Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Georgia State receives $6.7 million grant for research center in health disparities

The National Institutes of Health has awarded Georgia State University with a five-year grant to start a new Center for Excellence in Health Disparities Research, which will investigate health disparity issues in Atlanta’s urban environment.

The $6.7 million grant is funded through the NIH’s National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities. The center will include major research topics, as well as outreach programs.

The new center will be based in the Institute of Public Health of the College of Health and Human Sciences, and will include researchers from public health, social work, the Center for Healthy Development and criminal justice in the college, and faculty from the departments of African-American studies, sociology, and psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Health disparities in urban areas lead to poor health, which is caused by a confluence of factors, including poverty, discrimination, unemployment, lack of access to care and the manmade environment, said Michael Eriksen, director of the Institute of Public Health.

“These factors conspire to put communities at a disadvantage in terms of health and well-being,” Eriksen said. “What we hope to do with this new, larger center of excellence is to better understand the socioeconomic forces that contribute to ill health in communities that constitute much of urban Atlanta, and the urban United States.”

Three major research areas include:

    • Investigating variations in health among disadvantaged neighborhoods, especially in the wake of Atlanta’s relocation of residents traditional public housing, undertaken by Erin Ruel, assistant professor of sociology

    • Examining the role of religion and churches in reducing drug use and the transmission of HIV, researched by professor Richard Rothenberg of the Institute of Public Health

    • Testing the use of a way to reduce child maltreatment, called the SafeCare Model from the Center for Healthy Development, by using computers; researched by associate professor Shannon Self-Brown of the center.

The university, through its Partnership for Urban Health Research, has been working in the field for several years, and faculty have built relationships with local neighborhoods, especially relationships with the communities of Neighborhood Planning Unit-V, located near Turner Field.

The new center will allow these relationships to continue and help to benefit the community over the long term, Eriksen said.

“It all starts with developing relationships with the community,” he said. “The problem historically has been that universities will get funding for a certain project, go into the community and do the project, and then the community never hears from them again. There needs to be a trusting and sustained relationship, which we’ve established.”

The center’s community work will also involve partnerships with local non-profit organizations, churches and other faith-based organizations, housing organizations and others to collect data, analyze patterns and to perform interventions, especially in the case with the computer-assisted SafeCare project to see if problems can be prevented in the future, Eriksen said.

The grant will also fund several core areas for infrastructure, including administration, research and training for GSU students, faculty and the community, as well as a community outreach area.

Eriksen also said that the center will serve as a repository of data for health and safety in the metro Atlanta area, which researchers plan to use in conjunction with the new visualization wall at the Parker H. Petit Science Center. The wall consists of a large, 200-million pixel array of computer screens, filling up a room to allow researchers to view and analyze volumes of visual information.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

CVS Caremark and Direct Relief USA Announce Nearly 350 Community Clinics and Health Centers to Receive Free Flu Shot Vouchers For Their Uninsured Patients

The following health clinics and community centers will have free flu shot vouchers available for their existing patients who lack health insurance while supplies last. Vouchers are redeemable at any CVS/pharmacy for MinuteClinic location for a free flu shot.

The Athens Nurses Clinic Athens
Mercy Health Center Athens
Saint Joseph's Mercy Care Services Atlanta
Grant Park Clinic Atlanta
Georgia Farmworker Health Program Bainbridge
Good Samaritan Health And Wellness Center Jasper
Compassionate Care Clinic Milledgeville
Community Health Care Systems Sandersville
St. Mary's Health Center Savannah
JC Lewis Health Center of Union Mission Savannah
Hands of Hope Clinic Stockbridge
Primary Health Care Center Of Dade Trenton
Mercy Medical Clinic Vidalia 

PRNewswire/ -- CVS Caremark and Direct Relief USA announced today that nearly 350 community clinics and health centers across the country have agreed to participate in CVS Caremark's donation of up to $5 million in free shots to patients who lack health insurance. The participating clinics and health centers will identify uninsured individuals from their existing patient populations and provide them with a free flu shot voucher, which is redeemable at any CVS/pharmacy or MinuteClinic location.

Direct Relief USA is a non-profit organization that works with 1,100 clinics and health centers in all 50 states, providing them with free medications and supplies for their low-income and uninsured patients. Most of the facilities in Direct Relief's network are affiliated with either the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) or the National Association of Free Clinics (NAFC). Direct Relief USA is the largest non-profit program providing donations of medicine to patients without insurance at clinics and health centers nationwide, and was awarded the prestigious Power through partnerships award from the National Association of Community Health Centers.

CVS/pharmacy has more than 7,000 locations and MinuteClinic has more than 500 locations inside select CVS/pharmacy stores. Customers can make an appointment to receive a flu shot from a CVS pharmacist at the time, date and location of their choice by using the My Flu Shot Scheduler available at or by calling toll-free 1-888-FLU-SHOT (1-888-88-GRIPE for Spanish). MinuteClinic nurse practitioners are available to provide vaccinations 7 days a week during regular business hours with no appointment required.

