Short Takes

Written by ryan. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on August 31, 2010 with No Comments

INDIANA WEATHERIZING

Low Income Homes

Indiana’s innovative program to weatherize 20,000 homes using federal stimulus funds has reached its stride. Within the past three months, the state moved to ninth nationally in overall units completed and seventh in production per day. The U.S. Department of Energy has now released the second half of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funds for Indiana’s Home Energy Conservation Program administered by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. Indiana was the 49th state to receive approval for its program and is the 18th state to complete 30 percent of its production goal, which triggered the release of the remaining funds. “We purposely spent time preparing for this program because we wanted to get it right,” Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman said. “We’re glad we were careful because it is paying off. We’ve seen no formal reports of fraud or abuse, we’re stretching the dollars, and we’re becoming a national leader in producing energy efficient homes and generating cost savings for consumers.” So far, Indiana has trained nearly 2,000 energy auditors and contractors and added 10 new organizations to the provider network which has completed 49 percent of the weatherized homes. The 20 Community Action Program agencies have completed 51 percent and implemented a centralized purchasing program to maximize return on investment. The system has saved $607,000 in materials costs, which means 121 more households will be weatherized. To qualify, household income must be at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. Priority is given to elderly and disabled residents and families with children. Following an energy audit, residents may receive up to $5,000 in home energy improvements such as programmable thermostats, insulation, new furnaces or hot water heaters. For more information, call 317-232-7777 or visit www.ihcda.in.gov.

HEALTH REFORM

Benefits Hoosiers

The Obama Administration highlighted new information that describes how the Affordable Care Act, just five months after its enactment, is already giving Americans more control over their health care. A new fact sheet is available that outlines the specific, immediate benefits of the act for Indiana, and can be found by visiting www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform/downloads#states.

“Americans want to know how health insurance reform affects their communities,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. “Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, we have been working closely with States on implementation and the immediate benefits of this historic legislation are beginning to take effect.” The Affordable Care Act builds on efforts by many states to protect consumers and hold insurers accountable. The new fact sheets outline many of the act’s immediate benefits, including steps to close the Medicare Part D “donut hole” prescription drug coverage gap, a new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, and new consumer protections such as the Patient’s Bill of Rights. Other immediate benefits include investments in the expansion and construction of community health centers throughout the nation and new resources to bolster the primary care workforce to improve access to care for more Americans. For more information on the Affordable Care Act, call 800-622-4461 or visit www.HealthCare.gov.

BLOOD PRODUCTS

Key to Cancer Care

September is National Blood Cancer Awareness Month and anyone can join the fight to beat cancer, one blood donation at a time. “Blood and platelets from volunteer donors can be vital to the care and treatment of people with cancer,” Sharyn Whitman, CEO for the Indiana-Ohio Region of the American Red Cross said. “You can make such a difference to someone very sick through the simple act of rolling up your sleeve.” Every day, cancer patients may depend on blood being there for emergency or ongoing care. Leukemia and other cancers can cause anemia and internal bleeding, chemotherapies and radiation can lower blood counts, and cancer-related surgeries can result in blood loss. Transfusions of red blood cells and platelets can literally keep a patient from bleeding to death, or dramatically improve the quality of their life. According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, nearly 1 million people in the United States are living with or in remission from a form of blood cancer, and every four minutes one person in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer. With September being National Blood Cancer Awareness Month, donors are encouraged to make and keep appointments to give blood or platelets. The American Red Cross provides blood donation opportunities through donor centers, as well as through sponsored-organized drives at businesses, churches, civic and community organizations, places of worship, schools and colleges. “We often hear from cancer patients or families who want to thank donors for their generosity,” Whitman said. “They tell us that because someone took the time to give blood through the American Red Cross, their loved one was given another chance at life.” For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate please call 1-800-RED CROSS, or visit www.redcrossblood.org.

