TRURO – When former Truro resident Ian Cameron was five years old, he caught scarlet fever.
“I just remember being very sick,” recalled Cameron, who was the class valedictorian at Colchester County Academy in 1961.
His family’s home was quarantined. A sign was placed in the window and he was secluded from his siblings in an effort to stop the disease from spreading. The family wasn’t permitted to leave the house.
“I can’t remember how my father got groceries,” said Cameron, 65, who will be discussing the history of quarantines in Nova Scotia this evening at the Colchester Historical Society Museum.
Typhus, cholera and smallpox put a nasty dent in Nova Scotia’s medical history. The worst of these diseases were found in Halifax and Pictou. Truro was more fortunate.
“I think because of it not being a port, it just wasn’t at risk,” said Cameron.
Truro’s strongest link to quarantine history lies with Adams George Archibald, a father of Confederation based in Truro.
When he was 18, Archibald volunteered to be a medical assistant in a quarantine hospital in Halifax in 1832. His life of pubic service is honoured in Truro.
“Adams Street is named after him. Archibald Street is named after him. George Street is named after him,” Cameron said.
Cameron, who is now a professor of Family Medicine at Dalhousie University, is a Fellow of the Canadian College of Family Physicians and a Diplomat of the American Board of Family Practice.
In 2007, Cameron published Quarantine: What is Old is New. It focuses on the history of Truro,
Pictou, Halifax and Lawlor’s Island and the devastating diseases that were passed from port to port.
He also will comment on the fact that infectious diseases still make headlines, only now the names are SARS virus and bird flu rather than smallpox and cholera.
Elinor Maher, chairwoman of the program committee at the Colchester Historical Society, is looking forward to Cameron’s discussion, particularly considering his strong connections to the area. “His father was the principal of the high school and his mother was a delightful lady who was a well-known artist. They were very much a part of Truro,” said Maher.

(This story was published in the Truro Daily News on Thursday, March 26, 2009.)

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Cobequid Educational Centre teacher Suzanne Fougere is travelling to Macedonia this summer to help build homes for low-income families. Submitted photo.

Cobequid Educational Centre teacher Suzanne Fougere is travelling to Macedonia this summer to help build homes for low-income families. Submitted photo.

TRURO – Cobequid Educational Centre teacher Suzanne Fougere has been putting her passport to good use for the past three years.
Fougere, 39, has been circling the globe with Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization devoted to building simple and affordable housing.
In 2006, the Truro native traveled to Madagascar, an island off eastern Africa. The next year El Salvador was her destination and last summer she touched down in far-off Mongolia. Now, the countdown is on for a summer visit to Macedonia, a poor eastern European country that used to be part of Yugoslavia.
Fougere said many of her students don’t know where Macedonia is.
“They think, ‘Where is that?’ I have to point it out on a map,” she said with a laugh. “They say, ‘Why do you go to all these weird places?’
“I see first-hand the need for assistance for low-income families and impoverished families here in Truro. But going to another country also brings a cultural element to it.”
A lot of these places are desperately poor, added the English 11 and Law 12 teacher.
“They don’t have the social services and charities and assistance that we are fortunate to have in Nova Scotia.”
Fougere said she enjoys working with Habitat for Humanity because it adds to the traveling experience.
“I love travelling but I like doing something with my traveling and giving back to another country, another community.”
Every trip is different from the last, said Fougere, who also volunteers in Truro at St. Vincent de Paul Society.
“What doesn’t change is the appreciation and smiles and gratitude that you get from people who really need help and deserve help and are so appreciative.”
The Habitat for Humanity plans in Macedonia include construction of about 90 homes for low-income families in the next three years, particularly for married couples who are economically active and have children but low incomes.
Anyone interested in helping the organization closer to home doesn’t have to travel any farther than metro.
“Sackville, Spryfield and Dartmouth,” said Fougere. “So, if someone wants to go, there’s an affiliate down there. Pick up a hammer and help out.”
A portion of the profits made today at the King Lam Restaurant in Bible Hill will go directly to the project Fougere is co-leading in Macedonia.

(This story was published in the Thursday, March 26, 2009 edition of the Truro Daily News.)

There is a direct relationship betwen skin dryness and the use indoor heat in winter, says a professor of environmental studies at UPEI.

Darren Bardati said indoor relative humidity in winter tends to drop unless humidity is added by a humidifer or an air exchanger.

“This latter system relies on outside humidity, which may also be quite low in winter but higher than indoors.”

