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Radon Action Encouraged January 16, 2018

January is national Radon Action Month. An estimated 40 percent of Pennsylvania homes have higher levels of radon than national safety standards, due to the state's geology. However, residents can perform a simple test to detect this gas, which is considered the second-leading cause of lung cancer.

Radon is an odorless, colorless radioactive gas that occurs naturally from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks and enters homes through cracks in the foundation or other openings. High levels of radon tend to be found in basements, but the gas can be found anywhere in the home.

Winter is a good time to test for radon, because doors and windows are generally closed, providing more accurate results. Simple radon test kits are inexpensive and available at home improvement and hardware stores.

For more information on radon, testing, and daily tips, readers may visit


Foundation Selects Grant Recipients January 16, 2018

The Brandywine Health Foundation has announced 30 grants totaling $824,000, bringing the foundation's total giving to more than $16.5 million since it began awarding grants and scholarships in 2002.

In the Coatesville community, a group of nonprofit agencies providing high-quality, critical services to its neighbors. The foundation's grantmaking committee, led by Margaret Rivello, vice chair, Brandywine Health Foundation, reviewed several dozen proposals which led to the foundation's board of directors unanimous approval of each of the community grants.

The following nonprofit agencies and community organizations have received FY 2018 grants from the Brandywine Health Foundation:

Priority 1, Health Equity - Ensure that every resident of the greater Coatesville community has the opportunity to make choices that will allow them to live a long and healthy life, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, disability, income or background.

Recipients include Community Volunteers in Medicine, $10,000; Human Services Inc., $40,000; Maternal and Child Health Consortium, $45,000; Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), $5,000; Pennsylvania Health Access Network, $7,500; Valley Youth House, $5,000; and Volunteer English Program in Chester County, $7,000.

Priority 2, Healthy Youths - Empower youths ages 12 to 24 in the community to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle, cultivate leadership skills and experience, and achieve their goals for the future.

Recipients include The Bridge Academy and Community Center, $7,500; Chester County Futures, $5,000; Coatesville Youth Initiative, $75,000; The Parkesburg Point, $5,000; and Youth Mentoring Partnership, $5,000.

Priority 3, Healthy Community - Improve community conditions that help impact the health of everyone in greater Coatesville.

General recipients include Chester County Food Bank, $20,000; Coatesville Area Public Library, $25,000; Coatesville Partners for Progress, $10,000; Coatesville Area Senior Center, $5,000; The Crime Victims' Center of Chester County, $10,000; Good Works Inc., $7,000; Home of the Sparrow, $6,000; and Support Center for Child Advocates, $5,000.

First responder groups that received grants include Chester County Economic Development Foundation, Chester County Public Safety Training Facility, $13,000; Keystone Valley Fire Department, $4,000; and Washington Hose Company No. 1, $3,000.

Through a multi-year pledge commitment through 2020, ChesPenn Health Services will receive $312,000 in fiscal year 2018, with a total grant of $870,000.

Multi-year pledge commitments through fiscal year 2018 were made to Chester County Health Department's Nurse-Family Partnership, $10,000; Child Guidance Resource Centers, $75,000; Coatesville Center for Community Health, $12,000; Domestic Violence Center of Chester County, $20,000; Family Service of Chester County, $20,000; and Planned Parenthood Southeastern PA's Coatesville Health Center, $50,000.

To learn more about the foundation, readers may visit or contact


CHI St. Joseph Children's Health Announces New Program January 12, 2018

Initiative To Help Ensure Columbia Families Have Access To Formula

CHI St. Joseph Children's Health has announced a new program focused on food security for infants 12 months and younger under the organization's Healthy Columbia Project. The First Foods Access for Everyone Initiative (FACE), which kicked off on Jan. 2, aims to ensure that families with babies in the Columbia area have access to formula and nutritious first foods regardless of income.

The Healthy Columbia FACE Initiative is designed to supplement existing community programs so no child under age 1 experiences food insecurity. Unlike many other food access programs, the FACE Initiative does not have an income requirement and extends access to all families regardless of their income. CHI believes that financial difficulties, unexpected expenses, and changes in employment can have significant impact on families, and the organization wants to ensure all families that find themselves in need have access to formula and nutritious first foods for the most vulnerable residents of the community - newborns and infants.

