By Taylor Smith

Vaccines have played a central role in the fight against contagious diseases among human populations for the past 200 years. For instance, global vaccination initiatives have helped to eradicate smallpox and polio in all but the most remote populations. Even yearly influenza vaccines have greatly reduced the number of mortalities each year from the common flu, and childhood vaccines have made a major impact in lowering childhood and adult morbidity resulting from infectious diseases.

However, there are certain diseases that have eluded scientists and researchers. Specifically, malaria and HIV/AIDS have posed continual challenges as these diseases ravage parts of the world where vaccines are needed most. Distribution is actually a significant roadblock in the effectiveness of vaccine development and use. Many of the globe’s poorest regions lack the infrastructure to inoculate their own populations. In addition, ethical and religious reasons pose potential deterrents, giving rise to the resurfacing of historic diseases that the majority of the world is protected from.

Finally, cost has been known to undermine efforts in vaccine development. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), “the cost of developing a vaccine — from research and discovery to product registration — is estimated to be between $200 million and $500 million per vaccine. This figure includes vaccines that are abandoned during the development process.” (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov).  more

The Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey invites runners and walkers to the upcoming Virtual 5K and Fun 1 Mile Run/Walk on November 7.

Did you know that New Jersey is one of the wealthiest states in the nation, yet hunger is a daily occurrence for many members of the community? Hunger and food scarcity may strike one of your child’s classmates, a coworker, an elderly neighbor, and people in your own family. The realities of COVID-19 have resulted in lost jobs, lost wages, and often, an inability to provide for oneself. All proceeds of the Soles for Harvest race will benefit programs dedicated to fighting hunger in New Jersey. more

Join the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta (HOSR) virtually on October 18-24, 2020. Compete on your favorite indoor rowing machine or body of water by self-submitting times and distances traveled during October 18-23. Live racing will be held on October 24. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the famed Philadelphia race that typically draw rowers from around the world. Registration is now open on Regatta Central (https://www.regattacentral.com/regatta/?job_id=6266). more

How Equine Assisted Therapy Changes Lives at a New Jersey Farm

By Anne Levin | Photos courtesy of Equineassistedtherapyofnj.org

Therapist Jeanne Mahoney sees it happen, again and again. A person in the depths of depression, a child silenced by autism, or a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) emerges stronger, more confident, and more at peace after spending time in the company of horses.

Informally called “horse therapy” and formally known as equine assisted psychotherapy, use of the majestic animals for emotional and physical healing is a recognized branch of mental health. Mahoney’s Salem County farm is the headquarters for Equine Assisted Therapy of NJ, a nonprofit corporation that practices this route toward positive change.

It is one of more than 800 centers across the globe dedicated to the concept. According to the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH), there are nearly 4,800 certified instructors and equine specialists like Mahoney, helping almost 69,000 children and adults.

Horses are iconic. They stand for power and freedom. They are effective in therapy, experts say, because they give immediate feedback to the handler or rider’s actions. They react strongly to body language. Their quiet sensitivity helps people by mirroring their emotions; they almost have a sixth sense. more

 

By Taylor Smith

The coronavirus pandemic hit the globe like a tidal wave and promptly overwhelmed hospitals, physicians, and the medical community. While remote treatment isn’t a new concept in medical care, it hasn’t always been embraced due to limitations surrounding insurance coverage, privacy laws, and traditional medical business models. However, when social distancing became imperative in order to combat the spread of the virus, telehealth and more specifically, telemedicine (which provides remote clinical services to patients) gained new ground.

Removing Telehealth Barriers

From the first COVID-19 case confirmed in the U.S. by the CDC on January 21, 2020, regulatory changes have sought to reduce barriers that previously existed to allow for patients to opt-out of in-person visits when appropriate. The first coronavirus relief legislation was signed by Congress on March 6 and the passage of the CARES Act followed on March 27. This over $2 trillion economic relief package was delivered by the Trump administration to protect the American people from the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19. The CARES Act provides assistance for American workers and families, assistance for small businesses, an attempt to preserve jobs for American industry, and assistance for states, local, and tribal governments. Among these many provisions, the CARES Act also seeks to encourage the use and availability of telehealth.  more

Full-Service Health and Fertility Company Increases Access in the Northeast

Kindbody, a fast-growing health and fertility company, recently announced the opening of a new clinic in Princeton at 16 Chambers Street. With the new opening, Kindbody continues to fulfill its mission of reimagining fertility care by delivering an exceptional patient experience that is accessible and affordable for all. more

Beth Fitzgerald, head of Fitzgerald Life Coaching at 259 Nassau Street in Princeton, is a certified life coach, certified John Maxwell Coach, Master ETF Practitioner, international speaker, and trainer. She believes that coaching is the act of empowering the individual to harness their goals, dreams, and aspirations. more

Area Mental Health Experts Offer Advice for Managing Stress

By Wendy Greenberg

By the time you read this, we may be in a different phase of the constantly evolving health and social upheaval brought on by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: lost jobs, school and business closures, caring for the sick, and grieving for those we lost.

