Widener symposium takes on health issues

By Loretta Rodgers – Originally published by the Delaware County Times on May 27, 2015 

CHESTER >> The second annual wellness and resiliency symposium began at Widener University Tuesday with a host of speakers and variety of topics.

Hosted by Northern Children’s Services in conjunction with the city of Chester and Widener University, the goals of the three-day event are to strengthen the community across systems while building capacity for wellness and resiliency as well decreasing the stigma of mental illness while promoting the awareness of support, resources and services. Tuesday’s program featured Dr. Maureen George of AmeriHealth Caritas speaking on the “New Understanding of Asthma;” Sheri Irvis Hill of the Department of Public Welfare, Children, Youth and Family Services discussing “What is new in Children’s Protective Services Law;” and Dr. Natalie Bilynsky from Northern Children’s Services reviewing the “Impact of Trauma.” “We are thrilled to have this event here at Widener,” said Dr. Sanjay Nath, Widener University associate dean of clinical psychology. “Our university is committed to working in a spirit of community and civic engagement.”

During her PowerPoint presentation George said asthma costs the United States $56 billion each year and the treatment of the disease continues to fall well below expected goals.
George said statistically, 18.7 million adults and seven million children in the United States suffer from asthma. Puerto Rican and African-American female children are most affected by the disease with children living in poverty making up the greatest numbers of sufferers.

George discussed inpatient hospitalization resulting from asthma, which is most prevalent in the Southeastern part of the United States. She spoke of triggers such as dust mites, mold, animal dander, pollen, tobacco smoke, air pollution, chemicals, perfume, aerosols, and gases such as radon seeping through the foundation of homes. Medications such as inhalers and means of prevention were also reviewed. Irvis Hill provided an overview of child protection legislation with a special focus on amendments and Bilynsky reviewed the impact of trauma and how emotional, physical and cognitive functioning is affected. Irvis Hill presented strategies for helping children cope with exposure to trauma and how chronic stress can affect development. The symposium continues today with presentations on addressing grief, solutions to crisis, building resilience in children and children with incarcerated parents. Thursday’s schedule includes presentations on co-parenting and the importance of father involvement, public health and community wellness, and integrating sex into mental health treatment. Sessions begin at 1 p.m. each day in the Webb Room located at the Widener University Center. The symposium is open to the public.

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