The FACE Initiative is being piloted in Columbia Borough through a partnership with Susquehanna Valley Pregnancy Services - Columbia Pregnancy Clinic and will serve all residents living in the 17512 ZIP code during its initial pilot phase. To learn more, readers may contact CHI St. Joseph Children's Health at 717-397-7625 or visit

FACE is the newest initiative launched by Healthy Columbia. Healthy Columbia is funded by CHI St. Joseph Children's Health, which has committed to investing more than $2 million into the program over the next seven years. Healthy Columbia programs focus on four main areas: safe homes and neighborhoods, health and wellbeing, early childhood experience and education, and food security and nutrition.

In addition to the new FACE Initiative, current programs and initiatives of the Healthy Columbia Project include Lead-Safe Columbia, the Baby Box program, and Immunize Columbia.

"Health goes beyond the clinic or the exam room. If we are going to improve the health of our community, we have to recognize the connections to life and activities within the communities we serve and become an active participant in creating the types of communities we envision," stated Philip Goropoulos, president of CHI St. Joseph Children's Health. "That's what our Healthy Columbia Project is all about - creating lasting and meaningful changes in partnership with residents, businesses, organizations, and the entire community."

Goropoulos went on to say that FACE is an example of how CHI St. Joseph Children's Health collaborates with its partners in an effort to move the Columbia community forward.

The Healthy Columbia advisory council includes leadership from CHI St. Joseph Children's Health, including program manager Kelsey Miller and local community leaders and residents. "Columbia Borough is undergoing a revitalization, and I am proud to be a part of it through my business as well as through Heathy Columbia," commented local resident Don Murphy. "I grew up here, and the people of this community deserve the vital programs that are now in their neighborhood thanks to Healthy Columbia."


Narconon Offers Help January 11, 2018

Narconon New Life Retreat encourages people to be aware and look for several signs when it comes to methamphetamine addiction. Signs include hyperactivity, insomnia, weight loss, and tooth decay.

People are urged to report suspicious activity to law enforcement officials and keep loved ones safe from the dangers of methamphetamine addiction.

To learn more about methamphetamine addiction, readers may visit

Narconon can help people to take steps to overcome addiction in their family. For free screenings or referrals, readers may call Narconon at 800-431-1754.


PennDOT Offers Safety Guidance January 10, 2018

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) urges motorists to prepare their vehicles and take time to familiarize themselves with winter safety laws. It is important for drivers to think ahead and take a few simple steps before they travel to be prepared for winter driving as the season continues.

Drivers should prepare their vehicles by having a trusted mechanic check the cooling system, battery, hoses, drive belts, tires, and wiper blades to ensure they are in good condition and functioning properly. Drivers should also frequently check all fluid levels, lights, and wiper blades. In addition, tires should also be examined often for the correct level of air pressure and adequate tire-tread depth to perform on ice and snow.

Finally, the traveling public should also prepare or restock a vehicle emergency kit. The kit should contain items such as nonperishable food, water, first aid supplies, warm clothes, a blanket, cell phone charger, and a small snow shovel. Motorists should tailor their kits to any specific needs that they or their families have such as baby supplies, extra medication, and pet supplies.

Motorists should also be aware that all vehicles should be fully clear of ice and snow before winter travel. If snow or ice is dislodged or falls from a moving vehicle and strikes another vehicle or pedestrian causing death or serious bodily injury, the operator of that vehicle could receive a $200 to $1,000 fine.

When winter weather does occur, PennDOT asks drivers to be extra cautious around operating snow-removal equipment. When encountering a plow truck, drivers should stay at least six car lengths behind an operating plow truck and remember that the main plow is wider than the truck. In addition, drivers should be alert, since plow trucks generally travel much more slowly than other traffic.

When a plow truck is traveling toward a car, the driver should move as far away from the center of the road as is safely possible and remember that snow can obscure the actual snow plow width. Drivers should never try to pass or get between several trucks plowing side by side in a plow train. The weight of the snow thrown from the plow can quickly cause smaller vehicles to lose control, creating a hazard for nearby vehicles.

