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Healthy Hearts

Building on the full range of women's influence -- at home, work and in the community -- the American Heart Association (AHA) is staging a "Heart of a Woman Luncheon" and workshop to make women more aware of their risk of cardiovascular disease as well as encouraging them to becoming proactive in overall health matters.

The program starts at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 13 in the Imperial Ballroom at the Fairmont hotel with blood pressure screenings conducted by Tenet HealthSystem. Mini workshops featuring various speakers are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with keynote speaker Dr. Marianne Legato of Columbia University taking the stage at 11:30 a.m. The luncheon begins at 12:15 p.m. and features an auction of heart-shaped ceramic plaques donated by Posh Paint Pub and decorated by celebrities such as Blue Dog painter George Rodrigue, President George W. Bush, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, local music legends Aaron Neville and Harry Connick Jr., Mardi Gras float builder Blaine Kern, sports luminary Archie Manning, jewelry designer Mignon Faget, Lindy Boggs and more than a dozen others.

The luncheon and workshops were organized to highlight the prevalence of women suffering cardiovascular diseases, conditions that kill more than a half-million woman a year -- 8,000 of them in Louisiana. The AHA reports that more than one of five women suffers from some form of cardiovascular disease and that coronary heart disease is the country's No. 1 killer of women. Organizers hope the first annual luncheon will inspire women to exert the influence they have over health decisions for themselves and their families. It will provide information about risk factors as well as warning signs for stroke and heart disease and will promote volunteerism within communities.

Tickets are $50 and $100. For information and reservations, call Kimberly Merritt at 456-7224.


Healthcare for the Unborn

Offering Louisiana residents a jump start on wellness, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has implemented LaMOMS, a prenatal health program that will extend Medicaid coverage to as many 6,000 additional women in the state each year.

The implementation of LaMOMS effectively allows Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women with an income up to double the federal poverty level. The guidelines match those put in place to help pay for medical services for youngsters under the Louisiana Children's Health Insurance Program (LaCHIP).

Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary David Hoods says the pre-natal health program will help improve the long-term health care of Louisiana citizens by giving babies a strong start and reducing the number of low-birthweight infants, which average $100,000 in medical bills during their first year of life.

LaMOMS is an extension of the Medicaid program and will pay for medical services during pregnancy, delivery and 60 days postpartum. For more information, call (888) 342-6207 or log on to


The Great Outdoors

A group of Tulane University community health experts are working with a local public elementary school to promote physical activity among youngsters in at least one neighborhood. The plan is simple: open the school playground after school and on weekends, and children will take advantage of the opportunity to play instead of sedentary activities such as watching television and playing on the computer.

Community health sciences researcher Tom Farley, Dr. Rebecca Meriwether, biostatistician Larry Webber and community health expert Carolyn Johnson, all from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and officials of Martin Luther King Elementary School have teamed up to provide supervision and an open playground at the school as part of a research project funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The playground, which is located at the corner of N. Carrollton and Caffin avenues, will be open from the time classes dismiss to 5:30 p.m. on school days, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, and noon to 3 p.m. on Sundays.

The three-year project seeks to determine whether or not children will make use of an open community playground if there is adult supervision present as well as whether such a move will increase their overall physical activity and health.

Researchers say they believe some children are relegated to indoor activities because their parents fear there isn't a safe place to play outdoors or there is no adult to watch over their safety. The team is not focusing on weight, but will measure children's body fat as part of their research.


Rock 'N' Bach

Cocktails, dinner and an evening of music by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra -- all for a good cause -- are in store for those who attend the second annual Partners In Wellness Gala Feb. 15 to raise funds for programs at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.

The evening starts at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails, followed by dinner at 6 p.m., both at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans. The LPO, conducted by Klauspeter Seibel, will take the stage at the Saenger Theater at 8 p.m.

The fundraiser will provide money for The Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports programs at the LSU Health Sciences Center. One of those programs is Partners in Wellness, in which the LPO and physicians go into neighborhoods to perform music and deliver health-oriented information as well as screenings.

Gala prices start at $100 for an individual ticket to the concert to $5,000 for eight people to attend dinner, the concert a reception afterwards to honor new LSU Health Sciences Center Chancellor John Rock and Peter Schickele. Five other ticket packages, ranging from $250 to $2,500 are available for the event. Call 568-3712 for more information; reservations should be made by Feb. 7.

click to enlarge Organizers of the American Heart Association's "Heart of a Woman Luncheon" show off a few of the ceramic heart plaques painted by local and national celebrities that will be auctioned to raise funds for the AHA's research and community health programs.
  • Organizers of the American Heart Association's "Heart of a Woman Luncheon" show off a few of the ceramic heart plaques painted by local and national celebrities that will be auctioned to raise funds for the AHA's research and community health programs.


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