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Recycle the Old and Welcome the New – Happy Lunar New Year!

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Written by Larissa Ho, GrowNYC Recycling Outreach Coordinator

Many Chinese families will begin sweeping the floors and clearing the house of old items a week before Lunar New Year. Known as, “年廿八,洗邋遢 ” or Spring Cleaning, this custom is symbolic for getting rid of bad luck that happened in the previous year, and making room for good luck in the New Year. While it is common and easy to put things in the trash bin, consider recycling and repurposing old items as you clean. Recycling not only protects the environment, but also transforms old items into new items, and reduces the amount of materials (trees, oil, etc.) needed to make those new things. Make Lunar New Year extra special by cleaning your home and your Earth in an eco-friendly way.

Here are seven common items that you can recycle and repurpose for the New Year:

Clothes and Jackets

Need more space in your closet? Consider donating your clothes and jackets to those in need of one. Organizations like Bowery Mission takes gently worn clothes (including socks and gloves) and coats for the homeless. You can also recycle your old clothes, bags, belts, and paired shoes by bringing them to certain GrowNYC Greenmarkets, which accept these items to be sorted for reuse or recycling. Usable clothes will be distributed to local and international second-hand markets while clothes not fit for reuse will be recycled as wiping rags or shredded and repurposed for insulation and other uses. By recycling unwanted clothes you help prevent sending unnecessary waste to landfills.

Electronics

If you have old phones lying around, take them back to any mobile service provider to recycle. They are required to accept cell phones at no cost. Other electronics (computers and TVs) can be dropped off at collection events organized by the Lower East Side Ecology Center.  Since e-waste is highly toxic to the environment, it is banned from curbside disposal.  Learn how to avoid fines and dispose of electronics responsibly at NYC Zero Waste.

Plastic Bags

Have mounds of plastic bags at home? You can save space by shopping with a reusable bag. Be mindful about your use of disposal plastic bags, which cannot be recycled at home. Clean plastic bags can be returned to large supermarkets and other select stores.

Toothbrushes, Brooms, and Mops

After all the cleaning, treat yourselves to new toothbrushes and cleaning tools! You can recycle the old ones in the metal, glass, and plastic recycling bin (usually blue bin or has blue label) if they are mainly plastic.

Party Utensils, Trays, and Plastic Food Containers

After the Lunar New Year potluck has finished, separate and recycle party utensils, trays and food containers! The majority of the items such as aluminum trays, aluminum foil, plastic utensils, and rigid plastic food containers go into the metal, glass, and plastic recycling bin (usually blue bin or has a blue label). Be sure to empty and rinse food containers before recycling.

Bottles and Cans

When you have finished with the celebratory drinks, recycle plastic bottles, glass bottles and cans in the metal, glass, and plastic recycling bin (usually blue bin or has blue label). Be sure to empty and rinse containers before recycling.

Red Envelopes, Calendars, and Lucky Signage

You can also recycle red envelopes, greeting signs and old calendars. Simply put them in the paper and cardboard bin (usually green bin or has green label). Other paper materials include magazines, wrapping paper, paper egg cartons, cardboard boxes and clean paper cups.

As a New Year is soon approaching, start fresh by tidying up in eco-friendly and responsible ways. Happy Cleaning and Happy Lunar New Year!

For more information on what you can recycle, type your item under “How to Get Rid Of…” section in the NYC Department of Sanitation website: http://www.nyc.gov/zerowaste

 

Larissa Ho is a Recycling Outreach Coordinator at GrowNYC, where she provides education and resources to NYC residents on how to recycle. She is passionate about sustainability and taking care of the environment. She formerly worked as a Teen Health Educator with the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center.

GrowNYC’s zero waste programs are funded by the NYC Department of Sanitation. 

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How to Have a Happy Holiday Without Stress or Smoke

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Holidays are supposed to be an enjoyable time when family and friends gather together with food and drinks, but it can also be stressful as people rush from place to place. A cigarette can sound like the perfect way to de-stress, especially during a busy holiday season, but cessation coaches at the Asian Smokers’ Quitline have tips and encouragement for people attempting to quit, or want to stay quit through the season.

“Holidays are fun but they can also be stressful, so it’s important to be aware of triggers and to get extra support,” said Dr. Caroline Chen, project manager of the Asian Smokers’ Quitline. “Let family and friends know that you’re trying to quit, and ask for their support in helping you lead a healthier life.”

