Thursday, May 24

New Hospitals for Old

Garden State hospitals are staggering under the strain. The rising percentage of unreimbursed cases and demand for costly new equipment may soon reduce the state’s current 83 hospitals to a scant 70, experts predict. Still others are expecting a 40 percent reduction. In the face of these cutbacks, the New Jersey Alliance for Action is holding a seminar to introduce construction leaders to new hospital building opportunities.

Are these folks dreaming, or do they see a necessary restructuring that will benefit patient and builder alike? Those seeking an answer may want to attend “Building Better Hospitals and Assuring a Healthier New Jersey” on Thursday, May 24, at 9 a.m. at the Trenton Marriott. Cost: $200. Visit www.allianceforaction.com.

Robert Gerard, vice-president of strategic planning for the PMK Group, a Cranford-based environmental engineering firm, acts as moderator. Presenting panelists include John Sheridan, senior vice president of Cooper University Hospital in Camden; several state health officials; and Joseph Vincent, CEO of Princeton Healthcare System, who discusses hospital relocation and expansion.

Everyone always urged Gerard to be a doctor. He grew up in Glen Ridge, the son of a physician. He attended Georgetown University, graduating in l982 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He even went straight into medical school — for a while. Then somehow Gerard got sidetracked over concerns about his working environment. Hospital health and safety for patients and workers was becoming a major issue for both Gerard and legislators nationwide.

In l986 Gerard formed an environmental health company in Montclair to aid in hospital compliance with the new environmental mandates. “Remember that old ‘hospital smell’”? asks Gerard. “That came from open containers of 37 percent formaldehyde. Fortunately, the fluid and the smell have long since been removed.”

Gerard met principals from the PMK Group during an asbestos cleanup, and in 2000 the companies merged to form a company that provides healthcare facilities with an overall architectural and engineering planning service.

“This may not be a golden time for hospitals,” says Gerard, “but by virtue of the expanding need and major replanning efforts, the right kind of construction companies may have many new opportunities.”

Facilities crunch. Hospital managers complain justifiably that they cannot be mandated to run in red ink indefinitely. Many of today’s hospitals, particularly those in major cities, are taking in up to 70 percent non-paying patients. This means that medical centers are increasingly forced to perform procedures with costs that exceed state reimbursement. Against this diminishing income, medical technology is advancing rapidly, and taking operating costs right along with it.

The community hospitals are squeezed hardest in this lower income-higher expense vice. With limited staff, space, and equipment, they are called upon to perform greater numbers of more complex procedures. “They cannot keep up with the major hospitals, and I fear they will be the first to close their doors,” says Gerard.

But rather than be torn down for parking garages, Gerard sees these centers being transformed into some other kind of healthcare facility.

Assisted living upsurge. As Boomers cross the threshold into their golden years, the call has gone out for more multi-leveled assisted living centers. And it has been answered with a vengeance. Builders can scarcely build these centers fast enough. Typically they incorporate separate apartments, semi-independent rooms, and finally hospital-ward-style suites. The latter of these are typically being shared by residents as their health fails and by outside patients seeking rehabilitation.

While many hospitals are sinking under the challenge of coming out ahead at the end of the year, these facilities are generally very profitable.

And while hospitals expecting non-profit status cannot ally themselves with such centers financially, having assisted living nearby allows hospitals to outsource much of their costly rehabilitation services. Ocean Medical Center, for example, has contracted with Meridian North to build another of its assisted living centers right within sight of the hospital. Centra State’s three assisted living centers along Route 9 around Lakewood act as feeders for area hospitals.

Acute upgrades. An estimated $2 to $3 billion will be spent to upgrade New Jersey hospitals’ acute care structures in the next few years. “They are simply crumbling at a time when ever more space and equipment is required,” says Gerard. For example, prostate surgeries are now often performed using a large robotic booth in which the doctor sits and operates literally 10 feet away from the patient. This demands more operating room space than ever before.

And for hospitals, the added-space price tag comes extremely high. A simple patient’s room, with the extra electric outlets, oxygen hook-ups, and private bathroom, may cost one-and-a-half times per square foot more than an office building. A pathology suite may run two-and-a-half times, and an operating room five-and-a-half-times.