But no doubt the long-term mental fatigue will remain, and, we have been warned by experts, the insidious virus probably will remain as well. For many, the anxiety and stress are real, but manageable. For others, support is needed.

Area mental health experts — many of whom have shifted to video sessions, such as HIPAA-compliant telehealth, or offer basic landline phone guidance — are ready to help.

In a March interview, Dr. Frank A. Ghinassi, president and CEO of Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care (UBHC), and senior vice president of the Behavioral Health and Addictions Service Line at RWJ Barnabas Health, referred to anxiety emanating from the then-new coronavirus as “anticipatory stress.”

But that was then. Now the stress is long-term and “reactive to the realities of the pandemic,” he says. “The two- to three-week period of initial lockdown was a hallmark,” he says. “Many people have left their normal routines for that long before in their lives, for vacation for instance, but we are now past that timeframe. In week seven, you don’t know if you are on mile seven of a 10-mile race, or of a 26-mile race; there are no mileposts.”

There are few studies on this type of mental fatigue secondary to a pandemic response of this duration, he notes, because this has not happened at this scale since the flu pandemic of 1918. But the further we are from “normal daily life,” the more chance individuals will experience difficulty in coping.

“One of the main current differences now are that there very few people in New Jersey who don’t know someone, personally, who has tested positive for the virus and that has changed the level of experienced stress,” says Ghinassi.

Dr. Frank A. Ghinassi, president and CEO of Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care.

Is Anxiety Normal?

Whitney B. Ross, Executive director of Trinity Counseling Services

“This is different from September 11 [2001],” says Whitney Ross, executive director of Princeton’s Trinity Counseling Services (TCS), which provides licensed professional counseling services. “The country and world had a spotlight on a small area, and supported New York City and its victims. It was helpful to the victims’ families, and the recovery was faster. We don’t have that now. This situation is new for everyone.”

“It makes perfect sense that we are anxious,” says Ross. “There is a lot to be anxious about. We will be dealing with the issues a long time. There are horrific situations. I would be concerned if I heard people were NOT anxious. The question is, how can we deal with anxiety in out-of-control situations?”

Uncertainty breeds anxiety, according to mental health experts.

“This is a time of great uncertainty, and anxiety tries to demand certainty, which is not possible,” says Rachel Strohl of Stress and Anxiety Services of New Jersey, based in East Brunswick. “It is helpful to recognize that it’s okay to feel the uncertainty, while acknowledging the difference between facts and feelings. It is important that people learn the skill of realistic thinking, as opposed to positive or negative thinking,” notes Strohl.

When Is Support Needed?

Belinda Seiger, counselor and director of the Anxiety and OCD Treatment Center of Princeton, has herself stated in an online introduction that anxiety is a part of being human, “but when worry, panic, or obsessive thoughts and compulsions take over, you need new strategies to get back to living your life, not battling your brain.”

Anxiety, she explains, “is a natural response to feeling threatened. Anxiety and fear are natural responses to have, but it’s important to distinguish these real concerns from our tendency to ruminate and obsess about things that are out of our control. Focusing on strategies to deal with our concerns, rather than engaging in worrying, can help us manage our anxiety in uncertain times like this.” more

Alzheimer’s New Jersey’s Walk to Fight Alzheimer’s is scheduled to take place at Educational Testing Service’s Princeton campus on Sunday, October 11, 2020. One hundred percent of money raised will support New Jersey individuals and families. Participants can choose to walk virtually or in-person at 660 Rosedale Road. Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. on the day of the event and the walk will begin at 10 a.m. Festivities include refreshments, music, and door prizes. Parking is available on site. Register online in advance at https://alznj.akaraisin.com/ui/walkalznj2020 and choose from one of five walks: Point Pleasant Beach (September 26), Liberty State Park in Jersey City (October 3), Princeton (October 11), Morristown (October 18), and/or Paramus (October 25). more

Pick your distance, your pace, and your race. The NJ Virtual Challenge is an at-home race series that enables runners, walkers, and outdoor enthusiasts to log some serious miles and earn a race medal and T-shirt in the process. You will have 62 days (from May 15 to July 15) to complete the total miles from the event you choose.  more

On May 15, from 10 to 11:30 a.m., the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) educational system will lead a Zoom online learning course entitled Grow Fruit in Your Home Garden.  more

Penn Medicine Princeton Health will be holding the following free yoga classes virtually via Blue Jeans platform where you can participate from the comfort and safety of your home.

