Baby Signs

Touro Infirmary is home to a groundbreaking new course that teaches recent parents a proven method of communicating with their babies up to a year and a half before the infants are able to speak. Michelle Lucurto, a nurse with Touro, offers a Baby Signs playgroup program called Sign, Say & Play. Each session of six theme-based classes is designed to instruct parents and babies (ages 6 months to 2 years old) how to communicate through simple hand gestures. Sign, Say & Play is the only program of its kind offered in New Orleans and one of only three in Louisiana.

"The purpose is to allow parents to open up a window to their child's mind and to understand their important wants, needs and thoughts," says Lucurto. "By being able to make known their needs, a baby develops a sense of security and confidence, enhancing their emotional development as well as nurturing their intellectual growth." For more information, call 416-0630.

New Imaging

Doctors Imaging Services (4204 Teuton St., Metairie, 883-8111; a radiologist-owned and -operated outpatient diagnostic imaging center, opened its doors in October with an investment of more than $10 million in the New Orleans-area health-care industry. In addition to having the first 64-slice CT scanner in the area, Doctors Imaging Services also offers both an Ultra High-Field 3T MRI and an Open MRI. The powerful 3T MRI allows for the most advanced imaging techniques possible in the areas of neurological and orthopedic diagnosis. The Open MRI is an ideal alternative for pediatric patients and those who may suffer from claustrophobia.

Give Five -- Save Lives

A new initiative strives to register up to 400,000 new organ donors throughout the United States within a 12-week period. At a Second National Learning Congress on Organ Donation and Transplantation event hosted by Tulane University Hospital & Clinic in October, Dr. Jim Burdick, director of the Division of Transplantation for Health & Human Services, introduced the plan. Participating employers will select three dates between Nov. 20 and Feb. 12, 2007, and alert employees that five minutes of the workday will be set aside for them to register their donation decisions online or using donor cards. Local organ procurement organizations will provide information about organ donation to each participating organization.

"Give Five -- Save Lives is an opportunity for businesses and organizations to educate employees about organ and tissue donation and encourage them to designate their donation decisions," says Dr. Burdick. "This important initiative is part of the 12 Weeks of Giving campaign that aims to register 400,000 new organ donors by Feb. 12, 2007, helping to reduce the critical shortage of organ donors in America."

For more information, call the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency at 837-3355.

Cancer Control Grant

The Avon Foundation recently awarded the Tulane Cancer Center a $250,000 grant to provide uninsured and underserved women in New Orleans access to breast and cervical cancer screening and follow-up care. The grant will support a cancer control fellow, a physician who will work out of several community-based health-care clinics in the metro area, including the Tulane University Community Health Center at Covenant House (611 N. Rampart St., 584-1167; Pap smears currently are available at the health center, and referrals are provided for mammograms at partner organizations.

Hospital Town Hall

The recently acquired Ochsner Medical Centers will host their first neighborhood town hall meetings this month. Local residents will be invited to ask questions about the new hospitals and share their concerns and suggestions for the new medical centers.

The West Bank meeting will be held from 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. Nov. 15 in the River Room at Ochsner Medical Center (2500 Belle Chase Hwy., Gretna). The Uptown meeting is scheduled from 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. Nov. 16 at Ochsner Baptist Medical Center (2700 Napoleon Ave.).

All local residents are invited to attend. No registration is required; light refreshments will be served.

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