Fletcher Allen Proposes Property Purchase in South Burlington

June 19, 2014  
Filed under News

Fletcher Allen filed a Certificate of Need (CON) application with the Green Mountain Care Board recently seeking approval to purchase two parcels of real estate located adjacent to Hinesburg Road in South Burlington: the majority of the 92-acre Mountain View Business Park containing Tilley Drive where Fletcher Allen leases two buildings, and an adjoining undeveloped 38- acre parcel. The proposed combined purchase price for both properties is approximately $51 million. A CON application is necessary when a proposed hospital expenditure exceeds $3 million.

“As the academic medical center partner of a four-hospital network, we must ensure we have the resources and flexibility to meet evolving patient care needs,” said John Brumsted, M.D., president and CEO of Fletcher Allen Health Care and Fletcher Allen Partners. “Purchasing these properties would give us the opportunity to expand our campus in South Burlington to meet growing demand for outpatient services (a national trend), invest in a smart buy-vs.-lease strategy, and preserve space on the Medical Center Campus for the most acute care needs.”

Fletcher Allen would continue using its Medical Center Campus in Burlington for inpatient care and closely-related outpatient services.

A Master Facility Plan analysis demonstrated that it is prudent to invest in real estate now for future outpatient care use, as interest rates remain historically low. The analysis shows that purchasing buildings already occupied by Fletcher Allen, as well as non-Fletcher Allen occupied buildings, the associated land and adjacent property, will pay for itself within 19 years, according to a Fletcher Allen press release.

Mountain View Business Park

Fletcher Allen occupies two of the five buildings in the business park. One houses the Orthopedic Specialty Center; the other is occupied by the outpatient cardiology clinic, cardiac rehabilitation, endocrinology and the Pain Clinic.

The other two buildings are occupied by an oral surgery practice and a mix of businesses. A fifth building on the site is owned by a private OBGYN practice and is not part of the proposed sale. The park is permitted to construct four additional buildings.

To learn more about Fletcher Allen’s plans, visit www.fletcherallen.org.

Relax or Play in Your Backyard Getaway!

June 19, 2014  
Filed under Home & Garden

Hammock_iStock_2133759LargeBy Matt Sutkoski

Is your backyard boring? Is it an endless expanse of lawn you have to mow this summer in the hot sun, when you’d rather be splashing around in a pool or having a drink in the shade of a gazebo?

It might not be too late to do so, but you’d better start thinking quickly if you want to make the backyard a summer refuge, and not a summer slave driver.

First, there are a lot of things to consider, ranging from cost, to how much room you have, which improvements fit your needs and whether you need permits and insurance upgrades.

But don’t worry. All those considerations can be dispensed with quickly.

Among the first things a homeowner should do is check with his insurance agent to see how much a swimming pool or structure will add to the homeowner’s insurance bill.

Swimming pools are especially fraught in that department. According to the website Netquote, before installing a swimming pool, you’d better boost your liability coverage to between $300,000 and $500,000.

Next, check with your city or town to see if permits are needed before construction starts. Most towns require permits for new decks, additions, gazebos and swimming pools, even above ground ones.

For bigger projects, you might have to submit construction plans to town regulators before you begin. Then you can turn your yard into a fun outdoor room.


From a strictly economical standpoint, a deck is arguably the best investment you can make on your house. Remodeling Magazine found that more than 85 percent of the cost of building a wooden deck would be recouped during resale, a better deal than the 78 percent from a remodeled bathroom or 69 percent from a family room makeover.

However, you have to consider safety when constructing a deck. The Vermont Department of Health recommends homeowners avoid using pressure treated wood for decks and other backyard structures, especially if children are often around. Pressure treated wood can leach dangerous arsenic into surrounding soil, and children who play on decks can get arsenic into their systems.

It has gotten a lot harder to obtain pressure treated wood with arsenic, anyway. Production of the material was phased out a decade ago because of the health dangers, and existing stocks are almost depleted.

The Health Department suggests using redwood or cedar for decks and outdoor structures, since the wood is rot resistant. There are also good wood and plastic composite building materials on the market.

When hiring a contractor to build the deck, make sure they are fully insured, and check with friends and online to ensure the contractor is reputable.

Once decks are installed, be careful, especially if the decks are elevated. Make sure you know what loads a deck can take before adding hot tubs, furniture or plant containers. As tempting as it might be, avoid using barbecue grills on decks attached to houses. In some communities, grills on decks are banned because of fire hazards.

Inspect the deck yearly, looking for missing or damaged nails and fasteners, cracks, rotted wood and other potential hazards.

Decks are the closest thing you can get to an additional room in your house, at least when the weather is good. Most serve as good entertainment centers for small parties or visiting relatives. They can be an extension of the kitchen, with al fresco seating for dinners, herb gardens in deck containers for cooking and even an outdoor bar for evening cocktails.


For people who would rather establish a gathering space away from the house, gazebos are another option. And they’re easy to install.

Livingston Farm in Bristol assembles gazebos on site and trucks them to homeowners who purchase them.

Since most gazebos come pre-assembled, or largely so, installing them in a backyard can go quickly, said Tina Coleman, the office manager at Livingston Farms.

