Health News



Learning Solutions
Although dyslexia affects as many as one in five Americans, it often is not diagnosed until adulthood, if at all. To help parents whose children are struggling with reading skills determine whether they have dyslexia and how to improve their reading abilities, St. Martin's Episcopal School (5309 Airline Drive, Metairie), the Giardina Foundation and Louisiana Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (LaBIDA) are sponsoring a free presentation on the subject Sept. 19.

The program features a talk by Susan Hall, author of Parenting a Struggling Reader, followed by a question-and-answer session. The presentation begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Solomon Theater at St. Martin's. For more information, call 736-9960.

Hall also is the author of Straight Talk about Reading, is past-president of the Illinois Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), and now serves on the IDA National Board of Directors. She acts as a consultant on reading programs and conducts teacher training workshops as well as seminars with parents.

Heads Up
Nutrition and fitness expert Mackie Shilstone recently was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Mental Health Association (NMHA), a citizen's group dedicated to mental health education, prevention, treatment, research and support services. He was confirmed to the board during the group's annual meeting in June.

Formed in 1909, NMHA is the only consumer-driven national mental health organization in the country. It seeks to improve all aspects of the life of the mentally ill and their families and serves as a national watchdog and advocate for those affected by mental illness.

Shilstone has helped more than 1,000 professional athletes prolong their careers through nutrition and lifestyle changes and recently became a consultant for the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball for major league umpire lifestyle enhancement. He is the executive director of the Mackie Shilstone Center for Performance Enhancement and Lifestyle Management at Elmwood Fitness Center.

He is dedicated to educating the public about health and fitness issues and developing easy-to-follow programs to achieve that goal. He is a regular contributor to Gambit Weekly's health section, disseminates health information through a weekly radio show on WSMB, health tips on WWL-AM and appears weekly on WWL-TV. He also is author of Lose Your Love Handles and a new work, Maximum Energy for Life, due in bookstores in January 2003.

Best Shot
August is National Immunization Awareness Month and to celebrate, the Greater New Orleans Immunization Network (GNOIN) has partnered with other health care providers to offer free immunizations for children from birth to 18 years old. To make the events easy to access, GNOIN will go to such places as Walgreen's in Covington, Children's Hospital, Clearview Mall in Metairie and Toys-R-Us in Marrero to reach children who need vaccinations.

For more information on times and locations, visit the GNOIN Web site at or call 733-3268.

Winning the Battle
The cover of the current issue of Managed Healthcare Executive, a magazine for health care industry management, features Terry Shilling and the story of how he pulled Ochsner Health Plan out of the red and comfortably into profitability.

Shilling, who became CEO of Ochsner Health Plan in June 2000, was handed a company that had lost $32 million in 1998 and 1999. He had the accounts back in the black by the end of his first year and the plan posted an $11 million profit in 2001. The plan has 200,000 members and is the state's largest health maintenance organization.

Among the Best
West Jefferson Medical Center is ranked among the top 50 hospitals in America in the July 22 issue of U.S. News & World Report. The magazine annually rates hospitals across the country based on criteria developed by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

West Jefferson, the only hospital in Louisiana included in the top-50 list, was ranked 27th in rheumatology, 33rd in neurology and neurosurgery, 40th in respiratory disorders and 47th in digestive disorders. Other winners include such prestigious centers as the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins Hospital. More than 6,000 hospitals provided data for the ranking, and the magazine selected 205 medical centers for recognition in 17 specialty areas.

Healthy Tee-Offs
The Mental Health Association of Metropolitan New Orleans is inviting golfers to "tee off for mental health" at the organization's eighth annual benefit golf tournament Oct. 8 at Eastover Country Club. Fitness expert and Gambit Weekly health columnist Mackie Shilstone is the honorary chairman.

The tournament begins with a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. and ends with an awards reception where participants will receive prizes for holes-in-one, closest to the hole and first, second and third finishes. Registration for the tournament, which will be played in a scramble format, is $125 for a single player, $250 to sponsor a hole or $750 to sponsor a hole and four players.

Diet Help
Local health care providers are trying to get the word out about a new Medicare benefit that could improve the health and quality of life for diabetes patients and those with non-dialysis kidney disease.

The new benefit allows patients to receive medical nutrition therapy provided by a registered dietician. The dieticians can help patients set realistic nutrition goals, teach them to eat healthy for life and create customized food plans. Such moves can often reduce the complications that can develop with diabetes and kidney disease and in some cases can eliminate or decrease needs for medications and hospital visits.

Patients interested in taking advantage of the new benefit should contact their physician for a referral to a registered dietician.

Friend to Animals
The subject of vivisection -- testing products and procedures on animals -- will be among topics covered this month at the Fourth World Congress on Alternatives to Animal Use in the Life Sciences, scheduled at the Hyatt Regency Hotel Aug. 11-15.

Heading the charge for curtailing animal studies as "scientifically unsound" is Dr. Ray Greek, author of Specious Science: How Genetics and Evolution Reveal Why Medical Research on Animals Harms Humans (Continuum Publishing, May 2002, $26.95), who will speak at the conference. The book contends that animals often are ineffective models for how something will work in a human body, but vivisection continues because of mainly economic factors. For more information about the meeting, log onto

Eye on the Future
Ophthalmologist Dr. Alvaro O'Byrne of the O'Byrne Eye Clinic will discuss the latest medical and surgical treatments for macular degeneration and cataracts at a free seminar this month at Methodist Hospital (5620 Read Blvd.).

The talk is free and open to the public. It is scheduled from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, at the auditorium at Methodist Hospital. Space is limited; register by calling 244-5728.

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