Sunday Contributor


By Rep. Jim Gerlach, PA 6th Dist.

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Rep. Jim Gerlach.

The British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon spill has demonstrated that not only does oil and water not mix, but throw in bureaucracy, and you have a combination that can devastate the environment, idle entire industries and cause gut-wrenching misery.

Nearly three months have passed since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, uncorking a geyser of natural gas and oil and claiming the lives of 11 workers.

Like most Americans, I am extremely frustrated that so much time has passed with so little evidence that executives at BP or the leaders of federal agencies have a workable plan to cap the gushing well and limit the environmental and economic damage.

A recent CBS/New York Times nationwide poll showed the public’s patience is wearing thin, with 59 percent of Americans saying that the president does not have a clear plan for combating the spill.

Americans are eager to help find solutions to cap the gushing well and clean up every drop of oil.

BP has reportedly received more than 20,000 proposals from small businesses and entrepreneurs who want to stop the estimated 30,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil polluting the Gulf each day. But the company is considering just 500 of these proposals.

Troubling testimony during a recent Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee hearing also revealed major hurdles stand in the way of developing and implementing new technologies that could potentially aid with the Gulf cleanup.

The federal government and BP need to get their acts together and stop wasting precious time in putting an end to this environmental and economic catastrophe. Every available resource must be committed to this effort.

The same kind of ingenuity and engineering know-how that our nation marshaled to repair the Hubble telescope orbiting 355 miles above the earth must be applied in capping this leaking oil well 5,000 feet under water. Neither BP nor the federal government should stand in the way.

The White House should immediately make sure a law passed in 1920 known as the Jones Act is not standing in the way of allowing our foreign allies to pitch in with cleaning up the spill.

The Jones Act requires ships involved in mercantile trade in U.S. waters to be built, owned and operated by Americans.

There have been conflicting reports about whether the Jones Act led to the federal government turning down offers from foreign nations to provide skimmers to capture some of the leaking oil.

Let’s eliminate all doubt and avoid potential bureaucratic delays by temporarily waiving the Jones Act restrictions to make it perfectly clear that any and all offers to help will be accepted.

The House of Representatives has already passed bipartisan measures that will hold BP accountable and give the White House access to funds needed for the cleanup.

The first bill, which President Obama signed into law, allows the administration to withdraw additional money from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to better respond to the BP disaster.

Another bill I supported would grant subpoena power to the National Commission investigating the Deepwater Horizon explosion and the response to this terrible tragedy.

BP must be responsible for cleaning up the spill and compensating the fishing crews, hotel owners and countless other workers whose livelihoods have been jeopardized by this spill and the slow response.

Agreeing to set up a $20 billion escrow fund to pay claims for damages and lost wages is an encouraging sign that BP will meet its tremendous obligations to those in the Gulf region.

Taxpayers did not create this mess, and should not bear an undue burden in repairing the widespread damage it has caused.

Americans have a long and proud history of overcoming steep challenges.

Whether reuniting the nation after the Civil War, rebuilding our economy after the Great Depression or reaffirming our commitment to freedom and democratic principles after the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, we have always rallied to prevail in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Now, it’s time to redouble our efforts and commit every resource available in the Gulf to show the world that while oil and water will always separate, Americans will always unite in a time of national crisis.

Editor’s Note: This article was written by Limerick PA’s congressman, Jim Gerlach. He represents Pennsylvania’s 6th District, which includes parts of Berks, Chester, Montgomery and Lehigh counties. Gerlach supplied this article and is responsible for its content. His opinions are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of The Posts. Its publication is part of The Posts’ Sunday Contributor series, for which guest authors are invited to offer submissions. If you’d like to become a Sunday Contributor, please e-mail The Post.

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By Dr. Jill Weber

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Women and health care providers across the U.S. are focusing on the power of prevention. They’re becoming more mindful of tests every woman should have on a regular basis to promote their best health. In this second part of a two-part series (read the first here), we hope to provide helpful information to support women who are interested in healthy living.