Before the gazebo is placed in a yard, the homeowner needs to establish a firm, level spot for the structure. The area designated for the gazebo should be well drained and a bit higher than the surrounding landscape.

Gazebos such as those from Livingston Farm range in price from about $2,300 to $3,000.

Most people opt for gazebos with screens, so people can enjoy them in the evening, at just the time mosquitoes are most likely to be on the prowl. Coleman said if you do go through a gazebo dealer, make sure the structure is able to withstand northern winters. That means rot-resistant wood, sturdy supports and a strong roof.

Other backyard structures have practical applications such as garden sheds, and even garages for storage. The advantage to these structures, Coleman said, is they are an attractive addition to a property and allow you to store tools and garden equipment in a secure building.

Coleman said many homeowners are abandoning pre-made, metal sheds in favor of more decorative garden sheds, priced from $1,600 to $2,600, that enhance rather than harm the looks of a backyard.

Swimming Pools and Spas

Pam Cook, co-owner of Avalon Pools and Spas in Milton, said her customers fall into two categories.

If they have kids or grandchildren, they’re more likely to shop for a swimming pool. If they are getting on in years and have no kids around, the customers opt for spas.

Avalon sells more spas than pools, mostly because they can be used year round, rather than just during Vermont’s short summer. “The trend is for small spas for personal use,” Cook said.

On the other hand, if children are around, pools are pretty much used daily even if it’s just vaguely warm out.

Before getting a pool or spa, look to see if you actually have enough space. “Dimensions are very important,” Cook said adding that you don’t want a pool to completely overwhelm a yard and make the small amount of remaining space unusable. If you choose a pool that’s too small, chances are it won’t be used much, and the investment would be wasted. According to P.K. Data, the average cost of a 19-foot diameter above ground pool is $6,243, while the average cost of a 32 by 16 foot in-ground swimming pool is $21,919.


If the sun is too bright and too hot on your back deck or patio, another option is an awning.

Awnings can usually be installed in less than an hour and a half, said Cheryl Bodette, the marketing manager for Otter Creek Awnings in Williston.

Most models are retractable, so if you want to enjoy the sun, go for it. If the sun is too hot, it takes less than a minute to create some shade by extending the awning over the deck or patio.

“They’re pretty sturdy,” Bodette said. While an awning might not be able to withstand a hurricane, they are built to withstand the occasional strong, gusty winds.

Some models even have sensors that detect strong winds and will automatically retract if you’re not there to do it during a severe storm, she said.

Awnings vary in cost and generally require a custom quote, Bodette said.

With many models of awnings, if the fabric fades over the years, or you just want to change the color, there’s no need to buy an entire new awning system, Bodette said.

Companies like Otter Creek can replace the fabric while leaving the rest of the awning mechanisms intact.

Like many additions to a house, an awning might need a municipal zoning permit. Also, many homeowners’ associations have restrictions on the size, color and other features of awnings, so it’s best to check first before buying.

Bodette said many awning companies, like hers, will assist buyers in making sure the awnings adhere to local codes before they are installed.

In the summer, your backyard is really another large room for your house. Just like the interior of your house, you want the yard to meet the needs and wants of your family.

‘Death by Calcium:’ Eight Myths That Could Cost You Your Life

June 19, 2014  
Filed under Health & Wellness

From childhood on, we’ve all heard it: “Drink your milk.”

And most of us have accepted these “truths” at face value. We know that calcium is necessary in a host of bodily functions and that it builds strong bones and teeth. So after each milk mustache, cup of yogurt, or calcium supplement, we mentally pat ourselves on the back for helping stave off osteoporosis and general physical deterioration. If some is good, more must be better. Right?

Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD, says that not only is our country’s commitment to calcium not bringing about the desired benefits, it’s actively sabotaging our health.

“Yes, calcium is essential for bodily function, but as many non-mainstream healthcare practitioners have long known, there’s a real and grave danger in pumping excessive amounts of it into our bodies,” says Dr. Levy, author of “Death by Calcium: Proof of the Toxic Effects of Dairy and Calcium Supplements.”

“Believe it or not, most of the adult population has no need for significant calcium intake, and that need rapidly decreases with age,” Levy said.

An excess of calcium promotes heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer and other degenerative diseases. So not only are those supplements not helping, they may actually be killing you, according to Levy.

“Understandably, most people are shocked to hear this,” Levy concedes. “Due to decades of convincing campaigns and marketing ploys, millions have embraced the milk-is-good-for-you myth and other related fictions.”

In “Death by Calcium,” Levy presents scientific evidence that systematically debunks much of what Western society believes about calcium. The book explains why calcium is dangerous in excess quantities, why limiting it promotes health and provides strategies to help readers begin to get their calcium levels in balance.

Myth 1: Calcium is good for you. 

There’s a reason why no one questions the popular wisdom that calcium is good for you: It seems completely plausible. After all, aren’t bones largely composed of calcium? Isn’t osteoporosis a calcium deficiency of the bone? It makes sense that drinking milk or downing calcium tablets will fix the problem!

