A full week before “Arthur” was named the first tropical storm of the 2014 hurricane season, Connecticut sharpened its readiness skills by involving virtually every community, dozens of state agencies, utilities, hospitals, and hundreds of emergency responders in a “Category 1” preparedness drill June 21 and 23. On the morning of June 23, Newtown’s Emergency Management Director William Halstead gathered in Newtown’s Emergency Operations Center with colleagues from most of the town’s major departments — Public Works, Police, Parks and Recreation, IT, Emergency Communications, and the Health District. A few days later, Health District Director Donna Culbert joined Mr Halstead, who is also the Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue chief, issuing a refreshed report they hope all residents and local business owners will review and use if necessary.
During her long journalism career, which included producing The Newtown Bee’s quarterly Health Monitor, former associate editor Kaaren Valenta learned a lot about many conditions and maladies affecting individuals here in town and across the globe. But she never envisioned herself in retirement, becoming the primary caretaker for an elderly aunt who was afflicted with one of the most rare forms of aphasia. June is National Aphasia Awareness Month, and according to the National Aphasia Association (NAA), the condition creates impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. Aphasia can be so severe as to make communication with the patient almost impossible, or it can be very mild. It may affect mainly a single aspect of language use, such as the ability to retrieve the names of objects, or the ability to put words together into sentences, or the ability to read, the NAA website states.
Four older and outdated automatic external defibrillators in town have been replaced with new Philips HeartStart OnSite AEDs. An AED is an important lifesaving tool when used on a patient in cardiac arrest. The AED is able to read the heart rhythm of the patient and if needed, deliver a shock in an attempt for the heart to restart in a rhythm that will circulate blood around the body. These state-of-the-art and easier to use AEDs replace older versions that were at the end of their life cycle, according to the provider, David Larson, president of Defib Guy.
The Scholarship Committee of Newtown Visiting Nurse Association recently presented three scholarship checks to students who have met requirements for their respective honors. On June 5, members of the committee presented the final $4,000 Anna E. Clow Scholarship check to Abigail Blakeman. On June 10 Newtown VNA presented two more scholarship checks to students it had promised awards. Erin Begg received a $4,000 VNA Scholarship check, and Meredith Bridges received a $2,500 Janice Van Syckle Scholarship award.
Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN) Affiliate Emergency Medical Services including Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps recently received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Silver Award, currently the highest level recognition offered by the American Hospital Association. The honor recognizes WCHN’s commitment and success in implementing specific quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who suffer a severe heart attack known as a STEMI (ST elevation myocardial infarction).
Newtown’s Chief Building Official John Poeltl has joined state Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein in reminding local homeowners of the latest regulations that protect users, especially children, from swimming pool tragedies. Sadly, Connecticut has already seen a child’s life lost in a swimming pool drowning incident this year. Mr Poeltl told The Newtown Bee this week that during inspections, he is still encountering homeowners who are not adhering to statutory guidelines regarding pools — large and small. “Any container capable of holding water in excess of 24 inches must be protected by a barrier, no matter how small, especially to protect young children who might wander or be tempted to lean or get into the water,” the building official said. “There are numerous specific guidelines related to the proper construction and installation of pool barriers - we invite residents to call or visit our office for that information.”
The keynote speaker at the 25th annual Newtown Chapter Hospice Breakfast Fundraiser, Wednesday, June 11, will be Chris Mastropietro, RN, certified hospice and palliative nurse. Ms Mastropietro is the case manager for the Regional Hospice and Home Care of Western Connecticut for perinatal and pediatric hospice patients. The Newtown Chapter Hospice Breakfast Fundraiser takes place Wednesday, June 11, at the Waterview in Monroe, Route 111, from 8 to 9 am. Tables for eight can be sponsored for a cost of $125; or $500 sponsors a table for 12. Walk-ins are welcome, at $12 per person. Proceeds from the breakfast and raffle support Regional Hospice and Home Care of Western Connecticut.
While organizers of the tenth Relay For Life of Newtown are in their home stretch this week, making final preparations for their 12-hour event taking place May 31–June 1 at Newtown High School, organizers of a similar event are beginning to ramp up their annual efforts. Tessa Ruggeri, campaign manager for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) of Westchester-Hudson Valley-Connecticut, and Mia Lilienthal, an LLS campaign specialist, co-hosted a meeting for Newtown Light The Night on May 21. Four members of the local committee organizing a local Light The Night (LTN) event attended the meeting at NYA Sports & Fitness Center. In addition to discussing this year’s LTN, the committee addressed concerns about a recent change of personnel and restructuring of LLS. Newtown’s Light The Night, she said, is not in jeopardy. Newtown’s event is the first of the 2014 LLS season in Connecticut, and is scheduled for Saturday, September 27, at NYA Sports & Fitness Center.
The Newtown Public Schools Recovery Project has slated its next community forum, “Caring for our Youth, Signs of Suicide (SOS),” to take place Thursday, June 5, from 6 to 7 pm, at Newtown Middle School. The forum will highlight the relationship between depression and suicide, teaching that most often suicide is a fatal response to a treatable disorder: depression. The forum will be facilitated by David Jacob, LCSW, Recovery Project Director, and by District Health Coordinator Judy Blanchard, MS, CPP.
Marg Studley and Marie Sturdevant, co-chairpersons of the Newtown Chapter of Regional Hospice and Home Care of Western Connecticut, have announced that the annual fundraising and volunteer thank you breakfast will take place Wednesday, June 11, at The Waterview in Monroe. This year will mark the 25th anniversary of the breakfast honoring the many volunteers and caregivers of Regional Hospice. The yearly event also serves to thank the community, and to raise funds to support the organization known for its devotion to the comfort and care of terminally ill patients and their families. Regional Hospice serves more than 500 area patients and their families each year.