City of York - Bureau of Health Newsletter
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March 2017

On March 10th, we will celebrate National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day!  This year’s theme is titled The Best Defense Is a Good Offense.  This speaks directly to prevention and protection.  We need to empower our ladies to protect their bodies from disease.  Did you know that women make up to 19% of new HIV cases and represent 20% of the estimated 1,210,835 AIDS diagnoses in the US (  If our partner does not want to use a condom, then we can. When worn correctly, female condoms are comparable to male condoms in preventing STDs and HIV.  They are easy to insert and easy to use.  Additionally it is recommended to know your status.  Get tested on a yearly basis or sooner if engaging in risky behavior. A simple blood test is all that is needed.  So come on girls and ladies, let’s take control of our sexual health and prevent disease transmission!  Let’s wear our condoms and get tested!  That’s all it takes!

Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates National Nutrition Month®. This annual event reinforces the importance of developing sound eating and physical activity habits. “Put Your Best Fork Forward” is the theme for 2017, a reminder that each one of us holds the tool to make healthier food choices. Making just small shifts in our food choices can add up over time and helps improve health now and into the future. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest starting with small changes in order to make healthier lasting changes you can enjoy. This year's theme for National Nutrition Month® inspires us to start with small changes in our eating habits – one forkful at a time. So whether you are planning meals to prepare at home or making selections when eating out, Put Your Best Fork Forward to help find your healthy eating style (

March is also home to National School Breakfast Week to raise awareness of the availability of the School Breakfast Program to all children. The School Breakfast Program makes it possible for all school children in the United States to receive a nutritious breakfast every school day and help students fuel up for success in the classroom and beyond. Eating School breakfast is associated with reduced absenteeism, reduced tardiness, reduced nurse’s office visits, and higher grades.

The benefits of eating nutritious meals are plentiful. Consuming natural, whole foods helps to lower cholesterol levels and stabilize blood sugar levels. Additionally, diets rich in vegetables and fruits may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. This is important not only for school-aged children, but for adults as well.
All food and beverage choices matter. As recommended from MyPlate, be sure to:
  • Focus on variety, amount, and nutrition.
  • Choose foods and beverages with less saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.
  • Start with small changes to build healthier eating styles.
  • Support healthy eating for everyone.

National Poisoning Prevention Week

Did you know that most accidental poisonings occur in the home?  Common household items such as mouthwash, cleansers, detergents, plants, and cosmetics make up over 50% of all accidental home poisonings. Cough and cold medicines, prescription drugs and vitamins are usually the cause of 47% of accidental home poisonings.
It is recommended by the Poison Control Center, that all medications and household products be stored in their original child-proof containers. 
Medication should never by referred to as “candy” or that it tastes ‘yummy”.  This lessens the chances that a child will be curious and tempted to try the medications when an adult is not present.
  • All harmful products and medications should be kept out of a child’s reach. 
  • Install safety latches on drawers and cabinets containing harmful products. 
  • Use a locking medication box or bag to store all medications. This should also be kept out of a child’s reach. 
  • Post the Poison Control Center’s phone number near each phone. Program this number into your cell phone.You may request stickers with the Poison Control Centers phone number from, to place on your phones.
What should you do if a poisoning happens?
  • Stay calm 
  • Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 
  • Give them the following information:
    • Your name and phone number
    • Name of the product or substance involved in the poisoning and its ingredients
    • Name, age and weight of the person poisoned
    • How much of the product/substance was involved
    • Time the poisoning happened
    • What the symptoms are, if any
If you have small children, over 12 months of age, it is recommended that you have syrup of ipecac.  This syrup is available at pharmacies and will induce vomiting to help remove the poison from the stomach. The recommended amount that you should have on-hand is 1 one-ounce bottle for each child over 12 months of age.  Do not give your child syrup of ipecac unless the Poison Control Center or physician has instructed you to do so.
Other Types of Poisons
There are solid poisons that are harmful if eaten.  Some examples are medicines, vitamins, wild mushrooms, berries, plants, flowers, cigarettes, and mothballs.
Liquid poisons can be harmful if swallowed or splashed.  Some examples are drain cleaner, kerosene, gasoline, alcoholic beverages, rubbing alcohol, windshield washer fluid, and mouthwash.
Sprays are harmful if sprayed in the face or on the skin accidentally.  These can include furniture polish, air freshener, mace, pepper spray, hair spray, spray paint and bug spray.
Poisonous gases are often colorless and can include carbon monoxide from car exhaust or gas powered appliances such as a stove or furnace, they can be natural gas or propane.
Food can poison you.  Food poisoning can be caused by bacteria which can grow and multiply on food.
For more information on poisoning you can visit the American Association of Poison Control Centers website,

