Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Look Good...Feel Better

The American Cancer Society, Wyoming Valley Unit, offers free workshops for women who are in cancer treatment to help them deal with temporary changes in their appearance from radiation or chemotherapy treatment. The workshop is facilitated by trained cosmetologists who teach women with cancer how to understand and care for changes in skin and hair that may occur during treatment. The programs are offered in partnership with the National Cosmetology Association and the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association Foundation.

Participants receive a makeup demonstration and a complimentary makeup kit. Each session lasts about 2 hours. Registration is free, but required! Call 1-888-227-5445, option 1 to register.

Local Schedule for 2011

Wyoming Valley Healthcare System @ Wilkes-Barre General Hospital

575 N. River St.
Wilkes-Barre, PA
Sessions are held in the Radiation Oncology Department at 4:00 p.m.

Wednesday, April 27
Wednesday, June 1

Candy's Place
190 Welles St., Suite 120
Forty Fort, PA
Sessions begin at 5:00 p.m.

Monday, January 24
Monday, March 28
Monday, June 27
Monday, August 22
Monday, September 26

Geisinger Henry Cancer Center
1000 E. Mountain Blvd.
Wilkes-Barre, PA
Sessions start at 10:30 a.m.

Thursday, March 10
Thursday, April 7
Thursday, May 19
Thursday, July 14
Thursday, September 15
Thursday, October 20
Thursday, November 17

Friday, October 29, 2010

NIH News in Health

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) produces a monthly health newsletter for consumers called NIH News in Health. The October issue features articles on menopause and prostate problems. Past issues have covered topics like Alzheimer's Disease, depression, stroke, and diet. There is a button to sign up for email updates when a new issue is published.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Family Health History

The National Human Genome Research Institute and the office of the Surgeon General have developed on online tool for creating a family health history—a written record of a family's health. The history contains information about a family's medical conditions, lifestyle habits (for example, whether anyone in the family has smoked), and where and how family members grew up. It's like a family tree for health.

Use it to see if you, your children, or your grandchildren might face an increased risk of developing serious health problems, the role of genetics and ways to promote the health of your family members. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Flu Vaccine Schedules Are Available

Local hospitals are already reporting positive cultures for Influenza A and Influenza B. This year's vaccine also contains the H1N1 strain, so only one dose is required.

The City of Wilkes-Barre has posted its flu vaccine schedule. It can be found at:

The Department of Veterans Affairs in Wilkes-Barre has its flu vaccine schedule posted at:

Other places to check are local stand-alone pharmacies and pharmacies in grocery or department stores. Appointments may be necessary.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Get Ready for Flu Season

Although the peak of the flu season is still a few months away, it's not too soon to start thinking about protecting yourself and loved ones against this potentially deadly disease.  Vaccination is the best protection against contracting the flu and everyone 6 months of age and older should be immunized as soon as the 2010-2011 season vaccine is available. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently came out with its recommendations for protecting children and teens during the upcoming season.

For more information about the disease, its prevention, and treatment, visit

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Connecting Those at Risk to Care

Health Info NEPA lists free medical and dental clinics under Local Health Organizations. Those concerned with the healthcare needs of "at risk" persons in their communities may find this AHRQ publication very helpful because it provides a step-by-step guide for setting-up an infrastructure to:
  • Find: Identify those at greatest risk
  • Treat: Ensure that they receive needed evidence-based health and social services
  • Measure: Document and evaluate benchmarks and final outcomes.

This infrastructure, termed Community "HUB,"promotes "... a system of collaboration, accountability, and improved outcomes."

Community Care Coordination Learning Network. Connecting those at risk to care: a guide to building a community "HUB" to promote a system of collaboration, accountability, and improved outcomes. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ); September 2010. AHRQ Publication No.09(10)-0088.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

PubMed Health

The National Library is developing a new site called PubMed Health, which will give consumer-level, evidence-based health information. Although it hasn't been released, documents from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists are now searchable through your favorite browser (Google, Yahoo, etc.). If searching for the drug Avandia, type in Avandia "PubMed Health". Putting words in quote marks forces the search engine to look for the words as a phrase. Another example would be progesterone "PubMed Health". Once the website is release, a link will be put on Health Info NEPA.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Brain Attack (Stroke)

The following article was written by staff from Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.

As a 40-year-old occupational therapist and mother of two sons, Deborah Roszkowski knows what it’s like to live a busy, sometimes hectic life. Little did she know that one sunny Memorial Day weekend in 2001, her life was about to change drastically.

Twelve hours after a routine day of caring for her family and visiting a patient at home, Deborah awoke in Wilkes-Barre General Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, on a ventilator, paralyzed, and unable to speak. Deborah had suffered a stroke and a condition called “Locked-In Syndrome.” (The award-winning movie, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly tells the story of one patient with this condition.) After three weeks of acute care at the hospital, Deborah was transferred to The John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine unable to see, speak, or swallow. She was being fed through a tube.

According to Dr. Sanjeev Garg, a board certified neurologist and Medical Director of the Stroke Center at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, “A stroke, no matter how small, can change a person’s life forever. It can leave the victim with moderate to severe physical, mental or psychological disabilities, and may cause the victim to lose their memory, speech, balance, certain fine motor skills, control over certain muscles or movement of entire limbs-even paralysis of one side of the body. A person’s personality or behavior can be forever changed by a stroke. They may also have difficulty reading, processing information or eating without assistance.”

