WSJ that he was smoking nearly two packs of cigarettes per day before he began vaping and competing in cloud chasing competitions. He spent so much time customizing his vaporizer than he eventually forget about smoking altogether.

New Study Tackles The So-Called Weekend Effect Many Hospitals Experience

Motion Blur Stretcher Gurney Patient Hospital Emergency
A new study has just determined that around 93% of the world’s population cannot access safe and affordable surgery, most living in middle- or low-income countries. But even in the U.S., it’s been demonstrated that a single factor can dramatically and negatively impact outcomes for surgery patients: being admitted on the weekend.

That’s because hospitals often make do with fewer practitioners and resources than they do during the week, leading to longer hospital stays, higher readmission rates and higher fatality rates.

New research, however, has allowed a group from Loyola University to release a set of five guidelines that can help hospitals to overcome this so-called “weekend effect.” In order to gather data, the team examined 126,666 patient records from 117 hospitals, all located in Florida. They discovered the following (listed here in order of increasing significance):

    • That hospitals with inpatient physical rehab programs were 1.03 times more likely to overcome the weekend effect (these programs work to identify patients who will need extra conditioning or at-home resources for successful recovery).
    • That hospitals with higher nurse-to-bed ratios were 1.44 times more likely to overcome the weekend effect.
    • That hospitals with pain management programs were 1.48 times more likely to overcome the weekend effect.
    • That hospitals with home health programs were 2.37 times more likely to overcome the weekend effect (these programs involve at-home checks on patients after they are discharged).
    • That hospitals with fully functional and integrated electronic medical records were 4.74 times more likely to overcome the weekend effect.

The outlook is good on that final factor at least, as more and more hospitals are adopting EMRs due to financial incentives put in place by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In fact, use of EMRs is rising across the board. In 2013, about 78% of office-based physicians reported using an EMR system; that figure was only 18% in 2001.

EMRs are also making studies such as this one possible, the researchers said. The combination of EMRs, larger databases and more powerful computers allows for the mining of extremely large data sets in ways that would have been nearly impossible previously.

The research team reported their findings April 25 at the American Surgical Association meeting in San Diego, CA.