“What people don’t realize is that while osteoporosis involves a lack of calcium in the bones, it does not mean that there is a calcium deficiency in the rest of the body or in the patient’s diet, explained Levy. “And moving on from osteoporosis, excess calcium promotes a host of other health problems including heart attacks, strokes, cancer and virtually all chronic diseases. In fact, it increases all-cause mortality by 250 percent.

“The bottom line is, there is no concrete evidence to support that calcium delivers any real health benefits—quite the opposite,” he said.

Myth 2: You need to eat dairy products to get enough calcium.

If the government’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium—between 1,000 to 1,300 mg per day for most adults—were correct, loading your diet with dairy products would be an easy way to reach that goal. However, Levy asserted that not only is the government’s RDA far too high, the idea that you need dairy to get “enough” calcium is false.

“Cultures that drink little to no milk have a much lower incidence of osteoporosis than Americans,” he said. “Actually, the average person’s need for calcium is more than adequately met with a diet that includes meat, eggs and vegetables. If you want to consume dairy, that’s your choice—but don’t do so believing that avoiding these products will result in an inadequate intake of calcium.”

Myth 3: If you have osteoporosis, you have a calcium deficiency. 

This statement isn’t entirely incorrect: If you have osteoporosis, you do have a calcium deficiency—in your bones. Because of this fact, many physicians and their patients believe that the entire body must be depleted of calcium, as well. But that’s a dangerous assumption. Throughout the rest of your body, it’s actually likely that you have an excess of calcium.

“The problem with osteoporosis is that the body is unable to synthesize a new structural bone matrix and integrate calcium into it—an issue that more calcium doesn’t even begin to fix,” said Levy. “In fact, much of the calcium leached from the bones simply moves to other parts of the body, where it does you harm. It’s both ironic and sad that because of this fundamental misunderstanding, so many motivated, health-conscious people are sabotaging their health in an effort to improve it.”

Myth 4: Calcium supplements will help prevent broken bones. 

Yes, there are studies that indicate that calcium supplementation is effective in decreasing the incidence of fractures in osteoporosis patients. But if you look more closely, said Levy, you’ll uncover more questions than answers. Notably, most positive studies also included 800 or more units of Vitamin D as a “co-supplement.” Vitamin D, by itself, will decrease the chances of osteoporotic fracture.

“In some trials, the number of subjects was very small, in others the duration was short and in still others patient and observer bias wasn’t tempered by double-blind placebo control,” he said. “Plus, some studies relied on the accuracy of the subject’s self-observation and memory, which is questionable. Could you accurately remember how much calcium you’ve taken over the past ten years (or even one year)? On the other hand, in “Death by Calcium,” Levy cites numerous studies that collectively provide more than enough data to conclude calcium supplementation does not prevent bone fractures.

“Remember, it’s easy for various individuals and organizations to pick and choose the study results they’d like the public to believe, knowing that most people will take that information at face value,” he added.

Myth 5: Increased bone density means stronger bones.

Let’s say that you have a rotting wooden fence bordering your yard. If you paint it with a new coat of bright white paint, it will look better, but the “fix” is only cosmetic—the fence’s underlying structure is still continuing to deteriorate. That’s essentially what happens when you use calcium supplements to treat bone density. Your bone density test score may well improve a bit with calcium supplementation, but this is not associated with stronger bones or a decreased risk of fracture.

“When you treat a disease like osteoporosis with increased calcium, the density can legitimately increase, but the quality of the bone itself doesn’t improve unless other important factors are addressed,” said Levy. “The structural matrix of the bone still isn’t normal and has no greater resistance to fracture than the diseased bone before the new calcium deposition.”

Myth 6: When you have osteoporosis, the biggest danger is breaking a bone.

There’s no disputing that when a person with osteoporosis fractures a bone, it’s serious business. These fractures often cause incapacitation and other complications that may lead to death. But would you say that sustaining a fracture is more serious than suffering (or even dying) from a heart attack, stroke or cancer? These are often the unrecognized consequences of osteoporosis.

“A groundbreaking study made it very clear that a fracture is not the major concern for a majority of osteoporosis patients,” said Levy. “It found that in nearly 10,000 postmenopausal women, there was a 60 percent increase in the risk of death for individuals in the lowest quintile of bone density compared to those in the highest quintile. And most of those deaths did not relate to a fracture.

“The likely reason is straightforward: The more advanced the osteoporosis, the more calcium has been released from the bones over time,” he explained. “This release literally showers all of the other tissues and organs in the body with a chronic excess of calcium—which is extremely detrimental to your health. There are many other studies that also support the conclusion that one of the biggest dangers of osteoporosis is the fact that it promotes and worsens so many other chronic diseases.”

Myth 7: Vitamin D just serves to increase calcium absorption. 

Vitamin D plays an essential role in regulating and modulating calcium absorption and metabolism via its interactions with the bones, gut and kidneys. But despite data that has been accumulating since the 1980s regarding the many other roles Vitamin D plays, many doctors still approach it as being “only” another way to supplement calcium.

“Vitamin D plays a role in the metabolism of virtually all cells in the body and is known to have a direct effect on around 200 genes, so it’s very important,” Levy said. “However, I strongly caution you not to seek out Vitamin D in foods with high calcium content, since Vitamin D facilitates and even ‘overdoses’ calcium absorption—which is not desirable.”

