Bivalent COVID-19 Booster Vaccines Now Available
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Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm Gets Updated COVID-19 Vaccine at YourTown Health Vaccination Site

On September 27, 2022, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm received the updated COVID-19 vaccine during a visit to a vaccination clinic run by YourTown Health at the Palmetto Community Center in Palmetto, Georgia. In addition to receiving the updated COVID-19 vaccine, Deputy Secretary Palm toured the health center, one of the tens of thousands of locations across the country with free updated COVID-19 vaccines available.

Group picture showing vaccine area

“Widespread availability of the updated COVID-19 vaccine is a major milestone in our fight against the virus,” said Deputy Secretary Palm. “We know that there is a potential for an increase in COVID-19 infections this fall, but it does not have to be that way. Getting the updated vaccine this fall – just like your annual flu shot – will protect you and your loved ones. We’re calling on all Americans to get the updated vaccine.”

“Vaccinations remain an essential component as we continue to battle COVID-19,” said YourTown Health CEO, Jon Wollenzien. “YourTown Health is honored to help bring the updated vaccine to our community and administer it to all who are eligible, which includes the underserved. And we’re grateful to be able to join forces with our area partners in order to reach as many residents as possible at our vaccination site.”

Group picture showing vaccine area

The updated vaccine is designed to protect against the original strain of COVID-19, as well as the Omicron strain, which makes up almost all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. In addition to being safe and effective, the updated vaccine is free and convenient to get at tens of thousands of locations nationwide. In fact, over 90% of Americans have at least 1 site within 5 miles of where they live.

If you’re 12 or older and it’s been at least 2 months since you received the previous updated COVID-19 vaccine (or booster shot), you should get the new, updated vaccine right away. If you’re in that group and you’ve had COVID-19 in the last three months, you may want to wait. But if it’s been longer than three months since you had COVID-19—get the new, updated vaccine right away.

People filling out forms

The YourTown Health vaccination site is in partnership with the City of Palmetto Mayor’s Office, (Mayor Boddie), and has been supported by personnel resources from Fire Chief Henry Argo (City of Palmetto) and Fire Chief Greg Brett (City of Chattahoochee Hills). The site’s dedicated staff, which includes Spanish-speaking employees, manages the process and administers vaccines daily. Currently, the vaccination site is offering the Pfizer and Moderna primary COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots to eligible individuals and the new updated (Moderna and Pfizer) COVID-19 vaccines. For more information, visit the YourTown Health COVID-19 Vaccines webpage.

Free At-Home COVID-19 Test Kits Now Available from YourTown Health

YourTown Health, a non-profit network of seven Community Health Centers, is now offering free at-home COVID-19 test kits to all community members and existing YourTown Health patients. The mission of this program is to bring an additional level of access and convenience to the community at large.

Each person is allowed two boxes of tests, and each box contains two tests. No appointment is required, and walk-ins are accepted. These at-home test kits are available at YourTown Health Pharmacy (643 Main St., Palmetto, Georgia). Pharmacy hours are: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturdays.

Additionally, the test kits are available for patients during check-out after an appointment at the following locations:

“Acquiring at-home COVD-19 tests or receiving a test in general continues to be a challenge for many,” says YourTown Health CEO Jon Wollenzien. “With our free at-home tests, we hope to help lessen this challenge, one test at a time.”

Call 770-567-0334 or contact us online for more information about YourTown Health’s free at-home COVID-19 test kit program.

YourTown Health Opens Community Pharmacy in Palmetto

YourTown Health Pharmacy Hours

Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday: 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

YourTown Health Pharmacy Location

643 Main Street, Palmetto, Georgia 30268

Call 770-567-0334 or contact us online for more information about YourTown Health’s pharmacy.

YourTown Health, a non-profit network of seven Community Health Centers, is opening the YourTown Health Pharmacy, officially known as the Pharmacy of Palmetto Health Council, at its flagship office in Palmetto on September 1, 2021. This fills a need after the recent closure of an area pharmacy. Patients will now be able to conveniently pick up prescriptions in the same location as their appointments.

YourTown Health is transforming the second floor of the Palmetto location (643 Main St., Palmetto) into a community pharmacy that will offer prescription and over-the-counter medicines, as well as other health-related products. All members of the community will have access to YourTown Health’s pharmacy.

