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Gambit Weekly's Eighth Annual Wellness Expo Offers Lots of Health-related Resources In One Place

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If you want to improve your overall health, now's the time to start. It's better to begin your path to wellness before a major disease strikes, rather than after. In fact, the concept of wellness is rooted not only in the absence of disease, but also in the belief that optimum health is a lifelong process. The eighth annual Gambit Weekly Wellness Expo, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 10, at Lakeside Shopping Center (3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie) can help guide you on the prosperous journey to a healthier you.

The event is free and open to the public and includes numerous exhibitors who will provide important information, offer complimentary gifts and samples, perform screenings, and conduct an array of demonstrations at Center Stage inside the mall. The Wellness Expo is supported by a host of health-related businesses (see the "Exhibitors Directory" on P. 9 for a listing of participants and what they will offer at the event).

Since 1971, East Jefferson General Hospital (EJGH) has offered clinical expertise and state-of-the-art medical technology to the New Orleans metropolitan area. This publicly owned hospital has continued to grow for more than three decades and is staffed by a medical workforce of 900 with 450 hospital beds. By employing more than 3,000 team members, EJGH has positioned itself as one of the largest employers in Jefferson Parish.

In recognition of EJGH's superior patient care, the hospital in 2002 was named Louisiana's first Magnet Hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Patients who stay at EJGH can expect a high standard of care as the hospital strives to go beyond simply being a local hospital. It provides multiple inpatient services, including cardiac rehabilitation, care management, inpatient surgery, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and a vast array of other medical specialties as well as offering a substantial number of outpatient services. EJGH's Regional Cancer Center offers people diagnosed with cancer the latest in diagnostic and treatment technology. East Jeff's Breast Care Center is dedicated to giving prompt, accurate test results and personalized service in a comfortable environment.

The hospital's newest addition is its 38,000-square-foot Wellness Center, a modern fitness facility that offers the latest in cardiovascular exercise, strength training, aquatic activities, and specialty classes available to adults of all ages and fitness levels. The Nautilus Fitness Advisor, a computerized interactive training system, acts as a virtual personal trainer, making sure participants maintain the correct form and recording their progress. Health and fitness instructors, certified personal trainers, licensed massage therapists, clinical exercise physiologists, administrative staff and dedicated volunteers staff the center.

Home Instead Senior Care enables seniors to live at home while enjoying some of the benefits of nursing-home or assisted-living care. The trained caregivers can perform many of the duties -- light housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry, errands and shopping -- that can overwhelm seniors. Caregivers also remind seniors when it is time to take medications as well as providing companionship for the often socially isolated elderly. The business will even help care for Alzheimer's patients.

Because caring for elderly family members sometimes can be extremely stressful, Home Instead Senior Care will test for caregiver stress at the Expo.

Also keeping seniors in mind is Peoples Health Network (PHN). As a physician hospital organization, PHN, owned by Tenet Choices Inc. and local physicians, administers four health plans in the New Orleans area. Tenet Choices 65 is one of those plans. It is an open-access plan with a Medicare Advantage contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that administers Medicare. The contract authorizes Tenet Choices 65 to provide comprehensive health-care services like prescription coverage to Medicare-eligible people who choose to enroll in the plan. PHN also offers Healthcare Select, Choices Plus and an employee plan.

Egan Homehealth Services, which has eight locations in Louisiana, offers home medical equipment for patients with special needs as well as pharmacy supplies and consultations on physical and occupational rehabilitation and nursing needs. Equipment available from the 20-year-old firm includes bathroom safety aids, walkers, wheelchairs, orthopedic braces, diagnostic equipment, diabetic socks, daily living aids and medical supplies.

Discover Wellness & Rehab in Metairie has an in-house doctor available to oversee physical rehabilitation regimens. The business offers chiropractic services, massage therapy, nutrition counseling and has advanced detoxification equipment. At its Expo booth, Discover will conduct nerve-system analysis, scoliosis screenings, posture evaluations and a free stress-relief massage.