Myth 8: You get all the Vitamin D you need from the sun.

 This statement would be true if you spent a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes a day in the sun with enough skin area exposed, in a part of the world fairly close to the Equator. But let’s be honest, for most of us, that’s just not going to happen.

“The modern way of living is very effective in shielding people from the sun so completely that even a large percentage of individuals who live in tropical climates are chronically deficient in Vitamin D,” said Levy. “Therefore, for nearly everyone on the planet, Vitamin D supplementation is a must in order to get its (bone) blood levels in the range that supports optimal bone health and general health. Again, just avoid getting your Vitamin D in foods that also contain calcium.”

Hollywood Couple Visits Burlington to Promote Alzheimer’s Awareness, Honor Uvm Fraternity

June 19, 2014  
Filed under Health & Wellness


Seth Rogen (left) and his wife, actress and writer Lauren Miller (center), met with Martha Richardson, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association Vermont chapter, during their recent visit to Burlington. The couple was in town to recognize University of Vermont’s Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity’s first place finish in a national fundraising effort to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. The fraternity raised more than $27,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association through HFC U, part of Rogen’s nonprofit organization Hilarity for Charity. Sixty percent of the money raised by the fraternity will stay in Vermont to support the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. (Photo by Marianne Apfelbaum)

By Marianne Apfelbaum

The Vermont chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and the University of Vermont were in the spotlight at Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas last month — Hollywood star Seth Rogen visited the Green Mountain State to recognize the efforts of a UVM fraternity that won first place honors in the nonprofit Hilarity for Charity U competition, whose proceeds exclusively benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

Martha Richardson, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association Vermont chapter, was on hand for the celebration, which included a screening of Rogen’s latest film, “Neighbors, ” and a Q & A for the students who helped with the fundraiser. “It’s just amazing to see college students be so effective, strategic and thoughtful about raising awareness. And Seth Rogen’s desire to use his fame to raise awareness in this younger generation is so impactful,” she said.

The actor, comedian and writer visited Burlington for the first time with his wife, actress and writer Lauren Miller, after Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity raised more than $27,000 to benefit the charity, which in turn benefits the Alzheimer’s Association. The event raised more than $128,000 overall, which will be used “to help families struggling with Alzheimer’s care, increase support groups nationwide and fund cutting-edge research,” according to a press release.

John Fox, a UVM student and winning fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha’s president, was inspired to spearhead the event locally in honor of his grandfather, who passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s disease in January. Fox’s friend and the vice president of the fraternity, Robert Castella, told Vermont Maturity there was “lots of grassroots fundraising, calling friends and family for donations,” on the part of the fraternity’s 80 members. “(Alzheimer’s) affects a lot more than we thought. We discovered that 11 members are directly affected by Alzheimer’s.”

He also cited some innovative efforts on the part of the group. Twenty-five Pi Kappa Alpha members did roadside cleanup in an industrial section of Williston in exchange for a $2,000 donation from Casella Resource Solutions. The fraternity also produced a talent show in which they recruited UVM students to perform, including fraternity brother Andrew Schwingel, who wore Spandex and a leotard to recreate a dance that he had done in high school three years earlier — his dance alone raised $1,000. Their efforts and those of fellow students put the UVM fraternity in first place out of 270 student organizations nationwide. Castella said 60 percent of the funds raised by the fraternity stay in Vermont to support the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

An underfunded epidemic

Referring to the Alzheimer’s epidemic, Rogen noted that the road to change is paved with a change in attitude. “It needs to seem cool to care about it,” he said. “It will only end if young people are involved.”

Miller told Vermont Maturity that she and Rogen became involved with the fight against Alzheimer’s after her mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at age 55. Her parents were living in Florida when Miller and Rogen went for a visit after his hit movie, “Knocked Up,” came out. While there had been some evidence of memory impairment in past visits, this particular trip made her more aware of the rapid progression of her mother’s illness. Miller’s father had become a full time caregiver for his wife. “It was destroying him,” Miller said.

Miller and Rogen purchased a duplex in Los Angeles for her parents and hired caregivers who are with Miller’s mother on one side of the home 24/7. Miller’s father lives on the other side so that he can still be in daily contact with his wife, but has the benefit of assistance in giving her the care she needs. “The level of care is extreme. My mom is like a 130 lb. baby,” Miller said.

For his part, Rogen is extremely supportive of his wife and her family, and the couple is happy that they can use their notoriety to raise awareness about dementia. Rogen appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee recently to speak about the realities of the disease and the “lack of hope” for those affected and their families. “Unlike the other top 10 diseases in America,” there is no cure or treatment for Alzheimer’s, he said.

Rogen noted that he wasn’t aware, until his experience with his mother-in-law, of how severe the toll is on the person with the disease. “I saw the real ugly truth of the disease,” he said. “My mother-in-law was a teacher for 35 years and forgot how to speak, feed herself, dress herself or go to the bathroom by herself, all by the age of 60,” he told the Committee.

