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Should Public Bathrooms Supply Free Pads and Tampons?

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Taran and Bunny Ghatrora, the founders of Ellebox believe that public washrooms should stock pads and tampons. Learn more about why they are passionate about this important conversation and join the discussion with us.

Pads and tampons are some of the most needed and least donated products across Canada.

Why? They’re often forgotten about because talking about periods is still taboo for many. For women living on or near the poverty line, food and other basic needs are  often prioritized over menstrual hygiene products. Menstrual products are also necessities, not simply a want.

Every person with a period deserves access to pads and tampons. Toilet paper is free in every bathroom, because like menstrual products, they are necessities. Whether it be a business or a school, all bathrooms should provide pads and tampons.

I know some of you are thinking – women should just be prepared…? Well, MOST of the time they are. But often periods can catch you off guard, especially if you have health problems. This is especially difficult if you are homeless and have to choose between buying food or period products. Added to these existing difficulties in finding pads and tampons, experiencing homelessness can severely impact whether a woman is able to have access to basic hygiene care needs.

But really, does it even matter? We aren’t expected to carry toilet paper around, so why are period products any different?

Menstrual care products should NOT be treated any different. Half the population has a period every month. This is not a “niche” experience but one that affects a significant portion of people

Menstrual equity. What’s that?

Let’s dive in!

Little Bird Media and Surrey604 are telling the stories of women who have experienced homelessness and living on the streets in Vancouver and other parts of Canada.

They all shared one thing – they experienced having their period, every month!

Ellebox held a pad and tampon drive in Surrey in March and thanks to the generous contributions of the community, they were able to collect over 7,000 pads and tampons, meeting 10% percent of their yearly goal. All of the donations were donated to the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre in Vancouver. The drive was featured in an episode of the Change Makers (below).

Ellebox also packed over 100 donation gift bags of personal care products. Their goal is to donate 75,000 products over the next 12 months, which will give the centre a year’s supply for the 300+ women that rely on the support of the DTES Women’s Centre. For 40 years, the DTES Women’s Centre has provided a safe space for women and children in Vancouver. At Ellebox, they see access to period products as essential to their refuge. For ways you can contribute please contact info@elleboxco.com.

Why does this cause matter?

While filming for an episode of The Change Makers, Creating Better Periods, several women tell us they have had to DIY their menstrual care with the following:

  • Toilet paper
  • Rags or socks
  • A towel, rewashed in the river
  • Shoplifting to get products

During our discussion with these women, we talked about the discrepancy between the number of bathrooms that provide condom dispensers, but not pads and tampons. Even if these dispensing machines exist, they are usually ancient, so it’s uncertain if they’re actually going to work.

The Tampon Tax

To top it all off, tampons are taxed as a luxury product in 36 states in the US, and until recently, in Canada too. (Our government heard us, and changed this in 2015!) This makes them more expensive to buy and limits to the choices women can make about their period care. Tampons are not a luxury! They cannot be compared to products like diamond jewelry, cigarettes and donuts. To make it worse, items like cocktail cherries and wedding cakes are not subject to the tax.

Tampons are just another way that women have agency over their bodies, and by taxing them, we essentially take away that agency.

Periods and Education overseas

The issues women and girls experience because of a lack of education about their periods and bodies can have even worse consequences overseas. Political and cultural pressures mean that information about periods or choices for period hygiene are simply not available.

Women and girls are left unable to participate in school, work and social activities without adequate period care. This lack of access is hindering global development. That’s why Ellebox has partnered with Day’s for Girls, a non-profit organization that works to empower women and girls worldwide through sustainable menstrual care and health education.

Learn more about our #nomorelimits campaign and help them raise a $1000 here.

But it’s 2018! How is this still a problem?!

Ellebox asked some of the amazing people who came by to donate why they believe that period care products are some of the least donated items across Canada. These are some of the answers! Don’t feel bad if you fit into one of these categories, they did too!

  • Taboo surrounding periods
  • Expensive
  • People don’t know about the lack of or need for these products
  • Not talked about, so the issue gets forgotten

Every woman deserves access to feminine hygiene. Menstrual hygiene is not a privilege it’s a right. This goes to the heart of basic dignity for women. But many women do not have access to the products they need, unlike other products provided out of necessity. Ellebox aims to increase access through efforts like our pad and tampon drive and by coordinating with other companies to ensure that all businesses and offices carry tampons and pads.