Dr. Jill Weber

Dr. Jill Weber

Earlier, we shared several tests every woman should have for good, preventive care, beginning with those screenings that enter the healthcare picture early in a woman’s life. By mid-life those tests become even more important, and other screenings join the mix.

Hypertension

Why: A blood pressure reading is a part of every doctor’s visit, beginning in childhood. However, it is monitored more closely as we age. High blood pressure (HBP) can occur at any point in life, but most often over age 35.

According to the American Heart Association, about 73 million adults have HBP, and nearly half are women. HBP has no symptoms: the only way to detect it is to check it. As a woman ages, her chance of having HBP – particularly after menopause – is greater, even with a lifetime history of normal blood pressure. HBP can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure and kidney damage.

A reading under 120/80 mm Hg is considered ideal, and between 120/80 and 139/89 mm Hg is now considered to be “prehypertension,” a condition that can be just as serious as hypertension. Hypertension is blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg and above.

When: At least every two years, and more often if you have prehypertension, a family history or other risk factors.

Diabetes

Why: Diabetes is a condition in which the body doesn’t make enough insulin or has a reduced response to insulin, causing your blood sugar to be too high. Nearly 21 million individuals in the U.S. have diabetes – including 9.7 million women – and almost one third do not know it, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Some people with diabetes experience symptoms, others may go for up to 10 years without clear symptoms.  Diabetes puts you at increased risk for other serious health threats, such as heart disease or stroke. Women in particular suffer severe consequences from diabetes, ranging from birth defects during pregnancy, to heart attack and stroke, to premature menopause.

When: A screening blood sugar test – known as a fasting plasma glucose test – is recommended at least once by age 45, or sooner if risk factors are present (high blood pressure or cholesterol, obesity, or high blood sugar).

Colonoscopy

Why: A colonoscopy examines the large intestine to screen for colon cancer, which is 90 percent curable if found early. The test is performed under sedation, using a long, thin, flexible tube. Any growths or polyps can be removed during the course of the test and biopsied.

When: At age 50, then once every 10 years, if no polyps are found or risk factors exist. Patients with higher risk (parent diagnosed before age 50, or a condition like inflammatory bowel disease) should get their first test 10 years before the family member was first diagnosed, with repeat testing at least every five years.

Bone Density Scan

Why: A bone density scan measures the mass of your bones and assesses your risk of developing osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease that affects nearly 8 million women in the U.S. Women can lose up to 20 percent of their bone density in the five to seven years after menopause, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. This increases the risk for falls and broken bones, which lead to decreased mobility, potential disability and reduced quality of life.

When: Schedule your first test by age 65 and repeat every five years. Your doctor may recommend earlier or more frequent testing if you are underweight, have ever smoked, or have a recent history of broken bones or a family member with osteoporosis.

How does your health care plan compare? Hopefully some, if not all, of these tests are part of your routine. By taking time to keep tabs on your health and the screenings needed at various ages, you will gain valuable information that will help you to be your best for yourself and your loved ones.

Editor’s Note: This article was written by Dr. Jill Weber, who is in practice with Limerick Family Care, 296 West Ridge Pike, Limerick PA, on behalf of the Healthy Woman program at Pottstown Memorial Medical Center (PMMC) . It is the second installment in a two-part series (read the first here) exploring health tests that are important for women at various stages of life. PMMC supplied this article and is responsible for its content. Its publication is part of The Post’s Sunday Contributor series, for which guest authors are invited to offer submissions.

If you’d like to become a Sunday Contributor, please e-mail The Post.

Dr. Weber’s photo supplied by PMMC

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By Dr. Deborah Young

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Regular check-ups and routine tests are important. They provide a road map for managing your health, and help you make informed decisions about the necessary nutrients, activity level, and any medications or medical treatment you may need to maintain your best health.

Women lead full and busy lives. Often, doctor’s appointments take a back seat to other commitments because it’s hard to find the time. Pottstown Memorial Medical Center recommends all women — daughters, sisters and mothers everywhere – schedule a check-up, or encourage a friend or loved one to do so.

Dr. Deborah Young.

Dr. Deborah Young.