Drivers should never travel next to a plow truck, since there are blind spots where the operator cannot see. Also, plow trucks can occasionally be moved sideways when hitting drifts or heavy snowpack.

Drivers should keep their lights on to help the plow truck operator better see their vehicle. Also, drivers should remember that, under Pennsylvania state law, vehicle lights must be on every time a vehicle's wipers are on due to inclement weather.

In addition to driving safely around plows, motorists are urged to drive according to conditions. If motorists encounter snow or ice-covered roads, they should slow down, increase their following distance, and avoid distractions. Last winter in Pennsylvania, preliminary data shows that there were 252 crashes resulting in 129 injuries on snowy, slushy, or ice-covered roadways where aggressive driving behaviors such as speeding or making careless lane changes were factors.

To help make decisions as to whether to travel during winter weather, motorists are encouraged to "Know Before You Go" by checking conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles, by visiting 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information, and access to more than 850 traffic cameras. Users can also see plow truck statuses and travel alerts along a specific route using the Check My Route tool. 511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.

PennDOT has created a Winter Safety media center, including social media sized graphics highlighting winter driving preparations and operations at in the Media Center under the Connect With Us footer.

For more information on safe winter travel, an emergency kit checklist, and information on PennDOT's winter operations, including a video, readers may visit Additional winter driving and other highway safety information is available at

Individuals may follow the conversation by using #PAWinter on Twitter at and like the department on Facebook at


Tips For Dealing With Extreme Cold January 10, 2018

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has offered several tips to keep warm this winter. Dangerously cold temperatures can lead to life-threatening health problems like hypothermia and frostbite. Lower-than-normal temperatures and higher wind speeds can cause heat to leave the body more quickly than normal and result in serious health issues.

If venturing outdoors, people should make outdoor trips brief and dress warmly in layers; cover their ears, head, mouth, and face; and never ignore shivering. People should also know the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite.

Hypothermia causes shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech, or drowsiness in adults and bright red, cold skin and very low energy in babies. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas, and symptoms include a white or grayish-yellow area of skin, numbness or skin that feels unusually firm or waxy.

Infants and older Pennsylvanians are at greater risk of serious cold-related health issues and should be checked frequently to ensure they are warm enough during cold weather. Pet owners are also reminded of a new state law that prohibits animals from being tethered outside for more than 30 minutes in weather colder than 32 degrees.

For more winter weather tips, readers may visit


Medication Take-Back Program Posted January 9, 2018

The York County Solid Waste Authority has purchased a secure medication take-back box for the Lower Windsor Township Police Department, bringing the number of participating police departments in York County to 17. The public may deposit unwanted medications anonymously in the take-back boxes during police department lobby hours, except on holidays.

This partnership program provides a secure disposal option for unwanted medications from residential sources at no cost to the public or law enforcement. The secure medication take-back box, purchased from MedReturn, works like a mailbox: once medications are deposited, they cannot be retrieved and are contained in a locked compartment accessible only by law enforcement.

The heavy-duty green metal box bolts to the floor and wall. Medication collected in the take-back box program will be delivered by law enforcement to the Authority's waste-to-energy facility for environmentally safe destruction. Law enforcement also maintains the box and secures medications that are received until they can be destroyed.

The Authority has invited all York County police departments to participate and has established medication take-back boxes in nearly all police departments across the county. The Authority purchases a box for each interested police department and provides free destruction of medications at the York County Resource Recovery Center, the Authority's waste-to-energy facility located in Manchester Township.

The Authority's waste-to-energy facility is equipped with state of the art combustion technology and air emission controls for destruction of unwanted or expired prescription or over-the-counter medication. The facility's operator, Covanta York Renewable Energy, also supports this program.

Residents interested in dropping medication at a take-back box location should remove their personal information from containers before depositing them in boxes. Only residential prescription or over-the-counter medications are accepted, along with pet medications. Pharmacies, hospitals and other commercial sources of medications are not eligible to participate. Syringes and other "sharps" are not accepted in this program.

