City of York - Bureau of Health Newsletter
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February 2017


February is American Heart Month

February is home to both American Heart Month and Black History Month. To celebrate, we’re calling on health professionals to focus on talking with African American patients about their heart health. Why? Because African Americans are disproportionately affected by heart disease and stroke. Currently, African Americans have the highest rate of high blood pressure – the leading cause of heart disease and stroke – of all population groups, and African American men are at the highest risk for heart disease. As a health care professional, you have the power to inspire patients to protect their hearts by supporting lifestyle changes, like taking medication as prescribed, eating healthy, getting regular exercise, and quitting smoking.

The City of York – Bureau of Health, through the Million Hearts Initiative funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant, has been taking steps locally with our partners to build a healthier community for all those that reside in or visit the City of York.  This includes working together to make it easier for people to be physically active through the development of Complete Streets and increasing the walkability and bikeability of our neighborhoods, creating smoke-free environments and promoting available smoking cessation resources, and educating about the importance of being physically active and leading a heart healthy diet.  An excellent example of this would be our recent collaboration with York County Walks to help launch Bell Socialization’s “Step Up and Walk Campaign.” 

The City of York – Bureau of Health would like to remind you that there are actions you or your patients can take to improve and protect heart health. Talk about the risks and create a heart health plan that is achievable. Here are some tools that can help: 

Every year since 2000, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is celebrated on February 7. This is an opportunity to impact our future.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2012 over 14,000 African Americans were diagnosed with AIDS in the US.  In 2012, HIV was the fourth leading cause of death for all African Americans and the fifth leading cause of death for both African American men and African American women ages 35-44. If these trends continue, 1 in 16 African American men and 1 in 32 African American women will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime (

There is much to be done in the community to prevent disease transmission.  It all begins with awareness!  Honor our brothers and sisters who have lost their fight against AIDS and those who are living with the everyday struggles of HIV. Become involved-Get Educated, Get Tested, Get Treated!

Children's Dental Health Month

Early childhood cavities is the number 1 chronic disease affecting young children. As a recipient of a federal grant promoting dental health, The City of York – Bureau of Health is proud to partner with Family First Health to provide dental sealants for York City students in 2nd grade. In addition, health bureau staff also provide education and distribute dental supplies to children and adults in need throughout the City of York. 
Some tips for healthy teeth and gums:

  • Consume a balanced diet - According to MyPlate, a balanced diet should include fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy, and lean proteins. Grazing habitually on foods with minimal nutritional value and high sugar content is not good for dental health and should be limited.   
  • If your kids chew gum, make it sugarless - Chewing sugarless gum after eating can increase saliva flow and help wash out food and decay-producing acid.
  • Monitor beverage consumption - Instead of juices and soft drinks all day, children should also choose water and low-fat milk.
  • Brushing, flossing and regular dental visits - Good dental habits start at home. The American Dental Association suggests the first dental visit to occur within six months of the appearance of the first tooth, and no later than the child’s first birthday. Until children are of age to comfortably brush on their own, it is important to supervise and remind them not to swallow toothpaste.
  • Dental care starts BEFORE teeth are seen - Whether an infant is bottle-fed or breastfed, the risk of dental caries and health of their gums and temporary teeth should be considered due to sugars contained in formula and/or breast milk. Early thumbsucking and pacifier use can also affect mouth growth and tooth alignment.
  • Dental emergencies - Injuries can happen every day and range from toothaches to jaw fractures. Click here to find out if you are prepared.

City of York - Bureau of Health In the Community

City of York - Bureau of Health receives grant from Highmark Foundation to take steps towards implementing an electronic data management system.
Bureau of Health staff showing support for Wear Red Day 2017 to raise awareness about heart disease!
City of York - Bureau of Health collaborated with Bell Socialization to launch the "Step Up & Walk Campaign."

Consider Donating

Every day, kids and adults are diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases that take away the most basic freedoms – the freedom to walk, talk, hug and even breathe.

Through the month of March, the Muscular Distrophy Association (MDA) is hosting a 'Lock-Up' as a way to raise dollars to fund research breakthroughs across diseases, care for kids and adults from day one and empower families with services and support.  Bureau of Health staff Eva Walker is going to be a Jailbird at this MDA Lock-Up to help support thousands of kids and adults who will be served by the MDA this year.  Please consider donating to this cause.

Notes from the Doc:
Dr. Matthew Howie

Hello again from the Bureau,
4188 steps
So late last year, I got this Fitbit watch.  Sounded like a good idea at the time. You know, remind me of how I need to exercise each day. After walking the dog tonight, I checked the display to see how far I had gone today, knowing the goal was 10,000. Just 4188 steps today. Really? Only 4188 steps? This is in a day I would characterize as pretty full - caring for patients in our clinic, discussing the present state of Bureau's work in the city at a staff meeting, and doing some teaching with Family Medicine Residents in York Hospital. I must say, after looking at the watch, I was left feeling a bit deflated. 
February is American Heart Month, so thoughts of how to better take care of our cardiovascular health take on added importance in healthcare. As with so many things in life, there are things you can control, and things you can't. Some risks for heart disease are not able to be changed - like genetics and family history. That family history of heart disease is mine, one way or the other. However, there are things all of us can control or modify, like having a healthy diet, keeping our blood pressure in a safe range, and, yes, increasing exercise. Diets such as the DASH diet or the Mediterranean Diet (feel free to Google these!) can really make a difference in your long term health. If you don't know where your blood pressure falls, get it checked out with your health provider and treated if need be.  As for exercise, we are not talking about marathons or triathlons. Shoot for 150 minutes of physical activity each week, in whatever small increments you can fit into your schedule, and you are well on your way to a healthier heart. 
As for the 4188 steps, my watch also gives me a few other pieces of feedback. It lets me know that presently my heart is beating 85 beats per minute. I also walked 1.97 miles, burned 2217 calories, and climbed 14 flights of steps since midnight. I must say, I do feel a little better about those measurements. At this point, 10,000 steps each day seems a long way from here, but at least it is something I can work toward, one step at a time.

Your in Health,
Dr. Matt
Dr. Matthew Howie, MD, Medical Director

Barbara Kovacs, MPA, Director
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