ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM THE ROCKLAND COUNTY DEPT. OF HEALTH

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month: The Rockland County Department of Health encourages women to contact their health care provider to make sure they are up-to-date with their screening for cervical cancer. This screening is a very important part of a woman’s health care, yet one that many overlook.

“There usually aren’t any symptoms of cervical cancer in its earliest stage when it is most easy to treat. That is why it is so important for women to get regular Pap tests, and then follow-up as needed.  A Pap test can find changes in the cervix (the lower part of the uterus or womb) that can be treated before they become cancer.  The Pap test is also very helpful in finding cervical cancer early, when it is more likely to be cured,” said Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, Rockland County Commissioner of Health.

The most important risk factor for cervical cancer is infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV), spread mainly through sex. There are many different types of HPV. In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, some types can cause health problems, including genital warts, cervical cancer, and other cancers.

Two of the Health Department’s clinics offer the vaccine Gardasil®, which can prevent (not treat) certain types of HPV. The vaccine is given as a series of three shots over six months.  The vaccine works by preventing some of the most common types of HPV, and the health problems that the virus can cause.

  • The STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) Clinic offers the vaccine free of charge, while supplies last, to males and females between the ages of 18-26 who have never had the vaccine before. Call 845-364-3771 for more information.
  • The Family Planning Services Clinic also offers the vaccine free of charge, as well as Pap tests and pelvic exams for women, from teens to those in pre-menopause.  Call 845-364-2531 or 845-364-2124 for more information.

Women who are uninsured, or underinsured, and meet certain eligibility requirements can get free Pap tests, pelvic exams and follow-up services through the Cancer Services Program of the Hudson Valley.  Call toll free at 855-277-4482 for more information or to make an appointment.

For more information about cervical cancer call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.

Protect Your Health in the Extreme Cold Weather: With the current below-normal temperatures, the Rockland County Department of Health advises residents to take some common sense steps to protect your health. “We are stressing that all residents take precautions to avoid exposure to the extremely cold weather which can lead to hypothermia and frostbite,” said Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, Rockland County Commissioner of Health.

      To prevent frostbite and hypothermia, it is important to dress warmly in windproof clothing and to go indoors when you begin to feel cold. Wear several layers of loose-fitting clothing to trap body heat. Fasten buttons or       zippers and tighten drawstrings securely. Don’t forget gloves, mittens and a hat that covers your ears. In addition:
  • Since cold weather puts an extra burden on the heart, if you have cardiac problems or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s orders about shoveling or performing any strenuous exercise outside.
  • Even otherwise-healthy adults should remember that their bodies already are working overtime just to stay warm, and dress appropriately and work slowly when doing heavy outdoor chores.
  • Keep in mind that alcoholic beverages cause the body to lose heat more rapidly.
  • If you will be spending time outside, do not ignore shivering – it is an important first sign that the body is losing heat and a signal to quickly return indoors.
  • Older adults are especially susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite. People who have older relatives or neighbors should keep an eye on them during the cold, winter months.
  • The World Health Organization recommends keeping indoor temperatures between 64 and 75º F for healthy people. The minimum temperature should be kept above 68º F to protect the very young, the elderly, or people with health problems.

If you are in need of a warm place, please call or check your town/village website or visit http://bit.ly/1Aryobf  for a list of warming centers. For more cold weather tips visit: www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/weather/cold/. 

Free Radon Test Kits Available for Eligible Residents: The Rockland County Department of Health announces that January is Radon Action Month, a good time to learn about radon and its risks, and get your home tested.

“Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that you cannot see, smell or taste.  It can build up in your home, get into the air you breathe and can cause lung cancer in you and your loved ones,” said Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, Rockland County Commissioner of Health.

Radon usually comes from the surrounding rocks and soil under your home’s foundation and can enter through cracks and openings on the lowest level of your home.   It is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.  If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.

The Health Department’s Healthy Neighborhood Program provides free radon testing at your home for low to moderate-income families and seniors. Although there is no cost for testing, a brief home safety survey is required.  If your home does have high levels of radon, a qualified radon mitigation contractor can make repairs to solve the problem and protect your family.  To schedule a free radon test, while supplies last, call 845-364-3292 or 845-364-3290.

Residents can also get radon test kits from the New York State Department of Health, for a fee of  $8.50.   To learn more about radon and radon testing, fixing your radon problem, radon resistant new construction, and for a list of approved radon testing labs and certified radon mitigation professionals, call the New York State Department of Health at 1-800-458-1158, e-mail at radon@health.state.ny.us or visit www.health.ny.gov/environmental/radiological/radon/radon.htm.