Laser Concepts of Louisiana utilizes the latest in laser technology to treat patients interested in quitting smoking and losing weight. A low-level laser known as a cold laser or therapeutic laser is used in the treatments so the effect is biochemical and does not burn or destroy living tissue. For smokers, the company says one 20-minute session will eliminate the craving for nicotine.

A laser weight-loss program requires five sessions over three to six weeks and can be used until a person attains his or her desired weight. At Laser Concepts of Louisiana the laser is applied to various points on the body and can facilitate weight loss by giving the person a feeling of well being, which can suppress the desire for excessive and inappropriate food. The laser can also stimulate metabolism and thereby enable the body to utilize food efficiently instead of storing it as fat. Visit Laser Concepts' booth at the expo to register for a chance to win a free smoking-cessation treatment, and a weight control session.

American Laser Centers in Metairie offers laser hair removal as well as skin-rejuvenation procedures. At its booth, visitors can enter to win a raffle in which the first prize is $1,500 worth of free services.

NOLA Regional Health Network, part of Tenet Healthcare Corporation, is committed to the rebuilding of New Orleans. Before Hurricane Katrina, Tenet was the largest private provider of hospital services in the region with five local hospitals -- Kenner Regional Medical Center, Meadowcrest Hospital, Northshore Regional Medical Center, Memorial Medical Center, and Lindy Boggs Medical Center -- five free-standing imaging centers, and more than 2,500 doctors.

Because the storm severely damaged Lindy Boggs and Memorial medical centers, Tenet decided to link the three suburban hospitals -- Kenner, Meadowcrest and Northshore -- with the two New Orleans hospitals to form the NOLA Regional Health Network. Diagnostic Imaging Services, Tenet's five imaging centers, are also part of the new network and provide a number of high-quality diagnostic services, including magnetic resonance imaging, digital mammography, fluoroscopy and ultrasound.

Under the direction of Dr. Ana De Aguiar, Sunnyside Pediatrics in Metairie takes care of the youngsters with general health care, convenient hours (all day Monday through Saturday, plus Wednesdays until 7 p.m.), vision and hearing tests, vaccinations and much more.

Breakthroughs in prescription medications don't happen overnight. Clinical Trials Management (CTM) LLC conducts drug trials for new medications. Participants in CTM studies are under a doctor's supervision, and CTM has tested medications in many therapeutic areas including cardiology, dermatology, infectious diseases and allergies.

Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates, which has offices in Marrero, Metairie and New Orleans, has board-certified physicians who diagnose and treat gastrointestinal disorders such as abdominal pain, stomach ulcers, colon polyps, hepatitis and more. The doctors use state-of-the-art equipment and the clinic has an outpatient endoscopy center. The associates provide colon cancer education and screenings and use Open-access Colonoscopy, which helps detect colon cancer in patients without symptoms. At its booth, the practice will have colon cancer screening questionnaires, a model of the gastrointestinal tract and educational materials.

If you are someone who suffers from allergies, the Allergy Relief Store has a full line of allergy control products to help alleviate the symptoms such as bedding, environmentally friendly cleaning solutions and air purifiers. At its booth, it will exhibit examples of bedding, air filters and various allergy- and mold-control solutions for your home and office.

Varicose veins can cause fatigue, skin rashes, and even sores, but Nathan Vein Institute can help people who have them you look and feel better. Dr. Nathan specializes in the use of an endovenous laser to eliminate varicose veins. A laser is fired along and inside the varicose vein, damaging the vein wall and shrinking the vessel so blood no longer flows through it. Nathan also employs ablation and sclerotherapy to treat varicose veins. You can get a free screening for varicose veins at the Nathan Vein Institute Expo booth.