So how do we get women convenient access to these products?

Ellebox is providing access to period care products through community partnerships. If you’re a company who wants to provide organic tampons for your employees, contact us. They’d love to work with you! info@elleboxco.com.


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Health

Surrey Hospitals Foundation Funds 3D Ultrasound Machine for Surrey Chronic Pain Clinic

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Innovative technology supports clinic’s pelvic pain specialty to improve diagnosis for women’s health conditions

The Surrey Hospitals Foundation has invested $128,000 to help purchase a new 3D ultrasound machine for the Surrey Chronic Pain Clinic at the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre.

The Surrey Chronic Pain Clinic is the only clinic in the Fraser Health region with a specialty in treating pelvic pain and endometriosis.

Dr. Claudine Storness-Bliss is an obstetrician-gynecologist (OBGYN) and pelvic pain specialist at the Surrey Chronic Pain Clinic, and she explains that 3D ultrasound technology can improve the physician’s ability to accurately diagnose certain gynecological concerns compared to the traditional 2D ultrasounds.

3D ultrasound technology is more accurate and sensitive in defining and mapping abnormalities like uterine lesions and adhesions, congenital uterine anomalies, fibroid tumors and endometrial polyps in the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.

“Pelvic pain in women is often complex and particularly difficult to diagnose because the cause can be a result of many complicated health conditions and abnormalities,” says Dr. Claudine Storness-Bliss, an OBGYN and pelvic pain specialist at the Surrey Chronic Pain Clinic.

“As the only chronic pain clinic specializing in pelvic pain in the Fraser Health region, it is crucial that we are equipped with the latest technologies to help specialists better diagnose and treat these health conditions. The 3D ultrasound technology has already helped hundreds of women at our clinic in the last 12 months, and it’s thanks to the Surrey Hospitals Foundation for their generous contribution.”

Chronic pelvic pain can be a disabling, chronic, persistent pain lasting more than three to six months, within the pelvis in women.[i]
A Canadian study demonstrated that chronic pelvic pain represents a considerable economic burden to Canada’s health care system, amounting to an average cost of $25 million per year within a four-year period when the study was conducted.[ii]
Chronic pelvic pain is a common condition that affects an estimated 15 to 20 percent of women, ages 18 to 50 in the U.S.[iii]
Additionally, endometriosis is a difficult, painful, and complicated disease that affects approximately one million women in Canada. The disease can involve multiple organ systems, often resulting in debilitating chronic pain and infertility, carrying an estimated annual healthcare cost of $1.8 billion.[iv]

Photo: Dr. Storness-Bliss using the new 3D ultrasound machine at the Surrey Chronic Pain Clinic. The Surrey Hospitals Foundation funded the $128,000 technology to help treat patients with pelvic pain and endometriosis, amongst many other health conditions.

Jennifer Marchbank is a 56-year-old patient of Dr. Storness-Bliss who was diagnosed with ovarian adhesion caused by endometriosis (her ovary was attached to the pelvic side wall) with the help of the 3D ultrasound technology.

Jennifer has suffered from debilitating pain caused by endometriosis since her youth, and has gone through a number of medical diagnoses and procedures in the last 20 years. It wasn’t until Dr. Storness-Bliss diagnosed her and she underwent minimally invasive surgery that she became pain free.

“Many women like me who have chronic pelvic pain and endometriosis suffer in silence for years because often times doctors attribute this as a ‘normal’ part of female reproductive health,” says Jennifer Marchbank, a patient of Dr. Storness-Bliss.

“What people don’t realize is that this pain is often debilitating and impacts our daily lives greatly. I encourage all women who have health concerns to be proactive in seeking medical help and to push to see specialists. If it wasn’t for Dr. Storness-Bliss and the Surrey Chronic Pain Clinic and the innovative technologies they have, I would still be suffering in pain.”

“One of our most important missions at the Surrey Hospitals Foundation is to support our medical experts by equipping them with life-changing medical equipment to deliver the highest quality health care possible,” says Jane Adams, President and CEO of the Surrey Hospitals Foundation.

“Jennifer’s incredible story with the help of highly-skilled specialists like Dr. Storness-Bliss, are great examples of how we can positively impact someone’s life with the support of donors and our community.”

