09-15-2016 Columns

health department col header 6-16-2011

 The month of September is Infant Safe Sleep Month and a good time to recognize that infant deaths due to unsafe sleep are a leading cause of death among babies less than 1 year old in Michigan. From 2010-2014, there were 712 sleep-related infant deaths or a rate of 1.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. Sadly, Berrien County has a sleep-related infant death rate of 2.3 deaths per 1,000 live births – far greater than the overall rate in Michigan. Sleep-related infant deaths are those where the sleep environment was likely to have contributed to the death, including deaths due to SIDS, SUIDS, and suffocation. Babies can easily suffocate while sleeping in adult beds, sharing a bed with an adult or child, sleeping on furniture, and sleeping with pillows, cushions, and blankets.The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants sleep in a safety-approved crib, bassinet, or portable crib with a firm mattress and tight-fitting sheet; sleep on surfaces separate from adults or other children free of blankets, pillows, or toys; be placed on his or her back for sleep every time. Besides safe sleep practices, other factors that may decrease the risk of sleep-related infant death include breastfeeding, pacifier use at sleep time, and caregiver avoidance of smoking, alcohol, and illicit drug use while caring for an infant. Other recommendations include encouraging supervised “tummy time” to help your baby build strong neck and shoulder muscles. Also, make sure everyone caring for your baby knows these guidelines, including babysitters, friends, and family members. There are many resources available to the general public, parents, families, professionals, and caregivers of infants. Parents, professionals, and more can visit www.michigan.gov/safesleep for more information.

Remembering 9/11 heroes and victims

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 Fifteen years ago on September 11, 2001, our nation suffered the worst attack ever perpetrated on American soil. Thousands of innocent lives were lost that day in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, the destruction at the Pentagon, and the crash of Flight 93 in a Pennsylvania field. As these unforeseen events unfolded before our very eyes, we watched in horror, praying for our fellow citizens who were forced to endure these deadly attacks on that fateful day. As difficult as these memories are, we must never allow ourselves to forget. Among the terror and sadness we witnessed the extreme courage and bravery of first responders who rushed towards the destruction, risking their lives to save their fellow citizens. Many of them gave their lives that day, and through their actions saved countless more. That is why, every year, the Michigan House of Representatives holds a ceremony reflecting on the events of that fateful day. We honor the heroes that stepped forward in the face of destruction and chaos to pick up the pieces and we remember the victims and their families. We also recognized the fifteen Michigan first responders and members of the military who gave their lives serving and defending our state and nation over the past year. This ceremony also serves as an opportunity to recognize and thank those who continue to serve our communities. It was my honor this year to have Bangor Fire Chief Derek Babcock and the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department Honor Guard as my guests at the ceremony. They are great representatives of the dedicated and highly skilled first responders that our Southwest Michigan community is so blessed to have. As always, please feel free to contact my office toll-free at (800) 577-6212 or by email at AricNesbitt@house.mi.gov if I can ever be of assistance to you.


Use “Open Enrollment” to help improve your

financial outlook

 It is Open Enrollment Season, so if you work for a medium- or large-sized company, you will need to make some choices regarding your employee benefits — and these choices can have a big impact on your financial situation. Depending on your employer, your benefits package may include various types of insurance, plus access to a 401(k) or similar retirement plan. Here are some suggestions for getting the most out of these benefits:Health insurance – Companies regularly change plans and providers, so the coverage and premiums you had last year may not be the same this year. In any case, look at all aspects of your coverage options – premiums, deductibles, co-pays and total out-of-pocket limits. A lower premium may seem attractive, but you could end up paying even more if the coverage is not as good. So, choose wisely.Life insurance – You may want to take whatever life insurance your employer offers, but it still might not be enough. To determine how much life insurance you need, consider a variety of factors – your age, income, family size, spouse’s income, and so on. If your employer’s coverage is insufficient, you may want to supplement it with a separate policy. Disability insurance – This could be a valuable employee benefit – but, as is the case with life insurance, your employer’s disability coverage may not be enough for your needs, especi