Health Briefs

HCRS supports families

SPRINGFIELD >> Health Care and Rehabilitation Services has a team of dedicated, professional staff within its Children, Youth, and Families Division who provide comprehensive supports for families in need. These services are designed to meet families where they are at — in their community or within local schools — to assist each child and family to lead happy and healthy lives.

HCRS' clients often include children in crisis, no longer attending school because of cyber bullying, in a depression so deep he or she can't get out of bed, anxiety so intense she doesn't want to leave home. A teenager has a best friend who hung himself two years ago. He tells his teacher, "I'm thinking of killing myself. I tried pills and cutting. I'm thinking of trying again."

Parents come to an HCRS office scared; their child is in a psychiatric hospital. They have heard from someone in the community that HCRS can help find resources and solutions when other efforts have failed.

HCRS staff mobilize around the unique needs of each child and family. They meet the parents, get releases signed, and start making calls to involved community providers: The Brattleboro Retreat, Department for Children and Families, the Department of Mental Health. A week later a Coordinated Services Planning meeting is held to plan the child's reintegration back to family and the community, or to a higher level of care. A support team sits around a wooden conference room table at HCRS: an HCRS clinician, an HCRS case manager, supervisor, crisis team staff person, a school representative, DCF worker, and of course the family.

Founded in 1967, HCRS is a non-profit, community mental health agency serving Vermonters in Windham and Windsor counties. For more information regarding HCRS' Children, Youth, and Families Program, please visit HCRS' website at or contact Will Shakespeare, Program Director, at 802-254-6028.

AARP Driver Safety Progam scheduled at local hospitals, senior center

BRATTLEBORO >> The AARP Driver Safety Program, a classroom driver refresher course, will be offered in three locations in Windham County: Brattleboro Senior Center on Feb. 1 at 9:30 a.m.; Brattleboro Memorial Hospital on Feb. 6t at 9:30 a.m.; and at the Grace Cottage Wellness Building on Feb. 13 at 9 a.m. The program is a refresher course for mature drivers that addresses changes that occur in vision, hearing, and reaction time as we age and provides useful driving safety tips for handling these changes. The course also reviews the impact of changes in vehicles and roadways that impact driving safety. Those wishing to take the class at Brattleboro Memorial hospital are asked to call 802-251- 8604; for the Grace Cottage class call 802-365-3649; for the Brattleboro Senior Center class call 802-254-4489. You may also contact the course instructor, Elliott Greenblott, to register or for inquiries, at 802-254-4489 or

Food distribution

Putney: The Vermont Food Bank and the Putney Foodshelf food distribution at Putney Meadows the fourth Thursday of each month. All are welcome, no questions asked; the food distributions are open to anyone in the community. The Vermont Foodbank, with the Putney Foodshelf, brings a truck of fresh produce and other non-perishable items. Bring your own shopping bags. The next distribution is scheduled for Jan. 28, from 9 to 9:45 a.m.

Active Parenting workshop focuses on parenting 'tweens'

TOWNSHEND >> This winter, West River Valley Thrives, a local coalition dedicated to "promoting healthy lifestyle choices with an emphasis on the prevention of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use by youth people," will be hosting a new program for local parents. This workshop, called Active Parenting of Teens, is an evidence-based program for parents of children in fifth grade and up where parents will discuss issues unique to adolescence and the skills needed to parent their "tweens" and teens most effectively. The workshop will include information on parenting styles, problem solving and communication, responsibility and discipline, building courage and self-esteem, drugs and violence, as well as development and sexuality.

Active Parenting of Teens will be held over the course of four Saturdays — Feb. 13 and 27 and March 12 and 26 — from 9 a.m. to noon at the United Church of Christ in Townshend, 46 Common Rd.; pastries and coffee will be provided. Free childcare will be made available with advanced notice. Also, all participants will receive a gas gift card worth $20 as a thank you for coming out on a Saturday morning to engage with other local parents on the topic of parenting.

Interested parents should contact Kate Venne, Project Coordinator for West River Valley Thrives, at or 802-365-4700 to register.

Blood donations urgently needed by the American Red Cross

BRATTLEBORO >> The American Red Cross urgently needs blood donors to make an appointment to give this winter. Eligible blood donors of all types are needed, especially those with O, AB, B negative and A negative. Blood is needed to respond to emergencies large and small, across the country every day.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities include Feb. 2 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Landmark College in Putney and Feb. 2 from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Carl M Dessaint VFW Post 1034, 40 Black Mountain Rd in Brattleboro.

