Support Groups

October 11, 2011

Eastside Alcoholics Anonymous hosts the following meetings. Go to www.eastsideintergroup.org or call 454-9192:

Issaquah Smoke Free: 8:30 a.m. Sundays, Issaquah Community Hall, 180 E. Sunset Way

One Step At a Time: 10 a.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. Thursdays, 206-686-2927

Core Relations (men only): 6 p.m. Sundays, Issaquah Community Hall, 180 E. Sunset Way

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Parents should watch children’s eyesight

September 20, 2011


Edwin Ambo, optometric physician, demonstrates the use of a slit lamp on Costco Optical Manager Monica Jackson. By Tom Corrigan

School can be tough to begin with, and poor vision just makes a potentially difficult situation worse, optometric physician Edwin Ambo said.

“Vision is a huge part of your quality of life in general,” he said.

Ambo operates the bustling eye care center in the Issaquah Costco. With three full-time and two part-time doctors, his practice is the busiest of any Costco ophthalmic center in the country, he said. And one of the two busiest months for that center is August, he added.

August is when parents start thinking about sending kids back to school.

Ambo said he’s happy he and his staff are busy at that time of year as he thinks an eye exam prior to the start of school is virtually mandatory for any student.

Many schools routinely screen students for problems with eyesight, but they often miss certain issues, Ambo said. There are behaviors or warning signs of visions problems that parents can watch for in their children, he added.

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State has poor record for student immunizations, high rate of exemptions

September 20, 2011

A report released not long before students returned to school said that Washington kindergartners do not meet state or national goals for required immunizations when they enter school.

Completed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the study is touted by the federal government as the first of its kind. Besides the lack of compliance with vaccinations, the study also notes Washington has the highest immunization exemption rate in the country.

“This is not necessarily news to us,” said Michele Roberts, program manager for immunizations with the state Department of Health. “It’s a dubious honor.”

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State opens enrollment for children’s health insurance

September 20, 2011

Children in need of health insurance can be enrolled in a plan through Oct. 31.

Recent federal reforms prevent health insurers from denying coverage to children with pre-existing health conditions. However, like employer-sponsored health plans, the insurers can create open-enrollment periods.

During open enrollment, those younger than 19 do not have to complete a health questionnaire and cannot be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition.

The open enrollment periods apply to all health plans in the individual market. People buying individual plans do not have access to employer-sponsored health plans, or their employer does not cover dependents.

Find individual health plans available in King County through the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s website, www.insurance.wa.gov/consumers/health/map.shtml.

The next open enrollment period is March 15 to April 30.

The open enrollment periods for children should end in 2014 as the full federal health reforms take effect and insurers cannot deny anyone coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition.

Fred Meyer store offers needleless flu vaccinations

September 20, 2011

Fred Meyer customers can receive a flu vaccination — without the needle.

Most stores offer traditional flu shots as well as a needleless option.

The stores use a Biojector — a gas-powered, needleless injector to deliver medications or vaccines up to 1 milliliter in volume, subcutaneously or intramuscularly — from a sterile, single-use syringe.

The system includes a durable injection device; a disposable, needleless syringe; and a cartridge of carbon dioxide gas.

The plastic syringe is the only part of the system coming into contact with patients’ skin. Following each injection, the used syringe is discarded and a new one is inserted for the next injection.

“While needle-free vaccines have been used in the past in some public agencies and the military, this is the first time this option has been available to the public through their pharmacies,” Marc Cecchini, vice president and director of pharmacy for Fred Meyer, said in a news release. “This provides a great alternative for customers who are wary of needles but want to protect themselves against the flu.”

Evergreen State is prime turf for skin cancer

August 16, 2011

With cloud cover not only being common, but seemingly the norm around Puget Sound, many locals may not be overly worried about exposure to the sun and the possibility of skin cancer such exposure can cause.