Here are some other general tips from cessation coaches on ways to avoid triggers and stay quit during the holidays:

  1. In the midst of holiday busyness, get adequate rest.
  2. Avoid spicy and sugary foods, and alcohol. Holidays are often all about the eating and feasting, but avoid foods that will make you crave cigarettes even more. Eat fruit or less sugary dessert on the menu. As for alcohol, put it away, and instead, reach for a sugar-free seltzer, club soda, or apple cider.
  3. If weather allows, go for a walk. To prevent taking up a new bad habit such as eating whatever you can find to avoid having a cigarette, stay active and exercise.
  4. Spend time with non-smokers. If all your friends are smokers, it may be time to make some new friends. Keep some distance from smokers, and create a community of people who are ex-smokers or non-smokers to help you keep busy and away from smoking.
  5. Having a supportive community is important on this journey. Call the Quitline! Call the Asian Smokers’ Quitline, a free nationwide telephone program for Chinese-, Korean-, and Vietnamese-speakers who want to quit. When you call, a friendly staff person will offer various services: self-help materials, a referral list of other programs, one-on-one counseling over the phone, and a free two-week starter kit of nicotine patches.
  6. Lastly, don’t give up on quitting. You can do it!

About the Asian Smokers’ Quitline:

The Asia Smokers’ Quitline (ASQ) provides FREE, accessible, evidence-based smoking cessation services in Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese to Asian communities in the U.S. ASQ has been shown to double their chances of quitting successfully. Services are provided by native speakers trained in smoking cessation. Eligible callers receive a free two-week starter kit of nicotine patches.

Health care providers and others in the community are encouraged to refer Asian language speaking smokers to ASQ. To learn more about referring, email asq@ucsd.edu or see the web referral link at www.asiansmokersquitline.org. Smokers can also call ASQ directly or enroll themselves online at www.asq-chinese.org, www.asq-korean.org, or www.asq-viet.org.

ASQ is funded by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and has served over 8,000 callers since it was established in 2012.

ASQ is open Monday through Friday, 7am to 9pm Pacific Time

Asian Smokers’ Quitline
1-800-838-8917 (Chinese)
1-800-556-5564 (Korean)
1-800-778-8440 (Vietnamese)

To learn more about ASQ (in English), visit: www.asiansmokersquitline.org.

At the Health Center, we can help patients quit or cut back on smoking.

Charles B. Wang Community Health Center
(212) 966-0461

This post was created by the Asian Smokers’ Quitline (ASQ) of University of California, San Diego


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Celebrating Disability Pride

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Written by Lilian Lin

Throughout July, we took part in celebrations that honored the 26th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. These events were especially meaningful to us because of our efforts to support families with children with special health care needs.  Spearheaded by the Health Center’s Pediatric Special Needs Team and generously funded by the family and friends of Mrs. Vicki Chang, the Special Needs Initiative is a comprehensive effort aimed to meet the multiple challenges faced by Chinese immigrant parents and caregivers of children with special needs. Through providing parent workshops, training programs, referrals to parent networks, and enhancing community collaboration, the Special Needs Initiative engages, empowers, and improves services for immigrant families with special needs children.

One of the major goals of this Initiative is to bring about systematic changes to address the complex barriers to care for children with special needs. To date, our Special Needs Team has built collaborative relationships with several community service agencies in Manhattan and Brooklyn that serve children with special needs and their families. Taking part in advocacy activities, such as the July Disability Pride Month events, has strengthened the voice of the disability community.

On July 10, 2016, the Pediatric Special Needs Team and two Health Center volunteers participated in the Festival of Fun and Fraternity which took place at Madison Square Park following the 2nd Annual New York City Disability Pride Parade.

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The New York City Disability Pride Parade was started in July 2015 by Mike LeDonne, jazz pianist and Hammond organist, to promote inclusion, awareness, and visibility of people with disabilities, and to celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), legislation that demands equal access and equal treatment of people with disabilities.

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Our team set up a booth to distribute free educational materials about issues related to children and teenagers with special needs, as well as provided fun activities, such as bubble guns and temporary tattoos, to attract visitors of all ages. Our booth had a great turnout from individuals, families, and staff from agencies serving individuals with disabilities and their families.