For more information, readers may visit As the program expands to other locations, the Authority will announce them to the public. The following police departments are participating:

Carroll Township Police Department, 555 Chestnut Grove Road, Dillsburg, open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; City of York Police Department, 50 W. King St., York, open weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Fairview Township Police Department, 145 Limekiln Road, Suite 600, New Cumberland, open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Hanover Borough Police Department, 44 Frederick St., Hanover, open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Hellam Township Police Department, 44 Walnut Springs Road, York, open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Lower Windsor Township Police Department, 2425 Craley Road, Wrightsville, open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Newberry Township Police Department, 1905 Old Trail Road, Etters, open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Northeastern Regional Police Department, 5570 Board Road, Mount Wolf, open weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Northern York County Regional Police Department, 1445 East Canal Road, Dover, open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Also, Penn Township Police Department, 20 Wayne Ave., Hanover, open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Southern Regional Police Department, 47 E. High St., New Freedom, open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Southwestern Regional Police Department, 6115 Thoman Drive, Spring Grove, open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Spring Garden Township Police Department, 340 Tri Hill Road, Spring Garden Township, open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Springettsbury Township Police Department, 1501 Mount Zion Road, York, open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; West Manchester Township Police Department, 380 E. Berlin Road, York, open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; West York Borough Police Department, 1700 W. Philadelphia St., York, open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and York Area Police Department, 33 Oak St., York, open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Authority facilitates responsible solid waste management through an integrated system that emphasizes waste reduction, reuse, recycling and resource recovery. The Authority is the owner of the York County Resource Recovery Center in Manchester Township. The Resource Recovery Center manages York County's household and commercial waste, as well as some manufacturing waste.


Aaron's Acres To Offer Summer Camp In Manheim January 9, 2018

This summer, the Manheim Community Pool and Memorial Park, 504 E. Adele Ave., Manheim, will welcome participants from the Aaron's Acres summer camp program for the fourth year in a row.

Registration is open for 2018 Aaron's Acres summer camp sessions, which will run on weekdays. The camp has programs for children, adolescents, and adults ages 5 to 21 who are developmentally disabled. "We are proud to say we have never turned a camper away," stated communications coordinator Alexander Gawn.

The first session will run from Monday, June 18, to Friday, June 29, and session two will be held on Monday, July 9, to Friday, July 20, both with options of half-day hours from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and full-day hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A third session scheduled for Monday, July 23, to Friday, Aug. 3, will offer half-day hours only and is geared toward children ages 5 to 12.

Interested individuals may register at by Saturday, March 31. Scholarships are available. For families that are new to Aaron's Acres, a face-to-face meeting will be scheduled with the program director in order for everyone to get acquainted.

Aaron's Acres executive director Risa Paskoff explained that having professional staff, including special education teachers and a nurse, as well as a 1-to-1 or 1-to-2 staff-to-child ratio, enables Aaron's Acres to accept any child, regardless of medical or behavioral challenges.

"The (average) day starts with an age-appropriate social session - either circle time for our children or a mixer for our older group, then we swim at the Manheim Pool," Gawn explained. "After swimming, children enjoy games, crafts, and activities."

Activities vary and include music and animal therapy sessions, therapeutic horseback riding, art projects, and sports. Promoting appropriate socialization and communication are the focus of all of the activities, Paskoff said.

Campers ages 13 to 21 will also have the chance to take part in community service projects through the Aaron's Acres Acts of Kindness Program (AAAOK). Past projects included running an Alex's Lemonade Stand, playing bingo at a nursing home, and having a car wash and donating the proceeds to a local nonprofit selected by the campers.

Applications are also available at for individuals age 18 and up who are interested in being camp counselors and for high school students age 14 and up who would like to volunteer as buddies at camp. Buddies act as positive role models for campers under the supervision of the group leader.

For more information on Aaron's Acres, readers may visit the website.


Guarneschelli To Chair Heart Ball December 28, 2017

Philip Guarneschelli, president and CEO of UPMC Pinnacle, has been named chair of the 2018 Capital Region Heart Ball, set for Saturday, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. at the Hershey Lodge, 325 University Drive.

In 2017, Guarneschelli oversaw UPMC Pinnacle's acquisition of five hospitals, growing the health system by more than 730 beds and adding almost 5,000 employees, and the affiliation of UPMC Pinnacle - formerly PinnacleHealth System - with UPMC. He served as senior vice president and chief operating officer and acting president and CEO of PinnacleHealth System from March 2010 through June 2011.

