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Free Eye Checkup for Infants

  Parents can get their child's eyes checked for free from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, at the VSP InfantSEE Mobile Clinic at Walmart (1901 Tchoupitoulas St.). The free screening is for children 6 months to 1 year old, and is focused on diagnosing eye and vision problems that can lead to permanent vision loss, developmental delays and other health risks if not treated.

  Those who can't make it to the mobile clinic can get the screenings at one of more than 50 Louisiana optometrists who are donating their time during InfantSEE Week, which ends Aug. 12. To find a participating optometrist, call (877) 252-2447 or visit www.infantsee.org.

  InfantSEE is a public health program managed by the AOA Foundation in conjunction with VSP Global, which provides products and services to eye-care professionals all over the world.

Hope for Lymphedema Patients

  Dr. Marga F. Massey, a reconstructive microsurgeon based in Charleston, S.C., will lead an EnCourage Support Group discussion on a new procedure to treat lymphedema from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 12 at the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery (1717 St. Charles Ave.; www.scsh.com), which is affiliated with the St. Charles Surgical Hospital (SCSH). The talk is free, but space is limited; call 899-2800 or email katie@breastcenter.com to reserve a space.

  SCSH is the first hospital to develop a comprehensive treatment program for lymphedema, a debilitating condition in which fluid builds up in the body after the lymphatic system is damaged. It develops most frequently following breast cancer treatments, including radiation therapy, surgery and lymph node removal. As many as 25 to 30 percent of breast cancer surgery patients who have lymph nodes removed and receive radiation therapy develop lymphedema, according to the National Cancer Institute. To treat it, SCSH offers the Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer (VLNTx) procedure as part of breast reconstruction surgery or as a follow-up to a previous surgery. Massey is a leader in the VLNTx procedure. She will work with lymphedema patients at SCSH, and her patients from other parts of the country will travel to New Orleans for treatment at SCSH.

Body and Soul

  The Abundant Life Full Gospel Church is hosting a community health fair and picnic from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 15 at 9900 Hayne Blvd. in eastern New Orleans. Dozens of vendors will be on hand to provide health information and conduct vision tests and blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol screenings. Medicaid and food stamp assistance also will be available.

  The picnic, an annual event at the church, will provide attendees with an afternoon of family fun, games, prizes, food and fellowship. The health fair and picnic are free and open to the public.

  For more information, call 244-9812 or visit www.abundantlifechurchneworleans.com.

Fall Shape-Up for Children

  It's time to reserve your kids' space in the YMCA Trim Kids Program on the Northshore. The 12-week weight management program for youngsters 6 to 18 years old begins Sept. 29 at the YMCA (71256 Francis Road, Covington, 985-893-9622). The program will focus on nutrition, behavior modification and activity.

New Health Care Clinic in Lakeview

  Crescent City Physicians, an affiliate of Touro Infirmary, has opened a new physicians office in the Smith-Lupo Center (145 Robert E. Lee Blvd., 304-7949) to serve the Lakeview area. Dr. Sherri Godbey, who specializes in family medicine, and Dr. Jennifer Mills, an obstetrician/gynecologist, are accepting new patients at the clinic.

Driving Cancer Recovery

  The Walmart Foundation has donated $50,000 to help the American Cancer Society's Transportation Resource Assistance and Information Network (TRAIN) provide transportation so cancer patients in Louisiana can receive the treatments they need.

  Social workers report that nationwide, transportation is the No. 1 nonmedical challenge cancer patients face, because fighting the disease requires numerous trips to doctors, labs and hospitals for treatments. TRAIN provides cancer patients with referrals, trained drivers, transportation grants and indirect help with gasoline and commercial transportation costs associated with medical treatment. Last year, TRAIN helped more than 1,320 patients in the state make more than 16,000 trips for treatment.

LSU Works on Cancer Vaccine

  The National Cancer Institute has awarded a five-year, $1.3 million grant to an LSU Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) researcher to develop a vaccine to prevent melanoma and breast cancer as well as other immunotherapies.

  Eduardo Davila, assistant professor of pediatrics, microbiology and immunology at LSUHSC's School of Medicine and Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center in New Orleans, has demonstrated that the stimulation of specific proteins on the surface of T lymphocytes (immune cells) boosts the production of molecules that destroy melanoma tumors. Davila says lab tests also show it is possible to activate and maintain high numbers of tumor-specific immune cells, which could make a vaccine possible.

Legislative Fail

  An American Cancer Society (ACS) report gives the Louisiana Legislature low scores in most policies to treat and prevent cancer, which kills more than 8,800 people in Louisiana each year. The report How Do You Measure Up? A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality, issued late last month by the ACS's Cancer Action Network (CAN), stated lawmakers in Louisiana met benchmarks in only one of six areas evaluated. The report examined legislative action or ballot initiatives covering breast and cervical cancer early-detection program funding, access to care for the uninsured, colorectal screening laws, smoke-free laws, pain management and tobacco taxes. In 2009, the legislature met benchmarks only in colorectal screening by continuing funding for the Louisiana Fit Colon project, which provides screenings to uninsured and medically underserved people.

  The report said Louisiana showed some movement forward in funding early detection of breast and cervical cancer and smoke-free laws, but failed in providing help for the uninsured, pain management and tobacco taxes.

  To view the report, visit www.acscan.org.

Bedside Manners

  A study published in the July issue of Family Medicine shows that empathy from doctors can help patients' immune systems conquer colds faster. The study by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health showed that patients whose doctors asked more questions and showed more concern for their general welfare got over their cold at least a day earlier than those who had no interaction with their doctor and patients who experienced a "standard encounter" that comprised a conversation about medical history and present illness. Three-hundred-fifty patients in primary care clinics across southern Wisconsin rated their doctors based on a questionnaire that included whether the physician made them feel comfortable, listened to their story and concerns, acted positively toward them, clearly explained the disease and treatment options, and helped them develop a plan of action. According to the study, 84 patients who gave their doctors perfect scores got rid of their colds a day sooner than those who gave their physicians lower scores. Researchers also measured immune cells from nasal secretions and found that patients who gave their doctors perfect scores built up immunity to their cold within 48 hours after their visit.

  The lead author of the study, Dr. David Rakel, said the report showed the kindness of the doctors activated the body's immune system, which worked better than other therapies examined, including anti-viral medications, vitamin C and zinc — and had no adverse side effects.

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