Going green. LEED’s Standards and hospitals are proving themselves perfect together. In an attempt to extend health concerns beyond immediate patient treatment, most hospitals are adopting green building techniques set out by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design code (see www.usgbc.org.) “Twenty years ago,” says Gerard, “the primary concern was to build enough beds. Then it got to streamlining regular and hazardous waste management. Now hospitals have taken up the banner of the environment.”

While laudable, and actually very cost efficient, green buildings are indeed specialty construction. The Jersey Shore Medical Center, facing a $250 million expansion, has just brought aboard a LEED consultant to bring its structure up to standard. The Atlantic Health Hospital in Morristown has recently hired a team of sustainability consultants.

Energy efficiency and waste reduction alone may well be a factor in pushing Garden State hospitals into the black.

Without doubt, New Jersey hospitals are due for a change. Our aging demographics, a population with increasingly sophisticated healthcare demands, expanding rehabilitation, and equipment needs are all prodding hospitals to literally build on a new face. So as construction and medical executives struggle to become more creative, perhaps we might best not ask how many hospitals, but how many patients served, and how well?

— Bart Jackson

Net Zero Building

The American Institute of Architects (AIA), the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), Architecture 2030, the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), and the U.S. Green Building Council, supported by representatives of the U.S. Department of Energy, have just finalized a memorandum of understanding establishing a common starting point and goal of net zero energy buildings.

“This memorandum allows the building design sector to move forward with designing buildings that use substantially less energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create spaces that are healthy and comfortable,” according to a press release being circulated jointly by the groups.

While focused on designing net zero energy buildings, the ultimate goal of the memorandum is carbon-neutral buildings by 2030. Carbon neutral buildings use no energy from external power grids and can be built and operated at fair market values.

The building sector accounts for almost half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. annually, and carbon neutral buildings reduce carbon emissions to help mitigate climate change, reduce dependence on oil power, fuel imports, and the use of fossil fuels in general, and provide a measure of energy security.

To reach the energy reduction goal, the groups agreed to define the baseline starting point for their common target goals as the national average energy consumption of existing U.S. commercial buildings as reported by the 2003 Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS). CBECS data is a set of whole-building energy use measurements gathered by the DOE’s Energy Information Administration.

“ASHRAE is excited to work with the various organizations that have participated in developing this agreement,” Terry Townsend, ASHRAE president, said in a prepared statement. “Collectively, our programs, initiatives and goals now have an agreed-upon baseline to operate from in our common quest to achieve a sustainable future. The challenge is now upon each organization to make good on their commitments.”

“Establishing a baseline for reducing energy consumption is a critical step in the goal of curbing the emissions generated by the built environment,” said AIA president RK Stewart, FAIA. “From this baseline, the design and construction industry can use this reference point to ensure that new or renovated buildings are designed to operate in a smart, healthy, and efficient manner.”

Buildings and Climate Change — Quick Stats from ASHRAE:

Buildings account for 38 percent of CO2 emissions in the United States, more than either the transportation or industrial sectors.

CO2 emissions from buildings are projected to grow faster than any other sector over the next 25 years, with emissions from commercial buildings projected to grow the fastest — 1.8 percent a year through 2030.

Buildings consume 70 percent of the electricity load in the U.S. Buildings have a lifespan of 50-100 years, during which they continually consume energy and produce CO2 emissions. If half of new commercial buildings were built to use 50 percent less energy, it would save over 6 million metric tons of CO2 annually for the life of the buildings — the equivalent of taking more than 1 million cars off the road every year.

The U.S. population and economy are projected to grow significantly over the coming decades, increasing the need for new buildings. To meet this demand, approximately 15 million new buildings are projected to be constructed by 2015.

Building green is one of the best strategies for meeting the challenge of climate change because the technology to make substantial reductions in energy and CO2 emissions already exists. The average LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building uses 32 percent less electricity and saves 350 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually. Modest investments in energy-saving and other climate-friendly technologies can yield buildings and communities that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthier places to live and work, and that contribute to reducing CO2 emissions.

Wednesday, May 30

Got an Idea to Bouce? This Man Bounces It Back

What do you bring to the table when you start your own business? What skills do you have? What resources do you need? What do you need to learn? And where do you find the answers? Jerry Rovner helps business owners answer these and many other questions in his courses on starting a business, which make up two parts of a four-course series on small business management offered by Mercer County Community College.

