Friday, December 18, 2009

It's the Season

The holiday season is upon us!
Many people are out and about dashing to parties and shopping trying to everything done. However, its just as important not to forget to take a few precautions to stay healthy too.

It only takes a few minutes to remember to:
* wash your hands often! Use hand sanitizer while out or when possible use warm water and soap. Rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds.

* keep your distance from those who are coughing or sneezing whenever possible to be out of the 6 to 10 feet zone of airborne viruses.

* try not to get run down or over tired. Take a break and get your rest.

* try to eat well balanced meals

* remember to fit in exercise whenever possible

But sometimes, no matter how hard we try, some may still get sick. If you've caught a cold or think you may have the flu, be kind to others and stay home, especially if you experience fever, cough, sore throat, chills, muscle aches, diarrhea and vomiting. Call your doctor if in doubt.

If you think you have caught the H1N1 flu or what is commonly called the "swine flu" call your doctor if you're pregnant or have a chronic health condition, such as emphysema, asthma, diabetes or heart disease as these conditions may worsen.

In most cases the swine flu needs no treatment other than that for symptom relief, however speak to your doctor. You may be prescribed additional medication to open your airways or antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu or Relenza.

Remember to take care of yourself and get plenty of rest, drink liquids and follow directions given by your doctor.

With just a few precautions most will be able to enjoy the holiday season and stay healthy.

Have a safe and happy New Year's!
The Library Staff

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Health Literacy and You

What is health literacy and how does it affect you and your loved ones?
Health information is available everywhere, from consumer magazines to the internet you can read about health issues. Health literacy goes beyond that: its also about being able to understand and use that information when you need to make decisions about your health care.

Did you ever leave the doctor's office wondering what was just said, had trouble understanding how to take your medication or figuring out how find appropriate health care services? All that is part of health literacy and it effects people's ability to effectively manage their health care on many levels, including those with advanced literacy skills. Everyone can feel overwhelmed by health care information.

What are some examples of how you or someone you know can be affected?
There may be difficulty with:
* finding health care providers or services
* filling out forms
* communicating personal and health information with providers
* understanding how to manage chronic diseases
* understanding the relationship between lifestyle choices and health outcomes
* not knowing or recognizing signs when to seek medical care
* not understanding or misunderstanding medical terminology
* not understanding instructions on prescription bottles

Who is affected?
Did you know that only 12% of adults in the U.S. have Proficient Health Literacy? That means 9 out of 10 adults may lack the needed health literacy skills to manage their health care!

Even more worrisome, 14% of adults have Below Basic Health Literacy. That's over 30 million people!*


What is the economic impact of this?
The estimated additional health care expenditures due to low health literacy skills are about
$73 billion dollars!*

*source: Health Literacy Fact Sheet

What can you do to improve your health literacy?
There are many things you can do. For example:
* ask questions. If you don't understand what the doctor or nurse has said to you, make sure to
tell them to repeat the information or to explain in "plain language"
* read all material your health care provider has given you. If you don't understand it, bring it
with you to your next office visit and go over it together
* ask the pharmacist to explain directions on your medication bottle if you don't understand
* request material and information in your primary language

These are just some examples how you can improve your health literacy. Don't be embarrassed to ask questions or ask health care providers to repeat. Your health care providers are your partners in health matters.

For more information:
* MedlinePlus: Health Literacy

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September is National Preparedness Month!

Quick, answer these questions:

* Does your local government have an emergency or disaster plan for your community?

* Do you know how to find the emergency broadcasting channel on the radio?

* In the past year have you practiced or drilled on what to do in an emergency?

If your answer is "I don't know" or "no" to any of those questions, then you are not prepared for an emergency situation!

To test how ready you are about emergency preparedness, play this interactive game by the American Red Cross called Prepare 4:

A few simple measures can help you and your family stay safer should an emergency situation arise.

* Familiarize yourself with your local government's emergency or disaster plan
* Know how to find the Emergency Broadcast Channel on the radio
* Prepare a disaster kit
* Prepare a "go" supply kit to take with you
* create a family communication and emergency plan
* practice family emergency drills
* learn first aid and CPR

Suggested sites to learn more:





In addition, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends these additional items for your disaster supply kit:
* 1 gallon of water per person for minimum of 3 days (for drinking & sanitation)
* at least 3 day supply of food of non-perishable food
* battery or hand crank radio, NOAA Weather radio with tone alert
* extra batteries
* flashlight
* first aid supplies
* whistle to signal for help
* dust mask or plastic sheeting to help filter contaminated air
* duct tape
* moist towelettes
* garbage bags & plastic ties for sanitation disposal
* wrench or pliars to turn off utilities
* manual can opener
* local maps* cell phone with charger

What should be in a "go" travel kit bag or backpack? Some suggested basic items include:
* food
* water
* toiletries
* flashlight
* batteries
* blanket
* work gloves
* plastic work goggles
* dust mask
* rain poncho
* whistle
* first aid supplies
* cell phone with charger
* sleeping bag

* note: remember these are basic suggestions. Tailor your kits to suit your individual needs by considering your area's climate, items for infants, medications, disabilities, pet supplies etc.