Registered participants will receive a link to view the class and you can access the live stream via your computer or mobile device. more

By Taylor Smith

Food allergies, intolerances, and even sensitivities in children seem to be ubiquitous in 2020.

Whether it’s a life-threatening allergy to peanuts or a less-critical sensitivity towards eggs that inevitably ends in a stomachache, modern-day parents need to be more informed than ever when it comes to recipes, nutrition, ingredient lists, environmental influences, and medical options.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (aafa.org), the symptoms of an allergic reaction include stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy, runny nose, itching in ears/roof of mouth, watery eyes, hives, rash, asthma symptoms, coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. A life-threatening allergic reaction is anaphylaxis, which can result in difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, fainting, vomiting, diarrhea, and even death. Anaphylaxis can occur within seconds of exposure or 1-2 hours later. Young children with severe food allergies may not be able to accurately describe what they’re experiencing and may instead show signs of turning blue; swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat; and dizziness. Parents should immediately call 911 for emergency medical help. Both the child and caregivers need to have an epinephrine (adrenaline) auto-injector with them at all times for such emergencies.

Food allergies occur when a child’s immune system reacts to certain proteins found in food (mayoclinic.org). In most cases, reactions can be caused by even a small amount of a particular food, residue from that food (i.e. exposure), or a form of cross-contact (such as when a gluten-free product is prepared in the same pots and pans as food that does contain gluten). These factors can make it particularly difficult for families who want to keep their child safe, but also want to vacation, dine out, and send their child to summer camp. The experience of suffering a life-threatening food reaction can be traumatizing, especially for young children and teens. That is why it is recommended that parents, teachers, friends, and families are informed as to the best treatment options.

By contrast, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (aaaai.org), a food intolerance is not an immune response and is generally much less severe than a food allergy. Symptoms of food intolerance often include nausea, stomach pain, gas, cramps, bloating, diarrhea, skin redness/appearing flushed, runny nose, and/or indigestion. Clearly, if your child or teen experiences negative physical symptoms as a result of consuming dairy, elimination, at least for a period of time, is often a good course of action. more

Together we run. Together we can make a difference.

HiTOPS Princeton Half Marathon is moving forward with its October 25, 2020 scheduled race event. Organizers note that they will continue to follow safety recommendations associated with the COVID-19 virus, and all race participants will have the opportunity to defer to 2021 if they so choose. more

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization, has released a guideto answer frequently asked questions regarding the intersection between coronavirus (COVID-19), and people affected by mental illness, their caregivers, and loved ones. more

Image Source: Yoga Vida

Simple yoga practice is a great way to begin or take a break during the day. These online services are particularly useful now, as social distancing requires normally active people to forgo their favorite fitness studios and gyms. more

By Taylor Smith

Russell Juleg, a land steward and educator for the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, will explore the surprising diversity of plant communities in the Pine Barrens region of New Jersey, including historical and current attempts to categorize the various communities, at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve on Sunday, February 23 at 2 p.m. more

By Taylor Smith

Community Options, Inc. invites runners, walkers, and rollers (baby strollers and wheelchairs) to help raise funds to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities at the annual Cupid’s Chase.

The Cupid’s Chase 5K on Saturday, February 8 at the Princeton Shopping Center will raise funds to support people with disabilities in Mercer County. To register, visit cupidschase.orgmore

“Scent is mood. Scent is memory. Scent is magic.”

By Taylor Smith

Finding a unique and meaningful holiday gift for loved ones can be challenging.

“Like cooking, skincare is an art and ingredients matter. So, we use the simplest, most nourishing ingredients in all of our products. People see the difference in their skin. We’re promoting wellness and encouraging people to take advantage of that renewing experience that we get in the bath,” says Deborah Lukasik O’Shaughnessy, an art teacher, educator, and East End resident. more

High Mountain Park

By Taylor Smith

The Nature Conservancy of New Jersey is encouraging Garden State residents to stay active this winter season with the introduction of the High Mountain Challenge, inspired by New Jersey native Jessica Bagley’s running achievements. The Nature Conservancy is also hoping to raise awareness of High Mountain Park Preserve, a protected 1,260-acre tract of forested land in New Jersey’s Piedmont region (near North Haledon and Wayne). more