“Writing the Business Plan,” a two-session course, begins on Wednesday, May 30, at 6:30 p.m. at the college. Cost: $80. Call 609-570-3883.

Rovner, a former Navy officer, has worked for several large corporations, started his own business, and assisted veterans to re-establish businesses they had to abandon when called to active duty.

Rovner is CEO of Rapid Response Computer Service in Robbinsville, a company founded by two fellow veterans. He also has his own management consultant practice, where he focuses on strategic planning, operations, and human resources management for small to mid-sized businesses.

“As a business owner myself I know how rough it is to be out there by yourself with no one to talk to, to bounce ideas off of, or to give advice when you need to make a decision,” he says.

Rovner, a native of Philadelphia, received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and American history and a master’s degree in human resources management from Pepperdine University in California.

His work with the Navy, from his years spent on active duty as a deep sea diving and salvage officer, to his time as a reservist, has played a large role throughout his life. As a reservist he served as the commanding officer of a mobile diving and salvage unit. In 1994 he led the first joint operation with Reserve diving units out of Panama to document the underwater condition of the Panama Canal before its turnover to that country. In 2000 he volunteered to help form the New Jersey Naval Militia, where he is now the deputy commander.

While he is retired from the Reserves, remains active in helping former reservists make the adjustment back to civilian life.

In 2001, after leaving active duty, Rovner worked as COO of Rail Head CFS and RHP Transportation, a multi-million dollar warehousing and U. S. Customs company with four East Coast facilities. On September 11, 2001, he was at work in his Bayonne office.

“I was right across from the towers and I looked out my window and saw the attacks,” he says. Within hours of the second tower falling, Rovner was recalled to active duty. He spent the next year working with the New Jersey National Guard and the U.S. Navy as part of the New Jersey Naval Guard. For his service he received the Legion of Honor award.

When he was released from duty he found the business he had worked for when he was called up had also fallen victim to the events of 9/11, so he opened his own consulting business, and in 2005 joined Rapid Response.

Rovner’s experiences have led him to volunteer with the SBA and the College of New Jersey Small Business Development Center. He was named the SBA’s 2006 New Jersey Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year.

“There is a lack of services for veterans returning from active duty who wish to restart a business,” Rovner says. He works with many of them, often pro bono.

His classes at Mercer County Community College “are very interactive,” he says, with time for each participant to talk and receive feedback on their business plans and ideas. The class is “a thinking exercise” for the business owners, who look at every aspect of their business idea.

Market. Who is your target market? Where are they located and how will you reach them? “Look at the potential market and ask yourself how big you want your business to grow? Is there enough market to support it?” asks Rovner.

Competition. Whether you are a massage therapist, a website designer, or a would-be ice cream stand owner, you need to know who your competition is, and how you can differentiate yourself. “What do you bring to the table? What is your unique selling proposition? Why are you better?”

Pricing. Knowing how much to charge for a product or service is a complex issue that is difficult for every business person, says Rovner. He suggests that prospective business owners look first at how much money they need to live on, then “back into your pricing from there.”

Once you know how much you need you can realistically determine if your business can support you. Look at the costs of the supplies you need to produce your product or support your service. What about rent and utilities? What about licensing and certification fees? Look at the current average rate for your service or product. What does your competition charge? Will you charge more, and if so, how will you justify it? How is your $20 product better than your competition’s $15 product?

If your numbers don’t work you should think about restructuring your idea, says Rovner. For example, a former student wanted to work with elderly people and considered opening a care center. After learning about all of the certifications, licensing applications, and other red tape needed to open a center she decided against it, and looked for another way to use her skills to help the elderly. She was a licensed beautician and began marketing her services to existing centers, going into nursing homes and elder care centers as a beautician.

Rovner, in addition to all of his other roles, is on the board of trustees for the Princeton Child Development Institute and is race director for this year’s International Submarine Races, which take place on June 24 to 29 in Bethesda, Maryland (www.isrsubrace.org). He finds that his richly varied work and volunteer experience comes in handy in helping students figure out what they can — and cannot — expect when they start a business.

— Karen Hodges Miller

Common Sense Advertising

The wise white duck waddles into a troubled scene — a family man with a broken leg, or Yogi Berra worried about getting nicked by his barber. Desperately, he darts, flies, and even dons disguises as he tries to deliver his one-quack solution to the problems of perplexed people. You chucked from your couch as this humorously battered duck almost, but never quite, gets his message across. Then, with nothing learned, the TV screen redirects your attention back to “Law and Order.”

