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By the Chimney, With Care
The holidays can be dangerous, and not just for your waistline. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 12,000 people are treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms each year for holiday decorating-related injuries such as falls, cuts, shocks and burns. "The holiday season is very busy and can be stressful for some people," says Dr. Brian Guidry, Lakeview Regional Medical Center's Emergency Department medical director. "In our attempt to get everything done, we sometimes don't pay enough attention to injury prevention, but injuries from falling two stories off a roof or ladder can be as devastating as an injury a person gets in a high-speed motor vehicle accident." Here are a few of Dr. Guidry's tips for a safe holiday season: Always set a sturdy ladder on secure and level ground before climbing. Do not stand on the top two rungs of the ladder. To reach a roof, extend the ladder at least 3 feet beyond the edge of the roof. When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms dry out live trees rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water. Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. Make sure your home is equipped with operable smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors. In homes with small children, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children. Avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable and trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them. Always designate a driver when attending holiday parties.


Mental Health Help
You may have repaired your home from damage sustained during the hurricane, but what about your mental health? It takes time to recover from the trauma of a natural disaster. But if symptoms such as difficulty with eating, sleeping, relating to others or concentrating at work are still interfering with your everyday life, you may be eligible to receive up to $1,000 in assistance for mental health or substance abuse treatment — if you were directly affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita or Wilma. You are eligible if you lived in a pre-disaster ZIP code prior to a storm's landfall in a parish designated by FEMA for individual assistance and if you suffered significant impact, such as property damage, physical injury, lost employment, displacement from home or school or participation in rescue and recovery efforts. This program is available regardless of where you live, your insurance coverage or your immigration status. You choose the type of treatment and the licensed provider. Coverage is retroactive to Aug. 30, 2005, and will cover services received on or prior to April 1, 2008. The program is an initiative of the American Red Cross Hurricane Recovery Program and is administered by Link2Health, a nonprofit subsidiary of the Mental Health Association of NYC. To enroll, call (866) 794-HOPE (4673) or go to before Oct. 1, 2007.


A 'N0 Excuses' Gym
If limited hours at your health club is the excuse you've been using for not getting in shape, you're going to need a new excuse. Anytime Fitness 24/7 workout facilities are popping up around the metro area, offering members access to cardiovascular and weight-training equipment around the clock. Staffed gym hours are clearly posted, but members may enter the facility any time with an access card read by the gym's Lockmatic system and interfaced with its security system. Anytime Fitness has 300 individually owned franchise gyms across the country — 40 in Louisiana — and membership at one club also gives you access to other locations. There are facilities in Metairie, Harvey, Algiers, Mandeville and Covington, and the company has an Uptown location in the works. Membership fees average $39-$50 per month. For more information, visit or call (800) 704-5004.


University Hospital Open
University Hospital at 2021 Perdido St. has reopened. Seventy beds are presently in service, and more will open as staffing allows. "University Hospital will offer all of the services available at Charity and University Hospital before the storm, with the exception of psychiatry and inpatient rehabilitation," says LSU Hospitals CEO Don Smithburg. LSU plans to move the trauma center currently at Elmwood to University by Jan. 1, 2007. That will add 50 additional beds and re-establish the area's only Level 1 trauma center.


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