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."
Dr. Seuss
               In honor of Dr. Seuss, author of 44 children’s books, three-time Academy Award winner, and Pulitzer Prize winner (1984), the National Education Association has designated March 2nd (Seuss’ birthday) as Read Across America Day.  Celebrating 20 years, this nationwide event promotes reading in the home, in the classroom, and in the community. 

A few unfortunate statistics to consider:
  • 43% of American adults are functionally illiterate
  • 65% of 4th graders read below their grade level
  • 2 of 3 children living in poverty in America do not have ANY books of their own
  • Of children ages 3-5 living below the poverty line, 53% were LESS likely to be read to daily than their above-poverty peers
  • Children in low income homes have heard 30 million fewer words by the age of 4 than their financially-advantaged peers
  • “The Department of Justice states, "The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure." Over 70% of inmates in America's prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.”
  • Low literacy costs $73 million per year in terms of direct health care costs (some studies estimate this number to be even larger)
For the entire month of March, the Maternal Child Health program at the City of York – Bureau of Health is promoting reading.  Beginning on Monday, March 6th, children visiting the Albert Weyer Health Clinic location will receive an age-appropriate gift to endorse reading as a family routine.  Additionally, children and their parents/guardians, can enjoy reading Dr. Seuss classics and other books while in the waiting area.  Finally, Maternal Child Health Staff will continue to distribute a book at each home visit for babies and children, awarding certificates to any families who participate in a reading challenge during the month of March. 
As a community, we can promote and develop readers into leaders!  As Dr. Seuss so profoundly wrote,

The storm starts, when the drops start dropping -
when the drops stop dropping then the storm starts stopping."

Community Events

City of York - Bureau of Health In the Community

Health Bureau staff attended a health fair at Alexander D. Goode Elementary School
Health Bureau staff participated in Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training activity

Notes from the Doc:
Dr. Matthew Howie

Hello again from the Bureau,

Well it looks like we have made it through another winter and, looking at the average temperatures on my gas bill, it was more mild for sure this year compared to last. Often, I encourage those reading to get outside, be active, even set goals like 10,000 steps a day. However, this March 2nd was Read Across America Day, and I am going to take my opportunity to promote reading as a part of a healthy community.

Better literacy leads to improved work opportunities as well as improved health outcomes. Children with sound reading skills established at an early age have more opportunities later in their education and in their work life. Often, this translates into better paying jobs and better job satisfaction. While the size of your paycheck doesn't directly make you healthier, health outcomes improve with higher incomes. So yes, literacy and development of reading skills should be a health priority for our community if we aspire to improve the health of all.
Full disclosure, books and I go way back. My mother is a retired librarian. My mother-in-law, ironically, is also a retired librarian. While my wife is an early childhood educator, our basement has a wall of books to rival the children's section of some county libraries. My children had no choice whether to become readers. Harry Potter and Percy Jackson only fed that fire.
Our Maternal Child Health Nurse captures the importance of reading very well in her article in our newsletter, even invoking the words of Dr. Seuss. Few, if anyone, got their points across more effectively than Theodor Seuss Geisel. At the risk of jumping on the bandwagon, I will leave you with this quote.
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It is not. And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed!"  – Dr. Seuss
Yours in Health,
Dr. Matt
Dr. Matthew Howie, MD, Medical Director

Barbara Kovacs, MPA, Director
Clinician's Corner

February 2017 Communicable Disease Report

C. Kim Bracey, Mayor
Copyright © 2015 York City Health Bureau, All rights reserved.

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