In his more than 30 years in a senior leadership role, Guarneschelli implemented and managed more than $500 million in modernization and consolidation projects, including the Fredricksen Outpatient Center and Medical Office Buildings, Susquehanna Valley Surgery Center, the Medical Sciences Pavilion, the Helen M. Simpson Rehabilitation Hospital, West Shore Hospital and Ortenzio Cancer Center at PinnacleHealth, and expansion projects for Emergency Services at Harrisburg Hospital and Community General Osteopathic Hospital. He managed the design, construction, and opening of Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute in partnership with Penn State Hershey Medical Center, and he implemented and managed the merger of Capital Health System and Polyclinic Hospital that formed PinnacleHealth.

In addition to serving as chair of the Heart Ball, Guarneschelli previously served as chair of the American Heart Association's Capital Region Heart Walk in 2009 and 2011 and on other committees for the American Heart Association. He is a past president of the local chapter of the Exchange Club and of the International Facilities Management Association. He served on the board of directors for the Keystone Area Council Boy Scouts of America, Harrisburg Regional Chamber, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and United Way of the Capital Region. He also serves on various committees with the March of Dimes and Keystone Area Council Boy Scouts of America.

The Capital Region Heart Ball is an annual gala to raise funds for the American Heart Association and will include dinner, dancing, silent and live auctions, and other activities. For more information about sponsorship opportunities, readers may visit or contact Karen McDermott at or 717-730-1711.


Prevent Blindness Provides Advice December 26, 2017

According to Prevent Blindness, the number of age-related eye disease cases is projected to grow. Glaucoma, one of the most common eye diseases, currently affects nearly 3 million people age 40 and older, according to the Prevent Blindness report "Future of Vision: Forecasting the Prevalence and Costs of Vision Problems." Additionally, the numbers are estimated to increase by nearly 50 percent to 4.3 million by 2032 and by more than 90 percent to 5.5 million by 2050.

January has been declared as National Glaucoma Awareness Month by Prevent Blindness and other eye health organizations in an effort to help educate the public on the disease, including risk factors and treatment options. Prevent Blindness offers a dedicated webpage providing patients and their caregivers with additional free information at

Glaucoma is often referred to as the "sneak thief of sight," as vision changes tend to occur gradually, without pain. Glaucoma may develop in one or both eyes. People may experience glaucoma differently. Usually, glaucoma affects peripheral vision first. Late in the disease, glaucoma may cause tunnel vision. In this condition, the person can only see straight ahead. That's why someone with glaucoma can have good central vision. However, even central vision can be seriously damaged.

For those who have been diagnosed with glaucoma, Prevent Blindness recommends that they remember to take notes and write questions down in advance to make the most of eye doctor visits. Patients should explain to their eye doctor how the medicines they are taking affect them. Individuals should be sure to tell all of their other doctors about the eye medicines and all other drugs they are taking.

Individuals should read more about glaucoma and how to live with it. Free resources, such as the Prevent Blindness program "Living Well With Low Vision," provide patients with information on how to maintain their independence and quality of life. Resources are also available to caregivers through the program.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology's EyeCare America program provides eye care at no out-of-pocket cost to medically underserved seniors age 65 and older and glaucoma exams to those at increased risk. For more information, readers may visit

For more information on glaucoma or financial assistance programs, including Medicare, readers may call Prevent Blindness at 800-331-2020 or visit


Zumba Classes December 26, 2017

Cavod Academy of the Arts, 665 W. Main St., New Holland, now offers Zumba classes for adults on Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. There is a per-class cost to participate, but classes are offered free to anyone age 16 or older who is a family member of a student taking a class at the academy.

To register for Cavod Academy classes, visit For details, call 717-354-3355.


Tips For Guarding Against Fraud December 22, 2017

Consumers are encouraged to be vigilant and watch out for scams aimed at taking advantage of their good will. For consumers' protection, the Pennsylvania Department of State's Bureau of Charitable Organizations maintains a publicly accessible online database which contains all legally established charities in Pennsylvania.