* Consult recommended sites for more detailed lists such as:

The Red Cross reminds us that "you don't have to cross your fingers and hope for the best in an emergency. There are three easy things you can do to be ready:
* create or get a kit
* make a plan
* be informed

Remember disasters can and do happen, often when we least expect it. Don't be caught unprepared! Take a few minutes now to help keep you and your loved ones safer.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Summer Safety Series: Stormy Weather

Did you know that lightning kills more than 60 people a year in the United States and over 300 people a year are injured? And, according to the National Weather Service, that total is higher than death by tornadoes and hurricanes. However, many do not take this danger seriously and put themselves at risk by not following simple safety measures.

Be aware that thunderstorms can happen all year round although severe storms generally occur during the warmer months from March through October. No matter when the storm happens, all thunderstorms are dangerous!

Despite thunderstorms being smaller than a hurricane, all thunderstorms have the capability of producing not only lightning but tornadoes, strong winds, flash flooding and hail.

So what can you do to keep yourself and loved ones safe?

* Prepare ahead of time
Emergency Supplies: Just like for other disaster preparation it's important to have emergency supply items on hand, such as food, water, medicines, first aid materials, batteries, flashlight, battery operated radio, etc. (for full details see emergency kit preparation information at

Family Emergency Plan: be sure to create a plan before an emergency occurs. The plan should include evacuation routes, a mutually agreed place where to reunite , plus an out of the area emergency contact if possible.

* What do to when a storm occurs
* shutter windows, draw blinds and shades. If windows break due to flying objects, this will help protect your home from shattered glass.
* listen to a batter powered radio or television for updated news and possible instructions from Public Safety Officials.
* do not use or handle corded phones, electrical appliances, bathtubs, water faucets or sinks. Telephone and electrical lines and metal pipes all conduct electricity.
* turn off air conditioning. Power surges can overload the compressure and cause damage.

* stay away from water. If you are swimming or boating get out of the water and to land immediately!
* Try to get inside a building or a car (not a convertible)
* find a low area away from trees, fences or poles
* stay away from natural lightning rods like golf clubs, tractors, fishing rods, bicycles or camping equipment.
* if you are in the woods, find a low clump of trees but NEVER stand underneath a single large tree out in the open!
* make your body a small target by squatting to the ground with your hands on your knees, only making contact with the ground with your feet and DO NOT LIE DOWN!

If you are in a car:
* pull safely onto the shoulder of the road away from any trees that could fall on your car.
* stay inside the car and turn on emergency flashers until heavy rains subside
* avoid flooded roadways
* Myth: rubber tires will NOT protect your car from being struck by lightning! But, the steel frame of a hard-top will offer you increased protection if you are NOT touching any metal inside the car.

If someone is hit by lightning:
* call for help! Call 911 or your local Emergency number immediately
* first aid: if breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If there is no pulse and if you are trained in CPR begin. **it is not dangerous for you to touch a person who has been struck by lightning. The person will not carry an electrical charge that can shock others.

Other tips:
* watch out for fallen power lines
* if possible, check on neighbors who may need special assistance
* continue monitoring news for updates

For more information please visit the following sites:

New Jersey Office of Emergency Management

Monday, July 20, 2009

Planning for Emergencies

Every day, in every season, in every part of the country, natural and man-made emergencies can happen. What would you do? Are you and your family prepared?

If you aren't ready, you can be. But, the time to prepare is now, when there isn't an emergency situation. The government has created an easy 3 step how-to guide to get you ready. It's called Ready America and can be found at

This 3 step guide teaches you how to 1) prepare 2) plan 3) stay informed. You can print out forms to create a comprehensive family communications plan for any emergency. You can also create an email emergency plan for friends and family to share with one another.

Remember, it's important to be prepared! For example, some items Homeland Security recommends you have on hand (enough for at least 3 days):
* prescription medications
* cash
* personal hygiene products
* water
* food
For a complete list, please go to

You may never need to use your emergency supplies or plan, but being prepared will give you and your family peace of mind. Why not take a few minutes out of your busy day this week to prepare? In the event of a true emergency you will be glad you did.
Look for an expanded post on this topc in September for National Emergency Preparedness Month!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer Safety Series: It's Hot!

Summer is officially here! As we go into the warmer weather, reduce your chances of spoiling your fun by learning how to recognize and prevent the risk of heat related illnesses.

Did you know that according to the National Weather Service, excessive heat is the number one weather-related killer? High temperatures causes more deaths than floods, lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes or blizzards combined.

