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My Town GR South: Affordable Care Act Sign Up Day March 29

My Town GR South: Affordable Care Act Sign Up Day March 29

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—People who still haven’t enrolled for health care coverage will have one last chance during an event at River City Scholars Academy Saturday, March 29.

Affordable Care Act Sign Up Day  will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Members of the Cherry Street Health Clinic will hold two information sessions to go over the Affordable Care Act and enrollment options.  Those sessions will be at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Visitors can also sign up for coverage at the school, located at 944 Evergreen Street SE.

The deadline for enrolling for health coverage is March 31.  Those who do not sign up will face a federal penalty.

American Red Cross in need of blood after donation drop

American Red Cross in need of blood after donation drop

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—The American Red Cross is trying to rebound after a devastating drop in donations caused by severe winter weather.

From Jan. 2 through Feb. 10, the organization says more than 1,000 of its blood drives nationwide were canceled, leading to a loss of about 35,000 blood and platelet donations.  The Red Cross says the impact is equivalent to the organization shutting down its national operations for more than two full days. 

“On average, the Red Cross must collect about 15,000 units of blood every day to help patients nationwide,” said Todd Kulman, communications program manager of the Red Cross Great Lakes Blood Services Region.  “Regardless of the weather, patients are counting on blood products to be there when needed.”

LaughFest Central Opens Feb. 17

LaughFest Central Opens Feb. 17

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – LaughFest Central will open its doors Feb. 17 inside the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM), located at 101 Monroe Center. The festival headquarters will serve as a focal point for LaughFest information, as well as a location where tickets and merchandise can be purchased. Prior to the festival, LaughFest Central will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. During the festival, from March 6 to 16, hours will be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. 

LaughFest 2014 will also see the return of “Fast Passes” for free events. “Fast Passes” guarantee holders a seat for free showings as long as they are seated 15 minutes prior to the event start time.

Planned Parenthood marks Valentine's Eve with "condom drops"

Planned Parenthood marks Valentine's Eve with "condom drops"

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.---  On New Year’s Eve, Americans marked the holiday with ball drops; this Valentine’s Eve, Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan is marking the occasion with “condom drops”.

On Thursday, Feb. 13, teen and young adult volunteers from PPWNM will visit at least six Grand Rapids bars to conduct “condom drops”, distributing free condoms to patrons, along with “Safe Space” door hangers. Organizers say volunteers will visit Mulligans, Billy’s, Eastown Sports Bar, Pyramid Scheme, Stella’s and the Meanwhile Bar Thursday night to pass out condoms.  

PPWNM’s eight health centers are also participating in the National Condom Week campaign, distributing more than 3,000 free condoms altogether.

The organization says nearly 20 million sexually transmitted infections are reported each year, and condoms are the only form of contraception that also helps reduce the risk of STIs, while preventing most unintended pregnancies.

Fundraiser Thursday night for woman with rare disease

Fundraiser Thursday night for woman with rare disease

GRAND RAPIDS--Exhausted; that is how Jen Walsh describes most of her days.

In 2009,  she became very ill with a serious, rare and incurable neuromuscular disease called Myasthenia Gravis. Using an oxygen tank to breathe,  Walsh has endured many lengthy hospitalizations.  She must take more than 30 medications each day and has tried several experimental and alternative treatments.

Walsh's husband is her primary caregiver and the couple has two young children Last year,  Walsh had to quit her job and her family now needs help to ease the burden of living on a tight budget. Proceeds from Thursday night's event will be put into a trust for the Walsh family.  .

Kent County turns to community to set health priorities

Kent County turns to community to set health priorities

KENT COUNTY, Mich.—Healthy Kent and the Kent County Health Department will begin tapping the community for ideas to make the county healthier Tuesday, Feb. 11.

From more health food stores to more mental health services, all ideas are welcome as both groups collect information for the 2014 Community Health Needs Assessment.

"The best way to ensure success of our health programs is to focus on what we can address and what we can improve, said Adam London, Kent County health officer who has dedicated staff working with Healthy Kent. "The data and information gathered in this step will help us develop top priorities to improve health outcomes in Kent County."

Local health departments are required to update their Community Health Needs Assessment every five years for state accreditation.  Hospitals must update their CHNA every three years.

The meeting schedule is as follows:

  • Feb.

Extreme winter conditions cut into blood donations

Extreme winter conditions cut into blood donations

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—The recent winter storms and extremely cold temperatures are taking a toll on donations to the American Red Cross.

The organization says more than 7070 blood drives were cancelled last month because of the weather—leading to a loss of more than 25,000 blood and platelet donations. On average, the Red Cross must collect about 15,000 pints of blood each day to supply medical centers. 

“While thousands of people from across the country responded to the call for blood and platelet donations issued by the Red Cross in January, there continues to be an urgent need for blood donors with type O, especially type O negative,” said Todd Kulman, communications program manager for the Great Lakes Blood Services Region.

Kulman says the recent uptick in cold and flu cases is also taking a toll on blood donations.   Community members are encouraged to donate blood at one of the following drives:

  • Feb. 4, 12 p.m.