Getting rid of harmful habits like smoking can be a struggle, but Laser Therapy USA can aid in the transition from smoker to ex-smoker. The cold laser they use functions like acupuncture, but without the needles. Skilled technicians address various points on the body, ears, nose, hands, wrists and forearms to block the body's need for nicotine. They also treat weight reducer points to control appetite, and manipulate stress and relaxation points to help the patient avoid painful withdrawal symptoms. Find out more about this procedure as well as weight-control laser sessions at Laser Therapy's Expo booth.

Pregnancy takes a toll on the body. Many pregnant women suffer back pain and other problems due to changes in their posture, weight and hormone levels. Magnolia Physical Therapy teaches pregnant women how to use muscle-strengthening and postural restraining to alleviate the pain. The clinic also specializes in "manual therapy," the use of passive joint movement to restore body symmetry and function. After such a treatment, patients can exercise much more effectively and with better results. And the clinic can develop individualized wellness programs to prevent injuries, increase fitness and reduce stress. Their staff will demonstrate manual therapy and conduct muscle testing at the Expo.

Arthritis can prevent people from enjoying even some of the simplest physical movements like walking or bending. Wilson, Sanders and Feldman are rheumatologists specializing in the evaluation and treatment of arthritis and other bone and joint diseases. If your pain isn't arthritis related, Impastato Chiropractic can correct back pain, shoulder pain and headaches as well as treating disc compression, auto injuries and help with sports performance enhancement. The business also offers clinical nutritional consultations, vitamins and supplements. At its booth, Impastato will offer spinal screenings, massage and gift certificates.

St. Charles Vision prides itself on providing the most thorough eye examinations in the industry and uses computerized auto refraction, which provides the doctor with a photo of your eye that helps him determine the correct prescription for improving your vision. During the exam, doctors also test for cataracts, glaucoma and eye diseases and stay alert for signs of vascular problems and diabetes. St. Charles Vision offers eye glasses -- with many choices from top designers -- contact lens exams, fittings and products, and specializes in hard-to-fit patients and helping to correct irregular corneas or failed laser surgeries.

If you just want to be pampered, the Wellness Expo will have plenty of exhibitors willing to assist. Serenity Day Spa and Gifts in Metairie carries Dermologica skin-care products as well as offering manicures, pedicures and a variety of body treatments.

Le Unique Hair Salon on the West Bank offers wellness services, birth assistance and pregnancy education, hair services and hair-care products, health supplements, skin-care products and nail care. Massage services will be added soon. The salon's booth will include information about its pregnancy services as well as information about and samples of health supplements, skin-care products and essential oils.

Tahitian Noni International will provide patented products including its trademark Noni juice, which is designed to increase energy, provide antioxidants, boost the immune system and make you feel better all over.

Tapas Yoga and Movement Studio has a wide variety of classes and welcomes beginners and more advanced yoga students. Anytime Fitness in Metairie offers 24-access to its facilities, and offers personal trainers, tanning, free weights, a cardio theater, Precor strength training and more. Look for body-fat screenings at its booth.

The Chi Machine can massage, relax and help the body heal through oxygen therapy, therapeutic-grade essential oils and high-dose pharmaceutical-grade oils. Those who are interested can watch a free demonstration of the Chi Machine at the Expo booth.

West Jeff Fitness Center, which has two locations in the metro area, gives its members top-of-the-line workout equipment and personalized services including massage therapy, manicure and pedicure services and Magic Tan.

Manger Chiropractic offers not only chiropractic care and nutritional counseling, but also has air and water purifiers as well as meridian therapy and acupressure. At its booth, look for free samples of Orthogel and Biofreeze and receive a free spinal screening and acupuncture meridian scan.

Holistic Healing and Education Center can reconnect you with your inner child and provide meditation instruction, pastoral counseling, forgiveness sessions and more. At its booth, the center will offer a flower essence guidebook and Bach Five Flower Formula.

If you're not quite sure where you are on the road to wellness, Benchmark Research, a firm that performs research trials on investigational medications under the guidance of medical doctors. The firm will conduct blood pressure and glucose readings at its Expo booth.

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