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On July 24, 2016, the Pediatric Special Needs Team and three Health Center volunteers participated in the Chinatown Weekend Walk Disability Pride ADA Birthday Party which took place in Chinatown on Mott Street (between Canal and Worth Streets). Many cultural organizations and local businesses joined together to celebrate the diverse disability community and the 26th anniversary of the ADA.

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We appreciated joining this opportunity to raise awareness of the rights of people with disabilities and celebrate diversity among the Chinatown community.

Lilian Lin is the program coordinator of the Special Needs Initiative at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has an MPH in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. She is passionate about working with people and supporting families.

 

 

 


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Let’s Talk About Colon Cancer

 

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Written by Dr. Ady Oster

People do not talk about colon cancer very much.  Perhaps this is because it’s embarrassing to discuss, perhaps because they do not know much about it. That is a shame, because colon cancer is common and it is one of the most preventable cancers.

Colon cancer is the fourth most common cancer among Asian Americans, for both men and women (after breast, prostate, and lung) and (because it is more deadly than prostate cancer) colon cancer is the third most common cause of cancer deaths. While a few people with colon cancer have family members who also had colon cancer, most colon cancer occurs in people who do not have a family history of this cancer.

Cancers occur when a group cells grow out of control. Initially, they remain in one organ forming a lump. In time they can spread to other organs.  Most cancers are much more easily treated when they are still in one organ. Colon cancers start as a polyp. These are small, warty-looking bulges in the inside lining of the colon.  Over time, some of these polyps can become cancers (10% in ten years), invade the lining of the colon, and eventually spreading to other organs. Because polyps are small, they do not cause pain, diarrhea or constipation.  It is impossible to feel polyps.  The only way to know if you have a polyp is by having a doctor look at the inside of the colon.  If polyps are removed, they can no longer become cancer. Therefore, the best way to prevent colon cancer is to have a colonoscopy to look for and remove polyps.

Most polyps and cancers cause bleeding (not visible) into the stool. Usually it is too small to be visible, but it may be detectable with special stool tests. Another way to look for polyps or colon cancer is to have stool tested for microscopic blood. Older tests required eating a special diet for several days and collecting several stool samples. Newer tests do not require any special diet and only one stool sample. If any blood is found, a colonoscopy will be required to find the source of the blood and remove any polyps that are found.  If no blood is found, stool tests will need to be repeated every year in order to provide adequate reassurance that no polyps or cancers are in the colon.

During a colonoscopy, a doctor uses a long, flexible fiberoptic scope to examine the entire colon.  If any polyps are found, they are usually removed at that same time. Since polyps take several years to develop and will take even longer to become a cancer. People without any polyps can safely wait ten years between each colonoscopy. People who do have polyps will need to have colonoscopies more often, depending on how many and how big these polyps were. People are usually sedated for a colonoscopy, so most people do not remember having the procedure.  Unfortunately, in order for doctors to clearly see the lining of the colon, it must be cleaned of any stool. Therefore, people are asked to drink only clear liquid on the day or two prior to the test. On the evening before the test, they need to drink medicine that cleans the stool in the colon by causing diarrhea. This can be uncomfortable for a few hours.

The risk of cancer increases with age. Most people should begin testing for polyps or colon cancer at age 50.  People who have family members with colon cancer should talk to their healthcare provider about the right age to start.

Despite the embarrassment or discomfort, it is important to talk about colon cancer. Talk to your primary care doctor about whether colon cancer testing is appropriate for you.  Talk to your loved ones to make sure they have talked to their doctor about colon cancer. You can make an appointment to meet with a primary care provider here at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center by calling (212) 379-6998 for Manhattan, and (718) 362-3006 (37th Ave) or (929) 362-3006 (45th Ave) for Queens. For more information, visit the internal medicine webpage.

Written by Dr. Ady Oster. Dr. Oster is the section chief of internal medicine at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. He received his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and completed his residency training at Yale-New Haven Hospital and University of California at San Francisco. Dr. Oster is board-certified in internal medicine.


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Man Up – Talk to Your Doctor About Sexual Health

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Written by Dr. Gail Bauchman

Women are more likely to see a doctor for regular check-ups than men, and yet it is so important that men have regular checkups to discuss all aspects of their health. Sexual health is one area that is incredibly important for men to understand. As a doctor at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, here are a few aspects of sexual health that I discuss with male patients.

