Drugs 101 educational event designed to help parents learn about drugs, the warning signs and the peer pressures facing students

Paula Cameron’s son was just like many high school students – not a big fan of school, but managed to get by academically. He played sports and was captain of both the ice hockey and lacrosse teams.  His friends seemed nice enough, and he didn’t get in trouble.

After graduation, he went away to college for a semester before deciding to come home and get a full-time job. He lived at home with his parents, coming and going as he pleased but respectful of their rules.

It was not until a year and a half ago that Cameron began to suspect something was not right.

Her son lost his job, but found another immediately. Sometimes she would learn he wasn’t where he was supposed to be, but he always had good reasons why. His friends never mentioned anything seemed wrong. It was not until she found money missing from her checking account and his personality began to change that Cameron became concerned.

She worried that maybe she was overreacting, since she works as a care coordinator doing discharge planning at Penn State Hershey’s Children’s Hospital and has a background as a pediatric intensive care nurse. After all, her husband wasn’t seeing what she noticed.

They gave him drug tests. Once, it came back positive for marijuana, but she and her husband did not think that was such a big deal. After all, lots of kids experiment with pot. Still, Cameron felt deep down that something was not right.

And, if something really was wrong, then what?

“He made excuses, and I believed him because he was a good kid,” she said. “Even with all the background I had, I was not aware of what was out there – there were a lot of signs I did not recognizDrugs and alcohole.”

Cameron did not know what to do or where to go for help confirming or disproving her feelings.

“If we hadn’t had a couple of friends who helped us, we probably would have let it go on,” she said. “I was embarrassed and ashamed. I had to learn that I couldn’t blame myself or say I wasn’t a good parent. It is something that happens and is happening more and more – sometimes it is a choice, but there is also a predisposition.”

Eventually, Cameron and her husband kicked their son out of the house and drove him to a friend’s for three days. He called constantly for money because he was going through withdrawal. “I had to stand my ground and not do it,” she recalled. “My husband and I told him we would only meet him to take him to rehab. Finally, he agreed.”

After a month in rehab, her son came home. Three weeks later, he was using heroin again and drinking more than ever. He recognized he had a problem, and told his parents he needed to go back to rehab. When he finished, he went to a halfway house and transitional living in Florida. “We had to get him away from here,” she said. “Now, he’s doing really well.”

Because of her experience, Cameron felt an obligation to share what she has learned with others in the community through an evening of awareness and resources that she is helping to organize together with the Community Resource Committee on campus.

Later this month, representatives from the Susan P. Byrnes Health Center in York will bring their “drug room” to the Children’s Hospital to teach parents about the places and ways children can hide things. They will also talk about signs that might indicate something is awry.

Penn State Hershey employees, as well as members of the local community, are invited to attend the event with their children.

Parents will participate in the “Drugs 101: Parents Need to Know” presentation, which is designed to educate parents about the various forms of drugs and the peer pressures facing students to use them. Those who attend can also learn about synthetic drugs that kids are inhaling as early as elementary school, which can’t always be detected on drug tests. They’ll learn how the addictive personality works, how even the briefest experimentation with drugs can affect the brain and what resources exist in the community to help.

The teens will participate in roundtable discussion and demonstrations designed to share with them the realities of living with addiction. They will spend 10 minutes at each of about a dozen tables learning about everything from rehab options and addicted babies to probation and parole. Participants will get a card stamped at each station and enter the completed cards in a drawing for a door prize.

“There are a so many high schools around here, and probably a lot of our employees have children attending those schools,” Cameron said. “If it even just helps one kid or one family, it’s worth it.”

The event will take place from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, in the Children’s Hospital near the Tree house Café and in the second-floor conference room.  It is free to attend, but online pre-registration is required.

 

September 5, 2014 at 10:31 am Leave a comment

Students get their schools moving with wellness mini-grants

The students and staff at Lincoln Charter School in York are doing big things.

They are learning to eat healthy and grow their own food. They are learning the importance of getting up and moving. They are fostering relationships with the mayor, the local police and the community.

They are making the streets they travel safer while learning to be leaders.

Like many schools, they don’t always have the funding they need to do these big things. But Lincoln recently received grant money from the Pennsylvania Department of Health through Penn State Hershey PRO Wellness Center that has allowed them to do all of these things and more.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health recently provided funding through the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support both a Safe Routes to School and Capacity Building for Increasing Physical Activity mini-grant program. These mini-grants were developed and managed by Penn State Hershey PRO Wellness Center and address the need for increasing physical activity programs in schools and communities. (more…)

July 28, 2014 at 11:21 am 1 comment

Inaugural event seeks to connect the public with public health concerns and training opportunities

What is the best way to prevent food borne illness? How effective is hospice care? What factors influence hookah use in college students? And, is raw milk safe?

These are the type of questions that public health scientists work to answer each day. Unlike other health professionals, their focus is on prevention, rather than treatment of conditions.