About Surrey Hospitals Foundation:

Surrey Hospitals Foundation is the largest non-government funder of health care for families in Surrey and surrounding Fraser Valley communities.

The Foundation supports the major health facilities in the region, Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH) and Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre (JPOCSC), as well as numerous specialized programs for newborns, children, adults and seniors.

The Foundation invests in the future of health care by funding innovative research in Surrey that can lead to medical breakthroughs.

https://surreyhospitalsfoundation.com

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Health

Self-Care Strategies to Help Stay Healthy This Holiday Season

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With the COVID-19 pandemic added to the typical cold and flu season, many are wondering what they can do to protect themselves and others this holiday season and how to respond if they get sick.

“As we enter this cold and flu season, it’s so important to practice self-care,” said Dr. Ian Smith, a physician, best-selling author and host of “The Doctors.” “Key preventative measures like washing your hands often and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze can be extremely effective in preventing the spread of germs. With COVID-19 also in the picture, there are a lot of questions on everyone’s mind around how to stay healthy and correctly identify and treat symptoms of the cold and flu or COVID-19.”

Flu vs. Covid-19

If you get sick this season, your first question will likely be whether it’s the flu or COVID-19. Both the flu and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory illnesses caused by viruses. The flu is caused by the influenza virus and COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.

Some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19, like fever and cough, are similar, making it difficult to tell the difference based on symptoms alone. Testing may be required for a proper diagnosis. If you have questions or concerns about your symptoms or about COVID-19, consult your health care professional.

Cold And Flu Treatment

For the common cold or flu, there are a variety of products available that contain several active ingredients commonly used to treat symptoms of respiratory viral infections.

For example, Mucinex DM contains dextromethorphan, which helps to control cough and guaifenesin to help thin and loosen mucus and lasts 12 hours when used as directed. You can identify the right formula to provide relief based on symptoms you are experiencing by using the online tool at Mucinex.com, where you can also find more information regarding self-care remedies.

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Health

Surrey Hospitals Foundation Invests in Research with Prestigious Funding from Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research

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Investment includes funding COVID-19 clinical research team and study on a virtual rehabilitation clinic

Photo: A healthcare worker at Surrey Memorial Hospital’s ICU unit

Surrey, B.C. The Surrey Hospitals Foundation is supporting COVID-19 medical research in Surrey with an investment of $150,000, and has received a prestigious $150,000 matching grant from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR). The combined funds will go towards enhancing COVID-19 research initiatives and capacity to advance innovative life-saving protocols and interventions in Surrey.

The funding enables the hiring of an essential research team including a Clinical Research Coordinator, Clinical Research Nurse, and a Clinical Research Assistant at Surrey Memorial Hospital, headed by Clinical Research Lead Christopher Condin, under the guidance of Kate Keetch, Director of Evaluation and Research Services at Fraser Health.

With original seed funding of $25,000 from TELUS Friendly Future Foundation, the Surrey Hospitals Foundation is also helping fund a COVID-19 research study on the viability of a virtual rehabilitation clinic.

“We are facing a healthcare crisis with COVID-19 and it is absolutely critical for us to invest in COVID-19 research to improve the health outcomes of patients,” says Jane Adams, President and CEO of the Surrey Hospitals Foundation. “We are so grateful to the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research for this timely grant and we are proud to support COVID-19 research initiatives and the establishment of this COVID clinical research team in Surrey.”

Dr. Greg Haljan is the head of Surrey Memorial Hospital’s critical care department and is also the Regional Medical Director of Research for Fraser Health. He will be leading the COVID-19 research study to examine whether a multi-disciplinary virtual recovery program providing pulmonary rehabilitation for COVID-19 survivors improves rehospitalization, patient quality of life and health outcomes.

He hopes to launch a COVID-19 virtual rehabilitation program at Surrey Memorial Hospital led by critical care physicians and experts. It has the potential to transform outcomes both during recovery from the pandemic and beyond, and to create measurable improvements in the quality of patients’ lives by extending the impact and reach of physiotherapy services and post-discharge care.

“Research has shown that 17 per cent survivors of similar critical illnesses, including SARS and influenza etc., are re-admitted to hospital within one month of discharge, 30 per cent by three months and 40 per cent by six months, and COVID-19 numbers could be very similar,” says Dr. Greg Haljan, Head of the Department of Critical Care at Surrey Memorial Hospital and Regional Medical Director for Research for Fraser Health. “We need to prevent the onset of COVID-19 hospital re-admissions by developing a patient-centric, virtual critical care rehabilitation program led by critical care physicians and experts.”