“The goal of the pharmacy is to provide access to affordable prescription medications locally,” says YourTown Health CEO Jon Wollenzien. “This is an extension of YourTown Health’s mission to meet our patients where they are.”

Dr. George W. Brown Receives Atlanta Magazine Top Doctors Honors

YourTown Health would like to congratulate Dr. George W. Brown for being recognized as a Castle Connolly Top Doctor and appearing on Atlanta’s Top Doctors list in Atlanta magazine’s July issue. Dr. Brown, who is affiliated with Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center, is being honored in the Family Medicine category. Additionally, he serves as a contractor for YourTown Health.

Dr. Brown earned his medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He completed his family medicine residency at the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville, Virginia. Dr. Brown has been acknowledged on the Atlanta magazine Top Doctors list annually since 2017.

Atlanta magazine works with Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., a healthcare research company, to assist in its annual effort. Doctors are nominated for consideration through both a nationwide survey and a peer nomination process. Castle Connolly’s physician-led team of researchers then select the Top Doctors through a rigorous screening process. This year the publication honors physicians representing the following counties: DeKalb, Fulton, Cobb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Carroll, Cherokee, Coweta, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Hall, Henry, and Rockdale.

“We’re so grateful to align ourselves with some of the best physicians in the area,” says YourTown Health CEO Jon Wollenzien. “Dr. Brown certainly falls into that category, and is part of a wonderful team that helps fulfill our mission of bringing medical services to the underserved.”

Contact a YourTown Health office location to schedule an appointment with a provider.

Early Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, with more than 500,000 Americans diagnosed each year and more than five million currently living with the disease. According to the CDC, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s most often appear after the age of 60 and steadily worsen over time. Impacting memory, thinking, and behavior, this can be a distressing diagnosis to receive, both for the patient and for their family and friends. 

Although there is not currently a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, treatments for the symptoms – both drug and non-drug options – are widely available. These treatments can temporarily slow down the progression of dementia symptoms and improve patients’ quality of life. To learn more about the treatment options for Alzheimer’s, read this article from the National Institute of Aging.  

Knowing the potential warning signs of this complex disease can help you get a diagnosis during its earlier stages, when many of the available treatment can do the most good. It’s particularly important to recognize the signs if you or someone you love has a family history of Alzheimer’s, but anyone with these early symptoms should bring them to the attention of their doctor.

Early Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease 

The first signs are usually minor and can easily go unnoticed early on. During the early stages, the primary symptoms are:

  • Increase in aggressive behavior.
  • Frequently repeating questions and forgetting things.
  • Getting lost.
  • Increase in overall anxiety.
  • Complications and issues with handling money.
  • Requiring a long time to complete a daily task. 
  • Misplacing items.
  • Increase in mood swings.
  • Changes in personality.
  • Confusion with time or place.

Please note that if you or someone you know demonstrates any of these signs, it does not necessarily mean that you or that person has Alzheimer’s disease. It simply means it’s time to talk to your doctor for further testing. Early detection can make a big difference. 

That’s why it’s important, even at a young age, to continue scheduling your regular check-ups with your primary care doctor and to take care of your physician health. In fact, people with dementia who maintain a healthy lifestyle progress more slowly to the later stages, says Harvard Health Publishing

Do you have any questions for us about Alzheimer’s? Are you due for your annual primary care appointment? Click here to get in contact with our team of healthcare professionals or call us at 770-463-4644. To learn more about Alzheimer’s, visit the Alzheimer’s Association website

Why Should You Care About Your Cholesterol?

Chances are you’ve heard about cholesterol before. It may have come up in a discussion about eating a balanced diet. Or living a healthy lifestyle. Or lowering your risk of heart disease, which is the number one killer of adults in the United States. 

But what exactly is cholesterol? And why does it matter for your health? Continue reading to learn more about cholesterol and why your doctor should check your levels regularly.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in all cells of the body. It plays many important roles, such as making Vitamin D and hormones, and helping with digestion.

There are two main types of cholesterol. The first is “high-density lipoprotein” (HDL), sometimes known as “good cholesterol.” HDL supports your health in several ways: 

  • Helps the liver create bile, a fluid that aids digestion.
  • Maintains the structure of blood vessels and cells. 
  • Supports bone health, mental health, and sexual drive. 