Public_Health_Symposium_05-09-2014_014As the national healthcare climate begins to shift from a reactive to proactive focus – working to reduce costs and improve outcomes for those with chronic diseases through behavior management and education – the field of public health is exploding.

As Penn State Hershey’s new Master of Public Health (MPH) program celebrated the recent graduation of its second cohort of students this spring, it organized a Public Health Day Symposium at the Civil War Museum in Harrisburg to bring together nearly 100 students, faculty, government employees, policy makers and community public health practitioners.

Farrah Kauffman, deputy director of the program, said the department organized the inaugural event “to expose students to professionals in the field, and to provide them with a chance to hear about the latest and greatest of what is happening now — as well as some networking opportunities.”

Vernon Chinchilli, chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences at Penn State Hershey, said the MPH program, which began in 2011, expects to become fully accredited this June. The two-year, full-time program, designed for working professionals with evening classes, will be joined by a doctorate program, possibly as soon as fall 2015.

(more…)

July 22, 2014 at 8:37 am Leave a comment

French, bad breath, and the Kardashians: One medical student’s reflections

If laughter really is the best medicine, Bailey Sanders is going to make a great doctor. Sanders was chosen by her peers in Penn State College of Medicine’s Class of 2014 to give this year’s student commencement address. The future doctor kept the crowd in stitches, threading together humorous examples to illustrate three components to building a life and career free of regrets.

Sanders posited that passion is one key ingredient, and for an example looked to a scientist who drank the contents of his own petri dish and “documented his subsequent suffering with regular biopsies and his mother’s opinion of how his breath smelled.” The unconventional experiment resulted in a Nobel Prize.

To hear Sanders’ full commencement speech, watch this video:

June 18, 2014 at 8:13 am 2 comments

Celebrating Survivorship at Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute

The messages on the wall inside Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute show why surviving cancer is something to celebrate.

“Today I’m celebrating 12 years breast cancer free and five years leukemia free.”

“Two years and counting.”

“Just starting my fight, I will win.”

On Wednesday, June 4, the staff and patients of the Cancer Institute joined in the celebration of the 27th Annual National Cancer Survivors Day, honoring more than 14,000,000 cancer survivors in the United States.

cancersurvivorsday

Click here to view other images

 

Sandy Spoljaric, a retired infusion nurse, was one of the volunteers on hand to greet patients. She worked for Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for more than 23 years and for her the event was a homecoming. She was happy to see some of the patients she’s helped over the years. (more…)

June 11, 2014 at 12:48 pm Leave a comment

Disaster simulation tests trauma training of emergency medicine residents

Emergency medicine is all about response. When it comes to disasters like bombings and shootings, time and resources are limited, but medical personnel need to work with what they have to control the situation and ensure everyone’s safety.

Resident physicians from the Department of Emergency Medicine at Penn State Hershey Medical Center recently participated in a drill that simulated one such disaster. The scenario involved a bombing at a marathon where several victims, who were played by actors, required immediate medical attention. The scene was tense as the residents hurried to the victims and began prioritizing them based on the severity of their injuries. Radios blared and lights flared to add to the commotion.

 

Disaster training - resident treats an actor playing a wounded soldier.

Click here to view other images from the training session

 

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May 28, 2014 at 9:09 am Leave a comment

Focused on People and Problem-Solving: Penn State Hershey’s new PA Program

Andrey Frolov left a job at the University of Kansas Cancer Center and moved halfway across the country to be part of Penn State Hershey’s new graduate-level physician assistant program.

The 38-year-old Russian scientist spent much of his career working in translational cancer research and helped develop a breakthrough drug for treatment of leukemia. While working closely with physicians as part of the clinical trials process for the drug, he realized he wanted to return to patient care.

“I never knew what a physician assistant was or what they were capable of doing before,” he says. “At my age, PA school provides nice flexibility to start practicing in a relatively short period of time.”

Physician assistants are healthcare professionals who are licensed to practice medicine as part of a team approach to healthcare, under the direction of a physician. The scope of what they can do is limited only by the doctor they practice with. Unlike nurse practitioners, who are trained in the nursing model and often specialize, physician assistants are intentionally trained to be medical generalists, extending the care of a physician by spending more time interviewing and counseling patients.

“If you’re okay working as part of a team, not being the highest in command and not having the final say, you have a lot of autonomy,” says Kyle Landis, a 27-year-old former professional baseball player for the Cleveland Indians, who decided to pursue a career as a physician assistant after an injury ended his athletic career.

The PA profession is growing rapidly as demand and eligibility for care increase, while the number of primary care physicians in practice has not. “They are doing some of the things the physicians don’t really have the time to do because they are pulled in so many directions,” says Christine Bruce, director of the new Physician Assistant Program at Penn State College of Medicine. (more…)

May 19, 2014 at 7:30 am 1 comment

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