Deborah was fortunate. Gradually her speech and eyesight returned and she no longer needed a feeding tube. After just two and a half months, she was able to return home in a wheelchair, able to walk a few steps with assistance. Deborah now drives with adaptive equipment, eats a normal diet, and can speak loud enough for others to hear her.

A stroke, also known as a “brain attack,” is a medical emergency. Strokes occur when the brain doesn’t get enough blood, either when a blood clot or other particle blocks an artery supplying the brain, or when there is bleeding in the arteries in or around the brain. Almost anyone can have a stroke, but adults over 40 are the most frequent victims and people with heart disease have the highest risk. The Centers for Disease Control ranks stroke as the third highest cause of death in the U.S. and it is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability. The statistics for Northeastern Pennsylvania are significantly higher in cardiovascular and heart diseases than the state average, so the risk of stroke is higher.

The American Stroke Association and the American Heart Association have begun the ACT F.A.S.T! campaign to help recognize when someone is having a stroke. F.A.S.T. stands for face, arms, speech, and time. If someone is suffering a stroke, their face can droop on one side and they might have an uneven smile. They could have arm numbness or weakness on one side of their body. Their speech can be slurred and they can have difficulty speaking or understanding. If someone has these symptoms, the T in F.A.S.T! stresses that time is of the essence. Call 911 and get that person immediately to a hospital, preferably one with a certified stroke center. Seconds can make an enormous difference in the outcome for a stroke survivor.

Diane Kane, Program Coordinator of the Stroke Center at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital says, “There are new medications and medical procedures that may be able to minimize or sometimes eliminate the effects of a stroke, but these treatments must be started within the first three hours, and in a very select group, 4 ½ hours of having symptoms.” Tissue plasminogen activator or tPA is a clot-busting drug that can minimize the effects of some strokes, but it must be given within a short timeframe after symptoms start to be effective. The MERCI retriever is a mechanical tool that removes blood clots from the brain. Two physicians at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital are certified to do procedures using this tool, Dr. Akash Agarwal, an endovascular neurosurgeon, and Dr. Satish Patel, and interventional radiologist. The Stroke Center at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital is the only hospital locally to offer this procedure. Dr. Agarwal explains, “Mechanical removal of a clot can widen the opportunities for treatment in acute stroke patients and improve patient outcomes.” Dr. Patel adds, “These therapies come with their own risks. The staff at the Stroke Center are highly trained to determine the best treatment for each individual who presents with a stroke. “

Image from CDC website

Kane states, “We are the only Joint Commission certified Primary Stroke Center in the area. We must adhere to strict standards and criteria in treating stroke victims. Even with all the tools at our disposal, none of them work unless patients arrive quickly to the hospital.” She adds that in 2008 the Stroke Center had 74 “code purples,” the emergency announcement used for stroke. Of those 74, only 5 patients met the strict eligibility criteria for giving tPA. In 2009 the Center had 144 code purples and 25 patients met the criteria. Kane says, “We went from about 7% to 17%. That means we’re improving in getting the word out to people that they must arrive within a three hour timeframe to be considered for that type of therapy, but we still have a long way to go.”

A TIA or transient ischemic attack is sometimes called a mini stroke, but it is really a warning. It is caused by a clot blocking blood to the brain for a short time, but it doesn’t cause permanent damage or leave lasting effects. However, 15% of those who have had a TIA go on to have a full stroke. A TIA has the same symptoms as a full-blown stroke and should not be ignored.

“In medical terms strokes are called cerebrovascular accidents, but they are not accidents. There are ways to prevent them,” states Kane. The major risk factors for stroke are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, smoking, heavy alcohol use, physical inactivity and obesity, atrial fibrillation, and family history. “Maintaining a normal weight, eating a balanced diet, exercising, cutting back on alcohol, and stop smoking are things everyone should be doing,” says Kane. She also says that if you already have a risk factor, you should continue with the treatment recommended by your physician. “And if you see someone with stroke symptoms, remember to ACT F.A.S.T!”

Friday, August 6, 2010


This website has been created by the librarians who serve the health care institutions in Northeastern Pennsylvania. We are members of the Health Information Library Network of Northeastern Pennsylvania (HILNNEP).

This site actually has two purposes. We hope to
1. Help you find the local resources and agencies in our region that can help you with your healthcare needs


2. Help you make sense of the vast amount of information available on the Internet and direct you towards the best and most trustworthy websites

A Relevant Note ...
On February 18, 2010, an article was published in both the Scranton Times and the Citizens' Voice declaring that NEPA counties are among the state's least healthy. "The report's authors hope the rankings will be a catalyst for change in communities across the country - that community leaders, across all sectors, will use it to learn about and work to change what is making residents unhealthy." The newspaper article concludes with a question (from the University of Scranton's Daniel West, Ph.D., a member of the Healthy Northeast Pennsylvania Initiative: "The question is, with limited resources, where do we begin?"

It is our hope that this website will serve as one of those beginning steps.