Certain health issues are a matter of individual health and heredity. If a specific condition runs in your family – from high cholesterol to cancer – your doctor may recommend earlier and more frequent tests to stay well ahead of, and reduce the likelihood of developing, various health conditions.

At various stages of your life, staying on top of your health promotes peace of mind, as well as identifies any potential health issues early, when they are easier to treat.
Besides the basic vision check and dental exam, your primer to preventive care should include the following tests …

Pap Test

Why: All women should have an annual pap test to screen for cervical cancer. The test collects cells from the cervix and examines them for any changes that may indicate the possibility of cancer.

When: Beginning at age 20 or the onset of sexual activity, and continuing after menopause until age 65 to 70. Pap tests should be repeated at least every three years, or annually if recommended by your doctor based on your age, lifestyle, reproductive health and heredity. At age 65 to 70, if you have had three normal tests and no abnormalities for the 10-year prior period, your doctor may discontinue testing.

Cholesterol Screening

Why: High cholesterol has no symptoms but can have serious health consequences, from heart attack to stroke. Your reading will include LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or “bad” cholesterol, and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or “good” cholesterol. Excess LDL cholesterol can cause build-up in the arteries, interfering with blood flow to the heart and brain. HDL cholesterol has protective qualities because of its ability to remove LDL from the blood.

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, “safe” total cholesterol level is 200 mg/dL. Scores above 200 indicate increased risk of developing heart disease and over 240, high risk. Strive for an LDL cholesterol level of less than 130 mg/dL; less than 100 mg/dL is ideal.

The AHA and the American Diabetes Association recommend HDL of at least 50 mg/dL for women, with 60 mg/dL or above as ideal. An important score is your HDL-to-LDL ratio, which should be above 0.4.

When: Schedule your first cholesterol test at age 20 and repeat the test at least every five years until age 45. If you are 45 or older, have a family history of heart disease, or have a total cholesterol level of over 200, get an annual screening.

Clinical Breast Exam And Mammogram

Why: A clinical breast exam monitors your breast tissue for lumps, thickening or any other changes that warrant follow-up. A mammogram is an x-ray that shows a detailed picture of the breast tissue – and it can detect breast cancer one to three years before you actually feel a lump in your breast, according to the Mayo Clinic. Your doctor may recommend a breast ultrasound or MRI for a closer look at any changes. This helps locate breast cancer at its earliest – and most treatable – stage.

When: Annual clinical breast exams should begin by age 30 and be performed at least every three years. Schedule your first mammogram by age 40 and have one annually, unless your doctor instructs you to return more frequently.

Skin Cancer Screening

Why: Skin cancer is the second most-common cancer in women behind breast cancer, and is nearly 100 percent curable if caught early. Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, in both women and men, accounting for nearly half of all cancers in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Basal and squamous cell cancers are very curable, as is melanoma, the deadliest form, if caught and treated properly before it spreads to other body parts.

When: Schedule first head-to-toe screening with your dermatologist, or primary care provider, by age 30, and annually thereafter or more frequently if you are at high risk, with fair skin, repeated sunburns, many moles, or a family history.

Thyroid Screening

Why: The thyroid is a tiny, but important gland that produces hormones that regulate the way your body uses energy. Sometimes, a person can develop hyperthyroidism, a condition in which too much thyroid hormone is produced, or hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid where there is production of too little thyroid hormone. In both situations, the body’s delicate balance is upset and serious health consequences can occur.

Symptoms include rapid weight gain or loss, excessive fatigue or insomnia and anxiety, hair loss, and memory problems. A simple blood test can assure your thyroid is working properly. Also, early diagnosis can avoid more costly and debilitating conditions ranging from heart disease to high cholesterol to stroke, that result from untreated thyroid disease.

When: Beginning at age 35, and every five years, or more often if you have thyroid symptoms or risk factors, such as family history.

Make your health a priority and, if these tests aren’t already a part of your overall health care plan, talk to your doctor about the right time to begin. Also, raise any concerns, issues or questions you may have. Focusing on good preventive health habits now will build good habits for a lifetime, and give you information about your personal health that will help you to make good decisions about your lifestyle and activities.

