Baltimore County Now
Barbara McLean, M.D.
Chief, Bureau of Prevention, Protection, and Preparedness
Baltimore County Department of Health
Still haven’t gotten a flu shot? Think it’s too late in the season?
With all the news stories about the “mutated” strain and the effectiveness of this year’s vaccine, you may feel like it’s not necessary to get flu shot. The truth is—you should still get vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 36,000 people die, while 200,000 are hospitalized from the flu every year.
While this year’s vaccine is not a perfect match for this year’s virus, vaccination can still provide protection and might reduce severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death. Other documented benefits from flu vaccination include reductions in the length of illnesses, related doctors' visits and missed work or school.
Now I’m sure you’re doing your best to stay healthy by covering your coughs and sneezes, and keeping your hands squeaky clean, but taking a shot in the arm is still the best defense this flu season.
So are you ready to pull up your sleeve and take a shot? If so, the Baltimore County Department of Health is holding a “last call” flu vaccination clinic just for you on Saturday, January 17, from 9 a.m. until noon. The clinic will be held on the first floor of the Drumcastle Government Center at 6401 York Road, 21212. No appointment is necessary, the flu shot is free and only injectable vaccine will be offered while supplies last.
Come on, this could be your last shot to get a free flu shot. If you have not received the flu vaccine this season, remember, it’s not too late to vaccinate!
For more information, call 410-887-BCHD (2243)
Lynn McCamie, Baltimore County Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Manager
Choosing a nursing home or assisting living facility for our parents can be a daunting task. The Department of Aging Long-Term Care Ombudsman office offers the following tips:
· Tour several facilities, visiting each one twice. First, schedule a formal tour; then make an unannounced visit at a different day and time. If possible, visit during evening and/or weekend hours.
· Observe the entire facility carefully, using your senses – sight, sound, touch and smell.
· Keep a notebook of your observations and contact people.
· Review the state survey reports. These are inspection reports made by the Office of Health Care Quality, the State licensing agency. Facilities are required to post or have available the most recent survey report. If you do not see the survey, ask someone to get it for you. Note any deficiencies found in the long-term care facility and what they may mean for you or your loved one.
· Use the Internet to compare facilities. Medicare’s website offers a comparison for nursing homes throughout the United States at www.medicare.gov/NHCompare. To compare assisted living facilities in Maryland, visit http://mhcc.maryland.gov/consumerinfo/longtermcare/assistedliving.aspx /.
· If possible, eat a meal prepared by the facility. Notice the appearance and presentation of the food. Does the food smell good and taste satisfying? Are alternatives offered? Meals for special diets? Is a current menu posted throughout the facility? Observe the dining room. Are most of the residents eating there, rather than in their rooms? Are residents who need assistance with eating receiving that help?
· Read the activities calendar, which should be posted throughout the facility. Do the activities listed actually occur? Do the scheduled activities seem appropriate and varied? Do the residents seem to be enjoying the activities?
· Inquire whether there is a special unit or wing for dementia or Alzheimer’s residents. If so, tour the unit. Notice what safety precautions and activities are in place.
· Contact your local Ombudsman’s office for more details or questions call 410-887-2880 or email Ombudsman@baltimorecountymd.gov.
Gregory Wm. Branch, M.D., MBA, CPE
Director, Department of Health and Human Services
Health Officer and Director, Department of Health
Are you someone who likes to start the New Year on a promising note? Have you fallen into the trap of making goals or resolutions that you cannot meet? Well, Baltimore County has a number of tools that may be just the thing for you!
If you live, work, or play in Baltimore County, use the following tips to become a STAR and shoot towards a healthier you. If some of the tips don't apply to you, don't sweat it. Instead, share them with someone you know who could benefit from them.
If you are thinking about quitting or want to quit, Baltimore County has a number of different programs at various times and locations that may work for you. And, even better our smoking cessation classes are free.
Take the Test
What you don’t know could hurt you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone ages 13 to 64 know their status. You can get free, anonymous testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases at a Department of Health clinic. Sharing this information is great, spreading an infection is not.
Adopt a Pet
Owning a pet can help reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In addition, it’s a great antidote for loneliness that can also increase opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities and socialization.
There are numerous pets in Baltimore County that are in need of someone who will love and care for them. Consider opening your heart and home to an adoptable pet.
Remember to Schedule an Appointment
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Women can take care of their cervical and breast health by scheduling an annual mammogram and routine Pap test. These screenings may be available free of charge to income eligible women. Men, take care of the women you love, by reminding them to schedule these live-saving tests.
For more information about these tips, contact the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services by calling 410-887-BCHD (2243).