Health

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Training A Therapy Dog

From the outside, Gabe looks like an average dog. He knows commands such as sit, lie down, and stay, and likes to play with his toys. But the 1½ year old lab-shepherd mix is in the process of preparing to do something special. Owner, and Milford resident Debbie Slutz, is currently training Gabe to become a therapy dog. Unlike a guide dog, which helps assist those with visual impairments, a therapy dog helps to provide comfort and joy to people in places such as schools, hospitals, and nursing homes. Slutz, who recently graduated from the University of Denver with her masters in social work and a certificate in animal-assisted social work, hopes to be able to use Gabe in future jobs because of the unique benefits he provides.

Slutz got Gabe this past June from Baypath Humane Society in Hopkinton. Initially interested in another dog, as soon as Slutz met Gabe, however, she had a feeling he'd be a great match.

One of the most important aspects of therapy dogs are their temperament since they need to be accustomed to meeting different people and being in different types of environments. So before deciding on Gabe, Slutz had both her older and younger brother interact with him. And Gabe passed that test with flying colors. Currently, Slutz is working on teaching Gabe basic commands such a heel. He is also learning important skills necessary for a therapy dog to have such as sitting in front of an open door and not eating food off the floor.

Gabe is also working on appropriate ways to interact with people, which Slutz says sometimes gets kind of tricky to enforce when meeting strangers who are often eager to pet him.

Slutz plans on using the Pet Partners program, formerly known as the Delta Society, to test Gabe. In order to be certified as a therapy dog, Gabe will need to demonstrate proficiency in the skills he has been busy learning.

Gabe will qualify to take the test in December. And Slutz says that even if he doesn't pass, she knows all the hard training will still be beneficial.

To see Slutz and Gabe in action and to learn more, watch the HCAM News video below.

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Physician Focus Tapes 100th Episode

Monday, August 13th was a memorable night in the HCAM studio as cast and crew prepared for the 100th taping of Physician Focus, a monthly half hour educational talk show that brings important health and medical information from practicing physicians and health care professionals to people and patients of all ages.

A collaborative effort of the Massachusetts Medical Society, the statewide organization of physicians and HCAM TV, Physician Focus first aired in 2004.

Patrick-Murray Administration Announces First in Nation Comprehensive Health Care Option For Dual Eligible Individuals Approved by Obama Administration

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ThePatrick-Murray Administration today announced that Massachusetts is the first state in thenation to receive approval from the Obama Administration to implement a healthcare initiative to improve care and contain cost for 111,000 persons withdisabilities who are dual eligible for Medicaid and Medicare.

Eastern Equine Ecephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus Confirmed in Mosquitoes in Hopkinton

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The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) announced today that West Nile virus (WNV) has been detected in a predominantly bird biting species of mosquito called Culex. The Department also announced that Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus had been detected in a mammal biting species of mosquito called Perturbans. In 2011, 4,604 mosquito samples were tested for WNV and 275 samples were positive. Hopkinton had 0 WNV positive mosquito samples identified in 2011 but did have a positive EEE in October.

EEE Threat Raised to "High" in Westborough

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The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced the detection of mammal-biting mosquitoes infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in New Bedford and Westborough. As a result, health officials have raised the EEE threat level to “High” in these two communities and recommend that outdoor evening events are curtailed there for the remainder of the summer. Ground-based spraying by mosquito control projects is ongoing in both New Bedford and Westborough and will be enhanced.

Skeeters and Ticks Aplenty. And a Thank You

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From left: Bruce Karlin, M.D., and Mass. public health officials Catherine Brown, D.V.M. and Alfred DeMaria, M.D.

It’s been a bad year for mosquitoes, with growing populations of those pesky creatures carrying West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. And don’t forget those ticks with that nasty Lyme disease. Time for a health alert.

Because of the increased threats of these mosquito and tick-borne illnesses across the state, the Massachusetts Medical Society, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and HCAM-TV have collaborated in producing a program to raise awareness and understanding of these infectious diseases.

Legislatur​e Sends Prescripti​on Drug Monitoring Bill to Governor

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The Legislature today enacted final legislation that will reduce the number of people abusing or selling prescription pain killers, while also increasing opportunities for those battling addiction to receive treatment, Senator Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) announced.

The bill requires doctors, dentists and other practitioners to conduct drug history screens for new patients, creates a professional working group to recommend new prescribing standards for painkillers, and requires all prescriptions for painkillers, such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin, to be written on tamper-resistant pads.

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A Look Back at the 2012 Timlin Race

Over $35,000 was raised at this year's Sharon Timlin Memorial 5K Race. In its 9th year, the race has raised over $1 million dollars for the Angel Fund, a nonprofit organization aiming to find a cure for ALS.

Watch the HCAM News video as Event Director and Founder Abbie Rosenberg and this year's winner, Patrick Levenson, talk about their personal connection to ALS. Rosenberg believes that events like this are instrumental in helping raise awareness for, and ultimately finding a cure, for ALS.

Adults: Get Your Shots

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From left: Lynda Young, M.D., Margaret Sandin, M.D., Elisa Choi, M.D., this month on Physician Focus.

Memo to all adults: Are you up-to-date on your vaccinations? Do you know which ones you should have? Which ones are recommended?

If you’re weak on the answers to those questions, you’re not alone. While most children get their recommended immunizations due to attentive, caring parents, adult vaccination rates remain low, with unfortunate results: more than 50,000 adults in the U.S. die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Governor Signs Dementia Care Unit Protection Legislation

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Bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Representative Carolyn Dykema providing increased protection for residents in dementia care units was signed into law on July 16 by Governor Patrick.

“This law closes a loophole in Massachusetts law that allowed nursing homes to advertise specialized dementia care units, even though their workers may have had no training in caring for such patients,” said Rep. Dykema. “Massachusetts consumers deserve to know that when their relative is in a “special dementia care unit” they will be receiving care that meets the highest level of standards.”

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