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Relaxing Expansion Using its flagship Metairie store (3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Lakeside Shopping Center, Metairie, 835-0225) as a prototype, Earthsavers recently completed an expansion and renovation of its 15-year-old store at 5501 Magazine St. (899-8555), dramatically increasing the size of the facility and the spa services offered there.

Previously, space for services were so limited at the Uptown location that it could not accommodate groups, and mornings were dedicated to one type of services, afternoons to another. That's no longer the case. "Now we can do the day of relaxation with more than one person, and we can have massages, waxing and facials going on at the same time," says Karen Adjmi, co-owner of Earthsavers, which also has a Northshore store at 3414 U.S. Hwy. 190, Mandeville, 985-674-1133). The expansion was made possible when Earthsavers acquired the building behind it, which previously housed a lingerie shop. In addition to more private rooms for services, Earthsavers also has three manicure stations and a trio of new state-of-the-art pedicure chairs that are winning over customers.

"We're getting an extraordinary response to the pedicure chairs," Adjmi says. "They are technologically advanced. They are extremely comfortable ... and you can control the temperature of the bath."

The owners also renovated the retail area, updating cabinets, moving the front desk and installing bamboo flooring in the front, pebble flooring in the back, and curtains along the display walls. "It's still quaint and feels cozy, but it's more relaxing than it was before," Adjmi says. There are still a few things left to do, but soon Adjmi and partner Jackie Palumbo will plan an event to celebrate the new expansion and renovation.

Help in Overseas Adoptions

Louisiana parents Theresa Barbier and Erin McNutt, who adopted children from Russia and the Ukraine, have founded the local Across Borders Adoption Agency Inc. (6221 S. Claiborne Ave., 225-612-4847; 225-612-4848; 888-570-2846) to help others maneuver the maze of requirements for adopting youngsters from Guatemala, Russia and the Ukraine.

The nonprofit international adoption agency helps qualified families prepare dossiers, complete home studies and other forms and will guide families step-by-step through the process, including notifying them of any changes in requirements of foreign governments once the process has begun.

Fighting Fat With Common Sense

To help fight what medical experts call an obesity epidemic in New Orleans, Entergy Charitable Foundation has donated $275,000 to Step Together New Orleans' "Treat You Right" campaign that promotes walking, biking, eating more fruits and vegetables and other behaviors to combat obesity, diabetes, asthma and other weight-related conditions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention a year ago funded the Step Together New Orleans program, which is a collaborative effort between the New Orleans Health Department, the Louisiana Public Health Institute, Tulane University and other local groups interested in improving health in the city. It is part of a national Steps to a Healthier U.S. program.

In the long term, Step Together leaders hope to bring together community and government groups to change the city's environment to make healthy lifestyles easier, including bike and walking paths, as well as encouraging the community to become more physically active and eat healthier. For more information, log on to www.steptogethernola.org.

Volunteer Training

The YWCA Rape Crisis Program is holding training sessions Feb. 16 through March 9 for volunteers interested in becoming crisis line advocates, community educators and medical advocates for victims of rape and sexual assault. The training sessions will be held at the YWCA (601 S. Jefferson Davis Parkway, 482-9922). For more information call Gwen at ext. 120 or Terrie at ext. 128.

The program, part of the United Way, offers victims and their families a range of services including a 24-hour crisis phone line, confidential counseling, support groups, legal and medical advocacy, community education programs and more.

AIDS Seminar and Training

Anyone who wants to learn about AIDS or volunteer to help patients and their families can attend a free seminar and volunteer training workshop from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 12) at the NO/AIDS Task Force (2601 Tulane Ave., Suite 500). Free parking and breakfast are available. Call Doreen Keeler-Tollerson at 821-2601 ext. 205 for information and reservations.

The workshop will explore the medical and psychosocial aspects of HIV and AIDS, how to reduce risks of contracting the infection, volunteer work and other issues. Volunteer opportunities include a statewide hotline, Community Awareness Network, Food for Friends, community education, fundraising, testing and counseling.

Research Galore

Dr. Mary Hardy, medical director of the Cedars-Sinai Integrative Medicine Program and a professor at the University of Southern California Medical Center will discuss "Herbal Medicine -- Efficacy and Safety" at 9 a.m. Feb. 18 in room 413 of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC)(1542 Tulane Ave.). It is free and open to the public.

The lecture is part of the LSUHSC Department of Medicine's 15th annual Research Day in which residents, students, fellows and faculty present oral and poster presentations about current research projects. For more information, call 568-6446.

Run for the Clinic

Tulane medical students are sponsoring a 5k run-walk from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday (Feb. 13) at Audubon Park (Shelter No. 11 across from Loyola University) to benefit Bridging Health Together, an organization that provides primary health care to Bridge House. Participants can pre-register for the event for $15 from noon to 1 p.m. Feb. 9-11 at Tulane School of Medicine (1430 Tulane Ave.) or online at www.som.tulane.edu/groups/bht. Day-of-the-race registration is $20 and begins at 9 a.m. at the park

The students operate a primary care clinic, HIV/Hepatitis C counseling and testing service and hold health education seminars for clients of Bridge House, a substance abuse and recovery program.

Schizophrenia Study

New Orleans Medical Institute (888-7425) is now enrolling volunteers diagnosed with schizophrenia in a clinical study to assess a new medication for treatment of the disease. To qualify, volunteers must be 18 to 65 years old and able to be treated as an outpatient.

Curbing STDs

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has given LSU Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) a $9.24 million grant to establish the Gulf South Sexually Transmitted Diseases/ Topical Microbicides Collaborative Research Center in New Orleans, one of only six such centers in the United States.

Dr. David Martin, professor of medicine and chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases at LSUHSC, will serve as director. The New Orleans center will focus on chlamydial and trichomonas infections as well as mycoplasma genitalium bacteria, which is suspected of causing infertility in women. Researchers also will work to develop new topical medications to prevent common infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV.

Access to Options

Tenet Healthcare Foundation and Catholic Charities have partnered to open a new ACCESS Pregnancy Counseling and Referral Center at Kenner Regional Medical Center (200 W. Esplanade Ave., Suite 130, Kenner, 469-9996). The ACCESS facility provides free pregnancy testing, counseling, ultrasound testing, baby parenting classes, nutrition counseling and adoption referral services. It also offers post-abortion counseling and referrals for community resources for prenatal care, financial assistance, job training and education.

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