This puts everyone at risk when it gets hotter than 90 degrees and the most vulnerable are the eldery and very young.

Do you know the signs of a heat related illness? The signs of heat exhaustion are:
* nausea
* dizziness
* flushed or pale skin
* heavy sweating
* headaches
* exhaustion

If you or someone else complains of these symptoms, the American Red Cross recommends that you move them to a cool place, give them a drink of cool water if they conscious and to place cool, wet clothes or ice packs on their skin. If the victim refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness call 9-1-1 immediately!

More serious is heat stroke. This is a life threatening condition. When heat stroke happens, the body stops sweating. This is not good because sweating is the body's way of cooling you down. Because you aren't sweating anymore, the body's temperature can rise very high and this can cause brain damage or even death if the body is not cooled down.

Signs of heat stroke are:
* hot, red and dry skin
* rapid, shallow breathing
* change in consciousness
* high body temperature

If someone shows the signs of heat stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately! While you are waiting for help to come, move the person to a cooler area. Cool them down by wrapping wet sheets or towels around them and fanning them. If you can, immerse them in a cool bath.
Watch for breathing problems. Do not give anything by mouth (food or drink) if they refuse water, vomit or lose consciousness.

More Red Cross safety tips:
* dress appropriately for hot weather by wearing light weight clothes, light colors and a hat
* drink water and keep hydrated but avoid alcohol and caffeine which dehydrate
* eat smaller meals frequently instead of heavy meals
* slow down and don't do strenuous activity or do activity during coolest parts of the day (usually morning hours 4am-7am)
* stay indoors when possible
* use air conditioning in very hot temperatures if possible
* stay out of the sunshine

* NOTE: fans do not cool, they only circulate hot air!

Remember to be a good neighbor and check on the elderly or those without air conditioning.
Summer is a time for fun and taking a few simple precautions when the temperatures soar will help you to reduce your chances of getting sick.

For more information go to:

Monday, July 6, 2009

Health Literacy

Having health literacy skills is more than understanding medical terminology. It's also about being able to navigate the health care system so you can advocate for yourself and your loved ones, being able to fill out forms, comprehending diagnosis and treatment, how to communicate with your health care professional and much more.

When was the first time you realized that health literacy skills mattered? Was it due to an event, interaction, or experience you had as a patient or by a family member or friend?

Now you can share a story to promote why health literacy is important for yourself and your loved ones. Go to the Health Literacy Month website to find how you can share your story through their website, email, twitter, facebook...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Do you have ICE?

Everyone should have ICE; that is,
In Case of Emergency numbers listed on their cell speed dial.
ICE helps first responders, such as Police, Fire and Paramedics to identify next of kin for important medical information in case you aren't able to provide that information yourself.

This program was invented by a British Paramedic in 2005 because fewer than 25% of people carry any details of who to contact in the event of a serious accident, injury or sudden illness.

It's easy to do. Simply enter key contact names and numbers in your cell phone address book under ICE. Multiple emergency contacts should be listed as ICE 2,
ICE 3, etc.

You can also carry a sticker and/or card in your wallet that acts as a visual alert for first responders. Anyone can receive these free ICE stickers and cards by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to:

PO Box 82
Dewitt, NY 13214

or by visiting their website

More about emergency information programs can be found at:
Take a moment or two now to enter your emergency contact numbers. Don't forget to tell your friends and family about ICE, too.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Consumer Health Information Outreach Program

Did you know that looking up health or medical information on the internet is one of the most popular online activities? According to a 2008 Pew Internet Project, "78% of broadband users look online for health information." Popular search topics include information about medical problems, current medical treatments, diet, prescriptions, alternative medicine and more.
Where do you go when you need reliable, trustworthy information about your health?

Searching the web for health information can be a frustrating, daunting experience. Because of that, the Trinitas Library created The Trinitas Library - Consumer Health Information Partnership Program.
You may contact the library staff for consumer health level information through our website's email form or by phone. We will prepare a packet of information at no cost for you or your family to read and discuss with your health care provider.
So the next time you need health information, please don't hesitate to call or email the Trinitas Library!
We can be reached at 908-994-5371 or

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hello! Our Introduction

Trinitas Regional Medical Center's Library and Information Center's blog has arrived!

TRMC is located in Elizabeth, N.J. and serves Union County and surrounding areas. TRMC is a Catholic teaching hospital with 2 campuses, which includes a mental health facility. For more information about the hospital, please go to

The Library will use this blog to reach out to you about our services and resources, as well as offer other information, such as consumer health, hot topics in health, public health announcements, emergency preparedness tips, linkouts and more.

We invite your feedback as this will help us determine what you want to see in this blog.

That's it for now. Next entry will begin a series on summer safety tips.

Elisabeth Jacobsen Marrapodi,
Library Director
Trinitas Library