University of Louisville professor thinks trees could help improve region’s health

Blame for Louisville’s high incidence of heart disease has long been attributed to a population that has unhealthy eating habits, a high rate of smoking, and an overall lack of exercise. In some circles, the city’s reputation has earned it an unwelcome nickname — Coronary Valley.

Dr. Aruni Bhatnager

But a new idea called “The Green Heart Program” seeks to determine if the simple presence of trees and more green spaces can improve overall health and lower the region’s rate of heart disease.

“We are testing the idea that if you increase green spaces in an urban community, you will see improvements in health,” Dr. Aruni Bhatnager, a University of Louisville professor of medicine who is leading the study, said in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville.

Dr. Bhatnager said the study will enroll 700 people living in south Louisville neighborhoods and measure their risk for heart disease. The project will then plant nearly 10,000 large mature trees in those areas, then go back later to see if the presence of green affects the health of the community.

To hear more from Dr. Bhatnager, please click here. To learn more about the Green Heart project, please click here.

Nominate someone for a 2019 Commitment to Compassion Award

Compassion is more than just being sympathetic. Compassion means acting on the desire to alleviate the suffering of another. Those in the health care field seem to have an extra sense of compassion for those who need help in overcoming challenges.

Compassionate LouisvilleThe Commitment to Compassion Award was created to honor some of the people every year who exemplify true compassion in care delivery. It all began three years ago, when Jill Bell, vice president and chief communications and marketing officer at Passport Health Plan, and Stephanie Barnett of ChooseWell Communities, along with members of the staff at Insider Louisville, came up with the idea of honoring health care professionals who show extraordinary compassion in their approach to their work and their life.

The awards are given out each year at the Commitment to Compassion luncheon. The fourth annual luncheon will be held at the Muhammad Ali Center in Downtown Louisville on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019.

Do you know someone who deserves recognition for what he or she does to improve the lives of those around them? Somebody who inspires and challenges you to become more compassionate yourself? Click here to nominate a compassionate honoree today. The deadline for award nominations is Friday, Dec. 21.

 

Psychologist uses his own life lessons – including a failed suicide attempt – to help others thinking about taking their own lives

After someone commits suicide, family members and friends are left to wonder why. They reconstruct recent events and interactions, trying to recall any signs that their loved one was contemplating taking their own life.

Insider Louisville Logo“The biggest feeling is guilt for not seeing it,” Dr. Josh Smith, a licensed clinical psychologist, says in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville. “Even when the individual does not show any discernible signs you feel like there is something that you missed.”

During National Suicide Awareness Month this month, the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) encourages everyone to share resources and stories in an effort to simply talk about the highly stigmatized topic.

In Kentucky, suicide is on the rise, with 776 deaths occurring in 2017. There were 584 deaths by suicide in Jefferson County between 2011 and 2015.

To help tackle this issue, the Louisville Health Advisory Board is holding free suicide prevention training at 85 locations around Jefferson County from Sept. 9 through 15 in association with National Suicide Prevention Week. The 90-minute “Question. Persuade. Refer.” (QPR) sessions are designed to teach people how to respond to someone in crisis and are taught much like CPR. The goal of the training is to educate people on how to talk with someone who might be at risk. To learn more and see a complete list of the times and locations, please go online to qprlou.com.

To hear more from Dr. Smith, including his very personal stories about suicide, please click here.

 

Parents have a right to get involved if they think their teen is getting addicted to drugs or alcohol

Addiction is a troubling and potentially earth-shattering disease at any age, so when a teen becomes addicted to drugs, alcohol, or even something that seems harmless like a video game, the consequences can be devastating.

Insider Louisville LogoAndrew Davidson is a licensed clinical social worker whose private practice is centered on 14- to 18-year-olds. In other words, he knows how teenagers’ minds work, what motivates them, and what triggers addictive behavior.

Teens are most likely to experiment with alcohol, he says in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville, adding that he has seen the whole list of addictive drugs, from marijuana to stimulants to opioids, in his patients. And he is quick to point out that gambling and video games are increasingly affecting young people in a negative way.

“I use a harm-reduction approach – I’m trying to reduce any kind of harm they could do,” he says. “If they choose to use, they need to know what the dangers are.”

To hear more from Davidson, please click here. To read more, please click here.

 

New Moms Need to Take Postpartum Depression – aka the ‘Baby Blues’ – Seriously and Get the Help they Need

Insider Louisville LogoNew moms are often told by family members, friends, and co-workers that becoming a mother is among the happiest times she’ll ever experience.

So why is it that nearly one in four new moms experience profound sadness, anxiety, or depression in the first six weeks after the new baby goes home?

“In TV shows and movies, it shows that it should be the happiest point in your life,” Dr. Amy Greenamyer, a Louisville counselor who specializes in women’s issues, fertility, and pregnancy-related adjustment, says in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville. “You should be thrilled to have this new baby. But many feel regrets about having gotten pregnant to begin with. ‘What did we do to our lives, we’ve ruined our lives.’ There’s guilt that comes with those types of thoughts, because we should be happy about this.”

The fact is that having a new person in your home requires an adjustment, not just by the mother, but by all those in her support circle. Feelings of fear and doubt are common.

To hear more from Dr. Greenamyer, please click here. To read more, please click here.