He also became aware of the “shame and stigma associated with the disease,” and said the couple decided to take action, forming Hilarity for Charity, with the help of friends, to educate young people in particular about the true nature of Alzheimer’s and how it affects those afflicted, as well as their families, friends and caregivers. “Government needs to acknowledge how major an epidemic this is,” Miller said. “A major shift in the mentality of the government is required,” Rogen added.

Richardson echoed the couple’s sentiments. “We’ve seen what research in cancer, AIDs and heart disease has done to change the trajectory of those diseases. It’s now time to address Alzheimer’s in the same way.”

For more information on Hilarity for Charity, visit www.hilarityforcharity.org. For more information on the Alzheimer’s Association, visit www.alz.org.

Researchers Use Sensors to Monitor Older Adults’ Health

June 19, 2014  
Filed under Health & Wellness

Synchronizing health information between homes and hospitals

Technological advances have provided medical professionals with many devices and systems to collect and analyze patients’ health information, but many of these technologies do not share data with each other. The lack of streamlined information-sharing creates inefficiencies and, potentially, inconsistencies in patient care. Now, University of Missouri researchers are working to develop an in-home health monitoring and alert system that streams patients’ individualized health information between homes and hospitals. The system’s ability to provide comprehensive health information could lead to better care for patients as well as reduced costs for individuals and health systems.

“Consider an elderly man who lives alone and falls and breaks his shoulder; when he falls, the system of sensors detects his fall and sends for help immediately,” said Marjorie Skubic, a professor of electrical and computer engineering in the MU College of Engineering. “Additionally, the physicians could evaluate video of the fall captured by the sensors to determine how the man fell or what led to the fall. The fall data also helps medical professionals educate the patient on how to prevent similar falls in the future.”

Skubic said the technology she and her colleagues are developing would give adult children and other caregivers peace of mind knowing that their loved ones are monitored and will receive help if needed.

“In the system we’re developing, the home and hospital devices would be interconnected, which would allow more coordinated care with lower risk of complications,” Skubic said. “As patients transfer between care units, sensor data are automatically delivered to their bedsides by the integrated healthcare platform. When patients return home, the system continues to track their activity, behaviors and vital signs and send alerts if health changes are detected.”

Skubic and her colleagues have been working with sensor technologies for more than a decade and have successfully integrated video-game technology into residents’ rooms at assisted-care facilities. Sensors detect falls and walking patterns as well as pulse and respiration rate. Sensors also monitor how often individuals use the restroom, which may suggest whether someone is experiencing a urinary tract infection or stomach virus. Now, Skubic and her colleagues hope to make these sensor technologies available in elderly individuals’ homes so they can “age in place” and live longer, healthier lives independently.

“These ‘smart home’ systems have the potential to create tremendous cost savings for individuals and health care systems, especially if used throughout the country,” Skubic said. “The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimates that the United States spends $31 billion annually for preventable hospitalizations among adults, and many hospitalizations could be avoided through better integration and coordination of medical care. By streamlining the healthcare operation into a cohesive system, we will save costs, provide better care and achieve improved health outcomes.”

Campaign Launched to Counter Stigma of Mental Illness and Addiction

June 19, 2014  
Filed under Health & Wellness

The Brattleboro Retreat recently announced the launch of a broad-based media campaign designed to raise public awareness and reduce the social stigma associated with mental illness and addiction.

The campaign, known as Stand Up to Stigma, includes a variety of messages that provide fact-based information aimed at countering the stereotypical myths that often surround psychiatric and addictive disorder,s as well as the people affected by them. As a part of the campaign, the Retreat has launched www.brattlebororetreat.org/standup to offer more information regarding mental illness and addiction stigmas.

“The biases toward mental illness and addiction have deep cultural roots that have been growing for centuries,” said Robert E. Simpson, Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Brattleboro Retreat. “We feel our mission calls us not only to provide excellent clinical care for our patients, but to help shift attitudes toward a more respectful, informed, and compassionate way of thinking about mental health that is free of judgment, fear and misinformation.”

Mental illnesses are among the most common health disorders worldwide. In any given year, one in four Americans will experience a diagnosable mental illness. Each year, one in 10 young people experiences a period of major depression. Yet, less than one in five children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receives needed treatment, according to the Retreat.

Stand Up to Stigma addresses many of the commonly held misperceptions about mental illness and addiction by pointing out that these disorders are quite common, that people who suffer from them can be treated successfully and enjoy successful careers and meaningful personal lives, that individuals with psychiatric and addictive disorders come from all walks of life and that suffering from a mental illness or addiction has nothing to do with a person’s character.

“Stand Up to Stigma takes a pretty unfiltered look at many of the common myths people associate with mental illness,” said Konstantin von Krusenstiern, vice president of Strategy and Development at the Retreat. “We spell out these stigmas very clearly. They are rarely said aloud, but they serve as damaging undercurrent in many conversations and interactions. By stating them clearly, we hope to lessen their power and highlight their faulty logic. Then, we provide fact-based statements in order to educate.”

Vision: Sight-Saving Habits

June 19, 2014  
Filed under Health & Wellness

The American Academy of Ophthalmology – the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons – urges older adults to take care of their eyes as they age to ensure longer independence and wellbeing.