Consumers are encouraged to verify the legitimacy of any charity by consulting the database prior to donating at To learn more about an organization prior to donating or to report suspected fraud, readers may call the bureau's telephone hotline at 800-732-0999.

For additional information about protecting themselves while giving, readers may visit


Changing The Culture Of Mental Health December 21, 2017

Improving mental health in Lancaster County is the driving goal for Let's Talk, Lancaster, according to coordinator Nicole Hagen. Dozens of area organizations joined together to form the Let's Talk, Lancaster coalition nearly three years ago, and one of the coalition's recent initiatives has been joining the national Change Direction campaign. "The campaign goal is to change the culture of mental health in America," Hagen explained.

To do that, Change Direction seeks to raise awareness of the five signs of emotional suffering so individuals can more easily recognize the signs in themselves and others. "We like to relate it to first aid. Someone might know the signs of a heart attack, but we don't always know what to look for when it comes to mental health," Hagen relayed.

So what are the signs? Personality change, agitation, withdrawal, poor self-care, and hopelessness. Hagen is one of several Let's Talk representatives and volunteers who share the five signs and encourage individuals to take the pledge to know the signs and "to change the culture surrounding mental health, mental illness, and wellness," as stated at

Let's Talk signed on as a regional partner with Change Direction in the fall of 2016, setting a goal of reaching 275,000 people by January 2019. To help make that happen, Let's Talk representatives and volunteers offer free, 30-minute presentations to any group or organization that is interested.

Part of each presentation includes audience interaction where folks can share examples of emotional distress and telltale signs that a friend may need help. "People love being able to contribute other signs," remarked Hagen. "People really like to engage with this, because it's something we all see but rarely talk about."

Individuals who are interested in scheduling a Change Direction presentation may visit or call 717-544-3820. Free toolkits that walk individuals through how to implement the presentations at schools, workplaces, and faith-based or community organizations are available at

Often the question that Hagen and other presenters receive is, "Now that we know the signs, what can we do?" As an answer to that question, Change Direction began incorporating the five healthy habits of emotional wellbeing into its literature: take care, check in, engage, relax, and know.

As another way to aid area residents who may notice some of the signs of emotional distress in themselves or others, Let's Talk has worked to update the 2-1-1 list of resources for Lancaster County and ensure that it is comprehensive. 2-1-1 is a free, confidential service supported by the United Way and available for people to call 24/7 for assistance in finding local resources to help meet their needs. "We have so many fantastic resources in Lancaster County, but not everybody knows about them or how to find them," Hagen shared.

Let's Talk has also attempted to bring mental health to the forefront of conversation with medical providers and patients. Thanks to a Let's Talk initiative, Hagen said that the PHQ-9 depression screening is now implemented by primary care physicians in Lancaster County as a tool to monitor mental health.

"Now, more than ever, people are willing to have the conversation on mental health, and if we're going to change the conversations, we've got to change the language," stated Hagen. "If we can become supportive of mental health, that will help to eliminate the stigma (that surrounds mental illness)."


Toy Safety Tips Posted December 15, 2017

Last year, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a report stating that there were an estimated 254,200 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments. An estimated 88,700 of those injuries were to children younger than age 5. And 45 percent of the total injuries were to the head and face area.

To help shoppers select appropriate gifts this holiday season, Prevent Blindness has declared December as Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness month. Prevent Blindness offers tips for purchasing toys.

Parents should avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off. People should ask themselves or the parent if the toy is right for the child's ability and age and consider whether other smaller children may be in the home and may have access to the toy. Purchasing toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods, or dangerous edges should be avoided. All art materials should be labeled as "nontoxic."

Adults should buy toys that will withstand impact and not break into dangerous shards. Shoppers should look for the letters "ASTM." This designation means the product meets the national safety standards set by ASTM International.

Toys with small parts should not be given to young children. Young children tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking. If any part of a toy can fit in a toilet paper roll, the toy is not appropriate for children under age 3.

Toys with long strings or cords should not be purchased, especially for infants and very young children, as these can become wrapped around a child's neck. Uninflated or broken balloons should be disposed of immediately.

Toys with small magnets should not be purchased. Magnets, like those found in magnetic building sets and other toys, can be extremely harmful if swallowed. Parents should seek immediate medical attention if they suspect a child may have swallowed a magnet.

