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The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System recently announced that all its campuses will be smoke-free for patients, visitors, volunteers, contractors and vendors beginning Oct. 1.

VHA Directive 1085 Smoke-Free Policy for Patients, Visitors, Contractors, Volunteers and Vendors at VA Health Care Facilities defines all tobacco products and smoking materials. These materials include, but are not limited, to:

• Cigarettes

• E-cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, vape pens, e-cigars, other electronic nicotine delivery systems

• Cigars and/or pipes

• Matches

• Lighters

• Lighter fluid

• Any other form of tobacco

“It is important to note that if you are admitted to the BPVAHCS as an inpatient, you will not be allowed to smoke on campus during your admission,” a press release from BPVAHCS reads. “Beginning Oct. 1, 2019, you are strongly encouraged to leave all tobacco and smoking materials at home. Failure to comply with the policy can result in the issuance of a Federal citation in accordance with 38 CFR 1.218(b)(6).”

VHA Directive 1056 National Smoking and Tobacco Use Cessation Program mandates that evidence-based smoking and tobacco use cessation care, to include counseling and medications, must be made available as part of routine care to all veterans who are attempting to quit smoking or other tobacco use.

The following resources are available to veterans within the BPVAHCS. Classes require in-person attendance, while other resources are available online or by telephone.

Tobacco cessation classes usually meet one hour a week for five weeks. Please contact the following sites directly to confirm dates and times:

• C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center (Bay Pines): Tuesdays at noon

• Palm Harbor VA CBOC: Tuesdays at 1 p.m. (CVT)

For more information about what is available within the BPVAHCS, contact your primary care team or call 727-298-6661, ext. 17849.

Veteran immunization health fair set

ST. PETERSBURG — A veteran immunization health fair will take place Monday, Aug. 12, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the J.C. Cobb multipurpose room, Building 100, at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center, 10000 Bay Pines Blvd., St. Petersburg.

The event will feature an immunization quiz with handout, vaccine administration and information about various vaccines. There will be gift card giveaways. Participants must be a veteran and must be present to win.

Bay Pines VA Healthcare hosts Mental Health Summit

ST. PETERSBURG — More than 50 community partners, veterans and staff gathered July 30 for the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System’s fifth annual Mental Health Summit.

This year’s focus included suicide prevention and integration of whole health into health care practices.

The event was held in the auditorium at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center. Subject matter experts from across the healthcare system provided detailed briefings on a variety of topics, such as suicide prevention, substance use, whole health, and more. Highlights from the event included Mario Ferri’s personal testimony and recovery story, networking activities, and educational resources.

“By the end of this fiscal year, we anticipate over 27,000 veterans from across southwest Florida will use VA as their provider of choice for their mental health care needs,” said Dr. Alfonso Carreno, chief of mental health and behavioral sciences service.

Paul Russo, the healthcare system director, addressed the audience and explained that the key to improving mental health care and preventing veteran suicide is through collaborating with community partners.

“VA cannot do it alone,” Russo said. “Of the 20 veterans who die by suicide each day nationwide, only six have received healthcare through the VA and of the six, only three are receiving mental health care services. Community collaboration is critical to intervention for those other 14 to get them care whether at the VA or in the community.”

The annual summit also provided community partners and key stakeholders with the opportunity to ask questions and discuss important mental health related issues regarding opiate prescribing, fire arm safety, and how to help veterans change a behavior to avoid negative outcomes.

To learn more about mental health care services available to veterans at the BPVAHCS, visit www.baypines.va.gov/BAYPINES/services/Mental_Health_Services.asp.

Hayes selected to chair Florida Gulf Coast Alzheimer’s Association board

The Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association recently named Leslie “Tracy” Hayes, vice president of sales for Cigna Healthcare’s North Florida market, as the chair of the chapter’s board of directors.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 5.8 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease. In Florida alone, there are nearly 560,000 people battling the disease and an additional 1.1 million people caring for them.

Hayes, having recently lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s, knows only too well the heartbreak that Alzheimer’s can bring.

“My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014,” Hayes said. “She passed away in January of this year, and during the five years in between, I watched a vibrant, strong, independent woman become confused and despondent. I joined the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to work to find a cure, so no other family will have to endure the pain and loss of their loved ones to this dread disease.”

In support of its mission to eliminate Alzheimer’s, the Alzheimer’s Association offers educational programs and resources to assist both those living with the disease and their caregivers. For more information, visit www.alz.org or contact the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 helpline at 800-272-3900.

Anderson Mc-Queen to host class in Alzheimer’s management

ST. PETERSBURG — Creating a Thriving Environment for Dementia Care, a class in Alzheimer’s management, will be presented Tuesday, Sept. 10, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Anderson Mc-Queen, 2201 Dr. Martin Luther King St. N., St. Petersburg.

Presented by Dr. Cate, dementia coach, the class is open to professionals, families and caregivers with a $10 donation to be given to the Lewy Body Association. To RSVP, call Vanessa C. Radcliffe at 727-492-3050 or email Vkcronin1@gmail.com.

The presenter is an adjunct professor for the School of Aging at the University of South Florida. She holds numerous Memory Cafes every month, gives training for professionals and family members alike, gives talks throughout the Tampa Bay area, and advises families on what support and options are available to them and their loved ones as they navigate the diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Topic will include enriching life as a change agent and beginning with the end in mind.

St. Petersburg Free Clinic names Michael O. Bice interim CEO

ST. PETERSBURG — The St. Petersburg Free Clinic recently named Michael O. Bice as its interim CEO.

As of Aug. 1, Bice replaced Free Clinic CEO Beth Houghton, who has been named CEO of the Juvenile Welfare Board. The St. Petersburg Free Clinic’s board of directors selected Bice as interim CEO based on his strong professional background and knowledge of the clinic and its plans for ongoing success.

Bice has 25 years of executive leadership experience through his work at leading academic medical centers and multi-state health systems such as Rhode Island Hospital and the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. He’s also lectured widely on health care topics and policy, serving as executive-in-residence and acting chair of the department of health services administration at the University of Florida. He has lived in St. Petersburg for 30 years.

Bice is a past chairman of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic’s board of directors, and has served on the board for six years. He led the board when the clinic opened the Baldwin Women’s Residence in 2016, and directed the strategic planning for the expansion of the new health center and its services, which opened in 2017.

“Mike brings a strong knowledge of the community’s needs to the Interim CEO role,” said Bill Van Law, chairman of the clinic’s board of directors. “He has deep relationships with the Free Clinic’s leadership and staff, along with a passion for our mission.”

The board of directors has formed a search committee to guide the recruitment and selection of a permanent CEO to lead the organization.

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