“In the midst of this second wave of COVID-19, and given that Fraser Health has the highest number of cases, it is essential that we build up our COVID-19 research capacity so that we can contribute to vital evidence-based knowledge needed to combat the pandemic,” says Dr. Kate Keetch, Director, Department of Evaluation and Research Services at Fraser Health. “Our critical care physicians, including Dr. Haljan, are the most experienced in COVID-19 treatment and care, and helping support them to do cutting-edge, patient-centred research and knowledge translation as part of their clinical care, is why I head into work every morning.”

Previous research indicates that early mobility and rehabilitation, after being discharged from hospital, reduce mortality and acute care utilization in multiple critical illness survivor cohorts. Even 14 days of quarantine without hospitalization impacts fitness and mobility. Pulmonary rehabilitation improves the full spectrum of cardiopulmonary, cardiovascular, neuromuscular, and mental health domains, including surprisingly, depression, anxiety and cognition.

For more information on how the Surrey Hospitals Foundation continues to support research and innovation, as well as their current Children’s Health Centre and Surgical Centre campaigns, visit https://surreyhospitalsfoundation.com.

About Surrey Hospitals Foundation:

Surrey Hospitals Foundation is the largest non-government funder of health care for families in Surrey and surrounding Fraser Valley communities. The Foundation supports the major health facilities in the region, Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH) and Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre (JPOCSC), as well as numerous specialized programs for newborns, children, adults and seniors.

The Foundation invests in the future of health care by funding innovative research in Surrey that can lead to medical breakthroughs. https://surreyhospitalsfoundation.com

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Health

How to Remain Fit and Healthy Amid the COVID-19? A Brief by EJ Dalius

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The things that are good for your heart are naturally good for your mind. In light of this, breaking sweat regularly boosts brain health in many ways. Exercise associates with an improvement in cognition rates, including better memory, executive function, and attention.

Moreover, due to aging people are in the vulnerable group forcontacting of the virus.The physical activities of many older adults have entirely stopped which is not good for them. Eric Dalius suggests getting sedentary with the usual lifestyle, and ignoring exercise entirely is a negative step towards remaining fit and healthy.

Exercise and the Brain Functioning

Physical activity is also known to slow down age-related cognitive reduction. With age, a person becomes susceptible to losing memory and thinking skills. In older adults, it aids in retaining the current cognitive function; in your spare time, you can perform a few simple activities. Every activity that increases the physical count can ward off the sedentary lifestyle, making us healthy.

Consult a Professional

Older adults can consult a healthcare professional before beginning an exercise routine. With conditions such as heart diseases and hypertension, the medical professional will help you decide on a safe yet effective practice that can attune your fitness levels and your ultimate goals of staying fit.

Due to several restrictions, many telehealth consultation facilities are available, and EJ Dalius recommends leveraging such moves without physically going to the health center. Several entrepreneurs have rendered their help for the wellbeing of the people, and are incorporating innovative techniques to combat such uncertain times.

When to Start?

Eric J Dalius states that many exercise guidelines public and private authorities publish state that adults should shoot for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 70-75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week. Ideally speaking, the moderate and vigorous-intensity workouts should spread across many days or on alternate days for the body to recover.

  • Examine your schedule and try to remove at least half an hour initially for the workout. It is wise to keep a fixed timing every day, helping better in regularizing your routine.
  • Start with simple exercises and eventually get your hands on the tough ones. Remember that exercises can do wonders; therefore, it is never too late to start exercising as everyone benefits from doing some physical activity.
  • You can also opt for walking down the stairs, swimming, gardening, biking, and dancing. Such activities interest a person and can result in targeting two goals at one time.
  • Activities, such as Zumba, are energizing and can act as a much-needed break from your hassle-loaded routine.
  • For older adults, simple exercises for joints and bones are essential.

Most of us always have the excuse of not having time in hand to pursue a regular exercise routine. However, a simple walk of fifteen minutes is better than no exertion at all. Take baby steps to compile exercise into your daily routine.

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Health

Put Your Back In to It!: How to Strengthen Your Back Muscles

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Your back is home to 140 muscles that connect to the rest of your body. That makes your back a central component to whole-body wellness and strength.