The second type of cholesterol is “low-density lipoprotein” (LDL), sometimes known as “bad cholesterol.” When your body has too much LDL, a sticky plaque can develop inside your arterial walls. This can constrict blood flow throughout the body. That may put you at greater risk of heart attack, heart disease, or stroke.

“Total cholesterol” is the sum of your HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, plus triglycerides. (Triglycerides are a fat-like substance similar to cholesterol.)

Why is it Important to Monitor?

Too much LDL cholesterol in your body can cause serious health problems. Too little HDL cholesterol can disrupt many vital bodily functions. Stay healthier by keeping both kinds of cholesterol in their ideal ranges.

The ideal total cholesterol level for an adult is between 140-200 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter). Total cholesterol levels above 240mg/dL are considered too high. High total cholesterol may put your health at risk and should be evaluated by your doctor.

However, the different types of cholesterol (HDL and LDL) have different ideal ranges. For HDL, you want a level that is higher than 60mg/dL. For LDL, any levels under 100mg/dL are considered healthy. 

The American Heart Association recommends that adults age 20 or older have their cholesterol levels checked at least every 4 to 6 years. During your primary care visit, a sample of blood will be taken from a vein in your arm using a small needle. The needle may cause a slight sting, but the process is otherwise not painful. It takes less than five minutes. Your doctor will send the blood sample to a laboratory to measure your cholesterol levels.

If your cholesterol levels raise any concerns, your doctor will advise you on your best options for improving them. With regular monitoring and maintenance, you and your doctor can do a lot to lower your risk of serious health problems. It’s an important practice for your overall health and wellness.

If you need a primary care physician or have questions about your cholesterol levels, click here to contact us or call 770-463-4644. 

Five Back-To-School Health Tips During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Across the country, parents are preparing their students — and themselves — for a back-to-school season unlike any we’ve had before. Whether your children will be learning remotely at home or returning to in-classroom instruction, keeping them healthy is going to require more than the usual nutritious snacks and a regular bedtime.

The coronavirus pandemic can feel overwhelming sometimes, but there’s actually a lot you can do to keep your family healthy as summer vacation draws to a close and the new school year begins. In combination with the protective measures taken by your school and public health agencies, together, we can keep kids safe while helping their young minds grow. Follow these back-to-school health tips to learn how to do just that!

1. Teach your children to wear their masks

According to the CDC, cloth face masks help slow the spread of COVID-19, especially in settings where social distancing is challenging. Start practicing and encouraging good mask-wearing habits at home before school starts. If your children are returning to the classroom, it will help protect them, their fellow students, and their teachers and staff. If they’re doing virtual learning from home, masks are still important anytime your kids go out in public.

2. Help your children find healthy ways to manage stress

This school year will be unlike any your children have experienced before. Rapid change and unfamiliar situations can be stressful for anyone, and children are often less equipped to manage that stress. They may also be discouraged that they cannot spend time with friends after school or participate in their favorite activities, all of which previously helped them reduce their stress.

Help your kids find new ways to lower their stress, such as exploring new hobbies, coordinating video calls with their friends, indulging in some video games, and more. Most importantly, be sure to let your child know that feeling some day-to-day stress is normal, but that they should talk with you anytime they feel overwhelmed and want some help.

3. Encourage your children to stay active

Especially if your child is participating in classes online, it’s important that they take frequent breaks to get up, move around and stretch. ​According to the Baltimore Business Journal, “frequent stretching keeps a proper blood and nutrient supply to the working muscles and tissues throughout the workday [schoolday] and prevents fatigue and discomfort … while reducing stress and increasing energy.”                         

Students should consider taking breaks from sitting ​every 30 minutes​ – whether it be walking around the block or strolling to the kitchen – ​according to a study from researchers at Weill Cornell Medical Center, University of Michigan, and Columbia Medical Center.

4. Practice washing hands together

Washing hands is an important way to help prevent the spread of disease even in normal times.  During this pandemic, it’s more important than ever. Teach your children to wash their hands thoroughly and frequently throughout the day. ​Check out the CDC’s guidelines for handwashing, then practice with them at home. You can even make a game of it by singing a song together as you wash. Remember to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or the length of your favorite song.