Dry skin isn’t considered a serious medical condition but for chronic sufferers of dry skin, winter weather will often times make the condition worse.

Holland College nursing instructors Christie Lougheed Bambrick and Andrea Slysz said winter can be hard on the skin.

As in the summer, there are simple ways people can protect their skin in the winter.

“Put a scarf around your face,” said Slysz.

Lougheed Bambrick said skiiers sometimes don’t protect their face and end up with wind burn.

“Be mindful. Even in winter, your skin can be damaged.”

Heather Robinson of Economy, N.S. is a diabetic and suffers from dry skin all year long.

As a diabetic, my skin is drier than it used to be. Plus, my age plays a factor too.”

She uses a gentle cleanser and moisturizer which contains an SPF of at least 15 every day, Robinson said.

“Any product containing urea is really good for dry skin and is recommended in many diabetic resources.”

(Published in the March 12, 2009 issue of The Surveyor.)

Dead zones in the ocean will have a major impact on the fisheries industry, says an aquaculture student.

Trisha Lewis, 20, is a student at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro and the daughter of a Five Islands fisherman.

Oceanic dead zones are caused by human-made chemicals, like certain fertilizers, entering the water systems. These particular ocean areas are low in oxygen and have become inhabitable by many species of fish.

All living species need oxygen to live, said Lewis.

“When there is a lack of oxygen, living species may no longer be supported. In areas where there is a decreased oxygen, many fish may be faced with hypoxia.”

Hypoxia is a lack of oxygen in the fish’s tissues. This can be lethal if the species doesn’t find a way to get the oxygen it needs, she said.

“Hypoxia can lead to death very quickly and it is very stressful for the fish, which means the immune system will also become weak and the fish will be more susceptible to disease.”

The oceans are affected by a decrease in fish and also an increase in organic matter settling on the bottom of the areas with decreased oxygen.

“If dead zones are created, many aquatic species will no longer be able to live in those areas and be forced to go to other areas of the ocean which do have an adequate supply of oxygen,” Lewis said.

These dead zones can have a huge impact on the fishing industry if something isn’t done soon, she said.

“Since these dead zones are usually along coastal areas, fish will begin to move into deeper waters.”

Many people fish for recreation along the coast and many fish for a living, she said.

“If the fish are forced to move, the fishermen may see a decrease in their catch which directly affects their pocket book as well as the supply of fish for people to eat.”

Central Northumberland Strait Fisherman’s Association president Mike McGeoghegan is troubled by the issue.

“It is a concern,” he said.

McGeoghegan, a commercial lobster and crab fisherman, said it doesn’t take much to upset the environmental balance.

“The ecosystem is very fragile.”

However, he’s skeptical about these types of reports and the science community.

“Our voices are not heard very well,” he said.

These dead zones – and other oceanic anomalies – could be better understood by the scientific community by working closer with people who are impacted by them most, he said.

“When you’ve been out on the water, you learn a few things.”

(Published in the March 12, 2009 issue of The Surveyor.)

I was catching up on some work at school this afternoon and I grabbed an issue of UPEI’s paper (The Panther Post) on my way out. Low and behold, two of my stories were inside: “Facebook bans photos of mothers breastfeeding” and “Woman who sold virginity in online bid could have relationship problems in the future: UPEI prof”.

Both articles can be found in the March 4, 2009 edition. (Click here to visit the University of Prince Edward Island website.)

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Holland College primary care paramedicine students Amanda Dyke of Truro, N.S. and Geneieve Ferris of Dartmouth, N.S. learned plenty about people skills and dealing with the family of patients while on their recent on-the-job training.

Dyke, 20, said she felt prepared for most of the challenges OJT could and did provide.

“We had a list of skills to check off anyways on OJT. I got to do all my mandatory skills, such as spinal immobilizations and CPR and all the other ones.”

Ferris, 22, said she had no expectations before leaving the safety of the classroom and heading out in an ambulance.

“Like usual, people are like, ‘Ah, I’m gonna see something gross and disgusting.’ Then you actually see something gross and disgusting. I didn’t find that it was too bad.”

Dealing with upset family members was a new challenge and one that is sometimes hard to deal with, said Ferris.

“It’s different dealing with the patient and some of the stuff they’re going through. It’s 100 per cent different dealing with the family who’s screaming and whatnot.”

Dyke and Ferris returned to Charlottetown in early February to continue their training, concentrating on trauma, paediatrics and toxicology.

So, some of the cases I saw… say, toxicology and trauma, my preceptor kind of said, ‘OK. You’re gonna watch this and watch what we’re doing and we’ll get you to help in the ways that you can,’” Dyke said.