 

Screens may be changing, but parents still have to monitor kids’ ‘screen time’

Insider Louisville LogoParenting in the digital age is not what it used to be, and the consequences for people who ignore the amount of time that their children spend using electronic devices can be disastrous.

In previous generations, the topic of “screen time” was controversial as well, as parents debated the amount of time they should allow their children to watch television. Today’s kids have many more choices, and many of them spend countless hours playing video games or communicating through texting and social media. And with smartphones and tablets being more prevalent, children and teens are able to conduct these activities out of sight of their parents.

Dr. Greg Robson is a general pediatrician at Oldham County Pediatrics in LaGrange. He says in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville that in the 14 years he has been practicing, the evolution of screen time has moved the topic up the list of concerns.

“Something that used to be modest and inconsequential is now affecting greater activities on a daily basis for the patients in our practice, and I would guess for our communities at large,” he said.

To hear more from Dr. Robson, please click here.

 

‘Pet therapy’ Can Help Many People Through the Healing Process, No Matter the Challenges

Insider Louisville LogoFor many hospital patients and residents of assisted-living facilities, medicine is not always what’s needed most. Sometimes, they just need something to smile about. And that’s where animal-assisted therapy can be a real benefit.

Animal-assisted therapy, also known as pet therapy, is recognized by those in the medical profession as a “growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people recover from or better cope with health problems, such as heart disease, cancer and mental health disorders,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

Linda Laun saw the benefits of pet therapy first-hand when she was a little girl and her ailing grandmother snuck out of the hospital to see her dog, Patsy, in the parking lot. She said that even though her grandmother was in great pain, her face lit up at the sight of her dog.

“When she was interacting with Patsy, she had a tiny piece of tranquility. It made a huge difference in her life,” Laun said in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville. “I recognized the impact dogs can have on people. When I had time, I got more involved and started a therapy program.”

Today, Laun heads Wonderful Animals Giving Support (WAGS) Pet Therapy of Kentucky, Inc., which utilizes the human-animal bond to bring smiles to the faces of those who are mentally, physically or emotionally challenged. To hear more from Laun, please click here. For more information about pet therapy, please click here.

A Good Night’s Sleep is One of the Most Important Things We Can Do to Be Healthy

Insider Louisville LogoOf all the components of good health, there’s one that’s as essential as eating, breathing and physical activity. According to Lisa Bellafato, a health education manager at Passport Health Plan, a good night’s sleep can have a positive effect on everything from your energy level to your ability to lose weight.

“Sleep is a restorative time for the body,” Bellafato says in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville. “Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep. Some can get less, some need more. Teens need more, but for some it’s almost impossible to get the recommended hours.”

Bellafato spends time talking to teens about health issues, and notes that technology is a big factor in depriving young people of sleep. Phones, and the need to be constantly connected, is a huge factor. She recommends a family charging station, and said parents should insist on every family member placing phones at a central location at bedtime – even themselves.

For more information, please click here.

 

Passport Health Plan to Honor 7 Healthcare Leaders at Commitment to Compassion Luncheon

Compassionate LouisvilleCompassion is a key component in healthcare delivery, and seven individuals who embody that value will be honored at a luncheon in Downtown Louisville.

“A Commitment to Compassion” will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, February 28, at the Frazier History Museum, 829 West Main Street. The event is co-sponsored by Passport Health Plan, Compassionate Louisville, and Insider Louisville.

“We have a created a brush fire of compassion for the community, and this is an opportunity to recognize some of the folks who are igniting the fire,” said Stephanie Barnett, a co-host of the Compassionate Louisville Healthcare Constellation, which brings together members of the healthcare community to explore ways to grow compassion from within our health systems.

Jean West, Emmy Award-winning anchor and medical, health and science reporter, will emcee the event, which will recognize and honor seven dedicated healthcare workers who exemplify true compassion in the workplace. These are people who go above and beyond their job duties to extend needed consideration, kindness, and compassion to patients, their colleagues and the broader community. The honorees are:

  • Guy Harvey of Norton Children’s Hospital
  • Heather Renee Hibbard of the Brown Cancer Center
  • Mary Lynn Spalding, President and CEO of Christian Care Communities
  • Sheila Carter, founder and owner of Heartsong Memory Care
  • Zella Fraze of Gilda’s Club
  • Dr. Michael Imburgia, co-founder of the Have a Heart Clinic
  • Robin Goodman of Family Health Centers

For more information, please click here.

 

Louisville Grows Brings Healthy-Eating Practices to Residents All Over Region

Insider Louisville LogoThe phrase “eat your vegetables” can refer to any responsible choice you make, whether in work, school, or life. Taken literally, it’s good advice when it comes to your diet.

Healthy eating can mean different things to different people, but almost everyone is making a conscious effort to improve their health by paying attention to what they put in their mouths. And vegetables are among the healthiest items anyone can choose.

Ked Stanfield, executive director of Louisville Grows, organizes programs and activities to encourage a healthy diet at the organization’s headquarters in the Portland neighborhood of West Louisville.

“Something that’s missing from a lot of American diets are vegetables,” he says in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville.  “Vegetables have a lot of nutrients and they don’t have a lot of calories. Those micro- and macro-nutrients that are found in vegetables are things that we lack in our diet.”

To learn more about this, please click here.