“Everyone loved this commercial so much,” says Allen Yarnoff, one of its developers, “that it was 18 months before we realized that viewers never knew what AFLAC was or what the company did.” To help other businesses avoid such blunders, and to lay out some of the basic where’s and how’s of product presentation, SCORE presents Yarnoff’s advice on “Advertising for Small Business” on Wednesday, May 30, at 6:45 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library. For details on this free seminar, call 609-921-7599 or visit www.SCORE.org.

Many of the talk’s guidelines are punctuated by anecdotes from Yarnoff’s three-decade advertising experience. A native of Philadelphia, Yarnoff graduated from Temple University in 1967 with a degree in business and advertising. He began selling Bayer Aspirin, and then plunged into the subtle marketing world of Helena Rubenstein Cosmetics.

Throughout his career with several agencies, he marketed everything from children’s clothes to Helly Hansen outerwear to Super Bowl ads. “I recall watching 37 hours of former Super Bowl ads just to get the style of that venue,” he says. “It was murder.” Today, taking advantage of his recent retirement, Yarnoff consults for and guides new businesses in planning marketing and advertising campaigns.

“It’s estimated that the average American is assaulted by 20,000 messages a week,” says Yarnoff. “In the face of this competition, ad-makers and company owners feel they must overdo and make things overly complex.” Instead, he offers a simplified, more understandable approach.

Message selection. No amount of advertising can sell a basically flawed product, says Yarnoff, so the very first step is to address a consumer need and make sure this new product fulfills it. Then, once you’ve come up with a mousetrap to surpass all mousetraps, select those features that make it better.

Is it incredibly inexpensive? Completely humane? Safe enough for a toddler to use? A stylish decor accent? Home in on just one of these attributes, and build your marketing campaign around it. Select a simple, memorable message that trumpets the mousetrap’s must-have quality.

Centrum had only a basic multivitamin, but the company realized its pills had more ingredients than its competitors’ products. It came up with the wildly successful slogan, “Centrum — we have everything from A to Zinc.” Likewise, FedEx, realizing its strength was in its speed, came up with the tagline: “When you absolutely have to have it there overnight.”

“Note how direct and understandable these messages are,” says Yarnoff. “Now compare them to your average car ad, which overwhelms the message.” Form your couch, you see a winding ribbon of highway — clear in all directions, running past red rocks or breath-taking ocean cliffs. A shimmering, silver machine wends its way along the road, piloted by an enticing young woman with long, windswept blonde hair.

Some words annoy you in the background, then the scene fades. You are left desperately wanting that girl, desperately longing for the serenity of that beautiful scenery, and wishing your own car could always be that shiny clean.

But as was the case with the AFLAC duck’s early appearances, the car’s manufacturer and the actual benefits of its product are lost. Note how this contrasts with the lingering worry over safety driven home in Volvo’s car-crash-and-survival ads. Image is fun, but it is message that sells.

Venue shopping. New media offers the small business more precise targeting and more cost-efficient advertising avenues than ever. In New Jersey most major television coverage comes out of Philadelphia and New York, and artificially raises the cost for the New Jersey target area. And since the average 30-second television spot costs $350,000 to produce, let alone put on the air, Yarnoff steers small and mid-size businesses elsewhere.

Online ads of old could scarcely be targeted, and often this problem still exists with direct E-mail. But now individualized websites built at a cost of $500 can deliver a message to a very select audience of consumers who are eager to learn about — and possibly buy — a product like yours.

In addition, equally cost-efficient, targeted ads can be delivered on local television, in which many of the channels are willing to help create commercials.

But with all the media available, Yarnoff stills favors print for basic efficiency.

“Advertising is a long haul business,” he says. “You have to get your name and message steadily imprinted on the public mind, and that takes time.” Those who look for a blitz campaign to deliver a huge sales boost within a single quarter are almost bound to be disappointed. Be aware of advertising’s time delay, Yarnoff warns. A really good campaign will deliver its sales turnaround in two years time. But a longer campaign will build momentum.

