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Help With Lifting

American Medical Response (3508 Tulane Ave., 482-0039) has designed a new stretcher and modified an ambulance to better serve obese patients, and now has the first such ambulance in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

"It's difficult to transport these patients," says Julia M. Clarke, public affairs and business development manager at the ambulance company. "This adds a lot of dignity back to these patients in the way they used to have to be transported on tarps or mattresses or whatever was at hand."

The stretcher, which costs $5,000, was designed by American Medical Response and manufactured by Stryker to hold up to 1,600 pounds and be flexible enough to squeeze through doorways. It is outfitted with push and pull bars and special lifting bars, extra and longer security straps and wider wheels for added stability and maneuverability. The back portion of the stretcher can lift up to a sitting position in order to fit into elevators too small to accommodate the full length of a stretcher.

The ambulance has been modified with special ramps that attach to the rear of the vehicle to help load the stretcher, and a special winch that pulls the stretcher into the ambulance.

"We get a lot of calls for what you would consider obesity or morbid obesity," Clarke says. "We're going to try to work with some other agencies -- fire department and health department -- so we can try to help these patients. It's also good for dialysis patients and isolettes (or incubators) for babies. The isolettes weigh about 350 pounds. We take them to the airport to pick up babies, mainly for Tulane, or take babies back to the airport for transport home."

In the Pink

Belladonna Day Spa (2900 Magazine St., 891-4393; is commemorating Breast Cancer Awareness Month during October by offering a special slate of "Be Supportive" spa services and will donate $5 for each service to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which provides support to breast cancer patients and funding for research. Belladonna also will donate 5 percent of the sales of retail items marked with a pink ribbon to the foundation.

Special services during October, which also marks Belladonna's 15th anniversary, include the Be Supportive Pinking Of You Manicure and anti-aging hand treatment, named after the pink nail polish used; the Be Supportive Repair Facial for sun-damaged and dehydrated skin; and the Be Supportive Body Blaster, a stress reducing treatment that includes a soothing bath, a body scrub and massage.

Changing the Odds

People who have a family history of cancer can now be tested at the Hayward Genetics Center at Tulane University Health Sciences Center (1430 Tulane Ave., Room 5550, 988-5229) to determine whether they have a genetic predisposition to develop the disease.

"We encourage anyone who is concerned about cancer in their family to consult their doctor about genetic testing," says Dr. Jess Thoene, director of the Hayward Genetics Center. "By identifying a person with an increased risk of cancer, we may reduce the occurrence of cancer through clinical management strategies such as tamoxifen taken to prevent breast cancer and colonoscopy for early detection of colon cancer."

Genetics testing can detect whether a person has inherited from their parents a gene mutation that can cause cancer. Although scientists say the DNA of a number of genes must be altered for a cell to become cancerous, people who inherit a DNA change are at a higher risk for cancer and should take preventative measures.

Cruise for Consciousness

Local holistic leaders Peggy Gelpi and Clay Thomas are organizing a Conscious Living Cruise leaving from New Orleans on Dec. 4 for six days and seven nights of workshops, lectures and other activities.

The cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas will take participants to Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico. More than a dozen speakers will hold workshops about healthy living and new-age arts, with classes running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There also will be dinner seminars.

Cruise prices start at $699. For more information, call (800) 749-4950.

A Kid Thing

Ochsner Clinic Foundation recently opened Ochsner for Children Ambulatory Care Center (1315 Jefferson Hwy.), a state-of-the-art comprehensive pediatric facility near Ochsner Hospital.

The new 40,000-square-foot facility houses everything for children's health care under one roof, including primary care physicians, pediatric sub-specialists, X-rays, an on-site infusion center, pharmacy, a lab and more.

Soothing Change

A Touch of Health Day Spa has changed its name to Soothe Your Senses Day Spa (2130 Monroe St., Mandeville, 985-674-1987; to be more easily identified with the nationally marketed aromatherapy products of the same name developed by owner Sharon Mathieu and her daughter Gretchen Halpin. The spa therapies and organic aromatherapy products follow the Southern tradition of "traiteurs," or Creole healers, of which Mathieu's father was one. Services include massage, skin care, body sugaring, manicures and pedicures and aromatherapy treatments. The Soothe Your Senses product line includes about 50 items and soon will include aromatherapy products for babies.

click to enlarge American Medical Response uses a special stretcher and - ambulance to transport obese patients.
  • American Medical Response uses a special stretcher and ambulance to transport obese patients.


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