5. Continue taking your children to their doctor

While going anywhere outside your home during this pandemic can feel risky, doctors’ offices are one of the safest places you can go to receive needed care and treatment. It’s far riskier to avoid or delay check-ups and medical care, possibly leaving serious health issues undetected or untreated.

Most doctors’ offices — including all of YourTown Health’s community health centers — are taking extraordinary precautions to ensure the health and safety of their patients and staff. So, keep scheduling those annual well-check visits for your children, and reach out to your doctor anytime your children show signs of needing medical attention.

If you would like to speak to our team further about back-to-school health tips or schedule a well-check visit, click here to contact the experts at YourTown Health or call 770-463-4644.

Top Five Preventative Health Measures Men Should Take

June is Men’s Health Month! From Father’s Day to National Men’s Health Week, this is the perfect time to highlight men’s health issues.

While this is not the case for everyone, some men overlook preventative measures to protect their health. This can often be detrimental to their health and well-being.  

In honor of Father’s Day and National Men’s Health Week this year, the experts at YourTown Health have provided the top five preventative health measures men should take. 

1. Receive Regular Health Screenings

The best way to stay proactive about your health is by regularly checking for major issues before they develop. To put this in perspective, many serious conditions related to men’s health, such as prostate cancer and heart disease, can easily be managed and treated if they had been given the appropriate attention before becoming problematic. 

Men should then continue to receive regular checkups and screenings with their healthcare provider. 

Here is a list of health screenings and checks men should take to stay proactive about their health:

  • Blood cholesterol 
  • Blood pressure
  • Colon cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV
  • Prostate Cancer

Please speak to your provider about your personal risks for developing these health conditions. 

2. Remain Active

Slowing down your level of activity as you get old is not recommended. A decrease in physical activity can lead to an increased risk of obesity, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. You don’t want to have to deal with any of those, so get up and get moving!

Ideally, aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. If you manage your time well, that only comes out to around 20 minutes a day.  

3. Focus on Your Diet

In most scenarios, exercise is best paired with eating well. 

Avoid eating an excessive amount of food that contains high levels of fat, salt, and artificial sugar content. Instead, reach for fruits, veggies, whole wheats, lean proteins, and drink plenty of water. 

4. Focus on Mental Health

If you aren’t also focusing on your mental health, all of the work put on your physical health won’t create as big of an impact on your overall health as it should.

Your brain is a vital organ, and if it’s not properly exercised, there will be physical repercussions. For example, men with major health issues often experience weight gain, decrease sexual function, and mood swings. 

That’s why it’s important to focus on how you’re feeling. 

Depression and anxiety are major issues for men, as well. In fact, nine percent of men state that they have experienced daily feelings of depression and anxiety. 

Therefore, make sure to acknowledge if any of those issues begin to impact your day to day life. Carve out time in your schedule to physically and mentally relax to avoid burnout and let your brain rest and restart. 

Great ways to do that are engaging in yoga, taking long showers, going for a walk, or curling up on the couch with a good book or movie. 

If you are experiencing any mental health conditions (i.e. depression or anxiety) and notice them worsening overtime, speak to your healthcare provider. 

5. Don’t Forget to Sleep

You’ve always heard how important sleep is and it’s true! 

Getting enough sleep is vital for your body to rest and repair. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you’re negatively impacting your mental health and productivity. Learn more about the benefits of sleep here.

So, make sure you’re getting seven to eight hours of sleep every day. As a tip, go to bed without your phone to reduce distractions.
Do you have any more questions or concerns about the top five preventative health measures men should take? Reach out to the men’s healthcare professionals at YourTown Health by clicking here.  

YourTown Health Response to COVID-19

There is a lot of information currently circulating regarding the Coronavirus. We would like to inform you of some facts regarding this illness.

Coronavirus usually causes an upper respiratory tract illness much like the common cold. Patients with this new coronavirus have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, body aches, fatigue and shortness of breath, according to the CDC. There is no specific treatment for coronavirus, yet most infected patients will recover fully on their own. The coronavirus is spread from person-to-person within about 6 feet of one another through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also spread by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching one’s own mouth, nose or eyes. Not all infected individuals will show symptoms.