GETTING THE YARD

And Garden Ready For Winter

LaPorte County Master Gardeners are offering a “My First Yard” workshop which will guide homeowners in putting their yard and garden to bed for the winter. The event will take place 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Sept. 11 at the LaPorte County Library, located at 904 Indiana Avenue in LaPorte. Master Gardeners will explain cutting back vs. pruning, fall plantings and bulbs, important fall lawn care practices, and other ideas to give a yard and garden a “jump start” in the spring. This class will give novice gardeners tips on useful garden tools, lawnmower care and fall clean-up. Registration is $5 before Sept. 3 and $7 from then on. Class size is limited to 25 individuals. Register by calling Purdue Extension-LaPorte County at 219-324-9407 or by mailing or delivering the registration form and fee, which covers the cost of materials, to Purdue Cooperative Extension Service, 2358 N. U.S. 35, LaPorte IN 46350. A registration flyer is available from the office or at www.ag.purdue.edu/counties/laporte. The LaPorte County Master Gardener Association is one of the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service programs and helps fulfill the state motto of “Helping Others Grow” by training volunteers to promote good gardening and horticultural practices. Throughout the year, Master Gardeners volunteer in conducting educational activities and projects in the community. A fall Master Gardener training series will begin on Sept. 2. For more information about the Master Gardener Program or about becoming a Master Gardener, contact the LaPorte County Extension office at 324-9407.

U.S. CELLULAR

Calling All Teachers

Know a teacher whose aspirations are higher than their budget? Here is the chance to make their hopes a reality when U.S. Cellular funds teacher requests. Spread the word to all the teachers and parents you know. Everyone benefits when a teacher is given the resources they need to inspire our children. In late September through October, the U.S. Cellular Calling All Teachers Program will make teachers’ brilliant projects a reality. To help, tell every public school teacher you know to register at www.DonorsChoose.org/teacher and become a “U.S. Cellular teacher” today. Tell them to revisit the Web site between Aug. 1 and Sept. 15 to submit a classroom project for funding. If U.S. Cellular selects their projects, DonorsChoose.org will ship the resources directly to their classroom. It’s that easy. Teachers should only submit one project per classroom for this funding opportunity. U.S. Cellular believes that teachers and students deserve the best. For more information on how to submit a classroom project, visit www.uscellular.com/callingallteachers.

WEST NILE VIRUS

Heating Up

State health officials are urging Hoosiers to again take steps to protect themselves from mosquito-borne diseases, including West Nile. The hot weather this summer has increased the risks of West Nile, as evidenced by the rising rate of mosquito activity in the state. July saw the first signs of West Nile virus in the state, as four counties had mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus. In less than a month, the number of counties with mosquitoes that have tested positive for West Nile has more than tripled with 14 counties now confirmed. “Based on past experience, the recent hot weather is a big factor for the increase in positive mosquitoes,” Jennifer House, DVM, director at Zoonotic & Environmental Epidemiology at the Indiana State Department of Health, said. “Because of this, there is an increased risk for human cases.” The following counties in Indiana recently reported mosquito groups that tested positive for West Nile virus: Adams, Allen, Clinton, Delaware, Grant, Hamilton, Hendricks, Howard, Kosciusko, Lake, Madison, Marion, Montgomery and Wabash. West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that have first bitten an infected bird. A person bitten by an infected mosquito may show symptoms three to 15 days after the bite. West Nile Virus usually causes a mild form of illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. However, a small number of individuals can develop a more severe form of the disease, with encephalitis or meningitis and other neurological syndromes, including flaccid muscle paralysis. Some individuals may die from the infection. Health officials say that although individuals over age 50 are at greatest risk for serious illness and even death from West Nile virus, people of all ages have been infected with the virus and have had severe disease. Since 2002, when Indiana had its first human case of West Nile virus, more than 20 Hoosiers have died from the illness. For more information, visit www.statehealth.IN.gov.

VALPARAISO POLICE

Warn of Prescription Drugs

The Valparaiso Police Department has announced they will be an official site for discarding prescription drugs. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Abuse of prescription drugs to get high has become increasingly prevalent among teens and young adults. Past year abuse of prescription pain killers now ranks second – only behind marijuana – as the Nation’s most prevalent illegal drug problem. The Valparaiso Police Department has partnered with the DEA, City of Valparaiso and Porter County Substance Abuse Council in providing a location to drop off prescription drugs. The Porter County Substance Abuse Council provided the funding to purchase the drop off box which will be used to collect the prescription drugs. Old prescription drugs left in your house many times fall into the hands of young children or teenagers. They then are consumed or sold making them more dangerous. Old prescription drugs can also be an environmental hazard when flushed into the water system. Mark Giuffre, resident agent in charge of the DEA in Merrillville, said more people die from overdosing on prescription opiates than heroin and cocaine combined, and said 7 million people in this country are addicted to prescription pills. The drop off box is located in the lobby of the Valparaiso Police Department located at 355 S. Washington St in Valparaiso.

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