Parents should ensure any batteries are securely in place. All warnings and instructions on the box should be read. Adults should always supervise children and demonstrate to them how to use their toys safely. If purchasing sunglasses, parents should make sure they are labeled as 100 percent UV-blocking.

Sports equipment is a popular gift idea. Prevent Blindness suggests that the proper sports eye protection is also included. Recommendations may be found at

For more information on safe toys and gifts for children, readers may visit For more information on sports eye protection and safety, readers may visit


WIC Program Posts Hours December 15, 2017

As the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program provider for York County, the Community Progress Council WIC Program offers later appointments at its York City office for working families. Twice a month, the WIC office at 130 W. Market St., York, is open from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Readers may call the main office at 717-843-7942 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

WIC provides supplemental food and nutrition education for pregnant and breastfeeding women, mothers who have given birth within the past six months, and infants and children up to age 5. Eligibility for WIC is based on income, residency, and medical/dietary-based conditions.

Readers may start a pre-application at Pennsylvania WIC is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).


Health Insurance Enrollment Open December 11, 2017

Unlike last year's open enrollment period, when consumers had 90 days to enroll for coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace, consumers have only 45 days this year. The enrollment period started on Nov. 1 and will run until Friday, Dec. 15. During this time, individuals can sign up to gain or renew insurance coverage and avoid a penalty at tax time.

The Affordable Care Act is still law and the IRS has confirmed that it will enforce the insurance mandate despite an executive order by President Trump giving the agency discretion not to do so. That means that consumers who choose not to buy health insurance for 2018 will pay a fee called the individual shared responsibility payment.

The fee is calculated two different ways and the higher of the two used. Those without insurance will pay either 2.5 percent of household income or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child under age 18. The fee will be calculated when consumers file their federal tax returns for the year in which they did not have coverage, unless the consumer qualified for an exemption from the requirement to have insurance.

For 2018, Marketplace consumers can save significant amounts on their premiums by actively shopping. There are five insurers in Pennsylvania offering Marketplace plans, including Capital Blue Cross, Geisinger Health Plan, Highmark, Independence Blue Cross, and UPMC. While some networks have narrowed, many are offering enhanced benefits such as wellness programs and telehealth services to counteract increases in deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. All consumers re-enrolling in coverage are encouraged to review and update their income and demographic information on their Marketplace application., the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' official Health Insurance Marketplace website, has planned maintenance outages during the enrollment period. Outages are planned for every Sunday between midnight and noon, except Sunday, Dec. 10.

The Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers (PACHC) and its statewide membership of community-based healthcare organizations provide free, personal, no pressure, no obligation, non-biased enrollment assistance to individuals seeking the security of health insurance coverage. Federally certified health center-based enrollment assisters, certified application counselors and navigators are trained and ready to help individuals navigate the enrollment process, including evaluation of plan options and cost.

Individuals seeking primary care or information on enrollment assistance can locate a local community health center using the Find a Health Center link at or by calling the PACHC at 866-944-2273.


Coping With Fewer Daylight Hours December 11, 2017

Daylight saving time comes to an end each fall at a time when the hours of available sunlight already are beginning to decline.

Some people are more accustomed to darkness than others. Norwegians, Swedes and people living in Alaska and the upper reaches of Canada near or above the Arctic Circle may go through a period when winters can be especially dark. Fairbanks, Alaska, gets just three hours and 42 minutes of sunlight on the winter solstice. Those in Barrow, Alaska, will endure a period of 67 days of darkness, according to Residents of Seattle, which is even further north than cities such as Fargo, N.D., or Portland, Maine, deal with more darkness than those living outside the city may realize.

Although much of the rest of North America does not experience such profound periods of darkness, when the darkness of fall and winter arrives, it can be difficult to maintain a positive outlook. Borrowing some of the coping mechanisms relied on in northern latitudes can help many people to see the dark in a different light.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a type of depression that is related to changes in seasons, beginning and ending at about the same times each year. Symptoms tend to start in the fall and continue into the winter, sapping energy and making a person feel moody. As with other types of depression, SAD can get worse and lead to severe problems if left untreated. Light treatment, talk therapy and medication can help people who are susceptible to SAD.