Additionally, one should try to match the product with the venue. Toner cartridges have a natural acceptance among online audiences, but deodorants and football games don’t necessarily go together. One of Yarnoff’s toughest sells ever was trying to pitch underarm deodorant during the Super Bowl. Ads for this event are the most competitive in the world, and all of them are centered around dreams and indulgence. Then comes the deodorant pitch.

“Those Monday mornings after were always ugly,” laughs Yarnoff.

Gut versus marketing. Yarnoff laments the fact that focus groups have become so important in advertising. Every commercial rises and falls by testing it on these non-experienced, non-professionals, he says. “They are making critical decisions.”

He remembers a Crest toothpaste ad that a host of surveys all lauded. But the ad people saw instantly that the thing was boring. It held no entertainment value to lure the reader. For this reason, Yarnoff recommends that ad agency shoppers look for the independent firm, with a slightly offbeat approach, with executives who are not afraid to take a chance and go with their gut.

Finally Yarnoff warns that everything that comes near one’s product is advertising — good or bad. Years back one client of his developed a combination skin moisturizer and sunscreen, and insisted on the old packaging, which was similar to that for their acne cream. “So there was elegantly dressed Catherine Deneuve in long white gloves holding up this hunk of crud in the ad, and guess what? Of course it didn’t sell,” says Yarnoff.

The fine art of successful advertising lies in honestly presenting the product in its best light. Do more than that, and the product may become suspect. People take home the messages that have the greatest meaning to them. So the individual who has enthusiastically designed a product that’s in some way better needs only to bottle and express that enthusiasm, and the ad will hit home.

— Bart Jackson

Thursday, May 31

Rake In Donations

Fundraising is a word that is dreaded by everyone who volunteers or works for a non-profit organization. But if you are involved with a non-profit, as an employee, a board member, or a volunteer, eventually you will need to raise capital, and that ugly word, “fundraising,” will rear its head. Fundraising, says Les Loysen, a consultant who specializes in non-profit development, is not only essential, it is the responsibility of everyone involved with a non-profit, and everyone must understand that before a fundraising campaign begins.

Loysen teaches “The Essentials of Fundraising,” a three-session class, beginning Thursday, May 31, at 6 p.m. at Mercer County Community College. The course is part of the college’s Certificate in Non-Profit Management program. Cost: $85. To register call 609-570-3311.

Loysen has been involved with non-profits “all over the state of New Jersey” as well as in New York and Massachusetts, for all of his professional life. He opened his consulting firm, Consulting Services for Non-Profit Organizations, based in Middletown, in 1984. He works with non-profits on a variety of issues, including management and administration, board development, marketing and communications, as well as fundraising strategies.

Before forming his own business, Loysen worked for a number of non-profits, including Partnership in Philanthropy, in Chatham, and the Brookdale Community College Foundation. He was director of development for the Jersey Shore Medical Center, Neptune, and has held executive positions with the Boy Scouts of America in New York City, Boston, and New Jersey.

Loysen received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester and a master’s degree in non-profit agency and fundraising management from the New School for Social Research in New York City. He has also taught courses and served in a variety of faculty positions at several New Jersey colleges, including Seton Hall University, Kean University, Brookdale Community College, and Mercer County Community College.

Loysen has seen non-profit organizations from all sides, as an employee, a volunteer, and a board member. He has volunteered with a wide variety of organization over the years, including Rotary International, Monmouth Council of Girl Scouts, ARC of Monmouth, and the Planned Giving Group of Greater New York.

The class at Mercer County Community College is designed for employees, volunteers, and board members of all non-profit agencies. Loysen says the course concentrates on raising operating funds, rather than on capital campaigns. “Raising money for operations — to pay the salaries, the telephone bill, to keep the lights on — is a lot less sexy than raising money to build a building or purchase a new piece of equipment, but it’s still got to be done,” he says.

Some non-profits can charge money for their services. A theater group, for example, can charge an admission fee, or an educational organization can charge tuition. Many other organizations, by their nature, cannot charge for services. These are often the organizations that serve “the poorest of the poor,” and they are also the organizations most likely to be “hanging on by a thread,” says Loysen. For groups that do not charge fees for services, fundraising for operating expenses is essential. Says Loysen, “without operating funds, the non-profit won’t exist.”

Get on board. Everyone involved in a non-profit, “the CEO, the employees, the board members, and the volunteers,” must get on board to make fundraising for operational expenses successful. The board, in particular, must understand that “you can’t just saddle one or two people with fundraising.”