When you see your health care provider for a routine physical exam or to be screened for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), you will be asked some rather personal questions. These questions are important for your provider to better understand your health risks and provide the best possible treatment.  Some of the questions may involve your sexual practice. For instance, what are you doing to prevent pregnancy? What is your partner using to prevent pregnancy? How many partners have you had in the last year? Do you have sex with men, women or both? What do you do to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases and HIV?  Do you know how to use a condom appropriately?

Condom use offers protection against some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection. They also offer some protection against pregnancy, but condoms along with the withdrawal method are considered to be the least effective methods to prevent pregnancy.  About 18 women out of 100 will get pregnant within the first year with condom use.

That is why it is important to know what your partner is using to prevent pregnancy. Your health care provider can help answer your questions about contraceptive methods for both you and your partner and help you decide on the most suitable methods. Learn more about birth control and family planning by reading this factsheet.

Question: if the condom breaks and your partner is not using an additional contraceptive method, do you know what to do next to protect her from getting pregnant? The answer is having your partner use emergency contraception.  One of the easiest options is if you or your partner buys a pill that does not require a prescription, called Plan B. The pill should be taken within 5 days of having unprotected sex, but the sooner it is taken the better. Plan B is not 100% effective, but does help reduce the chances of pregnancy.

Your provider may also ask you questions about whether you ever had any STIs. STIs can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, and oral sex and many of them do not cause symptoms, at least in the beginning.  If you do have symptoms such as urinary frequency, discharge from the penis or ulcers on the penis, seek out medical care to get treated. A urine sample is all that is required to test for the most common STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. Without testing and treatment, you may unknowingly pass these infections on to your partner. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause a serious pelvic infection in women that may lead to infertility. Some STIs in pregnant women can also impair fetal development or be passed on to their babies during childbirth. Learn more about STI’s by reading this factsheet.

For the protection of yourself, your partner, and your child, we encourage all men to receive annual physical exams and be screened for STIs whenever they have a new partner.

Come visit us at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center to get your annual check-up and discuss these as well as other important health issues. Our OBGYN department offers family planning services and counseling to both men and women to help you improve your sexual health and achieve your reproductive life plan, whether you are seeking to have children or preventing pregnancy. You can make an appointment at our OBGYN department by calling (212) 966-0228 for Manhattan or (718) 886-1287 for Queens. Find more information by visiting our OBGYN webpage. You can also make an appointment to meet with a primary care provider by calling (212) 379-6998 for Manhattan, and (718) 362-3006 (37th Ave) or (929) 362-3006 (45th Ave) for Queens. Visit the internal medicine webpage.

Written by Dr. Gail Bauchman. Dr. Bauchman is a physician at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She attended Stony Brook Medical School, and specialized in family medicine. She is board certified from the American Board of Family Medicine.


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Act Fast to Save a Life – Know the Signs of Stroke

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Written by Bonnie Tse

In the event of a stroke attack, “time is of the essence,” says Dr. Ji Y. Chong, the Site Chief of Neurology and Director of the Stroke Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital.

During a stroke, blood flow and oxygen to the brain is cut off and brain cells begin to die. Recognizing the signs of a stroke and calling 911 immediately is vital. Quick treatment increases your chances of surviving and lessens complications that happen as a result of stroke. For Stroke Awareness Month, Dr. Chong shares how to act in case of a stroke:

DN: What is important to know about stroke?

 JC: We need to know the signs of stroke because stroke can be unexpected. “BE FAST” is an easy way to remember them. Sudden onset of these symptoms may point to a stroke:

Balance – loss of balance
Eyes – loss of vision
Face – droopiness on one side
Arm – weakness in an arm
Speech – slurred speech, inability to talk or difficulty understanding
Time – call 911 immediately

Download our stroke symptoms card in English and Chinese.

People should be aware that they need rapid evaluation to see if they are eligible for immediate treatments such as blood clot dissolving medication like tPA. To work best and help decrease the long term consequences of a stroke, it has to be injected by IV within 4.5 hours from the start of a stroke.

DN: What is the first thing someone should do when they experience a sign of stroke? How do we get help or help others?

JC: The most important thing is to call 911. Do not wait for family members or the primary doctor—stroke is an emergency. The Emergency Medical Services team or ambulance will assess the patient and transport them quickly to the nearest Primary Stroke Center. Stroke Centers are designated by New York State to hospitals that have demonstrated they can provide rapid, high quality care to stroke patients.