One patient had to have a splint put on his broken femur, she said.

“And I had no idea how to do it ‘cause we haven’t done it yet. So, I got to watch them do it and learn from it.”

Each student is assigned to a preceptor, Dyke explained.

“It’s kind of the person who’s in charge of you, in charge of your safety and well-being while you’re there. And they’re your teacher.”

Ferris said different types of patients make for different types of experiences and can make or break a medic’s shift.

“You’re taking these really nice – well, most of the time – really nice geriatric people and you’re taking them from hospital to hospital and they’re so excited with the fact that they’re actually getting outside.”

Just being able to see the sky from the back windows of the ambulance is a treat for them, Ferris said.

“It’s like a child going to Disneyland and they’re in the back of your ambulance going for a transfer.”

Dealing with children is a lot different than dealing with adults, said Ferris.

“We had one. We were trying to take his blood pressure and we said, ‘We’re going to take your blood pressure.’ And he thought we were gonna give him a needle or something and he started to bawl.”

Dyke said paramedics travel all over the area they are assigned to.

“Sometimes we went to the city. Sometimes we went to New Glasgow. Sometimes we went to Kentville. It all kind of depends on where dispatch puts you.”

It’s hard to train for particular situations in class, Dyke said, so hands-on training is important for this particular program.

“You can go through scenarios in class on how to communicate with patients but you can’t really learn that stuff until you’re out doing it.”

After graduation, Dyke plans to get work in Nova Scotia and possibly New Brunswick.

“And then from there, after a few years as primary care paramedic, I’m going to do my ACP (advanced care paramedicine).”

Ferris hopes to work in triage at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax.

“I’m going to take different training courses, stuff like that. See if I can get onto an EMT swat,” she said.

Ferris said she learned many things during her OJT but quickly realized her fondness for people.

“I swear to God, you can be the crankiest god d*** person on the planet and I will make you laugh. Give me 15 minutes.”

Besides dealing with upset family members and personal grief towards patients, there are lots of other things that no PCP student can learn from a textbook.

“They throw you out there. Here, you know the human system,” Ferris said. “Now learn the human soul.”

(Published in the March 5 2009 edition of The Surveyor.)

Co-ed’s business plan may have emotional consequences

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A 22-year-old California university student who is selling her virginity to the highest bidder in an online auction to pay for her tuition may have relationship problems in the future, says a UPEI professor.

The young woman, who goes by the pseudonym “Natalie Dylan”, recently graduated from Sacramento State University with a degree in Women’s Studies. She wants to continue her education and earn a master’s in Psychology.

But instead of getting a summer job and a student loan like the average college student, Dylan is accepting bids for her virginity.

Dylan agreed to spend a night with the highest bidder at the Moonlite BunnyRanch in Nevada, a licensed brothel.

So far, Dylan said she’s received over 10,000 bids with a current highest bid of $3.7 million. Half of the profits of the winning bid will go to BunnyRanch owner Dennis Hof.

Peter Koritansky, a Religious Studies professor at UPEI, said what Dylan is doing doesn’t come from a failure to see the value of virginity but from a failure to see the value of sexuality.

“There was a time when sex was understood to be something sacred, not necessarily in the religious sense. That is, something belonging to the very core of who we are as human beings and therefore not something to be taken lightly or treated as merely recreational.”

The fact that Dylan has made her sexuality into a commodity is disturbing, Koritansky said.

I believe she will find out, it has the effect of an extreme self-degradation.”

Koritansky said Dylan’s actions may cause problems in any intimate sexual relationship, including marriage, she has in the future.

“She will come face to face with the fact that she’s severely damaged her ability to use sex as a means of expressing love.”

More people are reporting that engaging in meaningless, recreational sex early in life seriously hinders one’s ability to have a meaningful sexual relationship in the future, said Koritansky.

That she’s become a prostitute only makes matters worse.”

Rose Michels, the financial secretary of the Women of Steel chapter at IMP Aerospace Components in Amherst, N.S, said Dylan was wrong to offer her virginity to the highest bidder.

But we don’t know about her situation. I know that is no way to show respect for your body or anyone else,” she said.

First year Holland College Culinary Arts student Caitlin Hueser said she understands the need for money but found Dylan’s story very disappointing.

“Selling your body, I don’t know. It’s… ew.”

Something as important as your body shouldn’t be sold, Hueser.

“That’s something that’s priceless.”

(Published in the February 26 2009 edition of The Surveyor.)