Living in one of the highest zones in the United States for rates of skin cancer, residents should keep an eye out for the development of asymmetrical moles. Thinkstock

That might be a big mistake according to area doctors and the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the CDC, the rate of new melanoma diagnoses in the state are 35 percent higher than the national average from 2001-2005. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer.

The occurrences of melanoma in the state was the fifth highest in the country. An estimated 1,900 state residents were diagnosed with melanoma in 2008. The two most common forms of skin cancer — basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas — are highly curable, according to Roger Muller, senior medical director for United Healthcare of Washington.

Melanomas are not. Approximately 175 people in Washington die of melanoma each year, according to the CDC. That’s the 16th highest melanoma death rate nationally and 7.4 percent higher than the national average. In a seemingly odd statistic given our local climate, Washington’s Island County is among the top 10 counties in the country for new melanoma cases striking the area at the dangerous clip of 130 percent above the national average.

“At first blush, I can see how the numbers could be surprising given that much of the year here is cloudy,” said Arlo Miller, a dermatologist with Virginia Mason Issaquah. “However, digging into melanoma risk factors … it actually makes a lot of sense.”

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Stay safe from biting, stinging creepy crawlers all summer long

August 16, 2011

Summer means sunshine, heat and — in a not-so-appealing category — summer pests in the form of biting and stinging bugs.

Experts at the state Department of Health said learning how bugs behave is a key step to avoiding bites and stings.

Watch out for deer flies and horse flies, because both species can deliver painful, itchy bites — and transmit tularemia, a bacterial disease. Both species tend to be active during the day and can commonly be found near ponds, streams and marshes. In order to avoid nasty bites, cover exposed skin and use repellent.

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Support Groups

August 16, 2011

Eastside Alcoholics Anonymous hosts the following meetings. Learn more at www.eastsideintergroup.org or call 454-9192:

Any Length: 8 a.m. Sundays, Issaquah Valley Senior Center, 75 N.E. Creek Way

Issaquah Smoke Free: 8:30 a.m. Sundays, Issaquah Community Hall, 180 E. Sunset Way

One Step At a Time: 10 a.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. Thursdays, 206-686-2927

Core Relations (men only): 6 p.m. Sundays, Issaquah Community Hall, 180 E. Sunset Way

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Birthday celebration helps others with rare developmental disorder

July 19, 2011

Dalean Pack prepares to blow out the candles on her 23rd birthday cake. By Dale Pack

Dalean Pack smiled as friends and family wished her a happy 23rd birthday at the Lake Sammamish Elks Lodge No. 1843 on June 16. But the party was more than just a birthday celebration.

Dalean, who was diagnosed with pachygyria soon after birth, is the Washington Elks Therapy Program for Children poster girl. The party was also a fundraiser for the program.

Dalean, of Preston, was originally diagnosed with lissencephaly, a gene-linked brain malformation that results in the absence of folds, called gyri, in the cerebral cortex.

“Doctors said she wouldn’t make it past her first year,” Dalean’s father Dale Pack said.

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Therapies help pachygyria sufferers

July 19, 2011

Pachygyria is a neuronal migration disorder that results in too few gyri, or folds in the brain, according to Seattle Children’s pediatric neurologist Alexander Paciorkowski.

Isolated pachygyria means that only one part of the brain is affected; extensive pachygyria signifies that most of the brain is absent of gyri. The condition is closely related to lissencephaly, a term used to describe the condition of a brain that is completely smooth.

Pachygyria is classified as a rare condition. Neurologists and geneticists consider rare conditions to arise in less than 1 in 2,000 people. Though in most cases it is genetic, sometimes pachygyria can be caused by infection early in a pregnancy.

During fetal development, neurons must migrate from their place of origin deep inside the brain to their proper neural circuits near the brain’s surface. Neuronal migration, which can occur as early as the second month of gestation, is controlled by chemical signals. Neurons that settle outside of their designated locations cause the brain to develop structural abnormalities.

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