If you want to feel strong and have an effective workout, then you must start with a sturdy core and proper posture. This will also reduce stress on your body that causes chronic back, neck, shoulder, and even limb pain.

Use these exercise, stretches, and good habit tips to build your back muscles and start feeling and looking like a new healthy person.

Start With Your Posture

Most people work all day at a desk, commute while sitting in a car and continue to sit at home watching TV or socializing online. That’s a lot of sitting and more opportunities to slouch.

If the muscles of the back aren’t inline then they are putting pressure on your organs, joints, and connecting muscles.

Recognizing your bad posture habits is the first step to understanding the importance of your back. It can affect your whole body in the long-term as it can lead to arthritis and chronic back pain.

So, whether you are sitting, standing, or lying down remember to keep your back straight. This will help with the following exercises and stretches.

Finding the right physical therapist can also help improve your posture through an assessment of your back pain. But, not all therapy is equal. Discover more here to find the proper help you need.

Stretches

You may think that stretching is only good for back pain, but it can also be a preventative measure. It keeps your back flexible, which helps in everyday activities like bending, lifting, and reaching while making your back stronger.

Try these stretches to keep your back limber.

Lying Lower Back Twist

Lie on your back using a mat. Use your right hand to grab your left knee and pull it across your lower torso toward the floor.

Keep your opposite arm elongated and stretched perpendicular to your back. Your shoulders should continue to touch the floor. Look toward your opposite arm by turning your head.

Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, focusing on lower right back pain. Then slowly come back to the center. Repeat using your left arm and right knee.

Knee to Chest

This stretch uses your legs to lengthen the lower back muscles. It also pulls the pelvis away from the muscles, giving them room to breathe.

Lie on your back with your knee bent and your feet flat on the floor. Use both hands to pull your one knee at a time toward your chest. You can keep your head flat on the floor or bring your forehead to your knee for a deeper stretch.

Hold for 20 seconds before switching knees. Repeat as needed.

Cobra Stretch

You may have seen this stretch in your yoga class. This pose does wonders for middle back pain while strengthening your stomach, shoulders, neck, and of course your whole back.

Lie on your stomach with your palms down close to your ribs. Slowly use your arms to push your chest up while lifting your head toward the ceiling.

Arch your back slowly and to the point where it is comfortable. Your arms will extend as much as possible as you rise to your comfort zone. Hold for as long as you like without any pain.

Exercises

Stretching prepares your back for more strenuous movements. While stretching gives you more flexibility, back exercises offer you increased strength through gaining mass.

Use these exercises to build back muscle.

Lifting Legs Laterally

Since your back is supported by your pelvis, strengthening your hips can offer grounding stability for back muscles.

Lie on your side with your bottom arm bent and your head rested in your palm. Keep your legs straight and your hips in line with your torso.

Slowly raise your leg about a foot from the ground. Be sure to keep your abdomen tight and your leg straight. Hold the leg in the air for a few seconds and then slowly lower it back to the ground.

Do as many repetitions as desired until your leg feels like it can lift no more. Switch to the other side and repeat.

Superman Hold

Relieve upper back pain while strengthening muscles along the spine in this exercise. This will improve your posture and build a stronger core along your spine and pelvis.

Lie on your stomach with your arms stretched out in front of you. Keep your legs together and straight.

Lift both arms while keeping your head facing the floor. Slowly raise your legs at the same time. Raise your limbs as high as is comfortable.

Try to bring your chest and eventually your stomach off the floor to slightly arch the back.

Hold this position for several seconds and release. Repeat the exercise as desired.

Plank Arm Raises

Shoulder pain is a direct cause of weak back muscles. By working out your shoulder blades and the muscles in between, the posture of your upper back will improve.

Get into a plank position by lying on your stomach and lifting your body by extending your arms. Your arms should be straight with your elbows locked. And your hands should be in line with your shoulders.

You should be on the tips of your toes with your legs hip-width apart.

Lift one arm at a time toward your chest with the elbow close to your ribs. Alternate moving each arm up and back down to the floor.

Do 8 to 10 reps at a time while taking deep breaths as you go up and down.

Strong Back Muscles Prevent Injury and Illness

Having strong back muscles can keep your whole body free from harm. Better posture will take pressure off of your organs and improve circulation while making you more flexible.

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