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Drought conditions expand into west, south Georgia

Mild to moderate drought conditions have expanded over the past month to include much of west and south Georgia. With temperatures remaining above normal and rainfall below normal, soils continue to dry across the entire state.

Daytime high temperatures through the middle of September have generally been in the 90s across the piedmont and coastal plain. Rainfall for the past month has been between 50 percent and 70 percent of normal for most of the state. The exceptions are northeast Georgia and the lower Savannah River valley, where rainfall has been slightly above normal. Over the past two weeks, rainfall has been less than half of normal across the entire state.

Mild to moderate drought conditions exist in counties south and west of Haralson, Paulding, Douglas, Carroll, Harris, Troup, Muscogee, Chattahoochee, Marion, Schley, Sumter, Crisp, Wilcox, Telfair, Jeff Davis, Appling, Wayne and McIntosh counties, inclusive.

Mild drought conditions also exist in Lincoln, Wilkes and Elbert counties. The remainder of the state is classified as abnormally dry.

Currently, lack of soil moisture is the major drought impact. Across the southern half of the coastal plain, soil moisture is running at the fifth percentile. That means that 95 out of 100 years we would expect the soils to be wetter than they currently are in this region.

Dry soil, mixed blessing

The soil dryness has been a mixed blessing for farmers. For crops that are mature, this has made harvesting easier. The exception is peanuts. Producers are irrigating fields so that peanuts can be dug, or harvested from the ground. Many crops have not reached maturity and still need some moisture.

Streams are dropping across the state. In southwest Georgia, stream flows are near the 10th percentile. At that percentile we expect more water in the streams 90 out of 100 years. In south-central Georgia, the Little River near Adel and the Withlacoochee River near Quitman are at record low flows for the middle of September.

Across northwest Georgia, stream flows are also near the 10th percentile. Conditions across northeast Georgia are marginally better with stream flows generally around the 20th percentile, which means the streams would have more water flow 80 out of 100 years.

Wildfire risk

As the dryness worsens over the next few weeks, wildfire danger will increase. Currently, wildfire danger across the state is rated from high to extreme. Anyone involved in outside activities needs to be very cautious. Because of the dryness, any fire, regardless of how small, can quickly get out of control. Contact the Georgia Forestry Commission for specific details concerning wildfire risk and outdoor burn permits and requirements.

Dryness across the state is expected to increase over the next several weeks unless Georgia receives beneficial rains from one or more tropical disturbances, such as a tropical storm or hurricane.

Through the winter, the dryness may increase. The ocean-atmosphere system has switched to a La Niña pattern. The La Niña pattern is associated with dry, warm winters across much of the Southeast. This means that we may have minimal recharge of the hydrologic system this winter. This increases the probability of widespread and significant drought for next year. It is too early to tell exactly how the La Niña pattern will impact Georgia, but we need to be aware of the possible short-term tropical impacts and the long-term drought impacts.

Up-to-date information on dry conditions across Georgia can be found at Updated weather conditions can be found at

By David E. Stooksbury
University of Georgia

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

HHS awards $39 million to states for increasing adoptions

Georgia to receive over $364,000 as incentive

The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services today awarded $39 million to 38 states and Puerto Rico for increasing the number of children adopted from foster care. States use the funds from this adoption incentive award to improve their child welfare programs.

"All children deserve loving, safe and permanent homes," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "It is gratifying that most states continue to excel in promoting the adoption of children from foster care. I sincerely thank every adoptive family that has welcomed a child into their home."

States receive $4,000 for every child adopted beyond their best year's total, plus a payment of $8,000 for every child age 9 and older and $4,000 for every special needs child adopted above the respective baselines. The year 2007 is the baseline.

This year's incentive award recipients completed more adoptions in 2009 than in the 2007 baseline year.

"America's communities benefit when children grow up in stable families," said David A. Hansell, HHS acting assistant secretary for children and families. "We're very pleased that the adoption incentives program is helping states improve their programs and place more children into homes that are theirs forever."

States and territories receiving today's funding are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Puerto Rico.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Georgia summer sets record

Georgia summers are notoriously hot. But this one has been a record-setter, with August capping a string of months with temperatures significantly above average.

For June, July and August, several airport locations recorded their warmest summer in history, including Savannah, Athens, Columbus and Alma. Other locations, like Atlanta, Macon, Augusta and Brunswick, recorded their second or third hottest summer ever. Nighttime minimum temperatures were especially high, contributing to the warm and muggy feel.