Play to strengths. That doesn’t mean that everyone in the organization must do every job. And it doesn’t mean that those who are too shy to court big donors can’t make a valuable contribution.

“Look at people’s strengths,” says Loysen, and assign them the tasks that they are good at. “One person may be good at organization, another person may be good at writing letters for grants or foundations requests. Other people are good at going out and shaking hands and asking for money.” Each person, he says, should “work with what they know.” In fundraising, there are enough tasks to go around. Everyone, regardless of personality, can help in the effort.

Open your own checkbook. “Giving starts with the board of directors and key staff members,” says Loysen. It is important to show that everyone involved in the organization is committed, especially when asking for grants or donations from foundations.

“That’s one of the first things a foundation asks,” he has found. “They want to see a demonstration of commitment from the board and key staff. If the board can’t say yes to the non-profit, the foundation is going to be reluctant to say yes.”

Look back — and look ahead. Look at your fundraising records and see who in your community has given money in the past, says Loysen. Support from the community is vital to a non-profit. However, it is also important for a non-profit not just to rely on previous givers, but to continuously find a new base of support.

“In this country one out of every seven people moves every year. That means that in theory one out of every seven of your ‘givers’ goes away,” says Loysen. The average non-profit must replace 14 to 15 percent of its support base every year just to stay even.

Follow-up. Once you’ve gotten the money, don’t “make dumb mistakes” and lose that support. Treat your donors well, says Loysen. Don’t forget the basics such as thank-you notes.

He also suggests that an organization send a mid-year or quarterly report to its donors, showing how the money they have received has been used, and the progress that has been made. Some fundraising experts suggest this type of report include an additional “giving letter” and envelope, but Loysen doesn’t recommend it. He believes that more goodwill is generated by not having a hand out every time you communicate with your donors.

Americans are very generous people. Last year we donated $220 billion to charity. Every non-profit has a worthy goal, but to stay in business and reach the goal, everyone involved must learn how to ask for a share of those charity dollars.

— Karen Hodges Miller

Health Watch: Illness & Anxiety

Capital Health System now has a new department devoted to helping patients deal with the anxieties surrounding illness — and around getting treatment for illness. Its pitch: “High blood pressure, anxiety about an upcoming surgery, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain. If one or more of these conditions sounds familiar, the Department of Integral Medicine at Capital Health System may be a new resource to help you.”

The department of integral medicine at CHA is headed up by Pat Vroom. “When people are diagnosed with any illness, they face the challenge of vulnerability and living with uncertainty,” Vroom said in a prepared statement. “Integral medicine addresses uncertainty by teaching us to rely on our own unique strengths to manage the difficult times in our lives. This increased awareness of our strengths can significantly enhance self-confidence and offer a different perspective for living — a perspective that is more grounded in the present moment.”

Vroom received her doctorate in counseling psychology from Columbia University Teachers College. She contributed in 2005 to PDQ Integrative Oncology, a book for oncology professionals on the use of complementary therapies. Vroom has clinical and research experience in mind-body therapy, mindfulness meditation, Ericksonian hypnosis, and mindfulness-based cognitive behavior therapy.

Prior to joining CHS, she was at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s Integrative Medicine Service in New York City, where she established that institution’s Mind-Body Program.

Vroom and her new department is teaming up with the Princeton Center for Yoga and Health in Skillman in an early initiative. In a joint venture, the two entities are presening a mindfulness based stress reduction course, an educational program teaching mindfulness meditation and gentle yoga as tools to manage chronic pain, stress, anxiety, and depression. Vroom is working with Deborah Metzger, founder and director of PCYH, in putting together this course. (For more information, call 609-924-7294 or visit www.princetonyoga.com.)

Integral medicine is a rapidly emerging approach to healthcare that encourages looking at the whole person (body, mind, and spirit) for the diagnosis and treatment of illness, reads CHS’s announcement. Through meditation and self-hypnosis programs people are reducing the amount of pain medications that they require, improving their sleep, reducing stress and the likelihood of relapse of depression, controlling chemotherapy related nausea and fatigue, and more by hooking into “mind-body” connections. Those who engage in integral medicine can now access under-used dimensions of themselves as resources to help create healthier, more productive lives.