In the United States, one in six Americans over age 65 has a visual impairment that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. This is often caused by common eye conditions and diseases. Among older Americans, visual impairment is one of the most significant contributors to loss of independence. It is also associated with a higher prevalence of chronic health conditions, falls, injuries, depression and social isolation.

Though many vision-impairing eye diseases are age-related — such as cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration — in most case, proactive steps and preventative care can help preserve sight. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that seniors follow these tips to help protect their vision:

Get an Eye Exam 

Adults age 65 and older should get a medical eye exam every one or two years. Regular eye exams are crucial in detecting changes in vision, which may be a symptom of a treatable eye disease or condition.

Seniors who have not had an eye exam in the last three years and for whom cost is a concern may qualify for EyeCare America (www.eyecareamerica.org), a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, which delivers eye exams and care at no out-of-pocket cost for eligible seniors age 65 and older through its corps of more than 6,000 volunteer ophthalmologists.

“Some eye diseases have no obvious symptoms in their early stages unless detected during a comprehensive eye exam, so older adults should make these appointments a priority,” said Charles P. Wilkinson, M.D., ophthalmologist and chair of EyeCare America. “Detecting and treating eye problems early can make all the difference in saving a person’s vision, as well as their independence.”

Know the Symptoms of Vision Loss 

Signs of vision loss may become apparent as reading, writing, shopping, watching television, driving a car and/or recognizing faces become more difficult. Vision loss that may be noticed by friends and family include missing, bumping into or knocking over objects, stepping hesitantly and squinting or tilting the head when trying to focus.

Make Eye-Healthy Food Choices 

A diet low in fat and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains benefits the entire body, including the eyes. Studies show that foods rich in vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein and zeaxanthin are good for eye health.These nutrients are linked to lower risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and dry eye later in life. Eye-healthy food choices include citrus fruits, vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables and cold water fish.

Quit Smoking 

Avoiding smoking and secondhand smoke – or quitting, for current smokers – are some of the best investments everyone can make for long-term eye health. Smoking increases risk for eye diseases like cataract and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and raises the risks for cardiovascular diseases that indirectly influence eyes’ health. Tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke, also worsens dry eye.

Maintain normal blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels 

High blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose (sugar) levels all increase the risk of vision loss from an eye disease. Keeping these under control will not only help one’s eyes, but also overall health.

Get Regular Physical Activity

Not only does 30 minutes of exercise a day benefit one’s heart, waistline and energy level, it can also do the eyes a world of good. Many eye diseases are linked to other health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol levels.

Wear Sunglasses

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light raises the risk of eye diseases, including cataract, growths on the eye and cancer. Always wear sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection, and a hat while enjoying time outdoors.

For more information about keeping eyes healthy throughout life, visit www.geteyesmart.org.

FIT TO EAT: Food and Fractures

June 19, 2014  
Filed under Food

By Dr. Stuart Offer

Osteoporosis is a condition in which your bones are too porous and thin, making them weak, brittle and easier to fracture. According to the national Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), 10 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis. Another 34 million people are at risk for the condition. Osteoporosis will cause about one half of all women over age 50 to break a bone at some point in their lifetime. One-third of those who suffer hip fractures will require nursing home care, and one-fifth will die in the first year after the fracture. Men — don’t stop reading! Although not as large a problem for you, you too are at risk, just a slightly lower risk.

Needed Nutrients

Your bones need a healthy mix of nutrients to prevent osteoporosis. The good news is this may be as simple as swapping out a few things you are eating too much of and switching to some other things. Osteoporosis and the associated fractures have been shown to be preventable with the proper diet and weight bearing exercise. Muscle loss and balance also become worse as we age, so we have a greater risk of falls.

Your first line of defense against osteoporosis is adequate calcium and Vitamin D intake. However, the story does not stop there. The acid base balance of your diet is a very important factor as well. Acid in the bloodstream causes the breakdown and loss of not only bone, but muscle too. Acidic foods, such as citrus fruits, do not cause the problem. It is the acidity resulting from the metabolic breakdown of certain foods. The foods that turn your bloodstream more acidic are grains, like bread, cereals, rice, pasta, crackers, tortillas, cookies, doughnuts, cupcakes and similar foods. When these foods are metabolized, they release sulfuric and other acids into the bloodstream. These grains are also contributing to the increasing overweight and obesity issues of so many Americans.

In contrast, fruits and vegetables get broken down into bicarbonate when they are metabolized, so they add alkali to the body, and this helps neutralize acid. So when your diet is relatively low in fruits and vegetables compared to grains, it is a net acid-producing diet. Protein from animal sources also produces more acidity than does protein from plant sources such as beans and legumes.

Most of you have heard you need calcium for strong bones. Again this is only part of the story. Getting enough calcium is not sufficient, you also need adequate amounts of Vitamin D, which is essential for the absorption of calcium and improves not only bone strength, but muscle strength in our legs as well, lowering the risk of falls and lowering the risk of a fracture if you do fall. Most people, especially in northern climates, get too little Vitamin D. The most important source of Vitamin D is sun exposure, which increases the body’s production of the vitamin. There is very little Vitamin D in the foods we eat, so this is one area where a supplement may be needed. Sources of Vitamin D can be found in salmon and other fatty fish, fortified milk and other fortified food products.