DN: What advice do you have for seniors or family members who are living alone? How can they best protect themselves from stroke?

JC: People living alone should make sure they have a way to call 911 or have someone who can call for them. Independent seniors should maintain social networks or join senior centers so there are people who can check on them. Home attendants who often care for seniors should also be informed of what to do in case seniors have a stroke.

Prevention is also important. Knowing the risk factors and addressing them is key. High blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease are all risk factors that need to be monitored and treated. Smoking also puts you at high risk for stroke. Don’t smoke—and if you do, quit. Eating a healthy diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish, nuts, and beans is also beneficial. People should avoid foods that are processed and high in sugar and salt such as preserved meats or vegetables, fried foods and sweetened drinks.

Learn more about the signs and how to prevent stroke here.

Dr. Ji Y. Chong is board certified in Neurology and Vascular Neurology. She is involved in the clinical care of stroke patients from acute treatment to long-term secondary stroke prevention.  Dr. Chong has been involved in several clinical trials and epidemiologic studies of stroke. She is also the Director of the Stroke Center at the NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital and committed to quality improvement and education initiatives to improve stroke care for the community.

Written by Bonnie Tse. Bonnie Tse is a health educator at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science from Hunter College.


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New York City Advocates Come Together to Address the Viral Hepatitis “Silent Epidemic”

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Written by Janice Lyu

On May 12, 2016, Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, along with many other local community members, gathered at the steps of New York City’s City Hall. More than 100 hepatitis advocates and press came together on this day to share their stories to commemorate the annual National Hepatitis Testing Day (May 19) and Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day (May 15). The month of May is also designated as National Hepatitis Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness and educate the public about the importance of getting tested for viral hepatitis.

Despite the growing efforts nationwide to combat the viral hepatitis epidemic, the burden of viral hepatitis is still high while the awareness is low. A lot more needs to be done to address this issue. Viral hepatitis disproportionately affects the Asian, African, and Latino community. It is the leading cause of liver failure and liver cancer. Recently, CDC reported that death rates for most cancers continue to decline with the exception of liver cancer.

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In the United States, an estimated 800,000-1.4 million persons are chronically infected with hepatitis B and as many as 3.2 million persons may be chronically infected with hepatitis C. The burden is particularly high in New York City. It is estimated that 146,500 people live with hepatitis C and 100,000 people in NYC live with hepatitis B. Yet, because viral hepatitis can persist in the body for a long period of time without any signs of symptoms, it is estimated that two-thirds of those with hepatitis B and half of those hepatitis C do not know they are infected. These reports are truly alarming since there are preventive measures such as vaccines and medications to manage the condition. Hepatitis B can be prevented and treated, and hepatitis C can be cured.

Charles B. Wang Community Health Center along with other partners of the NYC Hep B Coalition and NYC Hep C Task Force came together at the steps of City Hall to remind healthcare leaders, providers, and the public about the importance of identifying and testing for viral hepatitis.

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Hepatitis B disproportionately affects Asians. Dr. Perry Pong, Chief Medical Officer of Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, was invited to speak for the Asian American community and provide more awareness about hepatitis B at the City Hall press conference. Dr. Pong stressed that language and culture should not be a barrier to testing, access to care and treatment of this disease.

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In the last 16 years, the Charles B. Wang community Health Center has screened more than 100,000 patients and identified more than 7,000 individuals with chronic hepatitis B infections. Our hepatitis B practice is one of the largest in the U.S. based in a community health center. The program includes awareness campaigns through ethnic media and community outreach, free community screening emphasizing linkage to care, culturally effective and accessible treatment for all patients regardless of ability to pay, training of primary care providers to diagnose and manage patients, and policy advocacy at local, state and national levels. This program would not be possible without our community partnerships and the support of the Robin Hood Foundation and Miranda Tang.

Hepatitis need not be a silent killer. There are vaccines available for those without immunity to protect their liver from the virus. If detected early, you can keep the disease under control with routine check-ups and medications. You should talk to your doctor today and get tested for hepatitis.

Janice Lyu is the hepatitis B program associate at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a M.S. in Biomedical Sciences from Tufts University School of Medicine. She cares about public health and healthcare issues.