Robert Remstein, vice president of medical affairs at the healthcare facility, says that integral medicine techniques are now being used at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco for patients being treated for cancer, chronic cardiovascular disease, sickle cell disease, sleep disorders and undergoing operative procedures.

“Our mind-body programs help people with everything from coping with physical symptoms of illness to preparing for invasive procedures, such as surgery,” Vroom said. “Patients come to feel greater awareness and responsibility for their bodies through meditation, yoga and fitness programs, which ultimately can lead to reduced anxiety and depression.

It’s a new approach for people to learn to coordinate the strengths of their mind and body to manage pain and stress, which, in turn, creates well-being.”

Vroom cites recent growth in the number of mind-body research studies funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health) as evidence of the effectiveness of these interventions.

“We are just beginning to understand the power of the human mind,” says Vroom. “Randomized control trials, the hallmark of rigorous research, have demonstrated that mind-body programs can decrease high blood pressure, pain, and help manage symptoms of illnesses, such as cancer, AIDS, and heart disease.

“Now, new trials are investigating the relationship of meditation to a wider spectrum of issues, such as reducing symptoms of menopause, minimizing cognitive decline during aging, managing symptoms of ADHD. Self-hypnosis, prior to some surgeries, has been found to reduce anxiety and post-operative pain medication use as well as length of hospital stay. It can also contribute to increased stability of blood flow and vital signs during surgery.”

As a result, she says, primary care physicians are beginning to recommend integral medicine consultations to their patients to encourage education about the ongoing health benefits of meditation, nutrition, massage therapy, and fitness programs, and to make them part of the individual’s overall healthcare plan.

For more information about CHS’s new department of integral medicine, call 609-815-7875.

Hurricane Time

Hurricane season has started early, with a little tropical storm brushing close to the coasts of Florida and the Carolinas. It’s that time of year again. But sometimes it’s not the big storms, the ones the Weather Channel names, the ones that get all the air time on CNN, that cause havoc. That was the case just a few weeks ago as a rain storm stranded thousands of area commuters trying to make it to work via Route 1, or Route 295, or Route 206. They were stranded just as surely as they would have been on a barrier island.

Many hundreds of central New Jersey homeowners and businesses were effected. The take-away lesson is that a disaster doesn’t have to involve terrorists from half-way around the globe, or even a weather event solemnly dubbed “The Storm of the Century,” to cause major disruption. For this reason, the SBA encourages business owners to prepare for the possibility of a major disaster and offers the following tips:

Take inventory. Start the disaster plan by identifying what your operation needs to do to protect itself in the face of a natural disaster. Even if you don’t own the building where you do business, take steps to protect your assets.

Make back-up plans. Determine what production machinery, computers, and other essential equipment are needed to keep your business open. Store extra supplies offsite, and make a plan for a temporary location if your company is forced to relocate after the disaster. Be ready for utility disruptions with a portable generator.

Arrange for a meet-up. Find escape routes from the business and establish meeting places. Make sure everyone understands the emergency plan before the storm hits. Designate a contact person to communicate with other employees, customers, and vendors.

Check out insurance coverage. Review your insurance coverage to make sure you understand what is not covered. Most policies don’t cover flood damage.

Look after your house, too. The National Flood Insurance Program provides coverage to property owners. Go to the NFIP Web site at www.floodsmart.gov for more information.

Prepare for lost work days. Consider business interruption insurance. It covers operating expenses, like utilities, and compensates you for the income lost after a temporary closure.

Back-up records. Make back-up copies of all tax, accounting, payroll and production records, and customer data on computer hard drives, and store the records at an offsite location at least 100 miles away. Important documents should be saved in fireproof safe deposit boxes.

Protect your offices. To protect your property from wind damage, install impact-resistant windows and door systems, or plywood shutters. Hire a professional to evaluate your roof to make sure it can weather a major storm.

Be ready to stay in touch. Develop a post-disaster communications strategy. Keep current phone numbers for your suppliers, employees, customers, utility companies, local media, and emergency agencies.

Manage the message. Appoint a spokesperson to get the word out that your company is still open and on the road to recovery to dispel rumors of business failure.

More preparedness tips for businesses, homeowners and renters are available on the SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/disaster_recov/prepared/getready.html . The Institute for Business and Home Safety (www.ibhs.org) also has information on protecting your home or business. The federal government’s preparedness website www.ready.gov is another helpful resource.

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