There’s been some confusion about the best strategy for getting enough calcium, and many experts have had second thoughts about the rush to calcium supplements (see related story page 17). As with all vitamins and minerals, you should try to get most of your calcium through your diet. Over the past few years, some controversy has surfaced regarding issues and risks with consuming dairy, however there is one thing for sure, dairy is high in calcium. Other good sources of calcium include kale, broccoli, sardines, soybeans and black-eyed peas.

Weight bearing exercise

Weight bearing exercise is critical for improving and preventing osteoporosis. Walking is a perfect activity. Your body weight will help stimulate bone growth. If you are working out at a gym, choose a machine such an elliptical or treadmill preferably to a bicycle, where you will be sitting. Salt is also an enemy because it causes calcium leaching and bone loss. For optimum bone health, you should also get adequate amounts of magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and Vitamin K.

As I have said many times, there is no better strategy for overall good health, as well as strong bones, than eating a wide and varied selection of fruits and vegetables. These should amount to at least 50 percent of the calories you consume. Osteoporosis is another reason to cut back on all of those unhealthy, overweight-producing grains.

Here is a super healthy recipe with all the “right stuff.” Kale is the shining star here.


Pan-Seared Salmon with Kale & Apple Salad


Four 5-ounce center-cut salmon fillets (about 1-inch thick)

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt

1 bunch kale, ribs removed, leaves very thinly sliced (about 6 cups)

1/4 cup dates

1 honey crisp apple or apple of your choice

1/4 cup finely grated pecorino

3 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds

Freshly ground black pepper


Bring the salmon to room temperature 10 minutes before cooking.

Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add the kale, toss to coat and let stand 10 minutes.

While the kale stands, cut the dates into thin slivers and the apple into matchsticks. Add the dates, apples, cheese and almonds to the kale. Season with pepper, toss well and set aside.

Sprinkle the salmon all over with 1/2 teaspoon salt and some pepper. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Raise the heat to medium-high. Place the salmon, skin-side up in the pan. Cook until golden brown on one side, about 4 minutes. Turn the fish over with a spatula, and cook until it feels firm to the touch, about 3 minutes more.

Divide the salmon and salad evenly among four plates.

Remembering the Southwest’s ‘Indian-detour’

June 19, 2014  
Filed under Travel

La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, N.M., where ‘Indian-detour’ tours originated, retains its character while offering modern amenities. (Photo courtesy of Jim Farber)

La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, N.M., where ‘Indian-detour’ tours originated, retains its character while offering modern amenities. (Photo courtesy of Jim Farber)

By Jim Farber

“Words are futile things with which to picture the fascination of this vast enchanted empire, unspoiled and full of startling contrasts, that we call the Southwest.”

So proclaimed a 1926 brochure produced by the Santa Fe Railroad and the Fred Harvey Co. to promote multiday tour packages known as the “Indian-detour.”

“It is the purpose of the Indian-detour,” the flowery text declared, “to take you through the very heart of all this, to make you feel the lure of the real Southwest that lies beyond the pinched horizons of your train window. … The Indian-detour affords a glorious motor break in the transcontinental rail journey.”

A master of marketing and organization, Fred Harvey (1835-1901) turned the American Southwest into a tourist adventure. His grand hotels, such as the El Tovar at the Grand Canyon; the La Posada in Winslow, Ariz.; and the La Fonda in Santa Fe, N.M., were designed to enhance travelers’ experiences by immersing them in a totally unique atmosphere — and they still do.

The grand scale of the architecture and the bold details of the interior spaces conceived by the great American architect Mary Jane Colter (1869-1958) emphasized a mixture of colonial Spanish, Navajo and Pueblo motifs. The public spaces and bedrooms featured craftwork by local painters, woodcarvers, tile-makers and leather and iron workers.

Southwest Indian silver work, pottery, weaving and kachina dolls were exhibited and sold in the hotel’s gift shop. And it was not uncommon for guests to come upon a group of Navajo women working at their looms in a corner of the hotel lobby.

Then there were the Indian-detours and the “Harveycars,” special 12-person motor coaches designed to take visitors to see ancient ruins, Spanish colonial churches and the New Mexico pueblos of Taos, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Jemez Springs, Laguna and Acoma — visits often timed to coincide with tribal ceremonial dances. It was exotic travel in 1926, when most people (especially from the East) had never seen “a real live Indian,” let alone ventured into a pueblo to witness a Corn Dance.

The young women who accompanied the tours as “hostesses and guides” were known as the Courier Corps. As the 1926 brochure states, “The Harveycar Courier Corps is comprised of young women, attractive and refined. Many were born in New Mexico and speak Spanish fluently. The majority are college graduates. … Couriers’ friendship with representative Indians in many pueblos assure their guests of intimate glimpses of Indian life not otherwise obtainable.”

There were those, however, who saw Harvey’s marketing of the Southwest and its native peoples as exploitive and intrusive. The American artist John Sloan (1871-1971) produced a scathing series of etchings on the subject. One, sarcastically titled “Knees and Aborigines,” depicts a Hopi ceremonial dance observed by a nonchalant group of cigarette-smoking dandies and their Gatsbyesque flapper companions.