The January blood draw at the VFW resulted in a donation of 77 pints. Multiple and one-gallon donors included: Michael J. Meyer, eight gallons; Susan Belgard-Marquis, four gallons; Vanessa Long, two gallons; and Mary C. Coogan, one gallon.

Make an appointment to donate blood by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Presentation on Vermont's Death with Dignity Law at Putney Library

PUTNEY >> On Jan. 27 at 7 p.m., join Linda Waite-Simpson, the Director of Vermont's Compassion and Choices to learn more about end of life care and Vermont's Act 39, the Death with Dignity Law at Putney Public Library. She will cover a variety of topics relating to end of life care, including unwanted medical treatment, voluntary stopping of eating and drinking, and Vermont Patient Bill of Rights for Palliative Care and Pain Management. Putney Library is located at 55 Main St. This program is free and open to the public.

Vermont DOH urges people stay safe during cold weather

Burlington >> It may not be as cold as it can be, but it's cold enough to warrant taking precautions, both inside and outside.

Serious health problems can result from prolonged exposure to the cold. Hypothermia (below normal body temperature) is most likely at very cold temperatures, but can occur even at cool temps above 40-degrees F if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.

Hypothermia most often affects older people who have inadequate food, clothing or heating, babies sleeping in cold rooms, people who are outside for long periods such as the homeless, hikers, and hunters, and those who drink alcohol or use drugs. Even healthy adults can become hypothermic if not dressed warmly enough for weather conditions.

Prevent cold-related health problems and be prepared for emergencies. Wear warm clothes, keep babies and older adults in warm rooms, eat well-balanced meals with enough calories, avoid alcohol and drink warm fluids to maintain a healthy body temperature. Check in on older family members and neighbors to make sure they are keeping warm safely, and have enough food and fluids.

In the car, keep a blanket, hat and gloves, first aid kit, flashlight and extra batteries, and high calorie dried or canned foods and a can opener. If you get stuck, don't venture out on foot in extreme cold. Have a cell phone to call for help.

Winter is also an especially risky time for carbon monoxide poisoning — when homes and buildings are closed, and fossil fuels are burned for heat.

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause flu-like illness or death. Symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu and include nausea, headache, and dizziness.

Always have working CO and Smoke detectors in your home and in all living areas, ensure all heat sources are ventilating properly, and always operate a generator outdoors and away from the home, particularly windows and doors.

If you suspect CO poisoning, get out of the building and into fresh air immediately, and call 9-1-1 from a safe location. The Health Department's Environmental Public Health Tracking Program has more information about carbon monoxide poisoning in Vermont: For more winter weather and extreme cold preparedness tips, visit

Brattleboro Area Hospice to offer seven week grief support group

BRATTLEBORO >> A new seven week bereavement support group for adults begins on Feb. 10 and will meet each Wednesday from 5 to 6:30 p.m., ending March 23.

The group is free of charge and open to anyone in the community grieving the death loss of a loved one, no matter when or where the loss occurred. Bereavement support groups offer a safe, mutually supportive environment for sharing experiences through discussion, readings, simple activities, and suggestions for moving through grief. This group is sponsored by Brattleboro Area Hospice and will meet at the hospice office at 191 Canal St. No prior connection with hospice is necessary in order to participate. Connie Baxter will be the facilitator. The group size is limited to eight people. Call 802-257-0775, ext. 104 by Feb. 4 for a pre-group appointment if you're interested in joining.

Tai Chi at the Gibson Aiken Center

BRATTLEBORO >> Steve Green will once again offer Tai Chi classes on Wednesdays at the Gibson-Aiken Center, 207 Main St. This seven-week session begins on Feb. 10 and runs through March 23. These classes, from 10 to 11 a.m., are part of the Brattleboro Recreation and Parks Department's long running program in Tai Chi. The cost is $80 for non-residents and $55 for residents. Individual classes can be taken for $10/$12. Participants must register at the Gibson-Aiken Center office on the first floor. Green is certified by the Arthritis Foundation in the instruction of Tai Chi for health and arthritis. Tai Chi is a powerful tool in healing and strengthening the body, mind and spirit. Flowing movements improve balance, increase flexibility and joint mobility and reduce stress. For information or to register, call 802-258-4833 or e-mail


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