If you or a family member have recently traveled to areas where there are ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 and you develop a fever with a cough and shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel, or if you have had contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19, stay home and call your healthcare provider or local health department right away. Be sure to call before going to a doctor’s office, emergency room, or urgent care center and tell them about your recent travel and symptoms.

Below are a few tips:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (sing Happy Birthday to yourself twice). Alcohol hand sanitizers are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with those who may be ill.
  • If you are sick please stay home (except to get medical care). Keep sick children home from school.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. Wash your hands afterward.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (ex. cell phone, computer keyboard, doorknobs, remote controls, etc.)

Additional information may be found at https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus.

Here’s To Your Heart Health

February is Heart Month, a great time to learn more about your heart and how to keep it healthy. We also celebrate Go Red for Women Day in February. It’s a day to wear red and raise awareness about cardiovascular disease in women. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease can happen at any age; it’s not just something that happens to older adults. One in three women die of heart disease and stroke each year – more than breast cancer and all cancers combined. The CDC also says that half of all Americans are at risk for heart disease because of high blood pressure, high cholesterol or smoking.

What it Means to GO RED

G: Get your numbers. Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure and cholesterol. It’s one way to gauge your heart health.

O: Own your lifestyle. Your health is up to you!

R: Realize your risk factors. 

E: Educate yourself and your family. As women, our behavior can impact family members.

D: Don’t be silent. Tell other women about the importance of heart health.

Risk Factors

As mentioned above, the top risk factors are smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. However, there are other things can put your heart health at risk too…

  • Obesity: carrying extra weight puts stress on the heart.
  • Being inactive: Johns Hopkins University calls it “sitting disease.” Between long commutes and sedentary jobs, we’re not moving as much as our ancestors. A study in 2015 found that a lack of physical activity increases our risk for blood clots, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and other heart-related problems. 
  • What we eat: Culprits include too much sodium (which can increase blood pressure), saturated fats (which raise cholesterol), trans fats and sugar (which causes inflammation). 
  • Stress
  • Not enough sleep: Lack of sleep can put you at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, no matter your age or other health habits. One study found that those who slept less than six hours a night were twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack.  
  • Diabetes

What Does a Healthy Heart Look Like? 

A healthy heart is a strong muscle about the size of your fist. It has four chambers with four one-way valves that open and close to ensure the blood flows through in one direction. It allows blood to be refreshed with oxygen from the lungs and then pumped through the arteries to carry that oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body to nourish cells. Your veins carry blood back to the heart to start the cycle all over again. 

What Your Body Can Tell You

Because the heart pumps blood to all areas of the body, there are some clues that your body can provide to indicate there might be heart trouble. However, these symptoms can also indicate other health issues that aren’t heart-related. It’s best to make an appointment with your YourTown Health provider who can look at the big picture – including your total health and family medical history – and decide.

  • Chest pain: Uncomfortable pressure, fullness or squeezing-like pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness, fatigue, nausea or indigestion: Pay attention to symptoms like these that don’t appear to have an easy-to-identify cause (like gas station sushi).
  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Jaw pain, back pain or shoulder pain that appears without a physical cause. 
  • Snoring
  • Erectile disfunction
  • Puffy or swollen legs

5 Tips for Heart Health

  1. Get an annual checkup to assess your heart health. Make sure to go over your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers with your health provider. Have a conversation about your lifestyle, your family history, your stress level and any random symptoms you may be having – like bleeding gums – even if you’re not sure if they’re related to heart health.
  2. Quit smoking. Your RMC health provider can help you quit.
  3. Get moving for 150 minutes per week. According to Go Red for Women, physical activity can reduce heart disease by 30%-40% and reduce stroke by 25%. It can also help relieve stress and insomnia.
  4. Eat less “nutrient-poor” foods. The American Heart Association recommends limiting food and beverages that are high in calories but low in nutrients.
  5. Find a health partner. It can be a family member, a co-worker or a Facebook friend – someone who can help you be accountable for sticking with a plan of healthy eating and physical activity.

Want more tips to help you maintain a healthy heart? Schedule your visit to YourTown Health today!

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