Individuals should make daylight hours count by spending time outdoors while the sun is bright in the sky and make an effort to switch schedules if work interferes with getting outdoors, even if all that can be managed is an outdoor walk at lunch. It is also a good idea to sit by a bright window and soak up rays whenever possible.

People can also celebrate winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding, outdoor ice skating, or snowshoeing.

Instead of holing up indoors alone, individuals can frequent the places that become indoor gathering spots for locals. These can include coffee houses, restaurants, or even a local church. Planning more social occasions with friends and families is helpful, too.

People can also strive to exercise more, be it at the gym or outside. The Mayo Clinic says that exercise and other types of physical activity can relieve anxiety and depression, lifting one's mood as a result.

Individuals may want to light a fire in a fire pit, fireplace or woodburning stove, or just light a handful of candles. Flames can be soothing and less harsh on the eyes than artificial light.

Fall and winter darkness does not have to send a person into the doldrums if he or she embraces the right attitude.


New Travel Tool Posted December 11, 2017

A new travel tool will help drivers with winter preparedness. This winter, Pennsylvania motorists can check online to see when a state-maintained roadway was last plowed. The information will be posted on the Plow Trucks section of

PennDOT operates 2,200 plow trucks each winter. More information about PennDOT's winter services and winter-driving resources are available at The site also has a complete winter guide with detailed information about winter services in each of PennDOT's 11 engineering districts.

PennDOT is responsible for maintaining 40,000 miles of roadways, which translates into 96,000 snow-lane miles, enough miles to circle the globe nearly four times. In doing so, PennDOT deploys about 4,800 on-the-road workers, has more than 652,000 tons of salt on hand across the state, and will take salt deliveries throughout the winter.


Program Offers Heat Assistance December 11, 2017

LIHEAP provides assistance for home heating bills to keep low-income Pennsylvanians warm and safe during the winter months. Assistance is available for renters and homeowners. Crisis and regular LIHEAP applications began on Nov. 1 and will end on Friday, April 6, 2018.

Eligibility for the 2017-18 LIHEAP season is set at 150 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines. The maximum income allowed for eligibility is based on household size. For example, the maximum income for a household of one is $18,090, for two is $24,360, for three is $30,630, for four is $36,900, and so on.

Online applications can be completed by visiting Paper applications are available through local county assistance offices or interested applicants can download and print an application from the website above.

For more information on LIHEAP, readers may visit For helpful tips on keeping warm throughout the winter while saving money on utility costs, readers may visit


LOHF Awards Grant Funds December 1, 2017

Lancaster Osteopathic Health Foundation (LOHF) approved funding to five Lancaster County community benefit organizations for children's behavioral health programs. LOHF supports programs that are evidence-based, proven to work with some best practice, and seek to take these programs to scale, expand what works, and encourage applicants to replicate existing models from outside Lancaster County and within.

CHI St. Joseph Children's Health received $15,000 for The Patchwork Quilt, a family-focused approach to children's behavioral health and psychiatric care, to support 600 children and 1,200 family members with counseling and therapy. Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County was granted $13,000 for minimizing trauma for children of justice-involved parents through a trauma-informed justice system to train 288 community members (primarily police, probation and parole officers) with the RMO to safeguard children of arrested parents.

Compass Mark was awarded $10,000 for a family services advocate, supporting the unique needs of children with incarcerated parents for 100 children, 150 family members, and 150 community members with coordinated care and case management. Samaritan Counseling Center was given $15,000 for TeenHope to help 2,250 children, 6,750 family members, and 50 community members with depression and anxiety screenings in schools and follow up to access mental health services.

Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County received $14,500 for linking positive and proactive social/emotional wellbeing strategies from school to home to support 130 children, 105 family members, and 28 community members with high quality, affordable childcare for children from birth to age 3 and their families in Head Start with positive behavior interventions and supports.

An additional $100,000 in grant funds will be available for the 2018 Children's Behavioral Health Grant program, focused on improving children's behavioral health in Lancaster County. Online applications are now available and due Thursday, March 1, 2018. To learn more, readers may visit Interested organizations are encouraged to contact LOHF before applying to have questions answered.

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