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May 2009: Things to be thankful for

             May Day certainly takes on new meaning when we consider in late April 2009 the swine flu pandemic scare.

            What makes such an epidemic?  Basically, it can occur via a person who is a carrier who either does or doesn’t catch the illness but transmits it (usually – hopefully! – unknowingly).  Swine flu comes from pigs to humans (they are truly very much like us physiologically speaking).  It isn’t usually fatal, but immunocompromised people, the very young and the very old can and do die from many forms of influenza.

            Cover up when sneezing and coughing and wash your hands frequently – that’s the best rule for anything contagious.

            Despite many of us feeling rather annoyed with anywhere else in the world, we as Americans should participate on May 9th during World Fair Trade Day.  Why should we do this?  Fair trade is what ensures that local workers reap the benefits of their work.  For example, fair trade coffee is sold in places like Starbucks.  Starbucks’ marketing and purchasing teams go to local growers in various regions of the world and bargain directly with them for a fair price for their small, local farm produce (coffee beans, in this scenario).  It’s a good way to help others in less developed countries maintain and increase their own health (more money for what they export means higher standards of living).

            May 6-12 is National Nurses Week.  We MUST say thank you to all nurses in this time of serious shortage.  Encourage the nurses you know to get that higher education and become adjunct or full time professors in nursing; those, too, are sorely lacking and preventing nursing programs in the US from growing to meet demand for that degree.

            How could we miss May 10-16 with its focus as National Hospital Week?!  Log onto to find out more about this.  During the same time period, take your bike to work ( ) to celebrate Downstate and yourself as a wellness-focused staff member!  And May 20th is National Employee Health and Fitness Day, so get to the great outdoors or to your gym.

            Finally, while May is supposed to be a celebration of spring in full bloom, there is a need to focus on our elders.  May 24-30 is Older Americans Mental Health Week.  If you know or care for anyone elderly and they have some mental health concerns, log onto (that’s ‘owl’ for Older Women’s League!).

            Let’s keep conscious of one another – from not sneezing or coughing into the air around us to thinking actively about our nurse coworkers and our elders who may be in need.