Temperatures were warmer than normal everywhere in Georgia in August. In Atlanta, the monthly average temperature was 82.8 degrees F (3.9 degrees above normal), in Athens 82.2 degrees (3.8 degrees above normal), Columbus 85.4 degrees (4.1 degrees above normal), Macon 83.8 degrees (3.8 degrees above normal), Savannah 84.2 degrees (3.4 degrees above normal), Brunswick 84.1 degrees (2.8 degrees above normal), Alma 83.8 degrees (2.7 degrees above normal), Valdosta 84.1 degrees (4.3 degrees above normal), and Augusta 82.3 degrees (3 degrees above normal).

Despite the unrelenting heat, there were no daily temperature records broken in August, although several record high temperatures and high minimum temperatures were tied. Rainfall across the state was highly variable. Some areas received more than 200 percent of normal and other areas received less than 50 percent of normal rain.

The highest monthly total from National Weather Service reporting stations was 7.62 inches in Athens (3.84 inches above normal). The lowest was Columbus at 2.45 inches (1.33 inches below normal). Valdosta received 3.48 inches (1.95 inches below normal), Alma 2.72 inches (2.78 inches below normal), Brunswick 4.94 inches (1.22 inches below normal), Atlanta 3.32 inches (.35 inch below normal), Macon 3.57 inches (.22 inch below normal), Savannah 5.30 inches (1.90 inches below normal), and Augusta 2.04 inches (2.44 inches below normal).

Record daily rainfall was set Aug. 21 in Brunswick, where 1.15 inches fell, breaking the old record of 1.04 inches set in 2009. Savannah also set a daily rainfall record of 3.21 inches Aug. 22, breaking the old record of 2.78 inches set in 1929.

The highest single-day rainfall from Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network stations was 4.69 inches at Tybee Island Aug. 17. An observer in White County received 4.22 inches Aug. 22. The highest monthly rainfall total in August was 16.82 inches near Midway in Liberty County, followed by 14.55 inches from an observer near Sylvania in Screven County.

Scattered wind damage hit somewhere in Georgia on nine days during the month. Small hail was reported near Atlanta Aug. 28. No tornadoes were reported in August.

Weather conditions fueled the development of armyworms, which some agricultural agents listed as the worst they had seen in 25 years. They devastated pastures and hayfields in locations across the state.

By Pam Knox
University of Georgia

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Famed Whiskey Distillery Sets out to Make Jack Daniel’s Birthday a National Holiday

(BUSINESS WIRE)--As Americans go to the ballot box to vote for their party of choice this fall, the Jack Daniel Distillery is asking for support for a true independent -- Mr. Jack himself. In celebration of his 160th birthday this September, the “Back Jack” campaign will call on the U.S. Congress to make Jack Daniel’s birthday a national holiday and will seek supporters through a nationwide petition drive.

“It’s going to be a bit of a long shot, but we think there are plenty of Jack Daniel’s friends out there who are going to get behind our efforts to honor this legendary man.”

The man who pioneered the world’s best-selling whiskey was born in Lynchburg, Tenn., in September 1850, but due to the passage of time and fires, no one knows the exact date of his birth. While the folks at Jack Daniel’s typically just celebrate any day of the month, they decided that Mr. Jack’s independent American spirit, entrepreneurial success and worldwide recognition make him worthy of his own national holiday.

“We certainly realize there are plenty of very serious things going on in the country, but we also think folks should have a little fun with this particular campaign,” said Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller, Jeff Arnett. “It’s going to be a bit of a long shot, but we think there are plenty of Jack Daniel’s friends out there who are going to get behind our efforts to honor this legendary man.”

The “Back Jack” campaign will have a number of components:

Grass-roots Petition Campaign

From California to Maine, Florida to Washington state, Jack Daniel’s will ask its friends ages 21 and up beginning September 1st to sign the petition calling on Congress to establish a national holiday in honor of Mr. Jack’s birthday. Supporters can sign up at; via Facebook and text message; at bars and other locations; and, in select cities, at the Jack Daniel’s campaign bus. At the end of the month, petitions will be delivered to Washington, D.C. and the rest will be up to our political leaders. Since we don’t know the exact date of his birth in September, whatever day Congress chooses will be fine with the Distillery.

Virtual and Viral Campaign

The official campaign headquarters for the “Back Jack” effort will be located online at From there, fans will be directed to a special Facebook application where they can sign the petition as well as see and share viral video, view a map of state-by-state campaign support, earn badges and improve their “delegate” status by getting friends to sign the petition. Those who aren’t on Facebook can virtually sign the petition by texting JDBDay to 68405. In addition, supporters should look for the Jack Daniel’s Birthday JAGTAG in various locations to view an exclusive campaign video through their mobile device.

Campaign Bus Tour

The “Back Jack” campaign will really get rolling in mid-September with a bus tour leaving from Lynchburg, Tenn., and traveling to Washington, D.C. The bus tour will collect signatures in 10 cities and will culminate on Capitol Hill at the end of September, where brand representatives will deliver the signed petition to Congress. Among the cities currently slated for campaign rally stops are Lynchburg, Nashville, Louisville, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C.

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