Editor’s Note: This article was written by Dr. Deborah Young, who is in practice with Limerick Family Care, 296 West Ridge Pike, Limerick PA, on behalf of the Healthy Woman program at Pottstown Memorial Medical Center (PMMC) . It is the first installment in a two-part series exploring health tests that are important for women at various stages of life. PMMC supplied this article and is responsible for its content. Its publication is part of The Post’s Sunday Contributor series, for which guest authors are invited to offer submissions.

If you’d like to become a Sunday Contributor, please e-mail The Post.

Dr. Young’s photo supplied by PMMC

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By Sara Savat

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There’s not much Dr. Tony Scalzo hasn’t seen in nearly 30 years of pediatric emergency medicine, and that wealth of experience causes him to worry annually about kids’ health in the summer.

Scalzo, an emergency room doctor and professor of pediatric emergency medicine at Saint Louis University Medical Center, recently listed six common dangers he says children frequently encounter during summer. They are all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), trampolines, bicycles-inline skates-skateboards, drowning, car accidents, and heat and dehydration.

“In the summer, (emergency rooms) see a much higher incidence of injuries caused by accidents and sports,” says Scalzo. “Kids are going to be kids and they are going to get hurt, but many of these accidents could be prevented by proper parental supervision.”

1. All-Terrain Vehicles. While children can get hurt doing anything from climbing trees to playing on the monkey bars, Scalzo says ATVs are more likely to cause serious, life-threatening injuries. ATVs are more dangerous because they are motorized and have a lot of momentum. It’s also easy to lose control of them, which can lead to the heavy ATV falling on the driver. It’s absolutely necessary to wear a helmet, Scalzo says.

2. Trampolines. Every summer children come into the emergency room with broken bones and serious gashes caused by falling off a trampoline or falling on the metal springs. Scalzo recommends installing protective netting around the trampoline that will prevent the most serious accidents.

Ready to ride ... but safely!

Ready to ride ... but safely!

3. Bikes, Inline Skates and Skateboards. Each year, more than 580,000 bicyclists and 100,000 in-line skaters and skateboarders are injured. The majority of these accidents can be prevented with proper use of the proper safety gear. Wearing a properly-fitting helmet prevents 85 percent of head injuries, yet only 11 percent of children ages 11 to 14 wear helmets. Wrist guards, knee pads, elbow pads and shin pads are also a good idea for skaters. Bike safety tips include testing the bike’s brakes, making sure tires are secured tightly and properly inflated, wearing reflective material, and using a light when riding at dusk or dawn.

4. Drowning. Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death among young children and can occur in the bathtub, swimming pool, while boating, or even in small amounts of water, such as in a large cooler. Children should never be left unattended near water and should always wear a life jacket when near a pool or boating. Home swimming pools should be protected with fencing on all sides and have securely locked entrances. Splash alarms can add an extra level of safety, but nothing can substitute the importance of parental supervision.

5. Car Accidents. Being properly restrained in a car is imperative. However, because families take more road trips during the summer, more injuries caused by children not wearing seat belts are reported during this time of year. Even if children get antsy during long car trips, Scalzo says it is never safe to allow them out of the appropriate booster or car seat. Instead, make more frequent stops to let them burn off their energy.

6. Heat and Dehydration. Every year children die or become very sick from being left inside a car. Heat and dehydration can be very dangerous for children. Scalzo says children should not be left in the car for even a short period of time because the car can heat up quickly. Keeping children well hydrated, especially when they are playing outside in the heat is also important. However, parents should avoid giving infants water because it dilutes the salt in their blood and can lead to respiratory problems and seizures. For infants, Scalzo recommends offering an extra bottle on hot days.

Editors Note: This article was written by Sara Savat, a member of the public relations department of Saint Louis University (SLU), and is based on a recent interview with SLU physician Dr. Anthony Scalzo. SLU supplied this article and is responsible for its content. Its publication is part of The Post’s Sunday Contributor series, for which guest authors are invited to offer submissions.

If you’d like to become a Sunday Contributor, please e-mail The Post.

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