To his credit, Harvey (a transplanted Englishman) and his company did try to stress education and cultural understanding as a part of the Indian-detour’s mission statement. And while it may have been demeaning, the sale of souvenir Indian crafts to tourists provided much-needed income to Native Americans who had very few opportunities to earn money.

The beautiful irony is that the Harvey Hotels and the Indian-detour gave rise to the first great generation of Southwest Indian artists, most notably the two pueblo potters Maria Montoya Martinez (1887-1980) and Iris Nampayo (1860-1942) whose work today fetches enormous sums and is treasured by museums and collectors.

With the possible exception of movie director John Ford, who showcased the panoramas of the Southwest in classic westerns like “Stagecoach,” “My Darling Clementine” and “The Searchers,” no one ever did more to promote and market the region and its native peoples than Harvey. It’s a legacy that continues to this day, as anyone who has ever attended the dances at the Hopi House at the Grand Canyon or Indian Market in Santa Fe can attest.

One of the crown jewels of the Harvey system was La Fonda (now known as La Fonda on the Plaza), which opened in Santa Fe in 1922. The beautiful interior, designed by Colter, features rough-hewn wood, Mexican tile, stenciled wall designs and hand-painted glass panels.

Today, La Fonda on the Plaza is gleaming as never before after undergoing a multiyear, multimillion-dollar restoration that was designed to re-create the hotel’s original artisan character, but with all the amenities of a modern five-star hotel. The sky-lit Plazuela Cafe with its charming painted glass panels has been restored, and a lavish set of 14 rooftop deck suites has been added.

Striking art from the Santa Fe Railroad era dominates the lobby along with work by contemporary artists. There’s even a small Georgia O’Keeffe behind the check-in desk. And although most visitors may not appreciate its significance, the original hand-carved sign for the Indian-detour still hangs gloriously over the hotel’s concierge desk.

The Indian-detour may be gone with the wind, but the points of interest to which it transported visitors in the 1920s still hold their attraction. To visit Santa Fe is wonderful. To visit Santa Fe and not venture into the countryside, however, is to miss the remarkable experience that is northern New Mexico.

Visit the pueblos. Meet the people and learn about their craft tradition. Take the back road (New Mexico 76) from Santa Fe to Taos through the picturesque villages of Chimayo, Truchas and Las Trampas. You never know, maybe the ghost of one of the Indian-detour motor coaches will pass you by.


The Writers’ Barn: From Horses to a Stable of Writers

June 19, 2014  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

The Writers’ Barn in Shelburne. (Contributed photo)

The Writers’ Barn in Shelburne. (Contributed photo)

By Lin Stone

Once a small farmhouse barn, the little red Writers’ Barn in Shelburne has been repurposed and renovated. Now, it is a light airy space with modern amenities that provides a stable of workshops and community events for experienced and aspiring writers. Tucked up on the small village campus of Wind Ridge, located on Falls Road, the organization and space is abuzz with a new mission: to build a supportive space for writers of all ages to develop their craft and writing skills – whether for pleasure or profession – and to celebrate the written and spoken word. A lively flock of Vermont’s talented professional writers, including poet Daniel Lusk, children’s book author Elizabeth Bluemle, travel writer Tim Brookes, poet and creative writing instructor Michelle Demers and Vermont Public Radio commentator Bill Schubart among others, facilitate evolving programs and topical conversations as diverse as Lusk’s “Delights and Shadows” of poetry to Demers’ “Micro Memoirs” and Schubart’s “Changing Landscapes in Book Publishing.”

This summer’s itinerary includes two adult seminars (CEU credits available): Storytelling in Classrooms and Libraries with professional storyteller and elementary schoolteacher Mark Stein (July 21-24) and Poetry & Teaching (July 14-17) with poet and UVM senior professor emeritus Daniel Lusk. There will also be a special one-evening program with MoneyPeace founder Christine Moriarty, “Making Sense of the Cents in the Business of Writing” (July 16, 6-8 p.m.).

The Writers’ Barn will also host two summer writing camps for middle school-aged children with local actress, drama teacher and writer Alexandra Hudson: “Performance Writing for the Stage” (Aug. 4-8, 9 a.m.-noon), and “From Journal Writing to Creative Non-Fiction: What I Did on my Summer Vacation” (Aug. 11-15, 9 a.m.-noon).

September will welcome a new wave of opportunities for writers’ when Sarah Bartlett and Women Writing for (a) Change ~Vermont move to the Writers’ Barn to hold twice-weekly writing circles and other programs supportive of empowering the feminine voice and celebrating change. In addition, with a whistle and a little bit of luck, poets will find Lusk, Bluemle and Demers back at the tables, among others. The Writers Barn plans to hold several one-evening events that celebrate reading, writing and the spoken word, and always welcomes new ideas and program/workshop pitches.

The Writers’ Barn is part of Wind Ridge Books of Vermont, which publishes its books under three imprints: its newest, SunRidge Poetry, for the state’s masterful and emergent poets; Red Barn Books, professional services for independent authors; and Wind Ridge Books, which publishes the Voices of Vermonters, sharing the ideas, reflections and stories of the vibrant and visionary people who call the Green Mountain state home.

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